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 7: An Attempt at a Defense (2)
and other true Catholic Teaching on Religious Unity
In my last installment I did not finish critically examining Kenneth D. Whitehead's essay, "Reunion with the Eastern Orthodox?," which appeared in the June 2004 issue of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review. I shall therefore continue with my critique here.
To sum up, Whitehead's central thesis is that the Catholic Church needed to stop stressing the "return" of dissident Christians to the Catholic Church and instead work for "reunion," and that this happened at Vatican II. This change, Whitehead says, was necessary because, allegedly, not a great many non-Catholic Christians were actually returning to the Church. While the statistics cited by Kenneth Jones in his Index of Leading Catholic Indicators seem to suggest Whitehead's claim is false, as I argued in my last piece, a Vatican II theological heavy-weight now known to the world as "Pope Benedict XVI" stated quite bluntly that the notion that "Protestants be converted to Catholicism" is something that is "today rather unanimously rejected by Christian consciousness" (Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [Ignatius Press, 1987; German original 1982], p. 197).
"Rather unanimously?" Is Ratzinger admitting here that the Novus Ordo Church itself no longer insists upon the conversion of Protestants to Catholicism? This, of course, has been an open secret for decades. Writing in 1907 against the modernists, Pope St. Pius X counseled us to examine not only their professed beliefs but also "their manner of speech, and their action" (Pascendi Dominici Gregis, par. 3). Aside from the often incredibly skillful linguistic gymnastics of the Vatican II modernists, what do we see when we consider their actions?
I recall here Paul VI's attempt to lift the excommunications against the Eastern Schismatics in the 1960's, John Paul II's kissing of the ring (signifying apostolic authority) of the Anglican Archlayman of Canterbury, "Cardinal" Ratzinger's lighting of a Menorah, John Paul II's kissing of the Koran, his offering of cucumbers to a snake goddess in Togo in 1984, and his gift of a pallium (which also signifies apostolic authority) to the Archlayman of Canterbury in 2003 or 2004, as well as his appointment of the apostate "Cardinal" Walter Kasper as the head of the Vatican's Council for Promoting Christian Unity; not to mention the two gatherings in Assisi (1986 and 2002), where every heretic, apostate, and pagan under the sun was invited to say prayers to and perform "sacred rites" for their respective "deities" to procure "peace" from the "Lord of heaven and earth." (Let us not forget that it is a great mistake to think that heresy can only be committed in words; it can very much also be committed in gestures and other actions.)
What does an intelligent man reasonably infer from this regarding the Novus Ordo Church's position about whether people must become Catholic to be saved, whether there is indeed no salvation outside the Catholic Church? Aside from that, can it really be called a stretch to say that in light of these actions, where the Vatican II and post-conciliar Novus Ordo documents are ambiguous on these issues, the New Church interprets things in a heretical sense? Put differently, where do we think the highest authorities in the New Church get permission and incentive for all these heretical actions if not from their own documents, i.e., Vatican II? Can the New Church's praxis differ so radically from her teaching? In fact, John Paul II himself said at the end of 1986 that his idolatrous and blasphemous Assisi gathering was an application of Vatican II.
Please excuse my rant. I was supposed to be examining Ken Whitehead's piece. On page 24 of his article, he acknowledges that there was "a decline in conversions in the immediate post-conciliar years," though he believes that now "more and more non-Catholic Christians are again becoming disposed to join the Catholic Church." As already analyzed in my last installment, Whitehead is thinking of those people who are converting from liberal Protestantism to Catholicism because of issues about homosexuality, women's ordination, and such. There is no need for me to repeat my comments on this here, though I would advise the reader simply to ask the average Novus Ordo and the average Protestant if they believe that Catholic teaching requires all men to be Catholic in order to be saved. I can already hear the big laugh you will get in response. (This same laugh you will get from posing the same question to people in the Vatican.) So let us not fool ourselves here.
So, anyway, Whitehead thinks that the Catholic Church needed to stop emphasizing the "return" of Protestants and Orthodox to the true Church and instead stress "reunion." Interestingly enough, this reminds me of another error that was specifically opposed by Msgr. Joseph Fenton in his 1958 book The Catholic Church and Salvation:
"This erroneous teaching was generally set forth by men who were deceived by the false oecumenicism against which Pope Pius XII protested in the encyclical Humani generis . Men of this type followed the teachings and adopted the attitudes of unbelievers who always rejected individual conversions to the Church in favor of some illusory corporate reunion."
(Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1958], p.96)
Now, I do not think Whitehead is taking this very position Msgr. Fenton condemns. I cannot imagine that Whitehead would reject individual conversions. In fact, Whitehead says he thinks this "reunion" business had to be started because there weren't enough individual conversions in the first place. But then again, he says "reunion" must replace "return," at least in emphasis, to which I responded in my last installment that this notion can be taken either in a heretical sense, in which case it is unacceptable, or in an orthodox sense, in which case it seems to me dishonest. Nevertheless, the quote by Msgr. Fenton shows that apparently this idea that some "corporate reunion" should entirely replace the idea of conversion was somewhat prevalent in the '50s, and no doubt this idea has shaped ecumenism as we've known it since Vatican II.
I could now get into a long discourse on the statements and actions of "Cardinal" Walter Kasper, John Paul II's and Benedict XVI's front man for ecumenical affairs. Let me mention just one salient quote:
"The decision of Vatican II, to which the Pope adheres and spreads, is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of the ecumenism of a return, by which the others should 'be converted' and return to being 'catholics.' This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II. Today ecumenism is considered as the common road: all should be converted to the following of Christ, and it is in Christ that we will find ourselves in the end. …. Even the Pope, among other things, describes ecumenism in Ut unum sint as an exchange of gifts. I think this is very well said: each church has its own riches and gifts of the Spirit, and it is this exchange that is trying to be achieved and not the fact that we should become 'protestants' or that the others should become 'catholics' in the sense of accepting the confessional form of Catholicism."
(Adista, Rome, February 26, 2001, p. 9)
You see, this wasn't Hans Küng speaking. This is the head of the bogus "Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity." And Kasper wasn't born into this position; he was put there by John Paul II and has been retained there by Benedict XVI.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get side-tracked again. I just wanted to make sure no one thinks that the New Vatican actually means to convert people to Catholicism, despite what Whitehead might think. And with a theology like that of Kasper's, who would want to become Catholic?
Msgr. Fenton makes another important point. He says that even in his day, some people were arguing that "the Church has the fullness of God's revealed message; but, at the same time, they likewise insist that other religions are really from God, and that they constitute the plenitude of God's teaching for those whom He does not call to the higher position of Catholicism" (Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, p.142). One of the advocates of this apostate view was the notoriously modernist Baron Friedrich von Hügel. Surely, no one today in the Vatican would accept this clearly erroneous position, right?
Wrong. The charismatic Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the "papal" household in the Vatican, more or less takes that position, namely, that other religions "are not merely tolerated by God … but positively willed by Him as an expression of the inexhaustible richness of His grace and His will for everyone to be saved" (From Pentecostalism to Apostasy by John Vennari. )
So, no, Mr. Whitehead, the New Church is not in the business of converting Protestants to Catholicism, or of teaching that unless a man die a Catholic, he cannot attain everlasting life.
Whitehead denies that there has been a change of doctrine (after 40 years of this post-conciliar disaster, he still denies there has been a change in doctrine?). He says that what happened rather is that "instead of stressing doctrines, which separated Christians from each other, the Council elected to lay stress on what Christians apparently agreed upon in spite of their separation from one another" (p.25).
Ah! In about 15 years, Pope Pius XII's admonition was completely reversed. For in 1949, the Holy Office (of which Pope Pius was the Prefect) issued an instruction on the Ecumenical Movement, telling bishops to "also be on guard lest, on the false pretext that more attention should be paid to the points on which we agree than to those on which we differ, a dangerous indifferentism be encouraged, especially among persons whose training in theology is not deep and whose practice of their faith is not very strong. For care must be taken lest, in the so-called 'irenic' spirit of today, through comparative study and the vain desire for a progressively closer mutual approach among the various professions of faith, Catholic doctrine--either in its dogmas or in the truths which are connected with them--be so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects, that the purity of Catholic doctrine be impaired, or its genuine and certain meaning be obscured." (my emphasis)
Touché! Doesn't this ring wonderful in your ears? Here we have a Catholic Pope, or at least the organ of his Holy Office, make clear that the notion that we ought to emphasize what unites us instead of what divides us, is a "false pretext" which encourages indifferentism, i.e. the position that all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy. And, of course, after 40 years of this false pretext in practice, this is exactly what has happened, and this is especially visible in the "New Mass," which was precisely "so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects" as to pose no great stumbling block for them because "the purity of Catholic doctrine" was thereby "impaired" and its "genuine and certain meaning . . . obscured."
I do not need to prove that this is so; everyone who's paid even only a little bit of attention in the last decades knows that the "New Mass" has greatly watered down and denied the Catholic Faith. What was at the origin on that destruction of Catholicism by means of the New Mass? Well, that "false pretext," of course….
I see that this installment is already threatening to become very long again, so I will stop here and announce for the next installment an examination of Whitehead's next point, namely, the idea that Protestants as such are in "imperfect communion" with the Catholic Church.
For past columns by Mario Derksen, see Archives for www.DailyCatholic.org/2005mdi.htm