Not all forms of worship are acceptable to God. God accepted Abel's sacrifice of firstlings of his flock, but rejected Cain's offering of the fruits of the field (Genesis 4:3-5). God called Abraham out of the city of Ur where idolatry flourished, and accepted his willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He provided instead a ram which Abraham found caught in the bushes. Scripture comments: "Hence even to this day people say, 'On the mountain of the Lord provision will be made'" (Genesis 22).
The Israelites were forbidden to intermarry or even to associate with the pagans. Through the prophets God warned them: "You shall not go in unto them, neither shall any of them come in to yours; for they will most certainly turn away your heart to follow other gods" (3 Kings.11:2). Twice daily the Israelites were obliged to pray the "Shema", which begins: "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!" (Deuteronomy 6:4).
The most spectacular failure to obey God's admonition was King Solomon, who abandoned true worship to please his seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines: "But Solomon worshipped Astarthe, the goddess of the Sidonians, and Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites… And he did in this manner for all his wives that were strangers, who burnt incense, and offered sacrifice to their gods" (3 Kings.11:5,8).
Some of us remember that the Catholic Church once forbade marriage to non-Catholics, while reluctantly granting dispensations in individual cases. The non-Catholic party was required to sign a form which guaranteed that the children of the marriage would be brought up Catholic. Sometimes these mixed marriages succeeded, even to the conversion of the non-Catholic party, but too often the Catholic spouse drifted away from the faith, and the children grew up confused and indifferent.
But then came Vatican II with its dialogue, ecumenism, and religious freedom. Well did the French philosopher, Jean Guitton, close friend of Paul VI, say to his secretary, Mlle Michele Reboul: "The Catholic Church was dead from the first day of Vatican Council II. It gave place to the ecumenical church. It should no longer be called catholic but ecumenical" (Virgo-Maria.org, June 7, 2006).
On his recent visit to Poland, Benedict XVI gave an address to an ecumenical gathering at Warsaw's Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity (May 26, 2006). Speaking of ecumenical marriages in a positive light, he called them "a practical laboratory of unity," and called for guidelines for such marriages that would be acceptable to all parties. His reference to the "Church universal in its entirety" and "the entire ecclesial community" made it clear that he believes the Catholic Church is only one of many divisions of the Church of Jesus Christ which must now be brought into unity again. What then does it matter if Catholics drift away and bring up their children as Lutherans, Baptists, or Adventists? And we thought that the Catholic Church was the "Universal Church," One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Well, we live and learn!
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, while warning the Anglicans against allowing women bishops, threatened that this would hinder the practice of inter-Communion, and would make it more difficult to recognize the validity of Anglican orders, which had been declared invalid by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Apostolicae Curae (September 13, 1896):
"[Of] Our own initiative and certain knowledge, We pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void." But Kasper ignored even the judgment of Ratzinger in 1998 that this was an "irreversible teaching."
What? Can we now turn around and say "Well, not utterly void"? Is there such a thing as "somewhat void"? Well, I suppose those who accept the documents of Vatican II as a "counter syllabus" to the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX will also be able to declare valid the "utterly void", which would make Pope Leo's Apostolicae Curae itself "absolutely null and utterly void."
Get ready for the next Ecumenical Tsunami. In 1993 the Vatican published its Directory for the Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism. It is "a radical document that seeks to incorporate ecumenism into every aspect of the Church. It encourages numerous interfaith practices that have always been condemned by the Church as grave sins against Faith" (John Vennari, Catholic Shrines and Pilgrimages Worldwide to be Ecumenized, Catholic Family News, June 2006). Among other things, says Vennari, the document encourages "spiritual exercises" and "retreats" with Protestants, interdenominational prayer-services among Catholics and Protestants in each other's churches, the teaching of ecumenism in the schools, the sharing of churches with non-Catholics (with the Blessed Sacrament hidden away so as not to offend non-believers), while Catholics are discouraged from attempting to convert non-Catholics.
To reinforce ecumenical involvement among ordinary Catholics, a conference on The Ecumenism of Holiness - Pilgrimage at the Beginning of the Third Millennium, was held in Germany on September 20-23, 2004. The practice of ecumenism in Catholic shrines and pilgrimages throughout Europe was mandated. "So pilgrimages and shrines are now to be considered necessary vehicles to integrate the Catholic laity into the ecumenical sphere," said Vennari. This will apply to all of the world's Catholic shrines.
Catholics will also have a guidebook on "spiritual ecumenism," provided by, yes, Cardinal Walter Kasper, whose own faith is clearly ecumenical, not Catholic. Kasper announces the coming of age of the Ecumenical Church: "We are at the beginning of a new ecumenism, profoundly connected to a new evangelization, which will not create a new Church, but a Church profoundly renewed spiritually, capable of surmounting the divisions of the past" (Zenit.org, June 1, 2006).
Speaking of ecumenical gatherings in his encyclical, Mortalium Animos (January 6, 1928), Pope Pius XI declared:
"It is clear that the Apostolic See can by no means take part in these assemblies. Nor is it any way lawful for Catholics to give such enterprises their encouragement and support. If they did so, they would be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ." Like Abraham, we must turn our backs on the new ecumenical church of Vatican II.
On this Feast of the Holy Trinity we pray with all faithful Catholics: "Almighty and everlasting God, You have given Your servants in the confession of the true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and to adore the unity in the power of Your Majesty; grant, that by steadfastness in this faith we may ever be defended from all adversities. Amen."