Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

Reuters and AP on the mean old Catholic Church

The Reuters article- (a la Father Z) emphases and comments.

Vatican Says Other Christian Churches “Wounded”

Filed at 12:07 p.m. ET

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican said on Tuesday Christian denominations outside Roman Catholicism were not full churches of Jesus Christ.

Protestant leaders said this was offensive and would hurt inter-denominational dialogue. (How sad. Protestants thought we would just reverse irreversible Church dogma and we didn’t… for the billionth time in the last 500 years. You’d think they might learn… but…)

A 16-page document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Pope Benedict once headed, described Christian Orthodox churches as true churches, but suffering from a “wound” since they do not recognize the primacy of Pope.

But the document said the “wound is still more profound” in Protestant denominations.

“Despite the fact that this teaching has created no little distress … it is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” it said. (Umm, don’t remember that “quote”, in fact, it is not there… I wish it had been that strong! I don’t know what they are quoting here…)

The Vatican text, which restates the controversial document “Dominus Iesus” issued by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2000, said the Church wanted to stress this point because some Catholic theologians continued to misunderstand it.

Ratzinger was elected Pope in April 2005. The document is his second strong reaffirmation of Catholic tradition in four days, following a decree on Saturday restoring the old Latin Mass alongside the modern liturgy. (Yep, he’s on a right-wing tear… so much for the innocuous “transitional pope.”)

The document said dialogue with other Christians remained “one of the priorities of the Catholic Church.”

But Bishop Wolfgang Huber, head of the Protestant umbrella group Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), said the new Vatican document effectively downgraded Protestant churches and would make ecumenical relations more difficult.

Huber said the new pronouncement repeated the “offensive statements” of the 2000 document and was a “missed opportunity” to patch up relations with Protestants. (Like I said, poor guys)

“The hope for a change in the ecumenical situation has been pushed further away by the document published today,” he said. (Unless you repent of your errors, then there will never be unity, get it?)

A statement from The French Protestant Federation said that while the document was an internal pronouncement of the Catholic Church, it would have “external repercussions.”

Bishop Friedrich Weber of Germany’s United Evangelical Lutheran Church said the pronouncement “makes me sad,” *sniff* adding that the official Vatican teaching did not reflect the grass roots reality of inter-denominational dialogue in many communities. (That is what should make us sad.)


The document, issued by Benedict’s successor in doctrinal matters, Cardinal William Levada, aimed to correct what it called “erroneous or ambiguous” interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, which took place from 1962 to 1965.

Church modernizers (Modern = good; tradition = bad) interpreted the Council as a break from the past while conservatives, like Benedict, see it in continuity with 2,000 years of Catholic tradition.

The document said the Council’s opening to other faiths recognized there were “many elements of sanctification and truth” in other Christian denominations, but stressed only Catholicism had all the elements to be Christ’s Church fully.

The text refers to “ecclesial communities originating from the Reformation,” a term used to refer to Protestants and Anglicans.

Father Augustine Di Noia, Under-Secretary for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said the document did not alter the commitment for ecumenical dialogue, but aimed to assert Catholic identity in those talks.

“The Church is not backtracking on ecumenical commitment,” Di Noia told Vatican radio.

(Additional reporting by Philip Pullella in Rome, Tom Heneghan in Paris and Iain Rogers in Berlin)

Okay, Okay… here is AP:

Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches

Filed at 3:56 p.m. ET

LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation. (It did?? Man, I should be a lot happier about this document than I am… good thing for the authentic and infallible interpretation of the Press! You know, maybe this is good… I can see many ecumaniacally minded Pope worshipping Catholics actually reading this crap and becoming more Catholic since APs interpretation seems to be more Catholic than Catholic teachers will interpret.)

The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. ”It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,” (That’s a good start!) said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries.

”It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church,” the group said in a letter charging that the document took ecumenical dialogue back to the era before the Second Vatican Council. (Well, please understand, the Catholic Church prays for the conversion of not just Jews, but of especially Protestants and then all other peoples. We are committed to salvation, not an ecumenical schmoozfest –with apologies to Doug Wilson -a Reformed Protestant against ecumanicism- for stealing that great line.)

