Why Not Now?
Well, if God can do this, if God can effect an ecumenical reunion, why not now? Why does he delay? God never delays. Well then if the teachings of the Church are true, why doesn’t God convince Protestants of those truths? I think the reason is spiritual and personal, more than theological.
Why should God let Protestants become Catholics when many Protestants, perhaps most, already know Christ more intimately and personally than many Catholics! How can God lead Protestants home to the fullness of faith in the Catholic Church until the Catholic Church becomes that fullness that they knew as Protestants plus more, not any less! When Catholics know Christ better than Protestants do, when Catholics are better Protestants than Protestants, then Protestants will become Catholics in order to become better Protestants!
When Catholics are evangelized, Protestants will be sacramentalized. But not before! Evangelizing comes first.
So I think we Catholics have to change first. But that change involves not the slightest compromising with anything Catholic: no dumbing down of the faith and no addition from without, no paganization nor secularization nor negation not weakening. Only a rediscovery of our own essence from within. Frankly, it is the Protestants who are going to have to add to the doctrines they rejected by seeing them differently. What we have to add, or rather, rediscover is something even more important then doctrines: namely the relationship that we have neglected. A truer relationship with a person is even more important than a truer concept about him. So that point will probably make many Protestants cheer.
But any good Protestant who is hearing this ought to protest one thing I said a few moments ago: namely that Protestantism is essentially a protest movement, essentially negative. Protestants defend Protestantism as essentially positive. Why? Not because it doesn’t have a pope or Transubstantiation or purgatory or rosary, that is negative. But because it knows Christ, because its essence is the absolute all-sufficiency of Christ.
But that means that good Protestants are Protestants for exactly the same good reason that good Catholics are Catholic: out of fidelity to Christ. So if the Protestant and the Catholic are both totally sincere about this Christocentrism, If both sections of Christ’s orchestra want only to follow the baton of Christ the one conductor, and if they never yield on this holy fanaticism of love and loyalty to Christ, then they will play in harmony. For we know that Christ’s will is harmony, and unity. Look at that most intimate glimpse of the inner life of the Trinity that we have in Scripture: Christ’s high priestly prayer to His Father just before His death in John 17. Unity is central to it. Departure from Christ was the fundamental cause of the Church’s tragic divisions in the first place. Another word for departure from Christ is “sin.” Therefore, return to Christ will be the cause of the Church’s return to unity. That is simple logic. I could put that into a syllogism. It is also simple sanity and sanctity. Another word for “return to Christ” is “sanctity.”
When bishops and theologians become saints, then Catholics will become Evangelicals and Evangelicals will become Catholics. When both Protestants and Catholics become saints they will become one. For a saint means only an “alter Christos,” another Christ, a little Christ, and Christ is not divided. Christ’s body is not divided. When Christ comes at the end of the world to marry His Church, He will not be a polygamist. The Church will not be His harem.