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The Final End of Ecumenism

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On July 3, 2006 the Wisconsin State Journal reported that "The St. Benedict Center, a Benedictine ecumenical community serving Madison for the past 40 years, has ended its ties to the Roman Catholic Church." The head of the Center, the Benedictine nun Sister Mary David Walgenbach, said "the center will now function purely as an ecumenical community under its new name, Holy Wisdom Monastery."

Why is this group of Benedictine nuns renouncing its ties to the Catholic Church? Because that is the end of all "ecumenical communities." Any community that seeks "unity" with non-Catholics without expecting them to convert to Catholicism simply cannot remain Catholic. Something’s got to give; and if ecumenism is pursued to its conclusion  —  "unity" without conversion to the Catholic Faith  —  what will give is Catholicism. The final end of ecumenism is defection from the Church.

Walgenbach confirms the diagnosis of the ecumenical disease that destroyed her community of Benedictine nuns: "There are a number of reasons for the change, one of which is the order started accepting Protestant members several years ago. ‘We didn't want our non-Catholic sisters to have second-class status.’ she said. The Rev. Lynn Smith, a Presbyterian clergywoman, took her final vows to become a member of the order in 2004."

In other words, for the sake of ecumenism the St. Benedict Center had to cease to be Catholic. Hence, as Walgenbach reported, "the Sisters of St. Benedict petitioned the Vatican for dispensation from their vows as a Catholic religious order and that request was granted. The order will now be called the ‘Benedictine Women of Madison’ and will continue to follow, generally, the monastic rule of St. Benedict."

But how can a community "follow, generally" the Rule of St. Benedict while renouncing its religious vows and ending its existence as a Catholic religious community recognized by Rome? What is being followed is not the Rule of St. Benedict, but rather the "rule" of Walgenbach and her Protestant collaborators.

Of course, given the state of the Church today, the Vatican gave permission for this absurdity. For how could the Vatican hold the Sisters to their vows and their public profession of the Faith without destroying the "ecumenical community" they had created? The vows and the ecumenical community were fundamentally incompatible, and so in the end it was the vows that had to go.

Meanwhile, Bishop Robert Morlino, of the Madison Catholic Diocese, approved the changes "but requested the monastery no longer have Roman Catholic Mass celebrated at the center and that blessed Communion wafers no longer be ‘reserved’ in the chapel."

What exactly does the Bishop mean by "blessed Communion wafers"? What is actually reserved in the tabernacles of Catholic churches are consecrated Hosts, wherein the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ are really and substantially present. That is, the Bishop requested that the Blessed Sacrament not be profaned by being kept in a chapel operated by a group of former nuns and their Protestant companions.

In the Church of Ecumenical Dialogue, you see, there are no disciplinary orders as such, but only requests  —  unless, of course, you are dealing with those stubborn "traditionalists" who object to the auto-demolition of the Church since Vatican II. As to "traditionalists," Church authorities still do not hesitate to issue direct orders and even decrees of excommunication, as was done in the case of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

Archbishop Lefebvre, you see, did not seek to be dispensed from his vows as a Holy Ghost Father so that he could turn his religious order into an ecumenical community. In that case, the Vatican would have given permission. Rather, in 1988 the Archbishop sought to consecrate bishops to preserve the traditional Mass, sacraments and catechesis during a time of unparalleled crisis and confusion in the Church. And for those consecrations (to one of which the Vatican had already agreed in principle, with only the date to be agreed upon), he was declared "excommunicated" within 72 hours.

Indeed, it seems the disciplinary authority of the Church continues to function with severity and great rapidity  —  but only when it comes to those who object to the destruction of the Church’s discipline and try to do something about it.

In conjunction with his "request" that the Blessed Sacrament not be profaned in the ecumenical community the former nuns have created, Morlino opined that "Such experimental endeavors can bear great fruit for the church…." Thus, a bishop of the Catholic Church praises the defection of the nuns from their vows and their order as a fruitful experiment!

But, Morlino added, participation in activities at the Center "would not be suitable for Catholic school religion classes, parish religious education classes for young people through the completion of high school and certainly not for catechumens and candidates in RCIA (religious study) programs." Why? Obviously, because "ecumenical activities" are a danger to the Faith.

"Young people, Morlino warned, need to be indoctrinated in the basics of the Catholic faith before participating in ecumenical activities." Why? They need to be "indoctrinated" in the Catholic Faith so that they will not lose the Faith through exposure to "ecumenical activities."

But then why expose Catholics to such activities in the first place if they lead, as we see in the case of the nuns, to abandonment of the Catholic Church in favor of "ecumenism"? There is no logical answer to this question because ecumenism  —  which seeks "unity" in disunity  —  is not itself logical. Rather, ecumenism is a form of mental confusion that is part and parcel of what Sister Lucy rightly called the "diabolical disorientation" of the Church since Vatican II.

The report in Wisconsin State Journal concludes by noting that "Sister Mary David and Sister Joanne Kollasch, who have been in Madison together for most of the center's history, will remain Roman Catholics, and Protestants in the order will also retain their individual religious affiliations."

But, as Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches, for a religious to renounce her vows is a form of apostasy from the Faith, for those who take vows have publicly professed an extraordinary degree of fidelity. To retreat from that higher commitment is, therefore, apostasy  —  a falling away  —  even if one otherwise continues to be a member of the Church.

It is not for anyone but God to judge the subjective disposition of these nuns, who may believe they are acting for the best of reasons. But, objectively speaking, to renounce one’s vows in order to live in community with Protestants who reject the most fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church on faith and morals can only be seen as apostasy. Such is the final outcome of the ecumenical madness that grips the Church today.