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Ecumenism is of ‘primary importance’ to the Pope, says Cardinal Schönborn

By on Friday, 31 August 2012

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna (Reuters/Leonhard Foeger)

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna (Reuters/Leonhard Foeger)

Benedict XVI’s decision to meet his former students for a discussion about ecumenical relations, especially Catholic relations with Anglicans and Lutherans, demonstrates the importance he gives to the search for Christian unity, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has said.

The Austrian cardinal, one of the former doctoral students of the former Professor Joseph Ratzinger, spoke to Vatican Radio on the eve of the annual three-day meeting of the Ratzinger Schülerkreis – literally, the Ratzinger student circle.

“The fact that the Holy Father chose this theme for this year’s meeting is a sign that for him the ecumenical question is of primary importance”, especially as the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, which formally set out the Church’s ecumenical agenda, the cardinal said.

The Pope’s former doctoral students will base their discussions on retired German Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book, Harvesting the Fruits, a comparative collection of the agreements reached in theological dialogues with the Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Reformed communities since Vatican II.

Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, who succeeded Cardinal Kasper as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, will participate in the meeting of the Schülerkreis in Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence about 15 miles south-east of Rome.

The Pope and his students have invited guest speakers to the closed-door meeting: retired Lutheran Bishop Ulrich Wilckens, a New Testament scholar, Theodor Dieter, director of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, and Swiss Bishop Charles Morerod of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg.

The choice of focusing on relations with Anglicans and with Lutherans, Cardinal Schönborn said, reflects that the two communities came out of the Reformation and the churches are preparing commemorations of the Reformation’s 500th anniversary in 2017.

As Pope Benedict has taught, the theological discussions with other Christians must be “a dialogue in truth and charity”, the cardinal said, and one that “does not conceal the drama of division among Christians in Europe and, as a consequence, all over the world”.

Cardinal Schönborn also said he expected a discussion about what it really means to speak of the reform of the Church, which is “a theme of utmost importance to the Holy Father. We only have to think of all that he has said and taught about reform in continuity as a model of Catholic reform. Of course, as part of the jubilee of the Reformation there will be a lot of talk about what constitutes real reform, which we need even today.”

The cardinal said the students have been holding the annual meetings with their former professor since 1977 and real friendships had developed. But, he said, what really counts at the meetings is the scholarly validity and rigour of the arguments advanced, the reflection, discussions and search for truth.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Syncretism and Indifferentism Repackaged”Such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.”
    -(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, par. 2, January 6, 1928)At the heart of the Novus Ordo Church there is Ecumenism, a set of heretical and impious practices and beliefs that – officially - aims to bring about “unity” among all those who claim the name of “Christian.” 
    While this sounds like a noble and pious goal, the Catholic Church has always taught that the only way to bring about true religious unity is by non-Catholics converting to Catholicism, for only the Catholic Church is the true and only Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, and only the Catholic Church is the Ark of Salvation, outside of which no one can be saved. The Catholic Church has always issued strong rebukes against ecumenical ventures (Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Pius XI, and Pius XII come to mind in particular), warning the faithful that such things lead to the ruin of souls. Now that the Novus Ordo Church has eclipsed the Catholic Church since 1958, and by looking at what has taken place since then, we can see in practice just how bad ecumenism is, what fruits it has wrought, and why the Catholic Church is so adamantly opposed to it.So, let us compare:“The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it”.In reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments [which promote the modern idea of ecumenism] lies hid a most grave error…”Pope Pius XII, to make sure there wasn’t any doubt, said the following in his Instructio of December 20, 1949:“True reunion can only come about by the return of the dissidents to the one true Church of Christ”.But now we have Modernists like Cardinal Kaspar saying:“Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics’” (Cardinal Kaspar, February 26, 2001)And now we will have all the so-called “conservative Catholics” coming out of the woodwork trying to combine these two diametric opposites in some kind of intellectually-syncretist mish-mash. 

  • Bonaventure

     Conservatives appeal to yesterday’s Popes, Liberals appeal to tomorrows. Let’s all just follw the lead of today’s Pope.

  • Guest

     We shall certainly be in need of more insight from Bl. John Henry Newman, if we are due to face a 2017 anniversary that denies the pre-Reformation legacy of the English church.

  • Diffal

    To be fair, an appeal to Tradition(and tradition) is a large part of what being Catholic is all about. Indeed our present Holy Father has spoken of a “Hermeneutic of continunity” and has himself said that “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    No.

