Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ecclesiology of VCII

Ecclesiology of the Catholic Church

The following are some questions and answers that might shed further light and precision on what the Catholic Church teaches especially in regards to her ecclesiology. This document was referred to in the article: “A SIMPLE, COMMON SENSE REBUTTAL to SSPX, SSPV and CMRI". The schismatic traditionalists have a difficult time seeing that the ecclesiology of VCII was not a departure from past teachings of the Church but rather a deepening of our understanding of the Church’s ecclesiology.

QUESTION 1. Explain what it means to say that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church (LG 8) by using the notion of the Church as sacrament.[1]

I learned (memorized) when I was young that a sacrament is "an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace." The Catholic Church is certainly "an outward sign" since she is visible as her Founder and Head, Jesus Christ, is visible, and she is visible in her means of sanctification. One can truly point to one place, the Catholic Church, to find the fullness of truth of Divine Revelation and saving "elements of sanctification" (LG 8) by which the faithful may be configured to Christ.[2] "The Church is a sacramental communication of the Father's love for man in Christ, involving "a destiny and an existence lived in communion with Christ and with one another in Christ" ".[3]

Christ established only one Church in which a divine and human element come together (LG 8). The Church can be compared to the incarnate Son of God in whom a divine and a human nature are united in one Person. In the seven visible and tangible sacraments, grace operates ordinarily and surely. So too, in the visible and tangible Church, the Catholic Church, one can ordinarily and surely encounter Christ. Thus as the Second Vatican Council put it:

The "Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, ... constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" (LG 8).

But just as grace and truth can subsist anywhere (wherever the Spirit blows), so too, grace and truth can subsist in other churches. "Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines." Thus, "much that is not clear in the Catholic Church about either the truth or the means to holiness may be found more clearly in other communions, not as making up a deficit in the Catholic Church but as shedding light on what is already found in her."[4]

"For although the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace, ... Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments for our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren... Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can contribute to our own edification" (UR 4).[5]

It is for this light that the Catholic Church is indebted to those outside her visible confines.

QUESTION 2. What is the dogma of papal infallibility? What is the distinction between "infallible" and "ex cathedra"?

The dogmatic definition of papal infallibility given at the First Vatican Council is:

"...We, with the approval of the sacred Council, teach and define:

It is a divinely revealed dogma that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church, possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of Blessed Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining the doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable of themselves, not because of the consent of the Church (ex sese, non autem ex consensu ecclesiae).[6]

"Infallible" refers to the immunity from fallacy or liability to error in expounding matters of faith (in knowledge as such) and morals (in knowledge pertaining to conduct[7]) in virtue of the promise of the Holy Spirit made by Christ to the whole Church.[8] "Infallibility signifies that a solemn teaching formally proposed by the Church regarding faith or morals as something definitively to be held is, because of the assistance of Christ's Spirit, truthful and knowable as truth. Infallibility pertains to acts of teaching rather than to the teacher. Nevertheless, in as much as authoritative teachers in the Church are constituted as such by a gift of the Holy Spirit Who is infallible, they (these teachers) may be said, analogously, to be infallible when teaching infallibly."[9]

Infallibility is not divine revelation (God speaking His divine word), nor inspiration (God protecting His divine word, as the principle Author or His word), but rather the safeguarding, as a providential aid[10], the divine revelation.[11]

The Pope or the magisterium in defining infallibly crystallizes the faith already there. The Holy Spirit operates in the whole Church giving the sense of the faith to both the clergy and the laity.[12] Thus, "the assent of the Church can never be lacking to such definitions on account of the same Holy Spirit's influence, through which Christ's whole flock is maintained in the unity of the faith and makes progress in it" (LG 25)[13].

