A possible logical objection against Ecumenism at the current time

I was not sure which forum to post this in. After reading through some threads here, this felt like the right place :slight_smile:

So here is what I would be objecting against
“Ecumenism in today’s world”**

Reasoning 1

  1. The church today contains majority of Catholics (especially in the West) who are not properly catechized
  2. The same Catholics have views leaning toward indifferentism due to the cultural mindset
  3. Therefore we will lose these Catholic to other faiths through our ecumenical activity

Reasoning 2

  1. There are many non-believers who claim that all faiths hold to Fideism
  2. Catholic faith is not based on Fideism
  3. non-Catholic Christian’s faiths (and all other faiths) ARE based on Fideism (since there are no reasons for believing the Bible unless there is reasonable belief in a Church)
  4. Therefore, we will give the wrong impression that Catholicism too is based on principles of Fideism to non-believers (making it harder for them to even consider Catholicism)

So from the above, I see the current situation in the world as not being ready for Ecumenical activity. If I were a non-believer, I have ample amount of reasons to attack Christians who base their positions on Fideism. Even non-Christians who think they use reason these days tend to only do so till proving the Resurrection. Then they fall in to the same trap of blindly asking people to accept the Bible. I find this inferior and worthy of rejection.

This leads to a follow up question. Can such grounds be used to justify opposing ecumenical activity?

Would you define what you mean by ecumenism?

I guess considering the Lord’s Own Prayer: “They may be One as You (the Father) and I are One” this seems to be a priority to Jesus Christ and thus should be for His Church as well.

Many catholics themselves who do not have the full understanding of what they have been given need to be evangelized and catechized to discover the riches of grace offered to them in the Catholic Church. This is likewise true for other Christians and non-believers. I don’t think we can pick and choose which souls to preach the full truth of Christ to. We are ALL in need of Him and His Holy Church.

Here’s some thoughts:

  1. Ecumenicalism is not about giving up you beliefs, if anything people can hold stronger to their beliefs because they learn more about their beliefs in the process of explaining them to others.
  2. We are the body of Chirst no matter our doctrine.
  3. The Catholic church does hold that salvation is present in other church, if not as perfected as the Catholic church. That in itself is pretty Ecumenical.
  4. We don’t live in the '50s anymore when it was fairly socially unacceptable not to got to church, even if you really didn’t believe.

I am not a fan of ecumenism as it has been practiced. I remain open to helping others into our Church but will never reduce our faith to make it seem more comfortable for others that have been practicing heresy for years. If we love them, we will tell the truth.

OP, I second the request for a definition of what you mean by ecumenism, it is one of those words where you ask five people and they will probably give you five different answers. You’ll get better responses if you clarify what you mean by this. :slight_smile:

No offense PJH, but your observations are a perfect example of how people outside the Catholic Church (I take it your Lutheran?) have been led to believe that the post conciliar Church has taken the above positions.

“… today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being Catholics. This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.” -Cardinal Walter Kasper

No, I definately do not see Ecumenicalism as a conversion tactic by the Catholic church. Indeed I find my own faith to and marriage to be one of Ecumenicalism. I grew up Catholic, 8 years of Catholic school even. Communion and Liturgy are important to me, My spouse is a Lutheran Pastor. I find full expression of my faith between my experiences with Catholic and Lutheran worship. That may bother some on this site; but I think the diversity of Christian thought brings more meaning and vibrancy to the church of Christ as a whole.

Your position does not surprise me in the least. I don’t completely fault you. You are reflecting what the post conciliar Church is projecting to those outside (and inside) the Catholic Church.

By ecumenism, I mean simply getting together and praying, attending events and talks at other non-Catholic Church’s etc.

I see the lords prayer as call for discussion. So discussions should act as the method of explanation of errors and getting people back in to full communion with the Church (or if non-Christian, converting).

What I see today however is simply just co-existence. This co-existence seems to be all about just going about doing our own thing or joining others in doing their thing randomly. There is no urgency or need for Truth. Rather, co-existence is stressed.

