Would you agree the modern Catholic church acts more ecumenical than it did in the past?

I’m an evangelical Protestant, who began reading a bunch of Patristic writings. As such, I’ve become convinced that Protestantism is false. I’m leaning heavily toward the Orthodox church, but wanted to take a look at Catholicism. So I have a series of questions.

  1. Do you see the modern Catholic church as acting substantially more ecumenical than it acted prior to 1800 AD? If so, why the shift in attitude?

Aren’t those religions, and non-Catholic Christians just as problematic now, as they were 500 years ago?

In example, I’ll cite the joint services with various other religions held in the Vatican.

  1. Do you think Catholicism embraced much of the liberal Protestant theological approach in the past 100 years?

In example, I’ll cite the historical-critical method, increased toleration of theological dissent in Catholic universities, and reducing the teaching of the speculative “limbo of the infants” theology.

If Catholicism has drawn a lot from liberal Protestantism, why? Aren’t Protestants greatly misled, and liberal Protestants most of all?

  1. How would you reconcile statements like this from the Catechism

[quote=Catholic Catechism, 1935]Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.
[/quote]

With statements like this from the Bible:

[quote=Numbers 31:17-18 (KJV)] Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
[/quote]

[quote=Deuteronomy 13:6-9 (KJV)] If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
[/quote]

To me, it seems like the concern over “discrimination” is a modern phenomenon, and not present in Scripture (or even the USA prior to 1900). Do you disagree?

Yes, because she’s understood and embraced the light of the gospel more firmly than ever before.

Yes, but less threatening to a Church that understands and stands firm in her own role better than ever.

No. And her consistent stand on abortion, homosexuality, and contraception, as examples, while much of Protestantism has compromised on these matters, is proof.

There’s nothing wrong with the historical critical method if used responsibly; it need not lead to the errors of some who abuse it. Pope Benedict is an excellent example of one who knows how to employ it beneficially.

Wrong-minded toleration, where observed, is a sign of the times-where the Church is not always fulfilling her role. But you won’t find it supported in her doctrines. Here’s a quote from Benedict regarding this issue: “A man of conscience, is one who never acquires tolerance, well- being, success, public standing, and approval on the part of prevailing opinion, at the expense of truth.”

Limbo is a different case; based on her knowledge of Gods nature and will the Church has distanced herself somewhat from a long-term yet unofficial teaching that she’s concerned isn’t consistent with that nature and will for man. The ability to reconsider a teaching such as Limbo is a sign of strength/maturity.

Yes, but the Church applauds whatever is true and good wherever it’s found. Protestantism lacks the “fullness of truth” buts it’s not without truth, and not without faith, and has contributed to our understanding of the gospel at times; CS Lewis comes to mind. It would be petty, myopic, fruitless, and irresponsible for the Church to take an isolationist stance in regard to such positive contributions.

The Church knows God and His nature and will-and knows it increasingly better-as she and her members grow in faith, hope, and charity, becoming ever more transformed into His image-and she’s been given the power and authority to interpret and understand scripture in the way it was authentically intended by Him.

These don’t quite seem like answers. You seem like you’re just saying the changes were positive.

Why does understanding the gospel better lead to ecumenicism?

How do you reconcile the part of the catechism I quoted, with the Bible verses I quoted?

My take: one of the reasons the Church became more ecumenical is cultural changes both in the society at large and within Catholic society. After WW2, Catholics started moving out of the Catholic neighborhoods they had been living in and moving to the suburbs among people from various religions. There needed to be a different way of interacting, or at least, that was the thought. I am ok with ecumenism in some ways, but not in others.

  1. Do you think Catholicism embraced much of the liberal Protestant theological approach in the past 100 years?

In example, I’ll cite the historical-critical method, increased toleration of theological dissent in Catholic universities, and reducing the teaching of the speculative “limbo of the infants” theology.

It seems that as the Protestants were dropping the HC method, *some *Catholic theologians picked it up. It’s not been embraced by the Church as a whole.

Limbo was always speculative, but was being taught as doctrine in some places. It’s a tricky situation–one does not want to condemn the idea, but one also maintain the truth.

If Catholicism has drawn a lot from liberal Protestantism, why? Aren’t Protestants greatly misled, and liberal Protestants most of all?

