It would be extremely easy to fall into error this week while seeking unity. We as Catholics follow the complete Truth of Jesus Christ revealed over the past 2,000 years. And that is what we will always believe. We shall not - must not - disregard a single teaching of the Church for "unity". Unity does not mean that all of the separated Christians should come together and make compromises until a new Creed is made. This is heresy! We will not compromise one single article of doctrine, or one single dogma, or one single practice of our faith. For that is a common misconception of what this Week of Christian Unity is about. This week of Christian Unity is about praying for fellow non-Catholics to repent for their sins and enter into the Catholic Church - completely obedient to the Magesterium and all honored Traditions of the Faith. Yes, it is a sin to refuse to believe a single dogma of the Church. And, it may compromise one's soul if that person refuses to believe even one part of the Faith taught by Christ and revealed through the years by the Holy Catholic Church. Again, anyone who will disregard a dogma or teaching of the Holy Church in the name of ecumenism will surely answer to Almighty God.
The Church is our Mother and led by the Successor of Saint Peter - the Pope. I have already posted a summary of some of the Church's teachings in my post on the Prayer for Unity. And, since we still hold the True Faith, it is our obligation to pray for non-Catholics to see their errors and enter the Church. In truth, interdenominational activity has been condemned through the years by the Church. I have not and will not attend a single Protestant service, and I hope and pray all Catholics will do the same. This is not because I view myself superior. After all, Jesus ate with the sinners and was criticized for it. But, it is a scandelous activity to attend a Protestant service. Not only do Protestants not have the authentic Sacraments like the Eucharist, Confession, Last Rites, Holy Orders, etc., they believe heresy. The very word "Protestant" implies they are "protesting". And what are they protesting against? They protest against the Catholic Church, which is the Sacrament of salvation for the whole world! For this reason, it is wrong for any Catholic to attend a non-Catholic religious service. The 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal (Angelus Press Edition) states that it is a sin to "go to places of worship belonging to other denominations" (page 66).
Pope Pius XI condemend the "ecumenical movement" in Mortalium Animos:
"...it will be opportune to expound and to reject a certain false opinion which lies at the root of this question and of that complex movement by which non-Catholics seek to bring about the union of Christian Churches. Those who favor this view constantly quote the words of Christ, "That they may be one (Ut unum sint)... And there shall be one fold and one shepherd" (John xvii. 21, x. 16), in the sense that Christ thereby merely expressed a desire or a prayer which as yet has not been granted. For they hold that the unity of faith and government which is a note of the one true Church of Christ has up to the present time hardly ever existed, and does not exist today. They consider that this unity is indeed to be desired and may even, by cooperation and good will, be actually attained, but that meanwhile it must be regarded as a mere ideal. The Church, they say, is of its nature divided into sections, composed of several churches or distinct communities which still remain separate, and although holding in common some articles of doctrine, nevertheless differ concerning the remainder; that all these enjoy the same rights; and that the Church remained one and undivided at the most only from the Apostolic age until the first Ecumenical Councils. Hence, they say, controversies and long-standing differences, which today still keep asunder the members of the Christian family, must be entirely set aside, and from the residue of doctrines a common form of faith drawn up and proposed for belief, in the profession of which all may not only know but also feel themselves to be brethren. If the various Churches or communities were united in some kind of universal federation, they would then be in a position to oppose resolutely and successfully the progress of irreligion.
"Such, Venerable Brethren, is the common contention. There are indeed some who recognize and affirm that Protestantism has with inconsiderate zeal rejected certain articles of faith and external ceremonies which are in fact useful and attractive, and which the Roman Church still retains. But they immediately go on to say that the Roman Church, too, has erred, and corrupted the primitive religion by adding to it and proposing for belief doctrines not only alien to the Gospel but contrary to its spirit. Chief among these they count that of the primacy of jurisdiction granted to Peter and to his successors in the See of Rome. There are actually some, though few, who grant to the Roman Pontiff a primacy of honor and even a certain power or jurisdiction; this, however, they consider to arise not from the divine law but merely from the consent of the faithful. Others, again, even go so far as to desire the Pontiff himself to preside over their mixed assemblies. For the rest, while you may hear many non-Catholics loudly preaching brotherly communion in Jesus Christ, yet not one will you find to whom it even occurs with devout submission to obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ in his capacity of teacher or ruler. Meanwhile they assert their readiness to treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, as equals with an equal. But even if they could so treat, there seems little doubt that they would do so only on condition that no pact into which they might enter should compel them to retract those opinions which still keep them outside the one fold of Christ.
