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A Dissident Returns to the One True Church

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Over the past 40 years, the constant teaching of the Popes before Vatican II on the only way to Christian unity  —  the return of the dissidents to the one true Church, as the Holy Office put it in 1948  —  has been abandoned in favor of the unprecedented novelty of "ecumenical dialogue." Since Vatican II we have been told that the return of the dissidents to Rome is no longer required, and that somehow "unity" with us will be achieved without the abandonment of the Protestant confessions.

How those who have left the Church can be united with us without returning to the Church is a mystery that is never explained. But the Vatican’s Cardinal Walter Kasper and his fellow "Catholic ecumenists" insist that things are different now. As Kasper has declared in remarks mentioned repeatedly in this column: "Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II."

But, try as they might to change reality, the only way to Christian unity is still the return of the dissidents to Rome. Witness the report by the VirtueOnline website that "For the first time in the 137-year history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton [Pennsylvania], Bishop Joseph F. Martino will receive a married former Scranton Episcopal priest and father into the priesthood from the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem." The former Episcopalian priest is Eric Bergman, who, under a special Vatican dispensation, will undergo preparation for ordination as a Catholic priest.

Now, one can certainly question the wisdom of the Vatican’s special dispensation allowing married Anglican priests to become Catholic priests, but the point here is that even this dispensation requires such men to leave the "Anglican communion" and return to the Catholic Church.

Bergman is doing so because of the Episcopal Church’s "acceptance of homosexuality and the consecration of an avowed homoerotic bishop to the episcopacy in the person of V. Gene Robinson." Reached by phone, Bergman offered a comment that exposes the utter futility of "ecumenical dialogue" with the rapidly decaying mainline Protestant denominations: "I think that the ordination of Robinson is the logical conclusion of the contraceptive mentality. When Lambeth [the conference of Anglican "bishops"] approved contraception for married couples in 1930, they set the stage for the Robinson consecration in 2003. You remove the marital act from its purpose and we bless sterile intercourse. It is not a big jump to bless then sterile homosexual intercourse."

God bless Bergman. And God bless the 60 parishioners who, as VirtueOnline reports, will "follow the priest and become Roman Catholics." God bless them every one, for they have given courageous witness to the unchanging truth that the ecumenical charade of the past 40 years cannot conceal: that, as Bl. Pope Pius XI declared, "the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it." Welcome home, Mr. Bergman.