Friday, May 11, 2012

"Ecumenism" and The Chancellor

Here’s some news from the Catholic Sentinel of the Archdiocese of Portland (H/T to faithful blog-reader Bill; all emphases are mine) about Archbishop Chancellor Mary Jo Tully:

Featured on the Archdiocesan
website, as well.
Leaders of statewide religious organizations gathered this week in Portland to honor Mary Jo Tully, archdiocesan chancellor, for her efforts in promoting unity and cooperation among religious groups.

After receiving the prestigious ecumenist of the year award from the 150-member congregation- umbrella group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish congregations, the indefatigable Tully used the occasion to urge a return to civility in public discourse.

Hmm. Well, good for her…I guess. But I thought ecumenism was about bringing unity to the Christian church.  The Vatican II document Unitatis Redintegratio (UR; Decree on Ecumenism) says:

The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council. Christ the Lord founded one Church and one Church only. However, many Christian communions present themselves to men as the true inheritors of Jesus Christ; all indeed profess to be followers of the Lord but differ in mind and go their different ways, as if Christ Himself were divided. Such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages the holy cause of preaching the Gospel to every creature. (par. 1)

I have a problem with the way “ecumenism” is often propounded, promoted, and practiced these days. Generally, “ecumenism” sounds to me like the kind of wimpy, groveling, conciliatory stuff we hear all the time about everyone getting along and loving one another and being free to worship in their own way, etc. I formed the impression some years ago that “ecumenism” actually means denying our Catholic identity when talking to non-Catholic Christians. It all sounds like a good way to foster the Protestantization of the Catholic faithful.

Some Catholics – including pastors of parishes – seem to think that “ecumenism” means that we join the local Protestant churches for a sunrise service on Easter morning in some nearby picturesque meadow. And yet UR states explicitly:

Yet worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity…Witness to the unity of the Church very generally forbids common worship to Christians, but the grace to be had from it sometimes commends this practice. The course to be adopted, with due regard to all the circumstances of time, place, and persons, is to be decided by local episcopal authority… (par. 8)

So, yes, there is the usual allowance for “pastoral concerns”…another misused, if not abused, concept in today’s struggle to convince others – even Catholics! – that the Catholic Church is indeed the one, true Church. (So…how’s that been workin’ out for us?)

Let’s face it: the Archdiocese of Portland is hardly a bastion of Catholic orthodoxy – not by a long shot! We see parishes blatantly condoning homosexual behavior and participating in “gay pride” parades; and I have personal knowledge that at least one priest’s efforts to provide the extraordinary form of the Mass have been squelched by the powers-that-be (and there’s a lot more to that story). Then there was that first Holy Communion Mass described by my friend…

So while Ms. Tully is apparently good at “ecumenism”, she seems to neglect the effective catechesis of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Portland. Moreover, she seems to have some off-kilter ideas about the Truth.

 “The most basic divisions in our society may well be between those who insist on splitting the world into polarized camps and those who do not," the author-theologian-newspaper columnist and teacher told the packed ballroom in a downtown hotel.

Sadly enough, the world is split into polarized camps. Those who don’t acknowledge this simply want things their way, and they call those who disagree “divisive”. I know. I’m “divisive”. Ms. Tully continues:

“Ecumenism is an approach to reality that insists that truth is seldom discovered in isolation but through dialogue in community."

I think there’s a great danger in “discovering” truth through “dialogue in community” – especially if the Catholics involved are not well-versed in the teachings of their own Church, are not well-versed in logic, and are not able to identify absolute Truth.

Ecumenism is a common battle against error and not a fight among partners in dialogue based on the assumption that one is already right and one wrong, she added.

Well… I think it’s a given that the Catholic Church is right. Deviations from the Church are wrong, though I suppose there are “degrees” of wrongness. And UR notes:

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. (par. 3)

That sounds like UR is saying that one “partner” is, in fact, “already right”, and one is wrong.

The purpose of ecumenical “dialogue” is to bring differences to light and to ultimately bring the errant non-members of the Church back into the fold. The purpose is not to “discover” some other “truth” that allows Protestant denominations to maintain their separated state.
And last but not least, go ahead and take a look at Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon’s website. As you explore, you will find out that it’s another leftist, liberal, “justice and peace” (another code phrase for “liberal politics”) group that supports Obamacare, believes in global warming, justifies “Occupy Portland”, supports liberal immigration reform, etc.

From the EMO website:

Public Witness & Peacemaking
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon is committed to a vision of the world in which there is no suffering, injustice, violence or exploitation. We have faith that such a world is not only possible but is our responsibility to help bring into being. EMO advocates in communities statewide to create systems, institutions and public policies that ensure a life of possibility for all Oregonians. EMO's current public policy priorities include policies concerning hunger, poverty, affordable housing, work supports such as child care tax credit, farmworker needs, labor's right to organize, health care, the death penalty, campaign finance reform, discrimination, and separation of church and state.

Notably lacking in the above paragraph is any mention of the rights of the unborn - something that is also lacking in their “Public Policy Statement of Social Principles”.

And yet, in a most interesting note attached to the above paragraph says:

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland releases all public policy statements through the Oregon Catholic Conference. For more information about the Oregon Catholic Conference priorities, call (503) 234-5334.

That leaves me with a few questions…how about you?

1 comment:

  1. It's Portlan Oregon--bastion of socialism


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