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Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Ecumenism is Solemn Nonsense Featured

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Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew I
On November 30, Pope Francis gave an address upon conclusion of the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Orthodox Church of St. George in Istanbul. In this address, Pope Francis stated his belief that the restoration of the Orthodox to “full communion” “does not signify the submission of one to the other, or assimilation.” This is patently false. As any Catholic should know, refusal to submit to the authority of the Catholic Church puts one outside of Her. And if one is outside of the Church, one certainly cannot be in “full communion” with Her.

Before the age of pontiffs who put human respect for heretics and schismatics above respect for God’s Truth, there lived a different breed of Catholic. One who was capable of grasping the simple logic that two contradictory belief systems could never be reconciled. He understood that no amount of praising a heretic, no amount of dialoguing with a heretic, and no amount of doing good works with a heretic could ever make the heretic’s error one bit closer to being true.

One of these Catholics was Arthur Featherstone Marshall. Marshall was a graduate of Oxford and an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism in the 1860’s.  Marshall’s entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia leaves no doubt that if he were alive today he would be writing for The Remnant:

[Marshall] was widely known as the author of "The Comedy of Convocation", a satirical brochure exposing the inconsistencies invoked in all three of the Anglican views—-High, Low, and Broad Church. His "Old Catholics at Cologne" was hardly less popular during the period immediately following the Vatican Council and the defection of Döllinger. Other controversial works of a light and popular character by this brilliant writer were "Reply to the Bishop of Ripon's Attack on the Catholic Church" and the "Infallibility of the Pope."

A brilliant essay of Marshall’s entitled; “Reunion or Submission” was published in the American Catholic Quarterly Review in1883. In it, Marshall utterly destroys the “solemn nonsense” of post-Conciliar ecumenism far before the Council was ever a gleam in John XXIII’s eye. In fact, the very title of Marshall’s essay, “Reunion or Submission,” tells us, contrary to our own current Pope, that there can absolutely be no “communion” without submission of the non-Catholic to the Church. Marshall provides much needed insight for modern Catholics as to why all Conciliar attempts at ecumenism are necessarily doomed. Marshall also provides ways to articulate this simple truth to one’s Neo-Catholic and liberal friends.

What follows is only part one of the essay. Future installments will be posted soon. While reading, please remember that what Marshall proposes is not merely his own opinion but very simple and obvious truths any Catholic worth his salt would have known in the late 1800’s. Without further ado I give you Arthur Featherstone Marshall… Chris Jackson


WHAT is meant by “a reunion of the Churches?" The phrase is, perhaps, purposely indefinite. There cannot be reunion where there never was union; and it is certain that between Catholicity and Heresy there never was union of faith or obedience. Let us examine into the fiction “reunion," and see whether we can discover a better word.

The High Church party in England, when they advocate reunion, mean the union of “ the Roman, Greek and Anglican Branches ” of what they account the whole Catholic Church. To a Catholic it is obvious that such a union would be, theoretically and practically, impossible. First, there. is the assumption that the three Branches, so called, were at one time united as one whole. But there never was, never could be, such a union. Czarodoxy and Anglicanism-two “Branches” out of the three-are bitterly opposed in principle to Catholicity, and cannot, therefore, be derived from her maternity. Czarodoxy is a revolt against the authority of the Holy See, while Anglicanism, in addition to being such a revolt, is an apostasy from a great part of the Catholic faith; nor does Czarodoxy recognize the orthodoxy of the Church of England, or regard its Orders as derived from the Apostles. It is obvious, therefore, that there cannot be a reunion of " Branches” which never were united, just as it is obvious that the Catholic Church, which was never Czarodox or Anglican, cannot be re united to “Branches ” it never recognized. The phrase, therefore, “reunion of the Churches,” has no meaning, accurately speaking, in High Church sense; while, in Low Church sense, the phrase means the union of all Dissenters with an Establishment which has never owned them as her children. Some better word, some more accurate word, than reunion must be found to meet the difficulties of the case. And that better word, that more accurate word is Submission-submission of all Protestants to the Catholic Church.

“No,” will exclaim both Anglicans and Dissenters, "Submission is too humiliating an idea.” Humiliating it is, if taken in a wrong sense, but cheering and elevating in a right sense. There cannot be humiliation in the submitting to an authority which we recognize as rightful and legitimate. It is in submitting to an authority which we do not recognize that there is a sense of affront to our self-respect. For example, is there anything humiliating in obedience to our parents, or in obedience to the laws of our country, or even in obedience to such rulers of any society as are formulated for the order of its members? None whatever. And why not in any one of the three cases? Simply because parental authority is recognized as legitimate, equally in a human and divine sense; because the laws of a country are as essential to our protection as they are essential to the very existence of a state; and because the social rules of any society are as much a safeguard to its members as they are a fortress beyond which outsiders cannot penetrate. There is no humiliation in such submission. On the contrary, humiliation would follow quickly on disobedience to parents, on the infraction of any one of a nation’s laws, or even on the ostracism to which the breaking of a society’s rules would expose every non-conforming member. It is not then submission, in each one of these three instances, which involves the dreaded punishment of humiliation; it is the refusal to submit obediently to properly constituted authority which alone merits the penalty and the shame.

The non-Catholic will here object to us very reasonably: "Yes, perfectly true as to an authority which is recognized; but how do you show that submission to the Catholic Church stands on the same level with the examples you have given? I must affirm that it does not, because, whereas in your three examples we recognize the authority, we do not recognize authority in the Roman Church. Hence you are simply begging the question.”

