The True Church

Pope Benedict’s recent summary and clarification of Dominion Iesus,  a theological treatise about ecclesiology published by the Vatican in the year 2000 during the pontificate of John Paul II, is an interesting piece of work.  In his clarification document, Pope Benedict XVI asserted yesterday that the Roman Catholic Church is the “one church” that Christ “established here on Earth” and that other Christian denominations “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense…..” 

In the Baltimore Sun we find this quote: “It’s a clarification of the meaning of the word church,” said Lawrence S. Cunningham, who writes a column for the Catholic magazine Commonweal and is a theologian at the University of Notre Dame. “Behind this document is the worry that the language of ecumenism has become too flabby and too imprecise, and too Pollyannish about glossing over real doctrinal positions.”  Again from the International Herald Tribune,  ‘The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles. Thus, it said, the world’s Orthodox Christians make up a church because of shared history, if “separated” from the “proper” Catholic tradition; Protestants, who split from Catholicism during the Reformation, are considered only “Christian communities.”  The document repeated church teaching that the Roman Catholic Church alone is the mediator of salvation, though other beliefs can be its “instrument.”‘
Father Johnathan, writing for Fox News, says that this clarification was written for theologian and should not be taken as a press release.

As a person who believes strongly in the power of words and that clarity is important, I applaud the Pope’s desire to be clear, if not his interpretations and methods.   And this document does make the position of the Roman Catholic Church clear.  Perhaps it would have been better if it had been released only to theologians, because now it clearly has reached the world in “press release-ese”. 

The International Herald Tribune headline reads: “Pope restates ‘defects’ of other Christian faiths….”  The Baltimore Sun headline reads: “Pontiff  asserts Catholic primacy.”  The Chicago Sun-Tribune reads: “Catholicism is the only true church, Vatican declares.”  ABC and Reuters reads: “Vatican says other Christian churches ‘wounded.'”

As a person who has travelled an eclectic road with God, I don’t need the Pope to define for me what the True Church is.  AND if he sees it as part of his calling as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church to define it for them, then God bless him.   I feel sad that he, and judging by the press coverage, many in the rest of the world, seem to think that he might be the arbiter of this question for everyone else.  I believe that his words, regardless of the reasons for issuing them,  will not help bring unity and peace to this world.  It is my belief that going back to old language, old rituals, old thought patterns will not bring about evolved thinking, believing and doing.  

From the depths of my being, I affirm that together we will find new words, the new rituals, the new thought patterns that represent God, the Infinite Spirit, the Eternal One – and that these “new” ideas and concepts will show us how to recognize and apply the truths taught by all the great teachers in a unifying, inclusive, and nonviolent way.  

“The church of Christ covers every department of our existance and enters into every fiber of our being. 
We carry it with us day and night, seven days of the week.  We live in it as a fish lives in water; as we become conscious of its enveloping presence, we are transformed into a new creature.  Life becomes an ecstasy, and our cup is full to overflowing.”  from Talks on Truth, Charles Fillmore. 

One Response to “The True Church”

  1. Darlene S Says:

    Toni! I love your blog! I’ll be checking back to see what you write about next.

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