Ecumenism vs Apologetics

Is Ecumenism an important part of Apologetics or are they two distinct methods trying to achieve different results?

They go hand in hand. To proclaim the Truth of Jesus Christ and His Church, the Catholic Church one has to enter into a dialogue. This forum is a good example. People from other faiths are allowed to comment and even though some of it is anti Catholicism or against the One True Faith it gives an opportunity for those same people to learn about the Truth.

What’s not good is false ecumenism where Truth is compromised in the guise of ‘getting along’.

Yet the Roman Catholic Church, from the highest levels in Rome, down to local communities, is a strong advocate of both ecumenical and interfaith work and the work is much more than teaching others about the truth. It is a real theological and social encounter between faith communities.

ComplineSanFran #3
Yet the Roman Catholic Church, from the highest levels in Rome, down to local communities, is a strong advocate of both ecumenical and interfaith work and the work is much more than teaching others about the truth. It is a real theological and social encounter between faith communities.

That “real theological and social encounter” can only be a reality when the Catholics
involved know, understand and follow the Catholic Church. For the objective is as Vatican II Lumen Gentium] teaches:
“By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of Truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority, (Magisterium), and obeying it, receives not the mere word of men, but truly the Word of God” (cf 1 Th 2:13)….

**ECUMENISM. **The modern movement toward Christian unity whose Protestant origins stem from the Edinburgh World Missionary Conference in 1910, and whose Catholic principles were formulated by the Second Vatican Council in 1964. These principles are mainly three: 1. Christ established his Church on the Apostles and their episcopal successors, whose visible head and principle of unity became Peter and his successor the Bishop of Rome; 2. since the first century there have been divisions in Christianity, but many persons now separated from visible unity with the successors of the Apostles under Peter are nevertheless Christians who possess more or less of the fullness of grace available in the Roman Catholic Church; 3. Catholics are to do everything possible to foster the ecumenical movement, which comprehends all “the initiatives and activities, planned and undertaken to promote Christian unity, according to the Church’s various needs and as opportunities offer” (Decree on Ecumenism, I, 4).

APOLOGETICS. The science that aims to explain and justify religious doctrine. It shows the reasonableness of such doctrine in the face of the objections offered by those who refuse to accept any religion, especially Christianity and more particularly Roman Catholicism. Also called fundamental theology as the science that establishes the credibility of Christian revelation on the evidence of miraculous phenomena and the testimony of unbiased history. (Etym. Greek apologetikos, a defense.)
Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl

Catechism of the Catholic Church
820 “**Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.” **Unitatis redintegratio, 4 #3].Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her.[My bold].

Of course Catholics are going to know, understand and follow the Catholic Church. But they are still meeting with and studying with and praying with other faith communities. You can see this, for example, with the work that has been done between the RCC and the Lutherans. There is mutuality.

‘Lutherans and Catholics must let themselves continuously be transformed by the encounter with the other and by the mutual witness of faith.’

And in the amazing work done for the marking of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, there is also a call for repentance on both sides. There is a recognition of complicit responsibility for what has happened then and now.

To me, this says that the RCC is walking side by side with other faiths, with honor and respect.

I remember when Pope Benedict was in the UK. During the service at Westminster Abbey, the most powerful symbol to me was when he and Archbishop Rowan Williams processed down the aisle side by side. There was no need to proclaim authority, one over another.

So unless you have done interfaith or ecumenical work, you can’t really appreciate how far the RCC has come in it’s willingness to engage on a level playing field.

And on the other side of the coin, the Anglican church has come a long way since its recusancy laws. :slight_smile:

ComplineSanFran #5
Of course Catholics are going to know, understand and follow the Catholic Church.

Unfortunately too many don’t, and only those who do are qualified and able to need to show what is the fullness of truth which does not encompass women priests and all the other failings in teaching and practice which have occurred.

And in the amazing work done for the marking of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, there is also a call for repentance on both sides. There is a recognition of complicit responsibility for what has happened then and now.

Now for the reality, not for complicit responsibility for the Revolt.

The Pope never apologises for the Church which is ‘held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy’ ” [Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium, art 39]. Therefore Popes have apologised for the sins of Catholics, never for ‘the Church’.

In First Things (November 1997), Harvard Law Professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote that “the Pope himself has acknowledged the mistakes and sins of Christians in connection with, among other things, the Crusades, the Inquisition, persecution of the Jews, religious wars, Galileo, and the treatment of women. Thus, though the Pope himself is careful to speak of sin or error on the part of the Church’s members or representatives, rather than the Church in its fullness, that important theological distinction is almost always lost in the transmission.” [My emphasis].
**
PROTESTANTISM.
The system of faith, worship, and practice derived from the principles of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. As a name, it comes from the Protestatio of the Reformers at the Diet of Speyer (1529) against the decisions of the Catholic majority that no further religious innovations were to be introduced. Although now divided into hundreds of denominations, the original families of Protestantism were only five: the Lutheran, Calvinist, and Zwinglian on the Continent, and the Anglican and Free Church or Congregational in Great Britain. Three premises of Protestantism have remained fairly constant, namely, the Bible as the only rule of faith, excluding tradition and Church authority; justification by faith alone, excluding supernatural merit and good works; and the universal priesthood of believers, excluding a distinct episcopacy or priesthood divinely empowered through ordination to teach, govern, and sanctify the people of God. (Etym. Latin protestari, to profess one’s belief in or against something, to witness to.)
Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl

It is from the protest at the Diet of Spires in 1529 that the word Protestant is derived. It was a protest against freedom of conscience, and against the spiritual authority of the Catholic Church, as well as against the temporal authority of Charles V.

