Unitatis Redintegratio: Your Thoughts/Interpretation?
  • From my initial reading (skimming, really), this document really just states that qualified, well-prepared, well-formed Catholics with the permission of their bishops should engage our "separated brethren" and other non-Catholics in theological and philosophical discussion to help clarify our doctrines to them, and to hopefully bring them into the fold of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. It is an exhortation to attempt to reconcile the "separated brethren" to the one true Church of Christ, and to bring other non-Catholics into the fullness of Truth. Nowhere in this document do I see anything about altering our teachings, loosening our doctrines, nor altering the Mass to make things more comfortable for non-Catholics. Notice, I did not say "reconcile with" the "separated brethren," but to actually reconcile them with the already extant Church. This only solidifies my position that the Second Vatican Council has largely not been implemented, and that much has been read into the documents that isn't really there.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,393
    Skim less. Be more aware of confirmation bias.
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,576
    scroll down

    Unitatis Redintegratio (1964-nov-21)

    Only 24 paragraphs allocated among 3 chapters.
    A quick read.
  • The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. (UR, 3)

    Here is one of the supposed "problem areas" that I've been hearing about. True, this particular passage seems to imply that Protestants are not heretics, and are in fact part of the one true Church. The part "are in communion with the Catholic Church..." is of particular interest, although the passage goes on to state that this "...communion is imperfect..." Many Catholics would object to even the mere suggestion that the Protestants are "in communion with the Catholic Church," as Church teaching clearly dictates that they are not, since they teach contrary to Church teaching, or reject aspects of Catholic doctrine or dogma. It may only be one particular point that they reject, but if they reject any of the doctrine or dogma, they are not part of the Catholic Church, and are therefore not in communion with it.

    On the flip side, there are also many Catholics who would interpret the above passage as stating that the Protestants are no longer considered outside the Church, even though the qualification "...even though this communion is imperfect," makes it clear that although we may recognize Protestants as validly baptized, they are still not in communion with the church (i.e. imperfect communion as opposed to perfect communion, although the document nowhere defines any of that).

    Here's my take, per what's actually written there: those that are born into Protestant sects, and have never been exposed to the fulness of Truth, are only subjected to the heretical teachings of their religious leaders, and therefore do not understand that what they've been taught is heretical or incomplete, as the passage states cannot be truly held responsible for their heresies. Only after they have been evangelized and taught the fulness of Truth do they become responsible for it. To me, this passage does not imply that all Protestants are ipso facto members of the Catholic Church, although you can find people much more qualified than I to discuss such matters that make convincing arguments to that effect.

    @Liam: I don't understand your comment. You clearly suspect that I have a bias towards what I concluded, but have not provided your own view on the topic, which is what I explicitly asked of other forum members. It is not entirely possible that your own views on the topic, and my conclusions regarding it are subject to that same confirmation bias?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,740
    The learned Fr. John Hunwicke, a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in Britain, posted an item today relevant to the topic of ecumenical relations. He quotes a history of Orthodox-Catholic relations, which indicates that those relations (despite the common misconception) did not come to a total separation in 1054.

    The passage he quotes includes surprising examples of intercommunion and concelebration which continued in Greece into the 17th and 18th centuries, in which Catholics and Orthodox at times shared churches, conducted rites together, and shared the sacraments with each other.


    Making note of such historical events can help us to correct misunderstandings which treat the Church's ecumenical efforts as a 1960's innovation.
  • Interesting, Chonak!
    I am among the many who would not have thought such sharings probable.
    There is an interesting close parallel with European Protestants. Somewhere just a few months ago I read that in many towns in Europe it was not uncommon for Catholics and Protestants to share the same facilities and buildings. They, of course, had their own separate and distinct worship, but there were, otherwise, quite filial relationships. Distinctly, I remember this source telling about how the Protestants would merely draw a curtain in front of the Catholic altar area and have their own service.
  • I recommend Christopher Ferrara's chapter on ecumenism in "The Great Facade" (revised and expanded edition just published by Angelico). His contrasting of Mortalium Animos with UR, and his critique of the vagueness and lack of definitions in the latter, are superb.