THE WAGES OF ECUMENISM
~ Religious Inflation in the Global Village ~
The BBC cameras panned down from the heights across several tiers of well-occupied seating and came to rest on the squat little cleric holding forth from the floor, his thin white hair accentuating small dark eyes as lifeless as the heavy black eyebrows that framed them. It was the Church of Scotland's 2002 General Assembly and the Catholic "delegate," Archbishop Keith O'Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, shifted from side to side as he played to the gallery around him. Oozing false-humility from every false-ecumenical pore and gesticulating strategically, he implored forgiveness for the medieval obscurantism of the pre-conciliar Church:
The ageing Protestant remnant sat impassively, the captive audience of a preening Toad of Toad Hall caricature who pleaded that he felt their pain:
Pass the jumbo-size sick bag! Even for whited sepulchres of Archbishop O'Brien's exalted stature it doesn't get much more cringing, oily and treacherous than that. You could almost sniff the sulphur through the TV screen. During his Assembly cameo, this mitred Mr Toad: traded off the good name of the same pontiff he routinely disobeys and derides [Jan. 2000 Editorial]; reduced the Church's prohibition against inter-Communion to a mere discipline in order to avoid the doctrinal reason for the ban - "the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders" in Protestant communities [Catechism 1400]; confirmed the souls before him in their ignorance and errors through undiluted praise of dangerously defective Protestant worship; defamed and misrepresented the pre-conciliar Church, lending credence to anti-Catholic propaganda deriding a self-serving Roman Church with arrogant claims to possession of the absolute truth; fostered false hopes about ecumenical progress by preferring cowardly dissembling and sentimental pap to a diplomatically honest exposition of Catholic faith and belief; and generally disgraced the Catholic episcopate and diminished the credibility and authority of the one true Church with his gutless grovelling.
Quite simply, at the Church of Scotland's General Assembly last May, Delegate (Comrade?) O'Brien personified the very evil forewarned by the Fathers of Vatican II in their Decree on Ecumenism: "Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism [peace], in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded."
False ecumenism institutionalised
The Fathers must be turning in their graves now that their textbook definition of "false ecumenism" has become de rigueur in interfaith dialogue, even to such ghastly televised displays of self-flagellation and faithless forelock-tugging by their successors. Indeed, with the appointment in March 2001 of German Cardinal Walter Kasper as head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, one might say that false ecumenism has been effectively institutionalised. And how ironic that in the very same month as his telling appointment the Anglican diocese of Chester should have become the first Anglican diocese to lift the ban on divorced people marrying in church, because Modernist Kasper is one of several German bishops who dispute the indissolubility of marriage and want the divorced and remarried admitted to Holy Communion! In so many ways, the seamless convergence of the Kasper-Chester events and the underlying conformity to Protestant thought they reveal is symbolic of the suicidal one-way street the ecumenical project has become. In particular, it highlights the dangerous absurdity of protestantised dissidents like Kasper (who also holds that the Gospel miracles are mere legends) leading ecumenical dialogue on our behalf.
In that respect, Archbishop O'Brien's performance at the above Assembly was wholly consistent. It was merely the acting out of the dissent that drives him and to which he could give free rein in his natural (Protestant) environment. What else can we expect? How can such a man ever be trusted to contribute an authentic and convinced Catholic voice to ecumenical dialogue? You cannot give what you do not have. A prelate with O'Brien's track record of serial infidelity is not just a danger to his own flock but an ecumenical liability.(1) And so, under the sheer weight of false ecumenism that such churchmen very naturally and purposefully bring to the table, our Holy Church has been dragged down to new levels of Protestant accommodation and compromise.
This degradation can be seen at every turn, especially in the ever increasing number of scandalous ecumenical "Agreements," "Declarations," "Accords," "Covenants" and "Reflections." One immediately thinks of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission [ARCIC], the ecumenical granddaddy of them all, whose few agreed statements over the past twenty years have turned out to be rather disagreeable to the Vatican, which, as Michael Davies recorded in this magazine at the time, politely but comprehensively savaged them. What then-Bishop Cormac Murphy O'Connor, the ARCIC co-chairman, considered to be a body of theological work "which will be of enormous value in the years to come" [The Church Times, 19/2/99], Cardinal Ratzinger has clearly viewed as selling out the Faith to the Protestant position on one fundamental doctrine after another.
Yet Rome's regular cleaning up behind ARCIC's ongoing trail of theological fudge has not in any way restrained now-Cardinal Murphy O'Connor's ecumenical zeal. Last June he went as far as to sign a "personal covenant" with his three Protestant co-Presidents of Churches Together in England, which, as the ensuing critique in this edition details, is possibly his worst betrayal of our Holy Faith thus far. Not that it will come as any surprise to those aware of the Cardinal's wholly Protestant understanding of basic Catholic doctrines as publicly expressed in recent years [cf. on sovereign papal authority, CO, October 2001, p.496; on papal jurisdiction, CO, Jan. 2002, p.22], or to those familiar with the classic Protestant advocacy of the Cardinal and his Churches Together in England colleagues as articulated in their own publications, namely: denial of the Catholic Church's claim to possess the fullness of truth and unity in its own right, while simultaneously looking to the construction of a new church "within the unity of a living and integrated fellowship" [see "Churches Together in England: A Condemnation", CO, October 2001].
