Ecumenism, Pope Pius XI, and “Spiritual Drabness”

CP&S Comment: We often hear the complaint that the world has become so dull, grey and barren since Pope Francis came to the Chair of Peter. The life and the colour are being drained away by listless conformism to spiritual drabness, where once upon a time our glorious Catholic faith spirituality enriched and sanctified souls. One of the latest headaches is Pope Francis’ invitation to young people to a potpourri ecumenical gathering on July 16 that will not help them to  either further understand their Catholic Faith, or the unchangeable teaching from Christ that “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.” God help us all.

‘Pope Francis Personally Invites Youth To Ecumenical Event On The National Mall’ (in Washington DC), according to Zenit. But would pre-Vatican popes have approved this event, or others like it celebrated in recent times? What did Pope Pius XI have to say about the dangers of ecumenical meetings?




3. But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians.

4. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be “one.”[1] And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”?[2] All Christians, they add, should be as “one”: for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.

5. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil; for We are confident that by the writings and words of each one of you the people will more easily get to know and understand those principles and arguments which We are about to set forth, and from which Catholics will learn how they are to think and act when there is question of those undertakings which have for their end the union in one body, whatsoever be the manner, of all who call themselves Christians.


7. And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion, on which this whole question, as well as that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of the Christian churches depends. For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: “That they all may be one…. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd,”[14] with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. They add that the Church in itself, or of its nature, is divided into sections; that is to say, that it is made up of several churches or distinct communities, which still remain separate, and although having certain articles of doctrine in common, nevertheless disagree concerning the remainder; that these all enjoy the same rights; and that the Church was one and unique from, at the most, the apostolic age until the first Ecumenical Councils. Controversies therefore, they say, and longstanding differences of opinion which keep asunder till the present day the members of the Christian family, must be entirely put aside, and from the remaining doctrines a common form of faith drawn up and proposed for belief, and in the profession of which all may not only know but feel that they are brothers. The manifold churches or communities, if united in some kind of universal federation, would then be in a position to oppose strongly and with success the progress of irreligion. This, Venerable Brethren, is what is commonly said. There are some, indeed, who recognize and affirm that Protestantism, as they call it, has rejected, with a great lack of consideration, certain articles of faith and some external ceremonies, which are, in fact, pleasing and useful, and which the Roman Church still retains. They soon, however, go on to say that that Church also has erred, and corrupted the original religion by adding and proposing for belief certain doctrines which are not only alien to the Gospel, but even repugnant to it. Among the chief of these they number that which concerns the primacy of jurisdiction, which was granted to Peter and to his successors in the See of Rome. Among them there indeed are some, though few, who grant to the Roman Pontiff a primacy of honor or even a certain jurisdiction or power, but this, however, they consider not to arise from the divine law but from the consent of the faithful. Others again, even go so far as to wish the Pontiff Himself to preside over their motley, so to say, assemblies. But, all the same, although many non-Catholics may be found who loudly preach fraternal communion in Christ Jesus, yet you will find none at all to whom it ever occurs to submit to and obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ either in His capacity as a teacher or as a governor. Meanwhile they affirm that they would willingly treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, that is as equals with an equal: but even if they could so act. it does not seem open to doubt that any pact into which they might enter would not compel them to turn from those opinions which are still the reason why they err and stray from the one fold of Christ.

8. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. […]

Now take a look at this “invitation” to the youth from Pope Francis, who appears not to have read the encyclical of his predecessor, or if he has done so, has choosen to disregard it.

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7 Responses to Ecumenism, Pope Pius XI, and “Spiritual Drabness”

  1. toadspittle says:

    “CP&S Comment: We often hear the complaint that the world has become so dull, grey and barren since Pope Francis came to the Chair of Peter. “
    You may “often hear” it – I never do – not on CP&S, anyway. Life seems vastly more exciting and interesting with Francis driving all the Trads hopping mad, practically on a daily basis.
    An Agnostic defending the Catholic pope against Catholics – what could be less dull and grey than that? (For the Agnostic, of course.)


  2. JabbaPapa says:

    Mortalium Animos generally forbids Catholics from participating in ecumenical groups or celebrations, although Unitatis Redintegratio clarified that Bishops and the Pope may provide authorisations to do so on a case-by-case basis, under the strict condition that the underlying catholicity (universality) of the Christian Faith is affirmed, and that Catholics are called to participate in ecumenism, at least in prayer, bearing in mind that the traditional understanding of ecumenism has not been abolished.

