My, my, isn’t this charming:
A group of Orthodox clergy in Greece, led by three senior archbishops, have published a manifesto pledging to resist all ecumenical ties with Roman Catholics and Protestants.
“The only way our communion with heretics can be restored is if they renounce their fallacy and repent,” the group said in a “Confession of Faith against Ecumenism” that they circulated recently.
“The Orthodox church is not merely the true church; she is the only church. She alone has remained faithful to the Gospel, the synods and the fathers, and consequently she alone represents the true catholic church of Christ,” says the document.
The funny thing is, I’m more sympathetic to these clergy than this guy:
Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro is a confirmed Roman Catholic who attends an evangelical church and says it’s time to set aside “the differences” in the Christian faith.
The Examinerhas received several calls about what church the MP attends since he met with the Pope at the Vatican on Saturday, after the G8 summit in Italy.
On Sunday, in a statement, Del Mastro said it was an “incredible opportunity,” to meet with the pope, “as a confirmed Roman Catholic and Christian.”
Del Mastro said he’s a member of the congregation at Calvary Pentecostal Church, but is also “a good friend” of Diocese of Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis.
Christianity shouldn’t be “divided up into small little cross sections,” Del Mastro said.
He was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital, baptized at Immaculate Conception, confirmed at St. Paul The Apostle in Lakefield and married at St. Alphonsus in Peterborough.
“I’m a Catholic,” Del Mastro said.
It seems to me that these are the two (faulty) extremes of true ecumenism: either wholesale rejection of all other churches and denominations or glossing over and ignoring our legitimate differences. Neither is the proper attitude. As Christians, we must be humble enough to realize that we can learn a lot from our separated brethren about how to follow our Lord, yet we also must not compromise our fundamental beliefs which we believe have been given to us through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
True ecumenism has its basis in charity and truth, which are not opposing forces, but intimate brethren (after all, God is called both “love” and “truth” in the Scriptures). We must always look for the best in our separated brethren and acknowledge the truth that they possess (as well as recognize that often they are more fervent in their practice of the faith than we can be). Yet we must never diminish the truth of Catholic doctrine, including the “hard” doctrines such as the sinlessness of Mary or the primacy of the pope. Only by engaging in charitable dialogue which seeks the truth can we hope to one day be united at the one table of the Lord.
Years ago I wrote a paper about the history of Catholic ecumenism, and it has always been one of the most visited articles on my website. Most people believe that the Catholic Church started being interested in ecumenism with Vatican II, but my research showed that it actually predated Vatican II by about a century. It is true that the emphasis changed greatly after Vatican II, but Catholics have always recognized the need for all Christians to be united in “one faith.”
Please pray that all Christians might be one someday soon!