158 – If we concentrate on the convictions we share, and if we keep in mind the principle of the hierarchy of truths, we will be able to progress decidedly towards common expressions of proclamation, service and witness. How many important things unite us!

The Last Supper had concluded, and the traitor had already set out to commit his crime. Jesus, alone with his Apostles, addressed the celestial Father with the celebrated priestly prayer in which he prayed for his disciples and all who would come to be part of his flock, his only Church, the Catholic Church. The Apostles enjoyed three years of intense contact with the Divine Master in preparation for their mission to transmit the true doctrine and faith to humanity. The fact that there was no discrepancy of religion within the Apostolic College is proof: it was not ecumenism and a joining of religions that united them, but the fact that they all possessed the same faith, doctrine, and teachings, thus producing a rich array of valuable elements – supernatural wealth and material splendors.

They handed on to Catholics of all times a rich, unadulterated deposit, which no one may alter in any way until the end of time. It is in this deposit that we find the basis of union among Catholics, sustained and solidified by Jesus’ prayer: ‘so that they may be one’ (Jn 17:21).

However, there will always be heretics who twist the words ‘that they may be one’ in the drive for syncretism, insisting that Jesus’ petition sought the joining of all religions. Even worse, is their claim that he thereby encouraged his Church to seek some type of enhancement in other religions, to lend his evangelical proclamation greater force and plenitude.

In this study, we shall examine the true concept of ecumenism. Do others religions proclaim the truth? May Catholics reap ideas from other religions without disrespecting the one Holy Church?



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Teachings of the Magisterium

Enter the various parts of our study

I – The only valid and legitimate Christian proclamation is the one confided to the Catholic Church, not to any religious denomination that considers itself faithful to Christ
II – What is true ecumenism?
III – Christian denominations separate from the Church are heretical. Do they have something to teach us?

I – The only valid and legitimate Christian proclamation is the one confided to the Catholic Church, not to any religious denomination that considers itself faithful to Christ


Only those whom Christ appointed should be received as preachers

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Guard against those in the habit of carrying about the name of Jesus Christ in wicked guile

Benedict XVI

The proclamation of the truth of the Gospel is part of the Church’s mission

John Paul II

Dialogue should be implemented with the conviction that the Church alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation

Paul VI

The Gospel message is unique and does not permit syncretism

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Commitment to evangelization is the Church’s ‘primary task’
The Church is conscious of being the bearer of a radical faithfulness to the Word of God
The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism
False attitude toward evangelization: Claiming to have received God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and endangers peace

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

By the will of Christ, the Church is the teacher of the truth

Pius XI

The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship

Vatican Council I (Ecumenical XX)

The Church has from divine Providence, the right and duty of proscribing ‘knowledge falsely so called’

Gregory XVI

Those who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion are against Christ

Pius XI

The false hope that though nations differ in religious matters they will come to agree as brethren

Sacred Scripture

If anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed!

II – What is true ecumenism?

Pius IX

Christian charity: the endeavor to snatch others from the darkness of error and lead those astray back to the Catholic truth
Ecumenical dialogue becomes a ‘dialogue of conversion’

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

If dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith
It is not permitted to pass over in silence or veil the Catholic truth

Paul VI

Our dialogue must not make vague compromises concerning the principles of the Christian faith in theory and practice

John Paul II

A ‘being together’ which betrays the truth would be opposed to the nature of God

Pius X

The primary duty of charity does not lie in the toleration of false ideas

Pius XII

The error of reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma
Even on the plea of promoting unity it is not allowed to dissemble one single dogma

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The authentic ecumenical task requires complete sincerity and clarity in the presentation of one’s own faith

Vatican Council II (Ecumenical XXI)

Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism

International Theological Commission

Dialogue between religions cannot in any way pledge itself to syncretism

Pius XI

A great a variety of opinions cannot make the way clear to effect the unity of the Church

Paul VI

We cannot agree with various forms of religions nor adopt an uncritical attitude toward them as though on equal footing

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The attitude Bishops should take in face of false ecumenism

Pius IX

Since its origins, the Church has sought to anathemize those who betrayed the deposit of the faith

Sacred Scripture

So that the truth of the gospel might remain intact for you we did not submit to the false brethren

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Some are firm in the faith, so it is to be hoped that their communicating with unbelievers will lead to conversion

III – Christian denominations separate from the Church are heretical. Do they have something to teach us?

Sacred Scripture

If anyone does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him: whoever greets him shares in his evil works

Pius XI

Prohibition of any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching

Saint Cyprian of Carthage

He who gathers outside the Church scatters the Church of Christ

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

It is not necessary to seek the truth among others which is easy to obtain from the Church

Saint Vincent of Lerins

New and unheard-of doctrines furtively introduced do not pertain to religion


The ruin of the Catholic religion: all who offer themselves are received whatever may be their form of religion

Leo I

Flee from heretics as a deadly poison, condemn them, withdraw from them


It is impossible for God to approve all sects who profess false teachings

Related studies

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  • 146 – “That all the Orthodox Christians of Ukraine may live in peace and harmony, and that the Catholic communities in the country may contribute to this, in such a way that our Christian brotherhood may become increasingly evident”

  • 143 – “Orthodox and Catholics are united not only by the shared Tradition of the Church of the first millennium, but also by the mission to preach the Gospel of Christ in the world today”

  • 142 – “There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church. It relates us to Judaism and Islam, both of which consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes”

  • 128 – “If we are honest in presenting our convictions, we will be able to see more clearly what we hold in common. New avenues will be opened for mutual esteem”

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