Debating Ecumenism

On another Thread, WilliamGolle made the following challenge to another Fide Roma:

[quote=WilliamGolle]Now Roma—dont get off the topic–Id be happy to debate ecumenism --if you want start a new thread about that
[/quote]

I thought I would start a thread where this subject can be discussed. Not necessarily a debate, as Mr. Golle said, but at least a discussion on how modern ecumenism can be reconciled with the unchanging Catholic Faith.

Before proceeding, I want to say that there is a true form of ecumenism and an erroneous form. True Ecumenism seeks to bring non-Catholics into the Catholic Church through conversion. False ecumenism seeks to “unite” all religions into one. I call this the “Big Tent” Ecumenism. It is a mixture of truth and error, light and darkness, Christ and Belial.

With that said, I’ll get us started with a few quotes.

“The unity of Christians cannot otherwise be obtained than by securing the return of the separated to the one true Church of Christ from which they once unhappily withdrew. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, that stands forth before all and that by the will of its Founder will remain forever the same as when He Himself established it for the salvation of all mankind.” (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos)

That quotes clearly explains true ecumenism. It is, what is known as “ecumenism of return” whereby the members of false religions, or heretical sects, come into the one True Church.

The next quotes will perfectly describe false ecumenism. And keep in mind that the following quote comes from the Person who was appointed as the President of the Council for Promoting Chrisian Unity - Walter Casper, who rose from a mere Priest to a Cardinal under John Paul II. If anyone would know the position of the current hierarchy, I think it would be him.

Cardinal Kasper: “The decision of Vatican II, to which the Pope [John Paul II] adheres and spreads, is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of the ecumenism of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II. Today ecumenism is considered as the common road: all should be converted to the following of Christ, and it is in Christ that we will find ourselves in the end… Even the Pope, among other things, describes ecumenism in Ut unum sint as an exchange of gifts. I think this is very well said: each Church has its own riches and gifts of the Spirit, and it is this exchange that unity is trying to be achieved and not the fact that we should become ‘Protestants’ or that the others should become ‘Catholics’ in the sense of accepting the confessional form of Catholicism.” (Adista, Rome, February 26, 2001, p. 9 - Emphasis mine)

This statement appearsto be in perfect accord with the Balamand Statement, which was signed by John Paul II, and which reads:

Balamand Statement (paragraph 22), which states, in part:

Balamand Statement: "Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Eastern, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox. It aims at answering the spiritual needs of its own faithful and it has no desire for expansion at the expense of the Orthodox Church".

Both of these quotes use the term “no longer” which clearly indicates a change.

Another person to reject “ecumenism of return” is no less than Pope Benedict XVI, who said the following while addressing a group of Protestants:

Benedict XVI:: “And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?.. This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” (L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)

Now, these quotes clearly teach the contrary of Mortalium Animos, which was written in the late 1920’s, and which perfectly reflects the position of the Catholic Church from the beginning.

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos: “… the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it…”

I would like to see Mr. Golle explain how the current position is not the exact opposite of what the Church has always taught, as expressed in Mortalium Animos.

This should be good, grabs popcorn.

Great thread! Thank you for starting this. I would say, briefly, that you have to view the teaching of the Church in light of Tradition and history. If it is a departure from the strongly held position of the past, then it is probably in error. Just because a Pope says something to a group of protestants does not mean that the timeless teachings of the Church have changed. Popes and Cardinals are human, they make mistakes, they have their own opinions. Thankfully, the Magesterium of the Church does not rely on that for Her doctrine. The Church is larger than a Pope or a Cardinal. It seems to me that we have started to hang the mantle of infallibility on every utterance a Pope makes… and I feel that is wrong.

The flip side of this is that these Popes and Cardinals are “spokesmen” for the Church and represent Her to the world. By making statements such as this, while it does not in any way change the teaching and doctrine of the Church, it DOES promote confusion among those who need to return to the Church. Messages such as these seem to say that “Hey, your church is as good as mine.” How can you say that salvation comes through the Catholic Church in one breath and then tell a protestant who embraces heterodox heretical positions that they are OK and they do not need to return. It is contradictory, misleading, and ultimately places souls in peril. Why is it so hard to get a clear answer on issues such as these? Who cares if we offend? I am pretty sure that Christ was pretty offensive to many in His day. The truth hurts sometimes. Because of this, I find pre-conciliar documents such as Mortalium Animosfar less ambiguous and find that they better articulate our Faith.

