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Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Ecum.)

Latin Mass / Catholic Tradition | Latin Mass/Catholic Trad. Q & A

Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass

Latin Mass & Catholic Tradition: Q & A (Ecumenism)

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Why Do Traditionalists Disapprove of Ecumenism? Doesn't This Go Against the Vatican Council?


Primary Sources May Include: Amerio, Davies

Traditionalists may disapprove of a false ecumenism because the Church has always disapproved of false ecumenism. For example, consider the following condemnations applicable to false ecumenism...

"No one shall pray in common with heretics and schismatics." (Council of Laodicea, 365 A.D.)

"None must either pray or sing psalms with heretics; and whomsoever shall communicate with those who are cut off from the Communion of the Church, whether clergymen or laic, let him be excommunicated." (Council of Carthage, 398 A.D.)

"Can. 2316 Whoever in any manner willingly and knowingly helps in the promulgation of heresy, or who communicates in things divine with heretics against the prescriptions of Canon 1258, is suspected of heresy." (1917 Code of Canon Law) 

"Know them by their fruits and avoid them. Every familiarity should be avoided, not only with those impious libertines who openly promote the character of the [Masonic] sect, but also with those who hide under the mask of universal tolerance, respect for all religions, and the craving to reconcile the maxims of the Gospel with those of the revolution. These men seek to reconcile Christ and Belial, the Church of God and the state without God." (Pope Leo XIII, "Custodi Di Quella Fede", 1892 A.D.)

"But, all the same, although many non-Catholics may be found who loudly preach fraternal communion in Christ Jesus, yet you will find none at all to whom it ever occurs to submit to and obey the Vicar of Jesus Christ either in His capacity as a teacher or as a governor. Meanwhile they affirm that they would willingly treat with the Church of Rome, but on equal terms, that is as equals with an equal: but even if they could so act, it does not seem open to doubt that any pact into which they might enter would not compel them to turn from those opinions which are still the reason why they err and stray from the one fold of Christ. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

"This being said, what must be thought of the indiscriminate mingling in which young Catholics will be caught up with heterodox and unbelieving folk in a work of this nature? Is it not a thousand-fold more dangerous for them than a neutral association? What are we to think of this appeal to all the heterodox, and to all the unbelievers, to prove the excellence of their convictions in the social sphere in a sort of apologetic contest? Has not this contest lasted for nineteen centuries in conditions less dangerous for the faith of Catholics? And was it not all to the credit of the Catholic Church? What are we to think of this respect for all errors, and of this strange invitation made by a Catholic to all the dissidents to strengthen their convictions through study so that they may have more and more abundant sources of fresh forces? What are we to think of an association in which all religions and even Free-Thought may express themselves openly and in complete freedom? For the Sillonists who, in public lectures and elsewhere, proudly proclaim their personal faith, certainly do not intend to silence others nor do they intend to prevent a Protestant from asserting his Protestantism, and the skeptic from affirming his skepticism. Finally, what are we to think of a Catholic who, on entering his study group, leaves his Catholicism outside the door so as not to alarm his comrades who, 'dreaming of disinterested social action, are not inclined to make it serve the triumph of interests, coteries and even convictions whatever they may be'?" (Pope St. Pius X, "Our Apostolic Mandate", 1910 A.D.)

"So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. During the lapse of centuries, the mystical Spouse of Christ has never been contaminated, nor can she ever in the future be contaminated, as Cyprian bears witness: 'The Bride of Christ cannot be made false to her Spouse: she is incorrupt and modest. She knows but one dwelling, she guards the sanctity of the nuptial chamber chastely and modestly.' The same holy Martyr with good reason marveled exceedingly that anyone could believe that 'this unity in the Church which arises from a divine foundation, and which is knit together by heavenly sacraments, could be rent and torn asunder by the force of contrary wills.' For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

"But some are more easily deceived by the outward appearance of good when there is question of fostering unity among all Christians. Is it not right, it is often repeated, indeed, even consonant with duty, that all who invoke the name of Christ should abstain from mutual reproaches and at long last be united in mutual charity? Who would dare to say that he loved Christ, unless he worked with all his might to carry out the desires of Him, Who asked His Father that His disciples might be 'one.' And did not the same Christ will that His disciples should be marked out and distinguished from others by this characteristic, namely that they loved one another: 'By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another'? All Christians, they add, should be as 'one': for then they would be much more powerful in driving out the pest of irreligion, which like a serpent daily creeps further and becomes more widely spread, and prepares to rob the Gospel of its strength. These things and others that class of men who are known as pan-Christians continually repeat and amplify; and these men, so far from being quite few and scattered, have increased to the dimensions of an entire class, and have grouped themselves into widely spread societies, most of which are directed by non-Catholics, although they are imbued with varying doctrines concerning the things of faith. This undertaking is so actively promoted as in many places to win for itself the adhesion of a number of citizens, and it even takes possession of the minds of very many Catholics and allures them with the hope of bringing about such a union as would be agreeable to the desires of Holy Mother Church, who has indeed nothing more at heart than to recall her erring sons and to lead them back to her bosom. But in reality beneath these enticing words and blandishments lies hid a most grave error, by which the foundations of the Catholic faith are completely destroyed. Admonished, therefore, by the consciousness of Our Apostolic office that We should not permit the flock of the Lord to be cheated by dangerous fallacies, We invoke, Venerable Brethren, your zeal in avoiding this evil" (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

