Texas Bishop: ‘Put an End to the Scandal of Mutual Recrimination’

Following is the text of the remarks of Bishop Stephen A. Leven of San Antonio, Tex., on the schema on ecumenism on Nov. 26.

What I have to say about Chapter I can also be said about Chapter II. For I wish to speak about the principles and practice of ecumenism.

Every day it becomes more clear that we need the dialogue, not only with Protestants but also among us bishops. For there are some Fathers who have already spoken to us frequently in the council who speak as if the only text in the Holy Bible were Matthew 16:18: “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.”

In every intervention they argue against the collegiality of the bishops. They preach to us and chastise us as if we were against Peter and his successors or as if we desired to steal away the Faith of our flocks and to promote indifferentism.

They speak as if our Holy Father John XXIII had never cited in our day the expression of St. Augustine: “They are our brothers, they will not cease to be our brothers until they cease saying Our Father.”

They speak as if the whole doctrine of the freedom of conscience due every man, so clearly stated in Pacem in Terris, were offensive to pious ears.

Again and again in this hall they continue to chastise us as if the prelates who feel compelled by clear evidence to acknowledge the gifts of the Holy Spirit in persons of other ecclesial bodies were denying the Faith and giving grave scandal to the innocent.

They prefer to blame non-Catholics, whom perhaps they have never seen, (rather) than to instruct the children in their parishes. Otherwise why are they so afraid the efforts of ecumenism would not be good? Why are not their people better instructed? Why are not their people visited in their homes? Why isn’t there an active and working Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in their parishes?

It seems the dangers arising from ecumenism may be exaggerated. The prelates who seek a sincere and fruitful dialogue with non-Catholics are not the ones who show disaffection and disloyalty to the Holy Father. It is not our people who miss Mass on Sunday, refuse the sacraments and vote the communist ticket.

It is not we who make little of the well-known and often repeated (by word and example) desire of Popes Paul VI and John XXIII. And what of the will of God who, as St. Paul says (1 Tm 2:4), wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth? Jesus said (Mk 9:40): “He who is not against you is with you.”

Our Catholics are good Catholics, loyal to us bishops, to Holy Mother the Church and to the Holy Father.

We have not lost the working class. They are the foundation and the support of the Church.

Venerable conciliar brothers, I pray you let us put an end to the scandal of mutual recrimination. Let us proceed in an orderly way with the examination and study of this providential movement called ecumenism so that with patience and humility we may achieve that unity for which the Lord Christ prayed at the Last Supper. St. Paul wrote (1 Cor. 13:13): “So there abide faith, hope and charity, those three, but the greatest of these is charity.”

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