Poll: How do you perceive the relationship of the Church to false religions that contain various elements of divinely revealed truth?
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The Nature of the Church
#41
(10-01-2010, 04:04 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The Second Vatican Council is saying that these religions themselves, not just some of the persons within them, are attached in some way, despite their certain denials of particular elements of Christ's teachings, to the Catholic Church through the truths they share in common (option 3), and also that these religions, despite their gradual separation from the Church tend toward unity with Her.

Is there precedent for this teaching in the history of the Church?

According To the Mystici Corporis God embraces all human being through His Church.

We can and should analyze everything in details, and for us the particular elements may be important. God sees things as a whole, as it is possible, that as God not necessarily rejects those who deny the actual leadership of the popes (a quite grave detail toward the salvation)  so He do not necessarily reject those who never understood the reason and value of the sacraments, as the Church is teaching.

At the end there will be unity of all good people.  Within this unity all baptized, all confirmed, all ordained will have their own group forming markbut they will be not fuller, than the non baptized, non confirmed, non ordained people.
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#42
(10-01-2010, 04:04 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: Of course, of course. But once again, the whole context of this thread is not about individuals within a separate faith; it is about the religions themselves that have separated themselves from the Church.

The Second Vatican Council is saying that these religions themselves, not just some of the persons within them, are attached in some way, despite their certain denials of particular elements of Christ's teachings, to the Catholic Church through the truths they share in common (option 3), and also that these religions, despite their gradual separation from the Church tend toward unity with Her.

Is there precedent for this teaching in the history of the Church?

Two more relevant magisterial texts are Unitatis Redintegratio and Dominus Iesus, although they  were released during and after the Council, respectively. Kindly put, they're both head-scratchers when it comes to reconciling what they say with what theologians said before the Council, namely with regard to their relationship with the Church. Unitatis Redintegratio says without any qualification that "all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body" (n. 3) while Dominus Iesus says that they "by Baptism... are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church" (n. 17.2).

Contrary to these statements, both Ott (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 311) and Tanquerey (Brevior Synopsis Theologiae Dogmaticae, vol. I, p. 160 )  note that public heretics do not belong to the Church, even if their heresy is only material. Tanquerey notes that baptized infants belong to the Church until they they become public heretics. Ott, however, does say that public heretics belong spiritually to the Church by their desire to enter into it. Parente says that heretics, apostates and schismatics are "the members separated and wrenched from the organism of the Church" (Dictionary of Dogmatic Theology, p. 184).

It's all very confusing... Finally, no, I haven't been able to find anything, at least among the works available to me in English, that would indicate any kind of relationship between the Church and non-Catholic ecclesial communities.

While we know that grace is granted outside the Church (Pope Clement XI, Unigenitus, n. 29: Denz. 1379), it's highly confusing to read that, "faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit" (UR, n. 3.2) are also granted outside the Church, because divine Faith and perfect charity are what make non-Catholics members in voto (cf. Denz.-Schon. 3872).

The majority of theologians who wrote in the decades before the Council and the Council itself appear to be at odds with one another when it comes to just what kind of faith Protestants have as well as what their membership status is with regard to the Church  (theologians: "they're not members"; Council: "they're members", without any qualification, however).

???
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#43
(10-01-2010, 07:15 PM)glgas Wrote:
(10-01-2010, 04:04 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: The Second Vatican Council is saying that these religions themselves, not just some of the persons within them, are attached in some way, despite their certain denials of particular elements of Christ's teachings, to the Catholic Church through the truths they share in common (option 3), and also that these religions, despite their gradual separation from the Church tend toward unity with Her.

Is there precedent for this teaching in the history of the Church?

According To the Mystici Corporis God embraces all human being through His Church.

We can and should analyze everything in details, and for us the particular elements may be important. God sees things as a whole, as it is possible, that as God not necessarily rejects those who deny the actual leadership of the popes (a quite grave detail toward the salvation)  so He do not necessarily reject those who never understood the reason and value of the sacraments, as the Church is teaching.

At the end there will be unity of all good people.  Within this unity all baptized, all confirmed, all ordained will have their own group forming markbut they will be not fuller, than the non baptized, non confirmed, non ordained people.