"For since they hold it for certain that men destitute of all religious sense are very rarely to be found, they seem to have founded on that belief a hope that the nations, although they differ among themselves in certain religious matters, will without much difficulty come to agree as brethren in professing certain doctrines, which form as it were a common basis of the spiritual life. For which reason conventions, meetings and addresses are frequently arranged by these persons, at which a large number of listeners are present, and at which all without distinction are invited to join in the discussion, both infidels of every kind, and Christians, even those who have unhappily fallen away from Christ or who with obstinacy and pertinacity deny His divine nature and mission. Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion." (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

Furthermore, false ecumenism is not biblical. For example, consider the following:

[Jesus commissioned the apostles:] "He said to them, 'Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.'" (Mk. 6:10-11) Note: Jesus did not instruct them to stay and dialog with those who would not accept His message or to "package" the message in terms they might find more preferable or to simply ignore their differences and work together in the name of "peace", understanding, or "tolerance". Rather, he tells them to shake the dust off their feet in testimony against them.

[Jesus instructed the apostles,] "And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." (Lk. 9:5) Note: Jesus has made it clear that those who fail to receive the persons He has sent will incur reproach or condemnation. In contrast to the ecumenical movement, Jesus does not discuss "dialoging", "coming to the truth together" (as if it was not already possessed), or "seeking to find the good" in the belief systems of those who reject the truth.

[Jesus told those whom he sent ahead,] "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." (Lk. 10:16) Note: Once again, Jesus did not instruct his disciples to stay and dialog with those who would not accept His message or to "package" the message in terms they might find more preferable or to simply ignore their differences and work together in the name of "peace", understanding, or "tolerance". He clearly shows that those who fail to receive the persons He has sent will incur condemnation.

"I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them. For such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent." (St. Paul, Rom. 16:17-18) (emphasis added) Note: In contrast to the "spirit of ecumenism" which attempts to mingle all faiths under one umbrella, Scripture tells us plainly that we should avoid those who create dissentions in opposition to the true teachings of the Catholic Church.

"Do not be yoked with those who are different, with unbelievers. For what partnership do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What accord has Christ with Beliar? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said: 'I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people. Therefore, come forth from them and be separate,' says the Lord, 'and touch nothing unclean; then I will receive you and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.'" (St. Paul, 2 Cor. 6:14-18)

"But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach (to you) a gospel other than the one that we preached to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, and now I say again, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than the one that you received, let that one be accursed! Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." (Gal. 1:8-10) Note: While the Bible teaches us that those who pervert the gospel of Christ are accursed - even if the one doing so was an angel from heaven - the ecumenical movement wants us to gather together with them as if nothing was wrong with their accursed doctrines in the name of "peace", "tolerance" and understanding. But, as Scripture says, "Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ." We must please God, not human beings and reject perverted gospels. The modern ecumenical movement, however, generally spurns accusatory statements such as those contained in Scripture and seeks to allow others to preach their different gospels to us in the name of "dialoging".

"After a first and second warning, break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned." (Ti. 3:10-11) Note: In this rather "unecumenical" statement, we are told to "break off contact with a heretic, realizing that such a person is perverted and sinful and stands self-condemned" after a first and second warning. The modern ecumenical movement prefers rather to "dialog" with heretics rather than admonish them as we are instructed to do in Scripture.

"There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will introduce destructive heresies and even deny the Master who ransomed them, bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their licentious ways, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. In their greed they will exploit you with fabrications, but from of old their condemnation has not been idle and their destruction does not sleep." (2 Pt. 2:1-3)

"Anyone who is so 'progressive' as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works." (2 Jn. 1:9-11) (emphasis added) Note: In this highly "unecumenical" Scripture passage, we are warned about those who are "progressive" and do not remain in the teaching of Christ and instructed that "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him in your house or even greet him; for whoever greets him shares in his evil works". Scripture does not tell us to "dialog" or to "seek out the good" or to gather for religious activities with anyone who brings another doctrine, despite the encouragement by the ecumenical movement to do just these things. In fact, to do so is contrary to this passage of Scripture.

More "lessons on ecumenism from the Bible"...

MT 16:5-12: Jesus here warns us to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees - that is, their corrupt teaching. In the modern ecumenical movement, however, we - that includes laity as well as priests/bishops - are called to "dialog" with those promoting corrupt doctrine and are even called to "find the good" in their belief systems.

MT 18:15-17: Jesus did not instruct his followers to simply ignore the faults of one's brother or to continue association with the brother regardless of his refusal to change his ways. Rather, Our Lord says that if the brother ultimately "refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector" (Mt. 18:17). In other words, his company is to be avoided. 

