Francis: Converting the Orthodox “Great Sin against Ecumenism”
Note: Not an endorsement for Sedevacantism
Francis denounces Converting the Orthodox as “Great Sin Against Ecumenism”As you may have heard, Antipope Francis is currently doing mischief in Georgia — no, not the U.S. state of Georgia but the country of Georgia in Eastern Europe, which has a Novus Ordo population of approximately 2%. He traveled there on Friday and will stay until Sunday morning, when he flies to neighboring Azerbaijan before returning to Rome on Sunday night.
This being his 16th (!) “Apostolic Journey” in 3.5 years, the otherwise carbon-emission-conscious pretend-pope has been burning a lot of jet fuel for… well, for what exactly? For giving speeches, shaking hands, and kissing people. Basically, it’s all just stuff that makes for great photo ops and big headlines. It isn’t any different this time around in Georgia, which also means that everyone is waiting — some with anxious trepidation, others with blistering excitement — for the obligatory in-flight entertainment he is sure to deliver, that is, the off-the-cuff interview he will give on his flight back to Rome. But until then, we still have a few hours.
Today, October 1, Francis ran into a little ecumenical conundrum: Although the Vatican had announced that representatives of the heretico-schismatic Georgian Orthodox Church were going to attend the “papal Mass”, they didn’t show up, on account of “existing dogmatic differences”, according to a report by the grossly-misnamed National Catholic Reporter. But the best part came afterwards:
Later in a visit with Georgian Catholics at a Tbilisi parish on Saturday afternoon, Francis told them they must not seek to convert members of the Georgian Orthodox community.If you have been following our blog for a while, this should not come as a surprise to you, because Francis has expressed this indifferentism many times before (see here and see here, for example).
“There is a big sin against ecumenism: proselytism,” said the pontiff. “You must never proselytize the Orthodox. They are our brothers and sisters, disciples of Jesus Christ.”
“Walk together, pray for each other, and do works of charity together when you can,” the pope encouraged. “This is ecumenism. Do not condemn a brother or sister.”
(Joshua J. McElwee, “Francis tells Georgia’s Catholic minority of ‘wonders’ God works in smallness”, National Catholic Reporter, Oct. 1, 2016)
Likewise, we should all be used by now to Francis making up all sorts of silly and outrageous things, whether it be recycling as a work of mercy, fornication as holy matrimony, mortal sin as imperfect virtue, or any other buffoonery he dreams up under the guidance of his “god of surprises”. Moreover, sins against God have long been replaced by sins against man only, and recently even by sins against the earth.
But now there’s a new one: sins against ecumenism! Gone are the days when ecumenism was the sin! More on that in a minute, but first let’s have a look at some alternate reports lest anyone accuse us of using only one source that is perhaps distorting the meaning of Francis’ words. Here is an account from Vatican Radio:
The question of ecumenism and the problems it can pose, was another issue discussed by the Pope that had been mentioned earlier by one of the speakers. Pope Francis told his listeners never to argue with their Orthodox friends or neighbours and especially warned Catholics never to try “to convert them.” He described proselytism as “a big sin against ecumenism” and encouraged his audience to be on friendly terms with Orthodox believers, to perform works of charity together and never to condemn them or refuse to greet them on account of who they are.Finally, let’s also have a look at what Crux reports on this:
(“Pope: there’s a global war against marriage nowadays”, Vatican Radio, Oct. 1, 2016; underlining added.)
A seminarian had asked Francis about ecumenism, meaning inter-Christian dialogue. The pope answered saying that the abstract study of ecumenism should be left to theologians, while Catholics should instead focus on being friends with their Orthodox neighbors.Clearly, there has been no misunderstanding.
“Be open, be a friend. ‘But I must do everything to convert them!’ There’s a great sin against ecumenism: proselytism,” he said, adding that they’re “our brothers and sisters.”
Ecumenism, he said, is being friends, walking together, doing charitable work together and praying for each other.
(Ines San Martin, “Pope calls gender theory a ‘global war’ against the family”, Crux, Oct. 1, 2016; underlining added.)
