Mary and ecumenism.

Author:Kocik, Thomas M.
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the Editor

As one who takes great interest in the quest for Christian unity, I was delighted to learn of Mary in the Plan of God and in the Communion of Saints, recently issued by the interdenominational Groupe des Dombes ("Protestants, Catholics, and Mary," Public Square, January). It is no small accomplishment when Protestant theologians consider the two Marian dogmas defined by the Catholic Church--namely, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption--as "legitimate conclusions flowing from reflection by the Catholic consciousness of the faith and its internal coherence," even if they conclude that the acceptance of these dogmas would not be required for church unity.

The proposal seems to rest on the premise that "legitimate conclusions" are not necessarily ontologically true conclusions; otherwise, communion in the fullness of truth would demand their acceptance. As irrevocably committed as the Catholic Church is to ecumenism, I cannot imagine the Magisterium ever endorsing the demotion of defined dogmas to the status of venerable opinion. From the Catholic side, the Marian dogmas are de fide, not because they cohere with the whole network of Christian doctrine (not all intrasystemically valid beliefs are binding on the faithful), but because St. Peter's successors have unerringly affirmed them.

Are we, then, at an impasse? Not necessarily. Like Richard John Neuhaus, I find much promise in the ecumenists' awareness that the fundamental Protestant-Catholic differences, especially in soteriology and ecclesiology, converge on the Mother of God. For Catholics, Mary literally embodies...

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