    Now take a look at this “invitation” to the youth from Pope Francis, who appears not to have read the encyclical of his predecessor, or if he has done so, has chooser to disregard it

    In fact, Unitatis Redintegratio abolished certain provisions of Mortalium Animos, albeit not all of them. The warnings in Mortalium Animos against and its condemnations of the false ecumenism remain entirely valid.

    Pope Francis nevertheless absolutely enjoys the rights that are established in Unitatis Redintegratio to approve of any particular ecumenical gathering, and with such approval, Catholics may attend them if they so desire.

    Unitatis Redintegratio 8 “Yet worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity. There are two main principles governing the practice of such common worship: first, the bearing witness to the unity of the Church, and second, the sharing in the means of grace. Witness to the unity of the Church very generally forbids common worship to Christians, but the grace to be had from it sometimes commends this practice. The course to be adopted, with due regard to all the circumstances of time, place, and persons, is to be decided by local episcopal authority, unless otherwise provided for by the Bishops’ Conference according to its statutes, or by the Holy See.


  3. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 06:13

    “An Agnostic defending the Catholic pope against Catholics…” !!

    That is no true compliment, allow me to point out, although you probably know it already.

    For Agnostics, Modernists, the militant LGBT lobby, ultra-liberals, and a long etcetera of dissenters from Catholic teaching, Pope Francis is the best pope ever! He has seemingly affirmed them in their sinful lifestyles. A sort of ‘get-out-of-gaol-free’ card with no obligations!
    Faithful Catholics have a very different view.


  4. kathleen says:

    Jabba @ 06:40

    Thank you so much for your informative and very interesting analysis here. You are extremely knowledgeable about Church documents (i.e., encyclicals).

    Personally speaking, and perhaps because I have always been very put-off by ecumenical events, where the True Faith is often watered down by the Catholic participants in order to accommodate the Protestants’ (ahem) sensibilities, I have taken little interest in active ecumenism. It’s one thing to be on friendly terms with other Christians, especially those who still hold to high moral Christian principals – that is obviously a good thing in this Secular age – but it is quite another thing to try to identify with the laid-back modernists who are not real Christians in any true sense of the name, but still like to pretend that they are! Besides, this latter group of ‘c’hristians are often the greatest Catholic-bashers of all, even worse than many non-believers. It infuriates them that the Catholic Church sets out dogmas and doctrines (naturally, they do not recognise these as divinely-inspired) instead of adopting their own relativist attitudes to all the teachings of the Church. (We even have a share of these deniers within the Church Herself!)

    When I was a youngster in the 70s and 80s I was sometimes swept along unawares by the ecumenical furor of the time, but I always felt inside that there was something intrinsically wrong about it. I hope our Catholic youngsters today will be on their guard at the threat to their faith these gatherings present.


  5. JabbaPapa says:

    I agree kathleen.

    I have taken little interest in active ecumenism

    Neither of the authoritative documents on the subject require you to do so except by prayers.

    We are required by both of them to agreement with the purposes of the genuine Ecumenism, but our active participation in the broader ecumenical movement is limited by both documents simultaneously.

    However, participation in this particular event in Washington has been overtly authorised by the Holy Father, so that there is no basis for condemning it, even though there is no reason why individual Catholics should feel themselves “obliged” to attend it.


  6. JabbaPapa says:

    As an ex-Agnostic, if I’m to be honest, my “favourite” Pope since my Anointment into the Catechumenate (and so my formal entry into the Catholic Church) is Pope Saint John Paul II, without whom I may never have become a Christian.


  7. kathleen says:

    I loved him too, Jabba! I loved him as a person (holy, strong, faithful, manly, long-suffering, a true leader, etc.) and I loved him as our Holy Father. He brought renewed hope and encouragement to us at a time of great upheaval in the Church. His legacy is enormously important; Catholics will be learning and inspired from his writings for centuries to come. His heroic courage in the face of so much sorrow and evil he suffered during his formative years; the tragic attempt on his life; his long drawn-out agony to the bitter end… all witness to the life of a true saint and a great Pope.

    Perhaps, like me, you have sometimes had to defend his memory when he is criticised, often by other orthodox Catholics, as having committed some grave errors in his Pontificate. Perhaps they are right [the ecumenical Assisi debacle in particular comes to mind], but without going there, I still believe he was a very great and dearly-beloved Holy Father.


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