Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Subsists In" the Church--Some Answers

The Vatican printing office has been busy. Not only has the Pope issued a Motu Proprio regarding the Old Rite (now called the John XXIII Use;) the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has issued a brief explaining the term "subsists" as used in the 2nd Vatican Council's Document on the Church (Lumen Gentium).

Magister comments:

The document is formulated in five questions and answers. The first three restate that the Catholic Church “governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” is the only one that is fully identified with the Church instituted on earth by Jesus Christ.

The fourth and fifth answers explain to what extent the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Protestant “ecclesial communities” lack – the latter more so than the former – the “essential constitutive elements” of the Church intended by Christ.

The controversy will impact, above all, the ecumenical dialogue among Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. The congregation for the doctrine of the faith is aware of this, and says so in writing.

But it also writes – fully reflecting the thought of Benedict XVI – that “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.”

Excerpts from the "Q&A" document:

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)

This is common sense--my Protestant friends may disagree--but if the Church claims to be the only one founded by Christ, then all else follows logically.

The MSM and the easily-wounded will react most strongly to the following:

...there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity" (11).

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church" (12).

No matter what precedes or follows the portion in red above, all you'll hear about is the portion in red.

Fifth Question: 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: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery (19) cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense (20).

That's what the document says, no matter what the MSM tells you. More at the link.


Neo-Con Tastic said...

This is such a powerful piece. Each word seems so definitive and correct.

I'm really pleased with Pope Benedict's output so far (as if he needs my approval).

Hidden One said...

Maybe talk about God's (missing) Rottweiler will go down a bit now.

Billiam said...

Well Dad, I'm sure you know my thoughts on this. Something more for us to disagree and talk about. I respect the Pope greatly, but, I think he's wrong. Again, it'll make for interesting discussion.

St. Jimbob of the Apokalypse said...

The MSM is incapable of communicating the Pope's intentions, as they're too complex to condense into a headline. So they look for the most simple and glaring angle, and let fly. Regardless if the simplistic headline is true or not.

Dad29 said...

Billiam, your unhappiness doesn't surprise me. But yeah, it's worth a cuppa-coffee-conversation.

On the other hand, I'd have one of those with you regardless!

Billiam said...

As would I! Likely August will be the next time I'm down. Haven't seen a Waukesha load in a while...

BTW, it's not so much unhappiness as a puhleese rolling of the eyes..