Choose a topic from Vol 5:

Awareness of God

Awareness of God

The Faith of Israel

The Faith of Israel

The Importance of Man

The Importance of Man

Origin of the Gospels

Origin of the Gospels

The Divine Redeemer

The Divine Redeemer

The Catholic Church

The Catholic Church

The Papacy

The Papacy

The Biblical Tradition

The Biblical Tradition

The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Liturgy and Sacraments

Liturgy and Sacraments

Moral Problems

Moral Problems

Final Realities

Final Realities

The Ecumenical Movement

The Problem of Disunity
Reactions Among Non-Catholics
Bewildered Catholics
Combined Unity Services
Mutual Bible Study
Prospects of Reunion

Reactions Among Non-Catholics

732. How do you explain the fact that Protestants initiated the present Ecumenical Movement and established the World Council of Churches in 1948, while Catholics remained aloof from it, only very belatedly taking an interest in it?

I would explain that by the fact that the Protestant originators of the movement had become disturbed by the many and conflicting forms of Protestantism, which made them acutely conscious of their disunity. Catholics, on the other hand, had been brought up with a consciousness of unity, all professing Catholics of many different nations acknowledging the one centre of unity in the Pope as successor of St. Peter. They did not experience the need of seeking a unity they were convinced they already possessed. Secondly, first Catholic impressions were that efforts of Protestants were directed towards a unity only of Protestants among themselves which, rightly or wrongly, suggested the pitting of a United Protestantism against a United Catholicism. Thirdly, even when the Protestant World Council of Churches was formed in 1948, a clarification of its principles came very slowly. Many Protestant Churches refused to join it, while those who did engaged in long discussions as to the nature of their World Council and its objectives, fearing lest it should become a kind of organised "Super-Church" exercising a kind of despotic control over all denominations associated with it. Only gradually it was made clear that no member Church was expected to forfeit its identity as if in a kind of merger; that the immediate aim was one of consultation and co-operation on a Christian basis in matters of common interest; and that no long-term policy of forming one single visibly-united Church was even thinkable which did not include the Roman Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Cardinal Bea, head of the new "Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity" set up by Pope John XXIII in 1960, said in a public lecture given in 1962 that, although for reasons of doctrine, worship and discipline the Catholic Church could not become a member of the World Council of Churches, the very desire, however tentative, to overcome the effects of disunity which led to the formation of that Council was undoubtedly prompted by the Holy Spirit. It was Cardinal Bea who was mainly responsible for the Second Vatican Council's "Decree on Ecumenism," promulgated on November 21, 1964; and in 1965, addressing the World Council's Central Committee at its Geneva headquarters, he declared it to be the wish of the Holy See to establish direct contacts with them in order to be kept informed of, and as far as possible to contribute towards further ecumenical developments.

733. To my mind, it is dogma that has exercised a stranglehold on Christianity, contrary to the mind of Christ.

A dogma is simply a doctrine which has been definitely stated and officially proclaimed by the Church precisely to preserve authentic Christian teaching. The definition of sound doctrines is certainly not contrary to the mind of Christ who went to the trouble of founding His Church in the first place and gave that Church the great final commission to "teach all nations" (Matt., 28:19). The Church would not be much of a teacher if she could not authoritatively declare right doctrines as opposed to wrong ones. On this subject in general, Dorothy Sayers, in her book "Creed of Chaos," wrote as follows in her own inimitable way: " 'Any stigma', said a witty tongue, 'will do to beat a dogma;' but Christ, in His Divine innocence, said to the woman of Samaria, 'you know not what you worship' — being apparently under the impression that it might be desirable, on the whole, to know what one was worshipping. He thus showed Himself sadly out of touch with the twentieth-century mind, for the cry today is: 'Away with the tedious complexities of dogma — let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!' The only drawback to this demand is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular."

734. There is a basic Christianity on which we should all agree, the rest not being essential.

One could not state what the basic Christianity is which all must accept without proclaiming dogmas; that is, definite and authoritative teachings. The problem, then, concerns not dogma as such but the relative worth of one set of dogmas as contrasted with another set of dogmas. In his "Concise Theological Dictionary," Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J. defines the Ecumenical Movement as "A collective name for all efforts to reunite Christians of various persuasions so as to give effect to Christ's will." This goal, he says, "is not to be achieved by putting forward some minimal dogmatic basis or laying aside doctrinal differences—which would be an illicit interference with divine revelation — but by attaining unity in the full truth of the one Church." He makes it clear, however, that the Catholic Church knows how to distinguish between necessary unity in doctrine and the permission of a far-reaching diversity in non-essential disciplinary laws and customs.

735. Various Creeds were promulgated to meet successive forms of unorthodoxy.

Granted the emergence of erroneous doctrines, declarations of right beliefs became necessary, as in the Apostles' and the Nicene Creeds. St. Paul stressed the duty of the Church to provide her members with such definite and authoritative teachings when he wrote to Timothy: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine, for there shall come a time when they will not endure sound doctrine; but according to their own desires . . . will turn away their hearing from the truth to fables." (2 Tim., 4:3, 4). By her dogmatic teachings the Catholic Church fulfils the duty of which St. Jude speaks, namely, "to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude, 3).

736. In 360 A.D. Hilary wrote: "Since Nicea we have done nothing but compose Creeds;" and he describes it as tearing one another to pieces.

St. Hilary's complaint was that heretics were publishing erroneous creeds, compelling the Church to refute them. He was no enemy of necessary formulations of true doctrines to counteract false ones. St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, was exiled from Gaul to Asia Minor during the years 356-359 by the Emperor Constantius, the protector of Arian heretics, for organising resistance in Gaul to Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. The Arians, branding him as the "mischief-maker of the East," had him sent back to Gaul. There he wrote his "Book of Synods," listing the different credal formulas issued by Synods between the Councils of Nicea, 325 A.D., and Sirmium, 351 A.D., explaining them according to the errors against which they were directed. In 360 A.D. he wrote a sharp indictment of Constantius entitled "Contra Constantium Imperatorem," and called "The Invective of St. Hilary." In it he urged resistance to this new "Antichrist" who was trying to impose an heretical "Imperial Creed" on the Church. St. Hilary succeeded in banishing Arianism from Gaul and is known as the "Athanasius of the West." He wrote, however, that "if, during all the time of my exile I have held to my resolve to yield nothing where the Christian faith is concerned, I have never rejected any honest and acceptable means towards the preserving of unity."

737. What is the use of being right in one's beliefs, if we do not have charity?

Being right in one's beliefs does not dispense one from the need of having charity; but that does not render orthodoxy in the faith itself unnecessary. Charity towards another person does not oblige us to admit that all his beliefs are sound. One can have the utmost goodwill towards another person while convinced that he is seriously mistaken in some of his ideas.

