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Ecumenism and Tough Love

 

 

Ecumenism is a word that causes some uneasiness, a concern that Catholic doctrine will be expected to give in to modernist tendencies and evolve with the times. I recently read the declaration Dominus Iesus written by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church to try to understand this word better. The title means “Jesus is Lord” and the declaration wasn’t written to solve ecumenical problems, but to “set forth again the doctrine of the Catholic faith in these areas.” It says that out of love for all people, the faithful are exhorted all the more to proclaim with the Church that Christ is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

I found myself thinking about parents and tough love. If maturing children turn away from the family and go on their own path, the pain for the parents is probably something like the intense pain Christ feels for division among Christians. Just like the family is supposed to be united, so is the Body of Christ.

Dominus Iesus also says it is necessary to keep two truths together: 1) In Christ, there is a real possibility of salvation for all mankind, thus 2) the Church is necessary for salvation. By the grace of Christ, even those not in full communion may have a relationship with the Church. The Second Vatican Council did not articulate exactly how this may be, but explained that God achieves this unity “in ways known to himself.”

Isn’t that what parents tell wayward children? “Child, there’s always a possibility for you to be fully united us. We are your family and desire that so much, but because we love you, we cannot let you do whatever you want to do if it is harmful for you and others.” If a teenager has a drinking problem, the parents don’t buy him alcohol to evolve with the times. No, they firmly instruct – as an act of love.

And like wayward children, it’s other Evangelical structures who have no desire to be in communion with the Church, not the Holy Mother Church who has no desire to be united with them. That is a striking realization. The Catholic Church is the only church actively trying to draw the others in. Christians are a people of hope and faith, and as any parent who’s shed anguished tears knows, even without all the answers we still need to stand firm, pray, and speak the truth in love.

God’s time, God’s way.

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About Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is Editor-in-Chief at Ignitum Today and Catholic Stand, and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about popular science, dogmatic theology, and mountain life at her website.

  • Jeanne - very true, I have a hard time convincing some people that it isn’t the Church that needs to change but others need to change their behavior and their thinking to conform with the Church not society.
    I have used that analogy of parents with children when trying to explain Church teaching, but was scoffed at and told that isn’t the same thing, so thank you for using it too.July 17, 2012 – 8:41 amReplyCancel

  • Adrienne - I find it interesting that while Evangelical churches are very good with bringing people in, it’s always individuals and unit families at a time. Meanwhile, it is Holy Mother Church that has entire congregations coming in together. Most notably are those coming in through the Anglican Ordinariate, but I’ve read stories of congregations of other denominations coming in along with a pastor.July 21, 2012 – 10:52 amReplyCancel

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