Ex cathedra literally means "from the chair", that is the seat of authority from which the Roman Pontiff can teach as the visible head of the Church. In the above First Vatican Council definition, the term ex cathedra is used as a particular mode of acting (teaching) that the Pope uses in order to define a doctrine, i.e., the explicit act of teaching "to be held by the universal Church". This mode of authoritative teaching requires three conditions: 1) the Roman Pontiff must act (explicitly) in the office "of Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians"; 2) the doctrine concerns "faith or morals"; 3) he defines something "to be held by the universal Church".[14]

When the Roman Pontiff speaks ex cathedra, he personally possesses the charism of infallibility which means his ex cathedra statement or teaching is immune from error. Thus, in consequence, the infallible character of papal ex cathedra statements as the First Vatican Council points out are necessarily "irreformable of themselves", and "not because of the consent of the Church".

Both infallibility and ex cathedra refer to distinct modes of knowing that a particular teaching is truthful and knowable as truth. Infallibility is broader than and inclusive of the particular mode of infallibility called ex cathedra[15] by which the faithful know that the Pope is giving definitive expression to a truth which pre-exists in reality. In general, infallibility refers to the absolute truthfulness of the source of true statements which are not empirically verifiable; it is a quality of inerrancy from God that pertains to a person (the Pope) or a group of persons (the bishops).[16] Ex cathedra is only one way of knowing something is true whereas infallibility is wider in scope including also the infallible mode of teaching called ex cathedra.[17] Infallibility does not mean impeccability nor is infallibility a reward for virtue,[18] but rather a result of the assistance of the Holy Spirit as promised by Christ.[19] As indicated above, infallibility also includes as well concilliar definitions[20] (providing all the conditions are present) which are "to be held by the universal Church".

QUESTION 3. How may one understand the dictum "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" without falling into either a false triumphalism or indifferentism?

The dictum "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" was presented and understood in absolute terms by Boniface VIII in his Bull Unam Sanctam (1302); ignorance of this necessity was held as vincible.[21] This dictum helped sustain the general understanding or at least attitude among Catholics even up to recent times that if one is not a Catholic or did not convert to the Catholic faith, he could not be saved. While holding firmly and clearly to the objective necessity of the Church for salvation as willed by God, Pius IX, in his Allocution 'Singulari Quadam' (1854) made an important further distinction regarding the subjective guilt or innocence of people outside the Church.[22]

The Second Vatican Council also taught however that those who recognize the divine origin of the Catholic Church and rejects it cannot be saved (LG 14). But the council further explains that "one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church" (UR 3).

This doctrine uproots false triumphalism which held that all non-Catholics are condemned. In light of the documents of the Second Vatican Council, one cannot claim arbitrarily that a non-Catholic is excluded from salvation. Furthermore, a Catholic "who does not however persevere in charity is not saved" (LG 14). It would seem that false triumphalism is contrary to this most important virtue of charity.[23]

But one might ask, why become a Catholic because even non-Christian can be saved?[24] The Church exhorts us in evangelization to bring non-Catholics and non-Christians a richer and more assured salvation since there are more helps in the Catholic Church to be saved.[25] Furthermore, referring to non-Christians, the Church council points out that "very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and served the world rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair" (LG 16).

As we saw in question one of this work, the Catholic Church is the privileged locus of all the elements of truth and sanctification necessary for salvation. The Church is the visible, ordinary and sure means (without scruples!) that the undivided effect of her saving sacraments will take place. Thus, even with a more fully explained doctrine of salvation, the Church deters us from indifferentism by telling us:

"Hence to procure the glory of God and the salvation of all these, the Church, mindful of the Lord's command, "preach the Gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:16) takes zealous care to foster the missions."[26]

QUESTION 4. Who are (and who are not) the People of God? How and to what extent do the People of God "image" the Triune Godhead?