    Liberals are to all intents and purposes apostates.

    Conservatives are those who bewail the Revolution inside the Church but go along with it nonetheless. 

    Traditionalists are what Catholics always were. Always were, that is, until the Year Zero of Vatican II. 

  • Bonaventure

     I am sorry you think the Holy Spirit failed the Church when Blessed John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    The Holy Spirit is not guaranteed to a “pastoral” General Council. Where did you hear that He was?

  • Bonaventure

     Well, I had always thought that our Lord’s promise was directed to the Church as such, not just to General Councils. Is the Holy Spirit not interested in “pastoral “matters? If not, how does he guide the pastors?

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Sorry Bonaventure but you are way off with this. The ONLY guarantee given to the Church is that the Pope, when teaching ex cathedra on a matter of faith or morals, cannot err. There is no such guarantee for General Councils. 

  • Bonaventure

     I reject your minimalist attitude to the Holy Spirit. He guides the Church, and in particular the Holy Father, in their ordinary magisterium, and just in ex cathedra statements.

  • Bonaventure

     Sorry, I meant “not just”

  • Gelasius

    YAAWWWWNNNNNNN. So many Errors in this new age yarn from the shameful head of the House of Schonborn but more so, a man who holds Holy Orders ! Why is it Germanic folk (some not all) seem to have an incessant nationalistic and ‘Volkish’ behaviour that cannot be dealt with head on. This this modern day ecumenism, is like the modern day ecumenism Germany’s view of nationality went through from one of race to one of merely integrating and speaking German in the late 90′s. It seems tenuous but it seems the Germanic love for philosophy over Theology, and especially Catholic Theology, has affected their minds to actually to properly outline Innate and Holy Truths. 

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Reject what you want. Bishops and even Cardinals HAVE taught heresy in the last fifty years. Matter of public record etc. 

  • Alan

    You are entitled to your view, but you are obviously out of line with the Pope.  It is “private judgement” on your part. 

  • Alan

    They have taught what YOU consider heresy.  In reality, you define heresy as something you don’t agree with.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    No it ain’t, sorry to disappoint. It’s the constant teaching of the Catholic Church until the ’60′s Revolution, which was avowedly non-dogmatic. Vatican II is not “teaching” but “policy”. 

    And as such, it will be dumped one day, hopefully during my lifetime. 

    Even this Pope has written that the Council “… may one day be seen to have been a giant waste of time”. 

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Proof please dear fellow. 

    And as you won’t be able to provide it, it might be better to stay silent.

  • Sweetjae

    Mr. Alfride! Firstly are you a Sedevacantist? Secondly, you were interpreting Mortalium Animos by Pope Pius XI out of context, in other words you are reading between the lines. The Encyclical is foremost also a non-infallible letter ok? Thirdly, Mortalium Animos is talking about the false criteria of having a dialogue for the sake of achieving a concept of Christian unity that is still based on differing beliefs. The Encyclical didn’t prohibit a catholic to engage a DIALOGUE with other faiths if the intention is to proclaim the Truth and plant some seeds.

    There is false Ecumenism and an Authentic Ecumenism. The Ecumenism being done by the present Pope is not the same ecumenism condemned by the past popes. The Councils of Florence and Trent are very good examples of Authentic Ecumenism where they invited separated Eastern Orthodox Churches and different Patriachs to heal the division, rift and schism between the West and Eastern Churches.

    This is the problem when a supposedly catholic tries to interpret Tradition of what he thinks Tradition truly says…….listen to the Church not yourself.

  • Sweetjae

    Do you know that you are also an apostate judging by your own standard? Why should any good abiding catholic believe in your interpretive skills and not the Pope and the Magiaterium?

    You cant even agree with other so called traditionalist sects (Sedevacantists, SSPX, Old catholics, Conclavists etc) then come in here expecting us to believe in yours?

  • Sweetjae

    Total lie…out of context again, Benedict didn’t say VII is a waste of time but rather time will tell if it’s a waste of time. He himself defended it from various attacks from the modernists Left and ultraTrad Right.

  • Sweetjae

    The proof is on your face already, you just can’t see it because of your self enamor.

  • Sweetjae

    Oh by the way Alfride, VII has some Dogmatic Constitutions too, look it up and failure to submit obedience in Toto to a valid Council is a grave sin! Secondly, where in Tradition that it says a catholic can refuse obedience to a legit Council if it happens to be pastoral in nature? Can you provide evidence from Tradition and Scripture or are you inventing it yourself?

