Thursday, May 10, 2012

ecumenism: Vatican II, now

This is a bottom of the Transfiguration window at First Presbyterian (Old Stone) on Cleveland, Ohio's, Public Square. This was the established church at the beginning of the city. Its present building had a service for the assassinated President Lincoln, whose cortege was on that square. To-day the next church in proximity is the Catholic Cathedral on East Ninth.

One must understand how virulently anti-Catholic Scottish Calvinism (Presbyterianism) had been. Ian Paisley is still living that heritage. Conversely, the Catholic Church had no toleration for heretics, and by definition Protestants are heretics. Locally, Catholicism was the church of immigrants, mostly non-English speaking, and therefore looked down upon.

The spirit of Vatican II was enjoyed, and saluted by much of the world. Pope John XXIII was beloved by much of the non-Catholic world, certainly those of good will. It was more than d├ętente (relaxation of tension), it was an expansion of brotherhood. There was hope for a better everything.

This window, on the left has Old Stone Church Cleveland, and the hand of its pastor, Lewis Raymond; and on the right, St. Peter's Basilica Rome, and the hand of the pope (and bishop of Rome) Paul VI, the successor of John XXIII. The date they met was February 24, 1968.

The same day the Tet offensive was stopped at Hue. The news from that led to the American people wanting an end to that war. 1968 was a tumultuous year for the world, not just the US and Viet Nam. In June, Bobby Kennedy would be assassinated. The United States has not recovered, Catholicism in America—likewise.

And locally, this window is a silent Zola. That window would not be made to-day. In the Catholic Church, especially in the US, and locally, there has been a mean spirited reactionary animus that is in power. No person of good will is welcoming of it.

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