Rorate Caeli

80 years of Mortalium Animos - I
True unity of Christians: "the return to the one true Church of Christ"

Erat Ioseph et Maria mater Iesu, mirantes super his quæ dicebantur de illo. Et benedixit illis Simeon, et dixit ad Mariam matrem eius: "Ecce positus est hic in ruinam, et in resurrectionem multorum in Israël: et in signum cui contradicetur..." (From the Gospel for the Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord, St.Luke ii, 33-34: "Joseph and Mary, the mother of Jesus, were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning Him. And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His Mother: 'Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel: and for a sign which shall be contradicted...'.")


On the feast of the Epiphany of Our Lord, 1928, in the very center of the period between the two great conflicts of the 20th Century, the Successor of Peter clearly exposed the perennial doctrine of the only Church of Christ "on fostering true religious unity". Pope Pius concluded his brief and solid encyclical, Mortalium Animos, with the expression of his heartfelt desire:

...We desire that Our children should also know, not only those who belong to the Catholic community, but also those who are separated from Us: if these latter humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity.

What a thorn Mortalium Animos is to many in the Church! - today as it was then: as the Baby in the Temple, a "sign of contradiction"; as the Instrument of Redemption, it is "scandal" to some, and "folly" to many others. It certainly is a difficult document for the modern age and one that, while an expression of the unchanging Faith of Holy Mother Church, has been carefully avoided in the Conciliar and post-Conciliar years. Of the major encyclicals of Pope Ratti, it is the only one that, even by indirect reference, is completely omitted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The last major ecclesiastical document to mention it, curiously enough, was the first encyclical of Pope Blessed John XXIII (Ad Petri Cathedram, 1959: "...this unity, Venerable Brethren and beloved sons, must be solid, firm and sure, not transient, uncertain, or unstable. Though there is no such unity in other Christian communities, all who look carefully can see that it is present in the Catholic Church.")

In the years before a "hermeneutic of continuity" was included in Papal discourse, Father Chad Ripperger, FSSP, introduced to the wider English-speaking Catholic audience the notion that the absence of such hermeneutics in the matters involved in the "extrinsic tradition" of the Church has necessarily led to confusion and worse (from his famous article "Conservative vs. Traditional Catholicism", The Latin Mass, Spring 2001): the document of Vatican II on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, there is not a single mention of the two previous documents that deal with the ecumenical movement and other religions: Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum and Pius XI's Mortalium Animos. The approach to ecumenism and other religions in these documents is fundamentally different from the approach of the Vatican II document or Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II. While the current Magisterium can change a teaching that falls under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching, nevertheless, when the Magisterium makes a judgment in these cases, it has an obligation due to the requirements of the moral virtue of prudence to show how the previous teaching was wrong or is now to be understood differently by discussing the two different teachings. However, this is not what has happened. The Magisterium since Vatican II often ignores previous documents which may appear to be in opposition to the current teaching, leaving the faithful to figure out how the two are compatible, such as in the cases of Mortalium Animos and Ut Unum Sint. This leads to confusion and infighting within the Church as well as the appearance of contradicting previous Church teaching without explanation or reasoned justification.

Such reasoned justification has never been put forward; even when trying to summarize the history of Catholic participation in "ecumenical dialogue", Cardinal Kasper, current President of Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity glosses over the radical change between both sets of documents:

"The Catholic Church abstained [from ecumenical dialogue] at the beginning. The encyclical letters Satis cognitum of Leo XIII (1896) and Mortalium animos of Pius XI (1928) even condemned the ecumenical dialogue which seemed to relativise the claim of the Catholic Church to be the true Church of Jesus Christ. Yet Pius XII already paved the way to a more open attitude, albeit with caution, in an Instruction of the Holy Office of 1949. However, only the initiative of Pope John XXIII (+1963) and the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) brought a shift. The conciliar Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio stated that the ecumenical movement was a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit in our time (Unitatis redintegratio, 1), opening the way for the ecumenical movement and highlighting the importance of dialogue with separated brothers and sisters and with separated churches and church communities."

It is in fact quite devious to present the warning set forth in Mortalium Animos as a mere policy of "abstention" from ecumenical dialogue. Pius XI identified what seem to be clear errors in ecumenical dialogue:

All Christians, they add, should be as "one": for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. ... in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed.

