Philosophers' blog - and a good article on ecumenism

A group of Catholic philosophers started up the Philosophia Perennis blog on the feast of St Augustine this year. Last month, there was an excellent article by Dr Thomas Pink, Reader in Philosophy at Kings College, London, called The toils of ecumenism - a new doctrine or an old policy?

The article offers an analysis of the relationship between the encyclical Mortalium Animos of Pius XII and Vatican II's Unitatis Redintegratio. He argues that there has been a change of policy rather than doctrine; that Mortalium Animos rejected the policy of ecumenical dialogue as a means to reunion whereas Unitatis Redintegratio enthusiastically endorsed such a policy. Ecumenism itself, and ecumenical discussions cannot be ruled out on principle because to do so would be also to reject the work of the Council of Florence. Thus he says:
Florence did not work; but its attempt at dialogic reunion with Constantinople was not un-Catholic or un-Christian. Nor, on the other hand, should others assume, ‘in the name of the Council’, that the Church is mandated always and everywhere to pursue ecumenical dialogue. For in certain contexts such dialogue may be a waste of time - or even do genuine damage. It may even reduce unity, by loss and damage to the local Catholic community involved.
Dr Pink acknowledges the value of the "greater emotional warmth" that has been achieved through ecumenical dialogue. I would suggest that this greater warmth and friendship often comes about not so much through dialogue as through saying some prayers together (outside of any liturgical context, preferably) and through working together in local projects such as opposing the opening of a "pole dancing" bar in the local High Street.

Sadly, my local ecumenical group failed to agree to oppose this but at least I was able to assure the more evangelical lady who raised the matter that the local Catholic Church agreed with her. Similarly, I can talk to my Baptist neighbour about moral issues, and to many high anglicans on various matters of shared concern.

I am glad that we are able to be reasonably friendly but I agree entirely that ecumenical dialogue with the post-reformation Churches is at the best unfruitful and at the worst positively harmful if it leads to ambiguous "agreed statements" or a watering-down of our own identity in an attempt somehow to make reunion come about.

Damian Thompson has also written about Dr Pink's article on Holy Smoke: The fight against Futurechurch: Ecumenism

(Via, Philosophia Perennis, I found the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. This is not an open-source, wikipedia type of resource; the articles are peer-reviewed and covered by copyright. This would be a very useful source for students of philosophy.)

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