JN 6:22-6:69: We see here the first 'protest-ants', as it were. Scripture clearly shows us that many of Jesus' disciples left him because of his Eucharistic teaching. When this occurred, Jesus did not stop and "dialog" or "repackage" his teaching so that they would find it more acceptable. On the contrary, he let them separate from him and asked his apostles if they also wanted to leave. Would the ecumenical movement dare to reprove Jesus for acting "unecumenically"? For it is the very same thing today that many of those outside the Church still find too hard to believe - that the Eucharist is Jesus' true flesh. In response to disbelief outside the Church, the ecumenists have dramatically altered the Mass, formerly thought untouchable (except for occasional, appropriate, and minor additions), to better please those who don't believe. The result is not that the disbelievers now believe, but that those who once believed find it harder to accept this truth or they now reject it altogether. 

ACTS 13:44-52: When Paul and Barnabus found their teaching rejected, they did not "dialog", "come to an agreement with", "find the good in", "or peacefully coexist, error with truth". They told those who rejected their teachings straight out and in no uncertain terms that they "condemn [themselves] as unworthy of eternal life". Then they shook the dust from their feet and went on to others. They seem to have transgressed all the precepts of the modern ecumenical movement. Shall we "be imitators of me [that is, St. Paul]" (1 Cor. 4:16) or imitators of the proponents of ecumenism?

ACTS 19:8-9: Once again, disbelief and obstinacy in Scripture is not countered with "dialog" or "finding the good" in false beliefs, but rather a withdrawal from those who reject the truth.

ACTS 22:17-18: Here we are told that the Lord told St. Paul to "Hurry, leave Jerusalem at once, because they will not accept your testimony about me." Again, Jesus does not tell his disciples to stay around and dialog when people do not accept the testimony of those He has sent or to "repackage" his testimony to obtain more believers, but simply to leave.

ROM 1:18-32: This Scripture passage appears "unecumenical". Rather than "dialoging", "finding the good in", and "coexisting peacefully, truth with error", Scripture states that those who suppress the truth by their wickedness are subject to the wrath of God and "deserve death". 

1COR 5:1-13: Here St. Paul clearly teaches that a sinner should be expelled from the midst of the believers and warns that a little least leavens all the dough. His teachings clearly apply to adherents of other faiths whose doctrines can infect the minds of believers. While the ecumenical movement seeks to mingle believers of all faiths, St. Paul tells us that our duty is to dissociate from those who may harm us.

2COR 10:3-6: Here Scripture speaks of battling, destroying arguments, and punishing disobedience. The ecumenical movement, however, preaches tolerance and "dialog". It even calls us to "find the good" in false faiths and encourages us to 'join in fellowship' with those whose arguments we should be destroying.

2COR 11:1-15: Once again, the ecumenical movement finds itself in opposition to St. Paul. In this passage, St. Paul is concerned that the faithful may be corrupted from a sincere commitment to Christ and put up with a different gospel. He calls those who bring a different gospel "false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ" and warns that "their end will correspond to their deeds". In contrast, the ecumenical movement avoids admonishing those who are "false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ" but instead admonishes those who would call them such. We are told to "dialog" and to "seek the good" in the belief systems that "masquerade as [faiths] of righteousness" - including those belief systems that approve of divorce, birth control, and abortion - because they "contain elements of truth". We are also encouraged not only to "put up with them" but may even be encouraged to 'join in fellowship' with them.

EPH 5:1-17: Holy Scripture instructs us that we should not be associated with the disobedient and that we should expose the works of darkness. In contrast, the ecumenical movement encourages us to mingle and "dialog" with those of any and all belief systems, even those who endorse divorce, abortion, birth control, euthanasia, etc.

HEB 10:25: In another "unecumenical" passage from Scripture, we are told not to stray away from our (Catholic) assembly. Despite this, the ecumenical movement would have us - from laity to priests to bishops - participate in religious activities with those of false faiths. 

We see clearly in Scripture that Jesus does not instruct 'dialog' with those who reject his teachings. We also see that we are to expect danger from false teachers (cf. Acts 20:25-30, 2 Cor. 11:1-15, 1 Tm. 6:3-15, 2 Pt. 2). We further see that we are not to associate with heretics and evil-doers (Ti 3:10-11, Mt. 18:17-17, 1 Cor. 5:1-13).

We are also warned that "Bad company corrupts good morals" (1 Cor. 15:33), and told that persons who sin should be "Reprimand[ed] publicly" (1 Tm. 5:20). Keeping mind that Protestant sects reject the papacy, reject the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, reject the Immaculate Conception of Mary, reject the ministerial priesthood, and that they may approve of divorce, abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc., we are also confronted with Scripture passages such as... (emphasis added)

"The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, 'I know him,' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (1 Jn. 2:3-4)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. (Jn. 3:36)

[Jesus] said in reply, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit." (Mt. 15:13-14)

As indicated above, it is clear in St. John's Gospel (Chapter 6), how Jesus reacted to those who were resistant to his teaching - the first 'protest-ants'. He clearly did not engage in dialog, nor did he introduce a "protestant version of the Eucharist". Rather he allowed those who rejected his teaching on the Holy Eucharist to leave him (Jn. 6:66) and asked his apostles if they wished to do the same (Jn. 6:67). One may legitimately ask, "Should we not follow our Lord's example?"

