Rorate Caeli

Peter speaks


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".

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Since Newvatican never just talks straight, what in the world does this really mean? "and that, therefore, the unity, indivisibility, and indestructibility of the Church of Christ are not invalidated by the separations and divisions of Christians."

Really, I'm not s stupid person. I'm a professional with a college degree. A degree in communications with extensive studies in linguistics and I still don't know what this means!!!

Jordan Potter said...

It means that Christ's founding ONE Church has not come to nought just because innumerable churches, denominations, and sects have separated themselves from her -- the gates of hell have not prevailed against the Church, because the Catholic Church in communion with the See of Peter is still here, as indefectible and as indestructible as Christ said she would be.

Anonymous said...

Why can't the Pope simply say the Church of Christ subsists in AND at the same time is the Catholic Church. Then DH won't be excluding the traditional teaching.

Anonymous said...

"DH"? WHy is it necessary to use an abbreviation? What is "DH?"

Anonymous said...

Dignitatis Humanae

Joe B said...

Because "subsists in" would be unnecessary and even confusingly contradictory if "is" were used. "Subsists in" remains novel language that still can't be explained. Either it was totally unnecessary or it means something different than the church's prior language meant. Either way, it can only cause trouble, and has, and still does.

Again, why is it necessary to change things if nothing has changed?

Jordan Potter said...

Joe B said: "Subsists in" remains novel language that still can't be explained.

On the contrary, the Church has authoritatively explained what it means.

Either it was totally unnecessary or it means something different than the church's prior language meant.

Whether or not it was necessary, it certainly means something different than what the Church's prior language meant. "Subsists in" is intended as a more developed and fuller expression of the Church's divinely-revealed self-understanding. So, yes, different -- but not all differences are contradictions.

Either way, it can only cause trouble, and has, and still does.

Every time Holy Mother Church opens her mouth to teach, it causes trouble, and every time she remains silent, it causes trouble. "Whether or not a doctrinal expression causes trouble" doesn't of itself tell us if the expression is true or prudent.

Again, why is it necessary to change things if nothing has changed?

But it can't be said that nothing has changed. Catholic doctrinal undergoes growth and development. The Council Fathers at Vatican II deemed it necessary to formulate the Church's self-understanding using different words. Since then, the Church has proceeded to underscore the fact that those different words not only can, but must, be understood in continuity with what the Church has always taught and will always teach regarding the Church's identity as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that Jesus established.

Hebdomadary said...

The term "Subsists" cannot be separated from the falsely ecumenical platform of reformers like Shillebeex or however you spel his name. The intention was always to reduce "Roman Catholicism to a large but equal wedge of the same round pie inhabited by schismatics and heritics who do not posess the fullness the church. That was their program, it has been long identified and now rejected, so the term should be amended in the Council documents like any other "Post-concilliar" (i.e. after the fact and lacking authority) amendment, except that this time it would be Peter doing the amending, not some lot of run-amok local liturgists.

The reality is that the Catholic church is the whole pie, top to bottom, with other denominations occupying one or more strata of the faith, but with Catholicism posessing all the layers, right up to the top of it's Michaelangel-ic crusting! That metaphor works, but I think I strained something making it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous

"Really, I'm not s stupid person. I'm a professional with a college degree."

But you apparently lack theological formation. “What does this mean?” You ask. It means that the Church of Christ is more than its members, and that the defection of members from her do not compromise her unity, indivisibility, and indestructibility. It also means that the reality of Christ’s work—His Church, is not identical with the Catholic Church.

But you apparently lack theological formation. “What does this mean?” You ask. It means that the Church of Christ is more than its members, and that the defection of members from her do not compromise her unity, indivisibility, and indestructibility. It also means that the reality of Christ’s work—His Church, is not identical with the Catholic Church.

A little faith in the Church, the Vicar of Christ and the Holy Spirit might help you to understand what the Holy Father is saying. (In all Charity)

Fr.WC

Anonymous said...

"It also means that the reality of Christ’s work—His Church, is not identical with the Catholic Church."

Sorry I mean "IS" identical with the Catholic Church.

Fr.WC,

Always read before posting

schoolman said...

Dear Fr.WC, thanks for contributing that!

Transitional Deacon said...

Fr. WC: It also means that the reality of Christ’s work—His Church, is not identical with the Catholic Church.

Father, thanks for your explanation. However, could you elaborate on this last part I quoted above? Many thanks.

schoolman said...

Sorry I mean "IS" identical with the Catholic Church.

Fr.WC,
==================

Father corrected as per the above...

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

Please Holy Father. Just drop this word "subsists" and you won't have to write pages and pages and pages and pages and pages of explanations.

The Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church.

The Church of Christ = The Catholic Church.

Every single religion, other than the Catholic religion, is from hell!

I think I've made myself pretty clear.

schoolman said...

"Please Holy Father. Just drop this word "subsists"..."
===============

I don't see why the Church should avoid such scholastic terminolgy simply because there are those who would seek to twist it to their own ends. St. Thomas has often used this very same term in connection with the great mysteries of the incarnation and the trinity.

Jordan Potter said...

Please Holy Father. Just drop this word "subsists" and you won't have to write pages and pages and pages and pages and pages of explanations.

Yes, and after he drops the word "subsists," for his next trick he will unbreak an egg.

