EXIT AND REFORM
"I spoke to Fr … not so long ago, who considers that our bishops have lost the Faith. When a Cardinal can tell the boys at Downside Abbey that unity can be more important than truth, what hope is there?"
'Not much,' is the short answer to that rhetorical question posed in a recent letter from a priest. As Cardinal Ratzinger observed during his celebrated interview with Vittorio Messori: "Where Protestants and Catholics live side by side, the latter are more in danger of adopting the positions of the former." Add to that truism the curse of false ecumenism and the outlook, as indicated in the following pages, is bleak indeed. When Catholics already protestantised by osmosis, as it were, are let loose to dialogue interminably with Protestant ecclesial communities devoid of authority, unity or binding doctrine of any kind, the end result can only be an institutionalised false ecumenism provoking compromise or outright denial of the Faith.
Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's repudiation of the overriding importance of Catholic dogma during his Bishop Butler centenary lecture at Downside Abbey last May is simply the shocking hierarchical face of this corrupting ecumenical juggernaut; the outcome of his years spent chin-wagging with members of that "cosmopolitan debating society" known as Anglicanism, during which time he has obligingly signed up to so-called "Agreements" and now a "Covenant" which collectively contradict most major tenets of Catholic belief.
Yet is that fact any more shocking than the overflow of false ecumenism we observe at every turn? Whether the invitation of the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England to speak about Freemasonry to the pupils of Downside School; or the employment of a witch to lecture in the psychology of religion at Heythrop College; or the blasphemous attendance of over 50 ‘priestesses’ and a preaching Lutheran 'bishopess' at an ecumenical service to celebrate the "Ministry of Women" in Clifton Cathedral last month [full report in the next edition]; or the recent endorsement of an ecumenical prayer which speaks of "soulful, carnival streets where gay couples can dance to the beat of their hearts;" or widespread liturgical abuses of an ecumenical nature, from sacrilegious inter-Communions to illicit homilies to 'concelebrations' - such routine horrors are the fruits of a perverted ecumenical "dialogue" out of control.
Rome should understand that the Catholic in the pew views the whole ecumenical enterprise from this scandalous workaday perspective. That is why, even with the best possible spin on the Holy Father's good intentions, you simply cannot view the likes of Assisi and other multi-faith extravaganzas in isolation. The syncretic images and equivocal reports they engender reinforce the studiously false ecumenical messages and events that now pervade Catholic life in practice, not only furthering protestantisation among the uncatechised but effecting confusion, acrimony and even lapsation among the orthodox faithful.
One appreciates more and more the prudence and wisdom of the pre-conciliar Popes in forbidding or strictly regulating interfaith meetings and dialogue. And that was in an era of strong Catholic leadership and stability. How much more necessary today in a Church populated by bishops who, when they are not being investigated by the police for criminal negligence or putting their names to ever more treacherous Covenants and Agreements, are mouthing absurdities like "unity can be more important than truth"!
How can there ever be true and fruitful ecumenical dialogue as long as this intolerable situation prevails; while ecclesiastical dissidents feel free to betray the Faith and the faithful with impunity? In this scandalous atmosphere how can Catholics ever be expected to undertake their "primary" ecumenical duty "to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be renewed and done in the Catholic household itself…" [Decree on Ecumenism, 4]? A "primary duty" which must begin with re-establishing Catholic unity - requiring full internal assent, by all in communion with the Church, to all the doctrines of faith and morals set forth by the ordinary and extraordinary teachings of the Church and Popes. Without this renewal "in the Catholic household itself," Christian unity will remain captive to the dissident view that it is something to be achieved (by reunification of countless separated denominations) rather than something to be restored (through the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of Christ's one and only Catholic Church - Decree on Ecumenism, 3, 4, 24).
The rather obvious point is that orthodoxy or lack thereof has vital implications for genuine ecumenism and the conversion it entails. Which clearly means that if the Vatican is as serious about Christian unity as it pretends it must stop telling bishops that they "may not tolerate error in matters of doctrine and morals" within the Church, as with the Australian bishops several years ago, and start acting to enforce its own directives, beginning in Rome itself where dissent at Pontifical Universities, for instance, is rife. Only by cleaning out the Church will the Vatican ever manage to strip away the syncretic dross and capering ambiguities that now define the ecumenical project - telegraphing to one and all that Catholic ecumenism aims at a unity brought about through the conversion of non-Catholics to the full Catholic faith. Above all else, this clean out requires the appointment of orthodox Catholic bishops who well understand that the Church is not an institutional umbrella covering conflicts of doctrines, as false ecumenism would have it in the classic Protestant sense, but a body united in doctrine which excludes dissenters.
Likening the path of ecumenism to a road with no exits, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has claimed "There's no going back." This is the smug party line, suggesting that withdrawal from ecumenical dialogue is as unthinkable as Britain leaving the European Union. It is complete nonsense, of course. If a joint venture of any sort is damaging your integrity you need to get out fast (and faster still if "dialoguers" like His Eminence are representing your side!). All it takes is the will. As Margaret Thatcher once stated: "It is frequently said to be unthinkable that Britain should leave the European Union. But the avoidance of thought about this is a poor substitute for judgement." Dismissing fears that such a move would be blocked by other members, she added: "the blunt truth is that the rest of the European Union needs us more than we need them." Similarly, the ecumenical project depends entirely on the Catholic Church, without whom it is meaningless. But we can offer nothing to the cause of Christian unity unless we first undertake the root and branch reform required. We should pray that the next pontiff not only has the stomach for this arduous task of restoring orthodoxy within our own Catholic household, but that until it is sufficiently re-established, he instigate a polite and swift withdrawal from the degrading ecclesiastical burlesque that ecumenism has become.