Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Vatican Remains Catholic!

BBC World News had a headline today which read, "Vatican text angers Protestants". I generally like BBC News, but this is bare-faced sensationalism. A more appropriate headline might have been something like "Vatican Continues to Affirm Catholic Theology" but I suppose it would be hard to justify having a "news" story about that. It almost would have to follow, "Our top story tonight....Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

I read the full text of the Vatican document and there is absolutely nothing even remotely new about it. If this indeed "angers Protestants" then those Protestants ought to be lining up outside Catholic seminaries every day in protest, because this is strictly everyday Catholic ecclesiology.

In summary, "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...[but]...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 cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense."

Shocking...absolutely shocking.


Chris said...

I see your point, but these kinds of statements are hardly the stuff that warm feelings and ecumenical dialogue are made out of. I mean, c'mon, when the word "defect" is used to describe my church (quoting a Vatican II document), or when they state that my Church cannot be called a "Church" in the proper sense, I can't help but get perturbed.

If Rome gives a darn about ecumenism and conversation with her seperated brethren, then perhaps she could cool down the rhetoric and choose to highlight the mission and many doctrines we share.

Oh, and add to this that the RC diocese in Philadelphia is offering a plenary indulgence to celebrate the diocese's bicentenial. Indulgences! Argh. And for a moment I thought that we had gotten somewhere with that joint statement on justification. I guess I was wrong . . .

Lee said...

The funny thing about that BBC headline is that there's absolutely nothing in the story to substantiate it - no Protestant leaders are quoted, no evidence is provided at all to show that Protestants have been "angered" by this (it does make one reference to Protestant criticism of Domine Jesus).

My general view on ecumenism is that it's best for all churches to be straight and up front about what separates them rather than trying to paper over differences with nice-sounding rhetoric(which I have a sneaking suspicion is what happened with the JDDJ, though I can't claim to have studied that document in detail).

LutherPunk said...

Here's an interesting quote I found on a LCMS blog:

"The Lutheran Church does not equate any ecclesial community - its own, the Roman Catholic, or any other large or small - with the one holy catholic and apostolic church. It respects the right of the Roman Catholic Church to determine the canonical licitness of the ordinations performed within that communion and does not seek to impose Lutheran standards of canonical licitness upon the Roman Catholic community. By the same token it reserves to itself the right to establish its own standards of canonical licitness in the case of ordinations on those points where the divine law (jus divinum) makes no prescriptions and to reject those of other denominations as binding in matters that cannot be established as being of divine right." *The Church* p. 85

I am with Lee on this one: shoot me straight or go away.

David said...

Unfortunately LP, the ELCA doesn't always shoot straight and we tend to paper over the issues just as lee says.

Pastor Eric said...

The Vatican's statement really surprised me but on the other hand it shouldn't. The Joint statement did not affirm any real common ground; it just gave that illusion.

But I still have a great deal of respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters. We don't have to agree on everything, but like we have been saying, the Church needs to stop watering things down. As Lee said, we need to be honest about who we are and go from there. Ecumenism is great, but let's be honest.

Andy said...

ipThanks for the comments everyone. I just got back from vacation.

I like to imagine a Catholic Church that might recognize the legitimacy of my faith someday as much as the next guy, but if we didn't want documents like this one, we'd basically be looking for a "don't ask, don't tell" peace. We know their ecclesiology.

The JDDJ says, "Our consensus in basic truths of the doctrine of justification must come to influence the life and teachings of our churches. Here it must prove itself. In this respect, there are still questions of varying importance which need further clarification. These include, among other topics, the relationship between the Word of God and church doctrine, as well as ecclesiology, ecclesial authority, church unity, ministry, the sacraments, and the relation between justification and social ethics." It's possible to read this as wishful thinking on the part of the Lutherans. If the "consensus" on justification did "come to influence" the RCC position on ecclesiology, we might get somewhere, but it doesn't look like that's happening, nor do I expect it.

mike.beagen said...

With all this talk, everyone seems to forget that the Pope is the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. That Congregation is the most current title of the Inquisition and the Prefect is the new title for the Grand Inquisitor! So the Pope is the former Grand Inquisitor! Should be an interesting reign for the Catholic Church.

D.W. Congdon said...


I laughed out loud reading your post. I agree: there's nothing surprising in this document. I think Protestants often get carried away thinking that Vatican II was something that it simply wasn't — viz. some kind of concession that Protestants and Catholics are all one big happy family after all. Pope Benedict may be a little too conservative for my taste, but he's not nearly as controversial as the media likes to make him out to be.