Rorate Caeli

New Document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
The "Church of Christ" and the Catholic Church

Andrea Tornielli reports today in Il Giornale that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is about to release a Doctrinal Document stating in definitive and clear terms the interpretation of the Lumen Gentium passage according to which, "Haec ...unica Christi Ecclesia ... in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica" ("this ...one Church of Christ ... constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church")

"The Church of Christ is the Catholic one"

from Rome

The Church of Christ is not distinct or distinguishable from the Catholic Church, which is the only one to possess "all elements of the Church instituted by Jesus". The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will confirm it next week, responding to "doubts" [dubia] raised in the past few years. The doctrinal stand of the former Holy Office ... should be accompanied by an authoritative theological comment on the pages of L'Osservatore Romano.

At the center of the debate is once again the meaning of the verb "subsists", used by the Council in the Constitution Lumen Gentium, where it is said that the only Church of Christ "subsists in the Catholic Church" (in Latin, "subsistit in"). Words which, in the course of the years, have suffered several interpretations, including the one according to which Jesus in reality had not thought of founding a Church and, in case he had, it would have afterwards divided itself in various Churches and ecclesial communities. Therefore ... , there would not be the true Church of Christ anymore, but only several expressions of it.

This recurrent thesis has already been repeatedly denied by the Popes. In 1973, with the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, of Paul VI; in 1985, with the notification of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on a book of liberation theologian Leonardo Boff; in 1992, with the Letter to the Bishops Communionis Notio, and, finally, in 2000 ... , with the declaration Dominus Iesus, approved by John Paul II.

Nonetheless, the doubts return cyclically ... .

I.Media informs that it will be released on Tuesday, July 10 (France-Presse dispatch/La Croix).

38 comments:

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Nice timing Holy Father. The reactions will be fun.

Anonymous said...

And people were becomming bored with Pope Benedict and considering him a mere "transition" pope...

Cerimoniere said...

Let it never be said that the Sovereign Pontiff lacks of sense of humour, or of simple fun. Just when I thought things really couldn't get much better, they did.

I must say, this only strengthens my view that the Holy Father really has a strong eye on reconciling the SSPX. This is a major exercise in clarifying the Council in the light of tradition, and "subsistit" has long been one of their bugbears. Obviously, it's important in itself, but I certainly have the impression that he is progressively clearing the way for a reconciliation.

Quoheletg said...

I know this may be heretical in some quarters, but I believe these periodic restatements are more significant than the strengthening of the 1962 Mass as an Extraordinary Rite.

I'm happy to see, though, that the Holy Father is not afraid to ruffle feathers in the service of the truth, as evidenced by this one-two punch.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Or is it 1-2-3?

The were aspects of the letter to Catholics in China that were suggestive.

poeta said...

Woo hoo!

Iosephus said...

Yeah, exactly, you can't say that this isn't aimed at the SSPX. And oh boy! the media and uproar from the protestant churches! Wow, one big thing after another. I'm not surprised that Benedict's going on vacation!

Ratzinger fan club (in potency) said...

Vacation ? This is a titanic move on the part of the Holy Father, but the logical conclusion of two and a half years of catechesis. You can't talk about truth and relevativism unless you're prepared to state the Catholic Truth: "Outside the Church there is NO salvation". Way to go BXVI !

humboldt said...

¡Good marketing! This issue must be very lucrative to the Vatican.

David said...

Good marketing?

No, just stating the simple of truth, which the Church has always taught.

Finally we are getting a Catholic interpretation of the Council Documents!

Pascendi said...

The Church of Christ and the Catholic Church are one and the same. Anything else is not in conformity with Catholic teaching and, hence the Fathers.

RE: SSPX. Some gentle words must be addressed, at least implicitly to the SSPX. e.g. for the interests of spiritual good, the Holy Father could state that ALL sacraments administered by the SSPX are valid.

The Byzantine Rambler said...
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The Byzantine Rambler said...