Even the Second Vatican Council admitted that certain ecumenical actions were positively forbidden by divine law:

"Common participation in worship (communicatio in sacris) which harms the unity of the Church or involves formal acceptance of error or the danger of aberration in the faith, of scandal and indifferentism, is forbidden by divine law." (Second Vatican Council)

We can also learn from the consistent teachings and practices of the saints. For example, consider:

"Pan-Christians who strive for the union of the churches would appear to pursue the noblest of ideals in promoting charity among all Christians. But how should charity tend to the detriment of the faith? Everyone knows that John himself, the Apostle of love, who seems in his Gospel to have revealed the secrets of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and who never ceased to impress upon the memory of his disciples the new commandment 'to love one another', nevertheless strictly forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt form of Christ's teaching: 'If any man comes to you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you.' (2 John 1:10)" (Pope Pius XI, "Mortalium Animos", 1928 A.D.)

"And yet this same gentle and loving Saint [John the Apostle] was the inflexible enemy of heresy; for heresy, by destroying Faith, poisons Charity in its very source. It is from this Apostle that the Church has received the maxim she gives to us, of shunning heresy as we would shun a plague: If any man come to you and bring not the doctrine of Christ, receive him not into the house, nor say to him 'God speed thee', for he that saith unto him 'God speed thee', communicateth with his wicked works (Jn. 1:10-11). St. John having one day entered one of the public baths, he was no sooner informed that the heresiarch Cerinthus was in the same building, than he instantly left the place as though it were infected. The disciples of Cerinthus were indignant at this conduct of the Apostle, and endeavored to take away his life by putting poison into the cup from which he used to drink; but St. John having made the sign of the cross over the cup, a serpent was seen to issue from it, testifying both to the wickedness of his enemies and to the divinity of Christ, This apostolic firmness in resisting the enemies of the Faith made him the dread of the heretics of Asia; and hereby he proved how justly he had received from Jesus the surname Son of Thunder" (Dom Gueranger)

"Fly from them and from their doctrines; do not go near them, for you know that whoever is found in a place where outrage has been offered to the king has to come into court to be questioned according to law. Even if he can prove he was not guilty he will be condemned for want of zeal. Do not sit with heretics nor associate with apostates. It would be better to dwell with a demon than with a renegade. For if you abjure the demon he will flee, for he cannot stand before the name of Jesus, but even were you to exorcise the apostate ten thousand times he would not cease from his wickedness or renounce his folly. It would be better to teach demons than to try to convince heretics." (St. Ephraem the Syrian, Doctor of the Church)

"I exhort you, then, to leave alone the foreign fodder of heresy and keep entirely to Christian food... For heretics mingle poison with Jesus Christ, as men might administer a deadly drug in sweet that without thought or fear of the fatal sweetness a man drinks his own death." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, 2nd century A.D.) [Note: St. Ignatius of Antioch was a hearer of the Apostle St. John]

"I have learned however, that certain persons from elsewhere, who have evil doctrine, have stayed with you; but you did not allow them to sow it among you, and you stooped your ears so that you would not receive what they sow... Do not err, my brethren: the corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil teaching the faith of God, for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire; and so also will anyone who listens to him." (St. Ignatius of Antioch, c. 110 A.D.) [Reminder: St. Ignatius of Antioch was a hearer of the Apostle St. John]

How St. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John the Apostle, reacted to heresy: "I could point out the very spot where sat blessed Polycarp while he conversed with us; I could describe exactly his bearing, his address, his manner of life, his every feature, and the discourses he made to the crowd. Thou rememberest how he used to tell us of his intercourse with John [the Apostle] and the rest of those that had seen the Lord, and with what a faithful memory he repeated their words; what he had learnt from them respecting our Lord, his miracles, his doctrine, all these things Polycarp transmitted to us, as having himself received them from the very men that had beheld with their eyes the Word of life; all of what he told us was conformable to the Scriptures. What a grace from God were these conversations of his! I used to listen so eagerly, noting everything down, not on parchment, but on my heart; and now, by the grace of God, I still live on it all. Hence, I can attest before God, if the blessed apostolic old man [St. Polycarp] had heard [heretical] discourses ... He would have stopped his ears, saying, as was his wont: 'O God most good, to what sort of times hast thou reserved us!' Then would he have got up quickly, and would have fled from that place of blasphemy." (St. Irenaeus, disciple of St. Polycarp, 2nd Century A.D.) Note St. Polycarp also told a heretic he was the "first-born of Satan" (see below).

"Irenaeus himself relates with regard to his master Polycarp [who was a disciple of St. John the Apostle], how, when being asked by the heretic Marcion if he knew him, he replied: 'I know thee to be the first-born of Satan.' He also tells us that St. John [the Apostle] hearing that Cerinthus was in the same public edifice into which he had just entered, fled precipitately, for fear, as he said, that because of this enemy of truth the walls of the building would crumble down upon them all: 'so great,' remarks the bishop of Lyons, 'was the fear the apostles and their disciples had of communicating, even by word, with any one of those who altered truth.'" (Liturgical Year)

St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, to Rufinus: "There is one point in which I cannot agree with you: you ask me to spare heretics - or, in other words - not to prove myself a Catholic."

