True Ecumenism


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.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. It is to be hoped that the Catholic hierarchy has learned a valuable lesson of the costs of hobnobbing with these modern day totalitarians masquerading as social justice advocates.

  2. You are papering over the chasm. When it comes to standing for the moral truth that contraception and sterilization is wrong the Catholic Church stands alone.

    They need us. They need us to lead them to the fullness of the truth may it begin today.

  3. Amen and Yes they certainly are standing for religious freedom and that really is great but that as far as they are traveling down the road with us and the road is much longer than that. Unless we invite them to join us the rest of the way. To bring them into the joy of the authentic Christian teaching of being fully open to life. To renounce contraception.

    from the USCCB yesterday “First, he has decided to retain HHS’s nationwide mandate of insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception, including some abortifacients. This is both unsupported in the law and remains a grave moral concern. We cannot fail to reiterate this, even as so many would focus exclusively on the question of religious liberty.”

    We have walked (since 1931) are now walking the moral stretch alone. Its time for that to change. Today is a good day.

    I am a convert largely because of the Churches teaching on contraception. I cannot tell you the difference the truth makes and the depths to which it can heal. So yes lets stand together and fight back this government intrusion and yes lets take this opportunity to show the world why a life without contraception is a life truly worth having.

  4. Well I agree with you on contraception George, a teaching my wife and I have followed all our married lives. However, that is not what my post is about. If someone is standing with me to accomplish some great good, I am not going to reject their assistance simply because they do not agree with all Catholic teaching. I do not pretend that the differences in belief do not exist, but I appreciate the hand given to aid me in the task.

  5. ‘ 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. ‘

    It’s great to be able to say that and know it’s being done, as you said, for the greater glory of God. Healing, renewing, and a source of joy for me. Much more of the past couple of years without their heroic stand and I, for one, would need true care for my health. God loves us and does help us. His Spirit is moving in those standing.

    It was actually thrilling to see the impromptu gathering of religious leaders who were able to appear on Hannity last night on such a choppy, busy day probably filled with distraction and fatigue for them.

    They are Light in the darkness.

  6. I think also must be noted many individual Protestants oppose contraception just as strongly as faithful Catholics do. Unfortunately, the Cathoic Church is only “denomination” that opposes it at the institution level.

    It is also woth noting that many Catholics who converted from Protestantism say that their study of the contraception and the Church’s position on the issue and rationale for it was the thing that begin their trek across the Tiber. Dr. Scott Hahn and musician John Michael Talbot being two prominent examples.

    Sorry Don if I strayed from the topic of the post. BUt I thought I needed to point that out in light of George’s comment.

  7. Im quit certain the topic was True Ecumenism.

    CCC 816…The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism explains: “For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.”

    821…- conversion of heart as the faithful “try to live holier lives according to the Gospel”; for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ’s gift which causes divisions;

    – prayer in common, because “change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name ‘spiritual ecumenism;”‘

    Pope Benedict XVI – …Consequently, spiritual ecumenism – prayer, conversion and the sanctification of life – constitutes the heart of the meeting and of the ecumenical movement. It could be said that the best form of ecumenism consists in living in accordance with the Gospel.

    No I don’t think we are off topic at all rather opening more fully what you gave a great start too. So Amen to True Ecumenism and Amen to its fruits. Hearts are being converted Lives sanctified.

    So we are united against tyranny now let’s continue to speak with our Protestant brothers and sisters (and our Catholic as well) on what still divides us to an ever deeper conversion. To the healing and saving power of Truth. To a Life pleasing to God without contraception, sterilization and abortion. We are protesting against the government because these things are wrong in addition to government interference in mandating them or at least it seems to me from the USCCB latest statement.

    May all come to join us in the entire fight of surrendering ourselves to Truth, may the True Ecumenism bear fruit a prayer and hope in which I know we all agree.

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