Thursday, July 12, 2007

‘That would be an ecumenical matter’

Does the Pope need to spread a bit more ecumenism on his toast for breakfast? I leave it for you to decide.

'The unity of the church has nothing to do with the mythological magic of the number one'

(Hans Küng, Die Kirche, 325)


At 7/13/2007 2:48 AM, Anonymous Edward T. Babinski said...

Our divisions should never be discussed except in the presence of those who have already come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is his only Son.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Theology is a comprehensive, rigorous, and systematic attempt to conceal the beam in the scriptures and traditions of one’s own denomination while minutely measuring the mote in the heritages of ones’ brothers.

Walter Kaufmann, The Faith of a Heretic

Every sect, as far as reason will help them, make use of it gladly; and where it fails them, they cry out, “It is a matter of faith, and above reason.”

John Locke

At 7/13/2007 3:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I salute the Pope for his honesty and his clarity. As a former Protestant, who has heard first hand the many things Protestants say about the Catholic Church and its "defects." I'm always a little bemused by the hand wringing and umbrage that usually arise after clarifications such as these. Let's not be hypocrites.

For anyone, who knows anything about Catholicism, this is nothing new. Are you really surprised that the Pope is Catholic? Are any of you willing to give up Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide in the interest of ecumenicity?
Are any of you willing to down play a core teaching of Protestantism, so as not to offend the Catholics? Not from my experience.

John McBryde

PS. The Mystical Body of Christ is One. The Church, imperfectly so.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.

At 7/13/2007 5:11 AM, Anonymous One of Freedom said...

Hey Anonymous, yes I gave up sola fide and sola scriptura. But it had little to do with my ecumenical conscious.

I read this in the paper yesterday. I find it frustrating that Ratzinger, uh I mean Pope Benedict keeps taking his church back to the stone age. Vatican II did affirm that the other churches were deficient when they did not have a legitimate episcopacy and/or Eucharist. I actually agree with Vat II on the Eucharist and have been working on restoring that. But I am still far from convinced that the hierarchical patriarchal structure (a later historical development) is the only legitimate option for the Church.

I love much of Catholicism, but there is a reason I am not a Catholic - and this is a big part of it. I'll have to go find the official release, but that can wait until after my holidays.

At 7/14/2007 2:06 PM, Anonymous Jeremy Priest said...

The bishops in council at Vatican II wrote: "The Church of Christ...subsists in the Catholic Church." What on earth does that mean? It has been a matter of debate for some time. During the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) there was much wrangling that surrounded this. Some wanted to say that "the Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church," thereby excluding all others. This was thought to be too exclusionary. It is obvious that God continues to work his salvation and grace outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church and the bishops at Vatican II wanted to affirm this. At the same time they wanted to affirm that in the Catholic Church one can still find the voice of the Church that Jesus Christ himself founded 2000 years ago. Christ's Church has not been destroyed by so many sad divisions over the centuries. She (the Church) continues to exist as a corporate personality and may be found in the "subsistent personality" of the Catholic Church.

It is important to emphasize that in no way is this meant to denigrate the Orthodox, Anglicans or different Protestants. It is a truth that, because of the sad divisions between Christians, must still be proclaimed. It is not meant to assert the Catholic Church over other Christian bodies, but rather in order to preserve the Gospel that Christ gave to the Church: the "oneness" of Christ's Church that Jesus himself prayed for (recorded in the Gospel of St. John in Jesus' 'high priestly prayer') has not been destroyed, but continues. Yet, it does not continue merely in some spiritual way that is only invisible. Rather, it continues in a visible way as well, even in the face of the many divisions separating Christians. Ultimately, Christ's prayer for oneness is not thwarted, but is effective in a sustained way.

Kung's quotation is a good one to remember. Uniformity is not what we're going after--I think that can be affirmed from his statement. If he's saying that there can be no visible oneness, then I think he's shortchanging the witness of the New Testament and the later tradition: There were people casting out demons in Jesus' name. Yet, we would still say that there was a visible oneness that began with Jesus himself and was continually striven after for more than 1000 years after this.

I've read Joseph Ratzinger for the past ten years or so. Based on that I think he's constantly worked toward unity in the ecumenical project, but he is firm in that no real unity exists if it is not based on truth. This moves him to remind those Catholics involved in the ecumenical project that the Catholic Church is not just another denominaiton: "The Church of Christ...subsists in the Catholic Church."

At 7/14/2007 3:23 PM, Anonymous ntWrong said...

What astonishes me is Benedict's blithe assumption that he can poke Protestants in the eye like this without impairing ecumenical discussions. "Yes, I'm prepared to discuss church unity with you. But before I begin, let's get one thing straight: your church isn't a church. Now, let's talk …."

At 7/16/2007 4:05 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Well this has been a facinating thread - I've learnt much. Thanks.


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