Part I of this article the author analyzes the Vatican Press Conference on
January 21, 2008, in which Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo,
archpriest of St. Paul Outside the Walls, confirmed that this important Roman
Basilica will open an "ecumenical chapel." In this Part II the author looks at
the ecumenical message Pope Benedict has sent to the two last Consistories, and
makes a realistic assessment of the action of the purportedly “conservative”
Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of St. Paul Outside the
Walls, was created a Cardinal at the first Consistory of Pope Benedict XVI,
March 25, 2006. Also created Cardinals at this time were Boston’s Sean
O’Malley; San Francisco’s William Levada, and Stanislaus Dziwisz, former
secretary of Pope John Paul II and Archbishop of Krakow. (1)
The Pope sent a clear ecumenical message at this consistory. Benedict said
to his new Cardinals, “I count on you to make the path to full Christian
unity quicker and more secure, picking out one area in which he [the Pope]
would like to see progress,” as ANSA reported. (2)
In the recent consistory of November 24, 2007, Benedict bestowed another 23
Cardinal’s hats,(3) two of which were given to the most Charismatic-friendly
prelates in Rome: Archbishops Paul Cordes and Stanislaus Rylko (At a
Charismatic gathering I attended in Steubenville, 2005, Charismatic Ralph
Martin said that he and his wife went into Archbishop Rylko’s office in
Rome. Rylko saw them and shouted with glee, “Charismatic Renewal Forever!”)
A red hat went to one of the most charismatic-friendly prelates in Rome:
Ecumenism was a major theme at the November 2007 Consistory, even more so
than at the 2006 Consistory. Vatican Information Service reported
that at this second Consistory, “Benedict XVI introduced the theme for the
day’s discussion: Ecumenical Dialogue in the Light of Prayer and of the
Lord’s Command: Ut Unum Sint.” (5)
In the context of this Consistory, Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a speech to
the Cardinals that was immediately published in the Vatican’s
L’Osservatore Romano under the title: “Ecumenism as a ‘Holy
In the presence of the Pope, Cardinal Kasper
- noted that Pope John Paul II declared that the ecumenical effort in the
Church is an “irreversible path”;
- reiterated that Pope Benedict XVI from the first day of his Pontificate,
made ecumenism a principal element of his regime;
At the 2007 Consistory, Kasper declared Vatican II ecumenism "irreversible"
Nowhere is the doctrine of Pope Pius XI reiterated that there is only one
way to unity: the return of dissidents to the one true Church of Christ.
- gave unqualified praise to the 1993 Balamand Agreement that declares the
Catholic Church and Schismatic Orthodox as “Sister churches” that should not try
to convert one another. (The document calls such the principle of conversion an
- rejoiced that various Protestant groups and Catholic communities of
religious life and the new spiritual movements have recently formed a “spiritual
- reiterated that “spiritual ecumenism” (Catholics and non-Catholic publicly
praying together) is the “very soul of the ecumenical movement.”(6)
- Mentioned that for the Catholic, unity consists in the “presupposition for
a Eucharistic Communion”. This is extremely vague, since the New Code of Canon
Law allows non-Catholics to receive Communion in various circumstances.
In fact, Cardinal Kasper is on record as disparaging the traditional
Catholic teaching on Christian Unity. He said in 2001, “Today we no
longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others
would 'be converted' and return to being 'Catholics.' This was expressly
abandoned at Vatican II.”(7)
Traditional Catholics are rightly outraged at this statement. Yet it must be
asked, how does Kasper’s denial of traditional doctrine differ substantially
from Pope Benedict XVI’s words at the ecumenical meeting in Cologne, 2005.
Here, the Pope said,
“This unity does not mean what could be called ecumenism of the return:
that is, to deny and to reject one’s own faith history. Absolutely not!
