Monday, January 18, 2010

TLM: Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today.

What is the way forward for Christian Unity for us Catholics?

Five years ago a "Unity Service" in a Catholic church might have consisted of the Sally Army band playing, the local Vicar preaching, a Methodist or Baptist doing a few prayers.

This morning at coffee with some of parishioners I frivolously suggested that next year our Friday evening Traditional Latin Mass would be our "Unity Service", and maybe I would invite a SSPX priest to preach and possibly if it was a High Mass get a Greek Orthodox to sing the Gospel in Greek before the sermon. Anglican's who were considering union could sit in choir and a Coptic friend could sing a hymn about the sanctification of the altar before the Introit and a Mel kite could sing a hymn to Our Lady during the Last Gospel!

It would cause a bit of kafuffle in the diocese, so maybe it won't happen - at least not the SSPX preacher- but I was trying to illustrate how ecumenism has changed in the pontificate of the "Pope of Christian Unity". We have moved on, full unity with the SSPX is likely to happen; unity with "Catholic" Anglicans is going to happen. Maybe unity with the major Orthodox Churches is still further off, but maybe not so far off with the minor ones that are uncomfortable being in the orbit of Moscow, Constantinople and Athens.

Unity with the Protestant "Churches" is a dead duck. In fact, with the ordination of women and gay ordination they are moving further away from us than they have ever been. We can still build friendly relations but sacramental and theological unity is impossible.

One of the exciting things about this Pontificate is that dream of the Vatican Council for real tangible unity and reconciliation is becoming a reality, rather than a pipe dream.

What fascinates me is that for the SSPX, “Catholic” Anglicans, the Orthodox the Traditional Latin Mass far from being a source of division, it is a factor in the search for unity!


Annie said...

Ooh, that would be a date for the diary! What's the problem with an SSPX preacher? It'd be a breath of fresh air for many I'm sure, lol. Kerfuffle away, Father.

Basil said...

I cannot see a Lefebvrist cleric responding favourably to such an endeavour.

Anagnostis said...

I suspect it would "cause a bit of kerfuffle" at Thyateira House too! Would you contemplate omitting the filioque, Father? How would the SSPXer cope with that?

Seriously, I'm intrigued by your comment about smaller Orthodox jurisdictions "uncomfortable being in the orbit of Moscow, Constantinople and Athens". Which of these is likely to be more "comfortable" in the orbit of Rome?

Augustine said...

"Unity with the Protestant "Churches" is a dead duck. We can still build friendly relations but sacramental and theological unity is impossible."

I hardly think it's appropriate to give up on the Protestant groups. If the Arians could be brought back into the Catholic Church, then why not the Protestants?

Antonio said...

Nothing like making it up as you go along...

Just another mad Catholic said...

I may be mistaken but I heard that the Romanian Orthodox Church wishes to return to full communion with the Holy See

Anagnostis said...


I assume you're referring to certain extravagant statements recently attributed to an eccentric Romanian bishop (yes, we have them too). I can assure you there is no immanent likelihood whatsoever of Romanian Orthodoxy "returning to communion" with Rome.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...

I was rather under the impression that we were already in full communion with the Melkites (who, if recollection serves, are also in full communion with the Orthodox see of Antioch).

Maurice said...

Fr Finnegan, I do believe!

Augustine said...

Raven, there was a schism withing the Antiochene Church in 1724. Since then there have been rival Patriarchs in communion with Rome and Constantinople respectively.

gemoftheocean said...

I don/t think SSPX unity is likely to happen --- If those people really wanted "unity" they would have done it back in the 80s when JPII took the curse off the Latin Mass and allowed for orders of priests to be dedicated to saying the Latin Mass.

So dream on regards the SSPX. They are still on their "pope is illigitamate because he allowed for a NO Mass" kick. They think they are more Catholic than the pope, they WANT to be a separate cult.

Independent said...

This would be getting back to where it started, before the inauguration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, with the Church Unity Octave. This was begun by the Revd Spencer Jones, an Anglican and Rector of Moreton-in-the-Marsh, and and an American Anglican clergyman who became the founder, as Fr Paul, of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. It was intended to pray for the union of Christendom with the See of Peter.

Crux Fidelis said...

Off topic I know but I found this so funny I had to pass it on:

Q. What do the Dominicans and the Jesuits have in common?

A. Both were founded by Spaniards to combat heresy. In the case of the Dominicans, Albigensianism and in the case of the Jesuits, Protestantism.

Q. What's the difference between the Dominicans and the Jesuits?

A. Ever met an Albigensian?

johnf said...


