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"Ecumenical Follies" Update

Orthodox Bishop Sides With Catholics

by Christopher A. Ferrara

While Romanian Catholics complain that the Vatican is pressuring them to give up their claim to church properties stolen by Stalin in the 1940s (see my column "Romanian Catholics Have Had It with Ecuemenism"), a Romanian Orthodox bishop has sided with the Catholics in their law suit to recover the stolen monastery at Nicula.

According to CWNews.com (January 11, 2002) "While most Orthodox bishops have not yet responded to the [suit]…Orthodox Metropolitan Nicolae Corneanu of Banat virtually conceded the justice of the Catholic claim to the disputed monastery in Nicula. ‘As I have said previously, and I will not cease to say, it is worse than revolting, what is happening here.’" The bishop went even further and declared that "Orthodox dioceses should restore Catholic properties ‘at Nicula and in other places.’"

As CWN notes "Metropolitan Nicolae is the only Romanian Orthodox leader who has consistently honored Catholic claims to property that had been confiscated by the Communist government.’ And well he should. As the article notes, in 1948 Stalin forcibly expropriated 2,012 Romanian Catholic churches and turned them over to the Orthodox Church, after Stalin outlawed the Byzantine-rite Catholic Church.

Since the "fall of Communism" in 1991, Catholics have petitioned for the return of only 160 of these stolen Church buildings, and have also requested "the right to share the use of 227 other parish churches that were originally in Catholic hands." CWN observes that "Despite years of ecumenical dialogue, Orthodox officials have transferred only six churches back to Catholic parishes; not a single petition for joint use of a parish church building has been accepted." Putting aside the sacrilege that would be involved in Catholics sharing a parish with a schismatic church, could anyone ask for more compelling proof that "ecumenical dialogue" is nothing but a waste of time?

Now we have reached a new low of absurdity in "ecumenical relations" - the Vatican pressures Catholics to relinquish their just claim to restoration of stolen church property, while an Orthodox bishop defends the justice of their claim. Perhaps the Vatican will scold the Orthodox bishop for impeding "ecumenical progress" by agreeing with the Catholics.

How much more ridiculous can things get? A great deal more, I am afraid. Those who pursue "ecumenical dialogue" in the Vatican are like some overconfident physician who refuses to admit that his clinical judgment could be wrong. The patient is not getting any better, but is in fact getting worse, and the doctor insists on prescribing more of the same treatment as the patient grows weaker and more confused.

Meanwhile, the one effective treatment is ignored: "The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, which will be converted." And so it goes with ecumenical follies.