Sunday, March 12, 2017

Catholic and Protestant Unity

The Catholic Times sponsored a conversation between Fr. Song and Fr. Park, both with  similar positions within Catholicism and Protestantism vis a vis Ecumenicism. Fr. Song gave his ideas on the way Catholicism sees the commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation as did Fr. Park for the Protestant side

Fr. Song mentions that Catholics see the Reformation as a wound. The Reformation broke the unity of the Catholic Church. However, even though the Protestants are  not returning to Catholicism the Church is not unilaterally blaming them or taking pride in our strength. Catholicism, he says, shares part of the blame for the break in unity.

Fr Park mentions from the beginning there was not the division in Christianity. In the latter part of the 4th Century when Christianity became the Empire's Religion the Church began to consolidate itself. Eastern Christianity in the years before and after the tenth century began to break away from Roman Christianity and 500 years later the Protestant leave, making for the big three divisions of Christianity.

The different Protestant denominations, Fr. Park continues, need to see what separates us from the teachings of Catholicism before the break,  examples would be the issue of justification, examining the teachings on salvation, the place of tradition, and discover again the place of Scripture and understanding the organizational setup. 

These have been the points of dispute and they need to be seen with our present day insights. The different denominations have to determine if we have correctly followed the insights of the Reformation. It is both a commemoration and a self-examination. These are the two keywords for our commemoration.

Fr. Song agrees with Fr. Park. The commemoration should be more than remembering the Reformation. Catholicism needs to continually reform to be the church that Jesus wanted. Need to face the divisions, and begin to talk with each other, cooperate and look for what unites.

This is a good time to get rid of our prejudices and understand how each of us understands our different positions. For the Catholic, the Reformation was a serious wound but it can also be an opportunity to understand the why and the way we need to go as church.

The mission that we have at this time in history is to become one says Fr. Park, which means we need to talk and understand each other, this in truth has been going on for some time. In Europe the results have come out in books.

In the States the Lutherans and Catholics have been talking since 1960. Fr. Park makes clear that it is a long  journey but in Korea we are formed to be in a hurry.

Fr.Song agrees that to heal the division we need to travel a long journey. As with bad habits, it takes more time to get rid of them then to form them.

Before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) the Catholic Church was a lone ranger, triumphantly  disparaging Protestantism. However, the church has realized that it has been sent to the world as a sign of joy of Gospel unity.

Today's situation is a tremendous  obstacle  to evangelization. Jesus' prayer:  "That we all be one" from John 17-21 should always be the goal. We now  see the Protestants as separated brothers and sisters.

Prejudices, and misunderstandings need to go. A need to pray together, and aim for the common good. Look for what unites us and accept the things that separate us to work towards unity.

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