(10-01-2010, 04:04 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(10-01-2010, 03:56 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: I wrote up a longer post, but for some reason it disappeared when I hit submit. Anyway, in regards to "present and operative" see the article I posted earlier from Fr. Becker:

http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/subsistitin.HTM

Start at the subtitle: The Church of Christ is operative in Christian Communities (UUS, n. 11) and then read through to the end (including and especially the section subtitled: conclusion )

In regards to these things not being present in encyclicals previous encyclicals, the idea of the soul of the Church extending to non-Catholics was not new with the Council. Ideas such as these have been present in theology treatises, etc. for much longer beforehand. The doctrine of the possibility for non-Catholics in good faith has always existed along side the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Church since the time of the Fathers, but it wasn't until the last couple centuries that the relationship between these two doctrines has been attempted to be explained in a thorough way by theologians and ultimately the Magisterium. Often ideas and whatnot are present in the Church long before being explicitly expressed by the Magisterium. Those facts are coupled with the increasing interest in defining and explaining the nature of the Church--which was on the agenda at Vatican I. To me, it seems natural that this came up at the Second Vatican Council. This is especially so given the interest in reuniting Christians in the face of increasing secularism and communism: questions like "what already unites us?" seem natural as a starting point to that process.

Even Pius XII stated that they were united to him in some way:

"Nor can We pass over in silence the profound impression of heartfelt gratitude made on Us by the good wishes of those who, though not belonging to the visible body of the Catholic Church, have given noble and sincere expression to their appreciation of all that unites them to Us in love for the Person of Christ or in belief in God." (Summi Pontificatus 16)

Of course, of course. But once again, the whole context of this thread is not about individuals within a separate faith; it is about the religions themselves that have separated themselves from the Church.

The Second Vatican Council is saying that these religions themselves, not just some of the persons within them, are attached in some way, despite their certain denials of particular elements of Christ's teachings, to the Catholic Church through the truths they share in common (option 3), and also that these religions, despite their gradual separation from the Church tend toward unity with Her.

Is there precedent for this teaching in the history of the Church?
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#44
I'm not sure one can draw a distinction between the "religion" (ie the body of persons who adhere to it) and the individual persons who make it up. If you charge none of the persons who make up these communities with the sin of separation, then, to me, it seems perfectly logical to speak of them as a community in the same way one speaks of them as individuals--if all the individuals have a certain relationship with the Church and one can describe that relationship, then so would the collection of those individuals and that too could be described. The reason this isn't seen previously is because this presumption of good faith has not been applied as a general presumption previously--those in good faith were considered the exceptions to the general presumption. Also, it makes sense to me that the relationship between individuals and the Church should be flushed out first before extending those ideas to communities.

A Protestant's baptism, for example truly makes him at least at the moment of his Baptism a member of the Body since that's what Baptism does and they have a true Baptism (as St. Paul wrote, through Baptism are born again into one Body). It is also is settled that the actual guilt of heresy, schism, or apostasy cuts one off from the Body--although it appears it is not completely so in regards to actual heretics (see this thread). Honestly, I don't understand how having one's innocent errors known publicly would affect an ontological change making one a member to a non-member (I'm not saying it doesn't, but I just can't see how; I do see how it would affect things in a juridical purpose). The Church in the past, and now the Second Vatican Council seem to do both at the same time.

On the one hand, in Mystici Corporis we have the following: "22. Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed." This seems to exclude the idea that material heretics (public or not) are included, and yet, as we saw in the old thread "Are Protestants Christians?" which I linked to above, they still are rightly called Christian and are still children of the Church.

Similarly we have UR saying they are members, and yet, one of the primary reason the Council chose to speak in terms of communion was to be able in a more coherent way describe both membership and the various other relationships. As Cardinal Ratzinger explained at a conference on this topic in 2001, "If we use the image of a body to describe "belonging" we are limited only to the form of representation as "member". Either one is or one is not a member, there are no other possibilities." This is why Pope Pius XII gave a bright-line definition of a member, yet then described everyone else of good faith, baptized Christian or not, without distinction as having "a certain relationship" with the Church (the use of the term "soul of the Church" was an attempt to describe this relationship). According to Ratzinger, the theology describing the Church as communion was developed to make distinctions between the different potential relationships that were not possible with the member/non-member approach (he does not see these approaches as contradictory, but as complementary). For example, an unbaptized person is merely ordered to the Church, where as baptized persons have degrees of communion varying as to how much from the Church they have already received (this is where the idea of ecclesial elements comes into play). Intuitively this makes sense to me: an unbaptized person is ontologically different than a Baptized one and a merely baptized person is ontologically different that one who as been christmated/confirmed and who partakes of the Eucharist, etc and therefore their relationship to the Church is different.