738. God will judge us on our charity, not on our orthodoxy.

Read the second and third chapters of the Apocalypse or Book of Revelation. Even though St. John was bidden to write to the seven churches of Asia Minor: "I know thy works and thy faith and thy charity and thy ministry and thy patience" (Rev., 2:18), in each case there was the most severe condemnation for not having eradicated false doctrines and for not insisting on orthodoxy. One cannot but be in full sympathy with your viewpoint on the necessity of charity; but it ignores other vital aspects of the unity problem.

739. Why cast reflections on other denominations which faithfully preach the Word of God?

Your reference to their faithfully preaching the Word of God pinpoints a difficulty you can no more escape than anybody else. It is this. However sincerely people preach the Word of God as they believe it to be, does what they believe it to be correspond with what it really is? Where conflicting interpretations of the Gospel are preached, a decision for or against some of them has to be made; and one must ask oneself on what grounds he accepts his own position and not others.

740. Only fraternal love and charity will bring about Christian unity, not insistence on acceptance of the same dogmas.

Here I would quote with approval a statement on the problem of Christian unity made by the Most Rev. Dr. Morris, Anglican Archbishop of Wales, and published in the London "Church Times," Nov. 1, 1963. He commended the more friendly and charitable relations between Catholics and Anglicans, and particularly the unyielding statement by Cardinal Bea of Rome's position as being, he said, "admirably frank and crystal clear." But equally firmly from his own point of view he said it would be much too naive to imagine that only misunderstanding of Roman dogmas prevented other people of goodwill from accepting them. "We reject distinctive dogmas of the Roman Church," he said, "not because we do not understand them but because we do understand them, and believe them to be unsound. We cannot contemplate union with a Church which would require us to accept them." He added: "I do not agree that to draw attention to Rome's unyielding dogmatic attitude is 'unprofitable' for the ecumenical encounter, or that it is pessimistic or lacking in charity. Refusal to face facts does the cause of reunion no good at all." That admirably clear statement brings out the fact that more than fraternal love making us kind to one another is needed to bring about Christian unity. Unity in one and the same Catholic faith will be necessary, all equally convinced of its truth in all doctrines officially set forth as having been divinely revealed. Such agreement can come only by further mutual study, discussion of our problems, and the sheer gift of God in answer to fervent prayers.

741. I still can't see the need of dogmas. Were I illiterate, I would be able to accept Christ as my personal Saviour and preach the Gospel to others.

If illiterate and unable to read, you would be able to accept Christ provided someone else told you that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, who came into this world as Jesus Christ and gave His life on the Cross for your redemption; and also, provided God gave you the grace of faith in Christ, of sorrow for your sins, and trust in His mercy for their forgiveness. But such acceptance of Christ as your Saviour would suppose in you at least the will to believe all His teachings and fulfil all His precepts; and your conversion to Him would not give you an instant knowledge of those. Sincere as your conversion might be, it could leave you as a very ill-instructed Christian; and as such, you would not be capable of preaching the Gospel as it really is. It is an over-simplification to think there's no more to the Gospel than the need to believe Christ died for our sins, to repent, and to be saved.

742. If illiterate and unable to read, you would be able to accept Christ provided someone else told you that God so loved the world as to give His only-begotten Son, who came into this world as Jesus Christ and gave His life on the Cross for your redemption; and also, provided God gave you the grace of faith in Christ, of sorrow for your sins, and trust in His mercy for their forgiveness. But such acceptance of Christ as your Saviour would suppose in you at least the will to believe all His teachings and fulfil all His precepts; and your conversion to Him would not give you an instant knowledge of those. Sincere as your conversion might be, it could leave you as a very ill-instructed Christian; and as such, you would not be capable of preaching the Gospel as it really is. It is an over-simplification to think there's no more to the Gospel than the need to believe Christ died for our sins, to repent, and to be saved.

It is true that few historical writings on the subject survive from the first century and a half of Christianity. The Anglican scholar Dr. Salmon, however, who was strongly anti-papal, while admitting that during the sub-apostolic age, between the end of the Acts of the Apostles and about 160 A.D., the Church passed through a kind of tunnel as far as historical documentary evidence of apostolic succession is concerned, insists that, although there is only faint illumination from few and scanty documents during that period, historical certainty concerning the fact of apostolic succession is available by seeing things from either of the two well-lighted ends of that tunnel. Dr. Salmon stresses that we have the clear teaching of the New Testament on the one hand, and on the other the testimony of such early Fathers as St. Irenaeus, who lived from 130 till 202 A.D. and who appealed to the episcopal successions from the apostles, listing in particular all the names of the Bishops of Rome from St. Peter to Eleutherius, who was Bishop of Rome from 177 to 189 A.D. and was still living at the time when Irenaeus was writing. St. Irenaeus makes it clear that he had access to documents with which others of his own time were familiar.

743. Was not the idea of apostolic succession an attempt to introduce Roman law, order and organisation into the Church?

To think so would be to overlook the fact that both the Orthodox and the Uniate Eastern Churches (that is, those in union with Rome) throughout Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece and elsewhere have never wavered in their insistence on the doctrine of apostolic succession. The doctrine certainly did not arise among them from any attempt to introduce Roman order and organisation into the Church.

744. Do all the Eastern Orthodox Churches regard as essential a belief in seven Sacraments?

Yes. All of them both acknowledge and possess the same seven Sacraments as those existing in the Catholic Church, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, the Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, Matrimony and the Sacrament of Extreme Unction or the anointing of the sick with oil in the name of the Lord. In unity discussions between the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church no problem would arise as regards the number and the necessity of the Sacraments.

745. Do not Anglicans also acknowledge seven Sacraments?

Some do; but others do not. In the "Thirty-nine Articles of Religion," as given in the Book of Common Prayer, Article 25 says that the "five commonly called Sacraments . . . are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel," and "have not like nature with Baptism and the Lord's Supper." Anglicans are divided as to the meaning of this Article. High Church Anglicans say there are seven Sacraments, the five referred to being really Sacraments, but merely of lesser importance than Baptism and the Eucharist. Low Church Anglicans say there are only two Sacraments, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the other so-called Sacraments not being really Sacraments at all. This latter opinion reflects the outlook of Protestants generally. Thus Dr. Stanley Stuber, a Baptist, writes in his book "Primer on Roman Catholicism for Protestants," p. 61: "Roman Catholics and Protestants differ greatly when it comes to 'Sacraments'. Whereas Roman Catholics have seven, Protestants have only two. The other five are repudiated." Obviously, we have here a problem which progress towards reunion will need to solve.

