It is, i think, worthy of remark that meetings between the pope and the heads of Protestant churches are always the result of a one-way traffic, for this fact is symptomatic of the shape of things to come should reunion with Rome ever become a reality. The pope sits in the Vatican and waits for others to make their way to him: so too in the wider sphere of the ecumenical movement Roman Catholicism ever speaks in terms of a return to the papal fold. It conceives of a movement in one direction only. This at least is comprehensible in view of the insistence of the Roman church on the irreversibility of her position, in accordance with which it is Protestants who are outside the one true church, being guilty of schism and heresy. At the same time we should remember the claim of the Reformers that it was they who were returning to the apostolic standard of truth from which the papal church had departed, and that it was the unwillingness of the latter to reform herself once her errors had been pointed out to her which was the cause of the disruption of the sixteenth century.
By the creation of a Secretariat for Unity and the convoking of a Vatican Council for the latter part of this year the pope and his church have in a manner of speaking entered into the ecumenical arena. What may be expected from these new developments? Not any significant change of direction on Rome’s part. The January issue of the Roman Catholic periodical The Month contains an article by Cardinal Bea, who has become well known through his appointment as head of the Secretariat, on “The Council and the Protestants: Possible Contributions to Church Unity,” in which he significantly speaks of Protestants as “our separated brethren, cut ...1
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