NEWS:  March 22, 2006

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

A PARALYZED ECUMENISM   –   Despite the ceaseless efforts of the Vatican in the last 40 years, ecumenism is stuck in the mud. Two recent initiatives settled it even deeper in the mire: the move of Ukrainian Catholics from Lviv to Kiev; and the promise to make women bishops in the so-called Anglican Church. Both of these steps aggravated the already unsolvable problems of ecumenism between Catholics and Schismatics and Anglicans respectively. Let me analyze the present situation.

With the Schismatics, in the ecumenical chess game the main partner for the Vatican is the so-called Russian Orthodox Church, which counts some 85 million followers. The other “Orthodox Churches” trail far behind in numbers, with the Schismatics of Romania counting 17 million; Greece, 9 million; Serbia, 8 million; Bulgaria, 8 million; Constantinople, 1.5 million, and Poland, 1 million. The Russian Schismatics, therefore, have the lion’s share of influence in any contact the Vatican establishes with the ensemble of the “Orthodox.”

Now then, the initial demand of the Russian Schismatics to take any step on the road of ecumenism is for the Vatican to stop the Ukrainian Catholics from expanding and making conversions. The Russian patriarchate even went so far as to “impose” that Rome should not confer the title of Patriarch to the head of the Ukrainian Catholics, as it has for the heads of other Catholic Eastern Rites. This latter extravagant demand is entirely unacceptable since the Ukrainian Catholic Rite is second in size only to the Roman Rite.

Ukrainian Catholics in Kiev

Ukrainian Catholics during their move to Kiev
The Catholic World Report,   October, 2005

In August 2005, the head of the Catholic Ukrainian Rite, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, turned his back on the Schismatic opposition and moved the central headquarters of the Ukrainian Rite from Lviv, where it had been fixed for 200 years, to Kiev. Kiev is the Ukrainian capital city, in fact, the first capital of Russia. This city that borders the Dnieper River became the cradle of Russian Catholicism when St. Vladimir converted to the Catholic Church in 989.

Cardinal Husar gave this reason for the recent move to Kiev: “Our law [the Code of Canons for the Eastern Catholic Rites] specifically prescribes that the head of the Church should reside in the principal city. And we .... decided that this is the time to execute the move.” Husar also provided a historical reason: “We came back to where we had been driven from 200 years before. So, it was not something new, something unheard of. It was simply taking into consideration the new situation of freedom within our own state” (The Tablet, March 11, 2006, p. 8).

Schismatic protestors demanded that the Vatican force Cardinal Husar to reverse the move. Russian Schismatic patriarch Alexis II threatened that this initiative would “complicate” relations between Rome and Moscow, and he repeated his complaint that Catholic Ukrainians were trying to convert Schismatics (The Catholic World Report, October 2005, p. 14).

In addition, a Cathedral is being built in Kiev on the site of an old chapel that was recently torched by unidentified persons. There are strong suspicions, however, that Schismatics were behind the fire (The Tablet, December 31, 2005).

What this move shows is the extraordinary panache of the valorous Catholic Ukrainians. Forbidden by the Vatican to convert their fellow men to the Catholic Faith as well as to have their deserved Patriarchate, they did not give up. They reaffirmed their rights and went forward with the move to Kiev and erection of a Cathedral. Also, with the move to Kiev, they implicitly sent the message that they are the authentic continuers of St. Vladimir and legitimate heirs of the Russian past, rather than the Schismatic religious authorities who usurped that inheritance. I congratulate our brother Catholic Ukrainians for such brilliant resolution and send them my warmest encouragement to continue on the same path.

What I don’t understand is why they do not resist the absurd order of the Vatican to not bring others to the Catholic Faith. They should convert Ukrainians and Russians Schismatics to the Catholic Faith, realizing that it is more important to obey God than men (Act 5:29). If the Ukrainians would undertake a large scale missionary activity, I am sure that this would play an important role in shortening the crisis in the Church.

At any rate, the concrete result of this move is that it aggravated the already bad relations between the Vatican and the Russian Schismatics.

Regarding the Anglicans, the ecumenical situation for the Vatican is no better. Indeed, major tremors in these relations were caused by three different measures: in 1993 the Anglicans allowed women to become priests; in 2003 two homosexual men were chosen as bishops; in 2005 they voted to remove the obstacles for women to become bishops.

The admittance of homosexual Anglican bishops, which in the end turned out to be only one since the other offered his resignation, caused a virtual split in the sect, as expected (click here). The first effect of that “consecration” was to halt the dialogue with Catholics. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Consultation, ARCIC, canceled its joint meeting. In February 2006, however, without providing any doctrinal reason, Benedict XVI ordered Catholics to start meeting again with Anglicans (The Tablet, March 4, 2006, p. 32). Why did he surreptitiously give this authorization when nothing has changed in the previous picture except for the worst?

Pope kisses the hand of Anglican leader

John Paul II kisses the hand of Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican sect - Our Sunday Visitor,   October 19, 2003

With the approval for ordination of women, the inevitable happened. Today women constitute a large segment of the Anglican priesthood and more than half of its seminarians. Also unavoidably, another demand has come to the table: women want to become bishops. As the issue evolves, the putrid Anglican hierarchy seems to be preparing to swallow another moral atrocity.

Here and there English Catholic experts on ecumenism are stating that the “consecration” of women bishops will run the risk of putting a new halt to the dialogue with Catholics. Even the hyper-ecumenical Cardinal Cornac Murphy-O’Connor was obliged to declare that there is “no doubt that recent developments in the Anglican Communion with regard to the ordination of women as priests and now as bishops – even more profoundly because a bishop is in a particular way a figure of unity – as well as other developments in the ethical sphere, have meant that ecumenism is at a plateau” (America, February 27, 2006, p. 6). Saying that relations are at a plateau is an ecclesiastical euphemism to mean that they are paralyzed...

By the way, from 1993 on, the directive of the Catholic English Bishops has been invariable: never accept conversions of Anglicans, even when they insistently knock on the door asking to be received (click here).

The Schismatic/Vatican and Anglican/Vatican relations have prompted progressivist commentator John Allen to give this bleak appraisal: “Debates over women ordination and homosexuality in the West and the problem of Papal Primacy with the East have made the goal of full, visible unity appear at best an eschatological objective" (National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2006). That is to say, ecumenism would seem attainable at best in the end times. It is quite a bitter conclusion for all those favorable to the heady ecumenism launched by Vatican II.

If one adds to this picture the scenario in Latin America, where Evangelical sects are exerting extremely aggressive actions, attacking the Church and dragging millions of her members to their sects, one can verify that ecumenism has been profitable only to the enemies of Catholicism.

No matter how many scholarly joint statements the Vatican issues with Protestants and Schismatics – and it is planning several more of them – attempting to prove that a unity of religions is going ahead, it is not. These documents are being prepared by an intellectual bureaucracy in an ecclesiastical air bubble. They do not reflect the real lives of their confessions.

Today ecumenism is a torpedoed ship that is being kept afloat by extremely artificial and expensive means.


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