Eccumenicalism

I just came out of a forum which stirred up a question in me that I’ve often pondered. A poster made the comment that as long as the catholic church holds on to their doctrines concerning papal infallibility and contraception, there would never be any reconciliation with any protestant denominations. I could agree or disagree with this statement based on how we define reconciliation. If all concerned must come to complete agreement on every matter of doctrine then I could agree that there will be no reconciliation. In my mind, there will never be one christian church, under (or not under) the pope, in which all members accept the same interpretation of christian doctrine. The catholic church and the orthodox and anglican churches have been trying for centuries, but in order to reconcile there must be concessions on both sides. This is why I can never envision an end to christian denominations.

My view is that the church is already “one”. Christ’s body is made up of all his followers. He doesn’t look at one denomination as part of his family and turn his back on his followers from another denomination. My brother and one sister are catholics, my other sister is a presbyterian, and I am non-denominational, but we are all part of the same christian family. We can all say a prayer together and give our “amen”.

If there is to be reconciliation among various members of the body of Christ, we don’t have to make others accept all our views of doctrinal issues, but must recognize that Christ accepts all who have come to him in faith and love. Eccumenicalism, in my mind, is for all christians to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and to work together in common causes, to accomplish God’s mission on earth. In that way, we are acting as one body, one family, to carry out the work of his church. We can hold on to our doctrinal differences and yet, as christians, be together in the "kingdom of God, in which we all accept Christ as our king.

Any thoughts?

I think there can be reconciliation, and I think there has been reconciliation in the past, but it always takes the form of the non-Catholics accepting the Catholic Church’s teachings. Remember, Arianism was once larger than the Catholic Church, but the Arians were reconciled to the Catholic Church by accepting the Catholic Church’s teaching about the divinity of Christ, and now there are no Arians. I think the same thing can happen with Protestantism. The Protestant community may be large right now, but it is not larger than the Catholic Church, and I think the various Protestant churches can gradually be reconciled to the Church in part by dialoging about our teachings.

My view is that the church is already “one”. Christ’s body is made up of all his followers. He doesn’t look at one denomination as part of his family and turn his back on his followers from another denomination.

While it is true that God does not turn his back on members of other denominations, you have to be careful not to fall into the heresy of denominationalism. Denominationalists believe that it doesn’t matter what denomination you belong to as long as you believe in Jesus. It is a variant of religious indifferentism, which is a heresy condemned by the Church.

Jesus did say, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.” One Church, not 23,000 denominations. That’s what Jesus started, and we ought to want all others to be a part of His real Church, led by the pope. If it matters to Jesus, it should matter to us, don’t you think?

The immorality of artificial contraception was taught by all protestant churches until very recently, so that was a strange comment. We can also see that all of the early Christians accepted the primacy of the Bishop of Rome; and, even though the term infallibility was not commonly used, it was certainly accepted.

If by our ecumenical work we mean “working with you”, I am cool with that. If it means “becoming you”, then I have to bow out. I am not interested in compromising any of the doctrine or teaching that I hold so dear. And I am not interested in asking you to do the same for yours, or anyone’s. That would be doing us all a disservice. I lament the division, but division (for the time being) is better than he alternative.

What’s so bad with giving up Protestant ideas? Unless you mean, like, if Protestants gave up their distinctive ideas even though they believed they were true. I wouldn’t want anybody to violate their conscience. But if, through dialog, Protestant leaders and their followers are convinced that they should follow all of Christ’s teachings as taught by the Catholic Church, I think that would be much better than division. Do you agree?

Not any better than if in the course of dialog Catholic leaders and their followers are convinced that they should be following all of Christ’s teachings as taught by Protestants.

That would be proselytism not evangelism, and the pope has asked us not to proselytize. I agree with him.

Ecumenism should be about working with you, not becoming you.

This is a common used rhetoric, but pretty stale in my opinion. We can equally say “There will nev be reconciliation until protestants accept the papacy and everything else that we believe to have been taught by Christ.”

I think that giving up Protestantism for Catholicism is giving up error for truth, whereas giving up Catholicism for Protestantism is giving up truth for falsehood. That’s why I think it is better for Protestants to convert to Catholicism than the other way around. Do you think that’s reasonable?

That would be proselytism not evangelism, and the pope has asked us not to proselytize. I agree with him.

