Ecumenism & Interreligious Dialogue:

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Indifferentism and Syncretism Repackaged

At the heart of the Novus Ordo Church there is Ecumenism, a collection of heretical, erroneous, and impious beliefs and practices that — officially — aims to bring about “unity” among all those who claim the name of “Christian.” In similar fashion, the practice of Interreligious Dialogue aims to foster good relations with Jews, Mohammedans, and Pagans of every kind.

Lip service to the contrary notwithstanding, both ecumenism and interreligious dialogue deny the uniqueness of the Catholic Church as the only true Church established by God, the necessity of belonging to the Church for salvation, the dogma of the unity of the Church in faith and government, and many other Catholic doctrines, whether implicitly or explicitly. Ecumenical and interreligious dialogue always occurs at eye level with false religions, thus making it seem as though the Catholic Church were on the same level as heretical and diabolical sects, as though she were simply one among many religions that all have an equal right to exist.

In fact, in 2002 the preacher of the “papal” household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M. Cap., uttered the incredible blasphemy that God does not merely passively tolerate false religions but positively wills their existence! The Capuchin Cantalamessa said verbatim that such religions “are not merely tolerated by God … but positively willed by Him as an expression of the inexhaustible richness of His grace and His will for everyone to be saved” (Sermon of March 29, 2002; English taken from here). The fact that he was able to utter this without any consequences at the Vatican’s Good Friday liturgy says a lot about the damage done by Vatican II and the post-conciliar magisterium. This is nothing short of apostasy, which is a complete abandonment of the Catholic religion — and it was only made possible by that infernal council.

Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue always implies or at least encourages the heresy of Indifferentism (at least the Liberal or Latitudinarian kind), according to which it does not matter what religion one professes, as long as one has good will or shares certain beliefs or “values” in common. Until the death of Pope Pius XII in 1958, the Catholic Church always opposed the ecumenical movement and offered as her own alternative the conversion of all non-Catholics to the only true Church, which has been instituted by God as the sole means of salvation. The Great Commission given by our Blessed Lord demands nothing less: “Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” (Mt 28:19-20). St. John the Evangelist warned the early Christians sternly not to abandon the true doctrine: “Whosoever revolteth, and continueth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that continueth in the doctrine, the same hath both the Father and the Son. If any man come to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him, God speed you” (2 Jn 9-10).

In his landmark encyclical on true religious unity, Pope Pius XI exposed the heretical underpinnings of ecumenical and interreligious movements, assemblies, and conferences:

Certainly such attempts [at interreligious unity] can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion.

(Pope Pius XI, Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 2)

The first efforts at interreligious unity had been made by unbelievers in the 19th century. In 1893, the world’s first-ever interfaith gathering took place in Chicago, Illinois, from September 11-27. Known as the “World’s Parliament of Religions”, it included representatives from Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Shintoism, Christian Science, Bahá’í, and others. Even Roman Catholic prelates participated in the interreligious event, most notably Archbishop James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore, Archbishop Patrick Feehan of Chicago, and Archbishop Patrick Ryan of Philadelphia.

Commenting on how it was conceivable for Catholics to even countenance participation in such an event, Fr. Francis Connell wrote in the American Ecclesiastical Review in 1943:

This gathering embraced representatives, not only of the Christian and the Jewish creeds, but also of the Mohammedan, Confucian, Buddhist, Shinto and Theosophist religions. The general sessions lasted from 11 September to 27 September. Besides these general meetings, there were 48 particular denominational congresses held in connexion with the Parliament. One of these was a Catholic congress, which lasted a week and was attended by thousands of Catholics, both clerical and lay.

…As was to be expected, latitudinarianism — the idea that all forms of religion are good — was expressed frequently in the course of the Parliament. One of the objectives of the gathering, according to the previous statement of the committee, was “to inquire what light each religion may afford to the others”.

…The papers read by Catholics at the general sessions were straightforward and simple expositions of the Church’s teachings. However, there was no pronounced attempt to give an explicit and emphatic refutation of the doctrine of latitudinarianism which non-Catholic representatives were so fond of expressing. It seems very probable that the Catholics who participated had not anticipated the extreme liberalism that pervaded the Parliament.

(Fr. Francis J. Connell, “Pope Leo XIII’s Message to America”, American Ecclesiastical Review, vol. 109 [October, 1943], pp. 244-256)

Pope Leo XIII intervened in 1895 and, in an Apostolic Letter to Archbishop Francis Satolli, forbade any future participation in interreligious congresses. Fr. Connell comments as follows:

With characteristic prudence and moderation the Holy See waited two years before passing judgment on the participation by Catholics in the Parliament of Religions. Then the decision came in the letter [mentioned]. Though couched in the form of a suggestion and pervaded with benignity and kindness, the message of Leo XIII unquestionably manifested disapproval of the part which Catholics had taken in the Chicago Parliament of Religions and forbade future activities of a similar nature.