"[St. Antony] would not speak to a heretic, unless to exhort him to the true faith; and he drove all such from his mountain, calling them venomous serpents." (Butler)

"Let us hate them who are worthy of hatred, withdraw we from them whom God withdraws from; let us also say unto God with all boldness concerning heretics, 'Do not I hate them O Lord, that hate Thee?" (St. Cyril) Note: Should this passage seem harsh, one should note that "there is no lack of quotations from other Fathers of the Church expressing similar sentiments" (Davies)

"As [St.] Jerome (Glossa Ordinaria in Osee [Hosea] 2:16) says, 'words spoken amiss lead to heresy'; hence with us and heretics the very words ought not to be in common, lest we seem to countenance their error." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[I]t is a greater thing to employ spiritual arms in defending the faithful against the errors of heretics and the temptations of the devil, than to protect the faithful by means of bodily weapons." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

As St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church points out: "Let those, therefore, who would reproach us for not desiring pacification, mark well who are the real authors of disturbance, and so not point the question of reconciliation on our side any more." 

Certainly one would not condemn the popes, the councils, and the saints - including martyrs who have lost their lives rather than participate religious activities with heretics - for their stance against a false ecumenism.

One must remember also that there is much to be feared from false ecumenism. For example, consider that false ecumenism...

  • Tends to harm the Church

  • Tends to harm Catholics

  • Tends to harm the heretics

  • Offends God

False ecumenism may harm the Church by..

Encouraging her to "water down" her teachings - "The underlying principle of these new opinions is that, in order to more easily attract those who differ from her, the Church should shape her teachings more in accord with the spirit of the age and relax some of her ancient severity and make some concessions to new opinions. Many think that these concessions should be made not only in regard to ways of living, but even in regard to doctrines which belong to the deposit of the faith. They contend that it would be opportune, in order to gain those who differ from us, to omit certain points of her teaching which are of lesser importance, and to tone down the meaning which the Church has always attached to them. It does not need many words, beloved son, to prove the falsity of these ideas if the nature and origin of the doctrine which the Church proposes are recalled to mind. The [First] Vatican Council says concerning this point: 'For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed, like a philosophical invention to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been delivered as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence that meaning of the sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother, the Church, has once declared, nor is that meaning ever to be departed from under the pretense or pretext of a deeper comprehension of them.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae", 1899 A.D.)

Hampering her missionary activity - If those outside the Church are not seen to be in a dangerous position, why bother trying to convert them?

Encouraging her to change certain elements of her rituals - For example, consider the harmful, ecumenical Mass changes made in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Note: Click here for more information

Causing her to be dragged down to the level of an "equal" - Most likely, non-Catholics engaged in ecumenism will only be interested in "dialoging" with the Church if the Church is brought down to the same level, as "an equal", rather than as the one true Church, necessary for salvation

Causing disunity and division within her own ranks

Alienating her own children - "The changes made to accommodate ecumenism may be thought to have alienated rather than brought over people"

Causing her children to lose the faith (as indicated below)

Wasting her time and money - "The time and money wasted on ecumenical activities could be better put towards the Sacraments and the teaching of her own people!"

Causing her to remove safeguards, so necessary for the preservation of the faith and the protection of the flock

Weakening the faith of her own members (e.g. "by removing best means of strengthening our faith - i.e. the traditional Mass and traditional emphasis in Church teachings" - Note that "the Church has 'repackaged' her Sacraments to seem more acceptable to those who reject the Church's teachings, which has resulted in a weakening of faith among members of the Church itself")

False ecumenism may harm Catholics by...

Leading them to religious indifferentism - "religious indifference, viz., thinking one religion to be as good or as bad as another... Truth and error, good and evil, cannot be reconciled. Hence intolerance of what is in itself wrong or evil is a virtue" (Catholic Dictionary)

Leading them to emphasize community above truth - "This overemphasis on community, on unity among men, this tendency to put unity above the truth and orthodoxy, is a consequence of the disastrous this-worldliness which is analogous to emphasizing love of neighbor at the expense of love of God. To hold that love of neighbor is the only manifestation of love of God and Christ, that they are both identical - one speaks hardly at all of the direct love for Christ, but makes up for this by speaking all the more of love of neighbor - is strictly analogous to placing community above orthodoxy." (Von Hildebrand)