How does that fit the definition of proselytism? It is my understanding that the Church defines proselytism as “the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.” source

How does the thing I described qualify as that?

I think I’m the poster in the other forum who made the comment " that as long as the catholic church holds on to their doctrines concerning papal infallibility and contraception, there would never be any reconciliation with any protestant denominations".

Now I’ll tell you why, both from what might be called a “philosophical” and personal perspective. I’ll stick to the Papal “infallibility” issue, since the other one, contraception, just goes on and on.

It’s one thing to nominate the Pope as “head of the church” (although in fact, Christ is the head of the Church). Christ Himself nominated Peter as the Rock, and said He would found His Church on Peter. No problem.

He also said what Peter “bound” and “loosed” on earth would be bound and loosed in heaven. That’s in Scripture. And the Protestants can’t deny it.

As my “old Protestant pastor” put it, Christ was “setting up an office”.

But not once do I recall Christ ever saying Peter or any of his successors would be “infallible”.

It seems to me the NT writers went to some trouble to point out Peter’s fallibility - Christ had to rebuke him almost immediately after telling him he was the rock; he sank after taking his eyes off Christ; he wanted to build 3 tents for Christ, Moses and Elijah (as thought 3 supernatural beings needed a tent each); he denied Christ 3 times; he ran away with all the rest at the arrest; St. Paul had to correct him on circumcision, and the demands of the Mosaic Law.

Peter’s fallibility is loud and clear, and it’s in the Biblical canon for a reason. And I think one of the reasons was / is to make it loud and clear to his successors they’re not infallible either.

So when a bunch of ultra-montanists in Vatican I, in a tizz because they felt threatened by what they called “modernism”, grasping at straws in a century which had seen the Pope snubbed by Napoleon, the Catholic Church targeted by Bismarck, surrounded by revolution in Italy, then decided that if nobody else believed them, they’d better declare themselves “infallible”.

Wikipedia -

A prisoner in the Vatican or prisoner of the Vatican (Italian: prigioniero del Vaticano) is how Pope Pius IX was described following the capture of Rome by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy on 20 September 1870.[1] Part of the process of Italian unification, the city’s capture ended the millennial temporal rule of the popes over central Italy and allowed Rome to be designated the capital of the new nation. The appellation is also applied to Pius’s successors through Pope Pius XI.

And having done so, well, ergo, we must be infallible. We’ve said so, so everybody else better believe it or else.

How much credibility do you think that has amongst Protestants, who generally speaking go back to what is called the “Primary Deposit of Faith” for their doctrines?

Like I said in my other post, “not a hope in hell”.

That’s what I might call my philosophical reasoning. Now for the personal side.

When I first became Christian, I had a very wise, prophetic pastor, Presbyterian but Methodist by training.

Towards the end of his life from cancer, and my time in his church we were discussing religious affairs.

He commented, “I sometimes wonder if Protestants get into heaven.” He went on to point out “I don’t think God is as accepting of the division of HIs church as we are.”

At one point, he was quite concerned, saying “It’s a heresy! That’s what worries me!” He was talking about the Protestant position on the Pope.

Then he cried out, “Oh, why now??” He was dying of cancer at the time.

So, this wise, prophetic old pastor had doubts about whether Protestants get into heaven. And if he had doubts, then they were doubts. He knew his stuff, and he was highly spiritual.

Sometime after he died, he appeared to me in a couple of brief visions. By this time I’d already joined the Catholic Church, so the visions were in context.

In the visions, he would just briefly turn up and say something. Then just disappear.

One of them was "The Catholic Church is closest to the truth". Bear in mind, like I said, he was a Protestant pastor. There was some emphasis on the word closest.

On another occasion, he turned up and said, “We’re not in heaven. We’re all in Purgatory. Oh, we’re not in any pain or suffering, so you don’t have to worry about that!” And here he looked around as though he was in a pretty good place.

But then he repeated “But we’re not in heaven.”

Not it’s de rigeur amongst Protestants, particularly some fundamentalists, to think that Catholics don’t get to heaven. Frankly, I think the boot’s on the other foot.

And I think it will stay that way till the Church reunifies. I don’t think God is going to allow fallen men the luxury of dividing His Church, which He established at such great cost to Himself, and get away with it.

