On January 25, at the close of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in the Eternal City of Rome, Pope Francis delivered these stunning lines during his homily (H/T Rorate Caeli):
So many past controversies between Christians can be overcome when we put aside all polemical or apologetic approaches, and seek instead to grasp more fully what unites us, namely, our call to share in the mystery of the Father’s love revealed to us by the Son through the Holy Spirit. Christian unity – we are convinced – will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions.
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In the call to be evangelizers, all the Churches and Ecclesial Communities discover a privileged setting for closer cooperation. For this to be effective, we need to stop being self-enclosed, exclusive, and bent on imposing a uniformity based on merely human calculations (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 131). Our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., in the Lourdes chapel at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Fr. Patrick Rutledge of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) offered a Missa Cantata (H/T Rorate Caeli again). Yes, the SSPX, that canonically irregular band of renegade priests whose performance of the Lord’s sacraments will cause even little children to enter a state of de facto schism, sang Mass for Christ’s faithful. How can this be? For as we all know the Society, obsessed with a certain type of liturgical posture and riddled with Promethean neo-Pelagianism, opposes ecumenism; or, more to the point, active proselytizes and pours considerable resources into apologetics — two approaches condemned across the pond by the man entrusted with not just the souls of 1.2 billion Catholics, but the billions more who have either never heard the Truth of Christ or have only received it in an incomplete form. It is a great mystery, isn’t it, how in times of so much darkness and confusion the good Lord still provides rays of light.
Not that we should be content with rays, for God has called all of us to radiate the true joy of the Gospel to all the world. And that true joy is not “encounter” or “discussion” or “you’re ok, I’m ok”; the true joy is the Salvation secured for us on Calvary. Catholic joy comes from the realization that God so loved us, his fallen and frail creation, as to really suffer and really die for our sins on the Cross before Rising on the Third Day, Ascending into Heaven, and sending forth the Holy Ghost to secure his people, the Corpus Mysticum, until the end of days. Why would the Holy Father not wish us to share this message? Others may fear, even detest, the truth, but we do not. We proclaim the truth not triumphantly, but joyously. If too many of us take the Pope’s occasional remarks seriously, who will be left to preach the Gospel? Who will fulfill the Great Commission? The SSPX? Yes, the SSPX, and those remaining priests and bishops of the Church — diocesan, Ecclesia Dei, monastic, etc. — who recall at all times and places that the highest law of the Church is the Salvation of souls.