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An Ex-Lutheran Still in Recovery

John Wilkins, the recently retired Editor of Britain’s prestigious liberal Catholic weekly, The Tablet, is “a very confused Catholic.” So says Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in First Things (March, p. 62). How so? Because Wilkins supports “contraception, the ordination of women, and the moral acceptance of homosexuality.”

Confused? That doesn’t seem to be the right word, for Wilkins knows very well what he wants.

Fr. Neuhaus was quite annoyed, and understandably so, to learn that Wilkins was awarded a papal knighthood by the Holy See at a V.I.P. ceremony in London attended by Britain’s Papal Nuncio and the Archbishop of Westminster. At the ceremony, Wilkins said, “The Tablet under…my editorship…has been engaged in the search for true orthodoxy.”

Neuhaus retorts: “There is little likelihood that a papal knighthood is in the works for, say, Father Joseph Fessio…. [who] is not engaged in the search for true orthodoxy. He thinks he has pretty much found it in the teaching of the Church.” Touché!

But would that Fr. Neuhaus were more like Fr. Fessio. You may recall our New Oxford Note, “The One-World Church” (Feb.), where we quoted Neuhaus as saying: “When the prayer of Jesus in John 17 [‘that they all may be one’] is fulfilled, it will not be a matter of Baptists or Presbyterians becoming Roman Catholics. There will be but one Church, and it may well be that distinct traditions of theology and practice, now embodied in separated denominations, will continue….” We also quoted Neuhaus as saying that ecumenism is “a road of…openness to the fact that we will all be changed by our reunion….”

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