I must confess that I have never been a great fan of Ecumenism, as a drive for greater Christian unity, as it has played out in the Catholic Church since Vatican II. Too often it has resulted in “dialogues” with non-Catholic faiths that seek to paper over theological chasms that divide us from them. If the price of Ecumenism is any watering down of the Catholic Faith, please count me out.
However, there is a true Ecumenism which I interpret as the banding together of people of different faiths to accomplish some great good in the name of God. A striking example of what I am referring to was the action of the four chaplains of the USS Dorchester on January 22, 1943, a Catholic priest, two Protestant ministers, and a Jewish rabbi, who gave up their life jackets so other men could live, and died together, arms linked, praising God to the end. Go here to read their story.
In my 29 years of work in the pro-life cause, I have often encountered such true Ecumenism. Each month I pray with members of the board of directors at the crisis pregnancy center which I have had the honor to be the Chairman of for over a decade. I am the only Catholic on the board and I have found much to inspire me by the faith and the goods works of the evangelicals and other Protestants I have encountered and worked with over the years.
In the face of the HHS mandate in regard to contraception and abortifacients, I have been heartened to see how many people of good will have been standing shoulder to shoulder with the Church in opposition to this villainous assault on our common heritage as Americans of religious liberty.
Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church, who gave the invocation at Obama’s inauguration, has announced that he is ready to go to jail rather than follow the HHS mandate. The Orthodox Bishops in the United States have vigorously condemned the HHS mandate. Dr. Richard Land, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptists, has raised his voice against the mandate. Many other American religious leaders have spoken out, including Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Colby May, senior counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice; Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Focus on the Family; Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance; Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; Abba Cohen, vice president for federal affairs of Agudath Israel of America; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Ron Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action; and Paul Corts, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. These are just a very few of hundreds of non-Catholic individuals and groups I could name who have spoken out.
This is one Catholic who will never forget that when the Church in America stood up to defend Her religious liberty, She did not stand up alone.