746. What is the position ecumenically as regards the Lord's Supper or Eucharist?

Difficulty arises from different convictions about the nature of the Lord's Supper. According to the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the term used of it, the "Eucharist" (a Greek word meaning literally a thanksgiving offering) is both a Sacrifice and a Sacrament. During the liturgical rite, at the words of consecration, Christ changes the bread and wine into His Body and Blood and continues in our midst here and now, but without any actual shedding of blood, the sacrificial offering of Himself for us which He made when He died on the Cross for the redemption of mankind. When we receive Holy Communion, He offers Himself to us sacramentally, so that God and man indeed meet in Christ, He having offered Himself sacrificially to the Father for us and then sacramentally to us as a pledge of the reconciliation He accomplishes on our behalf. But where Catholics regard the Eucharist or Mass as a commemorative Sacrifice, the Protestant reformers could not see it in that way. They rejected the teaching that the bread and wine could be changed into the very Body and Blood of Christ; that there was any offering of Christ Himself to God on our behalf in a sacrificial rite; and they held that the Lord's Supper was but a Holy Communion service in which bread and wine — still remaining bread and wine — are received with reverent religious memories of Christ's one and only sacrifice of Himself for us in the past on Calvary. The questions arising out of these two positions are, firstly, whether Christ is really or no more than symbolically present in the Eucharist; and, secondly whether the Eucharist is both a Sacrifice and a Sacrament, or a Sacrament only. At the World Council of Churches' Lund Conference on "Faith and Order" in 1952, some Protestant speakers said that they could regard the Lord's Supper as a sacrificial rite in so far as those present offered themselves and their own praise, thanksgiving and obedient service as a living sacrifice then and there, in union with the sacrifice Christ offered of Himself on the Cross in the past; but they admitted that this was still far removed from the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox doctrine of the Eucharist in which Christ, really present in the Eucharistic elements, offers Himself by the hands of the priest to the Eternal Father. For them, the Eucharist was but a community meal celebrated at the Lord's Table with the participants offering themselves to God, not a re-enactment on an Altar (even though mysteriously and sacramentally) of Christ's own Sacrifice on Calvary. The Protestant theologians at the Lund Conference confessed that their difficulties against accepting the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Eucharistic teachings were very far yet from being solved, as any actual reunion of the Churches required that they must be. What progress can be made in this matter only time will tell.

747. I read in a Catholic book that at Mass Catholics are only reminded of Christ's offering of Himself on Calvary, and that what they are really aiming at is not a re-offering of Christ as if that would give them an extra claim on God, but only to express the gift of themselves to Him.

One can admire the author's desire to persuade Catholics to assist at Mass with deep personal devotion. But that laudable purpose has so absorbed him that he has failed to advert to sound Catholic doctrine. Every extra prayer we say, of course, gives us an extra claim on God. He Himself says it does. So that consideration is irrelevant here. Meantime, the Mass is a re-offering of Christ giving us an extra claim on God beyond any attaching to one's merely personal self-giving to Him. Pope Pius XII in his Encyclical "Mediator Dei," 1947, put the Catholic position very clearly. "The august Sacrifice of the Altar," he wrote, "is no mere commemoration of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. It is truly and properly the offering of a Sacrifice wherein, by an immolation without shedding of blood, the High Priest does what He had already done on the Cross, offering Himself to the Eternal Father as a most acceptable Victim . . . On our altars He offers Himself daily for our redemption. Every time the priest re-enacts what the Divine Redeemer did at the Last Supper, the Sacrifice is really accomplished, whether the faithful are present or not." Such is the genuine Catholic doctrine which may not be ignored in the interests of ecumenism. The Pope added that the faithful should offer themselves with, in and through Christ; but it is the offering of Christ Himself for us men and for our salvation, really present in the Holy Eucharist, which is the primary purpose of the Mass.

748. The British Government's "Britain — An Official Handbook, 1965," says that the Anglican Church was the first Church established in England.

It does not really say that. It correctly states that the Church of England is the "Established Church," that is, the one legally recognised as England's State Church. Then the account says: "It claims to be the ancient Catholic Church of the land." It does not say that claim is true. In fact, later it declares: "The Roman Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales, which became temporarily extinct during the 16th century, was restored in 1850," and "the normal government of the Roman Catholic Church, namely, by territorial Archbishops and Bishops, is once again the rule in the whole of the United Kingdom." This means that the ancient pre-Reformation Church in England was the same as that represented by the hierarchy restored in 1850, and which "once again" functions in England. A careful reading of the "Handbook" must credit it with supplying sound factual information on this particular subject.

749. Henry Vlll's substitution of Royal Supremacy over the Church in England for the former Papal Supremacy did not make him the founder of a new Church.

We cannot by-pass the facts of history. Sir W. S. Holdsworth, Professor of English Law at Oxford University, says in his "History of English Law," 5th Edition, 1931, that constitutionally the national "Church of England" Henry set up in 1534 was not the same as the Church in England during preceding centuries. He declares that this was finally demonstrated by the greatest historian of his century, who was both a consummate lawyer and a dissenter from the Anglican as well as from the other Churches. His reference was to Dr. F. W. Maitland, LL.D., D.C.L., Downing Professor of Law in 1895 at Cambridge University. An idea of the position can be grasped by asking whether America is still as much a part of the British nation as it was before the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the English colonists there repudiating the authority of the British Throne. They would have no Royal Supremacy of any kind. As a result, they formed a new nation, no longer the same as that to which they formerly belonged, despite their retention of many characteristics and customs they had brought with them from England. In a similar way, the repudiation of Papal Supremacy by Henry VIII's "Declaration of Independence" and usurpation of supreme authority over his own national Church meant, not the same Church, but another one, different from the one acknowledged in pre-Reformation England.

750. In England we had the same Church as before, only purified of abuses.

That is often said, but it does not fit in with the facts of history. When, at the bidding of Henry VIII, the English parliament passed the 1534 "Act of Royal Supremacy," there was a man in England who, until 1532, had been the King's Lord High Chancellor. This man had a European-wide reputation for both learning and virtue. His name was Thomas More. Sir Thomas More saw more deeply than most into the prevailing state of affairs and was under no illusions concerning the widespread laxity of priests and people alike. "Alas for the clergy," he wrote. "The world has little love for them, but they have a great love of the world." And again: "In the early Church there were few golden chalices but many golden priests; today we have many golden chalices, but few golden priests." Sir Thomas More, then, was well aware of ecclesiastical abuses. Nevertheless, he kept his head, although in another sense he lost it. He realised that the Catholic Church could not cease to be the true Church, however many professing Catholics might cease to be true to it in their manner of life. Arrested for refusing to acknowledge Henry's supremacy, he told his judges: "After I first heard of the king's will to make himself head of the Church in this realm, I studied the matter for seven years together to find out the rights and wrongs of it; and nowhere could I find that a layman ever was or could be the head of Christ's Church." Asked whether he knew better than those bishops in England who had gone over to Henry's side, he said to his judges: "My lords, for every bishop in this realm whom you can quote in support of the king's designs, I can quote against him a hundred holy bishops of a thousand years of Christendom." It would have been folly for Sir Thomas More to go to the block and be beheaded rather than leave the Catholic Church, if Henry's national Church was not another, but the same Church still, merely purified of its abuses; and Sir Thomas More, far from being foolish, was esteemed, apart from his virtue, particularly for his wisdom. There are those today, even among Catholics, who would say that Sir Thomas More took too juridical a view of things, and not a sufficiently religious one; but he saw the Church, not only as a dispenser of revealed truth and Christian moral ideals, but as an essentially visible society in this world and willed by Christ, even though for supernatural and spiritual purposes.