Has anyone notice the coincidence of the following two things?

a) Archbishop Foley is removed from Communications;

and

b) The floodgates seem to have opened on important documents and decisions?

Gustavo said...

I think it's a 1-2-3-4. Don't forget last week's Motu proprio about the election of the Roman Pontiff.

Benfan said...

p.bunyan
We are in the world but not of it. We do things differently. You just have to decide where you stand in relation to Jesus, stick to it and live it out. even when you suffer. It's very liberating even (especially) when it costs you, and you can't go further than the crucifixion. Thankfuly, the man whose flesh is nailed to the wood has been there already and makes the path for us, why don't you join us in our journey with Him?

Benfan said...

p.bunyan
We are in the world but not of it. We do things differently. You just have to decide where you stand in relation to Jesus, stick to it and live it out. even when you suffer. It's very liberating even (especially) when it costs you, and you can't go further than the crucifixion. Thankfuly, the man whose flesh is nailed to the wood has been there already and makes the path for us, why don't you join us in our journey with Him.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought Catholic theology used the word "subsist" to describe the relationship between two appearances of one being (essence). Didn't Chalcedon say that "The divine word subsists in the sacred humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ" or something like that? Does anyone know if the word appear in St. Thomas' Summa? How does he use it?

chris w said...

This development is of the greatest significance, although we saw a paper heralding it in L'Osservatore Romano in the Winter of 2005.

Given that we know of other 'works in progress' at the CDF e.g. the one on Natural Law, I am surprised that news of this not come to light much earlier.

I may be wrong, but I suspect that Abp Amato's hand was behind it too, especially as he drafted Dominus Iesum.

Anonymous said...

"I've always thought Catholic theology used the word "subsist" to describe the relationship between two appearances of one being (essence). Didn't Chalcedon say that "The divine word subsists in the sacred humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ" or something like that? Does anyone know if the word appear in St. Thomas' Summa? How does he use it?"

St. Thomas uses the verb "subsistere" in dealing with a number of topics, all of which typically relate to the idea of a "person" as "individua substantia rationalis naturae" (individual substance of a rational nature) of Boetius. Each of the Three Divine Persons subsists, although only One God exists.

Another way to think about it is to say "human nature subsists in me (an individual person)".

That's the gist of it.

For a sound-byte, one could say in this connection, "Ubi Petrus, ibi Ecclesia" (Where Peter is, there is the Church).

Anonymous said...

The Church of Christ is not some ideal thing, some (mere) essence: it's real, it has substance, and its substance is: the Catholic Church in communion with the See of Rome.

To reuse a famous quip, "subsistit in" is what the meaning of "is" is.

AM

Anonymous said...

Hooray for the Holy Father! First the Motu Proprio restoring the Tridentine Latin Mass which will send the radical liberal dissidents and ecumenists into unending hissy fits, now the document which will forcefully state the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church of Jesus Christ.
I hope that the Orthodox are not offended, because everyone knows that they are a real Church, but all the multitude of pastors in all the little Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Evangelical this or that, Episcopal "churches" will be fulminating and convulsing in rage.
It's the end of the line for ecumenism with them! Horray : )

Brad C said...

I'm sorry, maybe I'm a bit slow but could somebody confirm this for me. The document is basically going to say that you could substitute "is" for "subsists in" in the relevant passage without any loss of meaning. Is that correct?

So there is no "Church of Christ" that is broader than the Catholic Church and which the Catholic Church is a part of.

The reason that I am slow to accept this is that I can't believe it. This would be great news if it is true, but I am still in shock.

Anonymous said...

brad c,

"So there is no "Church of Christ" that is broader than the Catholic Church and which the Catholic Church is a part of."

As the official documents named by "New Catholic" reiterate once and again, only the Catholic Church possesses all "the essential elements" of the one Universal Church founded by Christ, which includes the Primacy of Peter as an internal element of each particular Church, so that, in essence, yes.