Then there is the Catholic-Lutheran equivalent of ARCIC, whose 1998 "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification," the so-called Catholic-Lutheran Accord, was released with such media fanfare and assurances of Vatican approval that one presumed the Lutheran community must have finally abandoned the infamous theology of "justification by faith alone" concocted by their heretical founder. It predictably transpired, however, that Rome had "encouraged" the ongoing dialogue but had not approved the Declaration at all, and that among other things it found "unsatisfactory" the Lutheran teaching that the Christian believer is "at the same time righteous and sinner." Such assertions, Rome indicated, are incompatible with the anathemas of the Council of Trent. In fact, just as there was precious little doctrinal agreement in the so-called ARCIC Agreements, there was not much accord in the alleged Catholic-Lutheran Accord. For instance, the Council of Trent most certainly anathematised this classic reaffirmation of the core Protestant heresy as stated in the annex to the Joint Declaration: "Justification takes place by grace alone, by faith alone, the person is justified apart from works." And in direct opposition to the Declaration's claim that Catholics may accept that Christ is not a lawgiver in the manner of Moses [para. 33], Trent states: "If anyone says that Jesus Christ was given to men and women by God as a Redeemer to trust, and not also as a lawgiver to obey: let him be anathema."
And so, within months of its release, even the eminent Lutheran convert Father Richard John Neuhaus, who originally described the Declaration as momentous in Time magazine, was admitting that those Catholics and Lutherans who produced the Declaration were saying off the record, "that the Roman response is, in the most important respects, a rejection of the declaration." In other words, the Catholic party to an ecumenical "dialogue" had once again compromised the Faith, failing to oppose the most blatant of Protestant heresies as indicated above. Yet even the Wall Street Journal recognised a doctrinal sell out when it saw one, trumpeting in its 3 November 1999 editorial that the Catholic-Lutheran Accord "effectively concedes the theological debate to Luther."
Thankfully, only the Catholic "dialoguers" conceded. Rome again held the line. But will the Vatican also reject the treacherous views proclaimed by the Catholic contributors to the latest ecumenical salvo, "Reflections on Covenant and Mission" [August 2002], a joint Catholic-Jewish document produced by the American Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs? It declares that "campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church," and, in sum, concedes that Judaism possesses in itself the fullness of the means of salvation. American Cardinal Keeler described this gross betrayal and Catholic theological-contradiction-in-terms as "a significant step forward in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish Community in this country."
Why question the likelihood of unequivocal Roman opposition to these Reflections? Simply because its contents would be meat and drink to the aforementioned Cardinal Kasper, Rome's arch-dissident head of ecumenical affairs, and much of what it says about the Jews, though scandalous to the ears of pious Catholics, has already been voiced or intimated in one way or another by the likes of the Holy Father, Cardinal Ratzinger and other high ranking orthodox prelates! [cf "Some Thoughts on the Reception of Dominus Iesus," CO, Jan. 2001; "In Praise of the 'C' Word," CO, October 2001, p.497; "The Irrevocable Covenant," CO, March 2002; "Oberammergau: Paradigm of Decay," CO, Feb. 2001, pp.89-90].
Such doubts are strengthened by Rome's acceptance of the 1993 "Balamand Agreement" produced by the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church. This Agreement rejected what it calls the "outdated ecclesiology of return to the Catholic Church." So, just as the above Reflections rule out any attempt to convert the Jews to the Catholic faith, the Balamand Agreement with the Orthodox states that "In the search for establishing unity there is no question of conversion of people from one Church to the other to ensure their salvation." On the surface this might seem less controversial than the Jewish question - given the close ties that unite the Orthodox to the Catholic Church through apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist - until one recalls that the Orthodox Church rejects a swag of Catholic doctrines, such as: the dogma of Papal Supremacy and infallibility; the defined nature of Purgatory; the indissolubility of marriage; the Catholic understanding of Original Sin; the dogma of the Immaculate Conception; the intrinsic evil of every contraceptive act. What is that lot if not an urgent salvific call to "conversion" to Catholic truth? And if, as the Russian Patriarch has recently claimed (and as we hope!), the Church in Russia is in practice still "aiming to convert to Catholicism the largest number of people possible," who can blame him for being angry and charging the Church with duplicity when the slippery wording of the Balamand Agreement indicates that such is no longer the Church's mission?
Again and again we find that all these assorted ecumenical 'treaties' either deny the Faith outright or cloud perennial Catholic teachings with studiously ambiguous, politically motivated weasel words in order to keep the increasingly futile and damaging ecumenical project on the rails. As indicated above, this leaves the Vatican fire brigade, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rushing from Agreement to Accord to Covenant to Declaration, dousing various inflammatory theological assertions accepted and signed by compromised Catholic parties to a false ecumenism. But not all the fires are extinguished. Some, like statements effectively rendering "conversion" to the Catholic Church outmoded and meaningless, are left untouched or even stoked by Rome.
