Examining context and motives; or “Did he really say that?”

Examining context and motives; or “Did he really say that?”

Very often we hear quotes attributed to some bishop or even a pope and we’re left scratching our heads, wondering what they mean or even whether they just said something that contradicts established Church teaching. All too often these quotes are offered as proof in certain quarters that the Church has gone off the rails completely, that the see of Peter is vacant, that… well, you get the idea. But is everything always as it seems?

Michael at Evangelical Catholicism gives us an example of how controversial quotes can be put back into their context and change the meaning completely. In this case, he uses two quotes from Cardinal Walter Kasper of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity on ecumenism.

“Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of a return, by which the others would ‘be converted’ and return to being ‘catholics.’ This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II.”

“The Catholic commitment to ecumenism is not based on wanting to draw all Christians into the Catholic fold, nor does it seek to create a new church, drawing on the best of each of the ecumenical partners.”

Is the cardinal really saying that non-Catholics don’t need to convert and that Protestantism is equal to Catholicism? Taken by themselves, those quotes seem pretty damning and representative of a “Spirit of Vatican II” syncretism that is often decried by many. Now his analysis and conclusions are quite long and involved, so you have a lot of reading ahead of you if you want to join the discussion (and you better read it before jumping in and commenting here because I won’t take you seriously if you don’t.)

Don’t become prooftexting fundamentalists

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