It is interesting how many treasures both sacred and profane get buried and forgotten with the passage of time - tilling the soil in Ireland reveals a Mass kit buried for safety (its priestly owner perhaps executed before he could return for it), a vast hoard of Roman coins recovered at the bottom of the excavation of an English well (if only the barbarian attackers had known) or a Papal Encyclical buried in the subsequent documentation of World War II and the Second Vatican
Council “church-quake”. 

But the dust has settled and the advent of the computer database is shining light on some gems.

Eighty seven years ago the great Pope Pius XI issued the crystal clear gem of an encyclical Mortalium Animos on fostering true religious unity. Strangely it is not referred to in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in the Second Vatican Council documents.

 It seems then ironical that it was last officially referred to by  Pope Saint John XXIII in his very first encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram (To the Chair of Peter) in which he announced the Council ... “this unity, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, must be solid, firm and sure, not transient, uncertain or unstable. Though there is no such unity in other Christian communities,
all who look carefully can see that it is present in the Catholic Church.” (with footnote reference to Mortalium Animos).

The between the wars Pan Christian ecumenical movement which Pius XI so decisively addressed re-surfaced in the post-war period and in various ways tended to colour the post-Conciliar ecumenical project. In the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s ecumenical fever brought on a great deal of irrational hopes, activity and talk. But in the 1990s and this century the fever has declined, leaving some confused others lost and the majority exchanging knowing looks as one might when an errant relative comes to his/her senses. The accelerating decay of the Anglican “Communion” and the libertarian excesses of the Uniting Church are only two examples of the shock therapy administered to Catholic ecumenical zealots.

But 87 years ago the Pope who - in 1930 with Casti Connubii exposed the intellectual fraud of the Anglican decision allowing for the practice of contraception and - in Mit Brennender Sorge (With burning sorrow) in 1937 (smuggled into the Third Reich by a priest on bicycle) blasted the pathetic claims of superiority of race and nation and again in 1937, with Divini Redemptoris, revealed the perversity of Communism - with clarity and powerful reasoning and the deftness of a scalpel-wielding surgeon exposed the perils of and the reality of the false ecumenicism we have in recent decades suffered - and against whose “false irenicism” Pope Saint John Paul the Great repeatedly warned.

Pope Pius XI pray for us.


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