It is all the more infuriating and perplexing when regular bouts of ecumenical self-contradiction and conflict arise within the Vatican itself, thus striking at the credibility of the Church. The Balamand Agreement is a typical case in point. Negotiated on Rome's behalf by Cardinal Kasper's predecessor, Cardinal Cassidy, the Agreement refers throughout to the Catholic Church and the totality of Orthodox Churches as "sister Churches" and "our two Churches." In his [papally] "authoritative and binding" note of 30 June 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger stamped on these erroneous and insidious terms, demanding that they not be used because they undermine the fact that the universal Catholic Church, "one, holy, catholic and apostolic is not sister but mother of all the particular [i.e. Orthodox] Churches," imply "that in reality the one Church of Christ might not exist" and insinuate that Christ created several churches. In effect, Ratzinger was rebuking Cassidy, the Vatican's own "dialoguer-in-chief"! Cassidy eventually got his own back by publicly criticising Ratzinger's Dominus Iesus, stating that "those of us whose ears are more attuned to the nuances of dialogue" would have written a different document (i.e. one with greater scope for fudging the truth, a la Balamand!)
Yet if false ecumenism has excited such disagreement and conflict at headquarters, the rank and file faithful are more confused, wary, anxious and divided still. The effect of Rome's stubborn encouragement of ecumenical dialogue despite the ever more corrupting track-record of national and international bodies outlined above, has seen similar heterodox and heretical Agreements, Understandings, Covenants and Partnerships mushroom at parish level. These local ecumenical initiatives are now out of control and inflicting probably irreversible damage.
The case study of the November 1999 "Memorandum of Understanding" signed by St. Mary's parish in Blenheim, New Zealand, as set out by parishioner David Selby in our January 2001 edition, is typical of the heresy and pan-Christianity such co-operative ventures are fostering at the grassroots. For instance, one of the "understandings" St. Mary's reached with the neighbouring Protestant communities was expressed as follows: "We believe that the Christian Church in our community is larger and broader than the particular church family (congregation) to which we belong." Protestantism pure and simple. "A statement," as Father George Duggan commented in reviewing the Memorandum, "with which no Catholic could agree." Yet the undoubtedly sincere parish priest and his parish council readily agreed to it - thus denying the reality of the one true Church founded by Christ on the rock of Peter - believing the statement to reflect the doctrinal U-turn signalled since the Council in all manner of false ecumenical posturing, verbiage and ambiguities from on high. After all, their own local hierarchical authority, Cardinal Williams of Wellington, claimed to see nothing at all in the deceitful and heretical Memorandum "at odds with the Church's teaching on ecumenism." While on Good Friday this year, the preacher of the pontifical household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, a renowned Charismatic, felt free to contradict the teaching in Dominus Iesus that warned against attributing a divine origin or saving quality to other religions. Speaking in front of the authoriser and author of Dominus Iesus themselves, Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger respectively, he boldly stated that every religion has a right to "consider itself the true one," and that non-Christian religions were not just tolerated by God but "positively willed by him" as expressions of the depth of His grace [The Catholic Times, 14/4/02].
Based on the many similar ecumenical agreements forwarded to Christian Order by readers at home and abroad, the Blenheim Memorandum remains a true reflection of ecumenism as perceived and practiced on the ground by ignorant and impressionable souls. Dominus Iesus has not touched them; has not been allowed to touch them. An entrenched false ecumenism holds sway, continually reinforced by a multitude of siren voices like Cardinal Williams and Father Cantalamessa, and its momentum gathers force year by year. Take the even more chilling "Memorandum of Understanding" signed earlier this year by the Bishop of Toowoomba, Australia. Lauded as an "historic agreement," it formalises shared arrangements with the local Anglicans, involving: a combined Sunday service "suitable to both denominations" where only one "priest" (the term is also deceitfully applied to the Anglican vicar) is available in the town; ministering to each others sick; and interchangeable lay leaders of both denominations. In a magnanimous gesture, the Bishop did include provision for the "the right of conscience of individual members of either denomination to seek the ministry of the clergy of their own church." And the inevitable pretext for this "historic" sell out? (All together now): 'the priest shortage!' "We can't afford to be duplicating resources and this is a positive move," said the Anglican vicar. "The agreement is a reflection of an international move to do things together," chimed in the Catholic Diocesan Chancellor. But in letters both to the local paper and the Apostolic Nuncio, one layman voiced the indignation and fears felt by many:
The principal target in all of this is Catholic dogma, now viewed as subservient to the ecumenical cause rather than vice versa. A statement in the above Blenheim Memorandum sums up the prevailing attitude in this regard: "We acknowledge that each of our churches may not hold the same emphases and perspectives in matters of doctrine and policy, but that together we represent the Body of Christ in our community." So non-negotiable Catholic doctrines which flatly contradict Protestant teachings are now reduced to mere "emphases" and "perspectives," mutable and of no real significance. Dogma is rendered passe before the ecumenical idols of "tolerance," "unity" and "community". Thus, the cerebrally-challenged Cormac Murphy O'Connor proclaimed this year: "unity can be more important than truth" [Lecture at Downside Abbey, 7 May 2002]. While Cardinal Thomas Winning, the late Scottish ecumaniac, also epitomised the manner in which a desire to please Protestant ears promotes this corrupting process, once pontificating in an interview with a Church of Scotland journal: "Dogma is not the least bit important to the ordinary person. Itís the pastoral role - the belonging in a community - that really counts" [The Bush, September 1978]. Unwittingly, he went on to articulate the corrosive effect of this ecumenical dumbing-down on his own Catholic psyche, when, despite the unprecedented catastrophe of contraceptive rebellion against the Natural Law in our time, he later insisted on national television that as an evil "contraception is way down the list. It is an issue but it is very, very small" [The Power List, Channel 4, 17/4/99].
