Grant Gallicho at dotCommonweal is asking who’s asking, and I wonder the same thing. Father Tim has his take on it. One of my correspondents asks, “Why oh, why do we do things like this? The things that raced through my mind as I read this article bordered on frightening…”
In a strange confluence, Cal Thomas declares one of his favorite politicians non-Christian.
Look on the bright side. Lutheranism might not be a Church, but it is still an ecclesial Community. They still have a capitalization, right?
The content of the CDF pamphlet (it doesn’t have the feel of a real document–nobody asks questions in those) isn’t or shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s straight-up Catholic theology. It’s also not going to cause the Protestant or Evangelical outfit down the road to re-etch their signs for Sunday. (Light of Christ Lutheran ecclesial Community?)
Protestant eC’s are still going to call themselves churches or even Churches. Catholic theologians might cry false advertising, but there’s not a whole lot the CDF can do about it. Life goes on, as they say.
One good question one might ask is this: How did Rome come to this?
A student of church history would reply that it wasn’t necessarily Rome’s status as a major city of the ancient world (though that was part of the picture), but the heroic witness of its bishops and believers that inspired respect across Christendom. Any ecclesial community that persevered in the faith despite that kind of persecution is bound to be getting it right, the ancients thought.
The disconnect for so many people today is between a history that has largely been forgotten (except for its more heinous moments) and the need for a heroic witness for today. Roman Christians of the early Church were unafraid of standing up for their faith. Looking at the twentieth century, the question of fear or heroism is disputed. Not many would question, for example, that Pope Pius XII was a good man. For that matter, there were good men and women all over the globe during those bitter years of world war. There were also undeniable heroes, humble lay people and priests and even non-Catholics recognized as saints long before a pope will be seen as such.
It may seem unfair, but theology recognizes the value of apostolic succession for the constitution of a Church.
It may seem unfair, but human beings continue to need and look for a substantive witness of deeds connected with words.
It may seem unfair, but God also chooses not to be bound by human structures to effect the plan of salvation in Christ.
Bottom line: keep asking the questions and you might end up in a CDF document someday.