At least that's what Lito says over at his blog in the comment box for this post on Orthodox developments. My response is by pointing out what not a few people have said, including scholar Prof. Scott Hahn and I think Cardinal Dulles: that 99% of what Protestants and Catholics believe are compatible. Take for instance the name of Lito's blog: "extra nos" or "outside of us". To Protestants, this may seem to be a notion that trumps and baffles Catholics, but it doesn't. I learned this from Dominicans, La Sallians, Jesuits, Redemptorists, Opus Dei priests and numeraries, not to mention lay authors and speakers. What Protestants fear about the Catholic faith may be well founded among the lapsed Catholics, even lapsed Catholic teachers and leaders, particularly in the 15th and 16th century, and quite a few in the "Spirit of Vatican II" generation, but not quite in Catholic dogma, and never as a whole applicable to every single Catholic.
Take for example the joint Lutheran-Catholic declaration on justification, very succintly presented by Cardinal Dulles in this article, which points out (jointly by the two bodies):
"Together we confess: By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works."
You know, 99% is a pretty good number. It isn't 100%, but it sure is a heck closer to 100% than one might have expected. Syntax and semantic nuances aside, Christendom is not in such bad shape. After all, the Lord himself has prayed for our unity, and we are enlivened by the same Holy Spirit of unity. It is only that we must continue to give assent to that unity and allow the Holy Spirit to bring it about, not just for our sake, "that they also may be in us," but just as importantly, "that the world may believe that you sent me." Get that? The Lord said in John 17,
- "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,
- so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
- that they also may be in us,
- that the world may believe that you sent me.
So just how important is visible unity? What do you think?