Ecumenism does not further the unity of Christians. In fact, it reduces the chances of all those validly baptised but not consciously subject to the Episcopate in union with the Pope from becoming subject to them. The first and most important reason for this is that it implicitly denies the importance of Christian unity. When it was said “you are a heretic and/or a schismatic. Come back to Christ’s Church or you will die in your sins” the urgency of Christian unity was made abundantly clear. By presuming misinformed good faith on the part of the irregularly baptised (as was previously done only until the age of fourteen) the authorities implicitly deny or at least greatly scale back the visibility of the Church. This of course is self-fulfilling. By making such an assumption the visibility of the Church is indeed diminished. Ecumenical dialogue is equally self-defeating because by engaging in this practice either a) the nature of the Church’s teaching and credentials are made clear and the subjective guilt of the other party secured while paradoxically by virtue of the dialogue he is mislead into thinking there is no true urgency to his conversion, or b) the faith is obscured and distorted in a spirit of dishonest irenicism. In the second instance the other party’s guilt my be diminished but the ‘Catholic’ party sins gravely.

There is no prospect of corporate reunion for members of groups without valid Apostolic Succession and so there is no purpose in trying to discover how we might not really disagree so very much about a, b or c. The key point is that these persons are failing in their duty of submission to the hierarchy established by Christ, they are cut off from the sure norm of doctrine and from the sacraments. They are thus morally incapable of remaining in a state of grace indefinitely, already in material heresy, very likely in formal heresy and (if not invincibly ignorant) specifically culpable for this as well as for all the other sins weighing upon them and without the Eucharist and Penance to assist them on the way. Those who belong to true particular churches not in communion with the See of Rome have all embraced heresies of one sort or another. They obviously deny the universal ordinary jurisdiction and infallible magisterium of the Roman Pontiff and therefore of many Ecumenical Councils as well. The Dissident Byzantine Churches deny the indissolubility of marriage, the simplicity of the Divine Nature, the doctrine of Deification, and (usually) the Filioque. The other schismatic eastern Churches deny the Hypostatic Union in one way or another. It is simply not the case that we really agree on these topics and it is all a matter of misunderstanding. That was true in enough instances to make a difference up until 1439, not anymore. Consequently, for these Churches to reunite corporately with the Catholic Church every single one of their bishops would have to detest and abhor these errors and that will only happen through a miracle of grace and through the clear proclamation of the Gospel on out part (the same method required to facilitate individual conversion) not through ecumenical dialogue.

The decision to pursue ecuminism is a prudential decision of one General Council and a few Popes. Just as many General Councils decided to launch Crusades and demand the execution of heretics. Just as Vatican II insisted that Latin be preserved as the language of the Roman Rite and no unnecessary changes be made to it. Just as Lateran IV forbade the founding of new religious orders. Just as Martin IV excommunicated Michael VIII and Clement XIV dissolved the Jesuits. One need not agree with every prudential decision of a Pope or Council. When the consequences have been manifestly scandalous and self-defeating it is time to think again.

Advertisements