Letter from the Editor
One of the most prevalent religious questions today is that of ecumenism. We can approach the question in different ways. There always seem to be two different positions:
1) Religion is important in itself. The principles of a particular religion are given by a higher authority (God) and therefore religion is “the last word” which cannot be changed or improved.
2) Religion is a means to achieve some important end in this world, like peace, harmony, or progress. Religion has to serve a purpose in this world, admittedly not a bad one, but religion is finally subject to an earthly purpose, even if it is good.
It is not difficult to connect different ideologies to one of the two positions. The Catholic Church, throughout its history, although this often caused persecutions, held the first position. Dictators and non-Christian movements did not like having to deal with an independent institution (the Catholic Church) which they could not influence. Certain emperors and kings of the Middle Ages were in that matter no different from Napoleon, the Communists, or the Mexican government during the times of the Cristeros. This automatically means that all those who want to be independent from Catholic doctrine and morals will naturally be in the camp of ecumenism.
We are actually in a similar period to the rise of Protestantism. The reason why the new religion gained many supporters was precisely because it took over the function of “independence” towards the Church. In many cases the reason for that was simply money and political independence. For example, certain princes could appropriate the possessions of the “rich” Church and make them their own. Also, they could have their own morals, aptly illustrated by the example of King Henry VIII of England. This is not a judgment about the good or bad will of individuals. We know that bad examples in the Church called for a reform of the Church in the early 16th century. And it came finally about, only late.
It is true, however, that the divided situation in Christianity was another strong support for the movement which is today called ecumenism. The question for many was: Should we not have to pay a price for the unity of Christendom, even a high one like doctrinal concessions?
That question is certainly the one that has driven the movement for many years. Is not Unity more important than Truth?
This is a question of peace. And meanwhile there is another and even broader question: Should we not care first for the peace of this world and take care of doctrinal questions later? If we show that the Catholic Church is in favor of peace in this world, wouldn’t the spirit of religious controversy and antagonism melt like ice in the sun?
We do not think so for several reasons.
Ecumenism: is it not mainly a license to do what you please?
Instaurare Omnia in Christo,
Fr. Markus Heggenberger