The Protestants share some truths with Catholics; ie, they all believe in the Trinity, no? So if a Protestant seemed to have discovered a truth of some sort, then the Catholic Church would be bound to consider it. Look at the work of St Thomas Aquinas: he did not reject Aristotle and a certain Muslim philosopher (I’ve heard the names of two different philosophers mentioned in this context, so am not sure which)

  1. How would you reconcile statements like this from the Catechism

With statements like this from the Bible:

What’s to reconcile? We should not discriminate against people based *solely *on some characteristic held by many, but in OT times, they did not have jails to put bad people into. There’s a difference between judging someone based on skin color and the like with judging someone’s *actions. *

To me, it seems like the concern over “discrimination” is a modern phenomenon, and not present in Scripture (or even the USA prior to 1900). Do you disagree?

A certain amount of present concern over discrimination is over-the-top, I think that if you consider closely what was happening, God was going after peoples who were doing bad things rather than just going after people for no good reason.

But unlike Aristotle, Protestant theology is specifically designed to be anti-Catholic. After all, they are “protesting” the Catholic church. I do gather your point, though.

I doubt that male infants are “bad people” in need of jailing or execution.

Would the Pope permit Catholics to execute (or imprison-for-life) those who left Catholicism, and worshiped another god? I think not. But it’s mandated in the Old Testament.

It does seem like the teaching of the Catholic Church is more ecumenical today. For example, I believe that it is now taught that a Jew can be saved, but in the past, it seems not.
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302:
“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439:
“Sixthly, we offer to the envoys that compendious rule of the faith composed by most blessed Athanasius, which is as follows:
“Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.–
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, Sess. 4, Chap. 3,: "… all the faithful of Christ must believe that the Apostolic See and the Roman Pontiff hold primacy over the whole world, and the Pontiff of Rome himself is the successor of the blessed Peter, the chief of the apostles, and is the true vicar of Christ and head of the whole Church… Furthermore We teach and declare that the Roman Church, by the disposition of the Lord, holds the sovereignty of ordinary power over all others… This is the doctrine of Catholic truth from which no one can deviate and keep his faith and salvation
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441,:
“The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are
outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics,
cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for
the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives

To understand the gospel better is to come to know God better. To come to know God better is to come to love better-because love is the heart of the gospel, love is man’s justice, love is God’s very nature, the nature He seeks to infuse us with, the reason the light came into the world. Ecumenism, responsibly undertook, flows from mature Christian love.

The Catechism, the Church 's teachings, take precedence in that they give us, by her authority, the correct understanding of scripture, which is easily misunderstood.

I think the big difference is not the theology, but the people. 500 years ago we didn’t have the situation we have now, with folks innocently being raised several generations in Protestantism. You simply can’t approach a person who was raised through no fault of their own in a protestant church the same way you would treat a formal heretic. (Which is what the Church was addressing her condemnations to back then.)

The theology may be the same, but one is culpable for his sin and the other is not. If you said to a Baptist today, “If anyone says that works have no role to play in salvation, let him be anathema.” I guarantee you’ll get a blank stare as well as a “anatha…what now?” It would do no good, and might only cement them in their error.

So that’s the main reason the approach changed.

  1. Do you think Catholicism embraced much of the liberal Protestant theological approach in the past 100 years?

In example, I’ll cite the historical-critical method, increased toleration of theological dissent in Catholic universities, and reducing the teaching of the speculative “limbo of the infants” theology.

  1. The historical-critical method has some problems, but it also has some valid contributions. The key is to sort out the good from the bad, which is what people like Pope Benedict did.

  2. The fact that some Catholics teach things that are contrary to the Faith doesn’t mean Catholicism itself has embraced liberal Protestant theology. In fact, Catholicism is one of the few Christian denominations that has not succumbed to liberalism in her teachings.

  3. Not really sure how this is supposed to be an embracing of liberal Protestantism, since like you said, limbo was always speculative and never official teaching.

  1. How would you reconcile statements like this from the Catechism

With statements like this from the Bible:

To me, it seems like the concern over “discrimination” is a modern phenomenon, and not present in Scripture (or even the USA prior to 1900). Do you disagree?

And do you think that this is a bad thing? I can’t help but get the feeling that you are operating under the assumption that if something is old, it’s therefore good and true, and if it’s new, it must be bad. This is simply false.

If you’re going to cite the Old Testament as evidence that racial discrimination is legitimate, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to say therefore that polygamy is also a good thing, since it’s practiced in the Old Testament also.

The thing we have to realize is that revelation in the Old Testament was partial and progressive. Some of the things Israel did was not good, as Ezekiel 20:25 even explicitly says.

So yes, the Israelites discriminated against the Gentiles, because if they didn’t they would have fallen into idolatry. That’s why God commanded these things, he was taking a people out of paganism, and any exposure to it would have caused them to fall right back into it. That’s why they had to be completely separated from them.

