Under Pressure, Swiss Catholic Priests Reject Ecumenical Eucharistic Celebration

All eyes were on Dübendorf in Switzerland yesterday evening, where a Capuchin and Jesuit priest were planning to celebrate Eucharist with a Lutheran pastor, three Reformed pastors, and an Orthodox priest. Such “intercelebration” (as it’s called there) has become a custom for the past five years on the annual feast of Ss. Peter and Paul on June 29th by the organization “Ökumenisches Tisch-Gemeinschaft Symbolon” (“Ecumenical Table Fellowship Symbolon”). A week ago Symbolon issued a manifesto calling leaders of the various Church traditions to common Eucharistic celebrations.

But this year the Catholic priests bowed out at the last minute – in order not to make the deliberations more difficult for Swiss Catholic bishops called to Rome this Monday to discuss the controversial Pfarrei-Initiative (“Parish Initiative”). The Pfarrei-Initiative, a Catholic movement which calls for various reforms including ecumenical Eucharistic celebrations, is supported by 540 signatories (priests and pastoral ministers) with a further 1,090 signing to indicate their sympathy.

The church of the Lazarist order was packed last night, singing rang out, there was much incense (the rite was based on the famous 1982 Lima document “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry” of the World Council of Churches). And then Capuchin Fr. Willi Anderau, speaking also for Jesuit Fr. Josef Bruhin, announced they were declining to co-preside this year. It became very quiet, then there were murmurs of anger, until a woman shouted out, “I protest against the half-heartedness of this thing” and left the church. A few joined her, but most remained.

The Eucharist continued, with the Lutheran and Reformed pastors presiding. The Orthodox archpriest Ignatios Papadellis, under pressure from his superiors, was not present at all. The two Catholic priests participated as guests, but remained sitting as their Protestant colleagues distributed the blessed eucharistic elements.

Speaking to the media after the celebration, Anderau said there was intense pressure from the Diocese of Chur. The bishops have been called to Rome to discuss the Pfarrei-Initiative, and he indicated that the intercelebration would have given ammunition to the opponents of the Initiative.

Today the Diocese of Chur called on the Pfarrei-Initiative to distance itself clearly from such intercelebration. Though the Initiative did not sponsor the intercelebration, its statement is supportive of such celebrations, and Anderau and Bruhin are both signatories of the Initiative. The diocese said in a statement that the reason given for declining to participate – not to encumber tomorrow’s discussion between the Swiss bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – leads to the conclusion that they are not intending, “beyond such tactics, to hold themselves to the order of the universal Church.”

Tomorrow the Catholic bishops of Basel, Chur, and St. Gall – Felix Gmür, Vitus Huonder, and Markus Büchel – will meet with the prefect of the CDF, Archbishop Gerhard Müller.

H/T: KIPA (German) here and here, APIC (French) here.

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39 comments

  1. Chrisitians don’t need the clergy to celebrate the Divine Office, and there is much in the Roman, Eastern, and Protestant traditions that we could use for that celebration.

    The Agape, or Ritual Meal was often celebrated in the early church. We could revive and celebrate it without the benefit of the clergy, and invite the poor and people who do not share our beliefs and values to these meals.

    If all we baptized Christian celebrated the Divine Office, held Agapes and served the poor and pretty much left the clergy on the sidelines hopefully clericalism would diminish and we would have a much better Christianity.

    The desert solitaries went without the Eucharist for weeks, months, years, sometimes even decades. Francis is fond of reminding us that the Japanese Christians existed for a couple of centuries without benefit of the clergy.

    Personally I don’t care whether the Pope, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Archbishop of Canterbury intercelebrate.

    I like diversity and agree with Francis that it is central to Christianity and Catholicism, and therefore I would much rather have the choice of going to Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox services. I think both Catholics and Orthodox should be more open in giving communion, and generally give people the benefit of the doubt.

