Eccumenism = societal Conflict?
Stop fighting ‘Axis of evil’, ‘bad, very bad. Be prodigal fathers with wide open doors. In a world of alternating day and night we have to live always in the midst of harsh realities of rain and shine, not in our make-believe ‘dream world’. Life is a bitter-sweet amalgam as the poem says: “I slept and dreamt, life is beauty, I woke and found life is duty!”
This is the undeniable harsh truth all have to face. “Truth is mighty and will prevail!” Many times it doesn’t but all agree that each one of us should endeavor honestly to discover truth and make it triumph. But what is truth?
Pilot posed this question to Jesus and he didn’t give a point blank answer either. We all know mathematical truths like 2 + 2 = 4 are self evident and need no explanation. Such self-evident clear truths are few and far between, doubtful truths are far too many and truths not known, but must be sought after, are countless. None of us can hope to learn all that is to be learned even if we were to live a thousand reincarnated lives. The easiest way to learn is to listen with docility to what others say as the saying goes: “take a queue even from a grave digger.”
Primacy of Conscience
When people considered to be learned, credible and highly placed speak, ordinary people often believe instantly, blindly and follow their dictates, especially if the authority speaking is a religious leader – a swamiji, guru, priest or bishop. Some go even to the absurd extent of the saying: “They simply clap hands whenever the Pope says some thing absurd and shout down whenever a prostitute makes a glorious statement, because the thoughtless stupid assumption is that nothing wrong or baseless can come from the mouth of a Pope and nothing sublime from a prostitute.”
So the principle to follow here is to listen critically to everything and everybody respectfully, evaluate what is said and hold fast to what shines bright, true and noble, as St.Paul advises the Thesolonians (I Thes.5.21): “Test everything, hold fast to what is good and noble.” This is called following the ‘Primacy of Conscience’.
Pope Benedict clarified it when he said long ago: “Above the Pope as an expression of the binding claim of church authority, stands one’s own conscience, which has to be obeyed first of all, if need be, against the commands and demands of church authority.” This is abridged in the popular phrase: “Follow always your commanding conscience!” So one need not be upset when some cardinals, bishops or some US Catholics question or disagree with what the Pope says. Listen and see if there is something to learn from. Do not judge (leave that to God alone) and you shall not be judged!
As far as truth is concerned we are all treasure hunters. Long long ago Cardinal Newman spoke of the Development of Doctrine. Truth goes on growing and refining itself, even now. During Pius XII time, Crdinal Ottavani used to say: “Always the same” (Semper Idem); it was his motto. Vatican II instead said: ‘Church is to be reformed constantly’ (Semper reformanda est). With the advent of Trump and his Chief and close adviser Brennan, we have all kinds of “Post truth, Alt truth and what pleases the majority” (especially the white or financially powerful etc) and they have their political allies in Italy and in other countries. They are creating confusion among unthinking crowd which has many heads but not one mind. Recently Francis cautioned the faithful about them to be forewarned, (See CCV, 2/7/17, editorial, Pastoral vs Doctrinal Church?).
Ecumenism of Hatred?
In the same way in the article below in the Jesuit magazine, whose editors Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, both friends of Pope Francis speak out to be cautious about those who preach an ecumenism of Hatred. What Jesus came to establish is a kingdom of love, not hatred, a kingdom that knows no barriers or walls of division based on class, caste, creed and country. His is one of all embracing love, which includes all and excludes none born of man and woman. That is why he called himself and presented himself as the “Son of Man”, meaning the ideal man for all times, places, cultures and communities, so many times in the gospels.
Words like exclusion, division should have no place in the vocabulary of his followers. His is the vision that includes all, starting with the last, least and lost, hence the thrust of the Nazareth Manifesto, the proclamation with which he started his public life: “Good news to the poor, sight to the blind, health to the sick, liberty to the imprisoned etc.” and Francis’ equally revolutionary call: “a poor church for the poor” and exhortation to his priests to get out of the comfort zones of the Church of the sacristy and to go to the peripheries, the unknown territories, the cherries where illiterates, drug addicts and “God-forsaken” little ones who are branded as the “miserables” live because Jesus came for the sick, abandoned, homeless, uncared, the prodigals, not the well-to-do.