...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," 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 today is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. Shall We suffer, what would indeed be iniquitous, the truth, and a truth divinely revealed, to be made a subject for compromise?
Therefore, one cannot even say that the "apparent contradiction" has not been properly explained, for it has actually been completely ignored. The Catholic faithful are left with documents which seem mutually contradictory - and it is certainly not the obligation of the lay faithful to test multifarious possibilities of interpretive harmonization.

Our intent in this series, indeed, is not to resolve a theological battle, but to celebrate the crystalline doctrine of a stellar Pontiff, Pius XI.


  1. Anonymous4:41 AM

    Every papal encyclical prior to the council is an embarrassment to the "Modern" Church. When I approach priests on the glaring contradictions amongst the multitude of pre-VII and post VII documents they are at a loss to explain any of these. It is as if these men, some very good priests, have been betrayed by Holy Mother Church and would not want me to lose my faith by pointing out the obvious inconsistencies in these documents.

  2. Ah...what a glorious encyclical. Read Bishop Fulton Sheen's rather strong words from 1932 on the question of intolerance which is in perfect harmony with Mortalium Animos:

    The Curse of Broadmindedness
    Moods and Truths

    "The Catholic Church intolerant." That simple thought, like a yellow-fever sign, is supposed to be the one solid reason which should frighten away any one who might be contemplating knocking at the portals of the Church for entrance, or for a crumb of the Bread of Life. When proof for this statement is asked, it is retorted that the Church is intolerant because of its self-complacency and smug satisfaction as the unique interpreter of the thoughts of Christ. Its narrow-mindedness is supposed to be revealed in its unwillingness to cooperate effectively with other Christian bodies that are working for the union of churches. Within the last ten years, two great world conferences on religion have been held, in which every great religion except the Catholic participated. The Catholic Church was invited to attend and discuss the two important subjects of doctrine and ministry, but she refused the invitation.

    That is not all. Even in our own country she has refused to lend a helping hand in the federating of those churches which decided it was better to throw dogmatic differences into the background, in order to serve better the religious needs of America. The other churches would give her a royal welcome, but she will not come. She will not cooperate! She will not conform! And she will not conform because she is too narrow-minded and intolerant! Christ would not have acted that way!

    Such is, practically every one will admit, a fair statement of the attitude the modern world bears to the Church. The charge of intolerance is not new. It was once directed against Our Blessed Lord Himself.

    Immediately after His betrayal, Our Blessed Lord was summoned before a religious body for the first Church Conference of Christian times, held not in the city of Lausanne or Stockholm, but in the city of Jerusalem. The meeting was presided over by one Annas, the primate and head of one of the most aggressive families of the patriarchate, a man wise with the deluding wisdom of three score and ten years, in a country in which age and wisdom were synonymous. Five of his sons in succession wore the sacred ephod of blue and purple and scarlet, the symbols of family power. As head of his own house, Annas had charge of family revenues, and from non-biblical sources we learn that part of the family fortune was invested in trades connected with the Temple. The stalls for the sale of bird and beast and material for sacrifice were known as the booths of the sons of Annas. One expects a high tone when a priest goes into business; but Annas was a Sadducee, and since he did not believe in a future life, he made the most of life while he had it. There was always one incident he remembered about his Temple business, and that was the day Our Lord flung his tables down its front steps as if they were lumber, and with cords banished the money-handlers from the Temple like rubbish before the wind.

    That incident flashed before his mind now, when he saw standing before him the Woodworker of Nazareth. The eyes of Jesus and Annas met, and the first world conference on religion opened. Annas, ironically feigning surprise at the sight of the prisoner whom multitudes followed the week before, opened the meeting by asking Jesus to make plain two important religious matters, the two that were discussed later on in Lausanne and Geneva and Stockholm, namely, the question of His doctrine and the question of His ministry. Our Lord was asked by a religious man, a religious leader, and a religious authority, representative of the Common faith of a nation, to enter into discussion, to sit down to a conference on the all-important questions of religion-ministry and discipline-and He refused! And the world's first Church Conference was a failure.