    But I don’t care much about intercelebration. I think it is better when the clergy have to compete with each other for our attention and attendance.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #1:
      Why should clergy be left on the sidelines? Why can’t clergy participate with lay people in the Divine Office, and agape meals, and service to the poor? Or am I misunderstanding your phrases “without the benefit of the clergy” and “le[ave] the clergy on the sidelines”?

      1. @Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #2:

        In the early centuries of monasticism priests were generally discouraged from becoming monks, and if they persisted, it was made clear that their priesthood did not give them special privileges, e.g. Chapter 60 of the Rule of Saint Benedict”

        If any ordained priest should ask to be received into the monastery, permission shall not be granted too readily. But if he is quite persistent in his request, let him know that he will have to observe the whole discipline of the Rule and that nothing will be relaxed in his favor, that it may be as it is written: “Friend, for what have you come (Matt. 26:50)?”

        It shall be granted him, however, to stand next after the Abbot and to give blessings and to celebrate Mass, but only by order of the Abbot. Without such order let him not make any exceptions for himself, knowing that he is subject to the discipline of the Rule; but rather let him give an example of humility to all.

        If there happens to be question of an appointment or of some business in the monastery, let him expect the rank due him according to the date of his entrance into the monastery, and not the place granted him out of reverence for the priesthood.

        I am just applying this ancient monastic model of religious virtuosity to modern day Christian lay people who want to exercise leadership and fellowship with fellow Christians in such matters as the Divine Office, an Agape meal, and organizational and charitable endeavors without getting themselves entangled in denominational issues caused by the presence of clergy.

        For example with the Divine Office, you do what the early monks did. The Monastic Office was very different from the Cathedral Office with its emphasis upon ministers.

        The reality today is that we live in family and work environments where people belong to different denominations. Regardless of formal ecumenical events presided over by clergy and their complex rules, there are great opportunities for doing things together as baptized Christian without the benefit of the clergy. Most of the time they are likely to work out best if clergy model themselves as Saint Benedict suggests, e.g. not be eager to be involved and take over things that laity themselves can do, and take a back seat if they are present.

  2. Good – eucharistic “intercelebration” shouldn’t be happening in the first place. Such things only encourage the religious indifferentism already rampant in the Western world, and is corrosive to the Catholic faith.

    It would be nice to think that we can ignore our vast differences with other ecclesial communions by pretending everything is okay, or “intercelebrating” it into being, but the hard reality is that we are not in full communion with Protestant groups. How can “intercelebration” take place when we don’t agree on what we are celebrating?!

    1. “How can “intercelebration” take place when we don’t agree on what we are celebrating?!”

      Exactly!

      Gaudete in Domino Semper!

      1. @Richard M. Sawicki – comment #4:
        Well, we agree on some things, on others we’ve come much closer, and on others we don’t agree.
        I think people come to difference conclusions because they weight differently the things in those three categories. Some believe that we have agreement on the very most important things, and that it is the mind of Christ not to overemphasize the secondary or tertiary things.
        Our Lord oftentimes found more faith outside Israel than within, he spent 2 days with the heretical Samaritans because he found faith there, he seemed to give us a paradigm for looking outside the boundaries of the categories of organized religion. He taught us that God sometimes sees things differently than people in organized religion do.
        The point is: is could be rampant indifferentism of our awful secular world. Or it could be the spirit of Christ.
        awr

  3. i used to be very supportive of events as described here, but no longer am supportive. It comes down to who is present to “intercelebrate”. If the celebrants are Lutheran and Roman Catholic, there is a shared understanding of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic elements.

    Celebrating with the Reformed would be more challenging for me. What if Pentecostal clergy showed up? a local Mormon bishop? a “nondenominational” big box church pastor with no theological education?

    The time has not yet come, IMNSHO, but I pray that it will between Rome and Wittenberg first…

  4. “How can “intercelebration” take place when we don’t agree on what we are celebrating?!”

    A valid question.

    And one which leads us to ask the advocates of these celebrations: “What did St. Edmund Campion and St. Margaret Clitherow die for, exactly?” I hope that the answer is not some vague allusion to “conscience.”