This is definitely an area I too would like to see clarified more as my own grasp of these things beyond the basic principles is not the most firm (as you can probably tell!). I need to look into getting some English translations of the relatios for LG and UR (reading the relatios on Pastor Aeternus and Dignitatis Humanae really helped me to better understand aspects of papal infallibility and religious liberty, respectively). The deeper you dig, sometimes the more complex these things become--this is probably why there's still a need for theologians after 2000 years!

As an aside, I just wanted to thank the participants in this thread as it has been very edifying and educational for me so far--on the one hand I wish FE had more threads like this, but on the other hand I'd probably use up way too much time! :grandpa:





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#45
While we rightly do not charge individual Protestants with the sin of separation, the very communities that sprang from the Reformation should be charged be with the sin of separation, because they did indeed sever themselves from the Catholic Church. They denied numerous doctrines of the Faith, they denied (for the most part) the true worship that is given to God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and they denied the ecclesiastical government established by Christ (i.e. Roman primacy).

Trinitarian Baptism does make young children Catholics, but they leave the fold when they formally profess heresy (after reaching the age of reason). As I said, they are outside the Church even if their heresy is only material (see my references to both Ott and Tanquerey; Tanquerey said "all theologians teach" this). By publicly professing the doctrines of Luther or Calvin (by reciting their creeds and attending their services), a person severs himself from unity of communion (worship and government), a necessity to remain within the Catholic Church (cf. MCC, n. 22). Occult (private) heretics are not severed because they do not expressly deny unity of Faith and of communion (cf. Tanquerey, BSTD, vol. I, p. 160: "they preserve an external union with the body social through a profession of faith and through obedience to their legitimate Pastors." This is the "more common opinion.").

I'm not sure if anyone in this thread would deny that Protestants are Christians, so long as they believe in the Blessed Trinity and in the divinity of Christ (Pope Pius IX and XI explicitly referred to them as such). Even still, they remain non-Catholic Christians precisely because they deny truths which must be believed with divine and Catholic Faith, or conversely, they believe falsehoods that oppose the divine and Catholic Faith. They most certainly are not members in re (in point of fact, in actuality). Sadly, Unitatis Redintegratio fails to make this important decision (and its reference to the Council of Florence doesn't make any sense to me).

I think that the Church needs to be clear and distinct with the words that she chooses to describe the relationships of non-Catholics (whether baptized or not) with the Church. She needs to give theologically precise definitions to these terms so that people can understand them. This is necessary if she desires to avoid turning the Church's well-known dogma into a empty formula (cf. Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis, n. 27). How can Protestants have "faith, hope and charity" (UR, n. 3.2) and still have any real need to convert to the Catholic Faith? It seems as though they already have enough to be saved without the Church. And just to be clear, my argument here is whether or not they actually have divine Faith.

A very interesting quote can be found in an article by Msgr. Fenton:

Msgr. Fenton Wrote:Theological writers can reduce the teaching on the Church’s necessity for salvation to an empty or idol formula in this way when they take the declaration of Boniface VIII, for example, in his Unam sanctam, and state that the designation of the Catholic Church as the thing 'outside of which there is neither salvation nor the forgiveness of sins' implies that all the means for supernatural salvation belong to the Church, in the sense that the individual who employs these means is actually, whether he knows it or not, availing himself of something which belongs to the Church, and then declare that the teaching on the Church’s necessity for salvation involves nothing more than this. ... The same error is to be found wherever the explanation involves a notion of the Church or of salvation incompatible with the Church’s declarations on these subjects, and wherever the expressions 'within' and 'outside of' are explained in some manner that would exclude the ordinary meanings generally attached to these terms in speech or in writing. ... Unfortunately there have been and there still are individuals who look upon the Church as really necessary only for the complete fulness of those revealed truths and other supernatural aids which, according to their teaching, can be obtained outside the Church and independently of it less perfectly, although still to an extent sufficient to make salvation possible. Obviously such an interpretation of the Church’s necessity for salvation reduces this teaching to a mere empty formula.

Does the bolded quote above look familiar to you?  :laughing:  "Fullness of truth" gets thrown around a lot these days.

He covers the distinction between the 'body' and 'soul' of the Church and comments on other theologians who employed those terms. He also talks about the terms in re and in voto as being the standard termonology of then-modern theologians.

http://www.catholicapologetics.info/mode...eaning.htm

Like you, I do not profess to be an expert, but I really think the Church could be more precise and clear about what she teaches on the issues we're discussing. It seems to me as though we have too many terms to work with ('body', 'soul', 'member', 'in re', 'in voto', 'full communion', 'partial communion', etc.).

