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Pearls Before Swine

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Just when one thinks one has lost the capacity to be shocked by the post-conciliar novelties, yet another surprise is heaped upon us in the name of “ecumenism.”

On November 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II announced that the old church of St. Theodore on Rome's Palatine Hill will be given away to the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. [Zenit, Nov. 30] That’s right — a church in the very heart of Rome itself will be turned over, lock, stock, and sanctuary, to the schismatic Greeks, who refuse allegiance to the very same Roman Pontiff who is giving them the church.

Why is the Pope doing this? So that the once-Catholic church of St. Theodore can “be dedicated to the worship and pastoral activities of the Greek Orthodox community of the city, which will then enjoy the necessary spiritual assistance for its growth and for dialogue with Christians living in Rome.” Yes, the Pope wishes the schismatic Greek Orthodox to grow in the heart of Rome. This is the same Greek Orthodox Church which teaches that divorce and remarriage are acceptable, and which rejects (along with the papal primacy) the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and the Catholic doctrine on Purgatory, the transmission of Original Sin by generation from Adam and the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son.

The defenders of this sort of thing say that surely the Pope has some grand strategy in mind. No doubt His Holiness seeks to overwhelm the Orthodox with displays of unstinting charity, so that their reconciliation with the Roman Pontiff will be made that much easier.

Assuming that to be true, the gesture has not produced the desired effect. This is no surprise. Like all the other grand ecumenical gestures of the past 35 years, giving away St. Theodore’s Church has accomplished precisely nothing for the cause of Christian unity. Less than two months later — just 15 days ago, in fact — Archbishop Christodoulos of the Greek Orthodox Church announced that he had rejected John Paul II’s planned visit to Greece and that it would be canceled. [Zenit, January 29, 2001]

Why? Because, said the Archbishop, “the dialogue between the two Churches began 20 years ago, but that dialogue has been essentially at a standstill over the last decade.” And why is it at a standstill? Because Rome has not done anything about the “problem” of the Greek-Catholics in Greece, whose very presence, he feels, “constitutes a kind of proselytism, by Rome, among Orthodox people.”

So, thanks very much for the choice Roman real estate, Your Holiness. We’ll take it! But don’t bother coming to Greece — not until you do something about those unacceptable Greek-Catholics.

“Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turning upon you, they tear you.” (Matt. 7:6) The Pope has given them holy things and pearls, and they turn upon him like swine and dogs. And so it goes, and so it has gone for the past 35 years of fruitless “ecumenical” activity. How much longer will the Church stumble along this ecumenical road to nowhere, before her leaders return to the simple, and very un-ecumenical, counsels of Our Lord? Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!