I agree with everything you said.

And we now ask: What does it mean to restore the unity of all Christians?.. This unity, we are convinced, indeed subsists in the Catholic Church, without the possibility of ever being lost (Unitatis Redintegratio, nn. 2, 4, etc.); the Church in fact has not totally disappeared from the world. On the other hand, this unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return: that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!” (L’Osservatore Romano, August 24, 2005, p. 8.)

The recent response by the CDF stated that the Church of Christ subsists only in the Catholic Church. So if Ratzinger believes the goal of ecumenism is to “restore the unity of all Christians” and that “this unity…indeed subsists in the Catholic Church”, it would seem to me to follow that Ratzinger also believes the goal of ecumenism is to bring other Christians back into the Church – i.e., the only place where true Christian unity can be fond.

The following is from the Vatican II document called Unitatis Redintegratio:

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

This is a clear contradiction of the doctrine of no salvation outside of the Catholic Church, is it not?

There is an old cliche about being able to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. I don’t see the goal of ecumenism in the service of eventual return to the Catholic Church at all denied by what looks to me like a change in strategy and not a change in principle.

More non-Catholic brethren will be exposed to the truths of the Catholic Church than ever before when we lived on opposite sides of a great divide with spear in hand. They find out that Catholics generally are not Satan personified as they may have been told. I have talked to more than one convert who said the old confrontational style sent them away convinced they were right and they did not want to hear more.

Before Vatican II the opportunities to interact with non-Catholics person to person was very limited. We had our organizations and activities and they had theirs. It was considered bad taste to discuss religion and other topics in public. Today it is possible to discuss religion with almost everyone I meet and have a conversation with and no one is insulted.

I have a difficult time understanding how people can look at the documents put out by the Church on Ecumenism and claim we are watering down the Faith. I will not disagree that the Faith has been watered down since Vatican II, but in my opinion that is because we got so wrapped up in what the Council was all about that we neglected to teach the basic Faith to our Children for probably at least two generations as well as having a certain segment of Catholics who wanted their way like at Burger King.(They ended up leaving the beef out of the sandwich.)

I believe that that problem is slowly being overcome. Being as I am over 70, I don’t expect the road back to be achieved in what remains of my lifetime, but I am going to be in there teaching and sharing, in a way more effective manner, much of what I learned before 1965 which is still the Truth today. Strategy my friends, strategy. :slight_smile: gets you lots more than :frowning:

I wish you were right, and it was merely a change of strategy in order to draw them into the Church. Unfortunately, this is not what they are saying. In the Balamand Statement, which John Paul II signed, he agreed not to attempt to convert the heretical and schismatic Orthodox. He also said that their church was just as much a means of salvation as the Catholic Church. You’ll have to look at the precise wording, but it is pretty bad.

And don’t forget the quote from Kasper. He was appointed as the President of the Council for Promoting Chrisian Unity, no less. He was the point man for John Paul II (and our current Pope) for ecumenism.

He explicitly rejects the idea of unity throught the conversion of non-Catholics into the Church. He said that, since Vatican II, "we NO LONGER undrstand ecumenism in the sense of ecumenism of return, whereby the others convert and become Catholics. He said this was also what John Paul II believed and spread…

Cardinal Kasper: “The decision of Vatican II, to which the Pope [John Paul II] adheres and spreads, is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of the ecumenism of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II. Today ecumenism is considered as the common road: all should be converted to the following of Christ, and it is in Christ that we will find ourselves in the end… Even the Pope, among other things, describes ecumenism in Ut unum sint as an exchange of gifts. I think this is very well said: each Church has its own riches and gifts of the Spirit, and it is this exchange that unity is trying to be achieved and not the fact that we should become ‘Protestants’ or that the others should become ‘Catholics’ in the sense of accepting the confessional form of Catholicism.” (Adista, Rome, February 26, 2001, p. 9.)

That is the point man for ecumenism speaking.

The model for this false ecumenism is the heretical “Tiaze Community”, which is a relgious community consisting of various Protestants and Catholics living as “one”.

Later I will probably quote Pope Benedict promoting this Tiaze Community and its founders.