And so revolves the vicious syncretistic cycle: an irresistible urge to play the ecumenical card at every opportunity inspires a dogma-lite presentation (if not repudiation) of the Faith that facilitates the protestantisation of Catholics which in turn fuels false ecumenism. Anyone daring to break this cycle by highlighting and clarifying Catholic doctrine and practice is aggressively slapped down, derided and dismissed as a pre-Vatican II fundamentalist troglodyte. Father Francis Marsden discovered this last January when, during a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, he wrote a letter to Liverpool's Catholic Pictorial [20/1/02] clarifying one of the new canonical norms issued by Rome relating to serious offences committed by priests. He pointed out that "one offence which now must be referred to the Tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is: 'the forbidden concelebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice with ministers of ecclesial communities which do not have the apostolic succession and do not recognise the sacramental dignity of priestly ordination.' The Roman Tribunal and not the local Bishop, then imposes whatever canonical punishment might be deemed necessary e.g. suspension, interdict, loss of office, excommunication."
Father went on to explain that under this ruling any Catholic priest performing or allowing such concelebrations with Methodist, United Reform or Anglican ministers - such as in parallel concelebrations in shared churches or in the case of Anglican clergy turning up to concelebrate at a funeral Mass - could end up in serious trouble with the Holy See. This ruling shows, he concluded, "that Rome wants a genuine, in-depth resolution of our ecumenical disagreements, not a facile papering over the cracks, which is the impression such concelebrations give."
In response to this charitable, dutiful and important clarification, the editor of the Pictorial first disparaged the letter via a mocking headline ("In the clutches of the Holy See itself!") and then, in a lengthy note, excoriated Fr. Marsden for a "contribution so exacting and full of doom," especially "in a week dedicated to Christian Unity." What was needed, the editor implored, was an openness "to the spirit of understanding, rapprochement, reconciliation and the struggle for further acceptance and understanding." Blithely ignoring that it is the very perversion of such concepts through false ecumenism (leading to sacrilegious horrors like Protestant 'concelebrations') that has necessitated new Vatican rulings, the editor absurdly asked: "Why does Fr. Marsden take it upon himself to be the defender of what he clearly regards as Roman absolutes?" (One might respond: "How does a man who disputes this elemental task of the Catholic priesthood get to edit a diocesan journal?" But I digress.) The crucial point here is the distaste for "absolutes," the bete noire of false ecumenists who prefer instead, as the Pictorial's touchy-feely editor insisted, the "appropriate risk and trust" involved in "the struggle for unity."
His view was echoed the following week when several letter-writers joined in condemning Fr. Marsden for daring to tell the truth. "Thanks for adding your critical note to Fr. Marsden's letter," wrote one. "His fundamentalist conservatism needs challenging and rebuttal." Said another: "It was with increasing dismay and anger that I read the comments of Fr. Francis Marsden in last week's PIC… What was Fr. Marsden's aim I wonder?… To return the Church to a golden age when she alone held the truth and ecumenism meant conversion to the Catholic faith?… such a legalistic stance… The earlier comments of Mgr John Devine when he correctly pointed out that the divisions between the churches are of little interest to a predominantly 'unchurched' population and the welcome given by the Queen to Cardinal Murphy O'Connor are much more positive and representative of the modern Church." Railed a third: "The timing of Fr. Francis Marsden's letter in the 'PIC' last week was calculated and mischievous… I feel very sorry that he appears so caught up with man-made rules and regulations and what will happen if they are not kept… interdominational co-operation is doing so much in Boothstown to move forward the cause of unity among Christians. Examples of joint working like this are happening all over the Archdiocese… Surely it is ventures like these which will bring us together. The rules only serve to keep us apart."
In this suicidal desire to obliterate or blurr distinctions rather than clarify them - to discard or fudge truth rather than state it plainly - we see the dreadful toll false ecumenism has taken on the Church. The fact that several writers including two priests wrote strongly in support of Fr. Marsden only serves to highlight the internal Catholic disunity fostered through external "interdenominational ventures" which are now as institutionalised as the false ecumenism they engender. Indeed, many readers would be astonished at the extent of ecumenical bureaucratisation throughout the West - the jobs available and courses, diplomas and doctorates on offer - not to mention the complete disregard for Church law they encourage. Advertisements for salaried Ecumenical Officers, for instance, are regularly advertised in British diocesan papers, such as a part-time (18 hours a week) County Ecumenical Officer sought by Churches Together in Berkshire [Portsmouth People, June 2002], whose grandiose role is to "promote and work to achieve a vision of the greater visible unity of the Church." We are informed in Northampton's diocesan paper The Vine [January 2002] that one such professional 'ecumenicrat,' Rev. Murdoch MacKenzie, the Protestant Ecumenical Moderator of Milton Keynes, works very closely with Bishop McDonald and other priests and Religious developing "a common ministry of oversight with the leaders of the Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist, Anglican and Catholics churches." On some occasions he even "represents the Bishop" while "Each Sunday he conducts worship and preaches in different churches including giving a homily in some Catholic parishes." In a letter of 6 September 2001, responding to a layman's complaint about a female Anglican vicar being invited to preach a Sunday homily in his parish church, Cardinal Hoyos, Prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, confirmed that this practice is utterly forbidden. He wrote:
The letter clearly reflects Vatican exasperation at the ongoing episcopal defiance in this matter.
