An important step on the ecumenical path has just been taken in Italy: on 5 December last year, the World Council of Christian Churches in Italy was born with the aim of advancing interfaith dialogue... and the ecumenical mass.
For Fr. Cristiano Bettega, director of the service for ecumenism of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), this birth is:
A sign of the willingness to continue together the journey undertaken by the churches in recent years, with the intention of having a liaison and consultation body as swiftly and effectively as possible to be able to intervene as Christians on topical and urgent themes and to promote joint initiatives.
This new ecumenical structure was launched at the CEI headquarters in the presence of representatives of the Catholic Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (Lutheran, Baptist, Vaudois [Waldensians], Methodist and Salvation Army), the Seventh-Day Adventists and the Anglicans. The next step in this "union in diversity" will take place on February 12, when representatives will meet to define "guidelines for internal use on the methods of consultation, the places and frequency of meetings and the members who will participate in them", according to Fr. Bettega's statement, which adds:
With the will to keep the doors open to everyone. In fact, with a clear determination to involve other churches in this journey, which for various reasons are not yet part of this working group.
It should be pointed out that this new organization, working on a baptismal basis through this ongoing Christian syncretism, is an outgrowth of the working group that came up with, proposed and managed the important Assisi meeting at the end of November 2017, where different Christian denominations met to reflect on how each Church interprets "the common call to be always reforming, always driven by the one Gospel".
Archbishop Ambrogio Spreafico, President of the Commission for Ecumenism of the CEI, applauded the creation of this multi-confessional body, which aims at:
[Being] an ongoing project of dialogue, proposals and initiatives.
As Christians, we want to give witness that even in the diversity that still separates us, it is possible to work together. Therefore, no one can assert that he is the only possessor of the full truth. This is a fundamental principle: even if each one believes he is walking in truth, he must recognize in the other the presence of signs that unite us and which can be a reciprocal gift.
Mons. Spreafico's modern thinking is nothing more than an abandonment of the sense of truth and of the principle of non-contradiction. What he claims, an idea which is very dear to the conciliar Church, is that all Christian religions are good and praiseworthy, each possessing the truth in itself, being the source of truth, but none of them able to claim to have the full truth. Logically, this means that none of these Christian denominations hold the absolute and unchangeable Truth. Furthermore, if all the truths are true, then none of them are true! The main result of this Conciliar ecumenism is that of putting all false religions on the same level as the true Catholic religion, of creating a culture of indifference and relativism, of denying dogmas and the certainty of our faith, and thus of leading souls to silent apostasy. In practice, this ecumenism works towards inter-communion, and a denial of the dogma of transubstantiation.
The president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, Pastor Luca Maria Negro, linked the creation of this Council with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation:
I believe that the about-face in relations between the churches has come about as a result of the common commemoration of the 500 years of the Reformation. The 'signal' was given by the celebrations in Lund in which Pope Francis participated. A historical event, unimaginable until the last few years. The unthinkable has happened.
But above all, Pastor Negro, on the Federation's web portal, announced on 10 January the birth, which will certainly be in February 2018 after the annual celebration of the Week for Christian Unity, of the "long awaited permanent Consultation Table of Christian Churches in Italy" which will bring together "Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Churches", as a logical follow-up to the creation of this new Ecumenical Council of Christian Churches in Italy.
There's a rumor going around in Italy that the task of this Table is to finalize the new ecumenical Mass which is being prepared in the Vatican...
Francesca de Villasmundo