Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Subsistit In

The CDF clarifies the meaning of "subsists" (Zenit).
The text explains the meaning of the term "subsists in," which is used to describe the nature of the Catholic Church in "Lumen Gentium," a document of Vatican II. The document states: "The Church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church."

The doctrinal congregation explains in the clarification: "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community,' that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.

"This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him."

The responses say that "it is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."

The document further explains why the expression "subsists in" was adopted, instead of simply the word "is."

"The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church," the document affirmed.

It continues: "Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel toward Catholic unity.'"
Also see this interview with Fr. DiNoia of the Congregation which tries to shed some light on the document. It's interesting that Fr. DiNoia talks about the response to Dominus Iesus. I'm not sure the response to this document will be any different. Here are some of the headlines I've seen already: "Pope: other Christians not true Churches" (USA Today), "Pope: Only Catholics have 'Means of Salvation'" (CBS4 Miami), "Vatican says other Christian churches 'wounded'" (Reuters), "Vatican reiterates hardline on primacy of Catholic Church" (AFP). Only one, at the headline level at least, was even remotely honest: "Vatican's honest position furthers dialogue - Metropolitan Kirill" (Interfax)

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