It was the second time in a week that Benedict has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-1965 meetings that modernized the church. (Oh, is that what V2 did? I thought it was the post-conciliar self-hatred that did that… but who’s to argue with the infallible pronouncements of the press!?! Not me, for heaven’s sake) On Saturday, Benedict revived the old Latin Mass — a move cheered by Catholic traditionalists (bad) but criticized by more liberal ones (good) as a step backward from Vatican II.

Among the council’s key developments were its ecumenical outreach and the development of the New (LATIN) Mass in the vernacular, (somebody get him to take a history lesson) which essentially replaced the old Latin Mass. (Ok, he’s right there.)

Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers its erroneous interpretation by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Benedict headed before becoming pope, said it was issuing the new document Tuesday because some contemporary theological interpretations of Vatican II’s ecumenical intent had been ”erroneous or ambiguous” and had prompted confusion and doubt.

The new document — formulated as five questions and answers — restates key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, ”Dominus Iesus,” which riled Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the ”means of salvation.” (Again, I wish the Vatican was that clear, but it just ain’t so.)

The commentary repeated church teaching that says the Catholic Church ”has the fullness of the means of salvation.”

”Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document released as the pope vacations at a villa in Lorenzago di Cadore, in Italy’s Dolomite mountains.

The other communities ”cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ’s original apostles (Oh, is that what it is? Thanks again Press!)— and therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid, it said.

The Rev. Sara MacVane, of the Anglican Centre in Rome, said that although the document contains nothing new, ”I don’t know what motivated it at this time.”

”But it’s important always to point out that there’s the official position and there’s the huge amount of friendship and fellowship and worshipping together that goes on at all levels, certainly between Anglicans and Catholics and all the other groups and Catholics,” she said. (So official position and practice don’t and, I assume, ought not coincide? Yeah, love it.)

The document said that Orthodox churches were indeed ”churches” because they have apostolic succession and enjoyed ”many elements of sanctification and of truth.” But it said they do not recognize the primacy of the pope — a defect, or a ”wound” that harmed them, it said.

”This is obviously not compatible with the doctrine of primacy which, according to the Catholic faith, is an ‘internal constitutive principle’ of the very existence of a particular church,” said a commentary from the congregation that accompanied the text.

Despite the harsh tone, the document stressed that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.

”However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants, but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith,” the commentary said. (Yeah, we are Catholic, and that ain’t gonna change!)

The top Protestant cleric in Benedict’s homeland, Germany, complained the Vatican apparently did not consider that ”mutual respect for the church status” was required for any ecumenical progress. (Read: The top Protestant cleric in Benedict’s homeland, Germany, complained the Vatican apparently did not consider that “ecclesiastical relativism” was required for any ecumenical progress.)

In a statement titled ”Lost Chance,” Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber argued that ”it would also be completely sufficient if it were to be said that the reforming churches are ‘not churches in the sense required here’ or that they are ‘churches of another type’ — but none of these bridges is used” in the Vatican document. (Poor guys… again.)

The Vatican statement, signed by the congregation prefect, American Cardinal William Levada, was approved by Benedict on June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul — a major ecumenical feast day.

There was no indication why the pope felt it necessary to release it now, particularly since his 2000 document summed up the same principles. (Funny… why would we ever need to say the same thing more than once. I mean, I tell my kids something once, and dang-it if they never ever have to be told again!)

Some analysts suggested it could be a question of internal church politics (Oh, I see. Not an issue of truth, just playing politics to the “Schizmaniac Ultra-Right-Wing-Conservative-Traditionalist Levefbrists” maybe??) or that the congregation was sending a message to certain theologians it did not want to single out. Or, it could be an indication of Benedict using his office as pope to again stress key doctrinal issues from his time at the congregation.

In fact, the only theologian cited by name in the document for having spawned erroneous interpretations of ecumenism was Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian clergyman who left the priesthood and was a target of then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s crackdown on liberation theology in the 1980s. (The Church is always picking on forward thinking, enlightened, modern thinkers… cool.)


Hope you enjoyed these forward thinking, enlightening and modern articles.


July 10, 2007 - Posted by | Religion

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