P.S. - I have learned much as well. I'd also enjoy more theological discussions, but I've never been much of a thread-starter (neither here nor elsewhere on the Web)...
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#46
(10-02-2010, 02:01 AM)SouthpawLink Wrote: While we rightly do not charge individual Protestants with the sin of separation, the very communities that sprang from the Reformation should be charged be with the sin of separation,

I am not sure about the fact itself, but I am absolute sure that the judge about it is God and the Church. God's judgment is done already, but we will know it only after the Last judgment, and the Church following the advise of venerable Pius XII embraces them.

In the heaven certainly there will be a group of confirmed persons, but this involves, that there will be group also of those, who are baptized but non confirmed (protestants, Eastern Orthodox) , and there will be a much larger group of the non baptized persons too.
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#47
(10-02-2010, 06:33 AM)glgas Wrote:
(10-02-2010, 02:01 AM)SouthpawLink Wrote: While we rightly do not charge individual Protestants with the sin of separation, the very communities that sprang from the Reformation should be charged be with the sin of separation,

I am not sure about the fact itself, but I am absolute sure that the judge about it is God and the Church. God's judgment is done already, but we will know it only after the Last judgment, and the Church following the advise of venerable Pius XII embraces them.

In the heaven certainly there will be a group of confirmed persons, but this involves, that there will be group also of those, who are baptized but non confirmed (protestants, Eastern Orthodox) , and there will be a much larger group of the non baptized persons too.

Objectively, it was sinful for the Reformers to leave the Holy Catholic Church. I can agree with you that God alone truly knows the dispositions of their hearts, although their sometimes less than charitable words for the Supreme Pontiff (among other things which they said) are what lead me to think that they were somewhat malicious in their actions. But again, God is their judge. You seem to have said that Pope Pius embraced the sects. You mean that he enjoined them to return to the fold, right? The purpose of ecumenism was clearly understood back then (it has the same purpose now, but it always seems to be placed somewhere at the bottom of the pontifical documents on ecumenism, and the word 'ecumenism' itself seems to be overused, so much so that it loses its meaning).

As for the ratio of baptized and non-baptized people who will be in Heaven, I would kindly say that that's mere speculation on your part. Just like you said in your post, God is the just Judge, and we will only know for sure after the general judgment.  ;)
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#48
(10-01-2010, 11:48 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: I'm not sure one can draw a distinction between the "religion" (ie the body of persons who adhere to it) and the individual persons who make it up. If you charge none of the persons who make up these communities with the sin of separation, then, to me, it seems perfectly logical to speak of them as a community in the same way one speaks of them as individuals--if all the individuals have a certain relationship with the Church and one can describe that relationship, then so would the collection of those individuals and that too could be described. The reason this isn't seen previously is because this presumption of good faith has not been applied as a general presumption previously--those in good faith were considered the exceptions to the general presumption. Also, it makes sense to me that the relationship between individuals and the Church should be flushed out first before extending those ideas to communities.

Well, I think a distinction needs to be drawn because a religion is a set of beliefs, which is different from those who hold those beliefs. But I don't know that the word "religion" is actually used. The word "churches", however, is used, and this implies that the document speaks not only of individual persons but also of the beliefs taught by their churches as well.

Interesting thoughts. I think I see what you're saying now: that the document is recognizing only the "elements of truth and sanctification" that exist outside of Her visible bond but not the religions (belief systems) in which they are contained. As I said, Lumen Gentium does say "churches and ecclesial communities," which implies, as I said above, more than just the persons of the community but the belief systems taught by the churches to which these persons belong. Churches do, in fact, represent a specific religion or system of beliefs.

These churches, seemingly, do not tend toward unity with the Church since they have separated (meaning they came from Her) themselves by a denial of Her teachings. I suppose the word "churches" is ambiguous in this sense: we do not know to whom or what the council is referring.

Quote:A Protestant's baptism, for example truly makes him at least at the moment of his Baptism a member of the Body since that's what Baptism does and they have a true Baptism (as St. Paul wrote, through Baptism are born again into one Body). It is also is settled that the actual guilt of heresy, schism, or apostasy cuts one off from the Body--although it appears it is not completely so in regards to actual heretics (see this thread). Honestly, I don't understand how having one's innocent errors known publicly would affect an ontological change making one a member to a non-member (I'm not saying it doesn't, but I just can't see how; I do see how it would affect things in a juridical purpose). The Church in the past, and now the Second Vatican Council seem to do both at the same time.

On the one hand, in Mystici Corporis we have the following: "22. Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed." This seems to exclude the idea that material heretics (public or not) are included, and yet, as we saw in the old thread "Are Protestants Christians?" which I linked to above, they still are rightly called Christian and are still children of the Church.