But at the same time, I haven’t got much time for a bunch of ultramontanists declaring themselves “infallible” And neither has any Protestant.

I remember talking to a priest about Vatican I and Papal Infallibility. He said the candles kept blowing out, and everything seemed geared towards getting the message that this was NOT THE TIME TO BE DISCUSSING THIS DOCTRINE. But the “prisoner in the Vatican” got his own way.

That’s why I made that assertion. I don’t think Protestants get into heaven. And there’s one almighty hurdle the Church has erected itself which is going to make it almost impossible for reconciliation to ever take place.

Rather than making arguments against another’s position, you should first submit your personal views to the teachings of your own Church. Not only is this statement in direct contradiction to the teachings of the Catholic Church, it is certainly not helpful in any dialogue with those in non-Catholic faith traditions.

I don’t think Bob’s point can be reduced to the Feeneyite error. As I read him, he’s not saying that Protestants are in hell but that they are in Purgatory and will stay there while the Church is divided. While this is an odd view, I don’t see how it contradicts Church teaching. (Bob’s denial of papal infallibility is another matter, but that’s between him and the Catholic Church–I myself can accept papal infallibility as long as it’s very carefully defined).

Where I find myself in radical agreement with Bob is in the twin conviction:

  1. The unity of Christians is essential, and Protestant smugness about ongoing division is horrific

  2. The division of Christians from Rome is in a very large measure Rome’s fault, so “come home” isn’t a simple answer, if it’s an answer at all (Pope Benedict, by the way, repudiated the “return” language in his 2005 speech at Cologne, but most folks on this forum ignore this, and admittedly it wasn’t ex cathedra).

I would put it this way:

  1. Because I do not believe the issues of the Reformation ought to be church-dividing, I think that continued separation from Rome is indefensible;

  2. For exactly the same reason, I find it difficult, maybe impossible, to “convert” to Catholicism as the concept is generally understood. I cannot repudiate my Protestant heritage for Catholicism. I simply don’t think the two ought to be defined as mutually incompatible.

Edwin

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. We can’t be one in His body while saying some of His way, truth, and life doesn’t matter.

St. John Paul II, who worked tirelessly for ecumenism, summed it up well in his encyclical on the subject:

[quote=St. John Paul II]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.
[/quote]

vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25051995_ut-unum-sint_en.html

Regarding “return” language, this was seen as unnecessary by the Pope in the sense of communities having to become “Roman” Catholic, but that didn’t mean they could choose to profess less than the whole truth. The Anglican Ordinariate created by that same Pope is the prototype of this kind of unity. They accept the entire Catechism, but can retain any other distinctive features not at odds with the truth. It’s a return to the truth and to full communion, it’s just not a return to exactly how things were, if that make sense.

On the individual level, however, if the perfect situation does not yet exist, but you are convinced of the truth, you need to convert and enter into full communion even if it requires a “return.” As the Vatican II decree on ecumenism states, while distinct from ecumenism (which is concerned with corporate reunion), the reconciliation of individuals is still a good which proceeds from the same Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on the Church excludes from the salvation those who, knowing the truth, refuse to enter the Church.

Agreed. And those “Protestant” communions that remain smug about our divisions are furthering the wounds to unity. There is no excuse for the educated Christian not to seek a closer relationships with their fellow Christians and, ideally, the corporate reunion of entire denominations with the historic Patriarchates. :sad_yes:

Well, I’m intrigued. How can you interpret Trent as compatible with, say, Confessio Augustana? This isn’t a ‘gotcha’ question; I’m honestly perplexed. I don’t think I’ve read your thoughts on the issue. How can you possibly understand those very distinctive, highly-developed doctrines as compatible? Especially when one makes a point to declare the other as “anathema?” :confused:

My conclusion was based upon the fact that those in purgatory will someday be in heaven. Bob’s statement was “I don’t think Protestants get into heaven”. Unless he misspoke he meant that they are condemned to hell which is the only other alternative.

Well, it most certainly does. If one isn’t getting into heaven then they are going to hell. Purgatory isn’t a permanent state of being. The Church clearly teaches that Protestants can make it to heaven which on its face contradicts Bob’s statement that “I don’t think Protestants get into heaven”. :shrug:

I would say that “truth” is essential, the truth found in the deposit of faith given once to the Church by the Apostles. There was never any guarantee that everyone would adhere to that truth and regardless of who or how many adhere to it, it remains. Unity can never trump truth.

