DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     July 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 141


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

          Today Pat writes about the clamoring by so many non-Catholics and modernist Catholics for the Church to alter its stance towards others in order to reach unity in the ecumenical spirit of Vatican II. That is the key word - the "spirit of Vatican II" for the Vatican II documents in no place advocate compromising the faith for the sake of bringing the various denominations together. Pat points out that the doctrine of "No salvation outside the Church" still stands though the liberals have watered it down to where many of the faithful believe it doesn't exist anymore. He re-educates them in his column today in response to an e-mail from a Seven-day Adventist who asked what is the Church going to do about coming in line with them. Duh! That misinformed gentleman has got it all wrong and Pat deftly illustrates the error in his column today The Church, Adventists, and Ecumenism.

For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives

The Church, Adventists, and Ecumenism

        The DAILY CATHOLIC gets an abundance of e-mails from non-Catholics and recently the editor shared a message that read:
      "Hi I am a concerned citizen, I would like to know why the Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventists cannot agree. And what are we doing about it?"

        Well the flip answer might be, "What are they doing about?" The next might be a question for them; "What do you propose we do about it? Get rid of the Pope? Go back to Saturday's as the Lord's Day? What? What truth do you sacrifice for the sake of getting along and agreement?"

        The next problem is what do you say to a group which is so anti-Catholic? "they also hold many false and bizarre doctrines. Among these are the following: (i) the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, (ii) the Pope is Antichrist, (iii) in the last days Sunday worship will be "the mark of the beast," (iv) there is a future millennium in which the devil will roam the earth while Christians are with Christ in Heaven, (v) the soul sleeps between death and resurrection, and (vi) on the last day the wicked will be annihilated and cease to exist rather than be eternally damned. (Seventh-Day Adventism; Catholic Answers)

        There is a lot that we can find agreement with them on, the Trinity, original sin, the Divinity of Christ, and others. However, there is much which separates us. Not only them, but other Protestant denominations as well. Some think infant baptism is fine, others see it as wrong. The Eucharist isn't the Real Presence, but only symbolic. And if it is the Real Presence, it's done by one's own faith and not the prayers of the priest.

        Then there's the problem of 'sola scriptura' (Scripture alone) and 'sola fides' (faith alone). The Catholic Church teaches neither. However, even within the Protestant denominations, these two 'doctrines' don't mean the same thing.

        But in regards to Adventism, we run into a Catch-22. They cannot come to agreement with the Catholic Church or else they would no longer be Adventist's. Ellen Gould White is a 'divinely' inspired author of the Adventists. Her books are often recited, quoted and referred to in their publications. Especially "The Desire of the Ages" and "The Great Controversy". "Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots. . . is further declared to be 'that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.' Revelation 17:4 The Great Controversy, 338). "It is one of the leading doctrines of Romanism that the pope is the visible head of the universal Church of Christ . . . and has been declared infallible. He demands the homage of all men. The same claim urged by satan in the wilderness of temptation is still urged by him [satan] through the Church of Rome, and vast numbers are ready to yield him homage" (ibid., 48). "The prince of darkness wrought with the leaders of the papal hierarchy. In their secret councils satan and his angels controlled the minds of evil men, while unseen in the midst stood an angel of God, taking the fearful record of their iniquitous decrees and writing the history of deeds to horrible to appear to human eyes. 'Babylon the great' was 'drunken with the blood of the saints.' The mangled forms of millions of martyrs cried to God for vengeance upon that apostate power. Popery had become the world's despot" (ibid., 56). "Marvelous in her shrewdness and cunning is the Roman Church. She can read what is to be. She bides her time, seeing that the Protestant churches are paying her homage in their acceptance of the false Sabbath . . . And let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes. The principles of Gregory VII and Innocent III are still the principles of the Roman Catholic Church. And has she but the power, she would put them in practice with as much vigor now as in past centuries. . . . Rome is aiming to reestablish her power, to recover her lost supremacy" (ibid. 507)

        Now, what do you think the Church could do to come closer to the Adventists when they see us as 'shrewd and cunning'? Biding our time to sucker them back into our clutches?

        Whereas this points out the problem with the Church coming to agreement with the Seventh Day Adventists, the question speaks to an even greater error. That unity is to be pursued at any cost, even the truth. This is the 'spirit of Vatican II' definition of Ecumenism. That the Church has to change her teachings, doctrines and dogma's to fit with others. To let go of the truth for the sake of a unified Church (though it would no longer be THE Church). Even if this was the meaning of the Church's teaching on Ecumenism, it's impossible to achieve. Baptists don't believe the same as Lutherans, who disagree with Methodists, who feel Anglicans are wrong, and on and on and on. Not to mention the Protestant denomination who teach that denominations are wrong. (Non-Denominationalists) To follow the 'spirit of Vatican II' notion of Ecumenism means Christ should have changed His teaching in John 6 so He wouldn't lose His followers. Sacrificing the truth for the sake of unity. And even making it useless since no teaching of His or the Church, would please everyone, regardless of what was taught.

        Yet Vatican II teaches: "Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ's Catholic Church, which is "the all-embracing means of salvation," that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God. This people of God, though still in its members liable to sin, is ever growing in Christ during its pilgrimage on earth, and is guided by God's gentle wisdom, according to His hidden designs, until it shall happily arrive at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem." (UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO; Decree on Ecumenism, Chap 1, #3)

        That is, "Outside the Church there is no salvation." But they are imperfect, invisible members of the Church when they follow the Lord as they were taught. " Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect." (Ibid)

        A Catechism from 1927 says the same thing, so one cannot say that Vatican II changed or removed the teaching that "Outside the Church there is no salvation."

        Ecumenism as taught by Vatican II, and the Church from the very beginning, isn't advanced when we say that Baptists, Adventists, etc. are doomed to hell solely for being born Protestant. However; "Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them. But their primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself, in order that its life may bear witness more clearly and faithfully to the teachings and institutions which have come to it from Christ through the Apostles." (Ibid, #4)

        That is, that the faithful don't change one iota of Catholic teaching in their ecumenical work. That being the case, what could the Church do to reach agreement with Seventh Day Adventists when we cannot change the truth to a half truth or a lie?

        We have to recall that even 'moderate' Adventists want to 'save' us from the Church. As do Fundamentalists, Baptists, etc. In the name of Ecumenism, many parishes have begun to look and sound more like Protestant churches than Catholic. That doesn't mean we are coming closer to unity, just that we've added a new 'branch' to the 2,500+ Protestant denominations.

        The Church has done, and is doing all it can do, to reach a concensus, a type of unity with all Christians. The question is, do they really want it?

      Pax Christi, Pat

July 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 141


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