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An ecclesiological Q&A from the CDF.

Today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released something called "Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church." I'm not sure who was asking, but here's the link to the Vatican Information Service story about the document, which contains the full text. 

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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It reads as if the good Cdl. Levada, fearful for his job with the ever-increasing power of the Salesians, has decided to become "more Catholic than the Pope" and improve his street cred with the power structure, i.e., Bertone & Amato.

Quick question: wil there be a response to the 100 or so German theologians who want CDF "reorganized" more justly?

Don't answers always provoke more questions?Is this the first time a magisterial document claims "the word 'subsists' can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone"?Shouldn't the answer to Question 5 have corrected the premise? Church is used with reagard "II. Separated Churches and Ecclesial Communities in the West ", though it is never applied to any particular community that I know of. (except the Church of England?)The first sentence of the Decree on Ecumenism, chapter 3 section II reads:"19. In the great upheaval which began in the West toward the end of the Middle Ages, and in later times too, Churches and ecclesial Communities came to be separated from the Apostolic See of Rome. "

This is an appropriate document for those who feel that having the 'right" doctrine is essential to discipleship. Oh yes the RCC has all the sacraments which the faithful make sure they receive whether they believe or not. Of course the full deposit of faith.... All this brings to mind the line from Peanuts:"If we mean so well how come we can't win any ball games."

To most people when doctrine develops, when there is a deeper understanding of revelation, there is also change, not in the underlying reality but in one's human understanding of it. Could it be that saying that nothing has changed is meant to reassure those who departed because they thought some thing had changed. After all, if nothing changed, their leaving may have been based a misunderstanding. So they could return with a good conscience.

Now everybody sing along with me:"My church is better than your church, My church is better than yours,Only my church is the one true church, My church is better than yours."Let's all get together for cookies and lemonade :) !!!

So far as I can see, there's nothing new in this document. But it goes no way towards asking what the Catholic Church a it functions today may learn from the Christian experiences of the adherents of other traditions. For example, would a fair observer not suggest that the outcome of the discussions between C atholics and Lutherans on justification came to the conclusion that, notwithstanding much Catholic sniping at Lutheran "justification by faith" talk, there was indeed an agreement about justification that many Catholics, including some in the hierarchy, failed to recognize. Is it too much to say that we've learned something from the Lutherans? headline on CNN reads "Vatican stresses inferiority of Protestants." yikes. This won't be too good for people working with other denominations (or "sects," as Rome likes to refer to them). I like Mr. Reid's comment in the thread about the "Islamic Christian": It's not about only about what we believe, it's about how we present our belief. Thank goodness for Commonweal.

Joan Chittister writes that the Motu is not just about the TM

"Joan Chittister writes that the Motu is not just about the TM"Indeed she has. And of course it's not. I appreciate the strength of her passion and her concerns, but personally I find her somewhat paranoid, self-absorbed, and hyperbolic musings unhelpful in attempting to calmly, rationally assess what's really going on. Judging from some of the comments her article garners, moonbats of both species cluster like moths about it. Fascinating."From where she stands", indeed.

In government beauracracy, there's an old saying, 'In every operation there's an above the line and below the line. Above the line is the party line rules and rtegs; below the line is how folks really operate."I suspect the same applies here in the Churtch beauracracy and in actual relationsshiops.

Unfortunately what some call paranoid is sterling awareness of what is going on in the church. John Chittister is an amazing person and a light shining in darkness. Hopefully, the hierarchy will take heed. That may be, however, asking too much.

Based on my reading of her article, I must second Bill's assessment. I think Sr. Joan is "right on" target!

In Vatican II we had the church described as the People of God. Now we have the church as the tenament of God where in the penthouse God fully subsists. That needless to say is the Roman Catholic Church. Then, we have the next level down, the Greek Orthordox where God partially subsists because they don't get along with the head of the penthouse and we also have the Filioque problem which I'm sure has God all shook up, and remember they are the wounded. Next we might have Lutherans where he partially subsists a little less. Here was a gentleman who just wanted to end some of the abuses of selling indulgences and sacraments, but things got out of hand and the penthouse told him " It's our way or the highway", and we know what happened there. We also have the problem consubstantiation or transubstantiation. I'm sure God's worried about that too. Now we can go down the slippery slope of all the other protestant denomination and eastern religions and figure out how God more or less sus=bsists in these apartments I always wonder how with our finite minds ,no matter how intelligent , we take an Infinite God and box him up so well even when He himself told us that His ways are as different from our ways as the heavens are above the earth. We may be better off if we concentrated more on the teaching of Jesus and somewhat less hierarchical institution. I better stop now because I've spoken too long, and I'm just getting angry..

Cool down, Andrew, with some of my cookies and lemonade.Thanks for your observation. Quite apt!

