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"Ecumenical Follies" Update

Another Ecumenical Gesture Spurned

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On March 3, 2006 Interfax news agency reported that Pope Benedict’s gesture in dropping the traditional papal title "Patriarch of the West" (so as not to offend the Orthodox patriarchs of the east) has been met with the usual Orthodox response to self-abasing papal gestures in the name of ecumenism: a big "So what?"

As Interfax notes, "the Moscow Patriarchate [of the Russian Orthodox Church] has disagreed with the Vatican's statement that Pope Benedict XVI's decision to abandon his title of Patriarch of the West was governed by a desire to improve relations with the Orthodox Church." Rather, the Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria, one Hilarion, sniffed that "It remains a mystery how the omission of the Patriarch of the West title can improve relations between the Holy See and the Orthodox Church. On the contrary, this omission could be viewed as further claim to the church's worldwide jurisdiction, which is reflected in the pontiff's other titles."

Hilarion’s remark is simply hilarious. Even when the Pope lets it be known through his Vatican spokesmen that the Pope intends to placate the Orthodox by abandoning one of the pope’s traditional titles, the Orthodox  —  and this, mind you, after 40 years of building "reciprocal relations" through "ecumenical dialogue"  —  see only a conspiracy to insult the Orthodox.

As Interfax further notes, "the Patriarch of the West was one of the most problematic titles from an Orthodox standpoint. Yet now that the Pope willingly abandons that for the sake of that ever-elusive "ecumenical progress," the Orthodox only claim to be offended by the gesture.

The Pope can’t win for trying. But can he not see  —  can all the Catholic practitioners of the novelty of "ecumenism" not see  —  that the Catholic party to ecumenism will always lose ground, while the non-Catholic party will always gain ground?

It’s in the very nature of this thing they call "ecumenism." For "ecumenism" begins with the proposition that those outside the Church need no longer feel obliged to abandon their errors and return to her, but rather need only "search" for unity with the Church that once declared herself (as she certainly is) the very center of unity. When Catholic ecumenists begin their "ecumenical dialogue" by defaulting on the Church’s most basic claim vis a vis the Protestants and the Orthodox  —  that they are outside the Church and must return  —  what is left to the Catholic party but an endless series of useless concessions that will only confirm the non-Catholic party in its errors?

When, oh when, will the Vatican’s ecumenists finally admit that ecumenism is a one-way street away from Rome, and that the more Rome concedes for the sake of illusory "ecumenical progress," the further down that one-way street the "ecumenical partners" will wander.

Despite all evidence of failure, the ecumenical follies go on, as does the diabolical disorientation of the Church which gave rise to "ecumenism" and all the other worthless novelties that have plagued the life of Catholics since Vatican II. May Our Lady of Fatima deliver us from this plague of novelty, and soon.