    He refused in words which left no doubt in the mind of Annas that the doctrine which He preached was the one which He would now uphold in religious conference, namely, His Divinity. With words, cut like the facets of a diamond, and sentences, as uncompromising as a two-edged sword, He answered Annas : "I have spoken openly to the world . . . and in secret spoke I nothing. Why asketh thou Me? Ask them that have heard Me, what I spoke unto them: behold, these know the things which I said."

    Read the rest here:

  3. I could not agree more strongly. False Ecumenism is one of the great heresies of the modern age and has always been held as such by Holy Orthodoxy. Sadly there are more than a few in Orthodoxy today who believe we should be having prayer meetings and such with heretics.

    Canon LXV of the Holy Apostles:

    "Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed."

    Canon LXV of the Holy Apostles:

    "If any clergymen, or laymen, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated."

    Canon IX of Laodicia (Also approved by the Ecumenical Synods)

    "Concerning the fact that those belonging to the Church must not be allowed to go visiting the cemeteries or the so called martyria of any heretics, for the purpose of prayer or of cure, but, on the contrary, those who do so, if they be among the faithful, shall be excluded from communion for a time until they repent and confess their having made a mistake, when they may be readmitted to communion."

    Canon XXXIII of Laodicia

    "One must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics."

    The Extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on Mount Athos

    April 9/22, 1980 | Full Text

    3. Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or worship services whatsoever; or in other activities which might create the impression that our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Roman Catholics as part of the fulness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the fulness of the Orthodox people and the Roman Catholics themselves, fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of their teaching.

    On the Date for Celebrating Pascha
    Canon VII of the Holy Apostles

    If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed.

    Canon I of Antioch

    As for all persons who dare to violate the definition of the holy and great Synod convened in Nicaea in the presence of Eusebeia, the consort of the most God-beloved Emperor Constantine, concerning the holy festival of the soterial Pascha, we decree that they be excluded from Communion and be outcasts from the Church if they persist more captiously in objecting to the decisions that have been made as most fitting in regard thereto; and let these things be said with reference to laymen. But if any of the person occupying prominent positions in the Church, such as a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, after the adoption of this definition, should dare to insist upon having his own way, to the perversion of the laity, and to the disturbance of the church, and upon celebrating Pascha along with the Jews, the holy Synod has hence judged that person to be an alien to the Church, on the ground that he has not only become guilty of sin by himself, but has also been the cause of corruption and perversion among the multitude. Accordingly, it not only deposes such persons from the liturgy, but also those who dare to commune with them after their deposition. Moreover, those who have been deposed are to be deprived of the external honor too of which the holy Canon and God's priesthood have partaken.

    See also the Sigillon of 1583 which anathematized the Gregorian (Papal) Calendar.

    Apostolic Canon XXXI

    "If any Presbyter, condemning his own bishop, draw people aside and set up another altar, without finding anything wrong with the Bishop in point of piety and righteousness, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is an office-seeker. For he is a tyrant. Let the rest of clergymen be treated likewise, and all those who abet him. But let the laymen be excommunicated. Let these things be done after one, and a second, and a third request of the Bishop."

    On Obedience to the Canons
    Canon I of the Second Ecumenical Synod

    "Let not the Symbol of Faith be set aside…but let it remain unchanged: and let every heresy be given over to anathema…"

    Canon VII of the Third Ecumenical Synod

    "Let no one be permitted to bring forward, or write or compose a different faith besides that defined by the holy Fathers who assembled with the Holy Spirit in the city of Nicaea. And whoever dares to compose a different faith, or present, or offer [one] to those wishing to turn to the knowledge of the truth…let such, if they be bishops or belong to the clergy, be alien-bishops from the episcopate, and clerics from the clergy—and if they be laymen, let them be given over to anathema."

    Canon I of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod

    "We have acknowledged it as just to keep the canons of the holy Fathers set forth at each synod till now."

    Christ is born! Glorify Him!
    Ad Orientem

  4. Anonymous1:12 PM

    With all due respect to an otherwise superb blog, is it necessary to refer to Pope Benendict XVI in such a derogatory and disrespectful manner as "Ratti!"

