Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ecumenism

Over the years (and decades and centuries), there has been a ton of writings put out by the Catholic Church. There's always something that somebody has not read before, sometimes has not even heard of before. In this day and age, and in our very busy lives, some of us seldom find the time to read things.

I have heard before of the papal encyclical Mortalium animos (Pius XI, 06 January 1928) , but just recently had the opportunity to read through it. Needless to say, some things are easier to read than others. Reading Mortalium reminded me of reading some of Herman Hesse's essays in German (paragraph-long sentences with multiple subordinate clauses that just get confusing). However, what truly amazing is how clear formal, intricate, and complicated writing can sometimes be.

Here are some excerpts:
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"[9][...]For the teaching authority of the Church, which in the divine wisdom was constituted on earth in order that revealed doctrines might remain intact for ever, and that they might be brought with ease and security to the knowledge of men, and which is daily exercised through the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops who are in communion with him, has also the office of defining, when it sees fit, any truth with solemn rites and decrees, whenever this is necessary either to oppose the errors or the attacks of heretics, or more clearly and in greater detail to stamp the minds of the faithful with the articles of sacred doctrine which have been explained. But in the use of this extraordinary teaching authority no newly invented matter is brought in, nor is anything new added to the number of those truths which are at least implicitly contained in the deposit of Revelation, divinely handed down to the Church: only those which are made clear which perhaps may still seem obscure to some, or that which some have previously called into question is declared to be of faith.

"[10.] So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for 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, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: "The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly." (De Cath. Ecclesiae unitate, 6). The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that "this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills." (Ibid). For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, (I Cor. 12: 12.) compacted and fitly joined together, (Eph. 4: 16.) it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head. (Cf. Eph. 5: 30; 1: 22.)

"[11.] Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, "the Mother and mistress of all Christ's faithful"? (Conc. Lateran IV, c. 5). Let them hear Lactantius crying out: "The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind." (Divin. Instit. 4, 30. 11-12. )

"[13] You, Venerable Brethren, understand how much this question is in Our mind, and We desire that Our children should also know, not only those who belong to the Catholic community, but also those who are separated from Us: if these latter humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity."
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Let's look at what the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) has to say:

"[3.] It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects already mentioned, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as a means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.

"[8.] In certain special circumstances, such as in prayer services 'for unity' and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effetive means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine expression of the ties which even now bind Catholics to their separated brethren."

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REAL, TRUE Ecumenism means bringing everyone into the One Faith, One Church created and established by Christ --- the Catholic Church. It does not at all mean that it becomes necessary for the Catholic Church to water down her own teachings in order to make things "more palatable", in order to make it "easier" for non-Catholics (and, indeed, Catholic modernists and relativists as well) to accept. It does not make sense --- and I submit that it's SINFUL --- for the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to twist the Truth (or downright ignore it) in order to convert heretics and heathens, for what good is it to bring someone into the Church under false pretenses? What good is it to bring people to part of the Truth and not the Full Truth?

4 Comments:

At 5:49 PM, Blogger BekahS. said...

Amen, Roger. Thank you for bringing this document to my attention. My thoughts have been tending toward this end, and I have been gathering them to write them up in an essay. Is this available online somewhere, or do I need to look for it elsewhere?

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger dcs said...

Mortalium Animos

Unitatis Redintegratio

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger dcs said...

The irony is that the more Catholic teachings are watered down, the less non-Catholics perceive the necessity to enter the Church. I remember some time ago my diocese had an advertising campaign aimed at attracting men to the priesthood. The slogan was "Ordinary men called to do extraordinary work." It was ridiculed in a sermon by a retired priest, who noted that the Marines don't attract men by appealing to the ordinary. They want extraordinary men and are honest about it. An ordinary man is not suited for the challenges of serving in the Marines; likewise, an ordinary man is not suited for serving the Church as a priest, especially in this day and age when the Church and especially the sacred priesthood are beseiged from all sides.

What does this have to do with people converting to the Faith? If you think about it, life in today's Church is very ordinary. It doesn't seem to matter whether one attends Protestant services and, in any case, the Mass is barely distinguishable from Protestant services. It doesn't seem to matter whether one converts or not. The Church is just another ordinary human institution. That's what's missing: the sense of the extraordinary.

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger Rogers Gossett said...

By the way...
My first name is Rogers. Yes, it ends in an 's'. I have not misspelled my own name. ;) Don't fret.. just about everyone I have ever come across makes the same mistake.

 

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