But as revelation progressed eventually they would realize that God’s spirit is actually in all men and that he calls all to repentance:

1 For thy immortal spirit is in all things. 2 Therefore thou dost correct little by little those who trespass,
and dost remind and warn them of the things wherein they sin,
that they may be freed from wickedness and put their trust in thee, O Lord. 3 Those who dwelt of old in thy holy land 4 thou didst hate for their detestable practices,
their works of sorcery and unholy rites, 5 their merciless slaughter of children… 8 But even these thou didst spare, since they were but men,
and didst send wasps as forerunners of thy army…10 But judging them little by little thou gavest them a chance to repent,(Wisdom 12:1-10)

By the time we get to the New Testament, this fact becomes even clearer, in that God loves the entire world, (John 3:16) and that he desires all men to be saved. (1 Timothy 2:4) This would then culminate in Paul’s stunning claim that: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28)

It was through contemplating all these Scripture verses (and others, especially Matthew 5:43-47 where we’re told to love even our enemies.) that the Church came to the realization that all men are equal in dignity before God, and that we must love and treat all people equally. Not out of some desire to modernize. The fact that it was only a century or two ago that the Church began to explicitly teach this changes nothing. It’s still true.

[quote=Acts 15:28-29][28] For it hath seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to lay no further burden upon you than these necessary things: [29] That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well.
[/quote]

The Bible verses you quoted were part of the national law of Israel, which is not binding on Christians. The Law is important as a historical document, but Gentiles were excempt from it in its entirety; even the prohibition against blood and so on was of a temporary nature, to (quote from commentary in the Douay-Rheims) “bring the Jews more easily to admit of the society of the Gentiles; and to exercise the latter in obedience”.

Additionally, Catholic teaching is that God had not fully revealed Himself to the Jews; Revelation was not complete until the Incarnation. The words of Jesus regarding divorce reflect this:

[quote=Matthew 19:8]He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
[/quote]

There are varying views on how this affects the Old Testament; I will avoid that subject now. The only important thing to remember is that the laws governing the nation of Israel do not bind Christians.

As to the term ‘discrimination’, it is true that this is a modern concept, but it reflects an age old problem, which has always been important to the Church: That of social justice. The only thing that has changed is language, and to some extent our awareness of some forms of discrimination as a problem of social justice.

Not to put too fine a point on it but this is where non-Catholic Christians have the most trouble, reading the bible literally. This is by no means a criticism of those Christians. To debate the “meaning” of bible verses is much more useful than a literal interpretation of them.

I’ll answer a few and leave the rest to others.

Yes. Tempers have cooled with the passage of time.

Aren’t those religions, and non-Catholic Christians just as problematic now, as they were 500 years ago?

Yes and no. Yes, they are still wrong theologically. No, they are less anti-Catholic than they were in the past.

And now, I have a couple of questions for you that will illustrate the fundamental flaw of Orthodoxy:

1. Is Jesus a king?
2. Did He re-establish the office of the Royal Steward?

In ancient times, a king might choose a second in command (known as the royal steward or prime minister) who literally wore a large key as a symbol of his office and who spoke with the authority of the king. The prophet Isaiah confirms this:

Isaiah 22:20-22
"In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

In the passage above, God is speaking to Shebnah, an unfaithful steward serving King Hezekiah. God is telling Shebnah that he is about to be replaced by Eliakim, and this confirms the existence of the office, the key worn as a symbol of the office, and the continuation of the office in perpetuity – despite the change of office holder. In other words, the office of the royal steward continued even when the man who held the office died or was replaced by someone else. God Himself passes the key from one steward to the next.

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus inherits the throne of his father, David.

Luke 1:31–33
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.

We also read the following:

Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

The passage quoted above from Matthew tells us that Jesus named Peter as His royal steward and gave him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven" as the symbol of his authority to speak in His name. Since Jesus is an eternal king, the office of royal steward in His kingdom will never end. Peter died as a martyr as Jesus foretold, but the successors of Peter have taken his place in the perpetual office that Jesus established in His royal court.

In addition to the reference to a key or keys, note the following parallels:

"What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Is. 22:22)
"Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:19)

Jesus specifically referenced the passage from Isaiah when He appointed Peter, and Peter received authority from Jesus to speak universally in His name. To do so faithfully, Peter must not teach error; therefore, Peter (and his successors who hold the office of the Royal Steward - also known as the Bishop of Rome) are protected by God through the charism of infallibility.