Similarly we have UR saying they are members, and yet, one of the primary reason the Council chose to speak in terms of communion was to be able in a more coherent way describe both membership and the various other relationships. As Cardinal Ratzinger explained at a conference on this topic in 2001, "If we use the image of a body to describe "belonging" we are limited only to the form of representation as "member". Either one is or one is not a member, there are no other possibilities." This is why Pope Pius XII gave a bright-line definition of a member, yet then described everyone else of good faith, baptized Christian or not, without distinction as having "a certain relationship" with the Church (the use of the term "soul of the Church" was an attempt to describe this relationship). According to Ratzinger, the theology describing the Church as communion was developed to make distinctions between the different potential relationships that were not possible with the member/non-member approach (he does not see these approaches as contradictory, but as complementary). For example, an unbaptized person is merely ordered to the Church, where as baptized persons have degrees of communion varying as to how much from the Church they have already received (this is where the idea of ecclesial elements comes into play). Intuitively this makes sense to me: an unbaptized person is ontologically different than a Baptized one and a merely baptized person is ontologically different that one who as been christmated/confirmed and who partakes of the Eucharist, etc and therefore their relationship to the Church is different.

This is just a guess (or rather, speculation) as to how these are reconciled:

Perhaps what is meant is that a baptized person "who [has] not been so unfortunate as to separate [himself] from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed," is considered to profess the faith out of a presumption of ignorance (an intellectual deficit) rather than assumption of pertinacious denial (an act of the will), as would be implied by a 'separation from the unity of the body'. In this way, it seems to consider baptism and profession together (i.e. once baptized, the soul professes the true faith), and the condition that would separate profession from baptism would be if one were "so unfortunate as to separate [one's self] from the unity of the Body, or [be] excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed." Again, they would be said to profess the faith insomuch as their visible disunity (lack of communion with the sacraments) from it would be the result of ignorance (an intellectual deficiency) rather than a pertinacious act of the will. Spiritually, however, they are innocent and so, as you said, are presumed to be bound to Her unless one of the severing conditions applies. In short, their will professes the true faith and their spirit reflects it, but their intellect does not.

If not this, then I do not know how these two teachings fit together.


Quote:This is definitely an area I too would like to see clarified more as my own grasp of these things beyond the basic principles is not the most firm (as you can probably tell!). I need to look into getting some English translations of the relatios for LG and UR (reading the relatios on Pastor Aeternus and Dignitatis Humanae really helped me to better understand aspects of papal infallibility and religious liberty, respectively). The deeper you dig, sometimes the more complex these things become--this is probably why there's still a need for theologians after 2000 years!

Absolutely. The Mystical Body of Christ is my favorite mystery to study because it involves us individually and actively at this very moment. We are, as members of the Church, active participants in this beautiful mystery.

Quote:As an aside, I just wanted to thank the participants in this thread as it has been very edifying and educational for me so far--on the one hand I wish FE had more threads like this, but on the other hand I'd probably use up way too much time! :grandpa:

I would like to thank them, also. I am grateful that there is room for discussion on this forum without hostility, aggression, or stubbornness. Were there more threads of this nature, I, like yourself, would undoubtedly spend much more time here than I already do. This would probably be a bad thing.  :)
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#49
The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.
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#50
(10-02-2010, 10:48 PM)SouthpawLink Wrote: You seem to have said that Pope Pius embraced the sects. You mean that he enjoined them to return to the fold, right? The purpose of ecumenism was clearly understood back then (it has the same purpose now, but it always seems to be placed somewhere at the bottom of the pontifical documents on ecumenism, and the word 'ecumenism' itself seems to be overused, so much so that it loses its meaning).

As for the ratio of baptized and non-baptized people who will be in Heaven, I would kindly say that that's mere speculation on your part. Just like you said in your post, God is the just Judge, and we will only know for sure after the general judgment.  ;)

Here is what Pius XII said

96. And first of all let us imitate the breadth of His love. For the Church, the Bride of Christ, is one; and yet so vast is the love of the divine Spouse that it embraces in His Bride the whole human race without exception. Our Savior shed His Blood precisely in order that He might reconcile men to God through the Cross, and might constrain them to unite in one body, however widely they may differ in nationality and race. True love of the Church, therefore, requires not only that we should be mutually solicitous one for another [184] as members and sharing in their suffering [185] but likewise that we should recognize in other men, although they are not yet joined to us in the body of the Church, our brothers in Christ according to the flesh, called, together with us, to the same eternal salvation.

http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/pius_x...ti_en.html
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