News.Va: Ecumenism at the heart of New Evangelisation

Vatican Radio) ‘Christian Unity: illusion or promise? Ecumenical aspects of the Year of Faith’ That was the title of a lecture given at the Lateran University on Monday by Swiss theologian Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Philippa Hitchen takes a closer look:
Cardinal Koch

In his reflections, Cardinal Koch stressed the importance of maintaining the goal of full, visible unity of the Churches as the only way of providing a credible witness of Christian faith in today’s increasingly secular societies.

Returning to the theme discussed at the recent plenary assembly of the Council, he underlined the importance of ecumenism at the heart of all new evangelisation. Modern secularist thought and the privatisation of religion, he noted, are in part a consequence of the tragic divisions and bitter conflicts between the Churches in the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the first World Missionary Conference, held in Edinburgh in 1910, he said, it has become increasingly clear that authentic witness to the Gospel of Christ will only become possible again when the Churches manage to heal those divisions and walk together as one.

Cardinal Koch also stressed the essential role of prayer in the search for Christian unity: just as Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that his disciples “be one so that the world may believe”, in the same way, all Christians today must increase both prayer and practical action to reconcile and restore the unity of the one Body of Christ.

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8 comments on “News.Va: Ecumenism at the heart of New Evangelisation

  1. Following on my comment about Mr. Voris missing some of the elements of ‘False Ecumenism’ – the above is a tidbit I noticed this evening.

    Now there are a number of obvious problems with this statement:

    1. unity of Churches – ahem there is only one Church there are … well you know.
    2. World Missionary Conference – ah the genesis of the Ecumenical Movement that I believe was condemned by the Pope
    3. Restore unity of the one Body of Christ: Oh here we go again. The Catholic Church has Unity – and doesn’t need the separated brethren to return in order to regain that ‘Unity’.

    Did I miss anything?

  2. Not really.

    But what struck moi was the thought that ecumenism ( condemned, anathematized, told by preconciliar popes not to let the door hit it on the doopah on the way out, etc. ) is a very grave sin. Period.

    But in “con-silly-ar speak”, evil is now somehow “justifiable” ?

    • Doesn’t that really depend upon what is meant by “ecumenism”? And isn’t a big part of the problem to do with the fact that ecumenism has never been defined?

      I see nothing wrong with ecumenism which attempts to reconcile heretical or schismatic groups with the Church. But the “let’s pretend we’re all the same” and the “I’m ok, you’re ok” varieties of ecumenism are obviously false – and anybody who attempts to lead somebody else into falsehood does commit a grave sin.

      • Neither has “hermeutic of discombobuluity”, for all of that, either!

        But, heck, it’s workin’ wonders with the EEEEWWWW!TN crowd and the USCCCP is always giving it two thumbs up!

        “Verbal engineering precedes social engineering.”

      • Sure, if you define “ecumenism” as meaning the conversion of pagans, heretics and infidels to the One, Holy, Catholic Faith under the Authority of the Pope, Vicar of Christ and visible Head of the Church, then I’m all for it; but that is NOT what the word means as it is used today by the Church hierarchy. The above definition is not what they mean when they say “ecumenism.”

        This is a lot like the word “Christian,” which arguably describes what we actually are better than the word “Catholic.” The fact is that we cannot simply identify ourselves on the street as “Christians” because the word has come to have a much broader meaning than the strict and proper definition which is something along the lines of “those who believe in Jesus Christ and all that He claimed to be, who believe ALL of His teachings, and who belong to the Church which He founded, which is the Catholic Church.”

        So if someone asks me if I am a Christian, I have to clarify what they actually mean by the word. If someone asks me if I believe in ecumenism, I probably have to say “well, no, not in the sense you mean.”

        English is a living language, and definitions can change. “Gay” used to be a very proper and useable word. It described happy, decent people at parties. In my dictionary, Gay is defined as: “lighthearted; merry; cheerful.” But today, I can’t possibly use the word in conversation without someone thinking that I mean something entirely different.

        Latin is a dead language, and words and definitions don’t change nearly as much. A decided advantage in certain applications.

  3. “full, visible unity of the Churches as the only way of providing a credible witness of Christian faith in today’s increasingly secular societies.”

    If that were true, then if “Christian unity” were never achieved, then nobody would ever be able to give a credible witness to the Christian faith. That is just patently nonsense. People are being evangelised and converting to the true Faith all the time, presumably because they come across some credible witness.

    While we should always be working to restore the strayed sheep to the fold, we should be realistic and acknowledge that most of these sects will never be united to the Catholic Church. On the contrary they are doing their best to get as far away from the Church as possible with new heresies putting greater distance between us every day. They have no desire for unity, chiefly because they never had the apostolic faith in the first place. Our Lord only prayed for the unity of the apostles and those who believed them. He never prayed that they should be united with those who didn’t believe them.

    • Deacon Augustine said, “People are being evangelised and converting to the true Faith all the time, presumably because they come across some credible witness.”

      That is true, Deacon. But it’s not necessarily “credible witness” of conciliar Rome. I remember Bishop Fellay recounting the story of two Eastern Orthodox priests approaching Rome, wishing to convert to Roman Catholicism. Rome said (I’m paraphrasing) , “No, that will hurt the ecumenical movement. You are fine in your current “church”.

      Knowing better, the two good priests then sought reconciliation through the SSPX.

      • Indeed – another example of how Rome is divided against itself. If they had talked to the CDF rather than the PCPCU, they would probably have been received into the Church without any fuss – this is what the recent flood of Anglicans had to do. The PCPCU didn’t want them to convert.

        When I was looking to convert in 1986, the first priest I spoke to at the student chaplaincy told me that “these days we encourage other Christians to stay in their own denominations and work for unity from within.” I had to find a crusty old Discalced Carmelite before I could get any sense out of the Church. Strangely he had a classroom full of “enquirers” down in the Priory crypt and “RCIA” consisted of listening to Fr. Ignatius’ lectures on the Faith. He didn’t have any problem giving a credible witness to the Faith. The only people who do have a problem are those who don’t have the Faith in the first place.

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