Monday, April 30, 2012

50 years ago: Leading Canadian Roman Catholic theologian promotes unity with Protestants

On April 4, 1962, Reverend Gregory Baum was in Edmonton to speak on the subject of unity between Roman Catholics and Protestants. As reported in The Edmonton Journal of April 5, 1962:

Sweeping changes in the attitude of the Catholic Church during the last few decades were outlined Wednesday in the Jubilee Auditorium by Rev. Gregory Baum, professor of theology at St. Michael's College, Toronto.

Father Baum said he hopes the changes in thought will be clearly defined at the second Vatican Council in Rome in October. Father Baum is the only Canadian representative on the council.

He said it would be "absurd" for anyone to imagine Christian unity in the next 50 years. He said such an event would be "a miracle."

Even if Christian unity is never achieved, it is worth striving for, he said.

Some obstacles the Catholic Church presents to unity are unchangeable. These are its creed, sacramental system, and hierarchical structure.

He said the Catholics can learn from intelligent criticism by Protestants.

Father Baum said changes in Catholic attitude have taken place in four subjects: humanitarianism, scientific development, Jews and Protestants.

He said recent popes have endorsed both humanitarian movements to help people and scientific development to discover "God's hidden scriptures."

Father Baum, who was born of Jewish parents in Berlin, said Catholics have in the past scorned Jews with legends.

While Catholics believe there is "only one church," they consider baptized Protestants to be "separate Christians."

He said it is time for Catholics to stop "slandering, joking about and harboring disrespect for Protestants."

He urged Catholics to remove this "emotional reaction" against Protestants."

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