751. The High Church of England has the same Eucharistic beliefs as the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

In the various self-governing Anglican Churches deriving from and associated with the Church of England there are different schools of thought and practice. Roughly speaking, these are divided into that of "Low Churchmen" who maintain a strictly Protestant outlook; of "High Churchmen" who tend more and more away from that towards a Catholic outlook; and of "Modern or Broad Churchmen" who favour a kind of religious rationalism. With many Anglicans it is becoming fashionable to call themselves "Central Churchmen," to avoid any of the party labels mentioned, although their outlook may correspond with that of any one of the three groups indicated. These divisions within Anglicanism make the ecumenical dialogue particularly difficult for Anglicans.

752. Our Anglican priests still offer the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Those who claim to do so cannot be regarded as representative Anglicans. In his book, "The Principles of Theology" (1945) the Anglican Dr. W. H. Griffiths Thomas wrote on p. 319: "The Roman Catholic Church gives her 'priests' power to 'offer sacrifice.' But this is entirely absent from our Ordination Service." He quotes Dr. Ince, Oxford Professor of Divinity, as saying that this "is not one of the powers committed to Anglican priests;" also Hooker as saying: "Sacrifice is now no part of the Christian ministry." On p. 327 he adds: "All our Anglican Liturgies, Catechisms, Homilies and writers bear witness to a doctrinal gulf between the Roman Catholic Church and ourselves. It is not surprising that Rome rejects our Orders as invalid, because they must of necessity be null and void in the absence from the Ordinal of the distinctive features of the Roman priesthood."

753. You have said that Pope Leo Xlll's decree that Anglican Orders are not valid is infallible.

In saying that I am in good company. Father Sydney Smith, S.J., in the French "Dictionnaire Apologetique," insists upon it. During my own post-graduate studies in Rome (1924-1926) Father Schultes, O.P. at the Dominican University and Father Capello, S.J. at the Gregorian University were both teaching the infallibility of the Pope's decision; as also was Father Marinsola, O.P. at Fribourg University in Switzerland. Writing to me, October 7, 1954, Father Charles Boyer, S.J., of the Gregorian University, Rome, and editor of the ecumenical periodical "Unitas," said: "The nullity of Anglican Orders is a dogmatic fact on which the Sovereign Pontiff has pronounced an infallible judgment." Here, to avoid misunderstanding, it should be noted that the Catholic Church does not deny the sufficiency of Anglican Orders for Anglican purposes; she declares only that their validity is inadmissible in the Catholic sense of the word.

754. Dr. Hans Kung, in a TV session, 1965, said he personally thought Anglican Orders valid, and Pope Leo Xlll's decree not infallible and in fact wrong.

Dr. Hans Kung cannot be regarded as a representative Catholic theologian; and there is good reason to suspect that he was much more interested in the opportunity to say that Pope Leo XIII was mistaken than he was in upholding the validity of Anglican Orders. Nor would all Anglicans be grateful to him for his support. At the Savoy Conference of Anglicans and Presbyterians in 1661 the Anglican bishops, to allay the misgivings of the Presbyterians, assured them that Anglican clergy did not claim to be priests in the Roman sense of the word. The Anglican 1662 Book of Common Prayer was then being prepared. In 1910, the Anglican Professor C. A. Briggs, in his book "Church Unity," p. 115, says that in replying to Pope Leo XIII the then Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York made the mistake of trying to prove that Anglican clergy are ordained to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, instead of saying that the Anglican Church had abandoned the false Roman Catholic doctrine of priesthood which had prevailed for centuries in pre-Reformation England, and had substituted for it another doctrine which it held to be more biblical. The Anglican Bishop Knox, of Manchester, writing in the "National Review," Sept., 1925, said: "In spite of the attempt made by our Archbishops to conceal the defect, the Pope from his point of view was unquestionably right." A more recent Anglican theologian, Dr. E. J. Bicknell, says in his "Theological Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles," (1950 edit.) p. 429: "Our real quarrel with Rome is at bottom about the meaning of the priesthood and the Eucharistic sacrifice. If the Church of Rome chooses to say we do not intend to make priests exactly in her sense of the word, we are not concerned to deny it." The present Ely Professor of Theology at Cambridge, Dr. G. W. H. Lampe, says in his turn: "The loyal Anglican should be thankful that his Orders are not valid in the sense of Roman Catholic theology" ("The Churchman," March, 1962).

755. In 1966, Cardinal Heenan, of Westminster, told an Anglican interviewer he would agree to a Commission of Catholic and non-Catholic historians, to re-study the whole question of the validity of Anglican Orders.

Cardinal Heenan assured his Anglican interviewer that there was no question of Catholics not wanting Anglican Orders to be valid. He said their feelings would not be hurt if a joint Commission found convincing evidence that Anglican clergy do offer a true Mass in the Catholic sense of the word. But he made it clear that he personally did not believe such evidence would be forthcoming. He expressed his doubts about the wisdom of re-opening the subject, raising false hopes among some Anglicans and causing greater distress should Anglican Orders again be declared not valid from the Catholic point of view. As far as the ecumenical problem is concerned, it should be remembered that, if some Anglicans complain of the Catholic non-recognition of their Orders, Anglicans themselves regard the Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational and Baptist ministries as defective according to their own Anglican requirements. That should engender in them some degree of patience and understanding in dealing with this particular problem.

756. As a Baptist, I ask whether our Baptist position in itself would be regarded as deserving serious consideration in the ecumenical debate.