    It is good that we can find common ground, and occasions for working for the common good, with Christians outside the Catholic Church. But to have diversity of practice and custom is one thing; diversity of doctrine is something else. I fear that misplaced charity has led some of these Swiss Catholics very deeply astray. More than that, however, I am led to wonder how many of the Catholics themselves really subscribe to the Church’s teaching on the Real Presence.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #7:
      These saints died for their convictions, based on where they and the Church were at one point in time. But doctrine develops, and obviously the Church’s understanding of many things developed at the Second Vatican Council. Thomas More died because of his belief in good conscience that the quasi-theocracy should be Roman Catholic, not Anglican. He didn’t believe in freedom of worship for Anglicans. But the Roman Catholic Church does today. We all have great respect for his strength of conviction, and we don’t remove him from the calendar of saints since Vatican II. But we don’t quote his position out of context as if it’s the unchanging faith of the church, something to which we hold everyone today.

      I’m very leery of raising any doubts about someone else’s faith in the Real Presence, absent a shred of evidence for the doubts. There are many, many possible ways of understanding the orthodox teaching of the mystery of the Real Presence, and there are many possibilities for these people to have an understanding that you haven’t considered or aren’t even aware of.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #8:
        I’m very leery of raising any doubts about someone else’s faith in the Real Presence, absent a shred of evidence for the doubts. There are many, many possible ways of understanding the orthodox teaching of the mystery of the Real Presence, and there are many possibilities for these people to have an understanding that you haven’t considered or aren’t even aware of.

        I’m not sure how, Fr. Ruff, you know what Richard Malcolm has considered or is aware of. Interpretive charity needs to flow both ways.

      2. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #8:

        Hello Fr. Ruff,

        These saints died for their convictions, based on where they and the Church were at one point in time.

        But what were those convictions? Were they convictions in something true?

        Doctrine develops. We know that. But can it contradict itself?

        As for St. Thomas More, I can’t say I agree with your assessment of what he went to the block for. The breaking point was the Act of Supremacy, not the confessional nature of the Tudor state – that is, Henry VIII’s attempt to arrogate to himself religious (not just civil) authority over the Catholic Church, “the Supreme Government of which, or of any part thereof, no Temporal Person may by any Law presume to take upon him, being what right belongs to the See of Rome, which by special Prerogative was granted by the Mouth of our Savior Christ himself to St. Peter” (Trial Transcript). When we hold up St. Thomas’s martyrdom as Catholics, we are not being asked to agree with his enforcement of English law over heretics as Lord Chancellor, or his belief in the necessity of confessional states, but rather, his refusal to accede to a law which made a temporal sovereign absolute religious authority over the Catholic Church. Reducing that to a mere contingent belief dependent on the vagaries of history not only cheapens his witness, but risks making it pointless. People choose to die all the time for their beliefs. But those beliefs are not always worthy of commendation.

        I brought up St. Edmund Campion because he chose a gruesome death over the bishopric offered him because he refused to assent to a church and a worship that he believed were in error. Either that church and its worship have changed sufficiently from 1580 to remove those objections, or they have not. Now these Swiss Protestants are not Anglicans – they are in fact even *more* removed from Catholic doctrine. Is intercommunion even sufficient respect for *their* beliefs?

        I fear not.

      3. @Richard Malcolm – comment #14:
        Hi Richard,

        Just to acknowledge that you make a good point about what caused Thomas More’s martyrdom, about which I had muddied the waters.

        awr

      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #27:

        Hello Fr. Ruff,

        Just to acknowledge that you make a good point about what caused Thomas More’s martyrdom, about which I had muddied the waters.

        I am grateful that we have reached some accord on this, Father.

      5. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #8:

        Postscript:

        Since Samuel brought it up, I ought to address one other point that you made: I’m very leery of raising any doubts about someone else’s faith in the Real Presence, absent a shred of evidence for the doubts.