Endangering their faith - By voluntarily exposing oneself to errors of non-Catholics, there is a danger of seduction. As Pope Clement XIII says, "The faithful - especially those who are simple or uncultivated - should be kept away from dangerous and narrow paths upon which they can hardly set foot without faltering. The sheep should not be led to pasture through trackless places. Nor should peculiar ideas - even those of Catholic scholars - be proposed to them. Rather, only those ideas should be communicated which are definitely marked as Catholic truth by their universality, ambiguity, and harmony... The faithful should obey the apostolic advice not to know more than is necessary, but to know in moderation. The popes clearly understood this. They devoted all their efforts not only to cut short with the sword of anathema the poisonous buds of growing error, but also to cut away certain developing ideas which either could prevent the Christian people unnecessarily from bearing a greater fruit of faith or could harm the minds of the faithful by their proximity to error. So the Council of Trent condemned those heresies which tried at that time to dim the light of the Church and which led Catholic truth into a clearer light as if the cloud of errors had been dispersed... For where it is not midday and the light is not so bright that truth can be clearly known, error can easily be mistaken for truth because of its appearance of truth and can be distinguished from truth only with difficulty in the darkness. They knew that there were before and would again be people who attract those who seek food by the promise of more abundant pastures of wisdom and knowledge and that many people would come to those pastures because stolen waters are sweeter and hidden bread more delightful. Therefore, in case the Church should be deceived and wander after the flocks of the companions who are themselves wanderers and unsettled with no certainty of truth, who are always learning but never arriving at the knowledge of truth, they proposed that only what is necessary and very useful for salvation be clearly and plainly explained in the Roman Catechism and communicated to the faithful." (Pope Clement XIII, "In Dominico Agro", 1761 A.D.)

Leading them into error - "The uncleanness of leprosy betokened the uncleanness of heretical doctrine: both because heretical doctrine is contagious just as leprosy is, and because no doctrine is so false as not to have some truth mingled with error, just as on the surface of a leprous body one may distinguish the healthy parts from those that are infected." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Permitting the deception or confusion of the faithful - "The denial of a scheme wholesale is not heresy, and has not the creative power of a heresy. It is of the essence of heresy that leaves standing a great part of the structure it attacks. On this account it can appeal to believers and continues to affect their lives through deflecting them from their original characters. Wherefore it is said of heresies that 'they survive by the truth they retain.'" (Belloc)

Causing the loss of grace - Communicating with those outside the Church (and who believe in divorce, abortion, contraception, etc.) may cause the loss of grace. As St. John Bosco says, "No matter how good food is, if poison is mixed with it, it may cause the death of him who eats it. So it is with conversation. A single bad word, an evil action, an unbecoming joke, is often enough to harm one or more young listeners, and may later on cause them to lose God's grace." 

Leading them into temptation - "getting Catholics to worship and associate with non Catholics increases the opportunity to be led into temptation - it is presumptuous to assume that Catholics all have the knowledge and moral strength to overcome these temptations - especially when the doors to salvation seem open to those outside the Church who engage in sinful acts with impunity" 

Allowing non-Catholics to proselytize to Catholics - possibly leading to their abandonment of the Catholic faith. Remember that their 'experts' may present arguments that confuse Catholics or are difficult to answer. It would also be wrong to assume that all persons engaged in dialog are of "good faith"

Weakens faith through dialog - "The more one dialogs and attempts to subject the mysteries of God to human reason, the less room for faith." 

May cause Catholics to be misled (especially weaker Catholics)

It may "tax their intellect" and cause them to call their own faith into question - As Amerio states, "no individual can be certain that his own intellectual strength is up to meeting all the objections that might face it." 

Forces Catholics to listen to falsehoods, rather than follow the practice of the saints to shun heresy - As St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, advises, "receive no strange doctrine, however shrewd and prudent you may think yourself." (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church). Remember also that "it can be dangerous to hear false ideas - once heard, they cannot be unheard. Those who hear these false ideas may not be able separate those ideas from the truth and may become confused."

May advance Catholics "toward death" -

"[D]iabolical error, when it has artfully colored its lies, easily clothes itself in the likeness of truth while very brief additions or changes corrupt the meaning of expressions; and confession, which usually works salvation, sometimes, with a slight change, inches toward death." (Pope Clement XIII, "In Dominico Agro", 1761 A.D.)

May assist the devil in his quest to carry off the sheep of Christ - "the devil is well able, if only a single door be left open, to get in his fierce bands and carry off the sheep." (Pope Leo XIII, "Providentissimus Deus"). Scripture warns us to "Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings" (1 Pt. 5:8-9). The traditional teachings of the Church helped to save Catholics from the "roaring lion" by prohibiting them from engaging in religious activities with those who reject the true faith. The modern ecumenical movement, however, throws Catholics into the lion's den to "dialog" and "seek the good" in belief systems of all varieties.

May harm those who are not properly catechized - In today's world, it seems that many Catholics have at least some deficiencies of faith - and those engaged in dialog with professed enemies of the Church may find that those enemies may attempt to "remedy the deficiencies" of their faith, an obvious danger of ecumenism.

Fails to protect the faithful from evil and error - "Our Apostolic mandate requires from Us that We watch over the purity of the Faith and the integrity of Catholic discipline. It requires from Us that We protect the faithful from evil and error; especially so when evil and error are presented in dynamic language which, concealing vague notions and ambiguous expressions with emotional and high-sounding words, is likely to set ablaze the hearts of men in pursuit of ideals which, while attractive, are nonetheless nefarious." (Pope St. Pius X, "Our Apostolic Mandate", 1910 A.D.)

May make it hard for Catholics to distinguish between truth and error - Remember that the more familiar 'strange doctrine' becomes, the less 'strange' it becomes. 