According to Canon Law, "Christ's faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Christ through baptism, are constituted the people of God... they are called...to exercise the mission which God entrusted to Church... This Church subsists in the Catholic Church..." (c. 204). This canon tells us that the "people of God are "Christ's faithful" in baptism,” i.e., all Christians. Lumen Gentium frequently reinforces this identity in the second chapter.[27] This document (No. 14) also declares to us that "catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, desire with an explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church, are by that very intention joined to her." Although non-Catholic Christians are not "fully incorporated into the Church"[28] "the Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter". Yet "the Spirit stirs up desires and actions in all of Christ's disciples in order that all may be peaceably united, as Christ ordained, in one flock under one shepherd. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may be achieved,..." (LG 15).

Unitatis Redintegratio (No. 8) tells us that it is "indeed desirable that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren." Lumen Gentium also calls the People of God to unity[29] in Holy Communion as a consequence of the properties consonant in Baptism (openness to the other sacraments) "though not of course indiscriminately."[30] The People of God are also called to share in Christ's kingly role as Christ's "messianic people" (LG 9), His "royal priesthood" (LG 10), and His "prophetic office" (LG 12).

To complete "who are the People of God", we should also identify:

"those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God... people to which the covenants and promises were made... those who acknowledge the Creator... Moslems... those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God... Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too many achieve eternal salvation... Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel..." (LG 16).[31]

One could say that the People of God ("the Church") images the triune Godhead most especially in "the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church... one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" (UR 2). Similarly (analogically) as in the Trinity (a community of distinct Persons united by the Holy Spirit), the Holy Spirit unites the members of the People of God to each other and to God in love.[32] Just as the Father is in Jesus, our Lord prayed that all believers might be one in the Trinity (Jn 17:21).[33] One can also draw an analogy between the gifts and charisms (given by the One undivided Holy Spirit) of the People of God, all ordered to communion and, the unity of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity existing in perfect Love. But this wonderful unity of the People of God images the Trinity only to the extent that the members of the People of God maintain this unity by remaining in the love of God and loving one another.[34] Considering the world's growing sense of community as we draw closer together physically, we can perhaps better see the need to heed Christ's words at the Last Supper. He simultaneously proclaimed His new commandment, "that you love one another as I have loved you," and offered the model and motive for this difficult mandate in his revelation of the Trinity (Jn 15:9-13). The less the members of the People of God love God and one another, the less the People of God image the triune Godhead, and thus the more disunity in "rifts" and "serious dissensions" appear (UR 3). At the ever growing risk of destroying ourselves because nearness breeds contempt unless animated by charity, more than ever, we, as one human family, need to turn to the model of the Trinity for our stimulus to unite spiritually in God's Spirit of Love.

QUESTION 5. Why may one say that a local Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic?

The "local Church" or "diocese" is "a portion of the people of God, which is entrusted to a Bishop to be nurtured by him, with the cooperation of the presbyterium,... In this Church ("particular Church"), the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ truly exists and functions."[35]

These four marks, inasmuch as the Church is related to Christ, are ontological realities which make up the essence of the Church (not adjectives or accidents); inasmuch as the Church is similar to Christ, these marks are goals that must be striven for (not just an ideal or a Platonic Church). Thus within the Church there is this dynamism (not a static situation) since her essential marks are both existing realities and goals to be progressed toward.

In the believing community of the diocese where we find the active presence of Christ, the genuine Church is found along with her four essential marks. The Church is ONE primarily in her unity of faith and secondarily in her unity of communion both juridically and liturgically.[36] With this understanding of unity, the local Church which professes the one Catholic faith and forms a communion under the leadership of the lawful bishop[37] in union with the Pope, is one, just as the universal Church is one.[38]

"The Church,... is held... to be unfailingly holy" (LG 39). Christ's Church possesses all means of holiness[39], her Head, Jesus Christ is all-holy and "model of all perfection" (LG 40), and many thousands of her members in all walks of life, by the imitation of Christ with the help of her sacraments, have attained great sanctity and holiness.[40] The local Church in union with Rome also possesses all these means of holiness and thus in this sense is also holy.