Of course, the theme underlying this papal warning is the basic Catholic truth that Catholicism is the only true religion, intended by God for all mankind. Catholics may not regard the existence or the propagation of any non-Catholic religion as something, which in itself is good and praiseworthy; they may not directly encourage or promote the religious activities of any non-Catholic group. Discussions and conferences on religious topics with persons of other religious conviction are not in se wrong; nevertheless, they are frequently accompanied by the danger that Catholics will compromise the principle that their religion alone is true, or at least give the appearance of such compromise. They may also endanger the faith of those Catholic participants who are not sufficiently instructed in theological matters to answer objections that may be brought against the Church’s teachings. The ruling of Pope Leo XIII was substantially identical with the prescription of the [1917] Code [of Canon Law]: “Let Catholics take care not to have debates or conferences, particularly of a public nature, with non-Catholics, without the permission of the Holy See or, if the case is urgent, of the local Ordinary” [Canon 1325, §3].

(Connell, “Pope Leo XIII’s Message to America”)

Instead of interreligious gathers, where the Catholic religion would simply be present as one among many and thus be put on an equal footing with heretical and even Pagan creeds, Pope Leo recommended that Catholics hold their own congresses, to which non-Catholics can be invited to hear the Church’s true teaching expounded and to have their objections answered.

Fr. Connell sums up the Catholic position as follows:

Personal tolerance and Christian charity should be extended by Catholics toward those of other religious beliefs. They are the sheep who are not of Christ’s fold, yet they are very dear to His Heart. But those fundamental Catholic principles — the exclusiveness of the Church’s claim to be the one true Church, the sinfulness of putting Catholicism on a parity with other religions, the solemn duty of Catholics to preserve their faith from harm — may never be compromised, however kindly we may feel toward those who are not of our faith.

(Connell, “Pope Leo XIII’s Message to America”)

This is the clear, consistent, unmistakable, traditional, and only truly Catholic position.

The following are some of the most important doctrinal documents issued by the Catholic Church on true religious unity and against ecumenism and interreligious dialogue (in chronological order):

With the election of “Pope” John XXIII in 1958, however, things began to change. He established a “Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity” in 1960, and his Second Vatican Council (1962-65) opened the floodgates to the ecumenism and interreligious dialogue we have seen in the decades since then. In the Novus Ordo Church, ecumenism and interreligious dialogue have virtually replaced any meaningful mission that seeks people’s conversion to the Roman Catholic Church as the only means of sanctification and salvation. Instead, there is lots of talk about “common witness”, “peace”, “human dignity”, and, at best, a vague reference to “leading people to God” — but never talk about there being only one true religion and all other religions being false, much less about the necessity of those in false religions to embrace the true religion, which alone possesses the truth revealed by God.

In fact, in 2009, “Pope” Benedict XVI said the following about ecumenism and interreligious dialogue:

Leading men and women to God, to the God who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith – ecumenism – is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light – this is interreligious dialogue.

(Antipope Benedict XVI, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the Remission of the Excommunication of the Four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre”, March 10, 2009)

In his 2012 Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia, the same Benedict XVI frankly admitted that “dialogue does not aim at conversion, but at better mutual understanding” — before seeking refuge behind the ubiquitous Modernist “but” and then losing himself in gobbledygook about “drawing closer to the truth” while rushing to assure his audience that Catholics “do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us” — which can conveniently be interpreted in a hundred different ways, which is precisely what it is designed to do. This way, the listener takes heresy from what is said, while Benedict retains for himself plausible deniability in case anyone should want to accuse him of misleading his audience.

The true Novus Ordo meaning of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue is evident not only from the countless documents themselves that have been put out by the Vatican II Sect on this topic since John XXIII, but also especially in the practices the Novus Ordo authorities have engaged in, encouraged, permitted, and even imposed, which are an interpretation and application of the Vatican II and post-conciliar teaching on ecumenism and dialogue. Here are some examples of both:

Some Novus Ordo Documents on Ecumenism/Interreligious Dialogue

Examples of Novus Ordo Practice on Ecumenism/Interreligious Dialogue

Since the Catholic Church alone is the true Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, and since only the Catholic Church is the Ark of Salvation, outside of which no one can be saved, it is clear that she must reject any form of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue that does not seek the absolute and unconditional conversion of non-Catholics to the true and only religion, the Catholic religion.

