Ecumenism

The Meaning of Father Damien

O God, the cleanest offering Of tainted earth below, Unblushing to thy feet we bring— “A leper white as snow!” In September of 1881, while King Kalākaua of Hawaii was away on his world tour, his regent (and sister) Princess Liliʻuokalani visited the leper colony of Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai. Its administrator was [...]

In Defense of Ecumenism

In a recent article in Crisis Magazine, “How the Modernists made ‘Ecumenical’ a Dirty Word,” Joseph Pearce argues that ecumenism has become a synonym for modernism in the Church today. After describing the noble history of the term from the original Greek to the Roman Empire and its early adoption by the Catholic Church, he [...]

How the Modernists Made ‘Ecumenical’ a Dirty Word

It is important to have a clear understanding of the meaning of a word before we use it. The word ecumenical is a case in point. Throughout history, until very recently, its meaning was connected to its etymological roots in Greek (oikoumene), in which it means literally “the inhabited (world)”, or more generally “the whole [...]

Protestantism Made Me Catholic

First Things has been running a fascinating and provocative series of articles that question the principles and beliefs of most of its readers. In May, it published “Why I Became Muslim” by one Jacob Williams, a Brit who grew up Anglican and then converted to Islam. More recently, the magazine published “Catholicism Made Me Protestant,” [...]

Why Vatican II’s Definition of Church Makes Sense

One of the most common criticisms of the Second Vatican Council is that it changed the teaching regarding the relationship between the idea of the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church. Much of the debate among interpreters (and detractors) of Vatican II has centered around the phrase subsistit in, found in the conciliar [...]

The Intercommunion Proposal of the German Bishops is Unbiblical

The German bishops are at it again. They are pushing the controversial agenda of intercommunion in certain instances for "mixed marriages" of Catholics with Protestant spouses. Accordingly, the German bishops published guidelines entitled: "Walking with Christ—tracing unity. Inter-denominational marriages and sharing the Eucharist." It was released even after Pope Francis sent a letter, via the [...]

German Bishops Debate Who Can Receive the Eucharist

Protestantism comes from Germany, its original spark with Martin Luther, and its earliest excesses with the Anabaptist rule over Münster; the latter crushed finally by the prince-bishop’s army, the former however enjoyed enduring success. From Germany, Reformation ideas spread to other European countries, and from there into the whole world, creating new epicenters of Protestant [...]

What the Macedonian Church’s Fight for Autonomy Signifies

On November 9, 2017, the Holy Synod of the Macedonian Orthodox Church—Ohrid Archbishopric sent a letter to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with three requests: 1) recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church by other Eastern Orthodox Churches; 2) recognition of Macedonian Orthodox Church autocephalous status (canonical independence); and 3) readiness to recognize the Bulgarian Orthodox Church [...]

Islam: A Giant Step Backwards for Humanity

One of the big mysteries of our day is how so many supposedly enlightened Catholics have managed to get it so wrong about Islam for so long. It’s understandable that in the 1960s, when the Islamic world was relatively quiescent, Catholics might entertain the high hopes for Islamic-Catholic relations expressed in Nostra Aetate. But this [...]

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 [...]

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