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True Church?

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 Contents - Nov 2007AD2000 November 2007 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: East Timorese to attend World Youth Day - Michael Gilchrist
Democracy: Religious leaders must have freedom to speak - Cardinal George Pell
Australia's Missionaries of God's Love congregation continues to grow - Mary Pidcock
News: The Church Around The World
Liturgical Abuse: Trinitarian language lost in Brisbane Scriptures - Michael Apthorp
Ora et labora: How monastic hospitality can strengthen one's faith - Br Barry Coldrey CFC
Latin is still the universal language of Liturgy - Bishop Arthur Serratelli
World Youth Day: Wagga Wagga priest's 'fly-a-thon' project to aid East Timor
Architecture: How a Sydney parish church was restored - John O'Brien
Poetry: A poem on the priesthood - Among the Apostles - John O'Neill
Letters: Bishop Robinson - Eric Carman
Letters: Teachings rejected by Bishop Robinson - Kevin McManus
Letters: Modern saints and traditional liturgy - Seamus Mahady
Letters: Petition
Letters: True Church? - John Frey
Letters: Clerical attire - Fr G.H. Duggan
Letters: Infallibility - Jerome Gonzalez
Prayer: John Paul II and the Rosary - Fr. M. Durham
Books: Catholicism and Fundamentalism by Karl Keating: essential reading in apologetics - Valerie Renkema (reviewer)
Books: ONE MAN, ONE WOMAN by Dale O'Leary - Bill Muehlenberg (reviewer)
Internet 'Singing Catechism': catechesis for the 21st century - Fr James Tierney
Music: Cherished Hymns of the Forefathers - 2DVD and CD set - Peter Donald (reviewer)
Books: Books available from AD Books
Reflection: Benedict XVI on Sunday Mass: 'not a command, but an inner necessity' - Pope Benedict XVI

Reading the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (8), one could sympathise with Professor Hans Küng who was quoted by Dr Mobbs as saying that 'at least since Vatican II it is no longer admissible for a single confession (church) to pose as the one and only saving and true Church of Jesus Christ.'

Instead of stating that the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church - as Pope Pius XII did in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (13) - Lumen Gentium says that 'the one Church of Christ 'subsists in' the Catholic Church, governed by the successors of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.

'Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity'.

Thus the Church of Christ seems to transcend the Catholic Church, and as the Declaration Dominus Jesus (16) states, while it exists fully in the Catholic Church, it is present and operative also in churches which lack full communion with the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Ratzinger warned that 'the Christian faithful are not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection of churches and ecclesial communities' and he said that the Christian faithful are required to profess that there is an historical continuity - rooted in the apostolic succession - between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church (Dominus Jesus, 17).

But we are not clearly told, that by this very historical continuity, the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church.

The difficulty lies in the expression 'subsists in'. Cardinal Ratzinger explains that 'with this expression the Second Vatican Council sought to harmonise two doctrinal statements: on the one hand that the Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand, that outside Her structure many elements can be found of Sanctification and Truth, that is in those churches and ecclesial communities which are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church' (Dominus Jesus, 16).

Yes, I believe Christ has established one Church, and that Church is the Catholic Church, but for me, this truth has not been unambiguously stated by the Second Vatican Council.

Keiraville, NSW

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 20 No 10 (November 2007), p. 14

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