But you cannot have it both ways. Rome can hardly complain about the sort of casual contempt for Church law typified by the Rev. MacKenzie arrangement above, when that contempt is bred by the over-familiarity and "false irenicism" that springs naturally from the very ecumenical project they champion and push with such unnerving zeal, even in the face of mass protestantisation of Catholic parishes. And pointing to official condemnations of false ecumenism is just plain disingenuous, since the never ending supply of Modernist (protestantised) prelates elevated by the Holy Father continually cements the curse in practice.
The fact is that Rome talks a good fight against false ecumenism while proceeding to "encourage" every form of failed ecumenical enterprise going, with an unwavering false optimism that astonishes and dismays the remnant orthodox suffering the syncretic fallout on the ground. The idea seems to be to 'keep the show on the road' whatever the cost to internal Catholic unity (the real object of Christ's prayer that "they all be one"), offering gestures of support to any and every interfaith venture on the basis of "the false pretext that we should attend to what unites us rather than to what separates us" [Instruction of the Holy Office to the Bishops on the Ecumenical Movement, 20/12/1949]. It is a policy indistinguishable from secular political diplomacy and thus a recipe for the sort of disastrous spiritual outcomes touched on herein. The Pope's support for the earlier mentioned, ill-fated Joint Declaration with the Lutherans is a classic case in point. As one Catholic publication noted at the time:
Then there is Rome's unfailing support for the Taize Community, the universal flagship of false ecumenism and the one world religion. John Burke's recap of the subversive nature of Taize elsewhere in this issue only serves to underline the imprudence of encouraging the participation of today's catechetically illiterate and impressionable young Catholics in its international gatherings. Yet instead of politely distancing the Church from these events, the Holy Father invariably joins Orthodox and Protestant leaders and the likes of the Secretary-General of the UN in sending messages of fervent support to Taize's syncretic jamborees, as when around 100,000 young adults gathered in Milan in December 1998 to attend daily workshops and prayer sessions.
However you look at it, the whole ecumenical enterprise is a complete and utter dogs breakfast - a circus from top to bottom. Based on the evidence of our own eyes and ears, rather than endless hype and wishful thinking, no other assessment is possible. The plain truth is that ecumenism has eroded Catholic faith and conviction and sown confusion on an epic scale. Like some West End farce, it has even rendered Catholics incapable of distinguishing between Catholic and Protestant surroundings and practice.(2) Moreover, like Judas before them, it has resulted in post-conciliar prelates betraying Christ, the Church and souls, not for financial gain but in order to preserve ecumenical relations. Examples of this are legion. Famously, for ecumenical reasons alone, Archbishop Worlock and Cardinal Hume successfully lobbied the Holy Father not to directly mention contraception during his tour of England in 1982. Archbishop Worlock also intervened to stop a committed Merseyside teenager from pursuing an ecumenically embarrassing pro-life campaign against the Abortion Bill when it first came before Parliament, preferring to sell out the unborn rather than upset relations with his Protestant friends. More recently, the German bishops protested loudly against the Pope's 1999 letter directing that they stop Catholics participating in family planning centres that issue certificates required for abortions, Cardinal Meisner complaining that "The letter goes against progress made in ecumenical relations." And so it goes.
The ecumenical mentality has so totally consumed bishops that very many are now indifferent or even positively hostile to the idea of conversion. The good shepherd of John 10:16, seeking converts to the Catholic fold, has been consigned to the triumphalistic dustbin of pre-conciliar history. In response to our November 1999 reprint of Sabiha Rumani Malik's revealing account of Cardinal Hume's loss of faith and the scandalous circumstances surrounding his baptism of her child ["A Baptism that Washed Away the Dogma of Faith," The Daily Telegraph, 26/6/99], a distinguished lay convert recalled: "I last met Cardinal Hume a month before joining the Church. 'Your Eminence, I'm going to become a Catholic,' I said. 'Oh yes?' he replied. In a less refined individual it might have been: 'Oh yeah?' or 'Says you.' Not one word of encouragement." Recently, a Methodist friend received similar treatment. Intimating to an English bishop of his acquaintance that he might become a Catholic, he was dismissed with a curt "Don't worry about it." The cosier Modernist shepherds get with their Protestant counterparts, the worse this reprehensible attitude becomes. Cringing, mutual-admiration fests like that depicted in the following report are hardly conducive to converting souls to absolute Catholic truth:
On the one hand, how marvellous that sons of Cranmer like Chris Budd should finally be installed as honorary Protestants in the erstwhile Catholic dioceses they have so dutifully protestantised in the tradition of their spiritual father. Dignum et justum est! On the other, such vaudevillian ceremonies become more injurious to the credibility of the Church the further the Protestant parties move away from anything remotely resembling traditional Christian faith and belief. Scarcely a day passes without some toe-curling, off-the-wall idea or anti-Christian sentiment being floated or embraced by the mainstream Protestant denominations. They have made themselves and the very notion of Christianity a laughing stock in Britain, while our leaders have allowed the Church to be dragged down with them through guilt by association.
