Evangelisation can only be effective within unity. See John 17.
I have always been involved in ecumenism and like many was delighted with Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism in which it said,
‘All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they have the right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church’ .
However many perhaps did not notice the contrary statement in Lumen Gentium:
‘Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ would refuse to enter her or to remain in her could not be saved’ .
That is not much better than the 1302 Unam Sanctam that said there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.
‘Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins’ .
If the Catholic Church is serious about evangelisation, she must get real about working with all Christians together, as Jesus says in John 17. I think it is the Catholic Church which is the main barrier to unity, by insisting on everyone accepting ‘papal primacy’, based on the dubious Petrine Principle. Thus its idea of unity is that all Christians join the Catholic Church! There must be in humility, a re-examination of the historical, biblical, theological and political errors of the Petrine principle based on one dubious biblical verse Matthew 16:18–19.
[ACI member Dr Brian Eggins is from the diocese of Dromore, Co. Down. He is an author and retired university lecturer and Co-chair of the Newry & District Inter-Church Forum.]