Who’s Asking?

There’s a press release for a Q&A formatted document.

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.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Who’s Asking?

  1. I’m sorry this sort of statement by the CDF irritates some people, but this is a subject that requires clarification from time to time.

    The issue of the identity of the Church of Christ, and the issue of the Church in relation to salvation, is very muddled for a lot of people because of the “nuance” that must be acknowledged in any treatment of the issue.

    Christ founded the Church; the Church exists to provide salvation for humanity; being part of the Church is the ordinary means of salvation.

    Divisions exist among Christians, that wound the unity of the Church. Not all Christians have the fullness of what it means to be a Christian, including full participation in the Church; including the fact that their communities are not themselves, “Church.”

    That being part of the Church is the ordinary means of salvation does not exhaust the ways God saves. But it is cautionary: it DOES matter, it may indeed matter very much. We might do well to seek the known path, rather than to presume God will save us any which way (which he might).

    So: to assert the true identity of the Church is not to consign everyone else to hell. That is simply being tiresome. But it does mean that the less light, the less opportunities for grace, one has, the harder it must be, although impossible.

    And where to we find this Church of which I have been speaking? Certainly in the Catholic Church, and in the Orthodox Churches, although they too have been wounded…and I guess that’s about it. Beyond that, we find elements of salvation, but not the Church per se, except as we find members of the Church.

    This is always hard to write about both clearly and accurately. How’s that?

  2. Liam says:

    Fr Martin

    Actually, this statement does appear to indicate that the Orthodox Churches are not a place where the Church of Christ “subsists” – that negative corollary seems newly spoken, as it were. I’m not sure said churches particularly care about this, but it does seem to create some friction with the notion that the Eucharist is the source and summit of ecclesial life….

  3. radial says:

    It’s all about trying to bring the SSPX crowd back into the fold. After all that’s the most significant schism in the church in a long time. First Sacrosanctum Concilium promotes the Tridentine rite back to an almost full partnership with the Novus Ordo rite, then the CDF document (whose name is to long for me to type) reminds everybody that although ecumenism is nice, you’re still better off being Catholic. Those address the two major stumbling blocks to a reconciliation with SSPX (at least as I understand it).

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