Saint Peter's Basilica
From Via Della Conciliazione
Refer : Post of 20.1.2016

Mortalium Animos was broken into "bite size " chunks in 10 Posts entitled :
commencing on 20.9.2016 and ending on 29.9.2016


 Before we step off from considering what has happened in the Church since "Mortalium Animos", let us first take a look at what preceded that Encyclical.

In 1910  the "World Missionary Conference" met  in Edinburgh.
From 14th to 23rd June , 1910 this international conference of Protestant denominations and "missionary societies" brought together 1,200 Protestants in what has been held to be the beginning of the modern Protestant ecumenical movement. Representatives came mainly from North America and Northern Europe.  No Orthodox or Catholic representatives attended.

The gathering had been thoroughly prepared with eight Commissions  (each with 20 members) having worked for two years on the preparation of major submissions on assigned topics. The eighth of these was assigned the subject       " Co-operation and the Promotion of Unity".

The work of the Conference was intended to be carried on by a "Continuation Committee" headed by John R.Mott an American Methodist layman who had been prominent in the Conference.It is said that a sense of urgency characterised the gathering. Mott's Continuation Committee subsequently carried out information gathering visits throughout Asia.This activity led to the formation of the (Protestant) International Missionary Council in 1921. 

In 1925 the so-called Life and Work Movement brought together the Protestant Churches and some Orthodox Churches to discuss the practical role of the churches in modern society. Meeting in the wake of World War I and the Russian Revolution, the pre-occupations of the Conference appear to have been related to industry, society, politics and international relations or, as it was more formally put "applying the spirit and teaching of Christ to economic and industrial life." The absence of any strong Spiritual element, and the prominence of socio-economic matters, reflected the Protestant left wing political pre-occupations of those involved.

At the 1910 Conference there had been a move to set up a Faith and Order Conference  and the 1910 Continuation Committee determined that this should be held at Lausanne in 1927. Copious reports were prepared once again . It is noteworthy that gradually, the various parties had begun to speak of "the Church"as if there were somewhere in the great out there, a "Church" of which they all formed a part.

Then , in 1928 came Pope Pius XI 's great Encyclical "MORTALIUM ANIMOS" which made clear the unique status of the Church Jesus Christ founded - the Catholic Church -  and highlighted the only valid basis for Christian Unity - unity in Truth and membership of that same Catholic Church which, of necessity, entailed being in Communion with the Pope , Successor of Saint Peter.

But world affairs were about to overwhelm the Protestant deliberations. In 1929 there began the Great Depression . The world continued to wallow in this economic mire until the outbreak of World War II definitively and totally swept the board clean of all other considerations. From 1939 until its termination in 1945, it was the total pre-occupation of the World. It changed many things.And, though immediately after it ended, most people were keen to "get back to normal", it very quickly became clear that the old "normal" was gone forever along with much else.

But, as in the case of World War I, there was abroad a considerable air of "never again" and much "building a better World" talk, fuelled by the exultation and idealism  induced by Victory. This was, from a very early date, quickly infiltrated by Communists who had a well-developed modus operandi for attaching themselves to popular causes. We see much the same tactics used by to-day's Marxist forces in relation to Green campaigns , so that to-day the "Greens" are really something quite different.

So, whilst the forces of "ecumenism " were getting their act together again, in  the "Cold War" which grew up in confronting the Soviet Union after World War II, articles began to appear in  the media  about the "Pink fringe on Methodism" - the reference was not to homosexuality which would in due course affect Methodism and its successor the Uniting Church in Australia, but rather a strong "Left" tendency politically  : the "Pink" being more than a touch of Communist "Red".

In 1948 the World Council of Churches was founded out of the spirit of these earlier deliberations. It was from the very beginning tainted by Left Wing political thought and was a natural as an object for Communist infiltration.