It does not mean uniformity in all expressions of theology and spirituality,
in liturgical forms and in discipline. Unity in multiplicity, and
multiplicity in unity ... To this end, dialogue has its own contribution to
This was the same speech in which Pope Benedict said of the recently slain
Protestant Brother Roger from Taize, “He is now visiting us and speaking to
us from on high.”(9)
Benedict gives Communion to Protestant brother Roger [for more,
As Cardinal Kasper continued his remarks at the 2007 Vatican Consistory of
Cardinals, he voiced unqualified praise for the 1993 Directory for the
Application of the Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, a radical document
that promotes countless inter-denominational activities always condemned by
the Church as sins against Faith. Some of these include the permission for
Protestants to conduct the readings (except the Gospel) in a Catholic Church
[#133]; and the encouragement of “common spiritual exercises” and “retreats”
between Catholics and Protestants [#114] (10).
One of the Directory’s proposals germane to the present discussion
recommends the construction of a single church to be owned and used by
both Catholics and non-Catholics [#138]; and further recommends that in
these joint churches, the Blessed Sacrament be placed in a separate
chapel or room so as not to offend non-believers. [#139]
How can we not see in this a kind of model for the ecumenical chapel
announced for St. Paul Outside the Walls? Remember, this Directory was given
positive mention by Cardinal Kasper in the presence of the Pope in the
latest Consistory of Cardinals only two months ago.
Following up on this ecumenical joint-church recommendation in the 1993
Directory, Cardinal Walter Kasper’s 2007 Handbook for Spiritual Ecumenism
makes a similar proposal:
“Pay due attention, in national and international sanctuaries dedicated to
the Virgin Mary, to the presence and pastoral needs of those visitors who
belong to other churches and ecclesial communities by making available
appropriate prayers or meditations, along with the use of appropriate
liturgical signs and symbols.” (11)
Hence the notion for an ecumenical chapel is not necessarily an original
idea from Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the
papal basilica. Similar proposals appear in the 1993 Vatican Ecumenical
Directory praised at the latest Consistory of Cardinals in the presence
of Pope Benedict XVI, and in Cardinal Kasper’s 2007 Handbook for
To sum up: Pope Benedict XVI encouraged ecumenism as part of the mission of
St. Paul Outside the Walls, and encouraged ecumenism as a central aspect of
the Pauline Year. Pope Benedict also made ecumenism a theme in both of his
consistories of Cardinals, the last one featuring an ecumenical theme chosen
by Benedict, and a speech by Cardinal Kasper promoting the pan-Christian
ecumenism that has been the bane of the post-conciliar Church for the last
January 18, 2007 - Benedict tells Finnish Lutherans that joint prayer is the
"royal door of ecumenism"
This ecumenism was given a further boost by Pope Benedict XVI on January 18,
2008 when he praised Lutheran/Catholic prayer. Vatican Information
Service reported his words: “The joint prayer of Lutherans and Catholics
from Finland is a humble but faithful sharing in the prayer of Jesus.” (12)
Catholics need to mount an uncompromising resistance to these ecumenical
initiatives, since today’s ecumenism, as Pope Pius XI warned, leads to a
“false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.”(13)
Catholics also need to resist the proposed ecumenical chapel because of the
trickle-down effect it will have throughout the world. Once a major Roman
church — a Papal Basilica — establishes an ecumenical chapel within its
walls, other Cardinals and Bishops may establish similar ecumenical housing
in their own diocesan cathedrals. It is a scandal that can multiply in
cities around the world. How will a Catholic complain to his Bishop about
such an abuse when Pope Benedict XVI permits it in a major Roman Basilica?
Catholics were rightly critical of Fatima Shrine Rector Guerra who lends out
the Fatima Shrine once a year for a group of Anglicans to hold their
retreats, liturgies included. (14) But how can Guerra be held fully
accountable when an ecumenical Pontiff permits a permanent pan-Christian
structure at one of the most venerable sites in Rome?
How many copy-cat ecumenical ventures will occur throughout the world when
this scandalous chapel is allowed to flourish in the very heart of
Christendom? How will we oppose Cardinal Egan, for example, if he turns over
a section of New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral for non-Catholic worship?
