This is a term that, in the broadest sense, refers to all efforts for church unity since the 16th century. More specifically, it applies to high-church tendencies within German Lutheranism, and a host of ecumenical activities since 1918 involving both Catholics and Protestants, including theological colloquia, institutes for ecumenical studies, and various discussion groups. In 1918 the highchurch movement was founded by a group of Evangelical pastors in Berlin, Friedrich Heiler and F. Siegmund-Schultze being the chief leaders. This group emphasized development of a fuller sense of the visible Church, strengthening of the episcopal office, enrichment of divine liturgy, and discussion of doctrinal questions in an irenical framework. All this inevitably led to closer contacts and profitable discussions with Catholics. On the Catholic side the most prominent participating figure was Father Max Joseph Metzger (1887–1944), who founded the Weltfriedensbund vom weissen Kreuz (1917) and the Brüderschaft Una Sancta (1928), both of which groups functioned in close cooperation with Heiler's high-church movement. These developments received a temporary setback when the encyclical Mortalium animos (1928) disapproved "false irenicism."
With the rise of National Socialism, the need for confessional cooperation against the Hitler dictatorship gave new life to the Una Sancta movement. In this work Metzger was the guiding light until his execution (1944). In 1939 he established the Una Sancta Gesellschaft, which published the journal Una Sancta. After his death leadership passed to Dr. Matthias Laros, who organized a center for the coordination of ecumenical efforts at Mettingen (Augsburg), and to Thomas Sartory, OSB, of nieder altaich abbey, where the journal Una Sancta is edited. Distinguished members of the movement included such distinguished Germans as the church historian Joseph Lortz and the theologian Hugo Rahner, SJ. Although not directly affiliated with Una Sancta, many organizations have drawn their inspiration from its principles.
See Also: ecumenical movement.
Bibliography: g. a. deissmann, Una Sancta: Zum Geleit in das ökumenische Jahr 1937 (Gütersloh 1936). l. stevenson, Max Josef Metzger, Priest and Martyr (New York 1952). h. hermelink, Katholizismus und Protestantismus im Gespräch zwischen den Konfessionen um die Una Sancta (Stuttgart 1949). h. asmussen et al., Katholische Reformation (Stuttgart 1958). g. reidick, Zur Una Sancta Bewegung (Meitingen 1958). l. j. swidler, History of the Una Sancta Movement (Pittsburgh 1965).
[s. j. t. miller/eds.]