Monday, August 12, 2002

An Ecumenist! Run for your lives!

In the July-August issue of New Oxford Review, I found a couple of pages devoted by the editors to parsing Fr. Richard John Neuhaus' account of his conversion as found in April's First Things under the title How I Became the Catholic I Was. The second-to-last paragraph runs thus:

We know that many Catholics see Fr. Neuhaus as a champion of orthodox Catholicism---and his outspoken political conservativism may have something to do with that---but we doubt that many orthodox Catholics would find his words here to be those of a champion of Catholic orthodoxy. For sure, they're the words of a dyed-in-the-wool ecumenist.

A dyed-in-the-wool ecumenist?? I don't think the editors meant it as a compliment, but I'm at a loss to understand why it shouldn't be one. After all, Vatican II stated clearly that "the restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council" (Decree on Ecumenism, 1). If I've read that Council's texts and those of John Paul II correctly, then every Catholic is called to be a "dyed-in-the-wool ecumenist." It's not to be a compliment (or epithet) for Fr. Neuhaus alone.

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