As for Protestant smugness, I don’t really view it that way. It seems logical to me that if one holds to the “invisible church” position with no authority seated in one place, then it really matters not what one chooses to believe. In other words, they believe in a unity with diversity of belief and doctrine and therefore coming into unity with any particular “Church” is really not on the agenda.

No doubt that the CC had a part to play in the division that took place, as it has so admitted. This has nothing, however, to do with the fact that the Church still possessed the truth which it received from the Apostles. Some, if not many, may not have been living according to that truth but would you not agree that if the Church ever possessed that truth, that it would be something to which one should return?

I have not read Pope Benedict’s 2005 speech at Cologne but will take a look when I’m done posting.

You may be correct but there are some huge hurdles here which have escalated dramatically since the first “reformers”. The word “sacrament” is now foreign to many Christian denominations, for instance. The years of separation have caused the divide to widen to the point that so much has been lost that we have become strangers among ourselves as Christians. There is a huge catechetical curve to overcome. But, with God nothing is impossible.

I guess it would depend on the degree and nature of your disagreement with Catholicism. What is it that you find difficult to repudiate in your Protestant heritage? And what is it that you find difficult to accept in the Catholic faith? If one has to choose then it seems that the two are not compatible. If they were there would be no choice to make.

Peace.

Steve

A couple of you seem to think that I assume Protestants all go to hell. Obviously you didn’t read the text.

God can keep Purgatory going as long as he wants. It’s His creation - not ours. Anything is possible with God. Ask Christ.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re all camped outside the Pearly Gates (to use an allegorical term), and they’ll stay there until the church reunifies. Ergo, they’re not in heaven.

I suppose the same argument could be made about the Orthodox, but I’m not getting into that one because I have no personal experience with the Orthodox Church. I do however, have experience with the Protestants, and overall, I think they’re a bit more enthusiastic than Catholics.

I’ve given my reasons above. And if I’m right, there’s a lot good people in that situation - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, CS Lewis, my old pastor, the Wesleys, and millions of otherwise unknown saints in the Protestant tradition.

But we can be one in our faith in Jesus while continuing to listen to each other with regard to the things that our brothers and sisters may see more clearly than we do. When I say that I don’t think something should be church dividing, I don’t take this to imply that it doesn’t matter.

I think one big error that Christians have made throughout the centuries is to assume that if truth and error live side by side, error will overcome truth. This shows a great lack of faith in truth:D

Suppose, for instance, that the Pope were to say “I welcome into full communion with the Church anyone willing to profess the Nicene Creed, treating all other matters as nonessential.”

What exactly would be lost by this? The truth would still be there, right? The Pope would still go on teaching the fullness of the Faith.

A lot of the energy on this forum comes from the fact that Catholics who hold to all the truths taught by the Magisterium are living and worshiping side by side with Catholics who in one way or another dissent from or ignore some teachings. People on this forum treat this as a horrible state of affairs. But I think that much of the vitality of contemporary American Catholicism derives precisely from the fact that laypeople have discovered the richness of historic Catholicism for themselves, rather than having it rammed down their throats. I first really fell in love with Catholicism at Duke, and looking back I can see that much of the appeal was the fact that there was a small band of orthodox Catholic students (undergrads and grad students alike) surrounded by a largely secular institution (though the Divinity School was quite Catholic-friendly, and is much more so today than it was then) and dealing with a Newman Center and local parishes that were dominated by stereotypical “AmChurch” liberalism.

In short, yes I’m challenging what conservative Catholics call “Neuhaus’ Law,” that “where orthodoxy is optional, it will ultimately be forbidden.” It is just an aphorism invented by a very smart man (and a pious Christian on whose soul may God have mercy, from whose writings I learned much about the Faith) to promote his particular ecclesiastical views. It’s not a law at all, except insofar as people tend to use power to promote their own views, whether orthodox or heretical.

Regarding “return” language, this was seen as unnecessary by the Pope in the sense of communities having to become “Roman” Catholic, but that didn’t mean they could choose to profess less than the whole truth. The Anglican Ordinariate created by that same Pope is the prototype of this kind of unity. They accept the entire Catechism, but can retain any other distinctive features not at odds with the truth. It’s a return to the truth and to full communion, it’s just not a return to exactly how things were, if that make sense.

