THE Catholic Church has been strongly criticised for harming ecumenism and sapping the morale of Anglicans by the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, Dr Michael Jackson.
Writing in the current issue of The Furrow, a Catholic periodical produced in Maynooth, Bishop Jackson highlights two recent documents produced by the Catholic Church which he describes as “obstacles to ecumenical activity”.
The documents, Dominus Iesus and One Bread, One Body “unintentionally have sapped our morale”, and “put intense strain on ecumenical relations”, writes the Bishop.
Dominus Iesus caused uproar when it was issued by the Vatican in 2000 because it said that Protestant Churches are not Churches “in the proper sense”.
One Bread, One Body, which was issued by the Catholic Bishops of Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, reiterated the Catholic Church’s ban on Catholic and Protestants receiving Communion together.
“It is probably quite hard for a Roman Catholic person at ease with his or her tradition to understand this,” says Bishop Jackson, “but it seems to me that both of these documents, irrational though it may sound, dredge up the worst memories of Ne Temere as it was applied in Ireland as a blunt ecclesiastical instrument.”
It always amazes me that there are more Bishops commenting against the Church then there are those who comment against those laity and politicians who are not following the Church. The only thing that has sapped the morale of ecumenical relations is the burgeoning divide between orthodoxy and heterodoxy. Getting upset about releasing document that only restated what we have always believed is just plain mistaken. Are we suppose to water down doctrine and then when they come into the Church we go “Oh by the way…” A theological bait and switch scheme? This has all the signs of false ecumenism.
When I was in Navy Boot Camp in San Diego we were shown various programs that you could go into. After hearing a lecture and seeing a film on submarine duty I was attracted to that. The sense of sacrifice and difficulties in living in such a confined environment was appealing to me. Similarly when they showed films on the Seal teams that also attracted me. This is kind of funny since rocks have called me sedentary. The Navy did not present these programs as easy, but quite the opposite. Similarly if we present the raw truth of the Catholic faith people will also respond.
The only reason for someone to convert into the Catholic Church is for them to believe that it is true. You can mix one part Catholicism with ninety-nine parts secularism and you might initially influence some to come into the Church, but soon the weeds will choke them and they will fall away. Let us rejoice in what we share with the Protestant Churches, but not deny the differences. The Eucharist like all sacraments is a sacred oath. With the reception of Eucharist and discerning the Body and Blood Christ we are taking a sacred oath that we hold true what the Church teaches. To encourage those that only see it as a symbol or who might believe in the real presence but not the fullness of the Church is to invite people to swear a false oath. This is quite the opposite of charity.
In those parishes that are teaching the fullness of the Catholic faith and who help to spread the devotional life of the Church we see growth. They do no lack either vocations or new members. They are unafraid to preach against, abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, etc for fear of offending someone. When challenged we will often respond to the challenge, but left to ourselves we seek the lowest level. We can take the approach like Jimmy Akin does in The Salvation Controversy where he shows that much that might seem to divide us we agree on. From there ecumenism can present the reasons for why we hold the differences to be true.
I go to a Church downtown where there really is not any close housing but only apartment buildings mainly for those retired. Yet you would not know that by the composition of the church. There are many young families and home schoolers that go there because the Pastor and other priests preach the truth, have confession before each Mass, a vibrant devotional life including a Carmelite and Franciscan community. Four Masses on Sundays that include both an indult Latin Mass and a Mass said in Spanish. Many that go there are theological orphans to their home parishes.
I saw the challenges of becoming a Catholic and they attracted me more than they repelled me. I knew there was much about myself that I had to change and much work to be done until my final breath. The full Gospel completes us and we should not worry that the truth of the Church might offend some who are currently not ready to accept it.
I recently finished reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy for the first time and one quote from it goes with the gist of this post.
“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy”