Pope News

Pope: Other denominations not true churches

Benedict issues statement asserting that Jesus established ‘only one church’

What do you think?  While I welcome everyone's opinions, I am especially interested in reactions from those who are Catholic.

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  1. You know, somehow I knew I wasn't going to like this new Pope. *sigh* Talk about elitist. I doubt Jesus would care if a denomination can trace it's history back to one of his disciples or not. He'd probably be happy if they were talking his words to heart and, oh, I don't know, following them.

  2. When I was going through RCIA, all denominations were recognized as valid paths to God. I used to show all of the old Catholics who claimed Catholicism was the only way to God cyclical proof that Pope John Paul II had said deemed it so. But then he reversed his decision just shortly before he died. I suspected Ratzinger was responsible for that reversal. I wrote a post back in Mar., 2006 entitled Thoughts on Jews and Christians. Here is what I wrote about the reversal:…John Paul II continued to show compassion for the Jews throughout his
    papacy. But just a few years ago, he unexpectedly reversed the decision
    of Vatican II that all religions are valid paths to God, claiming that
    the primacy of the papacy is necessary for salvation. He kind of just
    slid it in there. Supposedly the new Pope was his watch dog for
    conservativism. So did he plant this idea in the elderly Pope’s mind? I
    don’t know. It’s just a little disconcerting to me that such a
    conservative Pope is currently in power at this point in our history,
    where conservative people seem to be pulling back into exclusive,
    self-righteous groups within all religions just as the world is clearly
    emerging into a global society. I know many Catholics are concerned
    about this as well.

  3. Here is the actual document in question. I believe MSNBC may be blowing this out of proportion. It appears to me that the Church is clarifying some positions.This teaching is not new or earth-shattering. This teaching also appears in the Catechism (Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article Nine, Paragraph Three).

  4. Which encyclical are your referring to? Is it Ut Unum Sint?

  5. No. I think it was the Redemptoris Missio written in 1990. What I had was a Catholic Update that summarized the encyclical. I had notebooks upon notebooks of the Catholic Update. I tried to find them but we've made at least 6 moves since then so who knows where they are now. Vatican II was all about ecumenism. The Methodist Church has the same Liturgical Calendar as the Catholics do thanks to Vatican, II. Pope John Paul II was considered a move away from what Vatican II had established. AND – he was the very first Pope to apologize for the churches wrong doings toward the Jews. He declared a Jubilee. He clearly upheld the belief that all Christian faiths are valid paths to God and then suddenly recanted this stance in Ecclesia de Eucharistia when he said that all Christians not adhering to the Catholic Eucharist are on a "deadly path" or something like that. He was really old by this point and most people attributed the move, when it occurred, to Ratzinger. And now Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI. Yay!!

  6. Replying to myself because I answered quickly and should have said "YET – he was the first Pope to apologize…" Jubilee is a Jewish concept.

  7. The relations between the worldwide Anglican Communion and the Holy See have not been helped by the latest statements, with the more 'protestant' wing of Anglicanism jumping in with 'told you so' statements about Rome's 'thirst for power'.In the pew there are not major differences between the traditions, and mainstream Anglicanism regards itself as being in the Catholic Apostolic tradition.I suspect these statements were directed internally at a Catholic audience and were not intended to be provocative to other traditions. We all hope that the dialogue will continue, but we should not give ourselves false hopes, there are very difficult issues to be tackled.

  8. I agree with Ben that it's being blown out of proportional, probably because it is more sensational to rattle old stereotypes and misunderstandings of catholic dogma. In short, I think it's a linguistic hullabaloo – what the Church means when it says "Church" is different than what is meant vernacularly or among Protestants – it's comparing apples and oranges. For catholics, "church" is not an idea or a type of religious group – it's a historical and sacramental embodiment of Christ's action on earth. As I understand this story, Benedict is writing primarily to theologians asking them to stick with the 'apples' meaning of the word so as not to confuse people regarding the teaching of the Church.
    Here are a couple of sections from the statement:

    Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
    Response: Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community', that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. 'This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. … This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him'.
    In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen Gentium' 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.
    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. Nevertheless, the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the 'one' Church); and this 'one' Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
    Third Question: Why was the expression 'subsists in' adopted instead of the simple word 'is'?
    Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity.'
    'It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.'
    Every single person on earth is moved by grace, responds to grace, and works out their salvation with fear and trembling – regardless of whether they are "Roman Catholic" or a Methodist or a Hindu or an atheist. Nothing says that these groups aren't used "as instruments of salvation", just that they don't constitute sacramental Churches. Personally, coming from a culture in which my old roommates ordained their pets as ministers in the Universal Life Church, it's refreshing to see someone urging theologians to use the word a bit more selectively.
    On the other hand, if you look at the section of the Catechism that Ben linked to and read down past section 835, you'll see something paradoxically less exclusive about the catholic definition of who's part of the Church – it may seem arrogant, but it's not exclusive.

  9. Good subject. What do you think about it? Are you Catholic? Christian?

  10. I'm Catholic. At first I was worried…that article takes a few sensationalist liberties and definitely blew it out of proportion. But after reading the actual text, thanks to Ben, I'm not so worried anymore. I still sort of worry that the Catholic Church will move into a more conservative position under Benedict, but my immediate worries have calmed down a bit. 😉

  11. I got an email from the Catholic social lobby NETWORK today pimpin another group's petition for Catholics against the war – thought you might be interested.http://www.catholicsforanend.org/

  12. I was born and raised Catholic. Even when I chose to leave the Catholic Church in college, I still completely respected and looked up to Pope John Paul II. I didn't see him as a religious leader who I had to follow, persay, but I did respect him and value his opinion on many things. He was sort of like a Mother Teresa to me, I guess you could say. So I'm not one to dislike the pope just because they are a Catholic leader.Personally, I am not thrilled with Pope Benedict. I don't understand his need to encourage using the Latin Mass which people don't understand anymore, and I don't understand his need to say that other churches and religions are not valid and do not hold the key to salvation. I do understand that the document also has in it a broad definition of who is part of the Catholic church, but personally I don't believe that solves the problem.Many people do not agree with the Catholic church, and whether or not the Catholic church defines them as part of the church, they will not see themselves as part of the Catholic Church. They see themselves as whatever denomination they are. Or they see themselves as Christian, or as whatever religion they believe in. So when they hear that the pope has said that Catholicism is the only true church, they are not going to care that somewhere in this document the definition of catholic includes them. They are going to be offended, and personally, I can't blame them. I would be upset too if the leader of one Christian religion was telling me that no religion but his held the key to salvation so my religion wasn't the way to go at all. A statement like this is only going to cause more divides and more anger between Catholics and other Christians, and I don't personally see any reason to cause that when the Catholic Church has supposedly been working to bring Christian churches together. After this, other christian religions are going to have no faith that the pope just wants us all to work together. They are going to believe, with good reason, that he wants nothing more than to convert them.On top of all of this, I don't quite get how the pope has any right to tell people that they are catholic when they are not. By defining people who aren't catholic as catholic, he did just that. It is bad enough that the catholic church's official stance is that once you are baptised catholic, you are catholic unless excommunicated. But now they are defining people who have never been catholic, who have no desire to be catholic, and in some cases, people who outright despise the catholic church, as Catholic. How is that acceptable? How does he have a right to define for another person what religion they are? Isn't that a personal choice?I actually wrote a blog about this as well that is probably more clear that you can check out if you are interested. I only have three there, and I think it is the second one, so it should be easy to find.

  13. Was born and raised a Baptist. Guess that strikes me out as second-class. Married my Catholic wife in a Catholic church and agreed with the Catholic church to raise our kids as Catholics. They both go to a Catholic school and learn the "Catholic" way.
    I'm not fussed and couldn't care less. I don't need the pope to tell me who's in charge and how/where to worship. I know in my own heart what I believe. And that's good enough for me.
    Go well.

  14. In my book, there's no such thing as second class. 😉

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