Bill and Joseph,Tempted though I am to give the good Sister's rant the thorough fisking it demands, that has already been ably done elsewhere on the blogosphere and I'll limit myself to a few observations on the more glaring examples."God who is also, they tell us, "pure spirit" can never, ever, be seen as 'mother.' " Note the absurd use of the ominous 'they' (whom she never specifically identifies, convenient as otherwise she'd have to provide an actual text that says this). In fact, it is only Sr. Joan who is saying this. Her obsession with the idea that including feminine pronouns is some sort of 'mandatory marker' that the Church cares about women is beyond silly. Ideas can be understood with out having to be spelled out at the expense of using the very images Christ Himself used exclusively, or torturing the English syntax of the current Mass even further."The theological implications of changing from "all" to "many" boggles the mind. Who is it that Jesus did not come to save?" I have no doubt her mind is boggled. Jesus', quite clearly, was not. He is I think quite clear that He came to offer salvation to all, and all can be saved, but equally clearly not all will be saved (through their own choice)."Does such a statement imply again that "only Catholics go to heaven?" Umm, no."But it does not, at the same time, make reconciliation easier with women, who are now pointedly left out of the Eucharistic celebration entirely...even in its pronouns." Again with the pronouns! It is hard to see how receiving the Eucharist at Mass constitutes 'being left out entirely' of the celebration."the new document requires only that the rite be provided at the request of the laity." Supremely ironic, isn't it? When 'the request of the laity' coincides with the good Sister's beliefs, the Church must embrace it. But when it doesn't, clearly the poor plebes of the laity must be educated to understand how wrong they are. On the other hand. when the Church resists what the laity wants, it's bad, when it accedes to it, it's bad too. She doesn't give that patriarchical cabal of crusty old men a break, coming or going."(in the Latin Rite) The celebrant becomes the focal point of the process..." Only to a very shallow and self-absorbed interpretation. Actually, God is the focal point, as He always is. I'd submit perhaps she herself is 'focusing' on the wrong things while she's at Mass."They are "not worthy," to receive the host, or as the liturgy says now, even to have Jesus "come under my roof."' Since they in fact do receive the host, I am completely at a loss what she means here."In the Latin mass, the sense of mystery -- of mystique -- the incantation of "heavenly" rather than "vulgar" language in both prayer and music, underscores a theology of transcendence. It lifts a person out of the humdrum, the dusty, the noisy, the crowded chaos of normal life to some other world. It reminds us of the world to come -- beautiful, mystifying, hierarchical, perfumed -- and makes this one distant. It takes us beyond the present, enables us, if only for a while, to "slip the surly bonds of earth" for a world more mystical than mundane." Ah, I quote this part in full because I think this is the one place we may agree that she is 'right on'. It's also what's missing and what so many in (and out of) the Church are looking for.According to her "The Vatican II liturgy carries within it a theology of transformation" but "does seek to transform". Such incoherence is reflective of the 'argument' as a whole.Her implication that 'Jesus models and we dream' of, among other things, a 'more earthbound' Church is something I'd also argue is pretty suspect. "Now it's up to the laity to decide which church they really want -- and why." Indeed it is. Why do I sense she thinks there's only one 'right' decision? Overall, I find her a good example of the sort of 'I-focused' Christianity America so ably produces -- Mass isn't relevant to me unless I 'get to do something', the Church doesn't care about me / oppresses me / doesn't respect me unless I get to hear my name / pronoun in the text or get to do all the things the priest does.She doesn't need to 'sing a new church into being', it already exists in any of a variety of megachurches across the land, and she's welcome to go there. Though alas, I hear rumors lately that they've been found 'defective'. I'd go out on a limb and guess she disagrees with that assessment, though I'm not sure she could articulately illustrate why.RM

Ach, mea culpa, I see I misspoke on the Sr.'s point of the 'transformative nature' of the "VII Liturgy". That point I humbly withdraw -- she is in fact consistant in her position that the "VII Liturgy" is transformative, vice transcendant. Thus, the incoherence of the overall 'argument' is better illustrated by the other points :)(as an administrative note, is there even an edit capability on this blog for posters to correct mistakes in their posts?)RM

Robert M:May I recommend another blogsite, Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, as one that has consistently published viewpoints compatible with yours? Please don't misunderstand, I think it's important for various blogs, liberal or conservative, to be open to contrarian views.I would "take you on," but I am currently engaged, so to speak, with the issue of our pope's decision to try to revive more widespread interest in the Tridentine Mass. (I'm against it.)Welcome (if belatedly) to our dotCom community!

Joseph,Thank you for your welcome. I am aware of those other blogs, though we have 'engaged' on only a few issues so I think you may be forming an over-hasty assessment of what constitutes a viewpoint 'compatible' with mine. I prefer dialogues rather than echo chambers, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to this one (though it has its 'echo' moments -- I agree in whole or part with many of the viewpoints expressed on this sight from time to time, as well as disagreeing.I hope you do not misunderstand me, I have no intent to troll or seek people to 'take me on' in anything other than honest debate. Like you I have strong feelings about many of the issues facing the Church today, and while it seems quite clear we are at very different positions on some of them, I learn a lot more from engaging other viewpoints than from simply joining the amen chorus on websites predisposed to my own view. Hence my being here.Again thanks for the welcome. I understand your well-articulated views on what you perceive to be the 'dangers' of encouraging interest in the TM -- though I do not find it persuasive I certainly find it enlightening.RM

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