  5. Anonymous1:58 PM

    Pius XI and the modern Church (as it expresses itself in its documents) work on the same principles: ecumenism which compromises Catholic truth is to be rejected, as are certain visions of Christian re-union (cf. Mort. Anim. #7).

  6. No "specific" "kind" of ecumenism is rejected by Mortalium Animos; all and any one of its variations are rejected. The conclusion of the argument of MA 7, which is in MA 8, is quite clear: "This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises".

    Which is why, at least according to Pope Pius, "for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it" (MA 10).

    As for the apparent contradiction, we leave the resolution of apparent incompatibilities to Pontifical Authority (e.g. in the matter of religious freedom - Dignitatis Humanae - the epoch-making speech of December 22, 2005, made important interpretive considerations).

  7. For the sake of 'ecumenism' the Mass was changed, and the 'fruits' of these are none. Protestants are far as ever from converting and all they desire is to convert Catholics to their error. First 'must do' steps are renouncing primacy of Papacy followed by renouncing of any kind of devotion to the Blessed Virgin. It is as strong as it was in times of reformation and Cromwell.

  8. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Pope Ratti was not referring to our current reigning Pontiff, but to Pope Pius XI whose name was Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti. Just FYI. Thank you New Catholic for a wonderful post!

  9. "While the current Magisterium can change a teaching that falls under non-infallible ordinary magisterial teaching...."

    It seems that Fr. Ripperger is implying that Mortalium Animos is non-infallible regarding ecumenism. What! Is he serious! This goes against the teaching of several popes, including the Syllabus of Errors, and the whole constant tradition and practice of the Church!

    Please, someone, tell me that I am misunderstanding him.

  10. Anonymous5:21 PM

    Fr. Ripperger's article seems to be a perfect interpretation of our current mess. I pray that the Holy See will soon undertake a careful explanation of both the pre and post-conciliar documents. Without unequivocal clarification in these matters the hermeneutic of continuity will prove meaningless.

    It is true that the faithful should not be left to sort this mess out. Unfortunately our priests and seminarians are now in the perilous position of having to decide what they will teach and how they will avoid the millstone. They are left to themselves to decide whether they are acting as a holy and necessary sign of contradiction or a stumbling block out of sync with the ordinary magisterium.

    What is a seminarian or associate pastor to do when asked to participate in an inter-religious worship service? Does he refuse and risk not being ordained or remaining an associate indefinately? How does he respond when questioned why he cannot participate?

  11. Anonymous7:16 PM

    I did not intend for it to be understood that I think that prior condemnations are not infallible. As Franzelin observes in his tract on tradition, condemnations are normally considered infallible and he gives the example of the condemnation of separation of Church and state as being infallible. But that is how the documents on ecumenism are interpreted today. My main point was, even if the issue of their infallibility is put aside, there are no pronouncements by the Magisterium showing their compatibility.

    -Fr. Ripperger
    -Fr. Ripperger

  12. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Dear NewCatholic,

    Congratulations for such a refreshing post.

    A few questions, though, if you please.

    You say,
    "As for the apparent contradiction, we leave the resolution of apparent incompatibilities to Pontifical Authority (e.g. in the matter of religious freedom - Dignitatis Humanae - the epoch-making speech of December 22, 2005, made important interpretive considerations)."

    1) Are all incompatibilities a priori only apparent? If so, why?

    2) When you speak of the Dec 22, 2005 speech as somehow and somewhat countering Dignitatis Humanae, is your interpretation the same as GSI's Fr. Christophe Hery's? (I'm assuming you're familiar with it, since I've seen you quote the Mascaret before).

    * * *

    Dear Fr. Ripperger,

    Another very refreshing comment!

    Yet it surely leaves us wondering, what to make of the so-called "conciliar magisterium" if it contradicts infallible teaching? Dear Father, would you please give any hint as to where one should look for an answer to that most intriguing question, without tossing aside either Franzelin or reality?

    Thanks in advance to the both of you.

  13. Anonymous2:14 AM

    The reason the contradictions have been ignored until now is that:

    No one can convincingly square that circle


    To admit the contradiction requires a complete re-working of the notion of magisterium.

    It seems that either the Catholic Church has defected, in which case it never was what it claimed to be, or some miraculous way of convincingly reconciling opposites will be found.

    I'm betting on the first option.

