Free Presbyterian Church in dark over ecumenical advances

Posted By: May 20, 2018

 Irish News. Belfast. Published Monday,  May 21, 2018

The recent description of the Eucharist/Mass as ‘evil’ by Clogher Valley,  Free Presbyterian Minister Peter McIntyre (May 7) has evoked a shocked response from those who understand and love the Eucharist.

We cherish the Eucharist because it is one of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s last and very important commandments: “Do this in memory of me.”

Rev McIntyre’s article was then defended by Wallace Thompson, editor of Ulster Bulwark, who published the article, which, of course, also denied the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Against this fraught un-ecumenical background, Mr. Thompson would later state: “The issues outlined by Martin Luther 500 years ago have not gone away, they are still there and are every bit as significant now as they were back then.” I was struck by the historical irony of this.

The great Martin Luther always believed in the real presence – deeply, profoundly and devoutly.

One of the fine books published for the 500th Anniversary of The Reformation is Martin Luther: Renegade and Prophet by Lyndal Roper. She writes: “We are used to regarding him [Luther] as the advocate of ‘salvation by grace alone,’ the man who insisted on sola scriptura, the principle that the Bible is the sole authority on matters of doctrine. But just as important to Luther himself was his insistence on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

Ms. Roper is the first woman to hold the prestigious Regius Chair at Oxford University. She is a ‘daughter of the manse’ as her father was a Presbyterian Minister in Australia, so, I think we can take it that she knows a thing or two about theology, especially Protestant theology.

But none of that seems to matter to spokesmen of the Free Presbyterians in the wee north. Neither does the fact that the World Lutheran Federation, the World Communion of Reformed Churches, the Anglican/Episcopalian Church, and the World Methodist Council have all reached historic agreement on Justification [salvation by grace] with the Catholic Church.

Are the members of the Free Presbyterian Church even aware of these wonderful ecumenical advances and agreements? Are they told from the pulpits about how the Holy Spirit is – slowly, but surely – bringing about the unity for which Christ prayed? Or, are they being kept in the dark?

That is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know the answer.

Fr Sean McManus

President, Irish National Caucus

Washington, DC