Father Enrico Zoffoli ( 1915 - 1996) who was an Italian priest and theologian inspired by the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Therese of Liesiux, was ordained into the Congregation of the Passionists of St. Paul in 1939. Lecturer and prolific author, he is particularly remembered for his theological studies exposing the problems inherent in the Neo-Catechumenal Way.
The following is an extract by Father Zoffoli from his book “La Vera Chiesa di Cristo” (1990) “The True Church of Christ.” The entire extract is found on the blog “Chiesa e Post Concilio” of May 15, 2014. In this part, Father Zoffoli reminds us that the only true Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church – that all Good comes from Her and that all evil comes from outside of Her even if present in Her members. People even those outside Her (also non-baptized), can be redeemed only through the merits of Christ and His One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The Church - source of all that is good
a) If there is only one God and Father of all, only one Head with only one Body and only one Spirit (thus, one faith, one hope, one baptism), it is absurd to suppose that, outside and independently of the Church, there can be other sources of salvation, other criteria of morality, other secrets to success and other energies of life.
If everything is from God, if He conferred everything to Christ and if Christ works and obtains everything for the Church (even in those places Her ministers do not arrive and those where Her jurisdiction does not extend to), it is unquestionable that the Church is “source” and “symbol” of all the good desirable and the antithesis and guard against all the evil that rages in the world.
b) How do we explain then the evil we find in the Church? How do we explain all the good outside the Church?
The evil in the Church strikes only Her members, that is “ the passive – material-element” of Her structure. It is the evil of “individuals” who are “children” to be redeemed, “sinners “ to be saved… NOT YET PART OF MOTHER CHURCH who is capable only of regenerating them in virtue of the vital energy which makes Her the single “instrument” of salvation through the merits of Christ, The Head.
The good outside the Church belongs to Her, it being the good of Her Head, The Christ - the living Synthesis of all merit. He in fact, possesses everything, He redeems everything and He exalts everything, since of everything He is Master and Shepherd, King and Judge. He - not others - is the Arbiter of history inasmuch as He controls its course, leads the people, follows and waits, coordinates and subordinates [the historical] phases in their development; He prepares them for the light of His Revelation and for the liberating power of His message.
c) Thus: all of the evil inside the Church is exclusively of the world, dominated by concupiscence; and all the good in the world is of the Church, since – joined to Christ - [the world] is destined to have in the Church the fullness of Her affirmation and fecundity because of the prayers, sacrifices and merits of Her best children, who with all their heart project the greatest extension of the reign of God on earth.
To sum up:
- evil is in the Church, but not of the Church; She welcomes the errant, but does not approve their error; She opens Her arms to the sick, but does not absorb their sickness; She, rather, continues to impose Her attack against sin, which, in its defiling of human society, threatens Her members.
- evil – through the fault of believers who are not yet fully assimilated in Christ – is in the Church as the enemy or anti-Church, which lays snares for Her, tries to seduce, overwhelm and secularize Her. Evil belongs to the world and is enthroned there as in the kingdom of all covetousness and abominations.
In fact, it is this world that has never renounced its control of the consciences [of men]; forever resolute in rebelling, pressing, infiltrating and camouflaging itself under all sorts of disguises, taking its revenge in every sector, even at the highest levels of the Hierarchy, where the material-element (= human) remains irrepressible.
Simony, nepotism, concubinage, intrigues, alliances, ambiguities, unjust repressions, usurped powers, iniquitous trials, inhuman treatment, irresponsible capitulations, arrogant ways, worldliness, turpitude, and so many other shameful memories of the Medieval, Renaissance and Counter-Reformation Church, were the WORK OF THE WORLD - and will be again – with its “false brothers” and “mercenary priests” who dishonor the Church falsifying Her face, by attempting a secularization intent on making dogma fruitless, mocking the “wisdom of the Cross”, suppressing worship, undermining “the reign of God”, and substituting it with the reign of man.
Therefore, anti-clericalism, in attacking the Church, condemns the work of Her enemies: man’s nature, passions, stupidity and haughtiness.
The same can be said of good, in whichever way it is [manifest]. Its origins and seat are found in the Church, - the only great SOCIETY OF THE JUST, from the beginning of the world to the end of time – the Church whose members – even if not visible or recognizable – are all those honest hearts, open to the entire truth, disposed to all that is good, and capable of every sacrifice in achieving it.
They, even without having a distinct idea, implicitly accept the plan of God, and are immersed and carried along the path of the “history of salvation” ; they belong to Christ and are destined to enjoy the fruits of His sacrifice, and to be given life by His Spirit as members of the Church as well as His Soul, not being able (through no fault of their own) to be part of His Body alongside the “baptized.”
[Those non-Catholics who] ARE IN GOOD FAITH are virtually included in the fold - and can be saved, the only ones excluded being the wicked, the presumptuous and the obstinate.
Therefore all good, is only of the just, and must be attributed to the Church, the only Source of all the Good that exists.
[Translation and Contribution: Francesca Romana.]
[Translation and Contribution: Francesca Romana.]