Ecumenism or the Stake

On May 25, 1995, John Paul II issued the encyclical Ut Unum Sint (That They May Be One). The opening paragraph set the tone of the document, which addressed issues discussed in Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism):

The call for Christian unity made by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council with such impassioned commitment is finding an ever greater echo in the hearts of believers, especially as the Year 2000 approaches, a year which Christians will celebrate as a sacred Jubilee, the commemoration of the Incarnation of the Son of God, who became man in order to save humanity.

What with Roman councils meeting on issues of ecumenism, and the veritable flood of documents on the subject flowing out of Rome, one might be led to believe that Rome really is willing to come to terms with what she terms "separated brethren" and other Christian communities. And she is, but only on conditions that those with whom she dialogues abandon those issues that separate them from Rome. In other words, the RCC is perfectly willing to ecumenically embrace all those who will accept her doctrine and teaching and who will bend the knee to the Roman pope. Am I kidding? Read the following brief paragraph from Ut Unum Sint:

Para 80b: Consequently, for the outcome of dialogue to be received, there is needed a broad and precise critical process which analyzes the results and rigorously tests their consistency with the Tradition of faith received from the Apostles and lived out in the community of believers gathered around the Bishop, their legitimate Pastor.

What this RCC doubletalk says is that, essentially, any accord reached must pass the test of RCC tradition and practice. So, any of you reading this who would like to engage Rome in an ecumenical discussion with a view toward bringing that body into line with biblical truth are wasting your time. Rome's motto is Semper Idem (Always The Same). She will not change, except as she chooses to. If you are to be ecumenically joined to Rome, then you must accept Rome's yoke, doctrine and practices. You must turn your back on the Christ of Scripture and bend your knee to Mary, the earth mother goddess.

Is Rome serious about her currently professed love for her "separated brethren " and the other Christian communities? Remember Semper Idem? Think about the 12th and 13th centuries, when the popes encouraged and rewarded the slaughter of those who would dissent. Did the persecutions, the tortures, the burnings at the stake end then? Not at all. Think of the Inquisition, which only ended in 1836. The body once known as the Holy Office, or the Inquisition has not disappeared. It lives on today as the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, no doubt still ready and eager to enforce conformity to Rome when secular conditions are right. Papal orders to root out, torture and kill those who did not agree with Rome did not end with the Reformation. For example, this little "ecumenical encouragement" by Pope Honorius III (1216-1227) has not been rescinded, to my awareness:

And all heretics, of both sexes and of every name, we damn to perpetual infamy; we declare hostility against them; we account them accursed, and their goods confiscated; nor can they ever enjoy their property, or their children succeed to their inheritance; inasmuch as they grievously offend against the Eternal as well as the temporal king. -- Quinta Compilatio Epistolarum Decretalium Honorii III. P.M. Innocentii Cironii, Juris Utriusque Professoris, Canonici ac Ecclesiae, et Academae Tolosannae Cancellarii, Comp. v. tit. iv. cap. i. p. 200; Tolosae, 1645)

In the middle of the 19th Century, Rome was having a little trouble with some secular rulers, notable those of Prussia. In his desire to make perfectly clear the relationship between the RCC and states, Pope Pius IX published a Syllabus (8 Dec 1864) in which he listed several categories of laws and ordinances and beliefs that he considered void. Among those were that:

17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.--Encyclical Quanto conficiamur, Aug. 10, 1863, etc. (Note: This is simply a re-affirmation that outside the RCC there is no salvation)

24. The Church has not the power of using force, nor has she any temporal power, direct or indirect.--Apostolic Letter Ad Apostolicae, Aug. 22, 1851 (Note: In other words, the RCC has the power to appeal to force to get her way)

25. Besides the power inherent in the episcopate, other temporal power has been attributed to it by the civil authority granted either explicitly or tacitly, which on that account is revocable by the civil authority whenever it thinks fit.--Ibid. (Note: In other words, Rome bows to no civil authority.)

42. In the case of conflicting laws enacted by the two powers, the civil law prevails.-- Ibid (Note: The Roman Church claims primacy over civil authority)

54. Kings and princes are not only exempt from the jurisdiction of the Church, but are superior to the Church in deciding questions of jurisdiction.--Damnatio Multiplices inter, June 10, 1851. (Note: Once again, no civil authority has primacy over Rome)

55. The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church.-- Allocution Acerbissimum, Sept. 27, 1852. (Note: Looks like we are talking about a church-controlled state)

Now, there may be some who would suggest that old Pius IX didn't really mean all that. Judge for yourselves from his final words at the end of the Syllabus:

But although they (the bishops resisting persecution) should be praised rather than pitied, the scorn of episcopal dignity, the violation of the liberty and the rights of the Church, the ill treatment which does not only oppress those dioceses, but also the others of the Kingdom of Prussia, demand that We, owing to the Apostolic office with which God has entrusted us in spite of Our insufficient merit, protest against laws which have produced such great evils and make one fear even greater ones; and as far as we are able to do so with the sacred authority of divine law, We vindicate for the Church the freedom which has been trodden underfoot with sacrilegious violence. That is why by this letter we intend to do Our duty by announcing openly to all those whom this matter concerns and to the whole Catholic world, that these laws are null and void because they are absolutely contrary to the divine constitution of the Church. In fact, with respect to matters which concern the holy ministry, Our Lord did not put the mighty of this century in charge, but Saint Peter, whom he entrusted not only with feeding his sheep, but also the goats; therefore no power in the world, however great it may be, can deprive of the pastoral office those whom the Holy Ghost has made Bishops in order to feed the Church of God.

Rome and ecumenism go together like water and oil. The only unity Rome ever will accept is that of complete subjection to her Pope and the teaching of her Magisterium. How should a Christian respond to Rome's calls for "unity?" The Bible provides clear guidance:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. -- 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

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