Ecumenism with a Spine

22 05 2008

I found this link on the Remnant Newspaper page on a group of Lutheran clergy in Latvia going on an Ignatian retreat with the Society of St. Pius X. It’s odd that many people regard the Lefebvrists as mean people who drown puppies in buckets and breath fire, but actually, they are all kinds of good people. A thing similar to this happened when I was living in an SSPX retreat house in the year 2000, as I have recounted in my post on the Russian Orthodox monk, Archimandrite Anastassy. He sent his spiritual daughter, an Orthodox abbess, on retreat with us for five days, and everyone, including the faithful, bent over backwards to make them feel welcomed.

Which brings me to my point: the most charitable way to act towards non-Catholics is to be yourself, that is, Catholic. If you try to hide your Catholic treasures under a bushel basket or be “diplomatic” about points of contention, no one in the end will trust you, though it all might lead to some civil banter. (Heads of ecumenism offices, take note.) The Lutheran pastors above just wanted to know what Catholics really believed, and they felt they had to go to a bunch of schismatic “integrists” to learn it.  I think this was the same attitude of our Russian Orthodox visitors, though Fr. Anastassy, as I have written, probably had other motives. (More cynical readers will probably say that the Protestants wanted to learn Catholicism from other “Protestants”, i.e. the schismatic Lefebvrists. I find such comparisons childish and unfounded.)

I do firmly believe that all faith traditions are pointed toward the truth since they long for it (heck, even rocks long for union with the One). The language of Catholicism is the most pure expression of the Incarnation, though everything, by its mere existence, hints at it. The way to truly seek unity is to continue on the road that our most perfect faith tradition has made for us. Perhaps it is only through this way, through holding fast to the letter and spirit of Catholic tradition, that we will truly discover and gather together the fragments of truth scattered throughout humanity, and in this way have a chance at real, profound unity.