When questioned, SOME will claim that the co-existence is to manufacture the platform for discussion. But discussions never happen. Instead, you see Catholics leaving the Church and saying things like “Its ok to be non-Catholic now” or “non-Catholics are right too”. Worse part is when I hear Catholics claims that Catholicism, just like all other faiths, is a blind assent to the Bible as the word of God. This to me is just Fideism.

But who can blame them? The whole principle of co-existence suggests the very thing.

I think the OP is right in questioning the prudence of the current program of emphasizing our similarities in the midst of a broader culture that is always tempting Catholics to adopt religious indifference.

Perhaps it would be better to emphasis the Church’s unique claim as the True Faith to combat the indifferent message of the broader culture, and once that is established, cautiously enter into the ecumenical discussion.

After all, there was a reason why the Church insisted on the laity not mixing with other faiths for so long, with notable exceptions, of course. Maybe we’re still not ready.

Okay…I think I see what your point is about “co-existing.” Wouldn’t it be preferable to actually take the initiative to start conversations about our differences and help others to see where the Truth is than to just write off trying? I know that we need to educate people about faith and reason, and sin and conversion and the Sacraments and Communion of Saints, etc including vast numbers of Catholics. However, I think the answer in reaching Christians who are not Catholic will lie in more communication and not less.

As a convert I am very glad that people took it upon themselves to bring me to Christ in His Church. My entire family is not Catholic. I am ecumenical not only by conviction but by necessity! I do agree that we can not pretend that there are no differences, however, I think secularism is a great big problem and we have common ground with other Christians in the light of this threat.

What would the alternative be? Count our losses in terms of bringing other Christians into full communion for the sake of showing how “different” we are from them to the secularists? I think instead we should be unapologetically Catholic and work to evangelize every creature.


P.S. I think most of us, myself included, should pray more for the unity of all Christians. This is important to Jesus!

It is expressly a mark of the body of Christ that it will teach the truth.

Maybe you meant that Christians are the body of Christ despite divisions in doctrine. I agree with that to an extent.

  1. Agreed.
  2. I presume you mean those who are Christian and believe in the Triune God.
  3. The Church says salvation is possible outside the boundaries of the institutional Catholic Church, which retains the fullness of truth and the deposit of Faith. Further to that, any pieces of Truth found outside the Catholic Church remain Catholic Truths. If one wants full access to the means by which salvation can be obtained (sacraments) as established by Christ Himself, one can only find them in the Catholic Church. Other ecclesial communities are all somewhat deficient.
  4. You’re right, but the trend of decreasing Church attendance is a destructive and sinful path from which nothing good can come.

Exactly! :thumbsup:

We should never water down or compromise the Faith/Truth.

Cardinal Kasper is absolutely right. Many people misunderstand true ecumenism to be a mutual acceptance of disagreement, which fosters religious indifference. There can only be one absolute Truth.

With all due respect, the Catholic Church has all the meaning and vibrancy necessary for salvation and needs no outside diversity of thought. I’m not sure how one could be devoutly Catholic and Lutheran (believing all the tenets of each respective faith) simultaneously without having to disregard certain doctrines that are contradictory.

I absolutely agree. :thumbsup:


Catholic ecumenism among Christians expressly admitts and acknowledges the importance of the reality of doctrinal differences and disagreements. It aims, notwithstanding these, to nonetheless foster cooperation in common areas of concern and agreement, while also aiming to produce productive dialogue between the parties that might facilitate an ultimate reunion: Catholics, in their morning offering prayer, do in fact pray for the re-union of all Christians, which is necessarily an ecumenical petition; and this, according to the venerable prayer, arises from no other source than the Lord’s own Sacred Heart.