        Unquestionably, charity is called for wherever circumstances allow for any doubt. In the case of individuals, a high bar needs to be set. Misunderstandings are too easily come by.

        What I have to go on are the public documents involved. The Pfarrei Initiative document subscribed to by these Catholics, as translated in English, reads as follows regarding the nature of the Eucharist: “We already share the communion meal that Jesus gave us, with our sisters and brothers from other Christian Churches.” There’s nothing at all to hint at the Eucharist as Real Presence; only as communion meal. There is nothing, in short, to give any hint that they do not, in fact, have a Reformed conception of the Eucharist. If there is doubt here, it is their endorsement of this document that creates it.

        Second, there is the WCC “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry” document which formed the basis of the actual rite used yesterday. As regards the Eucharist, the WCC document states: “Although the eucharist is essentially one complete act, it will be considered here under the following aspects: thanks- giving to the Father, memorial of Christ, invocation of the
        Spirit, communion of the faithful, meal of the Kingdom.”
        Again, there’s not a hint of a reference to the Eucharist as Real Presence, or the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice.

        All this being the case, I wonder how a layperson (of whatever creed) attending this could think that any clergy involved had a belief in the Real Presence. But what I fear more is that many involved simply may not care about defining it, so immanentist is their expressed spirituality.

        I wonder if even I don’t have more respect for the integrity of these Protestant creeds.

      6. @Richard Malcolm – comment #17:
        You say: “….WCC “Baptism, Eucharist, Ministry” document which formed the basis of the actual rite used yesterday. As regards the Eucharist, the WCC document states: “Although the eucharist is essentially one complete act, it will be considered here under the following aspects: thanks- giving to the Father, memorial of Christ, invocation of the
        Spirit, communion of the faithful, meal of the Kingdom.” Again, there’s not a hint of a reference to the Eucharist as Real Presence, or the Mass as propitiatory sacrifice.”

        Can’t speak for Fr. Ruff but recently posted the link to the WCC document and also other documents. You need to take into consideration the way that the WCC and the Initiative use language and how he document is constructed. The format is to show the agreement; then, agreement but how it has been differently expressed or lived; and areas that still need development.

        That being said – you appear to assume that the line quoted means only a *communion meal* and not real presence. (this gets to Fr. Ruff’s point) That is only in your opinion and based upon older catholic formulations (sorry, formulations such as transubstantiation, etc. are just that – formulations). How do you know that communion meal doesn’t mean *real presence*? Just because that phrase is not used? Is it required? Did the first century church or even the patristic fathers use the phrase, real presence?

        Eucharist as real presence or propitiatory sacrifice – the whole point of the initiative, again, was to find agreement without appealing to old or tired phrases. You act as if real presence and propitiatory sacrifice are set in the concrete of the deposit of faith? Propitiatory sacrifice is explained and means a whole host of different things (Fr Ruff’s point about development of dogma) in our history, in Trent, in Vatican II just on the catholic side of things. Again, it is not so black and white.

      7. @Bill deHaas – comment #19: You act as if real presence and propitiatory sacrifice are set in the concrete of the deposit of faith?

        Well, the Council of Trent seems to make it quite clear that, unless you believe those things, you do not possess Catholic faith in the Most Holy Sacrament:

        “If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist there are truly, really, and substantially contained the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, but shall say that He is in it as by a sign or figure, or force, let him be anathema.” (Session 13, canon 1)

        “If anyone says that in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist there remains the substance of bread and wine together with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denies that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the entire substance of the wine into the blood, the species of the bread and wine only remaining, a change which the Catholic Church most fittingly calls transubstantiation: let him be anathema.” (Session 13, canon 2)

        “If anyone says that in the Mass a true and real sacrifice is not offered to God, or that the act of offering is nothing else than Christ being given to us to eat: let him be anathema.” (Session 22, canon 1)

        “If anyone says that the sacrifice of the Mass is only one of praise and thanksgiving, or that it is a mere commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the Cross, but not one of propitiation… let him be anathema.” (Session 22, canon 3)

        Any authentic development of doctrine cannot ignore or minimise this conciliar teaching, otherwise it would be a degeneration and decay of doctrine. Neither can any authentic ecumenism ignore or minimise this teaching either. You may think such notions are “old” and “tired”, but in fact they are of paramount importance for the truth.

