Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CDF puts lid on ecclesiological revisionism

Sandro Magister, "Summer Assignment: Restudy the Doctrine of the Church" (www.chiesa, Rome, July 10, 2007) summarizes:
This is what is prescribed by a new document from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. The Orthodox and Protestants are cautioned: the Catholic Church is the only one in which subsist the "essential constitutive elements" of the Church intended by Christ. Turbulence in view, in ecumenical dialogue.
In its document, entitled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," the CDF answers five questions, briefly thus (summarized):
1. Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: No. It only "developed, deepened and more fully explained it."

2. 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' 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. ... ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church. ... the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone ..."

3. Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: This "does not change the doctrine on the Church," but only elucidates "the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth.'"

4. Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds," yet because these Churches are not "in communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, venerable Christian communities lack something" proper to the fullness of ecclesial unity.

5. Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: Because "these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church."
A substantial commentary on the document follows.

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