Pretending To Work For Unity

 

From the time of Pope John XXIII, the Vatican has made unity of all Christians its prime goal of the Twentieth Century. Not one success has been accomplished in all this time, over 50 years.All the different Christian Churches admit that Christ wanted Christian unity as expressed in His last prayer to the Father in John, Chapter 17.Over the past 50 years many meeting have taken place between the leaders of these different Churches and many dialogues have taken place between their theologians on the differences of their faith beliefs.What must be resolved for unity is belief, or a common faith.All other differences are secondary.†† Before this century there were many attempts at unity and some good results.In every case what brought about success was the common acceptance of the truths of Christ, doctrine, and not the different customs of the different countries or rites.All that was needed for unity was a common acceptance of faith (doctrine).

 

A Short History of Success

The only lasting success in uniting one Church with another has been some Eastern Rite Churches with the Roman Catholic Church. Over the years different groups of these Eastern Rite Churches have united with Roman Catholics and at the same time have kept intact all their ancient customs. They are referred to as the Oriental Rite Churches (Unate) and have equal status with the Roman Rite Churches.

The Armenians reunited with Rome during the Crusades. It wasn't until 1595 that another group, the Ukrainians or Galician Ruthenians united with Rome. The following year the Ruthenians (Carpatho-Russians) united with Rome. In 1611 the Yugoslavs, Serbs and Croatians returned. and soon after, the Byelorussians (White Russians) joined them.. The Albanians joined Rome in 1628. The Hungarian Rite united with Rome in 1646. In the year 1697 Romanians joined Rome.

In 1726 Melkites joined Rome physically, although had never left spiritually. In 1741 the Copts returned to Catholic unity, and in 1781 the Syrian Eastern Rite Churches in Greece and Turkey returned. Ethiopian Churches joined the Catholics in 1846. Bulgarians followed in 1861. Georgians (Russia) returned the same year. In 1905 Orientals of the Russian Rite returned.

And as late as 1930 an Eastern Church known as Malankarese of India became part of the Roman Church. I have deliberately listed all these Eastern Block Churches because they pave the way for the Twentieth Century. There are almost no reunions outside these unions for good reason. The Protestants believe in diversity of belief. The Greek Orthodox believe in unity of belief, but diversity of authority. Therefore, there has been no call to unity.

When Pope John XXIII became the Holy Father of the Catholic world, unity dominated his mind. He called for an "Ecumenical Council." He (and his predecessors) met with all the leaders of the separated Churches. He invited all separated brethren to attend the Vatican II Council. Not only did he want them to come, but to participate actively and to advise the Church on everything it could do to break down the walls of separation.

Many suggestions made by Protestant and Greek Orthodox leaders that did not violate the "Doctrine of the Faith" was enacted. Catholic Churches were stripped of unnecessary decorations. The Latin language was discarded. Language that did not foster a spirit of loving unity was eliminated. Bishops and priests were advised to admit the "mistakes Catholics made in the past, even to overstate them. It was the beautiful speech of the Melckite Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos IV Sayegh, that helped change the language of the Church:

"Christ offered the first Eucharistic Sacrifice in a language which could be understood by all who heard him, namely, Aramaic. ..Never could the idea have come to them [the Apostles] that in a Christian gathering the celebrant should read the texts of Holy Scripture, sing psalms, preach or break bread, and at the same time use a language different from that of the community gathered there. ..because this language [Latin] was spoken by the faithful of that time, Greek was abandoned in favor of Latin. ..Why, then, should the Roman Church cease to apply the same principle today?"

The Church listened to the Patriarch, and the language was changed. A fixed date for Easter, such as the first Sunday in April, was proposed provided that Eastern Orthodox, Protestant and civil authorities would agree. Dr. Kristen Skysgaard, of the Lutheran World Federation, expressed his desire, "that the visible union of Christians can be quickly achieved."

Cardinal Bea gave the true meaning of "loving toward unity" when he added,

"We must welcome criticism with humility, with reflection, and even defend itself by turning a deaf ear to suggestions that come from honest voices, especially if the voices are those of friends and brothers:'

Russian Orthodox observer-delegate, Archpriest Vitaly Borovoy said: The whole history of Christianity in our era is the history of the action of the Holy Spirit upon us and upon our churches, calling us to unity and helping us understand the necessity and urgency of this task. We are always ready to help our Roman Catholic brothers in anything which may contribute to harmony and unity among all Christians, so that, with a single tongue and a single heart, we may together glorify the most Holy Spirit."

Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I, made a common declaration on Dec. 7, 1965, expressing their mutual regret for offences the churches caused each other in the past and stated their intent to erase from memory the sentences of excommunication which followed them. Through justice and mutual forgiveness they hoped to overcome the differences between the churches with the help of the Holy Spirit, and that full communion of faith, brotherly concord and sacramental life would be restored.

Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I again met on Oct. 27, 1967. They called for a dialogue of charity. They expressed their conviction' that the restoration of full communion between the churches would be found within fidelity to the traditions of the Fathers and to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, who remains always with the Church. Pope Paul VI and Orthodox Catholic Patriarch of Armenians met on May 12, 1970 and called for a more profound unity.

Pope Paul VI and Mar Ignatius Jacob III, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch met on Oct. 27, 1971 and declared that they had no difference in the faith they professed, and so promised to work together to remove all obstacles to complete unity.

Paul VI and Shenouda III, Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria met on May 10, 1973 and declared that they were: "determined and confident in the Lord to achieve the fullness and perfection of that unity which is His gift."

Paul VI and Anglican Archbishop Donald Coggan of Canterbury declared on Apr. 29, 1977: "that goal which is Christ's Will-the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life."

Pope John Paul II and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, Dimitrios I met on Nov. 30, 1970 and mutually stated their desire for "Purification of the collective memory of our churches is an important fruit of the dialogue of charity and an indispensable condition of future progress."

John Paul II and Anglican Archbishop Robert Runcie of Canterbury met on May 29, 1982. They opened a commission to recommend practical steps towards a unity in faith and a full communion.

Pope John Paul II and Ignatius Zakka I, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch met June 23, 1984 and stated that there was "no real basis for the sad divisions which arose between us concerning the doctrine of the Incarnation."

The norms of Vatican II encouraged common prayer services for Christian unity. Vatican II stated that all Churches of the East and West should be offered equal dignity, no matter what their different spiritual heritages, liturgies, or ecclesiastical disciplines. Under the heading above called "SUCCESSES" I listed a long list of Churches from the Eastern Block that joined the West in common unity. It was to these Eastern Rite Churches that the four Popes of Unity addressed their prayer that they would work hand in hand with the separated Eastern Churches in Charity, Love, mutual prayer, common Liturgies and shared sacraments.

These Popes believed that it would be from the Eastern Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox that full unity would be achieved.

Probably the best example of attempts at unity is in the document of Pope Paul VI in 1972. For many years the Catholics and the Orthodox argued over the Holy Spirit. The Catholics saying "from the Son" and the Orthodox saying "through the Son." Thomas Aquinas insisted six hundred years ago that there was no difference in the two ways of understanding it. However, the wording remained the same for all these years. Finally, in 1972 in the document called "Declaration Regarding The Safeguarding of Faith In the Mysteries Of The Incarnation And Of The Most Blessed Trinity From Some Recent Errors"

We read in Chapter Four: "The Holy Spirit who proceeds, from all eternity, from the Father and from the Son, or, in other words, from the Father through the Son:'

The addition of, "or, in other words, from the Father through the Son." is a major concession towards unity that should not be overlooked, for now there is no difference between the two churches on this point.

Actually, what separates the East and West is not so much theology or Canon Law or differences in Liturgical Rites, but it is the POWER OF THE ELDERS. This was best expressed at the Vatican Council- by Archpriest Borovoy of the Russian Orthodox Church:

"When I return to Russia, no one is going to ask me what the theologians said. But they will ask, 'Were some of the Eastern patriarchs there, and what places did they occupy?'

Patriarch Maximos IV rightfully stated that it was illogical that the Council, while striving to break down the barriers between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, should at the same time seat the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches after the cardinals. One of the most cherished rights which the patriarchs had always enjoyed was their precedence in rank. In earlier centuries, the patriarchs had always followed immediately after the Pope, who himself was still called Patriarch of the West. In fact, ecclesiastical tradition from the earliest centuries consistently lists the rank of the Sees in the Universal Church in the following order: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem."

Again Patriarch Maximos IV stated,

"the rank assigned to them by the canons of the earliest ecumenical councils, that is, the first place immediately after the Supreme Pontiff: In fact, the decisions of the earliest ecumenical councils in this matter had been respected at the Council of Florence in 1439, where, by order of Pope Eugene IV, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Joseph II, had occupied the first place after the Pope.

"This question is a grave one and may constitute a nearly insurmountable obstacle to future union between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

"The most serious problem of all is that of having bishops of different Eastern Catholic rites in the same See, with jurisdiction over the same territory."