The mark catholicity has often been applied to the Church in the past basically in terms of the Church's extension to all nations and at all times. But a better meaning of the Church's catholicity is that she possesses, through Christ with the Holy Spirit, the fullness of divine revelation and means for a holy response in her sacraments. It is precisely here we find the motive for the missionary thrust of the Church.[41] Thus we see the intrinsically close connection of the catholicity of the Church with her unity in her content of faith and revelation.[42] Thus for catholicity to subsist in the local Church, there must be this universality of faith.[43] The variety of local Churches living in harmony with one another is a luminous sign of the catholicity of the undivided Church.[44]

The Apostolicity of the Church means that the Church accepts as normative the witness of the Apostles as she deepens in time her understanding of revelation. More specifically, this essential mark of the Church refers to the assurance of the passing on of the fullness of truth and sanctifying powers from Christ through an apostolic succession of bishops and popes. Thus there is "an organic oneness of the Church of the apostles with the Roman Catholic Church of our day."[45] Lastly the apostolicity of the Church refers to the magisterium of the college of bishop in union with Rome.[46] At the local level of the diocese, the presence of the bishop insures apostolicity.

QUESTION 6. What are the purposes of ecumenical dialogue?

The most important purpose of ecumenical dialogue is found in the very first line of the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio: "The restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council." Directly related to this main goal is to remove the division among Christians which "scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature" (UR 1) as well as bringing "the fullness of the means of salvation" (UR 3) to all. These divisions also "prevent the Church from realizing the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her" (UR 4). "Almost everyone, though in different ways, longs for the one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God" (UR 1).

The initiatives and activities encouraged by the Council to promote the "ecumenical movement" include avoiding expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren[47] as well as "dialogue" between competent experts from different Churches and communities. Through such dialogue a truer knowledge and a greater appreciation of the teaching and religious life of both communions can be realized. It is very important for Catholics to understand their own faith well and to present the Catholic faith without equivocation, remembering though that there is a hierarchy of truths.[48] In this way we avoid a type of false ecumenism by sincerely acknowledging both the points of agreement as well as disagreement (including the degree of agreement and disagreement respectively).[49]

To many this may sound more like some type of fantasyland or utopia especially when one takes a second look at Church history as well as the reality of each human being's fallen nature. "No church or communion has succeeded in convincing the rest that it is in possession of the truth.[50] "Confronted with the humanly insurmountable difficulties of the unitatis redintegratio and what might be thought to be very moderate results of hundreds of approaches over the course of several centuries, some scholars think an organic unity impossible: there is no point in seeking it or desiring it. They leave it to eschatology."[51] Many scholars see the two terms, Catholic and ecumenical as mutually complimentary opposites.[52] And yet "it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help towards salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained" (UR 3). Furthermore the division in Christianity "openly contradicts the will of Christ" (UR 1). Even Canon law (755) specifically states that "by the will of Christ, the Church is bound to promote... the restoration of unity between all Christians."[53] Thus, let us follow the Church's mandate and work diligently to restore the "unity among all Christians."

QUESTION 7. What is the specific mission of the laity?

The specific mission of the laity[54] as expressed by Lumen Gentium (30-38) is to "seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God" (LG 31). The lay apostolate "is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself" (LG 33).

The laity, by baptism are constituted among the People of God and thus "they are in their own way made sharers in the priestly, prophetical, and kingly functions of Christ; and they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world" (LG 31).

Through baptism, with the help of all the sacraments, the laity are called in a special way to make present and operative the Church, in cooperation with the Hierarchy, in those places and circumstance where only they can. Besides this apostolate, the laity can also be called in various ways to a more direct form of cooperation in the apostolate of the Hierarchy (LG 33, 37).