Take the Anglicans and Methodists with whom Bishop Budd forged his "closer ties" in Truro. These two Protestant ecclesial communities are currently in merger talks - and how they deserve each other!
Methodists have turned increasingly to radical ideas in attempts to reverse declining congregations. The 350,000 remaining in Britain have been told they no longer need to believe in God, and prayers include feminist appeals to 'Our Mother.' Last February, turning the Christian understanding of life-long marriage on its head, they published Vows and Partings, a book of liturgical rituals and prayers to mark divorces and family break-ups. Released during National Marriage Week (to the understandable merriment of the media), it encourages worshippers to look forward to "fresh relationships," stating: "It may be that one of the most important things churches can do is to recognise that relationships do sometimes come to an end and people move on." It suggests that divorce be marked by lighting two small candles from a larger one which is then extinguished to symbolise the "break-up of the relationship." Important anniversaries to be shared include "the last time we made love; the day the decree nisi was granted." Also, included is a prayer for parents who discover their children are homosexual: "Be with me in my confusion, When the world changes, Our children defy convention, and find new ways of expressing their love."
As for the Anglicans, they make the Methodists look like Carthusian monks! The cathedral "stall of honour" they gave Bishop Budd as part of his honorary Protestantship is about as spiritually significant as a members seat at Old Trafford (probably less so, since Manchester United supporters at least believe in something!). The Brazilian rainforests would be truly endangered if we were to set down on paper even a fraction of the offensive theological, moral and pastoral inanities and absurdities that the Anglican community passes off as Christian faith today, not to mention the bottomless pit of bizarre and demeaning scandals - of the "vicar ditches wife to marry deaconess!" and "female vicar is transexual!" variety - that they constantly gift to the British tabloids. Of course, Anglicanism effectively signalled its formal abandonment of any pretension of belief several years ago when its future "governor," Prince Charles, declared his syncretic intention to discard his Christian role as "defender of the faith" and reign instead as a politically correct, multi-cultural "defender of faith."(3)A decision admirably consistent with Stephen Neill's admission in Anglicanism that "In the strict sense of the term, there is no Anglican faith... there is an Anglican attitude and an Anglican atmosphere"!
Here, then, are just a few random reminders of the faithless "attitude" and "atmosphere" Anglicans bring to the "dialogue." Several months ago, looking to move (as always) "in tandem with the Government's timetable" on civil wedding reforms, the Anglican bishops proposed that couples should be able to marry "in a place other than a place of worship" [Daily Mail, June 2002]. This will soon see "vicars able to marry couples in their garden, on a beach, at a beauty spot or even on the pitch of their favourite football team." Note that this abomination was championed not by "liberal" prelates but so-called "traditionalist" bishops! Meanwhile, a "proposal for dress-down Sunday is being brought by the Southwell diocese, which covers Nottinghamshire. Sunday best for vicars may soon mean jeans, T-shirts and trainers. The Rev. Mark Tanner told The Times, 'We believe wearing the robes sets the clergy apart from the people they represent'" [Daily Mail, June 2002]. Early this year, as a private initiative, various vicars published Courage to Love, a collection of prayers for homosexuals. One prayer asks that the next pope "shall be young, coloured and gay." There are ceremonies and rites for "same-sex marriages," "sex changes" and a section entitled "fantasy and fetish" [Sunday Telegraph, March 2002]. These publishers will be buoyed by the incoming gay-friendly Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, who "has ordained a homosexual priest" and "also made clear he does not believe the Church should have sanctions against those who have sex outside marriage" [Daily Mail, October 2002]. Compared to Williams, the hapless incumbent, George Carey, who "is among the prominent supporters of women bishops and is thought keen to see them consecrated in England before he retires" [The Times, September 1998], is referred to as a "conservative"!
It doesn't get any better north of the border, where high-profile ecumenical partner Bishop Richard Holloway, until recently head of Scotland's Episcopalians, says young people should be taught to experiment with cannabis. He once threw his mitre into the Thames in protest against the lack of democracy within Anglicanism(!), but only after commissioning a special biodegradable model that would "melt in the water and cause no pollution." Holloway has spent most of his life assaulting Christian values and trying to kick over the traces of religion. He no longer believes Jesus was the Son of God "literally and biologically" but merely that he was an "extraordinary man." And in 1999, abandoning the Christian mission to teach all nations, he insisted that parliamentary prayers should be dispensed with and that religion should have no place in the new Scottish parliament, which should be "studiously secular." He also champions homosexuality and the ordination of practicing homosexuals as Episcopalian 'priests' while referring to radical homosexual activist Peter Tatchell as a "classic Christ figure."
