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“Ecumenical Follies” Update

The Last Days of Cardinal Kasper

by Christopher A. Ferrara
February 10, 2010

The National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen recently wrote a piece on the fast-approaching end of the “ecumenical” career of Cardinal Walter Kasper, whose penchant for undermining Catholic dogma (for example, his denial of the historical reality of the apostolic succession and his call to “revisit” Pope Leo XIII’s infallible proclamation on the invalidity of Anglican priestly orders) has been a focus of this column for years.

It seems that Kasper, now 76, is finally — blessedly, mercifully — on the way out, and that the Pope has accepted or will accept his mandatory resignation at age 75. Allen reports the wonderful news that “it’s widely expected that Kasper will hand the reins to a successor sometime in 2010.” But not before Kasper indulges in a few more of the useless meetings and worthless gestures that constitute “ecumenical dialogue.”

Allen reports that “a highly unusual Vatican meeting is taking place this week in the offices of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity” at which “the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed traditions,” will consider “the entire ecumenical project, meaning the effort to put the divided Christian family back together again.”

Yawn. I hope the pasta at lunch is al dente. As for the meeting, what’s so unusual about another “ecumenical” gathering of different “traditions” to “dialogue” about how wonderfully different they are and how none of them has any intention of conforming itself to the teaching of the Magisterium or the authority of the Vicar of Christ?

Ah, but this meeting really is quite different, says Allen. You see, “the Vatican normally conducts ecumenical conversation in bilateral fashion, one church at a time,” and “those dialogues are usually focused on some specific topic – Mary, for example, or the Bible, or authority in the church. This time, the field is wide open.”

In other words, the meeting has no agenda! That would make it even less productive, if that were possible, than all the previous “ecumenical meetings” over the past forty years, which have produced exactly nothing by way of “Christian unity” with non-Catholics.

Allen inadvertently reveals the utter futility of “ecumenism” when he writes that Kasper is “a gifted ecumenical leader” who achieved supposedly “groundbreaking agreements... with various Christian churches,” only to admit in the same paragraph that “when the dust settled it often wasn’t clear what authority those agreements actually enjoy inside the churches which signed them” and that “Meantime, the gap between Catholicism and some branches of Protestantism over hot-button issues such as the ordination of women or the blessing of same-sex unions becomes ever wider, making the venerable ecumenical aim of full structural communion look ever more like a pipe dream...”

So, after forty years of enough ecumenical hot air to hoist a fleet of blimps, the very aim of “ecumenism” — the visible unity of Christians — looks ever more like a pipe dream. That is, the “ecumenical” state of affairs is worse now than when the “ecumenical movement” began. Surprise, surprise.

In another inadvertent admission, Allen mentions “several fairly stunning ecumenical achievements in recent years” — name three, or, for that matter, name one! — but then adds that according to Kasper there are “four categories of problems facing ecumenical dialogue,” which are these —

...How to read the Bible and doctrine...

...what it means to be a human person in light of God’s plan...

...What is the Church, and in particular, what are the sources of authority in the Church?

...Sacramental...the vexed question of inter-communion, the absence of which is usually the most visible index of ecumenical frustration.

I would suggest these additional four topics: Which end is up? What is the meaning of life? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Why is there air?

I mean, really. After four decades of “ecumenical dialogue” the participants are still gabbing about the meaning of the Bible and doctrine, who man is, what the Church is, from whence religious authority derives, and how non-Catholics can partake of sacraments with Catholics (duh: they can’t, until they become Catholics). In other words, “ecumenical dialogue” has gotten exactly nowhere in forty years.

Allen concludes by mentioning Kasper’s latest suggestion of heresy: “The idea of an ‘ecumenical catechism,’ written in consultation with the various Christian traditions and then issued by ‘the competent Catholic authority.’” Kasper declares: “We do not yet have any idea how such a catechism could be structured and written. Perhaps some suggestions on this may emerge also from this symposium.”

Indeed, how does one write a catechism acceptable to both Catholics and those who reject Catholic doctrine? One doesn’t, of course. But in Cardinal Kasper’s Bizarro World of “ecumenical dialogue,” such nonsense is a topic for serious discussion.

Goodbye, Cardinal Kasper. Your exit cannot come soon enough. And let us pray that Kasper’s replacement brings to light again the simple truth Kasper and his collaborators have succeeded in burying for decades in a cloud of obscurantism and double-talk: that, as Pope Pius XI insisted in his landmark encyclical Mortalium animos, “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.”