With the release of Unitatis Redintegratio (Restoration of Unity) by the Second Vatican Council on November 12, 1964, the Catholic church declared its intention to patiently regather the “separated brethren” back into its fold via ecumenism.
“When such (ecumenical) actions are undertaken prudently and patiently by the Catholic faithful, with the attentive guidance of their bishops, they promote justice and truth, concord and collaboration, as well as the spirit of brotherly love and unity. This is the way that, when the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion have been gradually overcome, all Christians will at last, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, be gathered into the one and only Church in that unity which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. We believe that this unity subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time.”
Rome unabashedly defines its concept of Christian “unity” as a return to papal authority.
Since Vatican II the popes have worked tirelessly towards this objective. The current pope, Francis, beats the drum of “unity” quite regularly.
Below are some recent news stories highlighting Catholic ecumenism and Francis’ determination to overcome Evangelical objections to Catholicism. In the first report, Francis reacts to ISIS terrorism attacks by challenging “Christians” to persevere in their efforts to unify in the face of shared persecution.
I have a few thoughts on the ISIS terrorist attacks, which may seem a bit harsh to some. ISIS certainly doesn’t care about Christian doctrinal distinctives. If someone professes Christ, ISIS doesn’t need or want any additional information. But let’s play this out to its logical conclusion. Let’s suppose there was an ISIS attack on the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City during a Sunday service and thousands of Mormons were killed or injured. That would be a terrible, terrible tragedy but I would not be inclined to see the victims as my “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Mormon theology has little in common with orthodox Biblical Christianity. Or let’s suppose ISIS attacked the Watchtower Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn, New York, killing and injuring hundreds. Again, it would be a terrible tragedy but I would not suddenly start extending the hand of brothership to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
In the same vein, ISIS is indiscriminately murdering “Christians” in the Middle East and in Africa. Yes, many of the victims are undoubtedly genuine Christians who are martyrs for the faith. However, many are members of apostate churches who believe in salvation by sacramental grace and by perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments. The murder of ALL of these people is an ongoing tragedy but that does not mean we should flush Biblical doctrine down the toilet and embrace everyone who names the name of Christ as a fellow Christian. It may seem cynical to some to suggest the pope is exploiting the ISIS attacks to further his ecumenical agenda but that’s what I’m suggesting.
In our cozy homes within the relatively safe borders of the United States let’s pray for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are suffering for the faith. And I also pray many nominal Christians will genuinely accept the Lord as their Savior in the throes of this terrible violence.
Evangelicals, Catholics United by Christian Persecution, Pope Francis says
The Ecumenism of Pope Francis
The Pope’s Growing Evangelical Flock
Catholic-Lutheran document sums up agreements, maps steps to full unity