The Catholic may be ridiculed and have to listen to his faith be attacked by those outside the Church. He may even have hear blasphemy against the Blessed Virgin or the Holy Eucharist.

Catholics may be expected to engage in 'ecumenical efforts' that they are not properly suited for (possibly harming both themselves and those who listen to them). Note that it may be especially difficult for Catholics to engage in dialog since it is often easier to formulate questions and objections than it is to provide solid answers, and Catholics are usually placed on the defensive.

Catholics might unintentionally adopt erroneous terminology, beliefs, and practices of non-Catholics. In fact, "rather than causing non-Catholics to convert to the Church, ecumenism tends to make Catholics indistinguishable from Protestants."

Puts those outside the Church above those inside the Church - Scripture says that we should "do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith" (Gal. 6:10), whereas it could be argued that the ecumenical movement puts those outside the Church ahead of those within the Church (for example, the changed rite of the Mass was not designed to strengthen a Catholic's faith, but to avoid offending Protestants).

It may accustom Catholics to the faulty Bible translations of Protestants as well as the false concept of personal interpretation of Scripture - "In short, you are not ignorant of how much diligence and wisdom is needed to translate faithfully into another tongue the words of the Lord; so that, surely, nothing could happen more easily than that in the versions of these Scriptures, multiplied by the Biblical societies, very grave errors creep in from the imprudence or deceit of so many translators; further, the very multitude and variety of those versions conceal these errors for a long time to the destruction of many. However, it is of little or no interest at all to these societies whether the men likely to read these Bibles translated into the vulgar tongue, fall into some errors rather than others, provided they grow accustomed little by little to claiming free judgment for themselves with regard to the sense of the Scriptures, and also to despising the divine tradition of the Fathers which has been guarded by the teaching of the Catholic Church, and to repudiating the teaching office itself of the Church." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Inter Praecipuas", 1844 A.D.)

It endangers Catholics - Scripture itself warns us that that the "ignorant and unstable" will distort Scripture to their own destruction (cf. 2 Pt. 3:16). If Catholics are encouraged to "dialog" with those who have distorted Scripture and even asks us to "find the good" in their doctrines, will we not be far more likely to fall into error "to our destruction"? (Keep in in mind that others can be quite persuasive, even if they are wrong.)

Causes the safeguards designed for Catholics to be cast aside - "Protector of the Christian people! What other motive hadst thou, in all thy labors, but charity? What else but a desire to defend the weak from danger induced thee not only to preach against error, but to drive its teachers from the flock? How many simple souls, who were receiving divine truth from the teaching of the Church, have been deceived by the lying sophistry of heretical doctrine, and have lost the faith? Surely the Church would do her utmost to ward off such dangers from her children; she would do all she could to defend them from enemies, who were bent on destroying the glorious inheritance which had been handed down to them by millions of martyrs! She knew the strange tendency that often exits in her heart of fallen man to love error; whereas truth, though of itself unchanging, is not sure of its remaining firmly in the mind, unless it be defending by learning or by faith. As to learning, there are but few who possess it; and as to faith, error is ever conspiring against it, and, of course, with the appearance of truth. In the Christian ages it would have been deemed not only criminal, but absurd, to grant to error the liberty which is due only to truth; and they that were in authority considered it a duty to keep the weak from danger, by removing them for all occasions of a fall; just as the father of a family keeps his children from coming into contact with wicked companions who could easily impose on their inexperience, and lead them to evil under the name of good." (Dom Gueranger)

False ecumenism may even harm heretics since...

If their religion is treated with respect, they may not realize that being Catholic is necessary for salvation. Truly, this is a matter of life and death that should be made readily apparent to them. Note: Click here for more information on the necessity of being Catholic for salvation.

If we treat their false beliefs - their errors - as "worthy of respect", we do not help them to come to the truth. As Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, states, "[W]e do not hate a thing or fly from it, unless we conceive it to be bad and deserving of hatred." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

If they are not treated as if they are in spiritual danger, they may not realize the seriousness of their situation - "it is the greatest foretaste of the future judgment, when anyone has sinned so grievously that he is cut off from communication in prayer and assembly and from every holy transaction." [Tertullian ("an excellent early Christian writer" - although he would ultimately fall into heresy), c. 197 A.D.]

They only know a "false Christ" - If we allow them to remain uncorrected, they will never know the true Christ or the true Church that He established.

The money that has been wasted on ecumenical efforts could have been better used for the evangelization of non-Catholics. 

