Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ecumenical Progression

Theres a moment I had with a stranger in a parking lot. She had this bumper sticker on her truck. I intentionally watched her park and tracked her getting I approached her, my finger pointing at her bumper, our eyes locked. She smiled and said,

"you cant imagine how many people ask me where to get one of those..."

"in fact I can but thats a whole other story" I chided with a smirk.

She didnt ask what "religion" I was and didnt need to, nor did I from her. When one understands and values the meaning of Ecumenism, with knowledge of todays roadside bombings, Hamas, Palestine, Beruit, Serbia, and other modern faith based conflicts ad nauseum, one has no need to ask. The faith allegiance of another is of little concern because the motive is not what is the faith identity, it is what do you value of all others identity. This is an inevitable statement or question all must face.


Post Vatican II has seen significant global effort from Rome to all faiths for Ecumenical acknowledgement. Partly driven by the 4th and final Council of Vatican II having nearly 100 representatives of other Christian Communities participating. V-II resulted in RC authorities professing Ecumenism in every available technological way.

We are not talking about a motive to convert other faiths to our thinking, the strategy is much more subtle (and effective). Its having the sense to see a millenium of conflict in Gaza unresolved by that "my side or die" approach. Catholic Ecumenism is a call to humanize our cross faith understanding first and to demonstrate that willingness in a leading way to disarm the need for conflict.

"In a word, Christians have been converted to a fraternal charity which embraces all Christ's disciples. If it happens that, as a result of violent political disturbances, a certain aggressiveness or a spirit of vengeance appears, the leaders of the parties in question generally work to make the "New Law" of the spirit of charity prevail. Unfortunately, this spirit has not been able to transform every situation where brutal conflict rages. In such circumstances those committed to ecumenism are often required to make choices which are truly heroic." (Ut Unum Sint 1995)

On a Global level, by using this approach, we are in no way advocating the faith motive of the Jihad, for instance, we are only demonstrating there is a non-jihad soul fulfilling a call to express holiness. If the gun is laid down, then the largest hurdle is past.

On a local level, the Catholic Apologist is capable of demonstrating the same approach and motive for Ecumenism. Being knowledgable on our Doctrine and Dogma's scriptural basis, and using a charitable approach can disarm most of the Calvin followers anti-Catholic rage, if it is heard. Realizing it may not be heard immediately, and most likely will only be heard years later puts an Apologist in a mature and patient position as well. These two comprehensive skills, Ecumenism and Apologetics are powerful abilities. We are seeing in what some call the worst of times across faith lines, some astonishing results in America ecumenically.

Appended further:

In Dual Authority efforts, Councils of the Holy See and the Lutheran, Jewish and Orthodox Faiths (among others) have produced Joint Declarations on spiritually common practices and belief components of both Faiths. Imagine the attitude required by those in Heirarchy of these Faiths to enter the dialogue. On a summary level, a full even if temporary truce must be called, but I imagine none is needed with Scholars of that level and maturity. There must exist a basis of reverance for the other Faith and their established visible Leadership within to have such a meeting take place and produce and ecumanical result. These Theologians engage themselves in entering the other Faith on a deep enough level to comprehend the spiritual meaning for each other and its following. Ecumenism at its best human ability.

Should we, the "following", profess Religious character assassination in attempting to talk to a Calvinist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian when explaining a given Catholic Practice question? It is a fundamental of Human relational dynamics that an attack postion creates defense. One cannot reasonably expect anything else.

" "Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant" ". This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself." (Ut Unum Sint 1995)


~Joseph the Worker said...

This is a topic I struggle with as a convert from an evangelical tradition, but as I have blogged earlier, it is so much more comfortable to discuss peacefully from the Catholic tradition...much because of the work the Church has undertaken to make better relationships between ourselves and other Christians/religions.

The Catholic Journeyman said...

You "got" it Joseph. That is the essence of the post...the Protestant and Catholic common ground is documented by its Leadership and is evolving even closer. Apologetic "confrontations" (on both sides) are
most often ignoring their respective denominations efforts and in extreme cases undermining those efforts when heard by naive but thirsty ears for the truth.

Principium Unitatis said...

Interesting post, Dave. Thanks!