CARDINAL OTTAVIANI  Seated at the right hand of Pope Saint John XXIII
 during the Second Vatican Council as Secretary of The Holy Office 

The Catholic Church was not slow to respond to this stream of thought. In 1949, on 20th December, the Holy Office issued  " Instructione de Motione Oecumenica"( Instruction concerning the Ecumenical Movement"). The Instruction resolutely affirmed the teaching of Pope Pius XI in "Mortalium Animos". It identified four fundamental principles in that teaching:

.the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of Christ and needs no augmentation from any external source,

. Christian Unity must not be sought by assimilating aspects of various Faiths and the Catholic Church cannot adjust its teachings to accommodate any other religion or its ideas

.True Christian Unity can only be achieved by other religious groups returning to the One True Catholic Church founded by Christ.

.If there were any element of truth in another religious group, its members do not lose that truth when coming into the Catholic Church, but rather have it completed and perfected.

The Instruction showed fully that the Catholic Church is the very centre and and foundation of Christian Unity by the action and design of Christ Himself.

Protestantism was in a turmoil. Unity was much talked about in the late 1970s. The War itself had seemed to many, to show how everyone could work side by side in the Armed Forces , in the factories etc, - all together in the great crusade against the common enemy. If that were so , surely we should all be able to worship together the one God whom all Christians adored. The established Church of England had been in a long process of decline and decay even in the area of doctrine before the War. It had at the  1932 Lambeth Conference accepted the idea and practice of contraception. So, on its pursuit of "relevance" it was a natural partner for such discussions. 

As time went by there were major amalgamations of Protestant Churches - never complete - always leaving behind a rump of "true" believers.  In 1977 Methodists , the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians formed the Uniting Church in which it can be seen that the lowest common denominator - the Methodists won out,   and the Uniting Church is now riddled with advocacy of homosexuality, contraception, abortion - you name it.In fact, in its United States equivalent recently one of its female "Ministers" announced to her congregation that she no longer believes in God, the Trinity, or of course the Divinity of Christ, but she is legally fighting part of the  congregation's efforts to  force her removal!

31st March, 1963 Cardinal Augustin Bea S.J. meets Rabbis Heschel(centre) and Minda (second from left)
to discuss what the Council might proclaim concerning the Jews
Through all this turmoil and ferment the Catholic Church remained apparently unaffected. Yet there were a few villains about. Indeed one of them was a Priest and a true Villain - Father M. Villain S.M., who published in 1959 in Paris, a book entitled " Introduction a l'oecumenisme". Pere Villain was highly regarded  in Anglican circles and honoured by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Ramsey who was following ecumenical ideas closely.  Pere Villain was a dedicated promoter of the "Week of Prayer for Christian Unity". A more influential figure was Cardinal Augustin Bea S.J. a German who had been for a short time  the personal Confessor of Ven. Pope Pius XII. Cardinal Bea was to become the first President of The Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (1960 till his death in 1968). From 1930 up to 1949, he was Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute where he had been a Professor since 1930. He participated in the discussions of the Central Preparatory Commission for the Second Vatican  Council, and  the drafting of "Nostra Aetate", as far as the relations with the Jews are concerned, is reliably attributed  to his influence. The Cardinal's March, 1963 visit to the United States is well documented from published Jewish records in America which show that leading American Jewish Rabbis had been invited to advise what they thought might be desirable to come forth from the Council regarding the Jews. The record shows they got what they sought in "Nostra Aetate." 

Pope Saint John XXIII had announced  the calling of the Second Vatican Council on 25th January, 1959 in the document "Humanae Salutis". The matter of our "separated brethren" and much else was dealt with in terms of the greatest and most elevated optimism :

"Furthermore, at a time of generous and growing efforts being undertaken in various areas to reconstitute that visible unity of all Christians which corresponds to the will of the divine Redeemer, it is quite natural that the forthcoming Council provide the premises of doctrinal clarity and of mutual charity that will make even more alive in our separated brethren the desire for the hoped-for return to unity and will smooth the way to it. And finally, to a world which is lost, confused, and anxious because of the constant threat of new frightful conflicts, the forthcoming Council is called to offer a possibility for all men of good will to turn their thoughts and proposals toward peace, a peace which can and must come above all from spiritual and supernatural realities, from human intelligence and conscience enlightened and guided by God, Creator and Redeemer of humanity."

 The result could hardly have proved further from that hope.


Popular posts from this blog