Catholic ecumenism does not bury doctrinal differences under the rug or pretend like they do not actually exist: its first step is acknowledging, admitting and recognizing these important differences, which remain real differences. Catholic ecumenism, again, has two objectives: (i) co-operation and (ii) creating a forum or relationship that might (hopefully) one day lead to actual or full unity by way of increasing understanding among Christians. But even if (ii) is highly unlikely if not (from the point of view of reason) practically impossible, it still seeks cooperation on as many issues or fronts that the Church deems safe and worthy to foster, encourage or promote (e.g., humanitarian relief and assistance, helping and alleviating the poor at home, working for religious tolerance especially for Christians, etc.).

Catholic ecumenism is actually contrary to religious indifference because it expressly acknowledges the very real differences that divide Catholics and non-Catholics. Still, I confess there is a real danger that ecumenism could easily be interpreted as, and potentially for some possibly even result in, religious indifference, whether in belief or practice, which is detectable when a Catholic (for his part) actually imagines that the Church’s doctrine -but especially dogma- has no bearing or binding upon him. Indifference is only really dangerous from a Catholic perspective when Catholics become practically indifferent *to their own *religion; however, I don’t know of anyone who cites, e.g., the Church’s practice of ecumenism as the reason why he or she professes that, e.g., abortion, contraception or a homosexual relationship is somehow morally licit; and I have never heard of a study that ties, e.g., Catholic laxity with the Church’s practice of ecumenism.

I am ok with praying for unity. But I am mainly objecting to the way it is done.

Today, all we have are prayer sessions where everyone gets together in different church’s (or prayer service centers) and then pray and just have a good time. There is virtually no dialog.

I can see this friendliness as essential part of our starting step toward dialog. You cannot dialog with those who are always suspicious of you. I have had the misfortune of attending some non-Catholic forums and most of the time I am treated with suspicion or berated as a heretic. That is indeed not an environment for dialog.

BUT, today we have settled in to the groove of merely continuing in this “friendliness” without any dialog. If you press the question, you will be rebutted as “this is how ecumenism is done and no dialog is needed. People must convert by example”.

In the mean time, Catechesis against the errors of these faiths are not heard of that prominently at your local parish mass anymore. Anything that is problematic is avoided in the name of ecumenism.

I feel that this just breeds confusion. I am honestly ok with ecumenism as long as the church continuously reminds and makes clear what the goal of ecumenism is suppossed to be. Instead, now its confusing and even I have doubts as to whether the Church is now saying that “we are all just groups with different views”.

I think what you say above is excellent. I would also, like I said above, like it if the parishes that do engage in ecumenical work did continuously remind the faithful of what is the idea behind the actions. Just putting an event at another non-Catholic denomination out on a bulletin on the Church notice board without any warnings or reminders of the purpose of it seems to really cause confusion.

There is also the issue of encouraging mixed marriages in the name of ecumenism. I am not sure most people are capable of doing this in a way that benefits the church since most people already have the church as something they do on a Sunday. After marriage, the person will go to whichever service is closest and preferable and gradually drift away from the Church.

I don’t think anyone cites ecumenism as the reason. It just gradually leads a person down the road. The not-so-well catechized person who decides to attend the Bible study with his best Protestant friend (encouraged by his parish priest on the grounds of ecumenism) will end up baffled and “have his eyes opened” to the “errors” of Catholic thought. Eventually he just becomes Protestant. Will he know it could have been prevented if the priest he sought advice from had been prudent? Most likely not. But it doesn’t change the fact.

Imagine a situation where parents advise a child not to attend an ecumenical event but he argues that he should because his parish priest said it was what Christ called him to do so that “all may be one”?

To me, the assumption of encouraging ecumenism without much individual consideration of parish Catechesis levels or even individual level of maturity and other factors is itself a sign of imprudence at work. But this seems to be the majority practice today. All parishes are simply engaged in ecumenical work. That too is not dialog based but simply a way of attending different events at different churches. This just cannot be right.

The is “ecumenism of return” and the modern ecumenism.
The fist is evangelizing protestants and the second is pure indifference.
The OP was most certainly against the second one, he does not want that we do not talk to protestants.

Interesting topic for evangelization. Unrelated to tradition and customs.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.