Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Document From the Congregation for the Doctine of The Faith

The Congregation for the Doctine of the Faith has recently issued a very good document which clarifies some commonly misunderstood doctrine regarding the Church. I think it does a rather good job at explain exactly what the Church means when She says what She does regarding Herself. Here are a few highlights, but the entire text can be found here.

First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council[1]. Paul VI affirmed it[2] and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution
Lumen gentium: "There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down
through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation"[3]. The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention[4].

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that
the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community"[5], that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.[6] "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him"[7].

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution
Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church[8], in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.[9] Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.[10]

You can read more of the document here.

2 comments:

montana catholic said...

How sad that we are taking steps backwards from the ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council and the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church and opting instead for asserting to the world that we are the only "true" church. Coming from families of both Lutheran and Catholic backgrounds and being raised in the largely Lutheran and Catholic state of South Dakota, I find it troubling that the Bishop of Rome has hurt so many other Christians by calling their denominations inferior. Certainly this arrogance is not what our humble Savior had in mind in creating His One Church. I pray that we as Catholics continue to strive for a culture of life through brotherhood and tolerance of people from all religions in a world today where religious rivalry is only causing death and destruction.

Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone..."

Each religion tends to think that truth subsists in them alone and, at best, less in others (of course on the grounds of their own 'books'). How predictable is this self-centredness and arrogance.

The seed of self-centredness, arrogance and dogmatism, spread by all religions, sometime "blossom" in wars and violence (crusades, terrorisms etc.). How sad and primitive.