Sensible examination of the beatification, the Assisi meeting and ecumenism

There is a very smart post over at The Sensible Bond.

He deals with the beatification and the Assisi meeting and the important question of what ecumenism is.

My usual treatment is applied.

Blogging from the geopolitical epicentre of the culture of death … [Britain... review here.]

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Assisi Obex

I’m dismayed this morning, cher lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère. [Baudelaire and Eliot.  Actually... I don't know if I like this... hey... wait!  No!] I know what is going to happen in the next few weeks. Quite apart from the liturgical season, it is going to be full of excitement about the approaching beatification of John Paul II. As I remarked yesterday, the buzz on the blogs is all about the alternative bloggers’ meeting in Rome. [Sounds fun!] The weather here in the UK is hot. We’ve forgotten the worst of the recent past, and the year is full of Spring promise.

So nobody wants to read or hear about reservations with the good ship Vatican at the moment. Tribalism is alive and well. If we object to the current mood, then we must either belong to the lunatic fringe of the Great-Dotty Traditionalist variety, or we must just be sour pessimists. I cannot say I agreed with half of the content of the recent petition that was got up to protest at the beatification of John Paul II, but I certainly share their fear that the beatification will not simply stand for beatification of the person of John Paul II – a man of immense piety, sacrifice, devotion to duty and chronic suffering – but a stamp of approval on his papacy, good and bad. [Recently Card. Amato said that the beatification is not about the papacy of the late Pope.  I wonder about that.  As I see it, it seems to me that over the last few decades there has been a shift in the theology of "heroic virtue". But... they didn't ask me.]

The biggest mistake in this beatification is that we have no historical perspective. Comparisons with popular acclamations of holiness by the faithful in the past are lame. [This is where the vox populi, the popular dimension, comes to hold great sway perhaps over the vox Dei dimension (confirmed by authenticated miracles), and the vox ecclesiae which has a process by which everything is verified.] We live in an age of fadism and fancy where yesterday’s fringe indie is today’s modishness, and where last week’s scapegoat is next week’s pop idol. John Paul II’s holiness would not change one bit if the Church left it ten or twenty years before going any further in this beatification process. But another ten years would give us calmer minds and spirits, greater objectivity, and more willingness to sift and discern. [Qui bene distinguit bene docet.]

For me, the greatest sign of the refusal to discern further is this meeting planned for October in Assisi. Don’t get me wrong. I believe the traditionalist position which states that such meetings contravene the First Commandment is not well founded. I also applaud the changes in format in this meeting which are meant to be another barrier against such intepretations.

No, the Assisi Obex is the way that it embodies a certain philosophy of religion which is unbalanced. You can read all about it [ehem] in Cardinal Ratzinger’s book Truth and Tolerance in which he describes the change in how theologians view other religions. Nowadays the procedure is to regard all religions from the perspective of the religion of the Three Kings.

[... go over to his blog for this part ... I like this bit ...]

Of course it is marvellous that we ‘share’ the Sacred Scriptures with our Protestant brethren, but we cannot thereby air-brush out of existence the fact that Sola Scriptura is the context in which vast swathes of Protestants receive those writings. In other words, at the very point we can acknowledge what we have in common, we have to acknowledge the gulf in how we conceptualise the passing on of Revelation.

But that would be considered unecumenical. In practice – I’m not speaking of the theory – ecumenism seems to be an ecclesiological form of the English vice of saying the very opposite of what we mean. [What - a - great - sentence.] ‘Oh, yes I’m quite comfortable’; ‘oh, yes, I’ve had enough to eat’; ‘oh, I don’t mind at all.’ In point of fact, we aren’t comfortable, we’re starving, and too right we bloody mind! But we had better not say it for fear of making a scene.

What I’m saying here is that Assisi III, even if it avoids the symbolic manifestation of indifferentism, will necessarily articulate an entirely benign – and, therefore, unbalanced – view of such religious distinctions.

[... again, go over there ... good stuff here, but I want you to go there ... ]

Please tell me what ecumenism has done, other than encourage the idea that we all belong to the same slightly odd club of ‘religious people’?

But Christ isn’t religious. He is religion. How did we forget?

So, what is my conclusion? Simply that we cannot deal with other religions solely as seedbeds of the Word. THIS is the Assisi Obex. Nor indeed should we go back to treating them as if they are simply the work of the partisans of error. But Christ spoke sometimes with compassion and sometimes with anger: mustn’t the Church do the same? How very sad that this failure to distinguish – this failure that, for me, will always mar JPII’s memory – is going to be reinforced by Pope Benedict whose own motto declares his commitment to cooperating in the truth.

Very insightful.

Remember my post on Pius IX’s Mortalium animos?

We cannot turn our backs on the ecumenical challenge.  But ecumenism must be authentic.  We must make distinctions about truths and about the way we express them.  There is a hierarchy of truths, and yet not one iota can be denied.  How do we maintain that fidelity in the face of an irreversible ecumenical course?

FacebookEmailPinterestGoogle GmailShare/Bookmark

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Pope of Christian Unity, The Drill, The future and our choices and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sensible examination of the beatification, the Assisi meeting and ecumenism

  1. Of course it is marvellous that we ‘share’ the Sacred Scriptures with our Protestant brethren, but we cannot thereby air-brush out of existence the fact that Sola Scriptura is the context in which vast swathes of Protestants receive those writings. In other words, at the very point we can acknowledge what we have in common, we have to acknowledge the gulf in how we conceptualise the passing on of Revelation.

    “You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ” (John 5:39-40)