As one Scottish journalist observed of Holloway: "A bishop who excuses sin and seeks to eliminate Christianity from the public life of his country is pursuing an anti-Christian agenda." Precisely. And yet he and the bishopess-promoting Carey and the fornication/sodomy-sanctioning Williams are just assorted end products of Protestant individualism: the embodiment of sola scriptura's intrinsically disunited and unrepresentative ecumenical face. The idea that currying favour with this anarchic Protestant sham might serve the Church or the cause of Christian unity is self-deception of Olympian proportions. While deluded Modernists like Cardinal Murphy O'Connor and Archbishop Vincent Nichols heap superlatives upon the morally bankrupt Rowan Williams - "a theologian of distinction, a man of deep spirituality, a force for great good in this country and throughout the Christian world" - and gush about the exciting prospect of working alongside this honorary Druid (I kid you not!) in "continuing co-operation on matters of education," convinced Catholics know better. Father Ian Ker, for one, understands the impossibility of rational dialogue with the farcical, "chameleon-like" Anglicans:
I fear that that Father Ker is right. Convivial ecumenical get-togethers of all stripes look set to roll on interminably, despite the surreal and corrosive nature of it all. The ecumenical establishment will continue spouting its patently false mantra that "the more we share and talk together, the more we realise that there is more that unites us than divides us" [Mgr Sean Healy, Northampton Ecumenical Officer, The Vine, June 2002]. The likes of Cardinal Murphy O'Connor will carry on boasting that "co-operation is deepening in all the areas where Catholics and Anglicans live together side by side" while parading the corrupt fruit of that co-operation with heterodox and heretical statements. And all the while Rome will continue its self-defeating policy of pursuing Christian unity while neglecting the source of Catholic unity i.e. encouraging "dialogue" with anti-Christians like Messrs Rowan Williams and Richard Holloway on the one hand, while appointing and elevating Modernist episcopal "dialoguers" like Cormac Murphy O'Connor and Keith O'Brien on the other. The blind dialoguing the blind into a syncretic ditch.
The longer this goes on, the more the religious project ("unity through tolerance") converges with the political project ("a new world order through globalisation"), wherein false ecumenism is the debased currency of an increasingly politicised interfaith dialogue. Immediately following Archbishop O'Brien's televised performance before the Protestant General Assembly, the BBC presenter remarked: "But of course, Keith O'Brien wasn't talking for the entire Roman Catholic Church there… the Roman Catholic Church has a liberal and conservative wing." Such political terminology, entirely deficient in evaluating dissidents like O'Brien and wholly inapplicable to the search for absolute truth, is now the ecumenical lingua franca. It devalues all religion, reducing it to a broad spectrum of politically motivated opinion, rendering theological discussion meaningless. Hence the constant talk of sweeping away dogmas, rules and laws rather than confronting them, as the Rev. Professor James White reiterated at the Church of Scotland's General Assembly prior to Archbishop O'Brien's address. "The way forward in ecumenical relations," he pleaded, "is that we should see that the laws and rules and structures of the existing Churches are not allowed to impede the work of the Spirit in parishes and local communities where Churches are coming together and sometimes find that what the Spirit is moving them to do is being stopped because it is against the existing rules of the Church."
This anarchic view sits well with the highly politicised World Council of Churches [WCC], which numbers several hundred Protestant and Orthodox Churches populated by liberal agnostic-leaning Modernists. Famously Marxist and syncretist, the Catholic Church has traditionally kept its distance from this subversive organisation whose history is littered with massive funding of Communist terrorists around the globe among much else. There is perhaps no greater indicator of the ecumenical dangers we face than that this distance is noticeably shortening. In answer to a question about whether he thought the Church should have "a wider involvement" with the WCC, Glasgow's Archbishop Mario Conti, a leader in ecumenical affairs who has headed a Vatican delegation to the WCC, stated: "Some model of closer partnership, of companionship as it were on the road, should not be beyond the wit of men and women to envisage, and with the grace of God, achieve. Already we have a closer involvement that is implied by our observer status. I would be looking for a deeper engagement, and would want to work for it" [Scottish Catholic Observer, 15/1/99].
It will be clear by now that the cumulative effect of all this debased ecumenical coinage and politicisation of faith is the spiritual equivalent of inflation. "There's lots of religious currency out there," as E. Michael Jones says, "but it isn't worth anything." Apart from aforementioned ecclesiastics like Rowan Williams and Richard Holloway, a prime indicator of the devaluation of religion in our time is that a pro-abortion, pro-cloning, pro-homosexual politician like Tony Blair should be held up even by reputedly 'conservative' organs of the secular media as a Christian standard bearer - "consciously Christian in a society which has lost its religious bearings" [Daily Mail, 7/10/02]. The fact that he and his pro-contraception, pro-women priests, pro-homosexual, politically correct 'Catholic' wife are the ones who have lost their way and disappeared off the Christian radar, while also dabbling with Eastern religions and embracing the New Age, is an irrelevancy. Inflated religious currency is
all of a piece nowadays. "Denominations are like varieties of cheese," explained Baptist minister Steve Chalk, a high profile ecumenical activist who was "especially thrilled" to have made a friend of Cardinal Basil Hume. "At the end of the day, it's all cheese. They're all on the cheese counter." And so they were at the "religious service" which kick-started the Tory Party conference last month. "This featured not only the customary soapy Church of England priest," wrote a bemused political satirist, "but also a nonconformist, a Roman Catholic, a rabbi and an imam. The imam wore a white tea-cosy hat and asked God to admit us into the Garden of Eden. The rabbi, who chanted in a beautiful, floaty tenor, spoke about the merits of unity."
