Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Summer Assignment: Restudy the Doctrine of the Church

~by Sandro Magister

Benedict XVI departed yesterday for his vacation in the Alps, leaving an assignment for the congregation for the doctrine of the faith: the task of refreshing for the bishops, faithful, and above all the theologians, some of the controversial points of the doctrine on the Church, in order to avert “errors and ambiguities.”

The congregation carried out this assignment with the document published today, which is presented below in its entirety.

The document is formulated in five questions and answers. The first three restate that the Catholic Church “governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him” is the only one that is fully identified with the Church instituted on earth by Jesus Christ.

The fourth and fifth answers explain to what extent the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Protestant “ecclesial communities” lack – the latter more so than the former – the “essential constitutive elements” of the Church intended by Christ.

Over the past few decades, “rivers of ink have flowed” over these topics touched upon by Vatican Council II. The congregation for the doctrine of the faith notes this in an article of commentary released together with today’s document.

But it is unlikely that the document will end the debate within and outside of the Church. It’s enough to remember the polemics that followed a previous document released by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith with the same intention of clarifying an essential point of Church teaching, the declaration “Dominus Iesus” in 2000.

The controversy will impact, above all, the ecumenical dialogue among Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants. The congregation for the doctrine of the faith is aware of this, and says so in writing.

But it also writes – fully reflecting the thought of Benedict XVI – that “if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith.”

Click here and scroll down for the Commentary

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