Friday, January 25, 2008

I escaped it this year

I know the Holy Father would dissapprove of this thought, but I am so glad that I have not been to a single ecumenical service during the whole of the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
I have sympathy with Fr Michael Seed who writes in this weeks Catholic Herald:

....The 100th Week of Prayer for Christian Unity ends today. The week was established in 1908 by the founder of my order, the Rev Paul Wattson (an Anglican who became a Catholic a year later). It worked pretty well for the first 60 years, but over the last 40 years it has become ever more complex and problematic. We often say: “Oh, it’s the turn of the Methodists this year” or “It’s the turn of the Anglicans.” It’s their turn to organise “the thing”, whatever the thing is. The week now is an exercise in “forced ecumenism”. It’s dominated by thousands of ecumaniacs. These are people in the grip of a terrible disease called ecumania. There is no cure at the moment. The disease leads to a living death, and it is a very painful one. The week needs to be totally rethought. The emphasis of the next 100 years, I hope, will be on prayer and a deep spirituality.

The greatest joy I had in 2007 was when I was invited to address an
ecumenical clergy meeting in a certain London borough. At the end of my address,
they decided to abolish their pointless meetings. They wanted to wait upon the
Holy Spirit to guide them to a new level of ecumenical life. I suspect that when
they went back and told their congregations the meetings were over there were a
few scarcely suppressed cheers from the pews.

I hate the tedium of these events. Here in Brighton the main thrust of ecumenism seems to be high Anglican vicars who want to prove they are Catholics. A recent converation went as follows, "... well of course we have parishes that are more or less staffed entirely by former Roman clergy". I am afraid that replied, "I would take that seriously if these men woke up one morning and decided they simply couldn't accept the claims of the Catholic Church but instead those who leave the Church tend to do so not because of any theological urge by rather an urge of the loins".


Anonymous said...

LOL, why settle for a gentle reproof when you can swing the sledgehammer of truth.

gemoftheocean said...

Good for you Father.


Physiocrat said...

What is wrong with being ecumenical with the Orthodox clergy in Brighton and Hove?

Surely it would be a good thing to have more contact with them?

leutgeb said...

You tell 'em Father.

I took some very nasty comments from an Anglican clergyman recently, said in very pleasant tones in very pleasant surroundings.

'Bingo!' came to mind as he offended me on so many counts. So many sterotypes in one anecdote, wow.

I didn't need to say anything because I give off 'Catholic not fitting in with the English Establishment' vibes. It's an incurable condition and that's why he said it in the first place.

Anglicanism. Lots of well meaning people, good people, but you have to feel sorry for them.

Terry Nelson said...

I like your last statement.

Paulinus said...

My goodness the one pictured looks gruesome!

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

I do like the title of Fr Ray's post : "I escaped it this year."

I think this year a lot of people escaped the theme of Christian Unity week, owing to the fuss over the cancelled papal visit to La Sapienza.

I was (pleasantly) surprised to read the reference by Fr. Michael Seed in his article in the Catholic Herald to "ecumaniacs".

I don't think I've seen the word used by a public figure in a public forum since Cardinal Heenan was at Westminster.

I used to wonder what was the point of ARCIC, which produced endless talk, interminable meetings, consumed reams of paper, and came up with impossible agendas.

I again ask a question I have often asked in the past : what is the goal of the ecumenical movement ?

"Ecumenism" is used these days to mean the movement towards a worldwide Christian unity.

"Unity" Under the Pope or what ?

If not Unity, then peace between Christians ?

Of course, it would be very nice if all men lived in peace and harmony.

But that's called Eirenicism.

And what about Truth ?

Can you sacrifice Truth to achieve Peace ?

No, because it wouldn't be a real peace.

Anon. left a very telling comment on an earlier post, quoting from a sermon given by his/her parish priest :

"Every pursuit of Unity without Truth results in no peace at all."
and :
"It is a false hope to work for a superficial unity, hoping peace will emerge."
and :
"There can only be Unity when we follow the Truth."

I'd like to hear this priest preaching.

It's what we all think, but don't like to say out loud.

Fr. Seed is quite right.

Christian Unity week needs totally to be rethought.

With the emphasis on prayer.
Not talk.

Anonymous said...

One of the ironies of ecumenism was that fifty years ago Protestantism was slowly beginning to move in a more Catholic direction, hence the dawn of ecumenism. Since Vatican II it has descended a painful path to oblivion. This is partly due to concilear reforms in theology and praxis and there is little, beyond the papal primacy, to resist. Brighton is ecclesiastically and in most other ways a bizarre town and most bizarre of all are the residual Anglo-Catholic claims of the remaining High Church parishes. They have ceased to have any relevence to Anglicanism itself which has decided to go its own way and has moved the goalposts time and time again by nullifying agreed statements by insularity. This makes serious ecumenism, in terms of Christian unity, futile.

JARay said...

I am delighted to read this. I have long thought that ecumenism is simply empty rhetoric. I can actually remember when it all began! So long ago and no use to man or beast. The Catholic Church is the only one with the truth so why cover up the lack of truth in the others?


Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

Catholic-Protestant ecumenism seems to be fizzling out partly because it has already achieved an important objective -- the almost complete demolition of the strong antipathy between the denominations which characterized the 1550-1950 period. Don't let's forget that the bitter anti-Catholic nastiness we now encounter from the secularists is the successor of a similar level of opposition that we used to endure from Protestantism, but has more or less died a death (unless you're an Orangeman). Catholics and Protestants were barely on speaking terms 50 years ago.

We've now got to the hard part, which is deciding on how to build on what we have achieved in terms of vastly improved diplomatic relations.

I have always regarded the idea of institutional reunion with Anglicanism as a non-starter, because Anglicanism is a sort of federation of people occupying different theological positions on the Catholic/Protestant scale. No-one can really speak on behalf of Anglicanism, still less "deliver" it in the context of serious ecumenical dialogue. And it's a moving target, which keeps modifying its moral and sacramental theology. This applies to the liberal Protestant churches (small C) who are also embracing diversity and equality as substitutes for the hard teachings of the Bible.

Anglicanism and liberal Protestantism are both in terminal decline because they have largely sold out to relativism. I would strongly support Pope Benedict if he develops a "lifeboat" plan for receiving the Anglo-Catholic wing of Anglicanism en masse. This would be a much more exciting and realistic exercise in ecumenism -- and would call for changes on the Catholic side which would not be concessions to Protestantism, such as improving our liturgical practices.

Everyone can see (but fewer are honest enough to admit) that Anglicanism without the Roman Magisterium is like Rover without BMW -- trundling on for a while on its own, but ultimately doomed. Maybe a Bavarian Pope can do for Anglo-Catholics what a Bavarian car company was unable to do for Longbridge.

nickbris said...

I don't know why we bother with them,they are not True Christians anyway.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Anyone who is baptised is a real Christian, even if they are not mainstream.

On the side of the angels said...

Anyone who is baptised is baptised into the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church - the heresy , apostasy and excommunicable sacrilege that follows distances them from their baptismal authenticity - but as the councils of valencia, Arles, nancy, Quiercy and Trent categorically state - their baptismal human authenticity is inviolable - it's impossible to annihilate human dignity and worth; irrespective of their actions towards the church and the Mystical Body of Christ.
Of course this doesn't mean they don't need a good tongue-lashing or slap about the face with a catechism.[wink!]

GOR said...

I was first introduced to this back in the 60s in a parish near London. Back then it was called the “Church Unity Octave” - before it morphed into the ecumenical gymnastics common in the post Vatican II era.

If it was ever mentioned in Ireland in prior years, I must have missed it. Of course, given the realities of Irish life back then, it might not have gotten much traction! It was “Them” and “Us”…and pace Rev. Paisley there would be “no surrender!”.

We had the fullness of Truth and they didn’t. If there was to be true unity, they had to come over to us or forget it! Now, while this may be been intransigent or triumphalist on our part, the reality remained the same: if one were to belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, one had to accept the fullness of Her teaching, without exception.

While I understood Ecumenism to mean that we should be more open, charitable, prayerful and understanding in our relations with other Christians, it became something else for many people. There was a ‘watering down’ of Doctrine leading to a sense that “we’re really all the same, right?” In emphasizing what we had in common there was a sweeping under the carpet of where we differed, as if it didn’t exist.

But the doctrinal differences did, and do, exist - more so today than 40 years ago. No amount of “making nice” will change that reality. Yes, we must pray “That they may be one” but always acknowledging that the Truth is one and cannot be divided or adhered to partially.

Joe said...

Dear Fr Ray

A copy of a post at my own blog:

A post by Fr Ray at "I escaped it this year" reminds me of my own thoughts on ecumenical services, particularly those held to mark the annual Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.
I suspect that most of the ordinary faithful have a gut feeling that an "ecumenical service" is somehow "not the real thing". This means that, if they have been to Mass in the morning, attending an "ecumenical service" in the evening is a bit of a non-starter. I concluded two or three years ago that I thought this gut feeling represented an authentic sense of faith.
If, in response to Vatican Council II, the Church has gained a greater sense of its ecumenical character (and I would want to argue that that sense of its ecumenical character was present in the Church before Vatican II) we should expect that greater sense of ecumenical character to be reflected in the ordinary life of the Church and not in add-on "ecumenical services". And, if we look, I think we can find places in the Church's ordinary life where it is reflected ....
The Bridgettine order, present at Maryvale Institute and now founding a new community in Wales, have a charism that embraces monastic life, hospitality and prayer for Christian unity. The Focolare Movement lives a "spirituality of unity" that is at once both profoundly Christocentric and engaged in dialogue with other Christian denominations, other religions and with non-believers. Both of these charisms pre-date Vatican II, but will have been confirmed by the teaching of the Council.
The joint "ecumenical service" in my own immediate area was, so far as I can see, abandoned this year. Last year's attendance was very poor - my own parish priest said at the time that he had been quite embarrassed to be the only attendee from the parish. The thought was to hold a service in the summer, when people would be more inclined to come out in the evening ... but I think that rather misses the point!
There is another discussion to be had about prayer for "unity among Christians" vs prayer for "Christian unity", and the subtleties of the two different phrasings.

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