Deepening Catholic Ecumenical Commitment

March 29, 2014
Source: District of Canada

On Sunday March 23, 2014, a group of SSPX faithful from Winnipeg went to attend to a lecture given by a modern theologian.  The lecturer went on praising the development of the ecumenical movement since Vatican II and, in particular, under the pontificate of Pope Francis.  After the conference, our faithful were able to meet with the lecturer and also with the new Archbishop of Winnipeg.

A group of faithful from Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel in Winnipeg, led by their pastor Fr. Dominique Boulet, recently attended a special lecture about Vatican II at St Mary’s Academy (a prestigious private Catholic girl’s school administered by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary) on Sunday March 23, 2014 at 7pm. The title of the lecture was “Journeying Together: Ecumenism in the 21st Century,” delivered by Dr. Catherine E. Clifford, Professor of Systematic & Historical Theology and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Saint Paul University in Ottawa. Dr. Clifford’s lecture was organized by the Jesuit run St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba, as part of their Hanley Memorial Lecture Series.

Why attending this conference?

As the main focus of Dr. Clifford’s talk was on Vatican II, faithful from the SSPX chapel in Winnipeg thought it would be a good opportunity to hear directly from other Catholics about what they think regarding Vatican II, while witnessing to the truth of the perennial teachings of the Church. The lecture proved quite provocative, especially when Dr. Clifford discussed how Vatican II “…marked a conversion from an ecclesiology of return to an ecclesiology of recognition…” thereby implicitly disregarding the doctrinal teachings of Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos and Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis Christi among others. 

Clear questions and vague answers

Fr. Boulet and some SSPX faithful had an opportunity to ask Dr. Clifford informal questions at the reception held after the lecture. Two key questions asked were about how Our Lord’s commission to the Apostles, “to go out and teach all nations” could be understood as a simple dialogue among friends and not as an attempt at conversion, considering salvation should be the ultimate goal of all of these encounters. In addition, she was asked about how dialogue, as it is currently practiced, seems to undermine the traditional doctrine of the Church as possessing within itself all the truths necessary to lead men to salvation.

What was our intention?

“Our intention in attending this lecture was not to expect to change anyone’s mind, least of all to change Dr. Clifford’s opinions,—that is for Our Lord to do,” said Fr Boulet. “However, I think it was useful for us to hear what she had to say on Vatican II and also to witness to the fact that there are still some faithful that do not accept the new orientations of the Council, in the face of 2,000 years of constant and continuous Church teaching to the contrary.”

Meeting with the Archbishop of Winnipeg

After the lecture, Fr. Boulet informally greeted and kissed the ring of the new Archbishop of Winnipeg, the Most Reverend Archbishop Richard Gagnon, who was also in attendance. Father welcomed him to Winnipeg on behalf of the faithful at Our Lady of the Rosary chapel. The Archbishop inquired about Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel asking where we are located and how many people attend regularly. He also told Fr. Boulet, “…we must work together well.”  Certainly, we would like to work together for the good souls in Winnipeg, but not under the framework of Vatican II’s ecumenism, as expressed in Dr. Clifford’s lecture.

On that note, the SSPX faithful ended their foray into the academic world of professional theologians by humbly knelling down in the icy parking lot at St Mary’s Academy to receive Father Boulet’s blessing and dismissal. Together they prayed that indeed we may all one day be one—unified in the truths of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic faith.

What’s the future for ecumenism?

Even though Dr. Clifford tried hard to pass on to the attendance her passion and deep convictions about Vatican II’s ecumenism, it seems that basic demographic trends may not reward her efforts.  As a matter of fact, besides the small group of SSPX faithful, the average age of the people in attendance at the conference was way up into the golden years.  These are the people who are still anticipating a springtime for Vatican II, and as one of our friends matter-of-factly remarked “when I look around, it makes me feel quite young—sadly they look like people from a geriatric ward.”