True ecumenism means bringing non-Catholics into the Catholic Church. Ecumenism can never mean coming to a “consensus” on what we believe with non-Catholic Christians or co-existing with them.
St. Pius X authorized a document to the Protestant sponsored international at Edinburgh in 1910 which states the following:
The elements of faith in which you all agree are numerous and are common to the various Christian bodies, and then can serve as a point of departure for your discussion… This is a work in which we in our day may well co-operate.
Pius XI said in his encyclical Mortalium Animos that authentic unity** “can be born of but one single authority, one sole rule of faith, and one identical Christian belief.”**
Thus it is clear that while we may engage in discussion with other Christian denominations about our common beliefs, we can never make ecumenism a point of consensus on faith and doctrine with non-Catholic Christians.
Catechism of the Catholic Church states the following regarding ecumenism:
822 Concern for achieving unity “involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.” But we must realize “that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts.” That is why we place all our hope “in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (emphasis mine)
855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity. Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects." (emphasis mine)
The Church has always maintained that true unity among Christians can only exist in the Catholic Church. We may use our common beliefs as a starting point, but we can never use it as a reason not to seek conversions to the Catholic faith.
What has happened in the past 40 years is we have seen many in the hierarchy of the Church de-emphasize conversions. The prayer services at Assisi held by John Paul II are often criticized, but the real problem goes beyond these prayer services. We are being taught now that conversion to the Catholic faith isn’t necessary for salvation. We are being taught that there is truth in other non-Catholic Christian religions. While this is certainly true (nobody would deny Lutherans are correct about the Holy Trinity), it is being presented as just an “alternative” to the Catholic faith.
The faith isn’t being watered down. Remember, it is the same John Paul II who held the prayer services at Assisi that also approved the Catechism of the Catholic Church which states in paragraph 822 that the true unity of Christians can only come about in the Catholic Church.
The problem with current ecumenism is the same as every other problem in the Catholic Church. We have been deceived by many of the bishops into believing that conversions aren’t necessary. We have been deceived into believing one religion is as good as another and that we should just “get along” with non-Catholic Christians in particular and non-Catholics in general.
Certain bishops, priests, and theologians have been teaching a faith that is contrary to the Catholic faith for many years. However, they have been doing it in the name of the Catholic Church.
What we really need is to learn and practice true ecumenism. We need an end to religious indifferntism and be zealous for souls.
Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are zealous for souls. They have no problem getting conversions, most of whom are baptized Catholics.
We need the same zeal in the Catholic Church, but first we need to be taught true ecumenism and the need to win souls for Christ and bring them into the Church.