But, they also mention that the Catholic Church is wounded by the lack of the Unity of the Church willed by Christ, as are the other particular Churches and Christian communities, and that is the basis for the Catholic Church's firm commitment to "ecumenistic" efforts.

San Isidoro said...
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San Isidoro said...

Congratulations for your blog!. I've published this notice.

Really, this Church's concept, that you denounce (Boff and cia), is protestant. They can't understand, the Church like Mysterium, for example.

The Church is "unam sanctam catholicam et apostólicam" (I beg your pardon, my english is very bad)

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

And what about Unitatis Redintegratio?

Is some clarification required or not?

Anonymous said...

The Second Vatican Council itself clearly teaches all we need in this regard.

There is no need for the heretical Schillebeeckx ecumenist-pan-christian interpretation of "subsistit" (in fact it was he who got this ambiguous word inserted by the Belgian, Dutch, German and French episcopates at the council), or for extremist progressivist explanations, nor for "traditionalist" doom scenarios.

The doublespeak about "particular churches" (including the monophysites and other Eastern heretical churches separated from the Apostolic See) in postconciliar documents including Dominus Iesus (2000) gave way to ecumenist speculations, indifferentism and e.g. a certain Sanborn calling Benedict XVI as prefect of the Holy Office a "teacher of the Branch Theory" in one of his article.

The following is what the Vatican II Council really taught.
>>>>>>>>>>DECREE ON THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES
OF THE EASTERN RITE
ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM
SOLEMNLY PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS
POPE PAUL VI
ON NOVEMBER 21, 1964

2. The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites. Between these there exists an admirable bond of union, such that the variety within the Church in no way harms its unity; rather it manifests it, for it is the mind of the Catholic Church that each individual Church or Rite should retain its traditions whole and entire and likewise that it should adapt its way of life to the different needs of time and place.(2)

3. These individual Churches, whether of the East or the West, although they differ somewhat among themselves in rite (to use the current phrase), that is, in liturgy, ecclesiastical discipline, and spiritual heritage, are, nevertheless, each as much as the others, entrusted to the pastoral government of the Roman Pontiff, the divinely appointed successor of St. Peter in primacy over the universal Church. They are consequently of equal dignity, so that none of them is superior to the others as regards rite and they enjoy the same rights and are under the same obligations, also in respect of preaching the Gospel to the whole world (cf. Mark 16, 15) under the guidance of the Roman Pontiff. <<<<<<<<

This is perfectly in line with the Dogma of the Catholic Church of all ages, and the clearly Roman Catholic teaching of Pope Pius XII in Mystici Corporis (and the letter of the Holy Office to Boston in 1949, Suprema Haec Sacra, against Feeneyism).

As long as the current Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith repeats this, which I sincerely doubt after all revolutions and double speak of the last 40 years, there is no problem and only a clear signal even sedevacantists should be at least hearing the attempts of the "hermeneutic of continuity".

This is also true for the SSPX.

Kind regards,

Amemus.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that gladly Orientalium ecclesiarum ended a long era of Latin imperialism and invasions into the many rich Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church. It also rejected the false 18th century notion that the Roman Rite was in itself the "ritus praestantior", the better rite to which all had to conform a bit.

I hope the new document will reject the Branch Theory, will repeat nr. 2-3 clearly. Of course there are members of the Mystical Body outside of the administrative Catholic Church, e.g. piously innocently ignorant members of the Russian Orthodox church or grannies without any real knowledge praying inside the Anglican ecclesial community. And even pagans on the plains of Mongolia in total ignorance over the gospel, but following one Creator and natural law. The former are connected to the Church really by their baptism, the latter (as per Pius X) to the soul of the Church.

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice that all these controversial decrees and documents are issued in the shallow media time in summer, when journalists are not really awake but slumbering....?

So as to let the documents be received not by mass media manipulation from the Liberal Socialist side, but by a faithful mind with their real contents.

Simon-Peter Vickers-Buckley said...

Successor, Subsists, Cardinal Kaspar & Paul VI.

Cardinal Kaspar from 2004 on the very issue.

