The Truth About Ecumenism |
And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever?"
2 Corinthians 6: 15
An Analysis of the Encyclical Mortalium Animos
Part 2: Allurements & Temptations
and other true Catholic Teaching on Religious Unity
"Pius XI exposes the danger of ecumenism by teaching that "in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed." Make sure you don't miss this crucial point: the ecumenical error "completely destroys" the very "foundations of the Catholic Faith"! This is apostasy, folks, not just heresy or error! It doesn't merely deny one aspect of the Catholic Faith or one teaching in particular but rather chips away, at least gradually, at the very principles upon which our Holy Religion rests. The eventual result is necessarily a complete abandonment of the Catholic Faith."
Welcome back. I am pleased to continue with my second installment on the important issue of Catholic teaching on religious unity. We continue now with Pope Pius XI's 1928 encyclical Mortalium Animos:
3. But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.
Bingo! In other words, some people, perhaps mostly gullible, are easily taken into ecumenism under the pretext that "look, we're all just trying to do the right thing here and we all believe in God, we all believe in Christ." Ah, yes! Can you hear the "Can't we all just get along?" Surely a lot of people who are emotionally inclined will get all sorts of fuzzy feelings hearing such argumentation. "We're all just one big family," right? Can't we just "stop the bickering" and "embrace each other as brothers, sharing a common destiny"?
That's the short answer.
The longer answer is given by Pope Pius in the rest of the encyclical, so let us continue with his words:
4. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be "one." [John 17: 21.] And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another"? [John 13: 35.] All Christians, they add, should be as "one": for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith.
This is all very straightforward and clear to understand. I am breaking here only to point out the importance of what follows. Read closely:
This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.
BINGO! Pope Pius is not misled by the cunning of the ecumaniacs! He recognizes and exposes the fact that the ecumenists "allure" Catholics into heresy and, eventually, apostasy by their apparently good intentions and their attractive rhetorical arguments in favor of "unity." He then immediately reminds everyone that the Holy Church desires her erring sons to return to her and once again be fed with the pure milk of her salutary doctrine.
Where there is error, the Church is clear that it must be abandoned and repented of - not embraced, approached, or turned a blind eye to. Holy Church beckons the erring sheep to come back to her; she does not meet him half-way nor does she consider abandoning her own teaching, which she knows is from Christ, in order to demonstrate to the strayed sheep that she "means well." In fact, if she did that, the Immaculate Bride of Christ would sin through human respect and dig a pit for herself and the sinner - the pit of heresy, within which no man can be saved (cf. 2 John 9).
Holy Mother Church is so adamant that those outside her fold return to her because she knows it is the only way to salvation. It would be presumptuous, foolish, and blasphemous to do anything else; it would make Christ a liar and demonstrate hatred, not charity, towards those in error, whose salvation she longs for as does the Almighty Himself, "who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).
Pius XI exposes the danger of ecumenism by teaching that
"in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed."
Make sure you don't miss this crucial point: the ecumenical error "completely destroys" the very "foundations of the Catholic Faith"! This is apostasy, folks, not just heresy or error! It doesn't merely deny one aspect of the Catholic Faith or one teaching in particular but rather chips away, at least gradually, at the very principles upon which our Holy Religion rests. The eventual result is necessarily a complete abandonment of the Catholic Faith.
Sadly, now in 2004 AD Pope Pius's words could not possibly have gotten any better empirical verification. How many "Catholics" today still believe that the Catholic Church alone is the True and Only Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which no one can hope for eternal salvation? How many believe that the Church's dogmas are infallible and unalterable? How many believe that only in the Catholic Mass can one truly worship God? How many believe that outside of the Catholic Church, there is no remission of sins?
Back in 1928, some may perhaps have wondered why Pius XI was so strict about these matters, but his admonitions and warnings were spot-on as we can see now, as they have been vindicated more than one could ever have imagined.
Pope Pius continues:
5. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians.
Here the Pope beautifully prefaces the important arguments he is about to set forth, showing why Catholics cannot desire or work towards a phony "ecumenical unity."
6. We were created by God, the Creator of the universe, in order that we might know Him and serve Him; our Author therefore has a perfect right to our service.
Let me interrupt right here. This is a very important point: God has a perfect right to our service. If anyone ever had a right to anything, this is it: God's right to be worshipped perfectly! Let all other rights be null but this one! Though the ecumenical apostates want to give God what they feel like giving Him, in whatsoever manner they think He should be worshipped, we must give God what He demands, what He wishes, what He tells us is the proper adoration due Him! We must give Him, not the sacrifice of Cain, as the apostates do, but the sacrifice of Abel, which is, so to speak, the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary! In short: God makes the rules - and we better comply!
The ecumenical movement, on the other hand, appeals to man's sensibilities and desires; the aim is to please man first and God only second. This is an inversion of the proper order, and it greatly offends our Creator.
Pius XI continues:
God might, indeed, have prescribed for man's government only the natural law, which, in His creation, He imprinted on his soul, and have regulated the progress of that same law by His ordinary providence; but He preferred rather to impose precepts, which we were to obey, and in the course of time, namely from the beginnings of the human race until the coming and preaching of Jesus Christ, He Himself taught man the duties which a rational creature owes to its Creator: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, last of all, in these days, hath spoken to us by his Son." [Heb. I, I seq.] From which it follows that there can be no true religion other than that which is founded on the revealed word of God: which revelation, begun from the beginning and continued under the Old Law, Christ Jesus Himself under the New Law perfected.
Amen! See how clearly and simply the Pope lays out the facts here. No obfuscation, no confusion with strange words and phrases, nothing about "human experience" or "the dignity of man" or "historical consciousness." No, all we have here is unadulterated Catholic teaching. From what he has just said, Pope Pius reasons to the first major conclusion:
Now, if God has spoken (and it is historically certain that He has truly spoken), all must see that it is man's duty to believe absolutely God's revelation and to obey implicitly His commands; that we might rightly do both, for the glory of God and our own salvation, the Only-begotten Son of God founded His Church on earth. Further, We believe that those who call themselves Christians can do no other than believe that a Church, and that Church one, was established by Christ; but if it is further inquired of what nature according to the will of its Author it must be, then all do not agree. A good number of them, for example, deny that the Church of Christ must be visible and apparent, at least to such a degree that it appears as one body of faithful, agreeing in one and the same doctrine under one teaching authority and government; but, on the contrary, they understand a visible Church as nothing else than a Federation, composed of various communities of Christians, even though they adhere to different doctrines, which may even be incompatible one with another.
Again, what we have here is very clear, easy-to-follow reasoning. The Pope is summarizing the Protestant predicament as a prelude to prescribing the antidote to the various Protestant errors and heresies. No mention is made of "marching towards truth together" or any such nonsense, as various clerics of the Vatican II Church would have it. Rather, it is clear that the Protestants are in error and must return to the Catholic Church, for this is God's plan and the only way to salvation. By preaching this, the Catholic Church is not being arrogant but simply being truthful; and the truth, as Our Blessed Lord told us, would set us free (St. John 8:32).
Is it any wonder that Protestants converted to Catholicism back in those days? They actually had a reason to!
More next time. We still have a lot of ground to cover. I hope that everyone can see the beauty of Catholic teaching set forth in this great and prophetic encyclical.
For past columns by Mario Derksen, see Archives for www.DailyCatholic.org/2004mdi.htm