Dialogue or discussion would be a better word than debate for ecumenical purposes; and, of course, any sincerely held convictions of professing Christians would deserve a respectful hearing. Needless to say, the work towards unity cannot be hurried, for consciences are involved and not all will suddenly see their way clearly. But if it is going to take a long time to arrive at unity, the sooner we get started the better. As your own Baptist spokesman Dr. Hugh Martin put in his book "Christian Reunion," if as believing Christians "we act on the unity we already have, we'll get more," and the thing to remember is that "the unity we have is not an excuse for leaving our differences alone, but a call to end them." He insisted that it is the will of Christ that as Christians we should do something about it without waiting for the ultimate solution which, not we ourselves, but only later generations may experience.

757. The current issue of our own Baptist journal has made a bitter attack on Roman moves for unity.

That arouses mixed feelings of pleasure and regret. It is good that some still care enough about religion to be indignant about any issues concerning it. One recalls Austin Dobson's sonnet on "Don Quixote":

"Would today when Courtesy grows chill,
And life's fine loyalties are turned to jest,
Some fire of thine might burn within us still!
Ah, would but one might lay his lance in rest,
And charge in earnest. . . were it but a mill!"
Whilst, however, earnestness and sincerity in matters of religion are far better than a deadening apathy, it is regrettable that in the article you mention the attack was bitter.

758. Our paper said hopes for co-operation and union between Catholic and other Churches have been blighted by a statement of Pope Paul VI.

In a public audience on January 18, 1967, speaking about the ecumenical movement, the Pope said he was deeply interested in it; that he was well aware all believers in Christ who were still separated from Catholics found the doctrine of Papal Primacy one of the main obstacles to unity; and that to ignore this would be to take an over-simplified approach to the problem. On that he said he did not then wish to dwell. Rather, he wanted to recognise and honour the Christian values preserved among separated brethren of good will and to extend to them his good wishes in "simple, humble and sincere words." He urged all interested in the unity movement to strive for an interior and exterior renewal of their own lives as Christians. Commenting on the Pope's passing reference to Papal Supremacy, the Secretary General Eugene Blake of the World Council of Churches interpreted it as intended "to discourage romantic ecumenism," stressing that there is no easy road to reunion. Significantly, even since the Pope's statement agreement has been reached between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches not only for continued, but for a more widely-extensive cooperation.

759. Our paper said the Pope declared as clearly as can be that there is no room for union until others come to Rome as repentant children returning to the fold.

The Pope said nothing about returning, nor about repentant children. We can regret events of four centuries ago, but not repent of things for which we ourselves were in no way responsible; nor can one return to any position he personally has never left. Generally speaking, most people implicitly accept, and quite sincerely, what they have been brought up to believe. What one can do is choose a position others have left, if he becomes convinced that God wants him to do so, and that those others were mistaken in the choice they themselves made.

760. Have not Roman Catholics misunderstood Martin Luther's doctrine of justification by faith only?

Some have done so, even as some of his followers in his own time did so. Luther taught that a man is saved by faith only, and not by any good works on his part. But when one of his own disciples, John Agricola, began to teach in 1536, that it does not matter how a man behaves so long as he has faith, Luther denounced him, saying that a man will not be saved without good works. What Luther insisted upon was that a man will not be saved by the good works themselves that he is obliged to do and may actually succeed in doing. Catholics objected to that, holding that salvation depends upon both faith and good works. When they quoted St. James: "You see that by works a man is saved and not by faith only" (Ja., 2:24) Luther branded the Epistle of St. James as an "epistle of straw" and refused to admit its authority against his own teaching.

761. Luther meant that faith necessarily results in good conduct; if not, evil behaviour is merely a sign that one really has no faith.

That idea cannot be reconciled with the teaching of the New Testament. St. Paul was writing to those who had the faith when he warned the Philippians: "Work out your salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil., 2:12). St. Peter also was addressing those who firmly believed in Christ when he wrote: "Labour the more, that by good works you may make sure of your calling and election" (2 Pet., 1:10). Evidently faith does not automatically result in good works. A man may have the faith, yet not live up to it as he should. Each Christian has the responsibility of seeing to it that the kind of life he lives corresponds with the faith he professes. And his doing so will, together with his faith, contribute towards his salvation and sanctification, always presupposing the grace of Christ assisting him both in his belief and in his behaviour.

762. Reliance on good works as well as faith brings in the idea of merit and greater reward in heaven, a principle I believe quite wrong and an obstacle to reunion.

If we turn to the New Testament, we find our Lord telling His disciples: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward will be very great in heaven." Matt., 5:12. He promised a magnificent recompense to those who can say with St. Peter: "Behold, we have left all things and have good works or neglect of them will be a deciding factor in the separation of the sheep and the goats at the Last Judgment (Matt., 25:32-46). St. Paul wrote to the Romans that "God will render to each man according to his works." Rom., 2:6; and to the Colossians, 3:24: "Knowing you shall receive the reward of inheritance, serve the Lord Jesus Christ." It is impossible not to see in such passages the ideas of merit and reward as an incentive towards fervour and generosity in the service of God. followed you." Matt., 19:28. He expressly linked greater rewards with greater merit in His parable of the talents, describing the reward of fidelity and generosity in serving God by saying: "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master." Matt., 25:21. He declared that

763. Attaching value to the good one does gives rise to a most un-Christian pride and self-satisfaction in it.

Not in any well-instructed and sincere Christian. Were you to read the lives of any of the canonised Saints of the Catholic Church you would find a complete absence of pride and self-complacency in any good they did. They realised that the virtue of humility must accompany all they did, if they wanted to be pleasing in God's sight. Moreover, they ever kept in mind our Lord's words: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in the vine and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn., 15:15) He meant, of course, nothing of supernatural value, deserving of salvation and heavenly recompense. We do not say that the unbelieving secular humanist cannot do anything good on the merely natural level; but such good lacks the saving value that comes only from Christ. The Christian knows that any merit of his can only be in, with and through Christ. Certainly the canonised Saints knew that the merit, even though made possible by Christ, was in a true sense theirs and deserving of the rewards God has promised in return for the fidelity to Christ which they had made the outstanding characteristic of their lives in this world. There is much misunderstanding of the doctrines of grace and merit. St. Paul himself well knew that his salvation depended on his faith and on his personal commitment to Christ. He acknowledged that he owed everything to divine grace. He wrote to the Corinthians: "What have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?" I Cor., 4:7. Of himself he said: "By the grace of God, I am what I am." I Cor., 15:10. Yet he expected his own merits, through his generous correspondence with God's grace, to be rewarded, saying: "I have fought the good fight . . . and there is laid up for me a crown of justice which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me." 2 Tim., 4:8.

