Ecumenical Dialogue

A couple of days ago, I saw this headline on the Spero News site: “East-West reconciliation on Filioque?” As I am interested in the doctrinal and pastoral ramifications implicit in such a question, I clicked on it and read. I was disappointed. The priest who wrote the article — a Catholic Uniate — presented, as a solution to the millennial schism, that we simply refrain from saying the controverted words in the Creed. In other words, he suggested we omit “and the son” from the part of the Creed which says “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.” This would make the Orthodox happy, since they reject this part of Catholic dogma, and this would make Catholics happy because…. well…. because we like the Orthodox to be happy. Of course, the problem is that the Filioque (“and the Son”) is dogma, taught to us by two Ecumenical Councils. We cannot toss it out the window like a gum wrapper as we cruise down the ecumenical Freeway of Love in our flower-powered Volkswagen Van of Interconfessional Peace and Harmony.

I posted a response to the effect that unity is great, but not at the expense of dogma. My response brought on replies from two folks who were not defending the Catholic priest against my objection, but arguing from the Orothodox point of view, and quite stridently. I replied to both in one posting, offering them a few thoughts on the issue — mostly referencing the new offerings on our sites. That’s the story behind the two recent postings on our web site and on my blog respectively, which touch upon this very important issue of the procession of the Holy Ghost.

The lesson in this little foray into apologetical postings on other people’s sites is that doctrinal capitulation satisfies nobody. Church history teaches us that when there are burning doctrinal questions, simply sweeping revealed dogma under the carpet in order to get along is never to the Church’s advantage. Ironically, this priest’s article on a hoped-for unity based on capitulation had the effect of starting a brouhaha between Catholics and Orthodox. (I know what you are thinking. No, I didn’t post my comments to start a fight. Read them. They are quite moderately worded.)

» Where Do We Stand? — Tradition and the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI: This article, by Michael Matt, and posted on The Remnant’s site, is a measured and fair summary of the gains traditionalists have made under Benedict XVI’s Papacy. Indicative of the article’s contents is this quip Mr. Matt cites from a friend, relevant to Spe Salvi: “Who would have ever dreamed that, following a pope who made us apologize for Galileo, we would get an attack on Martin Luther, Francis Bacon and the whole of the Enlightenment such as the one found in Benedict’s new encyclical?”

» Pope Cancels Talk in the Face of Hostilities: (Compiled from CNS reports.) The Holy Father was scheduled to give a lecture at Rome’s largest university, La Sapienza, on January 17. Pope Benedict withdrew from his scheduled appearance after a group of about 100 leftist students occupied the office of Dr. Renato Guarini, the dean of La Sapienza, demanding a withdrawal of the invitation extended to the Pontiff. Earlier, a group of 67 professors — a small minority of the faculty — had signed a statement charging that a papal appearance would be inappropriate because, they said, the Pope is hostile to science. The anti-papal, anti-Catholic campus protestors planned to greet the Pope with loud rock music, anti-clerical posters, and parades of militant homosexuals. We note in passing that La Sapienza was founded in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII — who said — “Indeed we declare, say, pronounce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Ironic, isn’t it?