  14. Anonymous2:27 AM

    Oh, but you're a heretic, Mr. AnonAnon, so your opinion is meaningless, really, you don't count.

    My questions were for Catholics.

    During the Passion of Christ, Mr. AnonAnon [the """Orthodox""" a few comments above or a different lost soul?] would have said, "Either they square the circle or He's not the Messiah. I'm counting on the later". Oh well, I pray the Resurrection changes your mind; in the meantime, please make sure you don't render yourself too worthless of such grace.

    The Immaculate Heart will triumph, no one questions that. If you do, I believe this is no place for you.

  15. Felipe,
    That was definitely not me. I don't post anonymously. Too many people with that moniker. It's rather confusing.

    Christ is born! Glorify Him!
    Ad Orientem

  16. Anonymous3:45 AM

    Realizing I'm not theologically trained, I'll venture that ecumenism has never been theologically defined. Thus, it cannot be in dogmatic contradiction with anything.

    We seem to have disciplinary problems to work out here, not circles or squares.

  17. Joe
    I can't speak for the Roman Church, but in Orthodoxy the canons are clear and unambiguous. See my original post. I don't have a problem with talking to heretics and non-believers. How else do you bring people to the truth? But anything that has the effect of even hinting that heterodox religions are on the same plane as Orthodoxy is a no no.

    I deeply respect Pope +Benedict XVI for what he is trying to do in your church. But he is a heretic and I (along with many Orthodox) was scandalized when the Ecumenical Patriarch permitted him to be in an Orthodox temple in a place of honor during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. That should never have been allowed. It creates confusion among the Orthodox faithful.

    Christ is born!

  18. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Dear Ad Orientem,

    I challenge you to substantiate your scurrilous charge of heresy against His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

    Your charge itself condemns you, for "through him does the voice of Peter speak" one Ecumenical Council of Old has testified.

    Br. Alexis Bugnolo

  19. Anonymous3:25 PM

    Canons are not dogmatic.

    Formal heresy for a Pope is not within the purvue of a layman to declare. It would take a Pope or council, such as declared your leaders to be heretics, although those who merely follow them are not formally included. The question is, are you mere?

  20. Anonymous4:03 PM

    Felipe said...
    Oh, but you're a heretic, Mr. AnonAnon, so your opinion is meaningless, really, you don't count.

    My questions were for Catholics.

    During the Passion of Christ, Mr. AnonAnon [the """Orthodox""" a few comments above or a different lost soul?] would have said, "Either they square the circle or He's not the Messiah. I'm counting on the later". Oh well, I pray the Resurrection changes your mind; in the meantime, please make sure you don't render yourself too worthless of such grace.

    The Immaculate Heart will triumph, no one questions that. If you do, I believe this is no place for you."

    Very nice and pious sentiments, I'm sure, but I notice you've not many any effort to square the previous teachings on ecumenism with the current ones. I guess it's easier to call me a heretic than it is to explain how the current teaching isn't heretical.

    I didn't witness the Resurrection. The Resurrection, however, seems less implausible than that the teachings of Mortalium Animos and Unitatis Redintegratio be compatible.

    Perhaps you could help a wounded Catholic in danger of falling into heresy, as you put it, by reconciling the pre-VatII religion with the post-VatII religion? That would be more helpful than the label "heretic", unless you plan to burn me, which would, of course, solve the problem of me, but not of the contradictions.
    signed: "Unsquared Circle"

  21. Well said, Anonymous. Pay no attention to the blusterings of those who pile up burdens and won't lift a finger to help you bear them.

  22. Anonymous5:06 PM

    Last anonymous: An excellent post. If Pius XI were alive today he would excommunicate Benedict XVI on sight for communicatio in sacris and for the views he, the vast majority of bishops, and his predecessors hold or have held.

    Benedict was round to the Synagogue pretty quickly after his election and clearly is a pal of Bartholomew of Constantinople.

    Pius XI, and the Church he headed, would have none of this -as this very thread says.

    There are only two logical conclusions: a)the sedevacantists are right, or, b) the claims of the Roman Church up until Pius XI were false.

