Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Reflection on CDF's "Church" Document

From Cosmos-Liturgy, a very nice reflection on the statement from Cong. for Doctrine of the Faith regarding the Church and the 'other guys.'

...Theologians such as Francis J. Sullivan, (c.f e.g. “Quaestio Disputata: A Response to Karl Becker, S.J., On the Meaning of Subsistit In,” Theological Studies 67 (2006): 395-409) have spent a lot of time and effort trying to develop vast theories with detailed analyses of language, evolution of documents, etc. all with the aim of trying to show that the documents don’t really say what they say.

Setting motivation aside, it seems to me that these theologians possess a faulty philosophical foundation (apparently Ockhamist Nominalism) which allows them to conceive of a Church that can both have the fullness of Christ’s Church but not be equated with Christ’s Church at the same time. Christ has but one Mystical Body, one Church. It is the Catholic Church. This Mystical Body is hierarchically constituted with the Successor to St. Peter as its head. To rip the Catholic Church and place it on its own, in autonomy from the Church of Christ, renders the Church of Christ as an unrealized ideal that has no real ontology. This is an emaciated ecclesiology that also deprives humanity of it access to grace–understood as partaking in the divine nature (2 Pt 1:4). Thus we are left with a Reformed theology of grace as extrinsic favor rather than intrinsic, deifying communion. It is no coincidence that the Bologna school adopts a Protestant ecclesiology and is then driven also to a Protestant Sacramentology.

Adopting "the razor" of Ockham can, ah....cut the wrong way.

...Contra Cardinal Kasper, the particular Church cannot preexist the Universal Church. Thus, to the degree the Christian body is united with the fullness of the Church, these Churches and ecclesial communities share in Christ’s mediation of the Father’s grace to humanity…i.e. are united to the Catholic Church. But regardless of whether they are in visible communion or not, any and all grace they receive is mediated through Christ’s single Mystical Body, and so it is mediated by the Catholic Church.

(Cdl. Kasper was the "external relations" guy--the ecumenical point-man--of the Church for a few years. You can understand why he didn't like dogmatic stuff--although it's not so easy to excuse him.)

And, for my Protestant friend(s), a distinction which is worth recalling:

A major complaint is that this ecclesiology sounds so triumphalistic; thus it is arrogant. Proper distinctions need to be made to see the error in this. Any truth claim is what it is–it is either true or false. Arrogance/truimphalism is a subjective attitude and has nothing to do with truth claims. Truth can be presented in humility and falsehoods can be proclaimed with arrogance (the latter of which is more often the case I would argue). One cannot preemptively dismiss a truth claim as false simply because of fears about how it might be received. To do so is at root, succumbs to an emotivist relativism.

Cosmos-Liturgy also has some remarks for the Feeneyites who also remain standing...

Separately, Dreher observes:

I'm sure there'll be lots of howls over [the document from Rome], but you won't get them from me. Of course Benedict believes the fullness of the faith is denied to my church, the Orthodox Church, and to a greater degree the Protestant churches. He's the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church! If he believed anything else, he would be unfaithful to Church teaching and tradition. You can't believe what the Catholic Church teaches, and also affirm all of what Orthodoxy and/or Protestantism teach. I would expect a good Baptist to agree.


1 comment:

diana said...

Very good!