Christ also gives the laity "a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men" (LG 34). Thus all of their works, prayers and apostolic endeavors, if carried out patiently "in the Spirit", become "spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ"[55] most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist.[56]

Christ also fulfills His prophetic office through the hierarchy as well as the laity so that the power of the Gospel might shine forth in their daily social and family life in the ordinary surroundings of the world. Thus the laity can and must perform a work of great value for the evangelization of the world.[57]

Christ, having been exalted and made ruler over all by the Father through obedience to the Father's will, has communicated this royal power to His disciples so that they might conquer the reign of sin in themselves and be constituted in royal freedom through service to Christ in their fellow men.[58] By assisting each other to live holier lives when in their daily occupations, the world may be permeated by the spirit of Christ and it may more effectively fulfill its purpose in justice, charity and peace.[59] Thus, the laity share in the kingly office of Christ by bringing all things, including themselves, into subjection to the Father.

In this way each individual layman will (must!) stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and a symbol of the living God (LG 38).

QUESTION 8. What reform or improvement do you see as most urgent in the Church today? Why?

It is difficult to choose or decide on which is the most needed reform or improvement in the Church. Today with our very wide-spread mentality of a 'pick and choose, smorgasbord type Catholicism' and religious apathy, it seems there are many improvements needed both among the clergy and the laity. But even though the responsibility for the major problems as well as the solutions fall on all Christians, I think I would tend to point more to the clergy as the most needed reform and improvement and thus the most needed solution. To narrow the sights down even more, let us focus on the lack of holy and courageous leadership among the clergy regarding the Church's teaching on catechetical instruction in general and in particular on sexual morality.

So frequently today in Catholic "sex education" programs, one does not find an education in the virtues of love, chastity, and modesty based on an exposition of the sixth and ninth Commandments but rather the disturbing of emotional equilibrium and judgment to the point that there has resulted a massive decline in the number of both youth and parents observing the sexual morality of the Church. All too frequently the rights of parents to supervise the religious education of their children[60] - and especially the sexual education of their children - have been disregarded by religious educators imposing doctrinally defective and sometimes morally offensive catechetical programs. Very often not only has silence been the response to requests for the correction of such abuses, causing much confusion and bewilderment, but even the attempt to institutionalize dissent in the Church on the part of those who no longer think with the Church on such subjects as contraception, sterilization, abortion, premarital intercourse, homosexual practice, and divorce with remarriage.

It is one thing for faithful Catholics to find in the workplace, in social gatherings, in institutes of learning and in the media a hostility towards the message of Christ as transmitted by the Magisterium. It is another thing to witness the same hostility, occasionally tempered by simple indifference, within the community of faith. When truth is not taught with clarity and conviction, and error not exposed by the highest authorities in the Church, it has a profound effect on the little ones.

Thus there is a great need for the bishops and priests throughout the world to vigorously support the Pope in reaffirming the essential Catholic doctrine rather than letting these precious truths be sacrificed on the altar of human respect, popularity, or convenience. The laity have a right to expect clear Catholic teaching from their pastors. Bishops and pastors must follow the Pope’s lead[61] in clearly affirming that dissent from the authentic teaching of the Magisterium is not an option for the believing Catholic.

Obviously this reform or improvement of the leadership of bishops and pastors is not an easy task to accomplish. But I feel it is certainly one of the most needed if not the most needed reform in the Church today (for reasons illustrated above).

Joseph Dwight

(Click on the photo of Joseph Dwight to go to his other websites.)