Substituting pleasantries for a healing cure does them no good - "Those who are cut and cauterized for the sake of a cure are angry with those who are curing them, and they wince in pain at the incision. But if a cure is effected by these means, and the pain of the cauterizing pass away, they are grateful to those who have worked this cure in them." (St. Gregory of Nyssa, c. 384 A.D.) We should remember that "Severity that springs from love is preferable to deceitful gentleness. He who binds the delirious man and wakes up the sleeper from his lethargy molests them both, but for their good." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church) Further, remember that "the reproof of the sinner, as to the exercise of the act of reproving, seems to imply the severity of justice, but, as to the intention of the reprover, who wishes to free a man from the evil of sin, it is an act of mercy and loving-kindness, according to Proverbs 27:6: 'Better are the wounds of a friend, than the deceitful kisses of an enemy.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Not treating their false religion as though it is significantly different than Catholicism may be potentially dangerous since they may partake of the Holy Eucharist without distinguishing the Body and Blood of the Lord, which as St. Paul says will cause them to eat and drink judgment on themselves: "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself." (1 Cor. 11:29)

Keeps them in ignorance which may cause "everlasting calamity" - "Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: 'We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.'" (Pope St. Pius X, "Acerbo Nimis", 1905 A.D.)

Pleasant dialog - or the "incentive that we have the 'fullness of the faith'" - is not likely to spark them to conversion, whereas certain "harsh" statements might have a better effect (e.g. "You're following a road that can only end in Hell!"). 

Pleasant dialog does not save them from being guided "by the spirit of the devil" and from "pernicious errors, both doctrinal and moral" - "That all, therefore, might know which was the Catholic Church, the Fathers, guided by the Spirit of God, added to the Creed the word Apostolic. For the Holy Ghost, who presides over the Church, governs her by no other ministers than those of Apostolic succession. This Spirit, first imparted to the Apostles, has by the infinite goodness of God always continued in the Church. And just as this one Church cannot err in faith or morals, since it is guided by the Holy Ghost; so on the contrary, all other societies abrogating to themselves the name of church, must necessarily because guided by the spirit of the devil, be sunk in the most pernicious errors, both doctrinal and moral." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Tends to withhold from them that which is the greatest good - "How can I love somebody and not ardently desire that he become acquainted with Jesus Christ, the begotten Son and Epiphany of God, that he be drawn into His light, believe in Him and love Him, and know that he is loved by Him? How can I love him without desiring for him even on earth the blissful encounter with Jesus Christ, which is the greatest source of happiness?... Truly, all deeds of love from my neighbor are only the noise of 'sounding brass' if I am uninterested in his finding the true God, and in his becoming a member of the Mystical Body of Christ: if I am uninterested in his greatest good. We see that ecumanitis can lead to the most horrible errors, and unfortunately it already has in many respects. This has nothing to do with the spirit of true ecumenism, and indeed stands in radical contradiction to it." (Von Hildebrand)

Perceived acceptance of their false religion allows them to continue in their sinful practices (e.g. contraception) which may cost them their souls - "Among the transgressors of this [Eighth] Commandment are to be numbered those fawners and sycophants who, by flattery and insincere praise, gain the hearing and good will of those whose favor, money, and honors they seek, calling good evil, and evil good, as the Prophet says. Such characters David admonishes us to repel and banish from our society. The just man, he says, shall correct me in mercy, and shall reprove me; but let not the oil of the sinner fatten my head. This class of persons do not, it is true, speak ill of their neighbor; but they greatly injure him, since by praising his sins [in this case his adherence to a false religion (especially those that allow contraception, abortion, euthanasia, etc.)] they cause him to continue in vice to the end of his life." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

May cause their destruction - Jesus clearly tells us in Scripture that those who listen and do not act on his words will be destroyed. In the modern ecumenical movement, those outside the Church who "do not act" are not warned or reproved, but instead are called to "peace" with those of us inside the Church. This ecumenical movement calls us to "dialog" with and "find the good" in belief systems which are opposed to the true teachings of the Catholic Church. Proponents of ecumenism rarely - if ever - wish to strongly condemn their dangerous beliefs which may lead to their destruction.

Keeps them from being Christ's friends - Jesus says we are his friends if we do what he commands (cf. Jn. 15:14). Those who reject His Church - which is called his Body - are rejecting Him. To point this fact out to them and pray for conversion is arguably more loving than to permit people remain outside His friendship in the name of "peace".

Keeps them unaware of the danger they are in - Since those who resist authority oppose what God has appointed and bring judgment upon themselves (cf. Rom. 13:2), it is important that those who are resisting this divine authority know the danger they expose themselves to. In the ecumenical movement, those who resist the Church authorities may be unaware that they are in a precarious situation since they now receive "understanding" rather than condemnation. In a sense, ecumenism may be like saying that it's okay not to receive those He sent or that it's okay to remain in error. (Although the Church may not be saying that "officially", the lack of forceful condemnations may give that impression.)

And false ecumenism may offend God since, as the Baltimore Catechism states, "The first Commandment may be broken by giving to a creature the honor which belongs to God alone; by false worship; and by attributing to a creature a perfection which belongs to God alone." (emphasis added) Note that ecumenism may tend to foster a Catholic's participation in false worship.

It also permits insults to continue (e.g. to the Blessed Sacrament, the Church, the Blessed Virgin, etc.). As Pope Pius VI says to the shepherds,

"[Y]ou who are the salt of the earth, guardians and shepherds of the Lord's flock, whose business it is to fight the battles of the Lord, arise and gird on your sword, which is the word of God, and expel this foul contagion from your lands. How long are we to ignore the common insult to faith and Church?" (Pope Pius VI, "Inscrutabile", 1775 A.D.)

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