Saturday, May 10, 2008

"What kind of unity are we looking for?"

This question was posed by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Vice-President of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences. I have no idea what he is talking about in asking such a thing.

I'm sure there are billions of positive effects that modern ecumenical dialogue has had for the Church, but right now, I can't think of a single one. My own experience is that such dialogue is really only good for watering down Magisterial teaching and Protestantizing the Church. But hey, I could be wrong. Like I said, I'm sure there are billions, nay, trillions, of positive things to say about. Somewhere.

The real problem with questions like the one asked by the Cardinal is that they create a completely false notion of what Christian unity is. There is a reason we recite in the Creed that the Church is ONE, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. It's sort of the same error that Cardinal Kasper made in discussing the Anglicans. Comments such as these envision a sort of "super-church" of Christ that extends beyond the Catholic Church. This "super-church" lacks visible unity due to the scattering of all superficially Christian denominations, of which Catholicism is chief. We must therefore work for the unity of all the scattered denominations under the umbrella of this "super-church."

The above theory is a huge, steaming load of crap.

Let's review a few things.

1. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ. (Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 1:23; e.g.)
2. Division in His Body is impossible. (1 Corinthians 12; Mark 3:24- consider that if the Church is divided, then it could not stand, yet in Matthew 16:18 Christ promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, ergo, the Church cannot be divided.)
3. Therefore, unity beyond that which is present in the Church is impossible.

In case, anyone thinks that this Protestant notion of an invisible "super-church" is compatible with Catholicism, please note:

"From this it follows that those who arbitrarily conjure up and picture to themselves a hidden and invisible Church are in grievous and pernicious error . . ."

Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum.

And should any Catholic consider that the Mystical Body of Christ is somewhere other than the Catholic Church, consider:

"The doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, was first taught us by the Redeemer Himself . . . If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ -- which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church -- we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression "the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ" - an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers."

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis.

So what are we left with then? The fact that all these other folks are outside Christ's Body. They are excluded. This does not mean there is some sort of internal disunity within the Church. It means that there are those who belong to that unity as true members and those who do not. If we are going to be truly respectful of those outside the Church and have any sort of intellectual honesty for ourselves, we need to stop talking about unity as something other than the return of all heretics and schismatics to the communion of the Chair of Peter. I conclude with the following from Blessed Pius IX in his letter Iam Vos Omnes addressed to all Protestants during the First Vatican Council:

"It is therefore by force of the right of Our supreme Apostolic ministry, entrusted to us by the same Christ the Lord, which, having to carry out with [supreme] participation all the duties of the good Shepherd and to follow and embrace with paternal love all the men of the world, we send this Letter of Ours to all the Christians from whom We are separated, with which we exhort them warmly and beseech them with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ; we desire in fact from the depths of the heart their salvation in Christ Jesus, and we fear having to render an account one day to Him, Our Judge, if, through some possibility, we have not pointed out and prepared the way for them to attain eternal salvation."

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