Excerpts of Pope Benedict's impressive address this morning to the Plenary Session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:
..the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published in the past year two important Documents, which offered some doctrinal details on essential aspects of the doctrine on the Church and on Evangelization. They are necessary details for the correct development of the ecumenical dialogue and of the dialogue with the religions and cultures of the world.
The first Document carries the title "Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church" and also reproposes, in the formulations and in the language, the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, in full continuity with the doctrine of Catholic Tradition. It is thus confirmed that the one and only Church of Christ has its subsistence, its permanence and its stability in the Catholic Church and that, therefore, the unity, indivisibility, and indestructibility of the Church of Christ are not invalidated by the separations and divisions of Christians.
Besides these fundamental doctrinal specifications, the Document reproposed the correct linguistic use of certain ecclesiological expressions, which risk being misunderstood, and calls to attention to that end the difference which still remains, among the diverse Christian Confessions, in the understanding of being Church, in a properly theological sense.
The affirmation of the Second Vatican Council that the true Church of Christ "subsists in the Catholic Church" (Dogm. Const. Lumen gentium, 8) does not refer solely to the relations with Christian Churches and ecclesial communities, but it extends also to the definition of the relations with the religions and cultures of the world. The same Second Vatican Council, in the Declaration Dignitatis humanae on religious liberty, affirms that "this one true religion subsists in the Catholic Church [sic], to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men".