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Ecumenism Encounters the Obvious

by Christopher A. Ferrara

A recent report from Zenit.org demonstrates once again the absurdity of the "ecumenical venture" in which the Catholic Church has been embroiled for the past forty years. Zenit reports (September 2, 2001) that "A former pastor and prominent member of the Lutheran Evangelical Church is preparing to be ordained a priest in the Catholic Church, an unprecedented event since the Reformation."

What has brought about this unprecedented event? Was it "ecumenical dialogue"? Not at all. The Lutheran pastor, one Michel Viot, is becoming a Catholic priest because the Lutheran Evangelical Church of France has – after some forty years of "ecumenical dialogue" – descended even further into theological error and decided to give "communion" to unbaptized people. (In all the furor over this decision, no one in the Catholic ecumenical apparatus seems to have noticed that Lutheran ministers cannot confect Holy Communion in the first place, since they are not priests.) That was the last straw for Viot. Even this Lutheran pastor for more than three decades could see that the "church" founded by Luther was going nowhere but down, and he evidently did not wish to continue sinking with it.

Now, has Viot’s conversion and return to Rome – remember those quaint old phrases? – given pause to Catholic ecumaniacs? Has it prompted them to consider that the best thing Catholics can do for Lutherans is to persuade them to follow Viot by abandoning the false church of Luther and joining the one true Church founded by God? Not at all. Ecumenism must go on.

According to Father Christian Foster, secretary of the Commission of Catholic Bishops for Christian Unity, the decision of France’s Lutherans to give "communion" to the unbaptized created "a new obstacle" to unity. But that does not mean ecumenism will come to an end vis-à-vis the Lutherans. Oh no, no, no. According to Le Monde newspaper, "Viot's decision has opened a ‘new page’ in the ecumenical dialogue in France." And what is this new page? According to Le Monde, "The time is long past when, in the name of reconciliation, the churches did not dare to state their differences ... A new generation of leaders seems convinced that the language of clarity will certainly make unity progress more. This is the line defended by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in Rome, as well as among Protestants who now reaffirm their own theological line, free of complexes."

Ah, so the "new page" of ecumenism means the different churches are now "daring" to state the differences between them. Duh. This is the result of forty years of ecumenical hob-nobbing, jet-setting and paper-pushing?

And so, after forty years of getting exactly nowhere, ecumenism has finally encountered the obvious: the differences between the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the doctrines of Protestant "churches" cannot be overlooked. What can one say about a "movement" which requires forty years to admit what was plainly evident on day one? We can say that it is a monumental waste of time. But of course, we knew that even before the "ecumenical movement" began. For as Pius XI solemnly taught in his encyclical Mortalium animos, the only way to Christian unity is the return of the dissidents, one by one, to the Catholic Church.

God bless Michel Viot, and all those who have taken the same road as he – the road to Rome. Following Viot’s example, Catholic ecumaniacs everywhere should abandon their useless venture and return to the divinely appointed mission of the Church: converting the whole world to the Catholic faith.