      8. @Matthew Hazell – comment #22:
        Matthew, I don’t see it that way at all. There are so many ways to look at the issue of Real Presence. And our God of surprises – and his Son who turned everything upside down and challenged religious categories and said the last are first and who found more faith outside his religion than within it – all this makes it possible to look at the whole thing upside down. I don’t ask you to agree with me or accept or tolerate my viewpoint, but I invite you at least to hear me out.

        I entirely accept and believe in Real Presence, and all my students can witness that I’ve never denied it and always affirmed it. But I’ve never claimed to understand it, since it’s a mystery.

        The whole point of Real Presence is to make us more Christlike, to live in Christ more deeply, to put on more of His mindset. If Real Presence makes us more prideful, more sure we’re in possession of truth, more apt to sow divisions and condemn others, than we’ve missed the whole point of it, even as we affirm the doctrine.

        The more I affirm Real Presence, the more I put it in its larger context, and it transforms what I think is important about it. Then… (if you’re still with me)… my faith in Real Presence puts me in greater union with some Protestants who live the mystery of Christ deeply. And my ever-deeper faith in Real Presence makes me closer to any number of Protestants (who use different doctrinal language) than to fellow Catholics who use the same doctrinal words as I but are spiritually somewhere else.

        And the more deeply I affirm Real Presence… the worse it gets! The more I have to question and re-examine and turn upside down everything else. Like Jesus did.

        Now, I’ve never intercelebrated with Protestants or received Communion at a non-RC liturgy. But this could well be my weakness of faith. It could well be that those people doing that are not only not heretics, but Catholics who understand Real Presence better than I.

        awr

      9. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #23:

        It could well be that those people doing that are not only not heretics, but Catholics who understand Real Presence better than I.

        Could they be “Anonymous Catholics?”

      10. @Richard Malcolm – comment #24:
        Hi Richard,
        I don’t know if your teasing or serious. I honestly don’t understand what you mean. I was speaking of practicing Catholics, including priests, who intercommunion and intercelebrate. How would they be anonymous Catholics?
        awr

      11. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #26:

        Hello Fr. Ruff,

        I was just cracking wise with a Rahnerism. But I may be losing my touch – or I never really had it in the first place.

      12. @Matthew Hazell – comment #22:

        But who says these things any more? There are few today who are anathematized because there are few who say these things in the contemptuous manner required. (that is a little strong, but I can’t think of any terms weaker than contempt right now)

        More likely, you will find people who say very similar things but in deference to their tradition rather than in contempt of it. That makes all the difference, particularly when it is the Eucharist that is being discussed.

      13. @Fr Ruff (#25): If Real Presence makes us more prideful, more sure we’re in possession of truth, more apt to sow divisions and condemn others, than we’ve missed the whole point of it, even as we affirm the doctrine.

        Firstly, being more sure that we are in possession of the truth shouldn’t be grouped with the sins of pride and schism. We are in possession of truths that our separated brethren either reject or are ignorant of (cf. Lumen gentium 8; Dei verbum 8-10). Now, that’s obviously not an excuse to treat anyone badly, or lord it over people, but the fact remains that the Catholic Church has the fullness of faith, and, as the Church Christ established, it is “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15).

        Secondly, yes, the Real Presence is a mystery of our faith. But, like the Trinity, there are certain things about the Most Holy Eucharist that we can know, because they have been revealed by God through His Church. And the Council of Trent, among numerous other conciliar documents and declarations, helps us to see some of those truths – e.g. Christ is “truly, really, and substantially” present in the Eucharist, the Mass is a propitiatory sacrifice, etc. We’re not rationalists, but there is an extent to which revealed dogma helps illuminate these mysteries in our minds.