    Orthodoxy has to be rather more substantial than dressing up in lace and some old tat from the sacristy cupboard

  23. Anonymous12:26 PM

    To one and all,

    Regarding the discord between Mortalium Animos and Vatican II and later instructions on Ecumenical activity, one must note that not everything taught infallibly by the Magisterium pertains to dogmas that are de fide, some things pertain to truths of natural reason, which are annexed to them.

    So the teaching regarding the illiceity of communicatio in sacris with heretics in itslef regards the morals of the Church handed down from Christ through the Apostles, but as regards the question of particular circumstances is a question of morals properly not dogma, and the dispute involves the question of error not heresy.

    For example, the gentleman who believes that it is not immoral to say "Good God!" out of jest or impatience, is not a heretic, but he is in error. Likewise the cleric who believes he can pray the Our Father with a heretic, without inclining in any manner to seek his conversion or repentence.

    But with the Orthodox it is different, because, unlike the protestants who invented their own religions in rejection of the Church, or non Christian religions, they pertain to local churches founded by Jesus Christ, so it is not properly a question of conversion but of repentence for those among them who do not wnat to reject the patrimony which they received from the Aposltes through their great saints merely to win an argument with Rome, who quotes these saints and this patrimony.

    Like St. Alphonsus said of some protestants in Germany, "not all are formal heretics", by which he meant that some persons among groups which profess propositions which are categorically heretical, are themselves not heretics because either they do not understand the error or they do not profess it.

    Our Lord Jesus Christ said to St. Bridget of Sweden in the 14th century, that those Orthodox who do not consent to their schism from Rome will find mercy from Him in the hour of death.

    And clearly the liturgical rites of the Orthodox are not heretical, so a Catholic who attends as a observer is not thereby a heretic.

    Otherwise, we'd have to say that St. Peter and St. Paul who prayed in synagogues after Pentecost were heretical.

    The question is as St. Paul framed it, when it is a case of dissimulation, that is of giving the pretence that no repentence or conversion is necessary, then it is morally wrong and a betrayal of the Gospel.

    In cases of those who formally are condemned as heretics or who publically expound what is formally heretical, e.g. the Arians, one cannot attend their liturgies, and if one does one commits the sin of communicatio in sacris, even if one is not an Arian.

    So one who follows the current moral error regarding Ecumenism is not a heretic, even though he is in error; he may not even be in the sight of God a sinner, if he is doing this in good faith, that is, in ignorance of this sin.

    Charity, as the Holy Father reminded us, requires us not to judge our neighbors in those matters where God alone can see; and at the same time not to close our eyes to the truth, but to seek the salvation of all, peaceably by witnesses to the truth in charity.

    The same should be shown the the Holy Father, who as a theologian and cardinal wrote many things which are theologically erroneous; not of which proves he is in his heart a heretic or that God judges him such; because he may be so convinced the the epistemological validity of the hegelian dialectic that he does not see that he esposes many errors (e.g. that Scripture is free from error only in matters which pertain to the faith or salvation; that Christ did not redeem the world by shedding His Blood, but by His Charity, etc.)

    Why even many saints were in grave error regarding questions of astronomy, chemistry, medicine: for none of which Christ condemned them, even though our reverence for them in no way requires us to hold these errors.

  24. Anonymous9:22 PM

    Ad orientum,

    You said, "But anything that has the effect of even hinting that heterodox religions are on the same plane as Orthodoxy is a no no."

    True, but maybe "no no" needs a bit more detail. When St Peter sat with the Jews instead of the Christians and refused to eat pork, that could qualify as hinting that their religion was on the same plane as ours, but it wasn't a heresy. It was ecumenism, but was only scandalous, not heresy. That's the point. You're not qualified to declare a Pope a heretic, so keep the discussion at the charitable level it belongs.

  25. Joe,
    I have been accused of heresy and schism more times than I can count on this forum merely by virtue of being Orthodox. Generally I am not offended (although a few of the comments were a bit over the top). This is after all a Roman Catholic forum. That said sometimes one needs in love and charity to speak the truth. Just as the Romans on here are convinced that I am at best a schismatic and many have labeled me a heretic (rightly so if the Roman Churches' claims are true), so to Orthodoxy and those who are Orthodox must be clear about our relationship with the Latin Church. This clarity must be expressed with both love and firmness.