You know, the doctrines of the Incarnation and the Blessed Trinity are pretty complicated, and requires pages and pages and pages of explanations. Wouldn't it be easier to just drop terms such as "homoousion," "Hypostatic Union," "hypostasis," "Person," "essence," "substance," "subsistence," "interpenetration," or "consubstantial"?

Every single religion, other than the Catholic religion, is from hell!

Sorry, what you've said is not Catholic. It's more like fundamentalist Two-Seed-In-The-Spirit Manichaean Baptist doctrine. The Catholic Church has never taught that every non-Catholic religion is of hellish origin. Natural religion is incomplete, defective, and invariably corrupted due to the consequences of original sin, but that doesn't mean that the Devil is the author of natural religion.

Caritas said...

"Every single religion, other than the Catholic religion, is from hell!"

How dare you? I guess writing this makes you feel good? In that case I will say a Pater Noster for you.

Wake-up we are A.D MMVIII.

Providence never fails!

Caritas

Caritas said...

Peace be with you Jordan Potter.

Caritas

Anonymous said...

The Church of Christ is found in the Catholic Church. All her different rites of which the Latin rite is but ONE.
Other groups have characteristics in common with the Catholic Church. In as much as they do they are united to and impelled by Christ's command to being part of the one Holy Catholic Orthodox Apostolic Church.

schoolman said...

Some may be surprised to find that Vatican II also used the term "IS" to describe the equivalence between the "Catholic Church" and the "Mystical Body of Christ" (i.e., Church of Christ). This fact alone should dispell any claim that the use of "subsists in" is somehow contrary to "is". In fact, we see below essentially the same formulation used by Pius XII.
======================

"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."

Decree, ORIENTALIUM ECCLESIARUM

Sussex Catholic said...

Some years ago I had the privilege of hearing an English Servite priest speak on this subject. This learned man had served as a Peritus at the Council and had been one of those personally charged with the preparation of this text. His testimony was absolutely clear-that "subsistet in" was intended as an even stronger affirmation of the reality of the Church of Christ and the Holy Catholic Church of Rome being one and the same entity. This was because it did not allow for "is" to be interpreted as meaning that something else could also "be" identical with the Church of Christ. Rather the entirety of Christ's Church was contained within -"subsisting" inside the Catholic Church. It was much to his dismay that the verb had subsequently been appropriated by others who sought to use it to mean the opposite.

I hope this is of some value to the debate

Anonymous said...

on the question of the origins of other religions, it is true that not all religions are hellish in origin, that in fact some have their origin in man's natural hunger for God. Nevertheless it is very clear from scripture, and the testimony of the Lord that the only religion that is of heavenly origin in the Catholic Faith. Man's hunger for God can only be satisfied by an initiative from God--this is the whole point of the story of the tower of babel. We do not come to God, God comes to us. He did this in the person of our Lord and continues to do so in the reality of the Mystical Body.

Fr.WC

Fr. J. said...

Come on folks, it really is not that difficult to understand "subsistit in" nor is it so simplistic as a substitute for "est."

To subsist in something means to exist in it, that is to give it life, to animate it, even to be incarnated in it. I subsist in my body. My spirit gives my body the quality of a person. My body gives my spirit a physical presence, an incarnate existence, if you will.

To stretch it further, my spirit is the "who" of my existence and my body is the "what" of my existence.

Thus, there is a distinction in these aspects which implies inseparability not separability. To separate the spirit from the body is to die.

While some liberals in the past conceived this phrase as distinguishing the Catholic Church from the Church Christ founded makes no difference. Liberals will reinterpret language whenever it suits them. Their bad interpretations do not change the original intent of the terms.

Furthermore, it should be understood that "subsistit in" is ancient language which arose in the Christological controversies of the 4th century. Anyone who has studied theology closely would recognize that this statement draws a parallel with the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity in the divine and human person, Jesus Christ.

Jordan Potter said...

Nevertheless it is very clear from scripture, and the testimony of the Lord that the only religion that is of heavenly origin is the Catholic Faith. Man's hunger for God can only be satisfied by an initiative from God--this is the whole point of the story of the tower of babel. We do not come to God, God comes to us. He did this in the person of our Lord and continues to do so in the reality of the Mystical Body.

Amen, Father! Other religions have some degree of truth, but only the Church has the fullness of truth, and that only by grace.

Caritas said...

Thank you Fr. WC, that's the Good News everyone should hear.

Caritas

Anonymous said...

A magnificently vested Pope! Beautiful photograph. Is it not remarkable to see these things happening in present day Rome? The charism of authentically Catholic SYMBOLS is understood clearly by the Holy Father. God be praised.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

"Every single religion, other than the Catholic religion, is from hell!"

I said this to emphasize the point that the Catholic Church is the only true religion.

Br. Anthony, T.O.S.F. said...

In a recent interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemine, Cardinal Ratzinger explained,

"Vatican II did not use Pius XII’s expression according to which ‘the Roman Catholic Church is the only Church of Christ.’ Instead, it preferred the expression ‘The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church...’ because," he said, "it wished to ‘affirm that the being of the Church as such is a larger identity than the Roman Catholic Church’."

Subsists

Tobias said...

"Every single religion, other than the Catholic religion, is from hell!"

I said this to emphasize the point that the Catholic Church is the only true religion.


Which beautifully illustrates the rule that over-emphasizing a tenet of the faith quickly leads into error.