764. Can one imagine Protestants ever adopting Roman Catholic devotion to the Virgin Mary in the interests of reunion?

They could not be expected to do so for such a motive. What is possible is that they may attain to a devotion to Mary and so leave the way that much more open to eventual reunion. We should not think here in terms of Catholics only. Devotion to Mary, the Mother of Christ, and prayers for her intercession and protection are second nature to the combined 800 million members of both the Catholic and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Moreover, the devotion is quite wide-spread among High Church Anglicans and is beginning to awaken interest among Low Church or, as they prefer to be called Evangelical Anglicans. In a recent book, "The Blessed Virgin Mary," an Anglican symposium published in 1963, one chapter is entitled "Towards an Evangelical Reappraisal." In it the evangelical Rev. John de Satge says that the ecumenical movement has brought Protestants into a Christian fraternity with Roman and Eastern Orthodox Churches whose devotion to Mary is an integral part of their faith. Hitherto, he says, the Protestant attitude was an aloof outside one, detached and uninvolved. He suggests that if for all Christians the centre is Christ and all are members of the Body of Christ, Protestants should ask themselves whether this brings them into a relationship, not only with Him, but also with His Mother, who thus becomes our Mother also; and is there not a sense in which their relationship with Mary should be "more direct, more articulate, more intimate?" He adds that as they become aware of a Christian-community sense among all professing Christians, evangelical Protestants will need to re-think their inherited fixed attitudes to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

765. Why does the Roman Church hinder reunion by refusing to ordain women as priests? Out of 168 member Churches of the World Council, 48 have ordained women ministers, as Methodists and Congregationalists in England, Presbyterians in Scotland, Lutherans in Sweden, and many Protestant Churches in America.

Not all World Council Churches agree with the minority groups. Also here the fact is overlooked that all the Eastern Orthodox Churches are just as insistent as the Catholic Church that men only are capable of being ordained as priests according to the Will of Christ. The ecumenical movement aims at the eventual reunion of all separated Churches. If the Catholic Church were to agree to the ordination of women, even could it do so, an unbridgeable chasm would be created between that Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, which would be no help towards Christian unity. It would be ecumenically disastrous to alienate millions of Eastern Christians who have remained faithful to sound evangelical principles in this matter within their Orthodox Churches. Expediency, however, is not really the point at issue here. Where a concession is opposed to the divine law, the Catholic Church cannot make it, regardless of whether the move be a popular one or not. Sufficient allowance for this aspect of the subject has not been made.

766. Commenting on the Swedish ordinations of women, the Catholic Bishop Kampe in Germany even said that those were a hindrance to the ecumenical movement.

In Sweden the Lutheran Church is the National Church, under State control. In 1958, the Government passed a law compelling Lutheran bishops to ordain women to the ministry. This promoted, not unity, but disunity within the Swedish Church itself. In a letter to the London "Church Times," March 20, 1964, Professor Segelberg, of Uppsala University, said that by then seven women had been ordained, but as a result nine Lutheran pastors had left the Lutheran Church to become Catholics; others had abandoned the ministry to become school-teachers; and many students in seminaries gave up their studies for the ministry to adopt secular careers. "The main outcome," he wrote, "is that the Church in Sweden is deeply divided, so much so that it seems more correct to talk about two Churches within one organisation." Some Swedish Lutheran bishops positively refuse to comply with the law. "It is not a superficial fight," wrote Professor Segelberg, "but one where those opposing civil law have very solid theological reasons."

767. In its 1965 international meeting in Rome, the Catholic St. Joan's Alliance intensified its campaign for the ordination of women priests, and petitioned the Second Vatican Council that its provision for a lay diaconate ministry be applied to women as well as to men. But the petition was simply ignored.

The Vatican daily paper "Osservatore Romano" noted the petition, but said that the Council could not comply with it, even if it wanted to. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church women cannot be either lawfully or validly ordained as priests. In the early Church erratic Gnostic sects who attempted to ordain women as priests were condemned as heretical for doing so. The ordination of a woman would simply be null and void. This is in accordance with the constant teaching and practice of the Church from the earliest apostolic times. There is absolutely no warrant in Holy Scripture for ordaining women as priests. The Vatican Council distinguished clearly between the ordinary priesthood of all baptised Christians and the ministerial priesthood conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Were the Sacramental Priesthood not something other than the priesthood of the whole Christian community as the "People of God," then one might argue that the community could delegate women members to officiate in its name. But Christ manifested His positive will by choosing twelve apostles and entrusting to them only the official teaching, ruling and sanctifying authority within the Church. This will of Christ shows the divinelygiven nature of the Church. Only the positive will of Christ could give a sure basis for the ordination of women; and of that the New Testament gives no indication anywhere.

768. If Jesus chose men only as apostles, that could have been because the social status of women then would have made them quite unacceptable to the people as religious leaders.

No merely natural considerations based on social status are of any value here. We are dealing, not with a natural, but with a divine work, the establishing of the Church by our Lord for the continuance in this world of His redemptive mission. We are dependent for our information on God's own manifestation of His will in the matter. Mark, 3:13 tells us that our Lord called to the apostolate "whom He would." That he ignored social status in this world is evident from His choosing "Levi the publican" (Lk., 5:27), known to us as St. Matthew, to be one of the twelve — a man whom the Jews would consider quite unfit to be taken seriously as a religious teacher. Social status was certainly no obstacle to our Lord's having chosen, as well as men, some of the "many women who ministered" to His own needs and those of His disciples (Lk., 8:3) had He wanted to. But He did not. That men only were present at the Last Supper and the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Orders is a sufficient indication of our Lord's will.

769. As there were women deacons In the early Church, why cannot there also be women priests?

There were no women deacons in the early Church. There were some women called loosely but not strictly "deaconesses;" but that is a very different thing. These women received no kind of sacramental character or function of any kind. The fourth-century "Apostolic Constitutions," a collection of Church laws and valuable guide to early religious beliefs and practices, emphatically denied that women can be validly ordained to Holy Orders in any degree, saying that the idea of "priestesses" is not a Christian but a heathen institution for the worship of the pagan deities. St. Epiphanius, writing in 374 A.D., describes the "deaconesses" as women-elders who had to be at least sixty years of age and who were commissioned by the Church to care for other women members of the Church, but especially in preparing women converts for baptism, which was then generally by immersion and required a change of clothing into special bathing garments for the ceremony. In his book "Heresies," chapter 79, sec. 3, he writes: "If women were to be called in the New Testament dispensation to exercise the priesthood or fulfil any other canonical ministry, the priestly function would have been entrusted to Mary before all others. But God disposed otherwise. As for the order of deaconesses . . . that was not established for a priestly function nor for any ministry of such a kind."

770. Pope John XXIII, in his last Encyclical "Pacem in Terris," declared that "men and women have equal rights, befitting their human dignity both in domestic and public life."