No, what Francis said here dovetails perfectly with everything else he’s been saying and doing from the beginning. We’ve chronicled Jorge Bergoglio’s heresies, howlers, scandals, and outrages on our Francis page, which you’re welcome to check out, but be warned: You’ll be drinking from a firehose of information.
At this point, the professional Novus Ordo apologist will jump in and smugly declare that Francis didn’t denounce converting people but merely “proselytism”, which in Novus Ordo ecumenical theology — but virtually nowhere else — has a very specialized meaning, namely, that of using undue pressure or deceptive means to entice another to convert. This is the brilliant copout, the veritable “joker” to excuse the Modernist Sect’s assault on evangelization that Novus Ordos will try to pull at this point. It is definitely popular at Catholic Answers.
But it won’t fly, for several reasons: First, because Francis himself was clearly speaking in the context of converting others per se — not converting them through trickery or force, but simply converting them. After all, he didn’t say, “Convert them only with sound means” — he basically said not to do it at all and instead to go hold hands and help out at the soup kitchen together. Secondly, because this overly technical meaning of “proselytism” is not how people understand the term — everyone understands “proselytism” to mean converting people by means of simply convincing them using sound arguments, and Francis and his gang know that. Thirdly, because the Novus Ordo “popes”, who denounce proselytism at every turn, never speak out in favor of using sound and non-deceptive methods of converting people, either — nor do they ever even attempt to convert anyone. Lastly, and most importantly, because no one is actually engaging in insincere or deceptive methods of converting people to begin with. The constant condemnation of proselytism would be justified only if we had hordes of Novus Ordos everywhere trying to browbeat people into converting. But who is actually doing that in the Novus Ordo? No one!
Some time ago we directly responded to Jimmy Akin’s attempt to use the bogus “proselytism-doesn’t-mean-converting-people” argument. We encourage you to review it:
So here we have Francis confirming once more that the conversion of the non-Catholic is not the goal of ecumenism; it is its very antithesis, a “sin” against it. This vindicates what we’ve been saying from the beginning and shuts up all those Novus Ordo big shots — like Peter Kreeft, Karl Keating, and Jimmy Akin, for example — that have been telling us for decades that the goal of ecumenism is ultimately conversion. It is not.
On October 1, Francis also visited the cathedral church of the heterodox and schismatic patriarch Ilia II of the autocephalous Georgian Orthodox Church. This cathedral is alleged to be the burial site of the seamless garment worn by Our Lord Jesus Christ on Good Friday (cf. Jn 19:24). Crux provides a summary of what Francis said on the occasion (full text here):
“The holy tunic, a mystery of unity, exhort us to feel deep pain over the historical divisions which have arisen among Christians: these are the true and real lacerations that wound the Lord’s flesh,” Francis said.It is a dogma that the Catholic Church alone constitutes the Body of Christ, which is one by divine constitution and per se incapable of being split into parts. Heretics and schismatics do not destroy the unity of the Church — they merely withdraw from it, leaving its integrity untouched. “The Catholic Church is one, she is neither torn nor divided”, said Pope Leo XII (Apostolic Exhortation Pastoris Aeterni). Interestingly enough, the Italian (original?) version of this exhortation found on the Vatican web site has Pope Leo XII using the word lacerata — “lacerated”, “torn” — with regard to what the Catholic Church’s unity is not. This is precisely the same word Francis used, though he used it to affirm of ecclesiastical unity what Pope Leo denied: The divisions are “lacerations” that tear the Body of Christ, Francis claimed.
Yet the “unity that comes from above” the pontiff continued, urges Christians not to give up but to offer themselves as he did, with sincere charity and mutual understanding, in a spirit of “pure Christian fraternity.”
The pontiff, leader of 1.3 billion Catholics representing more than half of the world’s Christian community, acknowledged that this fraternity requires patience and humility, rooted in the certainty “which Christian hope allows us to enjoy.”
The beauty of Christian life, according to Francis, comes from guarding faithfulness to its own roots without giving into “closed ways of thinking which darken life.” Christian identity, in other words, is open and ready, “never rigid or closed.”