[1] Although extensive references were not required, I have amply referenced this work so as to be able to use it in the future for my own personal references since these questions are asked so frequently today.
[2] "... the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace,...", UR 4.
[3] V. Warnach "Kirche" (Cited in New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 3 (The Catholic University of America, Washington, D. C., 1967), p. 684.).
[4] Class notes, Nov. 9, 1987. "Moreover, some, even very many, of the most significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to him, belong by right to the one Church of Christ. ... For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church", UR 3.
[5] "...the Church of Christ was held to be present in some measure in other Christian communities, which could participate in catholicity to the extent that they continued to accept and live by the authentic Christian heritage", Avery Dulles, S.J., The Catholicity of the Church (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985), p. 21.
[6] The Christian Faith, (revised edition edited by J. Neuner, S.J. & J. Dupuis, S.J); Collins Liturgical Publications, London, 1983; p. 234.
[7] John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism; Doubleday & Co., Inc., NY, 1974; p. 230.
[8] The subject of infallibility refers to who is infallible; the object of infallibility refers to what aspects of the truth are covered by the gift of infallibility; James T. O'Connor, The Gift of Infallibility; St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1986; p. 99.
[9] Class notes, November 30, 1987.
[10] "... infallibility is a gift bestowed by God on His Church. It functions, therefore, in the order of grace, of charism, and, in particular, of a grace given to some for the sake of others..."; James T. O'Connor, The Gift of Infallibility; St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1986; p. 97.
[11] John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism; Doubleday & Co., Inc., NY, 1974; p. 224.
[12] "The whole body of the faithful who have an anointing that comes from the holy one (cj. 1Jn 2:20, 27) cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of the faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people, when, "from the bishops to the last of the faithful" they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals. By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (magisterium), and obeying it, receives not the mere word of men, but truly the word of God (cf. 1Th 2:13),...", LG 12.
[13] The Pope can definitively teach independently (ex cathedra) but he is morally obliged to give proper and due consideration to the sense of the faithful (although the specifics of this consideration is not well defined) since the entire body of the faithful cannot err in matters of faith and morals (See James T. O'Connor, The Gift of Infallibility; St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1986; pp. 110, 40-53, 66ff.). "... determining the sensus fidelium is not a matter of poll-taking or of sociological reports"; James T. O'Connor, The Gift of Infallibility; St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1986; p. 100.
[14] "This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect, and that one sincerely adhere to decisions made by him ...", LG 25.
[15] "Like Gasser, of course, Newman - and all other Catholic theologians - realized that papal infallibility was only a facet of the total gift of infallibility with which Christ had endowed His Church. It is only in our own day, however, thanks to the work of the Second Council of the Vatican, that the Church in her teaching has given us a more comprehensive picture of infallibility than that provided by Vatican I"; James T. O'Connor, The Gift of Infallibility; St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1986; p. 98.
[16] This is assuming that all the necessary conditions are present.
[17] It is interesting to note here that the First Vatican Council made no distinction gramatically between the Pope and the Church regarding the endowment of the gift of infallibility. "… the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed his Church to be endowed in defining the doctrine concerning faith or morals;..."
[18] Infallibility also does not mean freedom from error in merely natural science (The Church can, however, forbid her members to discuss a matter if it seriously affects their service of God.) or the impossibility of the Pope's erring on matters of faith or morals, in his private capacity (private opinions or utterances). For this reason, to avoid confusion, it is better to refer to infallibility as the dogma of infallibility or the dogmatic definition of infallibility or the infallibility of the (teaching) office of the papacy rather than as papal infallibility.
[19] Jn 14:16, 26.
[20] See LG 25; Canon 749,2.
[21] J. Neuner, S.J. and J. Dupuis, S.J., The Christian Faith (Collins Liturgical Publications, London, 1983), pp. 217-218.
[22] "...it must be likewise be held as certain that those who live in ignorance of the true religion, if such ignorance be invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord", ibid, pp. 223-224.