Pope John was there speaking of the natural dignity of men and women as persons, and of their equality in domestic and civil society. His words contain no reference to the relative positions of men and women in the Church as a supernatural and divinely-instituted society; and no analogy from secular life in this world is applicable here. We have to study the divinely-appointed constitution of the Church as indicated by the words and actions of Christ in its regard. No question can arise here of pitting against men's usurped rights a plea for women's rights. Even while the indications in divine revelation are that men only are capable of being ordained as priests, no men are thereby given a right to be ordained. So St. Paul writes: "No one taketh the honour to himself, but he who is called, as Aaron was." Heb., 5:4. In other words, vocation to the priesthood transcends all natural human rights, and there cannot be equality of natural rights where the Sacrament of Holy Orders is concerned even among men who are alone eligible to receive that Sacrament.

771. Protestants still say in the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church."

Different interpretations are given to those words. Protestants themselves originated the Ecumenical Movement in 1910, and in 1948 formed the World Council of Churches. This Council was not meant as a single super-Church of which member Churches were branches, but as a kind of federation dedicated to exploring ways and means of attaining to unity. The founders of it felt there was something wrong with multitudes of people of goodwill, each professing faith in the same Christ and dependence on His grace, yet despite this invisible bond being divided in the external and visible order by their belonging to distinct and separated Churches.

772. Since we claim to be already in the Holy Catholic Church, we must believe we have unity, with no need to seek it.

At one time is was quite common for Protestants to hold that the one true Church of Christ is the invisible company of the elect, whose names were known only to God. It did not seem to matter to them that religiously like-minded people should form their own separate groups or denominations. But their best theologians have stressed that divisions of Christians into separated Churches out of communion with one another are quite opposed to New Testament teaching. This realisation of the necessity of one visible Church for all Christians made the late Archbishop William Temple of Canterbury exclaim in his paradoxical way: "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church and regret that it does not at present exist." We Catholics do not think like that. But Archbishop Temple was right in sensing that Christ wanted His followers to be a visibly united fold under the Apostles and their successors as shepherds representing Himself, the supreme Good Shepherd.

773. To my mind, the Catholic or "Universal" Christian Church consists of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, without further qualification.

If that were true, it would not matter to which of the different "Churches" such believers belonged, or even if they professed to belong to no Church. But the New Testament teaches nothing like that. The historical fact is that Christ founded a visible Church, giving it a mission to all mankind. He could not have instituted such a Church, intending no obligation on our part to belong to it. In this matter there are two extremes to be avoided: that of seeing the Church only as a visibly organised society, as if personal belief in and commitment to Christ did not matter; and that of seeing only the personal dispositions of believers, as if there were no need to belong to the organised community of the faithful. Catholics acknowledge indeed a certain spiritual fellowship with all believers in Christ, but cannot admit that these are fully members of the one Catholic and Universal Church as Christ wills them to be, unless they become one with all other Catholics, professing the same faith, participating in the same Sacraments, and acknowledging the same religious authority. It is of no help towards unity to obscure the issue by speaking of all professing Christians as if they were already sufficiently one among themselves. That would be the end of any genuine ecumenical movement towards unity, leaving all the sadly-divided Churches, with their conflicting beliefs, forms of worship and discipline, as they are.

774. Is not Christian unity much wider in scope than ecclesiastical unity?

If the unity is Christian, that is, of Christians, then it is essentially a religious unity brought about by the religion of Christ. This could be a moral unity of dispositions among all who believe in Christ, however separated they might be by allegiance to different Churches. Professing Christians could thus be united in their love for Christ, zeal for Christian virtue, and charity towards one another. And it is desirable, of course, that they should have that much unity. But still, that would not be enough. Were it enough, there would remain no problem of Christian reunion. All ecumenically-minded Christians agree that existing differences among themselves, at least in all essential matters of faith, worship and discipline, must be overcome so that they will form one organic body or Church to which all equally belong. Only thus can we adequately fulfil the will of Christ. The great problem confronting us, therefore, is how to bring about this unity in one and the same Church.

775. I hope participation by the Catholic Church in the ecumenical movement will soon lead her to recognise all other such branches on a footing of equality.

What you by analogy call "all other such branches," presumably including all who profess to be Christians, would embrace the Witnesses of Jehovah, the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists and many other groups with similar views who declare the Catholic Church to be an "apostate" Church, the Pope being "the antichrist, that man of sin and the son of perdition." Far from wanting to be recognised as "branches" of the Catholic Church, they would indignantly repudiate every suggestion of any kind of connection with it. If you say you did not have such groups in mind, and that the line must be drawn somewhere, the discussion is shifted to the question as to just where the line must be drawn.

776. What seems to me fatal to prospects of Christian Unity is for any one Church to claim a monopoly of the truth.

The Catholic Church, which you clearly indicate as the one you have in mind, does not claim a monopoly of the truth in the sense of denying the possession of any truth among professing Christians separated from her. As Pope Pius XI put it, pieces broken from gold-bearing rock themselves bear gold. What the Catholic Church does claim is that she is the one Church today which can rightly claim to have been founded by Christ upon the Apostles, and that the Catholic faith she teaches contains the fulness of the truth to be taught in the name of Christ — a fulness which necessarily includes all partial elements of truth contained in varying degrees within different versions of Christianity proclaimed by others separated from her. Incidentally, the movement towards Christian unity aims at membership of all professing Christians in one and the same Church, all belonging to it, however one envisages it, equally possessing — if one likes to put it that way — a "monopoly" of the Christian truth in all its fulness.

777. The recent Vatican Council in no way unsaid Rome's exclusive claims.

It certainly left no room for exaggerated interpretations of them. The non-Catholic observers at the Council may have differed from Catholic explanations of the nature and structure of the Church according to New Testament requirements, but they witnessed no display of anything like what has been called triumphalism, or anything suggesting a smug self-satisfaction or a superiority-complex born of a party spirit. All realised the deep interest of the Council members in the truth for its own sake, and recognised among them the humility which can be practised at one's own expense while upholding the principle that this must not be at the expense of Christ and of His Church. They said afterwards how near they felt to Catholics in very many things, but agreed that — and Catholics agreed with them in this — however deep the bonds of mutual charity, the problem of different ecclesiastical allegiances remained to be solved by further study and discussions between competent and representative scholars in ecumenical dialogue with one another, by the earnest prayers of all Christian people, and by the enlightening grace of God.

778. It seems to me that the Council, after saying that "the restoration of unity among Christians is of great importance," cut itself off from any ecumenical dialogue by saying Roman Catholicism alone has that unity.

