In case you have forgotten already, it’s the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity! I am sure that you have participated in many meaningful celebrations.
In the Low Countries, however, a shadow has been cast over this august occasion.
Protestants are shocked and saddened that a cardinal and bishop of the Holy Roman Church says that the decisions of the Council of Trent were valid!
From The Tablet:
Dutch cardinal’s defence of Trent casts shadow [Ooooo!] over Unity week22 January 2014 11:00
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been overshadowed [because the Week is such a big deal] in the Netherlands by a row over a statement by Cardinal Willem Eijk that the decisions of the Council of Trent were still fully valid.
Cardinal Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht and head of the Dutch bishops’ conference, told the Protestant daily Reformatorisch Dagblad that the Council’s condemnations of Martin Luther’s teachings, for example on the Eucharist, still justified excluding Protestants from receiving communion in the Catholic Church.
The Council was “a sign of the self-cleansing power” of the Church because it corrected abuses that had developed in its ranks, he said.
The Protestant response was cool.
“It is not biblical to say the Church is always right,” said Gerrit de Fijter, chairman of the Protestant National Synod.
Bas Plaisier, former head of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, said he “didn’t understand what [Eijk] is doing.” [I’ll bet that’s true.]
A Catholic theologian, Marcel Poorthuis from Tilburg University, said Eijk was being more negative than Pope Benedict XVI about Protestants.
Church spokeswoman Anna Kruse expressed shock at the reactions and noted that Eijk had called the Trent condemnations “mainly a theoretical issue” and did not intend to offend Protestants.
Imagine such a thing! A Cardinal mentions the Council of Trent… favorably!
In doing so, Card. Eijk did what Favorite Popes of Protestants (a very thin book) have done before him.
Do you remember what Blessed, soon-to-be-Saint John XXIII, said in his speech as Vatican II began, “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia“, which opened the Church to the world and to our Protestant sisters and brothers?
“The salient point of this council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.
“For this a council was not necessary. But from the renewed, serene and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the acts of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciences in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith or the truths which are contained in our time-honored teaching is one thing, the manner in which these truths are set forth – in the same meaning and understanding – is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration, with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.”
And what did Pope Francis say about Trent?
You will recall that Pope Francis sent Walter Card. Brandmüller as his representative for the observance of the anniversary of the closing of the Council of Trent. In the official letter Francis sent to Card. Brandmüller the Pope wrote:
Harking closely to the same Spirit, Holy Church in this age renews and meditates on the most abundant doctrine of the Council of Trent. In fact, the “hermeneutic of renewal”[interpretatio renovationis] which Our Predecessor Benedict XVI explained in 2005 before the Roman Curia, refers in no way less to the Council of Trent than to the Vatican Council. To be sure, this mode of interpretation places under a brighter light a beautiful characteristic of the Church which is taught by the Lord Himself: “She is a ‘subject’ which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia offering them his Christmas greetings – 22 December 2005).
By now, you regular readers will remember these connections instantly. I have written about them before. HERE
The Tablet… whingers. They make this so easy.