The Other Churches


The Pope's recent reiteration of differences between the various Christian churches (although he doesn't want us to even call them churches) was both an event and a non-event. A non-event because there was nothing new in this; an event because it seemed all the more arbitrary as a consequence. There's nothing that radical about restoring the old Latin mass either. But you get the feeling, and more than the feeling, that Benedict really does regret the Second Council, in his heart if not in the letter. And although I am ingrained with suspicion of Protestantism, I know that's not the spirit of the Gospels. Others have simply moved on. An Episcopalian priest writes:

Relational ecumenism may be the strongest among us Christians in our 20s and 30s, the so-called "post-denominational" set. Upwards of 60 percent of us no longer consider denominational affiliation as important as it was to previous generations, and we also get around more, experiencing different denominations before possibly committing to one if at all. Such experiences mean that, while not necessarily dismissive of the conversation, we're just not interested in waiting around until the old men in robes hammer out every minute detail of doctrine before we can share in each other’s faiths.

But this spirit isn't just limited 20- and 30-somethings.

Several of my older parishioners who still identify as Roman Catholics regularly attend my mass because they like meand I them.  The Catholics and Anglicans on the New York Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue Committee represent all different generations, and even as the Vatican tells us we’re not on an equal footing, we still talk about doctrine, politics, faith and life as though we were.  While visiting Rome last fall for the 40th anniversary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogues, I repeatedly heard female priests obliquely referred to as “obstacles” to unity in the endless round of talks I sat through. Yet once the talks were over and the cocktails wheeled out, I chatted and swapped email addresses with several Roman Catholic priests who daringly made a point to tell me they thought my priesthood was valid.

(Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty.)