Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vatican's Technical Statement 6/29/07

This is a copy of an article from Catholic Questions and Answers

On June 29, 2007, the doctrinal department of the Vatican issued a technical statement clarifying a few lines of a key document of the Second Vatican Council (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church a.k.a Lumen Gentium) having to do with the relationship between the Catholic Church and various other Christian communities. Of course, the secular press delights in controversy and conflict, and so lambasted it either as some reactionary proclamation that “card-carrying” Catholics are the only ones going to heaven or as a backtracking, anti-ecumenical statement demeaning other religious groups. It was neither.

Christians who are not Catholic may have a hard time with this, but the Catholic Church has always maintained that the fullness of the means of salvation are present only in the Catholic Church as organized as a visible community, led by the Pope, the successor of Peter.
But it also believes that all Christians who have faith and are baptized are truly joined, though imperfectly, to this Catholic Church. And it also believes that elements of the life of the Catholic Church are truly present and operative in other Christian communities. In other words, the Catholic Church is not just a legal, organization structure, but is a spiritual reality, a fellowship of all those who love the Lord Jesus and seek him.

At the time of the Reformation, all the Protestant communities abandoned some very important things that we believe the Lord wants his Church to have – specifically; the sacrament of holy orders through the laying on of hands by bishops, and the other sacraments that depend on validly ordained bishops –
  • Eucharist
  • confirmation
  • reconciliation
  • sacrament of the sick

However, many non-Catholic Christians take advantage of the means of grace available to them (Scripture, baptism, Christian marriage, prayer, etc) to a great extent and therefore can exhibit marvelous fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The Vatican II document that the 6/29/07 statement comments upon also notes that those who have been fully incorporated into the Catholic Church but in whom the love of God has grown cold cannot be saved. From those to whom much is given, much will be expected. Having all the means of grace available imposes upon Catholics a greater measure of accountability.

How should we respond? Each of us, regardless of where we go to Church, should shake ourselves and our families out of the complacency that would cause us to settle for spiritual mediocrity. We need to pursue the fullness of the life and truth that the Lord wants us to have, take full advantage of the fullness of the means of grace He makes available to us, and share those resources with all people, Protestants, Catholics, Christians and non-Christians.

Zenit: Clarification on the Doctrine of the Church

sources: Catholic Questions and Answers and Zenit

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