        Not that he needs it, but I fully endorse Richard’s comment at #25.

        @Jim McKay (#32): More likely, you will find people who say very similar things but in deference to their tradition rather than in contempt of it [MH: by “it” I assume you mean the Catholic tradition?].

        But there can be no deference or accommodation of certain defective understandings Protestants have of the Eucharist. For instance, either Christ is “truly, really, and substantially” present, or He is not. My overarching point is that it is a grave disservice to both sides to gloss over this major disagreement and “intercelebrate” as if everything is OK – let alone the obvious issue with Holy Orders!

  5. @ Jeffrey Pinyan – comment #2

    My interpretation of Mr. Rakovsky’s comment is that interfaith prayer groups are fine, and need not have clergy involved. I’ve participated in a number of such sessions, and whether clergy- or laity-led, found them worthwhile.

    However, when we move into the area of the Eucharist, participation by Catholic priests is a problem. Some faiths believe in the Real Presence where others do not. If the occasion is not a Mass, is it even possible? Could the priests be considered to be “imitating” a sacrament? It simply creates an atmosphere of uncertainty that isn’t needed.

    Oddly enough, I had to wonder about underlying emotions at this event when people left when they learned the Catholic priests would not participate. What had been their expectations?

  6. This reminds me of Jesuit William A Barry’s book, “Discernment in Prayer: Paying Attention to God”, Chapter 12 …

    “Imagine this scene: Pope John XXV has just visited the Cathedral of Canterbury and concelebrated the Eucharist with the Archbishop of Canterbury. This event was a surprise to all, but word of its occurrence quickly spread as the media converged on the scene. Only two members of the Roman Curia, close confidants of the Pope, knew what he intended. The rest of the curial cardinals are aghast and some are quite angry. Pope John returns to Rome and meets with the cardinals in a closed-door session. They rather testily ask him to explain himself. He says: “A week ago I was praying, and I had a vision in which I was offered communion by an Anglican bishop. I started to refuse, but heard a voice say, ‘This is my body; take and eat.’ It happened three times. Right after that I got a phone call from the Archbishop of Canterbury who told me that while he was praying he heard a voice tell him, ‘Invite the Pope to concelebrate at Canterbury.’ So I consulted with my two closest confidants , and I went. During the liturgy the Archbishop and I and those around us felt the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit.”

    I leave it to my readers to imagine the reactions of the cardinals. I have another purpose in mind. As mind boggling as this scenario may seem, something like it seems to have happened in the early church (cf. Acts 10-11) [where Peter decides, thanks to a vision in prayer, that Christianity is for Gentiles as well as Jews] ……”

  7. “I’m not sure how, Fr. Ruff, you know what Richard Malcolm has considered or is aware of. Interpretive charity needs to flow both ways.”

    Perhaps. But Mr Malcolm might need to be forthcoming a bit more if he’s got more cards in his hand.

    It strikes me that in many of these discussions there is insufficient sorrow for Christian disunity.

    While it is true that many Christians jump too far too fast and without sufficient prudence, it is also true that many earthbound Catholics haven’t quite mastered the saintly arithmetic of seventy times seven. I suspect from the perspective of heaven, Thomas and Edmund have. And even if they haven’t, perhaps Christians of the 21st century have something to teach them.

    And if that doesn’t give you pause, perhaps we might ponder that thanks to 1204, Roman Catholics should have declared themselves collectively unworthy for the past eight centuries. We gave ourselves the get-out-of-purgatory card rather quick, didn’t we?

  8. Fr. Ruff,

    I thought that Matthew Hazell stated his reasons quite well, as did Richard Malcolm. I simply wished to register my agreement. (Indeed, Mr. Malcolm continues to state his reasons quite well).