Now our reply to this objection will be as follows: The assertion of authority is a primary cause of obedience, because assertion implies a conscious right. In almost all human matters the assertion of authority is three-fourths of the vindication of its claim. If a parent said to a son, “do not obey me," or if the state said to a subject, “do not obey me," there would be very little obedience in either case. But because the parent says, emphatically, "you must obey me," and because the state says, emphatically, “you must obey me," there is positively no questioning of an authority of which the assertion implies the right to be obeyed. And the analogy‘ is so close-we do not say it is complete between the Catholic Church, the parent, and the state that we shall be able to show in a few minutes that the assertion of divine authority is in itself a vindication of its right.

We begin by observing that the Catholic Church is the only Church which makes the assertion of its own divine authority,— that is of the divine right to be obeyed. It can be proved, beyond the possibility of questioning, that no other church, sect, denomination—from the Czar’s Church down to the minutest Christian body—ever did claim, or does now claim, to have sole divine authority to command obedience from all Christians in the world. The Czar’s Church is so far from making this assertion that it confesses itself to be a purely political machine for the working out of the unity of the empire, nor has it ever tried, outside that empire, to convert the heathen to Christianity, nor has it ever exhibited the smallest interest in their conversion. Christian missions have had no patronage from the Russian Czar. Persecution is the sole mission-work of the whole empire. And this one fact by itself would prove that the Russian Church makes no assertion of the divine authority to teach the world. But, more than this, the Czar’s Church does not pretend to define dogma; it has never dreamed of summoning councils to rule the faith; it is an absolutely dead body in the sense of that development which is the sure sign of life in the teaching Church. The Russian “Holy Synod" is a mere sham, with no pretension to dogmatize on Christian doctrine in response to the attacks of unbelievers. Indeed, schism has so utterly dried up the Russian "Branch"—has so withered its spiritual vitality throughout the empire—that it would be true to say that in shivered Protestantism there is more of the old Catholic spirit than in that Communion of which Photius was the beginner.

And as to the Church of England, she affirms emphatically that she cannot teach; that, as “all churches have erred," so can she err; and she is so wrath with the Catholic Church for proclaiming her infallibility—for defining its exact limits, and where it resides-that she cannot forgive her such a formal censure of Anglican humanness, of Anglican vacillation and fallibility.

As to Dissenters, it suffices to make the remark that the very existence of their varieties is the proclamation of the rights of heresy, of the Christian privilege, the Christian duty, of infinite schism.

There is then only one Christian body in the world which asserts her divine authority to teach all nations; and though the assertion, in itself, would not prove possession, yet it creates a strong presumption in its favor. Just as, to return to our analogy, no one would think of obeying a parent who should say, “I have no authority from God or man to presume to teach you”; nor would any one think of obeying the laws of a state which should say, “Pray, make your own laws for yourselves, for I have no authority to command any compliance, or to punish any political heretic or schismatic; " so no one who believed in the divinity of the Christian religion should think of obeying the Czar‘s religion or Queen Victoria’s religion (or the religion of any one of the 242 English sects, or the religion of any one of the 220 American sects), since every one of these religious bodies acknowledges that it has no more authority than self-will and self-pleasing can confer upon it. And since the authority of a divine Teacher is not only to make laws, but to rule the whole faith which concerns salvation, that authority must demand an obedience more intellectual and more moral, more binding upon the spiritual nature of every Christian, than all the authorities of parents and states put together, which only busy themselves with the philosophy of temporal life.

If we should allow, then, the thorough reasonableness of the objection, “The mere assertion of divine authority, apart from other credentials, does not amount to proof positive of its possession," we should nevertheless be able to demonstrate that the disclaimer of divine authority is proof positive that it cannot be possessed. "I cannot teach you, because I am as fallible as you are," is the same thing with saying, “I have no divine authority, any more than have the lay members of my Communion." And this is what all the “churches," save only the Catholic Church, say to their co-authoritative disciples. All the “ churches," therefore, save only the Catholic Church, confess that they are purely human institutions; their “theology” is constructed out of the private opinions of individuals, who take themselves for their sole guides in determining truth. They even glory in what they call their “liberty of private judgment," the liberty of being the slaves of their own electicism. Their “authority " is their private estimate of one or more Protestant teachers, or of the comparative worth of their own views upon all doctrines. In other words, they have no authority at all. To call a man's own estimate of an individual teacher, or a man's own estimate of his interpretation of the Scriptures “a divine authority which is all-sufficient and reliable,” is to make a jest of the most important question to the human soul. Yet this is the one only “divine" authority which any person can possess outside the Church. It matters not whether a man be Orthodox or Anglican, whether he be a Baptist or a Quaker; his only “ divine" authority is his private judgment of his teachers, or his private judgment of the whole teaching of the New Testament. Nor is it worth while to linger on this last point—“the private judgment of the whole teaching of the New Testament." No fallacy has done more harm to Christian souls than that fallacy which has been the staple of all Protestantism : “the private interpretation of the Bible is the same thing with the Bible itself." Common sense might have sufficed to explode a theory which is the deification of ignorance and presumption. To talk of the Bible as being "the sole divine authority," apart from the divine interpretation of the Bible, is like asserting of astronomy that it can be perfectly apprehended by gazing upon the heavens on a star-lit night. The fallacy of so-called Bible Christianity has been demonstrated by every sect that has been started, and by every disciple of every sect new or old. That fallacy should be too worn out to need discussion. Divine authority does reside in the Bible, but not in the private interpretation of the Bible.

(To Be Continued…)

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