Ecumenism

Poverty Is Not What You Think It Is

Poverty fell off a cliff after the Second World War. It fell like a stone, including for American blacks. The economy was booming and everyone benefited. The poverty rate dropped from 35 percent in 1950 to less than 20 percent when President Lyndon Johnson, nonetheless, announced his War on Poverty. By the time the War [...]

Chaplains to the Zeitgeist

Recently, La Civilta Cattolica ran an article by that journal’s editor-in-chief, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, and by Marcelo Figueroa, the Argentinian Presbyterian minister chosen by Pope Francis to be the editor of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano, which subsequently republished the article. Since articles in La Civilta Cattolica are vetted by the Vatican secretary of [...]

The True Ecumenism Spadaro and Figueroa Missed

Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and Protestant Marcelo Figueroa recently published what can only be described as a diatribe against my friends and me. It was highly personal because it was directed right at a coalition of believers who have banded together to advance what a previous pope referred to as a Culture of Life. The column [...]

How to Think About Luther?

Traditionally, Catholics have viewed Luther as a heresiarch, and the Lutheran break from Rome as a religious and civilizational catastrophe. More recently, in line with current ecumenical and pastoral initiatives, that view has softened. The softening has been quite noticeable during the current pontificate. The pope recently took part in a joint liturgy with the [...]

Nostra Aetate and the Catholic Response to Islam

I have encountered serious Catholics who have invoked the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions) as seemingly discouraging or even reproving any kind of searching public examination and criticism of Islam. What exactly does this short statement of the Vatican II Fathers have to say about [...]

Is Anyone Catholic Anymore?

God is the Most Real Being, so our religion is about what we accept as most real. It’s our basic understanding of the world, to which all our other views must accommodate themselves. That’s a problem. To all appearances, Catholics have pretty much the same basic understandings as other people. Otherwise, our thoughts and actions [...]

Martin Luther: Defender of Erroneous Conscience

Two trials, two appeals to conscience. Trial 1: I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen. Trial 2: If the number of bishops and universities should be so material as your lordship seems to think, then I [...]

Anti-Catholic Critics Oppose Orthodox Council on Unity

While the historic Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, which took place in Crete this past June, sought to bridge the gap between Orthodox and non-Orthodox churches, it seems to have created a divide within the Orthodox Church itself. In recent developments, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who holds the title “first [...]

Intercommunion: The Next Step in Theological Ambiguity?

A recent issue of the Italian daily Avennire suggests the next possible front in the effort to accommodate the sacraments to “pastoral” problems (at least as Cardinal Walter Kasper sees them): intercommunion. The December 9 issue features a brief interview in which Kasper reflects on Pope Francis’s October 31-November 1 visit to Sweden to mark the [...]

The Chieti Agreement Encourages Catholic-Orthodox Unity

September 26 is the feast day of St. Nilo (Νεῖλος/Nilus) the Younger of Rossano otherwise known as St. Nilo of Grottaferrata. St. Nilo died in 1004, the year the Monastery of the Mother of God of Grottaferrata was founded. Grottaferrata is a monastic community of originally Greek monks coming from what was called the Greater [...]

What Benedict Could Teach the USCCB About Muslim Dialogue

I write frequently about the danger of Islamization in the U.S.—the incremental spread of Islamic law and culture that culminates in Islamic dominance. Many people, no doubt, consider that to be an unrealistic fear—about as likely as a takeover by shape-shifting aliens. After all, Muslims make up a relatively small proportion of the population. Besides, [...]

The Vatican Response to Secularization and Conflict in Ukraine

I recently argued that the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church (UGCC—one of two Greco-Catholic churches in Ukraine) is struggling with nationalist and secular influences. Unfortunately, it appears His Beatitude, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk’s valiant efforts to steer his Church between the internal Charybdis of nationalism and the external Scylla of western secularism and unabashed Russian aggression may [...]

Catholicism and Christian Pluralism

Have you ever overheard people discussing how world religions are basically the same, and only superficially different? “We have different opinions about the small stuff,” someone says, “but when it comes down to the essential beliefs, every religion is the same.” This has been described as the “God on the Mountain” perspective. God (or whatever [...]

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?

Believe it or not, there really is a religious movement called “Chrislam.” It began in Nigeria in the 1980s as an attempt to foster peace between Muslims and Christians by blending elements of Islam and Christianity. Its followers stress the commonalities between the two faiths and they recognize both the Koran and the Bible as [...]

Was Muhammad a False Prophet?

Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Mt. 7:15). Would “false prophets” include Muhammad? It’s an impolitic question to ask in these politically correct times, but, thanks to political correctness these are also highly dangerous times. Since a good deal of the danger emanates from the [...]

The New Literalism and Fundamentalism

Catholics—even more so liberal Catholics—are usually quick to criticize anyone who seems to interpret Scripture too literally. Indeed, liberal Catholics often don’t even want to view a lot of it as historical. Liberal Catholics and leftists generally are also ready to rebuke people who adhere to aspects of traditional Christian morality, especially sexual matters, as [...]

Priority Should be Given to Christian Refugees

“Dhimmitude,” like takfir and sharia, is a word of which Americans were happily ignorant not so long ago. Events, unfortunately, have expanded our Arabic vocabulary. As with other Islamic concepts, the meaning of dhimmitude, even its existence, is contested among Muslims. And misuse is not always merely semantic for those prone to issuing fatwas. No [...]

A Call for Better Dialogue with High Church Lutherans

This past October marked the 498th year since Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg. It also marked the eleventh year since I walked out of Trinity Lutheran Church in Traverse City and began the long road towards Catholicism. Anyone who has talked to me for more than five [...]

A Primer on Authentic Ecumenism

"Above all, it is necessary to recognize the unity that already exists." ~ John Paul II There’s a 7-Eleven across the street and down a couple blocks from where I teach—Bethel College in Mishawaka. I often go there for an afternoon caffeine boost. I could walk, but if I’m pressed for time (or it’s winter), I’ll jump [...]

Retrieving Apologetics

A number of Catholics, including theologians, think that the Church should not engage in apologetics. These critics claim that Vatican II made apologetics obsolete by calling for the Church to embrace, and no longer turn its back on, the modern world. They say theology is supposed to engage pressing contemporary issues that affect everyone, but [...]

What the Traditional Mass Means to Me

I came to the Church through the Traditional Latin Mass. I would have converted anyway. It was becoming more and more obvious that the Church was where I belonged, and it seemed pointlessly obstinate and even artificial to remain apart from her. But the Traditional Mass made the situation clearer, because it made it more [...]

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