Blithely ignored also, for idle chatter, is the stark warning of Jesus Himself: “For false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” (Mk 13:22). Just as Christ founding His Church on St Peter, and giving him His authority, is ignored.

The great Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as Cardinal Ratzinger, wrote of Luther’s contempt for the Sacrament of Holy Orders: “all the bitterness of the young reformer against the existing priesthood in such shocking exclamations” as the following; “O you princes, not of the Catholic Church, but of the synagogue of Satan, yes of darkness.” [Cited in *Principles of Catholic Theology, Ignatius, 1987, p 261, from Luther’s Babylonian Captivity].

I would actually prefer that the word “Reformation” be dropped when describing that period of history. It is just a glamorization, given too much sentimental nostalgia, it is a euphemism for what it really was, a rending.

And no, there was no need to proclaim authority, one over another, that does not mean it was not there by default. Authority doesn’t need to proclaim it.

I wonder sometimes whether if Henry VIII were alive today, whether he would even recognize what he initiated, what he would think of this history, and whether he would have gone through with it, seeing now what his impromptu decision created.

Yet, there, in Westminster Abbey, the Pope had no authority. He was a guest.

Ecumenism specifically deals with trying to achieve unity at the corporate level through fraternal conferences and theological discussions, cooperation in good works, prayer, etc. Apologetics is simply the science of defending the Catholic faith.

There is definitely overlap in that apologetics is necessary for the theological discussions. But apologetics can also be useful in seeking individual conversions, which is something distinct from–but complementary to–ecumenism (which, as I said, is related to unity at the corporate level). Likewise, apologetics is especially helpful in strengthening the faith of Catholics, so they are not drawn away from the unity of the Church.

Apologetics is defending the faith from any perspective. Anglican apologetics defends Anglicanism. Mormon apologetics defends LDS beliefs. All of us need to know what to bring to the table when we are in conversation with others.

So is the way you see it ecumenism would be like the ARCIC, and not necessarily something lay-people can be involved in? Is evangelism then the lay-persons ecumenism?

Lay people can be involved in ecumenism by praying for unity, cooperating for common causes, and generally acting in good will, etc., but by its nature the more concrete work is done at the higher levels. The Anglican Ordinariate, for example, could not be established by lay people–it needed bishops and the Pope to actually do the concrete work like ensuring doctrinal unity and establishing the hierarchy–but lay people could certainly pray for it, etc. Also,think of the prior reunion Councils like the Council of Florence–it was the bishops on both sides (and their theologians) who met and did the more concrete work, but everyone else was to pray for a good outcome, treat the visiting separated clergy well, etc. Ecumenism is kind of like a long ongoing reunion council.

Evangelization is essentially fulfilling the great commission. This is the job not just of lay people, but all the clergy and religious as well–in fact, the whole Church. Ecumenism is really a special subset of this work of gathering all people into perfect communion in Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. As lay people, we do our part by evangelizing the individuals around us by word and deed.

[quote=CDF note on evangelization]As explicitly recognized in the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, “it is evident that the work of preparing and reconciling those individuals who desire full Catholic communion is of its nature distinct from ecumenical action, but there is no opposition between the two, since both proceed from the marvelous ways of God”.[50] Therefore, the work of ecumenism does not remove the right or take away the responsibility of proclaiming in fullness the Catholic faith to other Christians, who freely wish to receive it.
[/quote]

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20071203_nota-evangelizzazione_en.html

They are together

As our first pope taught

1 Peter 3:15
but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense ἀπολογίαν ] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;

ἀπολογίαν is where we get apologetics

And when asked, we always need to be prepared to answer and defend what we believe … with charity

The context of 1 Peter 3:15 seems to be in the case of persecution and having to provide a legal defence for ones faith, such as what St Stephen, St Paul and many many unknown martyrs experienced.

So is apologetics then the situation where we are put on trial so to speak by an antagonist of the Faith (you Catholics this, you Catholics that), whereas ecumenism can only be established in a more friendly relationship?

It can. but it is also a broad statement as well, that Peter is making, that at any time

“Always be prepared to make a defense ἀπολογίαν ] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;”

As an observation, on the average, how many people are ready to defend their faith and defend it with gentleness and reverence?

That is a very difficult question to gauge, my friend. I pray the answer is not too disheartening.

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