Over 50 years of Vatican II ecumenism and interfaith dialogue have proved beyond any doubt that the Catholic teaching against ecumenism and interreligious unity is correct, for their practice does indeed lead to the ruin of souls and to endless heresies and errors. Now that the Novus Ordo Church has eclipsed the Catholic Church since 1958, and by looking at what has taken place since then, we can see in practice just how bad ecumenism is, what fruits it has wrought, and why the true Catholic Church is so adamantly opposed to it.

The following pictures are typical examples of Novus Ordo authorities engaging in ecumenism and/or interreligious dialogue:

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Paul VI with Greek schismatic Patriarch Athengoras on Jan. 5, 1964

John Paul II kisses the Moslem Koran / © 2018 The Associated Press
Original caption: “Pope John Paul II, center, kisses the the Quran, Islam’s Holy book, in this May 14, 1999 picture taken at Vatican City. Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Bidawid at left. AP Photo/L’Osservatore Romano”

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John Paul II at the first interreligious prayer meeting for peace in Assisi, Italy, in 1986

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Benedict XVI meets with unbelievers of all kinds in a 2011 remake of the Assisi Interfaith Prayer Meeting

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“Pope” Francis in an ecumenical commemoration of the Protestant Reformation with Swedish Lutherans on Oct. 31, 2016, in Lund

More such photos and even videos could be provided ad infinitum, but these will suffice.

Before Vatican II, the Catholic Church laid out again and again what the true attitude is that a Catholic must have with regard to “reaching out” to followers of other religions. While we must cultivate a holy intransigence with regard to religious truth and the rights of Christ and His only Church, this does not mean that we are allowed to be hostile or unkind in any way to those who are unhappily not part of the Catholic Church. We already quoted Fr. Connell about this above, but even the Vicars of Christ themselves spoke about this:

But God forbid that the sons of the Catholic Church ever in any way be hostile to those who are not joined with us in the same bonds of faith and love; but rather they should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and “being fruitful in every good work” [Colossians 1:10], they may attain eternal salvation.

(Pope Pius IX, Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, n. 9)

Even on the plea of promoting unity it is not allowed to dissemble one single dogma; for, as the Patriarch of Alexandria warns us, “although the desire of peace is a noble and excellent thing, yet we must not for its sake neglect the virtue of loyalty in Christ.” Consequently, the much desired return of erring sons to true and genuine unity in Christ will not be furthered by exclusive concentration on those doctrines which all, or most, communities glorying in the Christian name accept in common. The only successful method will be that which bases harmony and agreement among Christ’s faithful ones upon all the truths, and the whole of the truths, which God has revealed.

(Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Orientalis Ecclesiae, n. 16)

Holy Mother Church has also warned against a serious error that has been very prevalent since Vatican II, namely, the idea that what unites Catholics and Protestants is much more (or greater) than what divides them. Not only is this plainly false — for there is a lot more that separates Catholics from Protestants than unites them, and any agreement or “unity” among them is entirely accidental as it does not follow from the same principles — , it is also extremely dangerous. Hence the Holy Office under Pope Pius XII warned all local bishops to be on their guard against this grave ecumenical error:

[The Bishops] shall also be on guard lest, on the false pretext that more attention should be paid to the points on which we agree than to those on which we differ, a dangerous indifferentism be encouraged, especially among persons whose training in theology is not deep and whose practice of their faith is not very strong. For care must be taken lest, in the so-called “irenic” spirit of today, through comparative study and the vain desire for a progressively closer mutual approach among the various professions of faith, Catholic doctrine — either in its dogmas or in the truths which are connected with them — be so conformed or in a way adapted to the doctrines of dissident sects, that the purity of Catholic doctrine be impaired, or its genuine and certain meaning be obscured.

(Holy Office, Instruction Ecclesia Catholica, n. II)

Despite its clear and well-founded condemnation, this is precisely the error held and disseminated by “Pope” John XXIII, who said, “What unites us is much greater than what divides us”. This was echoed, of course, by his successor “Saint” John Paul II in his sheer endless encyclical on ecumenism:

This is what Pope John XXIII believed about the unity of the Church and how he saw full Christian unity. With regard to other Christians, to the great Christian family, he observed: “What unites us is much greater than what divides us”.

(Antipope John Paul II, Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, n. 20)

There are two excellent books we can recommend on the topic of ecumenism that were published just a few years before the Second Vatican Council; they give the true, traditional Catholic response to the ecumenical movement, which was spearheaded by Protestants at the time:

The second book mentioned is not easily available at this time. For a hardcopy, you may wish to try searching, or you can download an electronic copy at The Catholic Archive.


The following is a list of posts and pages on this web site that pertain to the topics of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. This list is automatically updated as new content is created:

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