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In my Trojan Horse I spoke of the true meaning of ecumenism and of the many dangerous misinterpretations of it in the post-conciliar period. The justified demand that we do not view schismatics, Protestants, Jews, Moslems, Brahmans, and Buddhists solely as enemies, that we not only emphasize their errors, but also recognize the positive elements of their religion: this was the original intent of ecumenism. That our relation to schismatics is different from our relation to Protestants was already emphasized in the first encyclical of Paul VI, Ecclesiam suam. The former are only schismatics; the Protestants, on the other hand, are separated from us by matters of dogma. Still more different is our relation with all non-Christians. Here again it makes a great difference whether we are dealing with monotheists, such as Jews and Moslems, or with religions which are not monotheistic. But in all ecumenism this remains required of us: even for the sake of unity we must make no compromises whatever which would sacrifice even one iota of the depositum catholicae fidei.
Here we are especially interested in our relation to the Jews. With them we have a particular bond, insofar as they also acknowledge the Old Testament as authentic Revelation of God. On the other hand there is a unique opposition because they deny the Revelation of God in Christ and regard it as a specific distortion.
Now strangely enough, misunderstood ecumenism, a disease which one could call ecumenitis, has led to surprising results. There is a widespread tendency in the Church today to view the religion of Israel as a parallel way to God, one which is perhaps only less complete than the Christian way. We are told that one should no longer seek to convert the Jews; one should, with respect and esteem, let them go their own way.
This conception is obviously in radical contradiction to the words of Christ and the intention of the Apostles. Did Christ not in many places give expression to His sorrow that the Jews did not recognize Him? Were not the Apostles and disciples Jews to whom He had proclaimed the Divine Revelation? When Christ asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am,” did not Peter say to Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Mt. 16:16)? And was not the first task of the Apostles after Pentecost the conversion of the Jews to the full Christian Revelation? When the Jews asked the Apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:37). Did not St. Paul speak of the conversion of the Jews as the great goal, and say, “For the sake of their disbelief, they were uprooted” (Rom. 11:20), and further, “But even they will be established again if they do not harden in their disbelief” (Rom. 11:23)? Is it not the evident conviction of all Catholics and Protestants that the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament? This relation of Christianity to the Mosaic religion is incomparably deeper than the fact that both recognize the Old Testament as Divine Revelation.
Apart from this contradiction with the words of Christ and the Apostles, indeed with the whole teaching of the Church, this notion of leaving the Jews alone shows a very great lack of love for the Jews. For the deepest core of true love of neighbor is the concern for the eternal salvation of the neighbor. Therefore, one should encounter no man without seeing in him a living member of the Mystical Body of Christ or a catechumen in spe (a prospective catechumen).
Let it not be objected that he can also attain his eternal salvation outside the Church, as a Protestant or as a non-Christian. This is, of course, a dogma which was defined at the First Vatican Council, but it changes nothing of the mission which Christ gave us: “Go forth into all the world and teach all peoples and baptize them,” nor of the enormous importance of the adoration of God in truth, in Christ, per ipsum, cum ipso, et in ipso. There is after all an infinite value in the glorification of God which is present in the true Faith, in union with God through sanctifying grace and all the sacraments. And this desire to glorify God in an apostolate which flows from the true love of Christ, cannot be separated from true love of neighbor, which is grounded in the love of Christ alone.
A polite respect for the Jews takes the place of true love — a typical case of “this-worldliness” (which we will examine in detail in the second part of this book).
But it is still worse that the Old Testament is no longer seen as ordered to the New. Is Christ the Messiah, of whom Isaias speaks? Is He the Son of God who redeemed mankind? If so, then the expectation of another Messiah is a clear error and not a parallel way to God. In the light of truth and before God this claim is a betrayal of Christ and a denial of the fact that the Revelation of the Old Testament is an essential part of Christian Revelation.
Is Christ the Son of God — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Is He the Redeemer, promised by God to Abraham? Did Christ not say, “Abraham saw my day and rejoiced” (John 8:56)? And did He not also say, “I am not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it” (Mt. 5:17)? How is it possible that ecumenitis has brought fruits which are in radical contradiction to the Gospel, to the Apostles, and to the teaching of the Church?