(Ines San Martin, “Pope says Christian divisions ‘wound’ the Body of Christ”, Crux, Oct. 1, 2016)
Since the Body of Christ is one and not divided, then, it becomes all the more important to understand where that Mystical Body is to be found in this world. The Catholic Church has always taught that she alone is the Mystical Body of Christ, and all other churches, sects, or communities, are thus cut off from the Body of Christ:
Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity. For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever.That’s how true Popes speak — but a lot of water has run down the Tiber since we’ve had a true Pope in Rome (1958).
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes; underlining added.)
Furthermore, the Son of God decreed that the Church should be His mystical body, with which He should be united as the Head, after the manner of the human body which He assumed, to which the natural head is physiologically united. As He took to Himself a mortal body, which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man’s redemption, so also He has one mystical body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation. God “hath made Him (Christ) head over all the Church, which is His body” (Eph. i., 22-23). Scattered and separated members cannot possibly cohere with the head so as to make one body. But St. Paul says: “All members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ” (I Cor. xii., 12). Wherefore this mystical body, he declares, is “compacted and fitly jointed together. The head, Christ: from whom the whole body, being compacted and fitly jointed together, by what every joint supplieth according to the operation in the measure of every part” (Eph. iv., 15-16). And so dispersed members, separated one from the other, cannot be united with one and the same head. “There is one God, and one Christ; and His Church is one and the faith is one; and one the people, joined together in the solid unity of the body in the bond of concord. This unity cannot be broken, nor the one body divided by the separation of its constituent parts” (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 23). And to set forth more clearly the unity of the Church, he makes use of the illustration of a living body, the members of which cannot possibly live unless united to the head and drawing from it their vital force. Separated from the head they must of necessity die. “The Church,” he says, “cannot be divided into parts by the separation and cutting asunder of its members. What is cut away from the mother cannot live or breathe apart” (Ibid.). What similarity is there between a dead and a living body? “For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the Church: because we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Eph. v., 29-30).
Another head like to Christ must be invented – that is, another Christ if besides the one Church, which is His body, men wish to set up another. “See what you must beware of – see what you must avoid – see what you must dread. It happens that, as in the human body, some member may be cut off a hand, a finger, a foot. Does the soul follow the amputated member? As long as it was in the body, it lived; separated, it forfeits its life. So the Christian is a Catholic as long as he lives in the body: cut off from it he becomes a heretic – the life of the spirit follows not the amputated member” (S. Augustinus, Sermo cclxvii., n. 4).
The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and the same for ever; those who leave it depart from the will and command of Christ, the Lord – leaving the path of salvation they enter on that of perdition. “Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ….He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation” (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 6).
(Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis Cognitum, n. 5; underlining added.)
We must not fail to notice that in his speech today Antipope Francis quoted from the very same document of St. Cyprian quoted by Pope Leo XIII above, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate. But whereas Pope Leo correctly interpreted its passages on unity as referring to the Catholic Church alone, Francis distorted the meaning and claimed it referred to some sort of “unity” allegedly possessed by all the baptized, regardless of whether they adhere to the true doctrine and are united to the Roman Pontiff or not:
Saint Cyprian stated also that Christ’s tunic – “one, undivided, all in one piece, indicates the inseparable concord of our people, of us who have been clothed in Christ” (De Cath., 195). Those baptized in Christ, as Saint Paul teaches, have been clothed in Christ (cf. Gal 3:27). Thus, notwithstanding our limitations and quite apart from all successive cultural and historical distinctions, we are called to be “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28) and to avoid putting first disharmony and divisions between the baptized, because what unites us is much more than what divides us.So here we have a diabolical manipulation of the words of St. Cyprian. They have been hijacked to promote the cause of ecumenism rather than of conversion to the Catholic Church.
