Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Ecumenical Pope?

This time of year the Dominicans have a great time. Celebrating Easter with the rest of us, they then have the solemnity of their spiritual mother St Catherine of Siena and the next day, today, the feast of their great Pope-Saint, St Pius V. Both of these Dominicans were important figures of reform. St Catherine sought to contribute to the spiritual reform of the Church in a stagnant age and to bring the Pope back to his See. Pius sought to implement the reforms of the Council of Trent and reform the liturgy. He also had to face a rising threat to Europe and European Christianity from a Muslim empire.

I think, and some might find this hard to take, that St Pius V was an ecumenical figure. Yes he excommunicated Elizabeth I of England, but to be honest in doing so he was merely confirming an action that had already taken place: in her rejection of the Catholic Church, her persecution of those who adhered to the Catholic faith, her so called "Settlement" and ultimately her construction of a quasi religious cult centered on herself, Elizabeth was no longer in communion with the Catholic Church. Of course Pius's action infuriated her and she intensified her persecution of Catholics, and we cannot deny that. 

However in his defence of Europe, Pius was very much an ecumenical figure. He saw that there was a common threat, and so he appealed to all Christians to unite to defend Europe and her Christian faith. There may well have been disputes within the Christian community, but a time had come to put such disputes aside and stand together to protect Christians and their faith. Few responded to his call, Elizabeth stuck her head in the sand, and the German princes thought that the Ottomans would defeat the Pope and Catholicism, getting it out of the way, and they could negotiate with the Ottomans. Better to have Muslim allies than Catholic ones. Naive approach, I think. At the end of the day Pius called on a greater ally, Our Lady, and she responded to his call at Lepanto.

Drawing on this and seeing its relevance for us today I think we Christians must also stand together now as another threat is rising - radical atheistic permissive secularism. Despite our differences, those Christians and other faiths who have not fallen under the sceptre of this threat should stand together and face it.

1 comment:

  1. I would say he was less ecumenical than you might imagine, especially in light of what mainstream "ecumenism" has become. For starters, today no Pope would have the nerve to excommunicate a head of State and second no Pope would dare pray to our Lady or support an army in it's effort to drive out Muslim infidels. Todays modern Pope would probably give cathedrals to Muslims to try to pacify them. I would also say that today Islam is still just as much of a threat as it ever was and is just as much the enemy of the Cross of Our Lord as the atheist humanism of the modern.West. Let us pray instead that modern Popes look to the example of saints like Pope Pius V who, in the interest of the True Faith and the.salvation of souls, was not afraid to invoke human and Divine.aid to drive out the infidel nor to excommunicate a heretic head of State come hell or high water. St Pius V, pray for us.