I believe this false ecumenism is one of the primary reasons for the crisis the Church is in. It goes deep and spread into a lot of areas. If you read the writings of Annibali Bugnini (the architect of the new Mass), he explicitly states that his intention was to have a mass that would not offend any Protestant. I’ll post more when I can…

Here’s a couple of questions:

  1. If Pope John Paul II taught heresy (and one assumes that by signing that declaration, he understood that the whole of the Church would know about it, ie, he spoke FOR the Church, at least), did he cease to be pope?

  2. Is Pope Benedict a heretic? Can a heretic become Pope, ie, is he capable of being elected, the proper matter (for want of a better term) for election?

According to current canon law, no. According to current canon law a heretic can be Pope (or any other Bishop). If you read Cum ex Apostolatus Officio (which the Sedavacantists always quote) it says that a Pope who simply deviates from the faith immediately ceases to be Pope (actually, I need to read that again to see what the precise words are - but that are strong and clear). However, according to current canon law (from at least 1917), a heretic can be elected Pope, and a Pope that falls into heresy can remain Pope.

A heretical Bishop will only cease to hold his office when either one of two things have taken place: 1.) an official sentence has been passed by the Church, or; 2) he becomes a manifest heretic.

The Church has a body and a soul. It is possible for a heretical Bishop (or Pope) to be cut off from the soul of the Church through heresy, but still remain part of the body. What cuts them off from the body is, as mentioned above, the official sentense, or by his becoming a “manifest heretic”. That is a key distinction to remember with respect to the Sedevacantist position.

Now, the Sedevacantists will claim that the last several Popes were indeed manifest heretics, due to certain things they said or did. But, in my opinion, that is a rash statement. A manifest heretic is not one who has done something that is scandelous, or seems heretical. It is more clear than that. A manifest heretic is one who leaves the Church openly, by either becoming a member of another religion, or sect, or by openly declaring himself an Athiest and no longer a Catholic. Such a person would be a manifest heretic and loose his office without a sentence being passed.

Why would canon law allow a heretic to be Pope? Actually the more I have thought about this the more it makes sense.

If subjective heresy resulted in a Bishop (or Pope) loosing his office, by which all of his acts would become null and void, that could theoretically destroy the entire Church. For example, if the Sedevacantists were right, there would be no way to elect a new Pope since there would be no real Cardinals left today. This would destroy the Church, and would be worse than have a few heretical Pope deceived hundreds of millions of Catholics.

Thus, the heretical Bishop and Pope retains his jurisdication. This prevents a greater evil from taking place, since, as said above, it is a greater evil to have the entire Church destroyed than to have hundreds of millions of souls lost due to a few heretical Popes. Both are bad, but one is worse.

So when was ecumenism of return “expressly abandoned” by Vatican II? I don’t recall seeing anything in Unitatis Redintegratio or any other V2 document about this. I was just curious where he comes up with that. Honestly, it is time to exorcize the demons of the “spirit of Vatican II” so that we can get to the documents of Vatican II.

Here are some important passages from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism–it does not advocate the “big tent” idea, but rather that all must embrace the fullness of the Catholic faith. What is meant by rejecting the “ecumenism of return” defined as " to deny and to reject one’s own faith history" does not reject this truth (as the very quote from Pope Benedict XVI shows) but rather that coming into full communion with the Church does not entail rejecting everything one has had as a part of their faith, but rather perfecting it and allowing it to grow into the fullness of the Christian faith–that is, Catholicism.

Ut Unum Sint!

  1. Jesus himself, at the hour of his Passion, prayed “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of this community. God wills the Church, because he wills unity, and unity is an expression of the whole depth of his* agape*.

In effect, this unity bestowed by the Holy Spirit does not merely consist in the gathering of people as a collection of individuals. It is a unity constituted by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and hierarchical communion.

The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6), who could consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth? The Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae attributes to human dignity the quest for truth, “especially in what concerns God and his Church”,33 and adherence to truth’s demands. A “being together” which betrayed the truth would thus be opposed both to the nature of God who offers his communion and to the need for truth found in the depths of every human heart.

  1. All these elements bear within themselves a tendency towards unity, having their fullness in that unity. It is not a matter of adding together all the riches scattered throughout the various Christian Communities in order to arrive at a Church which God has in mind for the future. In accordance with the great Tradition, attested to by the Fathers of the East and of the West, the Catholic Church believes that in the Pentecost Event God has already manifested the Church in her eschatological reality, which he had prepared “from the time of Abel, the just one”.19 This reality is something already given. Consequently we are even now in the last times. The elements of this already-given Church exist, found in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other Communities,20 where certain features of the Christian mystery have at times been more effectively emphasized. Ecumenism is directed precisely to making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity.