Yes, I get that. I was not claiming that Pope Benedict would allow for unity based on anything less than subscription to what he saw as the whole truth revealed by God. However, as a Cardinal he did make a pretty radical proposal about defining the Councils of the second millennium as being something less than Ecumenical, for the sake of union with the Orthodox. . . .

On the individual level, however, if the perfect situation does not yet exist, but you are convinced of the truth, you need to convert and enter into full communion even if it requires a “return.” As the Vatican II decree on ecumenism states, while distinct from ecumenism (which is concerned with corporate reunion), the reconciliation of individuals is still a good which proceeds from the same Holy Spirit. Furthermore, Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on the Church excludes from the salvation those who, knowing the truth, refuse to enter the Church.

I am aware of that passage! I probably wouldn’t be in RCIA now if I didn’t take it very seriously.

However, my difficulty is not with entering the Church so much as with leaving the communion of those with whom I already share communion.

Edwin

I didn’t say they were compatible, but that the differences, in my view, don’t need to be church-dividing. I view them as more akin to the differences between Thomists and Molinists within Catholicism.

Now there may be more actual compatibility than staunch upholders of both confessional documents might suspect, but my case doesn’t rest on the theological positions being compatible.

One of my own very few issues with what Trent says about justification is, for instance, the view that one can have the faith that is a gift of God without also having charity. It seems to me that the Protestant position is superior here–faith and charity are inseparable and whatever “faith” exists without charity is just a human opinion and not a gift of God. I think this is a far more important issue than most people recognize. (Ironically, Catholics have the plain sense of St. Paul on their side–witness 1 Corinthians 13–but I think that passage is highly rhetorical and can be explained to agree with the Protestant view. The Protestant view is demonstrably better as a basis for evangelizing the baptized, which has been one of the greatest and most difficult tasks of the Church at least since the fourth century.) But I could be wrong. I certainly don’t think the issue ought to be church-dividing on either side.

Edwin

Well, that is a lot different than your first remark that " I don’t think Protestants get into heaven." As Catholics, we have no idea how long any one of us will be “camped outside the Pearly Gates” either so I don’t know why you even make the point.

until the Church is reunited, he said.

I would say that “truth” is essential, the truth found in the deposit of faith given once to the Church by the Apostles. There was never any guarantee that everyone would adhere to that truth and regardless of who or how many adhere to it, it remains. Unity can never trump truth.

Agreed, if the truth in question is truth that is basically constitutive of the Faith.

I suppose my basic difficulty with Catholicism is that I still believe in that much derided Protestant doctrine of “essentials.” I see the difficulties with it, and that’s why I have belabored my brains and conscience to get myself to agree that transubstantiation and the Marian dogmas and so on are really essential for unity. But I don’t see it. (This is not to say that I reject those doctrines–at worst I’m agnostic about them.) At the end of the day I think the Lambeth Quadrilateral is more or less right about what is required for reunion. And this is in part because I don’t see experiential evidence that Catholics have the “fullness of the Faith” in a practical sense, to the degree that would be required to justify making all the Catholic distinctives necessary for union.

I’ve gone back and forth on this, and may yet do so. I see the force of the other side as well. I see the beauty of saying "no, there’s this incredibly rich full Faith and if we water down one little bit we have abandoned the trust Christ gave us. . . . " but as I said, the reality of the Catholic Church doesn’t seem to support such a grandiose claim. The Trinity and the Incarnation seem to be enough to support a vibrant, rich, full, authentically Christian faith and life, even if Catholicism represents a fuller understanding of the implications of these dogmas.

As for Protestant smugness, I don’t really view it that way. It seems logical to me that if one holds to the “invisible church” position with no authority seated in one place, then it really matters not what one chooses to believe.

First of all, a purely “invisible church” isn’t the historic Protestant position at all. And in the second place, even people who believe in a purely invisible church often believe that belief in certain doctrines is necessary in order to belong to it.

Obviously it matters what you believe. If you don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, for instance, you’re not recognizably a Christian.

But if you don’t believe in the Real Presence in the Catholic sense of the term, you are still recognizably a Christian. You just fail to see some of the implications of what you believe.