    The Roman Catholic Church is absolutely heretical. This is not a matter of private opinion. The Latins teach things which are simply incompatible with the consensus patrum. They have unilaterally altered the Creed without the consent of the Church as a whole and in open defiance of the canons of the eighth ecumenical council which act alone carries an anathema. They have a false understanding of sin and grace which has naturally lead to other heresies such as the Immaculate Conception. They have imbued the Pope of Rome with an authority absent from the ecclesiology of the undivided church and alien to the Fathers. I could go on but the point is there.

    As for the authority by which the Romans have been condemned I refer you to the Sigillon of 1583 and to the reply of the Orthodox Patriarchates to the Encyclical of Pius IX "To the Easterners." Both were confirmed by all of the Orthodox Patriarchates. There are quite a few other examples but those two should suffice. The Roman Catholic Church has been formally condemned and its doctrines (where they deviate from Holy Orthodoxy) anathematized.

    This does not mean Roman Catholics are evil people. Nor does it mean God has turned His back on them. What goes on outside The Church is not my province. The Church remains essentially agnostic on most points beyond denying the grace of heterodox sacraments.

    I happen to have a significant respect for much that the Roman Church does in its works of charity and its stand against secularism and moral relativism. In these areas I see definite possibilities for cooperation between our respective faiths. I also happen to think the current Pope is the best they have had in a very long time.

    But restoration of communion? I don't see that happening in my lifetime barring a major miracle. And judging from the comments on this forum that miracle is not around the corner. But who knows? If God wills it, it will happen. An Orthodox Pope of Rome would be a site to see.


  26. John-"Ad Orientem": that is enough, this is not the proper venue for Eastern apologetics.

  27. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Ad orientem,

    Your assertions are as audacious as your denials.

    Your testimony to your "faith" however fails the Christian requirement of using your true idenity to testify instead of hiding behind a pseudonym.

    I find your approach far from Christian in its actions, and certain one which is contrary to Tradition and Scripture.

    Br. Alexis Bugnolo

  28. Anonymous4:18 PM

    No, ad orientem. Don't try to sell recent events as your justification for schism. This is older than a couple of hundred years. All of the saints since the Orthodox schism testify against you, as well as all of the appearances of the Blessed Virgin and other Heavenly dignitaries. And there never has been unity in the separated churches. Nothing but territorial strife.

    Your stand doesn't pass the simplest test of catholicity, and you're smarter than that. This is intellectual pride. Once and for all, dump the childish theological claim that the Church of Christ has been overcome. We need all the warriors we can get in this great battle. Come back and help us to fight the good fight to restore Catholic tradition to it's rightful place of honor.

    Don't misinterpret a battle as a defeat. Since the Arian heresy it has always been the test of Christian fidelity to fight against error in the Church. And you know it has been foreordained that we cannot lose. Submerge yourself in humility and come back.

  29. New Catholic
    I apologize for my post which given the venue was not appropriate. Out of respect for your wishes I will withdraw from the discussion.


  30. Anonymous7:02 AM

    This was an excellent post, New Catholic. I am a big supporter of the hermeneutic of continuity and I believe Unitatis Redintegratio can be reconciled with Mortalium Animos and Satis Cognitum. But why does it have to be such a challenge? Why wasn't UR written in such a way that referred directly to these documents and demonstrated continuity for anyone to see?

    This is an immense failure on the part of the Second Vatican Council

    - With Peter

    PS. Ad Orientem, are Irenaeus, Leo I, Gregory I and Maximus Confessor not patristic enough for you? I know this isn't the place for this discussion, but I strongly recommend familiarizing yourself with the biblical and patristic sources that support our doctrine of the papacy. Your comments breathe of immense ignorance.

  31. With Peter & All,
    Out of respect for the wishes of the owner of this blog on which I occasionally am privileged to post as a guest, I must decline to answer some of your posts. The fault is mine for posting a comment in the first place which was not appropriate for this venue. Please forgive me.

    Under the mercy,

  32. Anonymous9:31 PM

    The Pope promulgated UR, just like the Pope promulgated the Novus Ordo. Are you saying JPII and Paul VI were wrong? If you do, how can you still claim to be Catholic?


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