Marty said...

Whats going on over there? Latin Mass, Conclave, Lumens, Sodano.
I wanna be in Rome.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Pope issues new rules, regulations for the ecclesiastical dress of people who work in the Vatican, seminarians in Rome, and Orders of priests, monks, and nuns to get back to wearing the vesture and religious habits worn 50-60 years ago.
I just viewed an old vhs tape of the Vatican of Pius XII, and the monsignori, priests, Cardinals etc. who worked at the Vatican then all wore vesture much more dignified for their office and function than today (when you sometimes see a photo of priests or seminarians slouching around Rome in sloppy open necked black, grey, or even blue clerical shirts and grey or black slacks.
Nuns mostly in habits modified to the point of just being skirts or dresses. There are still some Orders of priests,monks, and nuns which wear the traditional vesture and add a sense of holiness, spirituality and timeless dignity and beauty to Rome, but they are few compared to years ago.
Those which modified or discarded the most after the Council lost the most members and vocations. That's a lesson which should be remembered and not repeated.

Alexander said...

And what about Unitatis Redintegratio?

Is some clarification required or not?


Wow I hope so. I have to do mental gymnastics just to reconcile it with Tradition.

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone else notice the telling admission that the V2 documents need interpretation? The truth is that only Scripture needs interpretation. Authentic Church documents, especially Council decrees, are clear and as concise as possible - their purpose is to resolve disputes and ambiguities. The glory of the Holy Ghost shines through them. Anything produced by churhmen that is contradictory, ambiguous or otherwise in need of interpretation is just that - the work of churchmen, not of the Church. Any such writings should be ignored. So much for V2.

John L said...

'There is no need for the heretical Schillebeeckx ecumenist-pan-christian interpretation of "subsistit" (in fact it was he who got this ambiguous word inserted by the Belgian, Dutch, German and French episcopates at the council)'. That is very interesting about Schillebeeckx, Anonymous, what is your source for it?

Jordan Potter said...

Authentic Church documents, especially Council decrees, are clear and as concise as possible - their purpose is to resolve disputes and ambiguities. The glory of the Holy Ghost shines through them. Anything produced by churchmen that is contradictory, ambiguous or otherwise in need of interpretation is just that - the work of churchmen, not of the Church. Any such writings should be ignored. So much for V2.

Yes, and so much for the Council of Nicaea too. After all, according to your logic, if the creed that was pronounced at Nicaea were really the work of the Church, then they wouldn't have had to return a few decades later at the Council of Constantinople to clarify that the Holy Spirit is fully divine, a doctrine that the Pneumatomachi had denied because the Nicene Creed was apparently not clear enough in its affirmation of the Holy Spirit's divinity.

You're peculiar notion of the Magisterium That Needs No Interpretation would render all theology superfluous. And that fact that Catholic theologians have continued to debate and explore various questions must mean, according to your logic, that all theologians are dimbulbs, or else that the Magisterium has never produced a single authentic document or decree.

That's not to say that the Vatican II documents couldn't have been a whole lot clearer. But your notion that authentic documents of the Magisterium are always clear and never need interpreting has nothing to do with reality.

Jeff said...

To subsist in something just means to exist in the form of that thing. There is no other meaning of "subsists in" in English or Latin.

People confuse "subsists in" with "substists on" which means to be nourished by something. That's where the silly controversy starts from; that and wishful thinking.

Now that the Catholic Church is the visible form of a reality which has invisible elements and keeps some connection with all the baptized, especially those of good faith, is also indubitable. That is the basis for ecumenism.

Anonymous said...

John L,

Schillebeeckx said this is "De Bazuin" (1966, unknown month number) while explaining they (the modernist periti) had inserted many ambiguous phrases into the council definitions so they would be able to explain it in their own dioceses afterwards according to their own will. Like with subsistit. Nobody of the modernists mentions ever Orientalium ecclesiarum nr 2. and 3. on this question, as it would refute their ecclesiological heresies.