[23] "...every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult... In ecumenical work, Catholics must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them", UR 4. "This manner of acting will avoid every appearance of syncretism and false exclusiveness...", AG 22. See also Dignitatis Humanae regarding religious freedom.
[24] "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too many achieve eternal salvation", LG 16.
[25] "Neither our respect for these religions nor the high esteem in which we hold them nor the complexity of the questions involved should deter the Church from proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ to these non-Christians. On the contrary she holds that these multitudes of men have the right to know the riches of the mystery of Christ... in other words, by virtue of our religion a true and living relationship with God is established which other religions cannot achieve even though they seem, as it were, to have their arms raised up towards heaven", Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 53.
[26] LG 16. See also Evangelii Nuntiandi, no. 10.
[27] "The baptized,..." (LG 10); "Incorporated into the Church by Baptism,...unity of the People of God..." (LG 11).
[28] LG 14; see also UR 3.
[29] And participation, LG 10. See also UR 2.
[30] LG 11. "Yet worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of unity among Christians", UR 8.
[31] Chapter two of Lumen Gentium uses verbs ("called to", "directed toward", "ordered to") not nouns to refer to the non-Baptized.
[32] "It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church's unity", UR 2.
[33] In His Church, Christ "instituted the wonderful sacrament of the Eucharist by which the unity of the Church is both signified and brought about. He gave his followers a new commandment to love one another, and promised the Spirit, their Advocate, who, as Lord and life-giver, should remain with them forever", UR 2.
[34] The Church as "communion" appearing often in the Second Vatican Council documents (LG, UR, AG, etc.), conveys the idea of participation, communication and the ordering of both the hierarchic and charismatic graces to service while admitting of degrees of relationship (in contrast to Church as "Mystical Body" which emphasizes the submission of charisms to the control of the hierarchy). Thus non-Catholic Christians and Catholics participate and communicate in the life and love of God but in different degrees.
[35] Canon 369; also see CD 11.
[36] John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism (Doubleday & Co., Inc., NY, 1975), p. 212.
[37] Just as the Pope is the visible principle of unity in the universal Church, so the individual bishop is the visible principle of unity in the particular Church entrusted to him; Edward J. Gratsch, S.T.D., Principles of Catholic Theology; Alba House, NY, 1979; p. 134.
[38] For further references see LG 23, 25; AG 19, 20. "...this universal Church cannot be conceived as the sum of the particular Churches... The Catholic Church herself subsists in each particular Church, which can be truly complete only through effective communion in faith, sacraments and unity with the whole Body of Christ... all the particular Churches... must always be, in full communion with the Successor of Peter", taken from the address of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of the United States in Los Angeles on September 16, 1987.
[39] LG 8; "through Christ with the Holy Spirit", LG 39. See also Hardon 214.
[40] All Christians are called to holiness, LG 39-42.
[41] See AGD 19. Regarding the limitations of the Church's actual catholicity, one sees "the urgency of ecumenism and the inner connection between ecumenism and catholicity. For the credibility of the Church, especially in its claim to be Catholic, it is crucial to mitigate or overcome the hostility and division among Christian groups", Avery Dulles, S.J., The Catholicity of the Church; Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985; p. 171.
[42] "'Catholic', writes Henri de Lubac, 'suggests the idea of an organic whole, of a cohesion, of a firm synthesis, of a reality which is not scattered but, on the contrary, turned towards a centre which assures its unity, whatever the expanse in area or the internal differentiation might be'.
" ... catholicity is a dynamic term. It designates a fullness or reality and life, especially divine life, actively communicating itself. This life, flowing outwards, pulsates through many subjects, draws them together, and brings them into union with their source and goal. By reason of its supreme realization, which is divine, catholicity assures the ultimate coherence of the whole ambit of creation and redemption", ibid., p. 167.
[43] "...the local church must represent the universal Church as perfectly as possible,...", AD 20.