"This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See can by no means take part in these assemblies. nor is it in any way lawful for Catholics to give to such enterprises their encouragement or support. If they did so, they would be giving countenance to a false Christianity quite alien to the one Church of Christ. Shall we commit the iniquity of suffering the truth, the truth revealed by God, to be made a subject for compromise? For it is indeed a question of defending revealed truth. Jesus Christ sent His Apostles into the whole world to declare the faith of the Gospel to every nation, and, to save them from error, He willed that the Holy Ghost should first teach them all truth. Has this doctrine, then, disappeared, or at any time been obscured, in the Church of which God Himself is the ruler and guardian? Our Redeemer plainly said that His Gospel was intended not only for the apostolic age but for all time. Can the object of faith, then, have become in the process of time so dim and uncertain that today we must tolerate contradictory opinions? If this were so, then we should have to admit that the coming of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, the perpetual indwelling of the same Spirit in the Church, nay, the very preaching of Jesus Christ, have centuries ago lost their efficacy and value. To affirm this would be blasphemy.
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI JANUARY 6, 1928
Now, please realize I don't want violence or discord to result from my opinions or this mentioned statement. But, we must not compromise our beliefs. We must pray for and love non-Catholics, especially Protestants, but we can't compromise our beliefs one ounce. That is why we must pray, pray, and pray for non-Catholics to see their errors and return to the Flock of Christ so that there will exist one Flock and one Shepherd. We must pray for schismatics, heretics, and pagans to all repent and enter the Church of Christ. As St. Pius X wrote, "There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the community of His children. There is only one true, holy, Catholic church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church." (Singulari Quidem, Encyclical of Pope Pius IX)
If you are non-Catholic and would like more information than posted on this website, I suggest you visit One Bread Lay Apostolate, which provides free information for non-Catholics. Much more information on the basics of Catholicism can be found at Fish Eaters. For some articles on Catholic beliefs that I have written, see my sidebar under the title "Catholic Categories".
I will conclude with these words from part of the document "Notification relative to the book of Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism" from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of it. This document was read by Pope John Paul II at the audience of January 19, 2001:
I. On the sole and universal salvific mediation of Jesus Christ.
1. It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, crucified and risen, is the sole and universal mediator of salvation for all humanity.
2. It must be firmly believed that Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man and only Savior of the world, is the Son and Word of the Father. For the unity of the divine plan of salvation centered in Jesus Christ, it must also be held that the salvific action of the Word is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of the Father, as mediator of salvation for all humanity. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith not only to posit a separation between the Word and Jesus, or between the Word's salvific activity and that of Jesus, but also to maintain that there is a salvific activity of the Word as such in his divinity, independent of the humanity of the Incarnate Word.
II. On the unicity and completeness of revelation of Jesus Christ.
3. It must be firmly believed that Jesus Christ is the mediator and fulfillment and the completeness of revelation. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith to maintain that revelation in Jesus Christ (or the revelation of Jesus Christ) is limited, incomplete or imperfect. Moreover, although full knowledge of divine revelation will be had only on the day of the Lord's coming in glory, the historical revelation of Jesus Christ offers everything necessary for man's salvation and has no need of completion by other religions.
4. It is consistent with Catholic doctrine to hold that the seeds of truth and goodness that exist in other religions are a certain participation in truths contained in the revelation of or in Jesus Christ. However, it is erroneous to hold that such elements of truth and goodness, or some of them, do not derive ultimately from the source-mediation of Jesus Christ.
5. The Church's faith teaches that the Holy Spirit, working after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is always the Spirit of Christ sent by the Father, who works in a salvific way in Christians as well as non-Christians. It is therefore contrary to the Catholic faith to hold that the salvific action of the Holy Spirit extends beyond the one universal salvific economy of the Incarnate Word.
IV. On the orientation of all human beings to the Church.
6.It must be firmly believed that the Church is sign and instrument of salvation for all people. It is contrary to the Catholic faith to consider the different religions of the world as ways of salvation complementary to the Church.
7. According to Catholic doctrine, the followers of other religions are oriented to the Church and are all called to become part of her.
V. On the value and salvific function of the religious traditions.
8. In accordance with Catholic doctrine, it must be held that "whatever the Spirit brings about in human hearts and in the history of peoples, in cultures and religions, serves as a preparation for the Gospel" (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 16). It is therefore legitimate to maintain that the Holy Spirit accomplishes salvation in non-Christians also through those elements of truth and goodness present in the various religions; however to hold that these religions, considered as such, are ways of salvation, has no foundation in Catholic theology, also because they contain omissions, insufficiencies and errors regarding fundamental truths about God, man and the world.
Furthermore, the fact that elements of truth and goodness present in the various world religions may prepare peoples and cultures to receive the saving event of Jesus Christ does not imply that the sacred texts of these religions can be considered as complementary to the Old Testament, which is the immediate preparation for the Christ event.
Let us pray and work towards unity - that all people will be members of the one, true Church that Jesus Christ established for the salvation of the world - the Catholic Church.Please read the prayer of Jesus for Christian Unity from The Gospel of John, Chapter 17.