What do we say to modern Bishops and shrine rectors when they respond to our
protests against modern ecumenism with the honest claim that they follow the
A realistic assessment
The purpose of this article is not to throw stones at anyone. Nor is it
meant to advance a sede-vacantist position — a position I do not hold.
Rather, the purpose of this article is an attempt to gain a realistic
assessment of the push-me-pull-you direction of the present pontificate — a
baffling spectacle that appears to move in two opposite directions at once.
It reminds one of what Pius X warned about the Modernists: “Hence in their
books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but
in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a
Nothing said in this article is meant to downplay any attempt by Benedict
XVI to return to legitimate Catholic tradition: such as the freeing of the
Tridentine Mass, his recent celebration of Mass ad orientem, his
efforts to restore sacred music in Catholic worship. All of these gains
should not be undervalued and should be regarded with gratitude.
Benedict follows JPII's style. Above, kissing Patriarch Bartholomew
At the same time, however, Pope Benedict’s forward march of conciliar
ecumenism is cause for concern. Have traditional Catholics fought all these
years to settle for a kind of ecumenical High-Anglicanism? A new Hegelian
synthesis of picture-perfect liturgies and revolutionary theology?
While we appreciate any legitimate return to Tradition under the present
pontificate, let us not cease to resist the advances in ecumenism that come
from the same quarters: an ecumenism that St. Maximilian Kolbe warned is the
“enemy of the Immaculata;” an ecumenism “which every Knight must not only
fight against, but also neutralize through diametrically opposed action and
Notes: 1. “New Cardinals”, The Dallas Morning
News, Feb. 24, 2006.
2. “Pope Hands Out 15 Cardinal’s Hats”, ANSA, March 24, 2006.
3. “Church Embraces New Cardinals”, Zenit, Nov. 27, 2007.
4. This was from Martin’s talk: “Transformation in Christ: Wisdom of the
Saints." Likewise, Archbishop Paul Cordes is equally favorable towards
Charismatics and modern ecumenism, as is evident from his book Call to
Holiness: Reflections on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Liturgical
Press, Collegeville, MN,1997.
5. DICI (Dec. 19, 2007), taken from Vatican Information Service,
November 23-25, 2007.
6. “Ecumenism as a ‘Holy Obligation’”, Intervention by Cardinal Kasper to
the College of Cardinals. L’Osservatore Romano. December 5, 2007, pp.
7. Adisti, Feb. 26, 2001. English translation quoted from “Where Have
They Hidden the Body?” by Christopher Ferrara, The Remnant, June 30,
2001 [emphasis added].
8. "Apostolic Journey to Cologne, On the Occasion of the XX World Youth
Day," Ecumenical Meeting, Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Cologne
- Archbishop’s House: Friday, 19 August 2005. On Vatican webpage at:
9. Ibid., See also
Brother Schultz Died a Protestant, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News,
Oct., 2006. [Reprint 2154 available for $2.00 postpaid from CFN].
10. For a fuller treatment of the 1993 Directory, see “The Ecumenical Church
of the Third Millennium”, J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, January,
1998. (Reprint 256 available for $2.00 postpaid from CFN).
11. Cardinal Walter Kasper, A Handbook of Spiritual Ecumenism, [Hyde
Park: New City Press, 2007], pp. 34.35.
12. “Prayer is the ‘Royal Door’ of Ecumenism”, Vatican Information
Service, Jan. 18, 2008. According to this report, Benedict on this date
also said, ”We must be grateful for the fruits of the Nordic
Lutheran-Catholic theological dialogue in Finland and Sweden concerning
central matters of the Christian faith, including the question of
justification in the life of the Church”. 13. Mortalium Animos, Pope
Pius XI, 1928. 14. See “A Colossal Monument to Diabolic Disorientation”, J.
Vennari, Catholic Family News, November, 2007. [(Reprint 2286
available from CFN for $2.00 postpaid]. Also on the web at:
www.cfnews.org/dia-monument.htm 15. Pascendi, #18.
Posted January 30,