From what is said above, the practical application for India and other countries is this: Is the press in India, specially religious, like the Jesuit Magazine, ready to speak up on matters religious and political, affecting adversely the lives of the poor and marginalized here? What is even more important is, whether the Catholic hierarchical leadership in India is ready to set an example of speaking up like Pope Francis, — not keeping silent — when matters affecting adversely the lives of both religious and irreligious people in India.
Like the ruler, so the people, like the pastor so the faithful! Worse is the situation of the Catholic press which is known to be the mouth-piece of the bishops. And which bishop in India is known as an outspoken defender when and where truth is crucified constanly in manifold controversial situations in India? james kottoor, editor,ccv.
Please read below a report in the Italian Jesuit magazine on US Catholics and Ecumanism
Italian Jesuit magazine criticizes Political attitudes of some US Catholics
Joshua J. McElwee , in NCR, Jul. 13, 2017
ROME: An Italian Jesuit magazine has criticized the political attitudes of some in the U.S. Catholic church, decrying in an article released July 13 a "strange form of surprising ecumenism" that it says is promoting societal conflict in pursuit of a dream of a future theocratic state.
The article in La Civiltà Cattolica, which is reviewed by the Vatican before publication, says some Catholic conservatives in the U.S. have built ties with fundamentalist evangelicals for political purposes that evince "enormous differences" with Pope Francis.
The authors — editor-in-chief Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, an Argentine Presbyterian pastor who leads his country's edition of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano — call such Catholics "integralists" and say they "express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition."
"Evangelical and catholic integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state," write Spadaro and Figueroa.
"The most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations," they continue, nodding towards President Donald Trump's campaign promises. "The word 'ecumenism' transforms into a paradox, into an 'ecumenism of hate.' "
"Clearly there is an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions," the authors continue. "His is an ecumenism that moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges."
Spadaro and Figueroa write in the July 15 issue of the Jesuit magazine (available online July 13). While their article is being published in Italian, the magazine is also making available an English translation. The article carries the title: "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A surprising ecumenism."
Spadaro is known to be a close associate of Francis. The two had a wide-ranging interview shortly after Francis' election, which was published in Jesuit magazines around the world. Figueroa is likewise known to be close to the pope. The two previously took part in a TV program together for the Buenos Aires Archdiocese, where Francis had previously served as archbishop, with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.
The article appears to be an unusually sharp critique of Catholics in a specific country by a Vatican-backed publication. Before decrying the alliance between fundamentalist evangelicals and conservative Catholics in the U.S., Spadaro and Figueroa also criticize what they call a "political Manichaeism" and "a particular form of proclamation of the defense of 'religious liberty' " in the country.
On the first point, the authors say that like the third-century Manicheans, who saw the world as a dualistic fight between forces of light and darkness, U.S. politics "divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil."
As evidence, they point to both former President George W. Bush's description of Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" and Trump's describing U.S. adversaries as "bad" or "very bad." On the religious liberty front, Spadaro and Figueroa say that while the erosion of religious liberty is "clearly a grave threat" that "we must avoid its defense coming in the fundamentalist terms of a 'religion in total freedom,' perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state."
The authors conclude their article by drawing more comparisons between conservative U.S. Catholics' vision for public engagement and the pope's own vision. "Today, more than ever, power needs to be removed from its faded confessional dress, from its armor, its rusty breastplate," state Spadaro and Figueroa. "This is why the diplomacy of the Holy See wants to establish direct and fluid relations with the superpowers, without entering into pre-constituted networks of alliances and influence," they continue.
"In this sphere, the pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power," they say. "So, there is no need to imagine a taking of sides for moral reasons, much worse for spiritual ones."[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR Vatican correspondent. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]