Unity? Or a baffling spiritual blancmange which is fooling no one but the blinkered ecumaniacs themselves, forever absorbed in their endless navel-gazing "dialogues." At yet another one last March in Swanwick, Derbyshire, 300 delegates from 33 churches gathered at the Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Assembly. Under the theme "Searching for Holy Ground," the programme was "packed with plenary sessions, workshops, worship and small groupwork in mixed denominational groups," culminating in a shared "affirmation of our common Christian faith with its ever-renewing relevance in the lives of individuals and society" [Scottish Catholic Observer, 8/3/02].(4) In fact, puffed up and blinded by their self-righteous self-satisfaction, the travelling ecumenical roadshow of Assemblies and Commissions and Covenants remains oblivious to the ever decreasing relevance of an ecumenically neutered Christianity to the life of the nation. The Swanwick backslapping had barely abated when Paul Johnson proclaimed to 4 million readers:
If, as St. Paul teaches, the wages of sin is death, then certainly the wages of ecumenism is an ever spiralling religious inflation within our so-called 'global village' that presages the death of Christianity, and indeed all the great religions, as predicted long ago by theosophists Madame Blavatsky and Alice Bailey. Leader of the Universal Brotherhood and co-founder of the Lucis (formerly Lucifer) Trust, Bailey wrote in the early 1930s:
When sincere, workaday ecumeniacs point to the pervasive atheism of our time as a compelling reason for the ecumenical project - the need for a united religious front before the materialistic/hedonistic juggernaut - they fail to understand that syncretism is a far greater threat to Christianity than atheism will ever be, just as most refuse to see their own rather obvious part in the syncretic jigsaw; their role as "useful idiots" in the diabolic scheming of the likes of Alice Bailey and the numerous men and women she claims are "working consciously with the Plan." Even if they are not conscious of "the Plan," however, many doctrinaire ecumaniacs, such as Father Robley Edward Whitson, chair of the Fordham University theology department, are certainly aware of working towards some higher and greater purpose. A fellow of Colorado's inter-denominational Graduate Theology Foundation which dispenses doctorates in ecumenism, Whitson is the author of The Coming Convergence of World Religions, which argues that the main traditional religions of the world cannot answer the needs of modern man. "His book demonstrates that much of the work going on in ecumenical circles is aimed at assimilating the insights of Buddhism and Hinduism and the ethics of Jesus into a new spirituality for the poor lost souls of the inevitable global community" [The Wanderer, 25/2/99]
Bailey listed 1945, 1965 and 2025 as key dates in "the Plan" and her predictions have been remarkably accurate thus far. Barring a miraculous awakening and ecumenical turnaround by the next Pope, therefore, many of us may yet live to give witness at the denouement, when ecumenism finally evolves from a travelling circus into a witch hunt for the "divisive" Catholic remnant: those hated few who will resist the crushing pressures to conform; who will abjure Satan's syncretic "Church Universal"; who, inspired by their heroic forebears, will persevere and suffer to keep the Faith!
(1) Within a month of the Assembly, for instance, he had again contradicted the Pope. The very day after John Paul II had reiterated in an address to the Nigerian bishops that "the value of celibacy as a complete gift of self to the Lord and his Church must be carefully guarded," O'Brien told the Sunday Herald [21/4/02]: "I have no problems with celibacy withering away... the loss of celibacy would give great liberty to priests to exercise their God-given gift of love and sex…."
(2) A graphic illustration of how disorientated the faithful have become in this regard was reported in a recent article in the Chicago Sun-Times [20/8/02], which revealed that a number of Lutheran churches were duping Mexican-American Catholic immigrants into becoming Lutherans. Some of these immigrant families have had their "children baptized, celebrated first holy communion and even been married in Lutheran churches that they said the pastors had told them were Catholic."
(3) Consequently, senior Anglican churchmen are now looking at instituting the next reign "not by a coronation but by an inauguration or installation… a secular ceremony to which contributions were made from traditions of all faiths" and for which the coronation oath will be re-written [The Independent, 15/1/99].
(4) On 7 October 2002, Churches Together in Britain and Ireland released the "Asylum Prayer" to be said by churchgoers for asylum seekers. "Endorsed by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic church," it reads in part: "Help us to work to create cities… where all cultures and traditions are honoured and celebrated on soulful, carnival streets where gay couples can dance to the beat of their hearts…" [Daily Mail, 8/10/02]
(5) Johnson might have added that the greatest ecumaniac of them all, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor (who professes to be a "focus of unity" and a "witness to truth" - in that order!), will be lucky to avoid charges for criminal negligence over the ongoing abuse of numerous young boys in the 1980s by a priest with known paedophile tendencies. He is still under investigation by police officers from Sussex, Surrey and Scotland Yard for possibly perverting the course of justice [Sunday Mirror, 22/9/02].