Skip to comments.Cardinal says Protestants overreacted to Vatican document, seeks to reassure them
Posted on 07/11/2007 10:41:50 AM PDT by markomalley
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The cardinal in charge of relations with other Christians said Wednesday that Protestants overreacted to a Vatican document and sought to reassure them that Rome is committed to dialogue with other Christian denominations. Cardinal Walter Kasper said the document released Tuesday contained nothing new and that there was no «objective reason for indignation or motive to feel themselves harshly treated. The document, in which Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, said other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches and that Catholicism provided the only true path to salvation. The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. «It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,» said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries. «It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church,» the group said. Kasper made his comments to Vatican Radio in German, directed to an audience where Protestants were angered by the insinuation of defects in Christian denominations other than Catholicism. He said a careful reading would show that the Vatican does not deny that Protestant churches are churches, but only stated that the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church is one that is traceable through its bishops to Christ's original apostles. «Without doubt at the basis of dialogue is not what divides us but what unites us, and that is larger than what divides us,» Kasper said.
VATICAN CITY (AP) - The cardinal in charge of relations with other Christians said Wednesday that Protestants overreacted to a Vatican document and sought to reassure them that Rome is committed to dialogue with other Christian denominations.
Cardinal Walter Kasper said the document released Tuesday contained nothing new and that there was no «objective reason for indignation or motive to feel themselves harshly treated.
The document, in which Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, said other Christian communities were either defective or not true churches and that Catholicism provided the only true path to salvation.
The statement brought swift criticism from Protestant leaders. «It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,» said the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, a fellowship of 75 million Protestants in more than 100 countries.
«It makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the reformed family and other families of the church,» the group said.
Kasper made his comments to Vatican Radio in German, directed to an audience where Protestants were angered by the insinuation of defects in Christian denominations other than Catholicism.
He said a careful reading would show that the Vatican does not deny that Protestant churches are churches, but only stated that the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church is one that is traceable through its bishops to Christ's original apostles.
«Without doubt at the basis of dialogue is not what divides us but what unites us, and that is larger than what divides us,» Kasper said.
question 5 in the referenced document states:
Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.
You will note the footnotes, please.
Footnote 19 references paragraph 22.3 of the VCII decree, Unitatis Reintegratio, which states:
Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory. Therefore the teaching concerning the Lord's Supper, the other sacraments, worship, the ministry of the Church, must be the subject of the dialogue.
Footnote 20, references paragraph 17 of the CDF document, Dominus Iesus, which states:
17. Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.58 The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches.59 Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.60
On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery,61 are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.62 Baptism in fact tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ, through the integral profession of faith, the Eucharist, and full communion in the Church.63
“The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”.64 In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities”.65 “Therefore, these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. 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”.66
The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but “in that it hinders the complete fulfilment of her universality in history”.67
I simply do not understand all the hoopla and renting of garments with this document published today. I simply restates the doctrine of the Church that has been in existence since the time of the apostles. To repeat something that I've said a few other times today:
This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth".(76) This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.