    As for me, my reasons are the same ones I have for going to a Catholic church on Sunday, and not a Reformed one or a Lutheran one. The Reformed do not believe in the Real Presence, and the Lutherans do not have Holy Orders. I happily agree that the Reformed and Lutherans are fellow Christians who often provide valuable Christian witness. But they do not believe what we believe about the Eucharist.

  9. As to Ss Edmund and Margaret, the situation is probably covered by VII’s Decree on Ecumenism:

    The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. UR 3

    I take this to mean that unless the executioners were present at the ceremony, the deaths of these martyrs bring us together rather than separate us.

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #20:

      Hello Jim,

      I take this to mean that unless the executioners were present at the ceremony, the deaths of these martyrs bring us together rather than separate us.

      Perhaps there’s been a misunderstanding here – but I don’t think any of us expressing concern about this intercommunion initiative are trying to directly blame the Protestants involved for the deaths of those martyrs.

      Whoever is to blame – and those people are long dead – the principles the martyrs died for remain, and that’s the issue. What was true in 1580 or 1586 remains true today. To be Catholic certainly means, among other things, that we hold certain expressed propositions to be true, and to the extent that other creeds contradict them, they are false. None of which is to say that our dogmas exhaustively describe the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, let along the full nature of the Godhead – these are and always will be, at least in our earthly sojourn, mysteries we cannot fully penetrate, ones that should fill us with humility.

      Nor does it mean we mean to wield these dogmas like a club over these separated brethren. What it means is that respect for our own beliefs, as well as for that of the Protestants, demands that we not cheapen either with too-easy dismissals or relativizations of the very real differences that remain between us in the quest for intercommunion. Because of those differences, our communion remains, as UR says, “imperfect,” and through their existence, they “do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion.” (UR 3)

      And it is important because the Church has always held it to be important. And it was important enough to deprive Christ, during his earthly ministry, of many of his followers: “After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” (John 6:66) This is no small thing we discuss.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #25:

        Absolutely, the principles the martyrs died for remain. Even more importantly, their martyrdom survives as a blessing to the Church. These things, if they are blessings, work for the unity of the Church. Perhaps they do that by highlighting errors. Or by stimulating repentance. Or by other means unknown to us. But if you believe these martyrdoms are blessings, then you believe they are signs of the unity that embraces all the baptized.

        I am not saying your approach differs from this. Just clarifying that in some way, the martyring of Ss Edmund and Margaret lead us toward full communion, not away from it. Not something I understand, but it is something I believe.

  10. Thanks, Jim.

    If ecumenists were asking or demanding the same standard, wouldn’t they be insisting that opponents of intercommunion re-state the principles of Unitatis Redintegratio at every turn?

  11. I am a Reformed pastor (United Church of Christ) married to a Roman Catholic. I believe in Real Presence in the Eucharist. I always have difficulty understanding the hesitation about intercommunion. It is as if Eucharist is the only sacrament that does not accomplish what it proclaims.

    Baptism actually cleanses and incorporates; Confirmation seals the spirit; Marriage makes two one; Reconciliation forgives; Orders creates a deacon, priest, or bishop; Anointing heals…

    So then – does Eucharist accomplish what it proclaims? One of which is unity. I believe our Lord gave us this repeatable sacrament because unity is a work in progress and one that needs his life-giving presence.

    1. @Joel Walkley – comment #28:
      Pastor Joel,

      How good it is to read your challenging question, and to learn of your interchurch marriage. The shared Christ-life you and your wife experience is a blessing for you both and a splendid witness to your friends and neighbours. And to readers of this blog.

      I sometimes attend a United Reformed Church service, occasionally a Eucharist. The attentive silence of the congregation is impressive and the recollection is palpable. The Bread of the Word has been broken and the Christ-life is shared, focused and strengthened. This is awesome.