These are, the real things that separate and they always have been. Nowhere in the world is this more evident than in Damascus, where there are more bishops and Patriarchs than in all of Mexico.

Charity means to give something. Someone has to have enough love, enough charity to give up his power, his seat, his position. If not, there will never be unity. Those who are well read in history will note that once, in the interest of unity, the Pope gave up his seat. I know of many saintly Cardinals, and I believe if it had to be, even the Pope, himself, would step down for the sake of a unified Kingdom.

Nationalism is another cause of separation. Nationalism must be given up, at least in the Church of God. To have followers of Christ clinging to "their Church" on one side of the street because it was the church of their fathers; and followers of Christ clinging to "their Church" on the other side of the street because it is Polish, or Italian, or Syrian is stupid.

A Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was set up in 1960. In the U.S., the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs was established in 1964, The World Council of Churches had started in 1954, The National Council of Churches in 1950, Consultation on Church Union in 1962, and The Graymoor Ecumenical Institute formed the same year. The American Baptist Convention met four times from 1967 to 1971 for unity dialogue. The Southern Ecumenical Institute of Baptists met 24 times from 1969-86. The Council on Christian Unity met 15 times from 1967-80. The Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation had 31 meetings from 1965-85. The Lutheran World Ministries talked about unity at 47 gatherings from 1965-86. The United Methodists met 21 times from 1966-81. The Orthodox Conference of Cannonical Orthodox Bishops of America talked unity at 31 meetings from 1965-85. The Oriental Orthodox Churches met 11 times from 1978-84. The Polish National Catholics met four times from 1984-86. The Roman Catholic-Presbyterian Consultation Group worked on unity in 31 meetings from 1965-85.

International Bilateral Commissions were set up. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, The International Theological Colloquium between Baptists and Catholics, The Disciples of Christ-Roman Catholic Dialogue,

The Evangelical-Roman Catholic Dialogue on Mission, The Joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic Study Commission, The Joint Methodist-Roman Catholic Commission, The International Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission, The Pentecostal-Roman Catholic Conversations, and The Reformed-Roman Catholic Conversations.

And what have these commissions, this dialogue, these studies, these conversations produced in the way of unity? Nothing except talk,' talk, talk and talk. Oh, I'm sure the Theologians and the Canon Lawyers will be angry with that statement. They will say that, "we came' to this agreement, or that understanding, or compromised on this and that point." This will not unite.

Unity will come when we refuse to repeat the mistakes of our fathers; when we refuse to remember the mistakes of our fathers; when we refuse to see national and ethnic differences; when we the people say we have had enough of this talk and walk en masse out of our respective Churches and meet in the streets, hugging, loving, giving, forgiving, and praying together. Then you will see the Power, and the Glory of the Holy Spirit.

ONLY ONE FAITH

All it takes to have one and only one Christian Church on earth as it was in the turn of the millennium is having the same faith (the same doctrine).Without the same faith there is no unity for it is having the same faith that makes us universal.People who are just pretending to work towards unity will use this or that excuse for not uniting.But in the end it is not doctrine but power that keeps us from unity.

Power (or pride) is the cause of divisions and not doctrine. It is not doctrine that kept the Russian Orthodox Patriarch from letting Pope John Paul II visit him in Russia and bring the Icon of Kazan, but his fear that the people of Russia would accept John Paul II as a greater leader of Christians than himself.

St. Chrysostom in his homily on Ephesians said: "Nothing will so avail to divide the Church as love of power. Nothing so provokes God's anger as the division of the Church. Yea, though we have achieved ten thousand glorious acts, yet shall we, if we cut to pieces the fullness of the Church, suffer punishment to less sore than they who mangled His body."

And quoting St. Cyprian, St. Chrysostom said,

"not even the blood of martyrdom can wash out this sin. St. Cyprian said: 'God does not accept the sacrifice of a sewer of disunion, but commands that he depart from the altar so that he may first be reconciled with his brother.í"

St. Cyprian was not without some disagreements with the Roman Bishop, St. Stephen, but he knew well the passage in Matt. 5:23:

"If therefore you offer your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has any thing against you; LEAVE THERE YOUR OFFERING BEFORE THE ALTAR, and go first to be reconciled to your brother."

It is not Doctrine that keeps the other Patriarchs from unity but the idea that they will have to give up there absolute power over their people.Because in the end there is only one doctrine that keeps people separated, and that is the Doctrine of the ™Authority of Peter™

For this reason 15 years ago I wrote a booklet called, ™The Pope, A Sign of Unity or A Sign of Division™.I wrote this document with this misleading title so that I could get non-Catholics to read it.But now I am going to change the title to what it should have been, - The Pope In The First 7 Centuries.