- from Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, paragraph 8 (1964).I. THE CHURCH IS ONE
"The sacred mystery of the Church's unity" (UR 2)
813 The Church is one because of her source: "the highest exemplar and source of this mystery is the unity, in the Trinity of Persons, of one God, the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit."259 The Church is one because of her founder: for "the Word made flesh, the prince of peace, reconciled all men to God by the cross, . . . restoring the unity of all in one people and one body."260 The Church is one because of her "soul": "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."261 Unity is of the essence of the Church:
What an astonishing mystery! There is one Father of the universe, one Logos of the universe, and also one Holy Spirit, everywhere one and the same; there is also one virgin become mother, and I should like to call her "Church."262
814 From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God's gifts and the diversity of those who receive them. Within the unity of the People of God, a multiplicity of peoples and cultures is gathered together. Among the Church's members, there are different gifts, offices, conditions, and ways of life. "Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions."263 The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church's unity. Yet sin and the burden of its consequences constantly threaten the gift of unity. and so the Apostle has to exhort Christians to "maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."264
815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony."265 But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:
- profession of one faith received from the Apostles;
-common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;
- apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family.266
816 "The sole Church of Christ [is that] which our Savior, after his Resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care, commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it.... This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in (subsistit in) in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him."267
The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: "For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God."268
Wounds to unity
817 In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body - here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 - do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.271
818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers .... All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272
819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines 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."274 Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276
- From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1993)Inasmuch, I repeat, as this is the case, we believe also in The Holy Church, [intending thereby] assuredly the Catholic . For both heretics and schismatics style their congregations churches. But heretics, in holding false opinions regarding God, do injury to the faith itself; while schismatics, on the other hand, in wicked separations break off from brotherly charity, although they may believe just what we believe. Wherefore neither do the heretics belong to the Church catholic, which loves God; nor do the schismatics form a part of the same, inasmuch as it loves the neighbor, and consequently readily forgives the neighbor's sins, because it prays that forgiveness may be extended to itself by Him who has reconciled us to Himself, doing away with all past things, and calling us to a new life. And until we reach the perfection of this new life, we cannot be without sins. Nevertheless it is a matter of consequence of what sort those sins may be.- From St. Augustine, Faith and the Creed (393 AD)Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus, the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part,—and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus, until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled.
- From Tertullian, The Prescription Against Heretics, 30 (AD 200)See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.- From Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaens 8, (AD 110)I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.
- St. Paul, Letter to the Ephesians 4:3, circa AD 58-63.
In other words, the document that is stirring up all this controversy is not stating any new doctrine. It has been Catholic doctrine since the beginning. Sorry if you don't like it, but that's life.
Protestants are not at all perflumoxxed by the comments. The reaction is: yeah, so?
This should be interesting.
You haven't been watching the religion forum, have you? The reaction here has not been "yeah, so?"
That’s true, but it wouldn’t be anything fresh. Still, it might be a sermon topic here and there this weekend by way of review. Might even be mention of Paul.
Exactly, I have no interest in what the pope thinks. I answer to no earthly man.
Ah, but for those of us familiar with/under the anathemas of Trent, it sums up our reaction nicely.
Yes... (rightly or wrongly) it’s nothing new. I’m glad that you realize it. However, it apparently came as a shock to most Protestants and quite a few Catholics. I’m surprised this particular thread has remained calm.
This opening line of the article is quite telling....
Since it is widely held as "impossible" for the Vatican and/or its offices & instruments to "over-step" or "over-state" or otherwise err....
So then -- this reaction ("over- or not) must be in its entirety a Protestant/evangelical problem...
Amazing... simply amazing...
The Protestants ought to get as perturbed about abortion.
We do. We just don't tie it together with contraception or the death penalty, so that when Catholics go off on the latter subjects, we sometimes disengage from joint efforts re the former to avoid looking silly.
What Protestant Church has come out in a formal doctrinal manner against abortion?
It is good to be reminded periodically, and so persuasively, why I became first an ex-Catholic and only later was born again. Now, I am not a Catholic; instead, I am a Christ-ian. Praise God.
Well, good! I am so happy to be of service.
Oh, by the way, are you "really" an ex-Catholic or are you just pretending to be one?
In other words, have you made it formal?
I'd think that you would want to make sure that it was formalized...
Well, well, well, old Cardinal Kaspar is actually defending the Vatican instead of creating his own controversies. I had heard that Benedict had been keeping him on a short leash of late. One can gets the impression that the stars are returning to their regular orbits. Viva Papa Benedict.
I'd think that you would want to make sure that you mind your own business, thank you.
Yep. Catholics believe Protestant’s don’t church properly.
Protestants believe Catholics don’t church properly.
If this was new, there’d be no such thing as Protestant churches.
It ain’t new.
They reacted to the press, which published inflammatory and misleading headlines expecting and hoping to stimulate just such a reaction.
Speaking as an Evangelical, this offers the liberal World Council of Churches a unique and rare opportunity to show all of us what they are really made of. In a true ecumenical spirit, they need to rename themselves the World Council of Ecclesial Assemblies.