By Michael Callahan, Presiding Bishop,
the Apostolic Western Orthodox Church

The echoes of the Second Vatican Council continue to reverberate in our contemporary landscape, where calls for Christian unity and ecumenism have gained significant traction, particularly among modern Catholics. While the Council’s pursuit of unity is well-intentioned, it raises crucial questions for those adhering to ancient faith Christianity. As guardians of a sacred tradition, how do we reconcile this modern momentum for unity with the biblical and patristic mandates that stress doctrinal purity and discernment?

Jesus’ Emphasis on Truth Over Unity

From the outset, let us recognize that Jesus was concerned more with truth than with unity when dealing with the religious authorities of His day. He was unafraid of overturning tables, both literally and metaphorically, to make His point. We should not hesitate to speak against false teachers and erroneous doctrine, even if that means upending a few tables ourselves in the name of truth.

“Enter by the Narrow Gate”

Our Lord Jesus Christ admonished us, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14). How can this admonition align with an ecumenism that often sacrifices theological rigor for the sake of unity?

The Wisdom of the Church Fathers

St. Ignatius of Antioch cautioned, “Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Likewise, St. John Chrysostom states, “He is a heretic who does not believe what the Catholic Church believes.” These words resonate deeply in a time where the Second Vatican Council has led many to prioritize dialogue over doctrine.

Love and Discernment

The Apostle Paul reminds us to love all but also to remain vigilant: “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them” (Romans 16:17).

When Unity is Abhorrent

Amid the ongoing conversations encouraged by the Second Vatican Council, we must preserve the integrity of Apostolic tradition. To unite with false teachers is not only spiritually perilous but repugnant to the foundations of our faith. St. Paul forcefully declares, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8).


As the Second Vatican Council continues to shape modern Catholic approaches to ecumenism, those of us in ancient faith traditions must hold fast to the teachings of Scripture and the Church Fathers. Unity is a noble aim, but not at the expense of truth. Let us heed the words of Christ, who declared, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37). In this quest for unity, let it be a unity founded in the immutable Truth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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