Bridges and Doors: An Ecumenical Reading of Vatican II

  • Dale T. IrvinEmail author
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


In his 1909 essay titled “Bridge and Door,” Georg Simmel argued that human beings conceptualize the world at a fundamental level through the twin acts of connecting and separating. These twin acts are symbolized for Simmel in the common human constructions of the bridge (connecting) and the door (separating). Separating and connecting, he argued, always presuppose each other. Although one or the other is featured in any particular moment, they are two sides of creating meaning and constructing doors. Following Simmel’s lead, this chapter explores doors and bridges found in the documents of Vatican II. It concludes that while the separating symbol of the door remained strong in the documents of Vatican II, the pathway and even the bridge can also be found in its ecumenical thinking.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York Theological SeminaryNew York CityUSA

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