, By Fr, Henry St. John, O.P.
THE CHURCHES AND THE CHURCH, by Bernard Leeming, S.J. (Darton, Longman and Todd, 35s.).
'DERE JEROME HAMF12,
O.P., a distinguished theologian writing in the July "Irish Ecclesiastical Record", has said that we must propose the Church's message of the fullness of truth to men who seek God and we must do so in a "dialogue" because nobody listens to a monologue.
A few weeks later Cardinal Bea, S.J. president of the Secretariate of Unity established by Pope John XXIII for the coming Ecumenical Council, emphasised that the task of the members and consultors of this Secretariate will be to provide information about Protestantism to Catholics in the countries to which they belong and likewise to make sure that the varied Protestant and other non-Catholic bodies are informed about the Catholic Church, this exchange of information gradually leading to a "dialogue".
The word dialogue used in this context is a new one to Catholics. though it has been current usage in the Ecumenical Movement of which the World Council of Churches is the chief organ.
IT means an exchange of ideas in which is recognised on both sides the paramount importance of a clear understanding what one's opposite number is saying; this involves great intellectual charity, the avoidance of controversy in the wina-victory sense, the capacity to listen, the desire at all costs to get at every scrap of the truth there may he in what is said, and the recognition that to do this it is vitally necessary to understand each other's language and idiom.
Until relatively lately the "Churches ", and this must include the Catholic Church, which possesses the fullness of revealed truth, have been proclaiming their respective messages in monologue, and have done so in a controversial setting which, while laying almost
exclusive emphasis on the errors of those they wish to atheist and convert, bother very little to discover whether they are talking a language their prospective converts can understand.
Such a monologue has a minimal chance of attaining its object. It is like talking rapid French to a roomful of people who learned French at school, and may even read French with some ease, but who cannot speak it. Of what is said some is understood, much is misconceived, and most is entirely lost.
THE Ecumenical Movement has begun to change all this; it began amongst non-Catholic Christians more than fifty years ago and today has reached world-wide proportions. Its main work has been to introduce amongst divided Christians the temper and attitude which will make the dialogue work.
As it has grown an increasing body of Catholics in all countries has become interested, and has realised that here is the way to prepare the ground successfully for a real knowledge of the meaning of the Faith, as the Church possesses it in its wholeness, to be grasped as something which completes and fulfills all the truth in the beliefs of dissident Christians and so dissipates what is misconceived or erroneous in their apprehension of it.
In this way, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the ground is prepared for the reception of truth in its fullness. This is the way-the only way-in which separated Christians can be incorporated in the existing and given unity of the one Church and the unity of Christendom restored.
I T seems that Pope John XXIII
is as ecumenically minded as any of the faithful, his subjects. He has said we must get to know and love our separated brethren on the level of truth, that we must put our house in order in such a way that the Church can be seen as attractis e in its beauty to nonCatholee, and by the coming Council and especially perhaps by its Sces,tariate for Unity making contact with non-Catholics in the things el Faith, he is seeking, in conjunction with the whole teaching magistcrium of the Church, to promote these ends and foster the attainment of Christian unity.
And now at long last, here in England, we have a book written by a distinguished theologian, Fr. Bernard Leeming, S.J., professor of dogmatic theology at Heythrop College. Its scope is a full account of the Ecumenical Movement in relation to the Catholic Church, written by a Catholic for Catholics.
He shows why at present the Catholic Church wisely remains aloof from ecumenical organisation but by no means uninterested or indifferent. He shows too the relationship in which individual Catholics can stand to their nobCatholic contemporaries in ecumenical work
FR. LEEM1NG writes with clarity and simplicity, his ecumenical reading is astonishingly wide; he discusses the meaning of ecumenism, its history and growth. and the changes it has undergone in its evolution, its problems, its dangers, and its necessity with sound and skilled theological learning and prudence.
The documentation of his book is most complete: he prints several classical and indispensable documents in full, quotes widely from and comments on others, and introduces the reader to all the main ecumenical writers. Catholic and non-Catholic.
There is in addition an excellent bibliography for the use of those who will want to make a further study of Catholic ecumenism.
"Pr41-1E Churches and the Church " ought to be widely used in the seminaries and houses of study where the importance of the Ecumenical Movement and the part Catholics will play in it must be realised by the coming generation of priests, from whom the Holy See has asked (Instruction of the Holy Office to Local Ordinances, 1949) for some experts in things ecumenical and from all sufficient knowledge to guide the faithful. It will also be of great value to the laity who are increasingly interested in this form of
Both Fr. Leming and Pere Hamer, 0.P., were lately appointed by the Holy See, through the Secretariate of Unity of which Cardinal Bea is president, as observers to attend the meeting held recently in Edinburgh of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
There can be no doubt therefore that these priests speak with authority on things ecumenical, and represent the mind of the organisers of the coming Council, and therefore of the Holy See itself and the bishops, who in conjunction with it are the teaching magisterium of the Church.