I was having a conversation which the subject could be described as ecumenical in nature on the blog post on All Along The Watchtower titled: “The Paths We Follow.”
Catholics should certainly advise against sin and warn of wayward paths to sin. However, we must continue to be mindful of not seeing ourselves as the judge.
St. Augustine wrote in his Sermons, “If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.”
It’s easy to use the above sentiment as a rallying cry against our fellow Protestant Brothers and Sisters in Christ. I often find myself in agreement with Conservative/Orthodox Catholics. I even agree with St. Augustine’s words. However, one issue that seems to bother me is often the temperament of words. Whenever it’s declared on how the Church was prior to Vatican II and that we should reject 818 of the Catechism and its understanding on ecumenism. The faithful should promote the One Church by rejecting Protestantism wholesale and not attend their services when provided the opportunity—where we may learn and pray for God’s will to reunite any fracture. The decree is often without mercy in words and tone.
In this Year of Mercy, let the faithful understand, as the Catechism explains that “they therefore have a right to be called Christians.”
How should we attempt to approach other Christians with theological disagreements? We should avoid an aggressive nature if compelled to rebuke, the faithful should instead rebuke with an invitation to the truth. One should make critiques with evidence, not labels or pejoratives. The faithful should provide the evidence and allow invitations to the truth to be received. Assaults, even in the most subtle ways, will do nothing but build walls against it. St. Augustine also reminds us that it is through the Grace of God that allows us to choose willfully the truth, but that each person must wait for the truth to discover them.
The 2nd Gospel reading of Advent reminds us that all of mankind shall see the Salvation of God:
Lk 3:1-6 RSV
The Proclamation of John the Baptist
3 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tibe′ri-us Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Iturae′a and Trachoni′tis, and Lysa′ni-as tetrarch of Abile′ne, 2 in the high-priesthood of Annas and Ca′iaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechari′ah in the wilderness; 3 and he went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be brought low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways shall be made smooth;
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”