Bottom line: can Catholics justify separating baptism and Eucharist, denying Eucharist to Christians in good faith whose baptism Catholics recognize?

This is deeply personal for me. In the abstract, yes I can accept the Catholic position. As an individual, I would be horrifically arrogant in refusing to enter the Church based on the relatively minor scruples I have about things like women’s ordination. But I’m not just an individual. That’s what makes it so complicated. I worry that my reasons for not becoming Catholic have just been cowardly–a desire not to create conflict within my family or make life difficult for myself or make my wife angry because I’m implicitly questioning the ordination that she hopes to receive sometime soon in the Episcopal Church. . . . But it’s more than that, because it’s about the nature of the Church.

I think Catholics, especially since Vatican II, want to have their cake and eat it too with regard to Protestants. You say out of one side of your mouth that Protestants are separated brothers and there are many elements of truth, etc. You recognize Protestant baptisms. And yet you say that Protestants cannot be welcomed into full communion without repudiating many of their beliefs and practices (women’s ordination is the one that looms largest for me for personal reasons). I am not sure you can have it both ways.

This has nothing, however, to do with the fact that the Church still possessed the truth which it received from the Apostles. Some, if not many, may not have been living according to that truth but would you not agree that if the Church ever possessed that truth, that it would be something to which one should return?

Absolutely, but two questions arise:

  1. Does the Roman Communion (i.e., the “Church” in your terms) “possess” the truth? It may possess it in the sense that none of its dogmas contradict the truth, while those of other churches sometimes do. But it certainly doesn’t possess it in the sense of having worked out all its implications. That’s still a work in process, and one in which all Christians need each other.

  2. As I suggested to Genesis 315, it is possible to reunite with people and still call them to a fuller understanding of the truth. I’m not arrogantly claiming that Rome ought to do this. I’m throwing it out as a possibility, which maybe the assumptions that have shaped Christian polemic since the Arian controversy if not before lead us to ignore.

You may be correct but there are some huge hurdles here which have escalated dramatically since the first “reformers”. The word “sacrament” is now foreign to many Christian denominations, for instance. The years of separation have caused the divide to widen to the point that so much has been lost that we have become strangers among ourselves as Christians.

Right. For me personally the two Protestant traditions with which I have some involvement at this point are Anglicanism and Methodism. Methodists are deplorably fuzzy on the sacraments, but they do believe in sacraments:p And Anglicans share more with Catholics than that, of course. I’m sure that people coming from, say, a Baptist heritage have similar and more acute issues, but perhaps in a way the further away one’s heritage is from Catholicism the easy it is to say “obviously I should just become Catholic.” Certainly the choices seemed a lot more clear-cut in the 90s, when I was coming from a house-church nondenominational (but theologically Wesleyan) point of view, than they do after years of being an Anglican, with a wife who was born and bred Methodist and is now also Episcopalian and parents who have been members of the United Methodist Church for years.

I guess it would depend on the degree and nature of your disagreement with Catholicism. What is it that you find difficult to repudiate in your Protestant heritage? And what is it that you find difficult to accept in the Catholic faith? If one has to choose then it seems that the two are not compatible. If they were there would be no choice to make.

I have to choose because of the choices that the ecclesiastical bigwigs on all sides have been making for centuries and still make, not because I think there is any inherent contradiction between Methodism, Anglicanism, and Catholicism as I understand and love all three. (This is really a three-way conflict for me, not two-way. The Anglican/Methodist issue is quite easily resolvable, but I mention it because each of these traditions have different goods and a different relation to Catholicism.)

What I find difficult to repudiate is the heritage itself, as carried by persons and communities. And yes, this includes close family members (my wife, my parents, and currently my children, though of course if I do go through with becoming Catholic there will have to be a conversation about them, which is another huge headache). I could list all the things I value about this heritage, but of course many of them are probably, theoretically, compatible with Catholicism (certainly I think they are–that’s indeed my point in the preceding paragraph.) The one place where the rubber really hits the road is Eucharistic communion (which includes the huge issue of women’s ordination, obviously). I am not sure that in good conscience I can refuse to take bread and wine offered me in the name of the Lord by any Christian believer. And I am by no means sure that the Real Presence is absent from any such act. I certainly think that the spiritual danger lies all in refusing Christ when offered, not in accepting as Christ what may only be Christ in some “lesser” sense.

Edwin

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