We Maniacs discussed this internally somewhat yesterday… Actually, it was mentioned and then commented on by HeathenBoy. It then degenerated into an intense discussion on the religious worldview of said HeathenBoy. Interesting day to say the least.
Anyway, Australia’s Catholic Bishops and representatives of 14 Protestant denominations committed to a sharing of resources and ministers. The Church did not commit to intercommunion though. What was agreed was that all of them would recognize each other’s baptisms and some agreed to exchange ministers. At first I missed some of the details about the intercommunion and it being a parital sharing of ministers. That is what generated the discussion by HeathenBoy. He commented that you can’t have non-Catholics participate in the officiating of Mass or distributing Communion. Doesn’t work. Smart, for a heathen. 🙂
I view this development as a mixed bag. I am pleased that the umbrella group (National Council of Churches, which doesn’t include Baptists, Pentecostals or Presbyterians) has recognized the role of Baptism in that it is a one-time thing if valid and that it is effecacious or leaves a permanent mark of some kind on the person. That at least is the conclusion I draw by their recognition of each other’s baptisms. If you recognize it, no need to do it again. Legit is legit. Too bad we didn’t get the Baptists and Pentecostals in on this as they seem to be the ones most likely to reject the Traditional view of Baptism as permanent, necessary and regenerative.
On the other hand, I am concerned that this may lead to a watering down of the faith in an ecumenical environment. I have seen the effects of that here in our Archdiocese. One of the Archdiocesan meeting spaces they use for ecumenical meetings was a chapel when the building was a convent. Now it’s been stripped bare of all religious symbols and context so as not to offend anyone. The place where once the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered has been sanitized. That offends me.
Will we see the same thing in Australia? I hope not. As HeathenBoy said, ultimately Christian unity means the protesters (Protestants) have to stop protesting and come home. What happens when they get there and find that the Church they are returning to largely looks like the one they left? Will they take the time to hunt down the orthodox parishes and fight for orthodoxy, or will they return to their old churches?
That is why being ashamed of being Catholic hurts not only us, but our separated brethren as well. We can’t be that shining city on a hill by meeting them in the valley. If we believe we are right, then we must help them make the climb, not come down from the mountaintop. True ecumenism will offer a hand, a rope, a ladder or whatever. Leaving the mountaintop is tantamount to forsaking the faith in my opinion.