    Do you know that the teaching on Artificial Contraception and practically most Encyclical letters, Pontifical Commissions pronouncements, etc are non-infallibles, now can a good catholic also have the right to refuse them?

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Time will indeed tell.

  • Parasum

    The present ecumenism is unCatholic and pernicious. It needs to be replaced by something that avoids its errors & is unambiguous, direct, clear, honest, gracious, & thoroughly & unashamedly Catholic.

    No wonder Kasper said this:

    ““Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by
    which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘Catholics’”
    (Cardinal Kaspar, February 26, 2001)”

    - he had been misled by Wojytyla & his horrible shenanigans. These men are abandoning Christianity. Christians obey Christ & delight to do His Will; what they would not dream of doing, is replacing what He commands  with what they command. It is not possible to obey Christ, by disobeying & rejecting His Will. He said, “My words shall never pass away” – therefore,

    “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
    19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
    20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age”

    is still in force. And always shall be. Papal words lack all authority when they contradict those of Christ. 

    http://nasb.scripturetext.com/matthew/28.htm

  • Parasum

    The Cardinal is wrong because the Pope, who should lead and shepherd by
    example, is abusing his God-given authority, by setting up his own will
    in the place of Christ’s.  This is indefensible. To obey the Pope when he does that, is to disobey God, which it is never right to do.
    It is Catholic, not schismatic or heretical, to reject corrupt doctrine
    that requires setting aside the known Will of Christ in favour of the
    errors of cardinals & Popes. What are Popes, that they should
    disobey Christ *and command others to do so* ? This is not rocket science, but basic Christianity.

  • Parasum

     No lie. The OP’s citation of Ratzinger’s words as .”..may one day be seen to have been a giant waste of time”, has very nearly the same meaning as your assertion that “Benedict didn’t say VII is a waste of time but rather time will tell if it’s a waste of time.” The meaning is not *quite* the same, but your citation has Ratzinger allowing for the possibility that V2 (to quote the OP’s quotation) “may one day be seen to have been a giant waste of time”.

  • Gildaswiseman

    Sometimes it can be a
    profitable endeavour to read Catholic apologetics and comprehensive
    explanations about the Catholic faith written prior to the Pastoral
    Vatican Council. One such book is The Faith of Millions by Fr, John
    A.O’Brien PH,D. LL.D. Fr O’Brien’s work is directed in a most
    charitable and friendly manner to those Christians who are separated
    from the Catholic Church. It is foremost a reflection of the
    missionary Church; a church that appeals to all separated Christians
    to return to the one true Church. The Catholic Church, it is
    explained, is in full unity and is a perfect society. This book is a
    wonderful example of a missionary apostolate with the intention of
    saving souls; of bringing errant men and woman back into the Church
    that Christ himself instituted. The books also contains a preface
    written by Bernard Cardinal Griffin, Archbishop of Westminster. It
    is, as the late Cardinal explains, the restating of the Catholic
    Faith in “simple language and telling force “.

    As I read this book I
    am reminded of the Church that I was baptised into back in the 1940s.
    Confident, expanding, a high level of vocations to the priesthood and
    religious life and full of Catholic missionary activity. Fr, O’Brian
    extorts all Christians that it is the duty of every thinking person
    to investigate the colossal claims that the Catholic Church
    constitutes. ‘There is No Salvation Outside of it’.

    It is somewhat
    difficult for the clause of invincible ignorance to be applied to
    separated Christians after fifty years of ecumenical dialogue. I pray
    that if there is in truth an authentic ecumenism it is simply another
    word for conversion and missionary activity. I must confess after
    fifty years of observation I have severe reservation and I am incline
    to agree with Pope Pius Xl with regards to true Christian Unity and
    how to achieve it.

    A Prayer for the
    Propagation of the Catholic Faith. (From the Raccolta)

    O Holy Spirit, Spirit
    of truth, come into our hearts, shed the brightness of thy light upon
    nations that they may please thee in unity of faith.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Thanks Parasum. Sweetjae isn’t worth answering.

  • celtictaff

    I bet to differ with this opinion, Roman Catholics have nothing in common with the Protestant invention. Closer ties and reconciliation with the Orthodox Church should be of the Prime importance.

     

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    100% right.

  • Sweetjae

    Non sense!