Therefore, if Jesus established Peter as the first Royal Steward in a perpetual office, then despite the existence of other, lesser stewards (who have their own legitimate areas of authority) don’t Peter’s successors, the Bishops of Rome, continue to serve in that office today?

Jimmy Akin, Director of Apologetics here at Catholic Answers, addresses this very issue in great depth here:

jimmyakin.com/2007/02/hard_sayings_of.html

Protestantism and Orthodoxy permit the use of artificial birth control. Catholicism does not.

Protestantism and Orthodoxy permit divorce. Catholicism does not. (Annulment is NOT the same thing.)

Protestantism and Orthodoxy permit priests/pastors to be married. Catholicism does not. (At least, normally in the Latin Rite.)

Has Catholicism or Orthodoxy embraced these two liberal theological approaches? :shrug:

Modern church is spot on. It seems it is speeding up faster and faster as well. Have been asking myself this question on a regular basis and have been to a few parishes that one would think were Protestant if they did not know better.

Ecumenism is a slippery slope that has led many souls away confused poorly taught in the faith. It is up to the faithful to not allow this to infest itself in our parishes when the priests and bishops do nothing. One only needs to do their own research to see its roots and stay clear of the many churches pushing this down our throats.

For myself and family we have moved towards Tradition and have seen Gods blessing everyday.

Although annulment may not be exactly the same thing as divorce, Catholic couples are required by the Church tribunal to get divorced before they apply for an annulment and it has been characterised as a dishonest divorce as oftentimes practiced. For example, according to His Eminence Walter Cardinal Kasper a Catholic marriage annulment can be a divorce in a Catholic way, in a dishonest way.
americamagazine.org/content/all-things/cardinal-kasper-some-fear-domino-effect-synod-family

I was focusing more on actions. The teaching is a bit blurry. Invincible ignorance and all that.

Even in 1700, there were plenty of people who had been raised several generations in Protestantism. If each generation is 25 years, then about 7 generation for someone in England, or the Lutheran areas of Germany.

And Rome was pretty hostile to the Orthodox. Who had been around much longer.

Liberal Protestants believe everyone goes to heaven, especially cute babies.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or right. But if an idea didn’t really exist until 1900, I’m wondering why it’s in the catechism.

Polygamy was not mandatory, it was just permitted. That doesn’t mean God likes it. Jesus said Moses permitted divorce because “your hearts were hard”. Discrimination, however, was mandatory.

And how is this inconsistent with discrimination? The Roman empire was pretty multicultural, but still did a lot of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination.

Call me a cynic, but I find it strange that the church discovered the teaching, shortly after the enlightenment started advocating “equality” and “liberty”. Makes you think it wasn’t the church that discovered “equality”.

Sure. The revelation was incomplete. But divorce was not mandatory. Moses just didn’t prohibit it. That’s different than discrimination, which was mandatory.

I’m pretty sure the concept of “social justice” is a modern one, too. Catholics may have been concerned about “justice” prior to 1800, but that meant something different. “Justice” used to mean something like “proper application of the law”.

Modern Protestants may be less anti-Catholic. Modern Muslims and Hindus … not so much.

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus inherits the throne of his father, David.

So, Peter inherits the “throne of David” over the “house of Jacob”. That seems more like he should rule Israel or something. Which Jesus does, but the Pope doesn’t. Unless I’m missing some big part of Catholic theology.

Also, Orthodoxy teaches that all the Bishops inherited Peter’s authority. So the Catholic would need to demonstrate that the Roman Pontiff, and the Roman Pontiff alone inherited Peter’s authority. Catholics, of course, would agree that all Bishops are successors of Peter and the other Apostles, but only one person (the Roman Pontiff) receives Peter’s keys.

Moreover, looking at the early church fathers (which I have only glanced at), it seems that a lot of them think that the other Apostles received the keys, too.

You use the word “permit”. Which in Orthodoxy, does not mean the same thing as “not a sin”. Economia, and such.

Catholicism does permit NFP, which is a form of birth control. Literally, it’s goal is to reduce the chance of birth.

Also, doesn’t Catholicism permits the use of artificial birth control in some circumstances involving a non-Catholic spouse?

In practice, annulment looks a lot like divorce. Actually, it seems a bit nastier. You’re not admitting that a marriage ended, you’re denying the marriage existed.

Didn’t the Latin Rite permit married priests prior to 1200 AD (or some similar date)? The antenicene church did.

Protestantism has. Of your three points, the only one that the Orthodox changed in the past 300 years, was contraception. So they probably aren’t due to liberalism.

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.