I've been doing some reflection lately on this idea I've been touting. I have been of the opinion that as Catholics we are to catechize Catholics and Protestants, be ecumenical with the Orthodox, and evangelize the non-Christian. For Christ commands of His Church that she should be: Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matt. 28:19-20)
It seems to me that since Vatican Council II, we have not been doing much of that. It seems to me that since Vatican Council II, we've been more interested in dialogue and understanding, as opposed to teaching them to observe what Christ commanded. We have Lutheran-Catholic dialogue. We have Anglican-Catholic dialogue. We have Assisi's I-III. We have all sorts of conversations, but to what end? From what I have seen and from what Vatican Council II decreed, it sure seems like the age of conversion to Catholicism is waning.
While there is a movement afoot to reconcile some Anglicans, they are the fringe. They are not the mainstream of Anglicanism. I am excited to have them back, to be sure, but there needs to be more. They are but the first. I do have hope, but it is a far fetching hope which is more a conversation, as opposed to a reality.
If we are to catechize Christians, why don't we do it? Oh sure, we take on the individual from time to time, we work one on one and maybe we can accomplish something, but that really isn't the goal...the goal is to dialogue. Is that what Christ commanded of His Church?
So, what ought we to do? We ought to get back to the task which Christ commanded us. We ought to look to how we resolved the Arian controversy and do the same with Protestantism. We need to stop fearing the ability to catechize and we must, must, must start standing up for what is true. We ought to enter into negotiations again with the Orthodox on how to reconcile the Church. Not dialogue, but real negotiations on how they can be returned to the Church. What must be done to properly return them to the fold? What ecumenical view must we take. How are they to be reconciled without us compromising the Catholic position? In what way do we present the truth, so that they accept it. (caveat: negotiations is a misnomer, but I fear there is no other word to properly convey the nature the discussions must take.) And what must we do to baptize non-Christians?
It is clear that dialogue doesn't work. We can talk and talk and talk, but without some sort of action, there is nothing gained. This is a major issue with the whole of the "ecumenical movement" within the Church today. There is nothing which solidifies the positions of the Church in the aftermath of the reformations after Vatican Council II.
I continually say that there are 4 major issues with Vatican Council II:
1. The Mass
2. Religious Liberty/Freedom
4. The Magisterium of Vatican Council II.
The notion of ecumenism which the Council Fathers took was not one of a Catholic nature, but one of a Protestant nature. The Fathers allowed the Protestant idea of dialogue to dominate the notion of Ecumenism. What must we do to return to this proper understanding? That is a big question facing Catholics today. And that is one which is of utmost importance.