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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Prayer with non-Catholics

by Catherine Frakas 05 May 2001

Prayer with non-Catholics QUESTION from Bruce Senti on December 12, 2002 Dear brother,
I have concerns about the actions of John Paul II. It has been stated repeatedly by official declarations of the Church, in its Sacred Magisterium, that one is not allowed to pray with heretics and schismatics. Here's some examples:
III Council of Constantinople: “If any ecclesiastic or layman shall go into the synagogue of the Jews or the meeting-houses of the heretics to join in prayer with them, let them be deposed and deprived of communion. If any bishop or priest or deacon shall join in prayer with heretics, let him be suspended from communion.â€
Council of Carthage: “One must neither pray nor sing psalms with heretics, and whosoever shall communicate with those who are cut off from the communion of the Church, whether clergy or layman, let him be excommunicated.â€
Council of Laodicea: “No one shall pray in common with heretics and schismatics.â€
But John Paul II and Vatican II teach otherwise:
Unitatis Redintegratio: “8. In certain special circumstances, such as in prayer services “for unity†and during ecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separate brethren...the gaining of needed grace sometimes commends.â€
John Paul II
Ut Unum Sint: “24. With profound emotion I remember praying together with the Primate of the Anglican Communion at Canterbury Cathedral (29 May 1982)...â€
Orientale Lumen: Regarding the Orthodox Schismatics: “17.2. Since then, much ground has been covered in reciprocal knowledge. This has increased our respect and has frequently enabled us to pray to the one Lord together and to pray for one another, on a path of love that is already a pilgrimage of unity.â€
John Paul II also said that Luther had a profound religious spirit and he lifeted the excommunication of him, but the Church teaches that If anyone does not condemn heretics, let him be anathema. Vigilius, D.223.223
With the idea of prayer meetings for unity being allowed, Pius XI, in Mortalium Animos, stated that preayer meetings for unity are condemned, because the Catholic Church cannot be divided.
Don't these actions excommunicate him? A pope can be excommunicated. If I am wrong, could you please explain to me how this is so?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on December 22, 2002 Dear Mr. Senti:
If you do not understand something the pope does then the problem is NOT with the Pope, but with you.
A good Catholic will presume that the Pope is doing the right thing and will ask himself what am I not understanding.
As I mentioned in the last post, it is the Magisterium of the Church who are the official interpretors of all Church documents and other writings concerning the faith. The Magisterium has the official teaching charism from the Holy Spirit, not you.
You are going down a dangerous road son, a road that will lead YOU to schism and heresy. The tone and presumptions of your statement show that you are approaching these things from what I call a Hermeneutics of Opposition. That means that you tend to automatically interpret the Pope, for example, as doing something wrong.
Son, we are to give the presumption IN FAVOR of the Pope and Magisterium and NOT presume error. The error is in us, not them on official matters of teaching.
Jesus in Matt 23:2 states that the Pharasees who were corrupt and hypocrites were to be OBEYED nevertheless when they sit on the chair of Moses. When the Pope sits on the chair of Peter he is to be obeyed. When the Church declares dogma we are to believe, when the Church declares authoritative teaching we are to give it the presumption that it is correct.
Do not look to your own understanding God tells us in the bible.
I will put it plainly. You are incompetent to judge the Pope and Magisterium on these issues.
Mortify your ego and have faith. This attitude of yours shows a profound lack of faith that Jesus does not tell lies. Jesus gave the POPE and MAGISTERIUM the charism to validly interpret the faith, not you or me. Is Jesus a liar when he says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church?
The Church has survived corrupt popes and bishops but NEVER has the official teaching on faith and morals been corrupted -- NEVER.
Stop backseat driving the Church. You just are not up to the job, and neither am I or anyone else except God's appointed Pope and Magisterium in union with him.
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