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Ecumenism Fails Again. So, what else is new?

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In Oslo, on August 21, 2001, a Lutheran "bishop" blasted Pope John Paul II for his "defense of the Catholic Church's teaching on the immorality of condom use." (CWN news report) The "bishop", one Gunnar Staalseth, happens to be a member of the Nobel Prize Committee. The "bishop" declared that "all religious groups should accept condoms as a way to combat AIDS rather than rely on the teaching of the morality of abstinence." Rising to even higher heights of impudence he added: "I challenge the Vatican to redefine its attitude to condoms."

Its attitude to condoms! That one phrase illustrates the utter futility of the "ecumenical venture." Old Gunnar just doesn’t get it. The Catholic Church doesn’t have an attitude toward condoms. The Catholic Church speaks with authority about the evil of condom use, because the Catholic Church was commissioned by God Himself to teach the world in matters of faith and morals. When Gunnar Staalseth speaks on faith and morals we are getting the opinion of Gunnar Staalseth, but when the Church speaks we are hearing the voice of God.

In November 1999 the Vatican announced the great "ecumenical breakthrough" of the Catholic Lutheran "accord" on the doctrine of justification. Of course, this "accord" was no accord at all, but a study in ambiguity to which each side imparted its own spin. Recognizing the verbal trickery at work in the "accord," the more hard line Lutheran sects refused to sign on.

With this eruption from Mr. Staalseth, who seems to think he is a bishop, we have received yet another demonstration that the Vatican has been wasting its time over the past forty years of "ecumenical dialogue." The liberal Protestants will talk forever, reaching no real agreement with the Catholic Church, while hard line Protestants disdain the entire process precisely because they still believe in something, even if it is only the errors of Luther.

"The current Roman Catholic theology is one that favors death rather than life," Mr. Staalseth had the audacity to say. This is the end result of 40 years of pointless ecumenical palaver with these jokers. They are no closer to the truth than when they began  —  in fact, they are farther away than ever. In fact, they are not interested in the truth in the first place, for if they were they would have accepted it by now. As Saint Paul taught us: "[A]void foolish questions and genealogies and contentions and strivings about the law. For they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he that is such a one is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment." But the "ecumenical venture" consists in precisely the contrary of Saint Paul’s teaching. Ecumenism means talking to heretics forever and a day, even if there is obviously no point in going on with the exercise.

According to CWN "some observers have noted that the unusual statement by a member of the Nobel Committee about someone [John Paul II] who is nominated for the Peace Prize almost every year could show that the Pope has little chance of winning in October when the 2001 winner is announced." Well, the Pope doesn’t need the honors of an unbelieving world. And even if the Pope were awarded the Peace Prize, the right thing to do would be to hand it back to "Bishop" Staalseth with this advice: "I will accept the Nobel Peace Prize when you and all the members of the Nobel Committee accept the authority of God and His Church."