There's a youtube video of the Holy Father and the Patriarch reciting the Nicene Creed in Greek in June 2008.

You can follow what they say, as they say it on this link

It's the version of AD381, well before filioque.

me said...

Perhaps it is also worth asking the Holy Spirit to reveal any disunity within our own individual hearts that might need healing?
I certainly notice I can impulsively adopt attitudes and views on certain people and how I deem their state in front of God to be, as if that was ever going to be granted to a sinner such as I.

Lord have mercy on me. Give me Your Heart.

JARay said...

The SSPX do not make any such claim about the Pope.
Their Pope is our Pope!
In every Mass they pray for the Pope.
Their gripe is over the "Modernism" brought on by the Spirit of Vatican II.
I certainly do hope that their situation can be regularised. If the Anglican "Catholics" can have their own "overseers" then why can't the SSPX?
My only gripe with the SSPX is that they hear Confession without having the requisite permission of the local Ordinary. They claim "ecclesia supplet" (I believe) but my feeling is that this is simply not good enough. I know that I would never go to Confession to an SSPX priest unless I was in danger of death, and then, indeed, "ecclesia supplet"

tempus putationis said...

Not bad, Crux Fidelis, but I wish the Dominicans would wake up and do it again. Roussillon today has turned the Cathars into a tourist industry. Huge billboards on the motorways tell motorists they are entering 'le pays des Cathars'. I might just go out one night with a pot of brown paint and turn the 'ars' into 'os'.

But if Father is allowing jokes, here is mine:

Q. Why is the Holy Father meeting the Queen at Balmoral?

A. So that she can wear a headscarf.

The Raven (C. Corax) said...


I may have this round my neck, but I was rather under the impression that the Melkites had pulled off the unimaginable feat of being in communion with both Rome and (via Antioch) Constantinople at the same time.

Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...

Is it the light or something? The deacon and subdeacon in the photo seem to be wearing vestments made of a material more suitable for pyjamas.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Do you really wear 19th century Indian silk, embroidered with gold wire in bed?
How very penitential!

Anthony Bidgood said...

Dear Father,

Late last year Bishop Prowse of the diocese of Sale and Bishop Elliot, an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Melbourne, led a Rosary and Angelus with priests from both dioceses and several priests from the SSPX. The occasion was brought about because of the commencement of talks between the Holy See and the SSPX.

I mention this as an aspect of attempting to move towards Christian unity though I cannot see how what the SSPX seem to want can be achieved.

In Christo,

Augustine said...

Unfortunately not, Raven. What you may be alluding to is the theology and ecclesiology of Archbishop Elias Zoghby, a Melkite heirarch whose rule of faith was:

"1.I believe everything which Eastern Orthodoxy teaches.

2.I am in communion with the Bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops, according to the limits recognized by the Holy Fathers of the East during the first millennium, before the separation."

The Orthodox bishops of Constantinople, Antioch, Moscow etc. didn't quite see it that way...

Anonymous said...

I've heard about this formula of reunion before. It's interesting, don't you think, that there is no clause saying ""I believe everything that the Roman Catholic Church teaches"? Also, either the second clause is redundant or the Archbishop was implying that the Orthodox no longer believe what they used to believe, which invalidates the first clause. Either way, the formula doesn't square the circle.


Anagnostis said...

"the formula doesn't square the circle."

Not from the Orthodox point of view, either. For us (as for you, in theory at least) "communion" is the expression of a shared faith. From the Orthodox perspective, Rome has "developed" away from the Orthodox faith and distorted the Apostolic understanding of the Church in the process: it is you who no longer believe as you used to. One can't therefore believe "everything Eastern Orthodoxy teaches" and maintain "communion" with a hierarch who doesn't. "The Holy Fathers of the East" could have admitted no such possibility.

Unknown said...


I completely agree ;-) I was merely trying to point out the futility and actual dishonesty of the kind of "union" that was being proposed.

As our Father among the Saints, St Mark of Ephesus, said after the false Council of Florence (1438-1439): "What sort of union is this, then, when it has no external sign? How could they join together, retaining each his own? Many were tempted by the idea that one can find a medium between two doctrines. True: one can find such expressions which, having a double meaning, could at the same time express something between the two doctrines. But a doctrine midway between two contradictory doctrines on the same subject is impossible; for in this case it must be something between truth and falsehood, between an affirmation and a negation."

Anagnostis said...


Okay. Thanks for clearing that up :o)) Quite a week this, with St Mark and St Maximus more or less side by side. My children have also been dong Daniel in the Lion's Den at school. Live forever, O King - but I cannot betray my faith!

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