|Bishop Denis Madden and Lutheran Bishop Elizabeth Eaton|
According to the bishops' press release reporting on their dialogue with the Lutheran Church, Declaration on the Way:
The document...also suggests that the expansion of opportunities for Lutherans and Catholics to receive Holy Communion together would be a sign of the agreements already reached. The Declaration also seeks a commitment to deeper connection at the local level for Catholics and Lutherans.
Honestly, I would like to see the "reunion of all Christians" as much as anyone. I pray for it every day when I make the morning offering. I have family members in other faiths with whom I would love to be in complete union.
But if a religious group has "32 points of agreement" with Catholics, but doesn't accept the authority of "Peter" are they really "in communion" with us? And what about their acceptance of intrinsically evil moral issues? If they say they agree with us that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, but champion intrinsic moral evils...what then?
The Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) in America accepts abortion as a "last resort" and opposes laws forbidding it as well as laws against contraception. Their Pension Board enthusiastically supported expanding birth control coverage back in 1998. Their Journal of Lutheran Ethics tries to justify these intrinsic moral evils. Here's a paragraph from one article reviewing a work that claims contraception accords with the natural law:
Contraception does not, however, violate love. And as Oehschlaeger rightly points out, contraception allows for many parents the ability for more full child- rearing. This view of sexuality as union between partners, symbolic of the greater unity that holds individuals in real community, is not opposed to the view that sexuality is linked to procreation. Rather it forms the necessary understanding of the self as relational that makes other parts of the discussion about procreative ethics sensible.The first sentence of this paragraph is absolutely false and completely violates Catholic sexual ethics. (Read Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, Familiaris Consortio, etc.) The marital act is both love-giving and life-giving. To deliberately attack one of those goods is to "violate love." When a couple makes themselves temporarily or permanently sterile, they become pleasure objects for each other closing off God from their union. They basically tell God, "I don't want your creative gift this time. We'll tell you when we want your involvement!" It is nothing like the practice of Natural Family Planning which, for serious reasons, chooses sexual "silence" during the fertile time.
And where do they stand on same-sex marriage? Here's what ELCA president bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton wrote after the Supreme Curt decision:
The ELCA social statement "Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust" (2009) neither endorses nor forbids same-gender marriages and recognizes that we have differing understandings and convictions on this matter. In its decision, the court stated that "the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths."
According to this church's social statement on human sexuality, all decisions about recognizing, supporting and holding publicly accountable same-gender relationships are entrusted to congregations. Recognizing that the church is not of one mind on this subject, our 2009 actions provide that congregations and clergy should discern together whether to recognize such relationships and to what degree.And if we enter into "communion" with a church that is essentially in material heresy and operates according to a vote of its congregations how does that affect the doctrine of the Church? Can Jesus' commands be amended by popular vote of a congregation? Is that how we determine doctrine? How can we be in communion with a church that isn't even in communion with itself?
Marriage and the Eucharist are already under attack following the Synod on the Family. This report and its recommendations seems to me to be one more front in the battle.
And one last thing. How many points of agreement do we have with the SSPX? And yet they are regularly vilified and accused of not standing with Peter and being in schism. So...the bishops are moving toward inter-communion with Lutherans who deny the authority of the pope and support a number of intrinsic moral evils, but treat traditionalists with disdain.
No wonder Catholics are so confused!
Somebody please pinch me. Maybe I'm asleep and having a nightmare.