That does not necessarily follow. Broadly speaking, half of the professing Christians in the world are Catholics, a quarter belong to one or other of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and a quarter to the various Protestant Churches. The Council said the aim of the ecumenical movement is that all professing Christians should be gathered together into the unity willed by Christ. Every Christian would agree with that. The Council, however, further declared that the unity willed by Christ has in fact been bestowed by Him on the Catholic Church as "something she can never lose" (Decree on Ecumenism, n.4). This means that any individual non-Catholic who, by the grace of God, attains to faith in the Catholic religion and becomes a Catholic, will find himself within that unity. But the Council declared that such individual conversions are on a totally different level from that of the ecumenical movement. We are all left confronted still with the many divisions of the Churches as Churches; and the World Council of Churches will continue its ecumenical efforts, agreeing that the ultimate goal of unity is unthinkable unless it includes both the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Vatican Council, therefore, quite rightly and logically urged Catholics to co-operate in every way possible with non-Catholics in their efforts to bring all Christians together.

779. In any ecumenical dialogue Catholics could not, on their own principles, behave as if all Churches were equally true.

No one has stated that problem more clearly than one of the most outstanding Lutheran scholars, Dr. Oscar Cullmann. In his book "Catholics and Protestants" (1957) he says that "it is for reasons of faith that the Catholic Church cannot join the World Council of Churches on a basis of equality." It would no longer be the Catholic Church, he explains, and the Pope would no longer be the Pope, if it did so; for by the very fact the Pope would be denying a basic article of the Catholic Faith —- that of a divinely instituted Papal Supremacy. He adds that Protestants do not always realise that this is not a matter of bad intentions on the part of Catholics, but that it is one of sheer principle. At the same time, he says that if Protestants have to say no to the papal claims, they believe that that is a matter for them also of being faithful to Christ. "We must face the painful situation," he writes, "without any illusions." Sooner or later, whatever concessions are made, we'll come to the boundary line where, to have unity, "Catholics would have to stop being Catholics, or Protestants would have to stop being Protestants." Dr. Cullmann is one of the invited Protestant observers at the present Vatican Council. He speaks most appreciatively of his experiences there. But he remains firmly convinced that unity will not be possible in the full sense of the word until our convictions change, as his own have not changed; nevertheless he insists that until in God's providence we do see things differently meetings and discussions between Catholics and Protestants must continue.

780. It is to the Catholic principle of exclusiveness that we Protestants most object.

As a professing Christian, you have to use the same principle of exclusiveness where Christianity itself is concerned. Accepting as divinelyrevealed truth that the only path to salvation is through Christ and that "there is no other name under heaven given to men whereby we must be saved" (Acts, 4:12) you have to admit that all who get to heaven will at least there acknowledge that they owe their salvation to Christ. In that sense, there are only Christians in heaven. Were someone to ask you whether good Moslems or Buddhists, who through no fault of their own have never attained to belief in Christ during this life, can get to heaven, you would say yes, but not precisely because they were Moslems or Buddhists. It would be because they were good, and through no fault of their own did not here on earth realise the truth of Christianity. In heaven, however, they will realise and acknowledge it just as everyone else. Your own belief in the exclusive claims of Christ would compel you to reply in such a way. Discussions between Catholics and Protestants concern, not this principle we all have to admit where Christianity itself is in question, but what form of Christianity, Catholic or Protestant, is truly and fully representative of the religion taught by Christ and the Apostles. If you hold that your own is the true version of Christianity, you would have to speak of it in exactly the same way as Catholics speak of theirs. You would tell Catholics that if they don't realise the truth of your version in this life they will do so in heaven if they get there — since all in heaven at least are aware of the full truth. We Catholics would not object to your saying that, if such were your convictions.

781. How can any ecumenical progress be made, unless the Roman Catholic Church is prepared to meet others halfway?

Non-Catholics observers at the Council — and there were over a hundred of them from various Churches — were deeply impressed by the candid admission of the assembled Bishops that Catholics themselves at the time of the Protestant Reformation had their own share of blame by their infidelities for the resultant disunity. But they noted also that the constant Catholic teaching concerning the truth of the visible Catholic Church was reaffirmed; and that nothing was done to weaken the doctrines of Papal Supremacy and Infallibility. However, as one Protestant observer remarked, many areas remained in which differences could be settled by charitable discussions and co-operation, and agreement in these could at least make possible a new approach to even seemingly insoluble problems, with results we cannot at present foresee. Leaving the future to God, we should at any given stage do as much as then seems conscientiously permissible to us.

782. If Rome remains as uncompromising as in the past, all its protestations of friendliness and co-operation in working for unity are in fact dishonest.

Where conflicting convictions are concerned, the charge of dishonesty is no more applicable to Catholics who feel conscientiously bound to maintain certain principles as essential, than to Protestants who feel conscientiously bound to reject those principles. Present differences do not mean that protestations of friendliness and co-operation in working for unity are necessarily insincere or dishonest on either side. (Note: The replies in this book were given over the air prior to the end of 1968. In June, 1969, during their preparation for publication, Pope Paul VI, visiting the headquarters of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, addressed the assembled members with the fraternally frank words: "Our name is Peter. Scripture tells us the meaning our Lord willed to attach to that name and what duties He lays upon us, the responsibilities of the Apostle and his successors." Later, against some critics, the Presbyterian Eugene Carson Blake, General Secretary of the World Council, defended the Pope's having clearly stated the Catholic position in such a way, instead of diplomatically avoiding the issue as if the doctrine of Papal Supremacy could be by-passed and regarded as unimportant. He said that he himself was glad that the Pope had spoken as he did.)

783. Instead of working for unity, Rome is simply like a power which preserves friendly diplomatic relations with another power, while all the time working for the surrender and destruction of that other power.

We are dealing with the religion of Christ, to which we are all subject. No analogy based on the rivalry of earthly powers, one seeking to triumph over another and bring about that other's surrender and destruction, is valid here. The only "surrender" involved is a surrender of mind and heart and will to Christ; the only "destruction" involved is a destruction of obstacles to our unity in the religion that is His. No spirit of triumphalism or concern for our own personal interests of pride or prestige enters here; just the opposite. Fidelity to our convictions is an admission on our part that we are not entitled to sign away our Lord's rights. Conscientious Protestants as well as conscientious Catholics are agreed on this. Commenting after the Vatican Council's First Session in 1962, the Lutheran observer, Dr. Oscar Cullmann said the basic problem lies in the fact that the Roman concept of unity has a different basis from that of Protestants. Where Catholics see Christ as working through a visibly unified Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Protestants feel that the basis should be, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, only a single nucleus of one's faith in Christ. He added that, although Protestants tend to think that Catholics have "too much," while Catholics tend to think that Protestants have "too little," the ecumenical dialogue must go on with great frankness on both sides, leaving it to God to show us the way through the impasse, whatever convictions each of us at present entertains as to what that way will be.

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