The Ongoing Rollback of Vatican II
Roman Catholicism is only true church, pope says
By Nicole Winfield
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
LORENZAGO DI CADORE, Italy — Pope Benedict XVI approved a document released Tuesday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and that only Roman Catholicism provides the 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 in a letter. It charged that the document took ecumenical dialogue back to the era before the Second Vatican Council.
The action was the second time in a week that Benedict has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church. On Saturday, Benedict revived the old Latin Mass — a move cheered by Catholic traditionalists but criticized by more liberal ones as a step backward from Vatican II.
Among the council's key developments were its ecumenical outreach and the development of the New Mass in the vernacular. Benedict, who attended Vatican II, has said that the council's decisions were not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Benedict headed before becoming pope, said it was issuing the new document because some interpretations of Vatican II's ecumenical intent had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.
The new document restates key sections of a 2000 text the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus." That statement riled Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
The commentary repeated church teaching that says the Catholic Church "has the fullness of the means of salvation." "Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," said the document.
The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles — and therefore their priestly ordinations are not valid, it said.
Despite the harsh tone, the document stressed that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.
The top Protestant cleric in Benedict's homeland, Germany, complained that the Vatican apparently did not consider that "mutual respect for the church status" was required for any ecumenical progress.
In a statement, Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber argued that "it would also be completely sufficient if it were to be said that the reforming churches are 'not churches in the sense required here' or that they are 'churches of another type' — but none of these bridges is used" in the Vatican document.
This 'fuck ecumenicalism' thing is just the latest atrocity. The counter-revolution continues.