  1. The Constitution Lumen Gentium, in a fundamental affirmation echoed by the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio,141 states that the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church.142 The Decree on Ecumenism emphasizes the presence in her of the fullness (plenitudo) of the means of salvation.143 Full unity will come about when all share in the fullness of the means of salvation entrusted by Christ to his Church.

  1. The Catholic Church, both in her *praxis *and in her solemn documents, holds that the communion of the particular Churches with the Church of Rome, and of their Bishops with the Bishop of Rome, is—in God’s plan—an essential requisite of full and visible communion. Indeed full communion, of which the Eucharist is the highest sacramental manifestation, needs to be visibly expressed in a ministry in which all the Bishops recognize that they are united in Christ and all the faithful find confirmation for their faith. The first part of the Acts of the Apostles presents Peter as the one who speaks in the name of the apostolic group and who serves the unity of the community—all the while respecting the authority of James, the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This function of Peter must continue in the Church so that under her sole Head, who is Jesus Christ, she may be visibly present in the world as the communion of all his disciples.

[quote=“Pax et Caritas”]False ecumenism seeks to “unite” all religions into one. I call this the “Big Tent” Ecumenism. It is a mixture of truth and error, light and darkness, Christ and Belial.
[/quote]

To be fair, I don’t think Cardinal Kasper shares exactly the same vision as you describe above.

Here are his words with my empasis,

The Catholic understanding of unity, understood as full communion in faith, sacraments and Church ministry, corresponds in principle with the understanding of our Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox sister churches, but unfortunately differs from the most usual interpretation of the mainline Protestant position and its famous “satis est consentire de doctrina evangelii et de adminstratione sacramentorum”. With some Lutheran theologians Catholics would say: “Satis est non satis est”.

…]

Dialogue presupposes partners who have their own clear identity; only then can they appreciate another and different identity and enter into a meaningful and fruitful dialogue. Thus, the Toronto Statement of 1950 declared that different ecclesiologies do not prevent the ecumenical dialogue; on the contrary, they are a challenge and a call for dialogue. This is valid also for the disputed Declaration Dominus Jesus (2000) of the Holy See’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which in substance did not say more than what every well–informed person already knows, i.e. that Catholics and Protestants hold a different ecclesiology, and that this divergence therefore should form the object of future serious dialogue.

Such dialogue is much more than simply an exchange of ideas; in some ways it is an exchange of gifts that each of the respective churches receive. In dialogue we can learn from each other. The result will not be a united new super-church. In the same measure that we grow and mature by dialogue to the fullness of Jesus Christ (cf. Eph 4,13), the Church also realizes more concretely what she is, what she has always been and ever shall be ; she achieves a fuller concrete realisation of her catholicity. This is not a so–called ecumenism of return, not a way back, but the Christ- and future-oriented guidance of the Holy Spirit into all truth (Jn 16:13) (Presentation at the event marking the 40th anniversary of the Joint Working Group between the Roman Catholic Church and the WCC).

As much as I dislike Cardinal Kasper’s theology, he does not believe in the goal of a “super church” where we can all simply be united but have fundamentally different beliefs.

Thank you, Genesis!

So was Pope John Paul II a heretic? Is Pope Benedict XVI a heretic?

How did I know you were going to follow up with that question?

Because that’s the logical conclusion you’re attempting to make with your posts.

Let me ask it again, then:

Was Pope John Paul II a heretic? Is Pope Benedict XVI a heretic?

I don’t know. And why are you asking me? You are the one who asked the following:

[quote=JKirk]1) If Pope John Paul II taught heresy (and one assumes that by signing that declaration, he understood that the whole of the Church would know about it, ie, he spoke FOR the Church, at least), did he cease to be pope?

  1. Is Pope Benedict a heretic? Can a heretic become Pope, ie, is he capable of being elected, the proper matter (for want of a better term) for election?
    [/quote]

It sounded like you consider that statement to be heretical, and that you are leaning toward the Sedavacantist position. I was neither defending John Paul II for signing that statement, nor excusing him. I was merely responding to the question you raised, which was, does a heretical Pope automatically cease to be Pope.

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