In this booklet I prove that the Pope of Rome was always considered the final and only authority of the Church. If I must say so, I believe this is the best document I have ever written and it took three years of hard research.

I first use the passages in the Bible to prove the authority of the Pope, then the statements of the Saint of the first 7 Centuries, and then the example of the first 7 Councils. I use the example of Constantinople as the major proof.

Constantine, the Great built a great church over the tomb of St. Peter and then moved his seat of power to ancient Byzantium and called it Constantinople. Later his sons wanted to make Constantinople an Apostolic See because it was the seat of the Emperor of the World.One Emperor after another used their power to almost force the bishops in many Councils to declare it an Apostolic See.

In the first Council of Constantinople, we read, "The Bishop of Constantinople, however, shall have the prerogative of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is New Rome."

Again in the second Council of Ephesus and the second of Constantinople the same thing was attempted.Again the Council of Chalcedon convened in 451 attempting to give to Constantinople the second See of the world. The third council of Constantinople also voted to make Constantinople an Apostolic See.

In every case the Pope of Rome and only the Pope of Rome vetoed it

At the third Council of Constantinople, and the second of Nice in 787 AD Constaninople is still not an Apostolic See for now other reason that the authority of the Pope of Rome.

The canons of the councils did not have the power to place Constantinople as a major See.

Ut Unum Sint

Pope John Paul II wrote two Apostolic Letters on unity: "The Light of the East" and "". Both letters are full of love, kindness, and compromise on all things except faith. By their fruits you will know them.

Matthew 18:15-20 tells me that whosoever is not working for the unity of all Christians should be treated like a heathen and a publican. Whosoever is not working for unity has no love. Whosoever is not working for the unity Christ prayed for is not Christian.

Unity can only come about by compromise, but compromise on matters of faith is to compromise Christ. We all know we cannot do that. When we dialogue, and dialogue we must if we have love for Christ, I will ask you to show me your power to prove your interpretation of your faith. For Christ says that his works prove His words, and Paul says, "for the kingdom of God is not in puffed up speech but in power." (1 Cor. 4:20) and in (2 Tim 3:4) "they have the appearance of good but not the power of God." That power is miracles. Miracles bear witness to the faith. Miracles are Godís works. Show me your faith without miracles, and I will show you my faith with miracles. By their fruits you will know them.

Protestants believe in Scripture only, but they cannot show in Scripture where in the Scriptures it says that. Catholics and Orthodox Churches believe Scripture is the divinely inspired Word of God, and that Tradition is what the fathers universally, in time, taught was the meaning of Scripture. Because each and every person interprets something in the Scriptures in a different way, we now have divided the Kingdom of God into 27,000 sects.

People even have different ideas of what unity means. The Orthodox say they already have unity with their "Plurus Unum". The Eastern Catholics say they have unity in their "Autocephalous" bishops. Protestants say they have unity in their "Pluralism". Catholics say they have unity "in union with the Pope". Some cults say that if you do not belong to their Church (even though it might be only one building throughout the whole world) you will be lost.

If Plurus Unum (first among many) really works, why do the different Orthodox Churches have different beliefs on the basic facts of religion: like the Trinity, the Resurrection of the Body, or even when the soul goes to heaven. Is this unity? They call it unity, but does God call it unity?

If Autocephalous works (the belief that each bishop is the absolute boss of his people with no other authority over him), who is to say what geographical area he is to cover? What if he is an Arian? Or, perhaps two Autocephalous bishops can build churches side by side and attract whoever they can. In Damascus there are nine bishops.

If Councils are the rule of faith, why haven't the Orthodox had a council since the Sixth Century? Are there no problems to be resolved? Who is capable of ratifying a council Ö all of the members? Only a majority? What if there is a deadlock? What if members can't attend? If only the Patriarchs have to sign, then what if they disagree?

If only the first Four, Five, Six, or Seven Councils are the rule of Faith, has anyone ever read them? Which version have you read? There are many versions. Who keeps the authentic version? Who has the entire world trusted to keep the original for 1600 years?

If Pluralism is already unity, then why do they attack each otherís faith? Pluralism is the belief that there are many roads to heaven and each person can choose his own method of getting there, there being no bad methods, and no taking into account God's method.

So what do we say? Do we already have unity? No! Does Christ want unity? Yes! Can we call ourselves Christians if we do not do all that we can for this unity? No! How can this unity come about?

Only Through the acceptance of the Authority of Peter, the Pope of Rome.