If the attitude of some in positions of authority toward the conversion of the Jews is in flagrant contradiction to the whole Gospel and to the Epistles of St. Paul, the widespread attitude towards the reception of non-Catholics into the holy Church is in just as radical an opposition to the Gospel. There are many theologians, pastors, and even missionaries today who propagate the viewpoint that the conversion of individual men to the Catholic Church is not the real work of the Church, they say that the Church should aim at uniting with entire religious communities, yet without requiring them to change their belief. This is supposed to be the goal of true ecumenism. To the individual Protestant, Moslem, or Hindu, who in the true sense of the word wants to convert, one should rather say that he should become a better Protestant, a better Moslem, a better Hindu. Have these theologians, priests, and missionaries never read the Gospel? Or have they forgotten that before His Ascension Christ said, “Go forth into all the world, and announce the Good News to all creatures. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16: 15-16) ?
This monstrosity of ecumenitis combines many serious errors: it is, in the first place, an express ignoring of the mandate of Christ, in the second place, it shows a terrible disregard for the value of God's revelation for non-Christians: it means acting as though God's revelation in Christ and the death of Christ on the cross were superfluous for them. For from the standpoint of this ecumenitis, all men, especially Jews, would have been saved anyway, as long as they had lived in accordance with their respective beliefs. In the third place, there is here an absolute lack of interest in the truth. The question of which is the true religion no longer plays a role. The ultimate seriousness of truth, on which every religion stands or falls, is ignored. The essence, and the justification for the existence of the holy Church, is thereby destroyed, as indeed is the entire Christian religion. The teaching of the Church is either the true Revelation of God, the Revelation of Christ and absolutely and unconditionally true — or it is nothing. With this is connected, in the fourth place, the elimination of the glorification of God; only the salvation of men still plays a role. We have pointed out already that the glorification of God demands that He is adored in truth, and that this glorification does not occur when He in His infinite mercy grants eternal beatitude to a man who is not a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. In a similar fashion, the glorification of God through the saints is overlooked. For there can only be saints in the holy Church, in absolute imitation of Christ.
Finally, in the fifth place, the highpoint of depersonalization, of collectivism is manifested in the fact that the individual person no longer plays a role, but only the community. The individual heed not convert, need not be led from darkness into light; he need not fully experience and know the Revelation of Christ; he need not participate in the supernatural life of grace through baptism and in the stream of grace in the other sacraments. It is desirable only that all the religious communities be externally joined together.
But this would never effect a unity; it would remain a pure addition. Such an endeavor is the typical monstrous product of the grave error of placing unity above truth. We will discuss this later. Is it not clear that this external union would in no sense be a glorification of God and in no way a fulfillment of the solemn mandate of Christ, nor of His prayer, “That all may be one”?
The apostolate belongs essentially to the holy Church — the apostolate and indeed the conversion of every individual soul, which is more important in the eyes of the Church than the fate of any natural community. This flows necessarily from the love of God as ‘well as from the true love of neighbor. The love of God impels the Church, but also every true Christian, to bring each man into the full light of truth, which is the teaching of the holy Church. Every Christian must long for all men to become acquainted with the Revelation of Christ and to respond to it with faith, for every knee to bend to Jesus Christ. And similarly true love of neighbor requires this. How can I love somebody and not ardently desire that he become acquainted with Jesus Christ, the begotten Son and Epiphany of God, that he be drawn into His light, believe in Him and love Him, and know that he is loved by Him? How can I love him without desiring for him even on earth the blissful encounter with Jesus Christ, which is the greatest source of happiness? How can I content myself with the fact that God's infinite mercy will — perhaps — not refuse him eternal beatitude in spite of his erroneous beliefs, or lack of faith? Truly, all deeds of love for my neighbor are only the noise of “sounding brass” if I am uninterested in his finding the true God, and in his becoming a member in the Mystical Body of Christ: if I am uninterested in his greatest good.
We see that ecumenitis can lead to the most horrible errors, and unfortunately it already has in many respects. This has nothing to do with the spirit of true ecumenism, and indeed stands in radical contradiction to it.