      On another tack, I know a Catholic priest who tells of an informal “intercelebration.” He has an alcohol problem and one time when he was in residential therapy there was no Catholic chaplain so his access to the sacraments was very limited. But near the end of his rehab, he and a friend were allowed out for an afternoon and they chanced upon an Anglican eucharistic celebration. When they began to listen to the service, he realised that the formulae were all but identical with the Roman rite (OF). “We’re in luck’s way,” he whispered to his chum. “I can silently concelebrate from here and we can receive Communion.” And so they did. That was some 25 years ago; maybe by now he would not feel obliged to concelebrate, but would simply take part gratefully.

  12. I cannot stand the line, “What did More and Campion die for?” The obvious answer is “What did Cranmer die for?” We cannot make any valid sectarian point by appealing to our martyrs because our sectarian rivals can produce just as many martyrs.

  13. Maybe I’m misreading this post, but the news here that no one seems to comment on is that the Swiss bishops forced two priests not to participate by way of concelebration in a Protestant Eucharist as this would be faux ecumenism. There is no agreement with our separated brothers and sisters on the priesthood and its necessity for the valid celebration of the Eucharist, let alone on what the Eucharist actually is. For the Swiss Church to act as if agreement has been reached and full communion has thus be reached with our “separated brethren” would be for them to act divisively and not in union with the Pope and the other bishops of the Church. It would be an act of schism with collegiality and synodality.
    On top of that the post implies that the Swiss bishops are meeting with Archbishop Mueller head of the CDF to discuss this. Obviously Pope Francis must be aware of local bishops and/or churches, priests, etc acting independently of Rome and the College of Bishops thus sowing seeds of disunity in the Roman Catholic Church rather than unity and fidelity to the Magisterium. I suspect we could apply this new emphasis to fidelity to the Magisterium to the renegade Austrian priests, Irish priests and American priests initiatives that set themselves up in competition with the true Magisterium and thus continue the divisiveness we’ve seen in the Church with individuals and groups like these since the heady 1960’s.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #35:
      You will not understand it but you need to re-read #23 and actually try to understand it.
      Your *tired* repetitions (acting independently of Rome; sowing seeds of disunity, fidelity to the Magisterium, renegade, competition with the true Magisterium, divisiveness) suggest (as you have posted on your kerfuffle blog) that this whole ecumenical *thing* is a waste of time.
      Actually, your blog and your repeated words are the source of disunity – you exemplify exactly what Fr. Ruff says here;

      “The whole point of Real Presence is to make us more Christlike, to live in Christ more deeply, to put on more of His mindset. If Real Presence makes us more prideful, more sure we’re in possession of truth, more apt to sow divisions and condemn others, than we’ve missed the whole point of it, even as we affirm the doctrine.”

      Days ago had posted the link to WCC in response to one of your flippant replies about the initial WCC joint documents dated 1976 – you dismissed it because it was 1976. Of course, what you didn’t understand or missed was that this joint initiative has been going on for almost 40 years and has produced joint statements on numerous issues, differences, etc. Yes, they are still working on priesthood/primacy but they have actually produced a document on eucharist. So, would suggest reading and studying what is actually going on (with the approval of Rome – in your words, in union with Rome and the Magisterium). You make it sound as if this initiative is out of a Dan Brown novel.

      And, finally, everything you say about this event by the Swiss and the meeting this week of the Swiss bishops in Rome obviously come from other blogs, media outlets, etc. – so, all second, if not third, hand sources of information. You act as if you know what is going on – when, in reality, you are merely repeating what you have read. Do you even know the history of this Swiss event; how the Swiss Church is organized locally; how their bishops are chosen/appointed?

  14. Nope. The propers of the EF were more notional than real for most PIPs most of the time. They count as much as the the propers in the OF.

  15. Why are these Swiss priests meeting with Abp Müller, of the Doctrine of Faith, rather than with Swiss Cardinal Koch, who is charged with promoting Christian Unity?

    The situation is fractured by the disunity within the Catholic Church and the dioceses of Switzerland. It seems odd that an ecumenical issue would not be handled by the Swiss ecumenist rather than the German. Will the latter really be able to help with the underlying issues?

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