(Antipope Francis, Address at Svietyskhoveli Patriarchal Cathedral in Mtskheta, Vatican Radio, Oct. 1, 2016)
In the Modernist Church, baptism alone suffices to be a member of the “Body of Christ” and put one into at least some “imperfect communion” with it (see Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 15; Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 3). In the Catholic Church, however, this is not so, as explained by Fr. Sylvester Berry:
The spiritual character imprinted upon the soul in Baptism [alone] does not make one a member of the Church; it is rather a sign or badge showing that he has received the rites of initiation, but it does not prove that he retains membership. This may be illustrated by the case of a person receiving a tattoo mark as a sign of initiation into a society that uses such marking. If the person afterward leave the society, he would cease to be a member, though he still bore the indelible sign of his initiation.Thus, merely possessing the baptismal character does not make one a member of the Body of Christ. Profession of the true Faith and unity with the Holy See are also requirements for membership.
(Fr. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ [Baltimore, MD: Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, 1955], p. 129)
“But”, you may object, “Francis agrees that true unity must still be attained. He wants unity!” To which we respond: “What kind of unity does he seek, then, since he repudiates the unity that requires the Orthodox to convert to Catholicism, which is the only unity in accordance with Catholic dogma?” Any other kind of unity is a counterfeit unity. In fact, the very idea that unity does not currently exist in the Body of Christ and is merely a goal for which we must strive, was explicitly condemned by Pope Pius XI:
And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion, on which this whole question, as well as that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of the Christian churches depends. For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: “That they all may be one…. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd” [Jn 17:21; Jn 10:16], with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. They add that the Church in itself, or of its nature, is divided into sections; that is to say, that it is made up of several churches or distinct communities, which still remain separate, and although having certain articles of doctrine in common, nevertheless disagree concerning the remainder; that these all enjoy the same rights; and that the Church was one and unique from, at the most, the apostolic age until the first Ecumenical Councils. Controversies therefore, they say, and longstanding differences of opinion which keep asunder till the present day the members of the Christian family, must be entirely put aside, and from the remaining doctrines a common form of faith drawn up and proposed for belief, and in the profession of which all may not only know but feel that they are brothers. The manifold churches or communities, if united in some kind of universal federation, would then be in a position to oppose strongly and with success the progress of irreligion. This, Venerable Brethren, is what is commonly said…So, the Catholic Church alone possesses unity, and this unity can never be found outside her. Hence, to restore unity among all those who profess to be Christians, it is necessary that all join or re-join the Catholic Church. It’s really not complicated — it’s just not politically correct.
(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 7)
This doesn’t mean, of course, that Catholics should be nasty to non-Catholics or look upon them with disdain. This has never been the position of the Church. Rather, as Pope Pius IX exhorted us:
But God forbid that the sons of the Catholic Church ever in any way be hostile to those who are not joined with us in the same bonds of faith and love; but rather they should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and “being fruitful in every good work” [Colossians 1:10], they may attain eternal salvation.The fact is, we must simply endeavor to do both: assist non-Catholics in their temporal needs and seek their conversion to Catholicism — not rudely or haughtily, but charitably. The one simply does not exclude the other.
(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 9)
Pope Pius XII carefully emphasized that in the important work of evangelization, we must never compromise on Catholic dogma for any reason:
Even on the plea of promoting unity it is not allowed to dissemble one single dogma; for, as the Patriarch of Alexandria warns us, “although the desire of peace is a noble and excellent thing, yet we must not for its sake neglect the virtue of loyalty in Christ.” Consequently, the much desired return of erring sons to true and genuine unity in Christ will not be furthered by exclusive concentration on those doctrines which all, or most, communities glorying in the Christian name accept in common. The only successful method will be that which bases harmony and agreement among Christ’s faithful ones upon all the truths, and the whole of the truths, which God has revealed.After Francis spoke at the Georgian Orthodox cathedral, the Patriarch Ilia himself gave a speech as well. According to the same Crux report cited earlier, the heretical bishop addressed Francis and declared: “Our unity is in the true faith, and only the true faith is useful to humanity”. Needless to say, Francis did not contradict him, which means he apparently agrees that a rejection of the Roman primacy, of the Immaculate Conception, of purgatory, of the Filioque clause in the Creed, and of Christ’s teaching on adultery all constitute part of the “true faith.” But then again, to Francis, the very phrase “true faith” is unintelligible. For him, it is but silly gibberish of a bygone age and has as much validity today as talk of a “true flower pot” or a “true cheeseburger”.
(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Orientalis Ecclesiae, n. 16)