Saturday, 2 May 2009

False ecumenism and Catholic distinctives

The 'Churches Together' meeting the other day really reinforced my sense of the Church standing apart, as I posted at the time. This has led to interesting conversations with Ant, who also attended and was struck by the same things.

One of the problems associated with what I have termed false ecumenism is the degree to which it has led us to play down any differences between Catholic belief and practice, and that of Protsetants.

However, given that Protestants, at least initially, defined themselves by protesting against various aspects of Catholic belief and practice, that seems to me to be something of an own goal.

So I have decided to post an occasional mini-series on those things which are distinctively Catholic: many of which I believe we should particularly celebrate, cherish and value.

I'm thinking here across a whole range of issues, of different types: devotion to Our Lady (this being May) and even the use of terms like Our Lady and Our Lord; doctrines such as purgatory and original sin; the seven sacraments and adoration; the authority of the Holy Father, the magisterium, and tradition; salvation by grace, operating through faith fruitful in good works; the Catholic priesthood including apostolic succession, Catholic morality, Friday abstinence, the Catholic feasts and seasons of the year, and so on and so on.

For one of the causes of the current crisis in Catholicism is a loss of identity: that is one reason that so many were so dismayed at the abandonment (or 'moving') of many Holy Days of Obligation - one more Catholic distinctive abandoned - one more part of our identity eroded.

Apart form anything else, I far more enjoy a conversation with a Protestant who is clear about what he believes and where it differs from me: then we can have a real discussion and one or other, or both, of us may learn something: and I believe that is genuinely more respectful.. But when we are afraid to offend, and use mealy-mouthed equivocations in the name of promoting unity, we don't achieve unity but a luke-warm dpseudo-compromise... and we know what God does to the luke-warm...

So let us reclaim our identity and dare to be different, that by proclaiming the truth in love, we may embark on the true ecumenical challenge, of converting the our separated brethren to the one true Church of Christ, that all may be one.

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