  • Sweetjae

    Can you provide the whole statement of the Pope here, I strongly suspect he’s been taken out of context again like the condom issue distorted by so called ‘traditionalists’.

  • Sweetjae

    What abuse of the Pope are you talking about? And why should anyone listen to your interpretive version of Tradition, Parasum and not God’s ordained authority, the Vicar of Christ and a legit Councill of the Church? We are following God not Parasum, SSPX, Sedes nor any man.

    In reality you are the one who is disobeying Christ, in the Old Testament there was a guy named Koher who had challenged and questioned Moses’s authority.

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    The name’s Ælfrid.

  • Perplexed Visitor

    There must be a special type of Catholic called  CHB (Catholic Herald Blogger) who is characterised  by a curious combination of profession of Catholicism and immense pleasure in bashing their Bishops. They also ride a high moral horse and chose what is Good or Bad whilst criticising others, including fellow Catholics, for a pick and mix attitude.  Reading these pages from time to time makes me think how sad this state of affair is and how lamentable is to hear the level of anger and very often insult to fellow Catholics, priests and bishops, let alone the Papacy. This well define lot of angry blogger constitute a sect in its own merits. The Church could with do a bit more of your charity and respect but I have lost hope of seeing any through tese long conversations, pretty close to monologues with themselves.

  • Charlemagne

    To practice Catholicism is not always easy, it takes hard work. If the leaderships casts any doubt on the correctness of Catholicism, then why would anyone want to even make the effort to practice Catholicism at all? Hence people leaving en masse since Vatican I. As a pastoral council it failed to clarify Catholicism and allowed, through ambiguity, great confusion and watering down of the faith.
    To restore the church, we need clarity of what the Catholic faith is and clarity of its practices.

  • Charlemagne

     Vatican II

  • JabbaPapa

    They conceive rebellion as Catholicism, notwithstanding the blatant paradox of doing so, and imagine themselves as more Catholic than the Pope.

  • JabbaPapa

    He probably won’t.

    Whether or not the Council becomes a positive force in the history of the Church depends only indirectly on the texts and organizations; the crucial question is whether there are individuals – saints – who, by their personal willingness, which cannot be forced, are ready to effect something new and living.  The ultimate decision about the historical significance of Vatican Council II depends on whether or not there are individuals prepared to experience in themselves the drama of the separation of the wheat from the cockle and thus to give the whole a singleness of meaning that it cannot gain from words alone.  What we are thus far able to say is that the Council has, on the one hand, opened ways that lead from all kinds of byways and one-way streets to the real center of Christianity.  On the other hand, however, we must be self-critical enough to acknowledge that the naive optimism of the Council and the self-esteem of many of its supporters justify, in a disturbing way, the gloomy diagnoses of early churchmen about the danger of councils.  Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been just a waste of time [footnote: In this connection, reference is repeatedly made, and with justification, to the Fifth Lateran Council, which met from 1512 to 1517 without doing anything effective to prevent the crisis that was developing].  Despite all the good to be found in the texts it produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken.  If, in the end, it will be numbered among the highlights of Church history depends on those who will transform its words into the life of the Church. (Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987], pp. 377-78)

    AKA the Pope has NOT described Vatican II as “a waste of time”.

  • JabbaPapa

    He is a cherry-picking modernist and relativist, and doesn’t even realise it.

  • JabbaPapa

     >b-word< !!!!!

  • Sweetjae

    I beg to differ, other non Catholics are also children of God with no lesser value than anybody. We should as Catholics who have the Fullness of Truth share ours and try to reconcile every single one of them…..we are NOT a triumphalistic Church.

  • Sweetjae

    As always, thanks Jabba….continue this good work and defend the Holy Mother Church and he Vicar of Christ from attacks without and within. God bless.

  • Sweetjae

    You hit it right between the eyes! The problem is, they don’t have the slightest clue that disobedience was the cause of Lucifer and Luther’s downfall….which might also be theirs!

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Neither of you understand the nature of the problem. This is clear. 

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Sorry, both of you, but my quote is exact – and is to be found in another of the Pope’s works. Happy research!

  • Ælfrid the Mercian

    Sweetjae? Well done Jabba, you have correctly identified his defects. 