[44] "This multiplicity of local Churches, unified in a common effort, shows all the more resplendently the catholicity of the undivided Church", LG 23. "The adjective 'catholic' may in some measure be predicated of every Christian church, for all participate in the reality of the Church which they confess as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. All, moreover, have certain Catholic structures, such as canonical scriptures, creeds, sacraments, and ordained ministry. In a more specific sense, the term Catholic (usually with a capital C) is predicated of those churches which are conspicuous for their sacramental, liturgical, hierarchical, and dogmatic features, and those which stress continuity with the institutional and doctrinal developments of the patristic and medieval periods. In a still more specific sense, the term Catholic refers to that Church which, at Vatican II, called itself 'the Catholic Church', and which alone insists on communion with Rome as the touchstone of unity", Avery Dulles, S.J., The Catholicity of the Church; Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985; p. 169.
[45] John A. Hardon, S.J., The Catholic Catechism; Doubleday & Co., Inc., NY, 1974; p. 219.
[46] Matters of faith can divide the Church. But even so, the Second Vatican Council has given a great emphasis on the Church's missionary thrust: "...the young churches, which are rooted in Christ and built on the foundations of the apostles, take over all the riches of the nations which have been given to Christ as an inheritance (cf. Ps 2:8)", AG 22. See also UD 13-24.
[47] "The faithful should remember that they promote union among Christians better, that indeed they live it better, when they try to live holier lives according to the Gospel", UR 7. "This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name, "spiritual ecumenism" ", UR 8.
[48] Edward J. Gratsch, S.T.D., Principles of Catholic Theology; Alba House, NY, 1979; p. 140.
[49] Encouraged also is a more intensive cooperation in duties for the good of humanity as well as common prayer where this is permitted. These initiatives when carried out with prudent patience promote the spirit of brotherly love and unity. Then gradually, the obstacles to ecclesiastical communion will be overcome so that one day all Christian will be gathered in the unity of the one Church of Christ (UR 4).
[50] "Despite the profundity of its tradition and its constant affirmation that it is the solution to all our problems, the Orthodox Church has not succeeded in convincing the rest of us that we must return to its fold. Nor has the Catholic Church, despite its wealth of arguments, succeeded in convincing others of its papal dogma. Despite their learning and the vitality of their faith in Jesus Christ as savior, the Protestants have not convinced others that they are the Reformed church. Nor has the Anglican Communion, despite its concern to unite Reformed and traditional Catholicism, effectively been the bridge church which it claims to be. We are still in a position of being face to face or side by side, though to some degree we are also together and even incorporated", Yves Congar, Diversity and Communion; The Chaucer Press, Bungay, Suffolk, 1984; p. 161.
[51] Ibid., p. 162.
[52] "Yves Congar, for instance, holds that 'Catholicity is the taking of the many into an already existing oneness', whereas ecumenism is the introduction of unity into as existing diversity", Avery Dulles, S.J., The Catholicity of the Church; Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1985; p. 172.
"Even if one could point out some hitches, we would have to say that the Catholic Church has ceased to see and above all to commend union purely in terms of 'return' or conversion to itself. It has learnt something; it has become converted to ecumenism.... Just as in the fifteenth century the experience of internal schisms helped to make the Latin church more receptive to its sister in Constantinople, so now the experience of our differences makes us more open to the legitimacy of pluralisms in unity", Yves Congar, Diversity and Communion; The Chaucer Press, Bungay, Suffolk, 1984; pp. 161-162.
[53] "Before offering himself up as a spotless victim upon the altar of the cross, he prayed to his Father for those who believe: "that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; I pray that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me" (Jn 17:21)", UR 2.
[54] "The term laity is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in holy orders and those in the state of religious life specially approved by the Church", LG 30.
[55] 1Pet 2:5.
[56] LG 34; also see LG 10-11.
[57] LG 35; also see LG 12.
[58] 1Cor 3:23.
[59] LG 36; also see LG 13.
[60] Especially referring to rights accorded in The Chapter of the Rights of the Family and in Educational Guidance in Human Love.
[61] "It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church's clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church's moral teachings. It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere. I wish to encourage you in the love of Christ to address this situation courageously in your pastoral ministry, relying on the power of God's truth to attract assent and on the grace of the Holy Spirit which is given both to those who proclaim the message and to those to whom it is addressed"; taken from the address of Pope John Paul II to the bishops of the United States in Los Angeles on September 16, 1987.

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