More Ecumenism: Less Unity
On June 21, Pope Francis flew to Geneva (the center of radical Protestantism in the Sixteenth Century) to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches (WCC). See the extensive report in Catholic News Agency. The WCC is a syncretistic and irenisist organization founded by European Protestants at the height of the Ecumenical movement of the first half of the Twentieth Century. This movement, and any participation by a Catholic in it, was solemnly condemned by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos. According to its own website, the WCC describes itself thus: “It is a community of churches on the way to visible unity in one faith and one eucharistic fellowship, expressed in worship and in common life in Christ.” Claiming that one is moving toward a “visible” unity implies that some sort of invisible unity already exists. But this was the error of Martin Luther (the Church is an invisible unity) condemned by the Council of Trent. The Catholic Church already possess full and complete unity (faith, sacraments, governance) and is not on some path to unity. Those outside the Church (Protestants) may be on a path to unity but that can only be, as Pius XI stated, a path to the Catholic Church. The WCC does not understand a unity of faith to be the same belief in the same sense held by all members of the Church. It is a false unity that is simply declared by fiat even though its members hold radically different and contradictory propositions of faith on subjects ranging from sin, justification, and the nature of Christ and his Church. Clearly Pope Pius XI would if he were alive today condemn and chastise anyone attending this event to “celebrate” the WCC founding event, a product of the error of irenicism.
Yet, the successor of Pope Pius XI is celebrating this event. This is, as Bishop Bernard Fellay has repeatedly said, the great mystery of our times. Rather than going to Geneva to call back these lost children of the Church who left the Church due to their clinging to doctrinal errors, Pope Francis makes it sound like the dismantling of Christendom was simply a big mistake over hurt feelings. He is reported as saying: “How difficult it is to overcome hard feelings and to foster communion! How hard it is to leave behind centuries-old disagreements and mutual recriminations!” He places the solemn condemnation of the errors on Protestantism on the same level as their hateful attack on the Mystical Body of Christ (“mutual recrimination”). At no point in Pope Francis’ reported greeting does he call on the WCC members to come home to their mother the Church in whom they will find the true visible unity they claim to seek. He again conflates the Church’s staunch defense of the divinely revealed truths of the faith entrusted to her with a merely human emotional partisan politics: It is “more formidable to withstand the subtle temptation to join others, to walk together, but for the sake of satisfying some partisan interest.”
Ironically by neglecting to clearly proclaim the truth that unity is only possible in accepting the unity of faith, sacraments, and governance found only in the Catholic Church, Francis merely encourages more disunity. By letting the WCC continue to believe that they are on the right path to unity (which cannot be found outside the Catholic Church) he encourages more disunity as they cling to an organization of the blind leading the blind. Our Lord tells us where that ends, the pit (Luke 6:39). May God deign to send us a shepherd who will call, as did Pius XI, for the true unity of the return of the dissidents.