  • celtictaff

    I am glad to see that you state we have the “fullness of truth” I believe the Orthodox church also has that fullness, so first we should reconcile and cement our relationship with them, and have an even stronger church.
    I give you fair warning, and I have already heard it in homilies since the ordinariate, the protestant invention will
    do all in its power to dilute the truth that the Catholic
    church has, they do not want to be Catholics they want us to
    be like them,they preach a differnt message.
    Those of us who believe in the true and real prescence of Christ at the mass have a different faith than those who don’t.
    Those of us who venerate Mary, the Theotokos as our heavenly mother and an advocate, have a different standpoint to those that don’t.
    How can you have ecumenism with people who do not share the same truths, The Roman Catholic Church should cement relationships with those who share the real truth, and leave the Protestant invention to their own devices.

  • Parasum

    It *should* be obvious – apparently is not at all obvious, but extremely doubtful, even plain wrong -  that if Christ says one thing, & a mere Pope or other bishop or other human being says the contrary, then Christ is to be obeyed, and the Pope (& anyone else contradicting Christ) ignored.  I don’t a care a fig what a Pope says – if a Pope contradicts Christ, he automatically forfeits all claim to be heeded or obeyed. The same as anyone else.

    If the authorities in the Church contradict Christ, then stuff them. They are to be heard & obeyed only so long as they do not pervert the authority of Christ vested in them, which is vested in them for the work of Christ. They have not received this authority for their own profit or honour or exaltation or reputation, but to equip them to do in their time & place the same work Jesus did in His. This authority is limited by its character and purpose:

    1. they have no right to do the work of Christ by unChristian means;
    2. they have no right to use this authority for any ends but those of Christ, Whose desire was to do His Father’s Will, which was, that the Kingdom/Reign/Kingship of God should come;
    3. they have no right to use this authority for purposes contrary to the its purpose – so they are not entitled to command what Christ has forbidden, or to forbid what He has permitted;
    4. The authority of the Pope, *because* it is a sharing in that of Christ, cannot rightly be exercised so as to allow the Pope or the Church to disobey or contradict Christ.

    He has forbidden that there should be any domination among His
    followers; so where any seek to dominate over others, they are doing
    what He forbids, & are altering what He taught. If we are to be His
    followers, it must & can be on His terms alone: not ours, not the
    Pope’s, nor anybody else’s.  

    This authority of the Church is therefore not absolute, but limited and relative – it is very extensive, but it extends no further than its purpose allows. Because it is vested in (among others) bishops & the Pope, these men have no competence or authority beyond. An obvious  example: it does not extend to matters of linguistics, so the Pope cannot require a translator to translate a text in a way that would produce an inaccurate translation – to translate a French poem into English, Papal authority is of no value; what’s needed is the authority of someone whose business is with translating & languages & poetry. Neither do we expect bishops to replace astronomers or botanists – the Sacrament of Order does not give any skill in such matters. If we are to have good astronomy & good botany, we need the people who are equipped on these things; who have authority in them. Bishops make fools of themselves & embarrass the Church if they barge in on matters about which they have no competence to speak.

    So if a Pope were to be rash enough to say that Australia does not exist, and were to anathematise all those who persist in saying that it is a real place on earth, that exercise of Papal authority would be entirely without force.

    Yet it it would not be hard to make a strong case for the proposition that belief in the existence of Australia is a Protestant heresy. It contradicts the Fathers; it is almost certainly contradictory to many places in the Bible; it implies the falsehood of several dogmatic definitions; it is very recent; none of the Saints, Fathers, Doctors, Councils can be quoted in favour of it, & hardly any Popes; it was unheard of until 1606, and was first referred by Protestants. By every criterion of Catholic theological method belief in its reality is dubious in the extreme, possibly even heretical. The force of the objections becomes clear only if one look at the details. It is true there are people who claim to be Australian, but people claim – often in good faith – to be all sorts of things they are not. Besides, our senses are deceptive: the Faith OTOH is opposed to the error of Australianism, so unless a theological solution for the numerous difficulties can be found, it is senseless to follow the herd of people who accept Australia as real.  It is not possible to be certain this thesis will not be proposed; it is not in in any way unlikely.

    To say the Church’s authority, & thus the Pope’s, is limited, so that there are matters on which the Church cannot pronounce, prevents many evils; for left to itself the Church, being made of sinners, would become an abode of demons. It would certainly apostatise – but God’s mercy limits its ability to do evil,even to itself, and keeps it able to do the good He has appointed it to do. 

    BTW -,”Koher” should be Korah. The episode is in Numbers 16.

  • JabbaPapa

    The present ecumenism is unCatholic and pernicious

    Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s certainly in great need of an extensive review and of some fundamental clarifications !!!