[Richard Bennett was a good, old fashioned Irish Roman Catholic priest. Now that he has been converted to the Christian faith, he has worked with the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, since 1988, in the promulgating of the gospel. We asked him to share his thoughts about the action of the Covenant College Board in trying to justify a choir from that school singing in a mass.-Ed.]
Regarding the position of the Board of Covenant College, that singing in a Mass somehow is not "participating" in it, the official Roman Catholic [RC] teaching makes no such distinction. In practice, however, the Jesuits do make such distinctions. It is the old adage practiced by the Jesuits, that if your intention is good the participation in something wrong is allowed. In a word "the end justifies the means." For the Roman Catholic Church [RCC], to be physically present fulfills one's obligation of participation.
It is quite interesting that participation in the Eucharist-i.e., the Mass-is part of the goal of Rome in its false ecumenism. In the Vatican Council II Post Conciliar Documents No. 42, "Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue", the Church of Rome carefully lays out the ground rules for her program of ecumenical dialogue among Christians. From that document it is clear that the RCC is proceeding to "dialogue" with Christians by adhering to a special set of rules. Thus specifically she states, ". . . dialogue is not an end in itself. . . . It is not just an academic discussion." Rather, the stated purpose of dialogue is that
little by little, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesial communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist [i.e., the Mass], into that unity of the one and only Church. . . . This unity, we believe, dwells in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose. . . .
Some of the "little by little" would in the mind of Rome have been achieved by what the PCA choir did.
The first basis for all the dialogue is the RCC's own measure of "truth". The rules following on this first basis were also her own rules of engagement. Some of the rules are these:
Each partner should seek to expound the doctrine of his own community in a constructive manner, putting aside the tendency to define by opposition. . . . The partners will work together towards a constructive synthesis, in such a way that every legitimate contribution is made use of, in a joint research aimed at the complete assimilation of the revealed datum.
Interestingly, the Catholic approach laid out here is opposed to a Scriptural approach, as the Bible itself teaches much by means of contrast. Moreover, the words "revealed datum" are carefully chosen. For a Bible believer, the term would mean just the Written Word; for the RCC, however, the term "revealed datum" consistently refers to Scripture plus Tradition as her first basis. Rome would allow the witnessing at the Mass, since one's "hearing of the Mass" is an approval of her ways. Proceeding from her impure base, she would see the witnessing as a "legitimate contribution" moving toward a "constructive synthesis"-quite simply the old line of evolution, "truth" by synthesis, or relative "truth". Excluded from start to finish is the principle of Sola Scriptura.
The RCC, according to the application of her rules of engagement, would see participation in the Eucharist by the Covenant College Choir as a correct first step in her plans. Such a step is not to be thought of as an isolated occasion between the participants, a good time finished and forgotten. Rather, Document No. 42 states clearly that an "ecumenical encounter is not merely an individual work, but also a task of the [RC] Church, which takes precedence over all individual opinions." This being so, the RCC law of engagement further stipulates that
The Catholic will be careful to check his manner of procedure. . . . In particular he will examine how closely he follows the directives and orientations given by the pastors of the [RC] Church regarding both the ecumenical task taken as a whole and dialogue [here the encounter] in particular. He will normally become acquainted with these directives through the territorial commission for ecumenical questions or the diocesan commission.
Nor do the waves from this particular participation by the PCA choir end there. Rather, in the section of the document entitled "Forms of Dialogue" it is stated,
Since the [RC] participants have the duty to see that the experience gained in these meetings [i.e., this encounter] benefit the members of the [RC] Church, they will take care to communicate with the pastors of the Church, passing on information regarding their activities to the various commissions for ecumenism (the Secretariat for the Promotion of the Unity of Christians [over which Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy currently presides], national, regional, or diocesan commissions).
Again, in the words of Vatican Council II Document No. 42, the final goal of the dialogue is always unity in the Roman Catholic Church: "into that unity of the one and only Church. . . . This unity, we believe, dwells in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose . . . ." She has applied her method skillfully, relentlessly since Vatican Council II. What was done by allowing Covenant College Choir to sing in the Mass plays directly into the hands of the RCC.
[Mr. Bennett has also prepared a paper on the Roman Catholic Mass, as well as the danger which Romanism represents to the Protestant church today. His Webpage is at
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; address: Berean Beacon P. O. Box 395, Vernonia, OR. 97064. Mr. Bennett co-edited Far From Rome Near to God: The Testimonies of Fifty Converted Catholic Priests, available from P&R Publishing (800-631-0094).]