London Times: If it isn’t Roman Catholic then it’s not a proper Church, Pope tells Christians

The document said that the Second Vatican Council’s opening to other faiths ”“ including “ecclesial communities originating with the Reformation” ”“ had recognised there were “many elements of sanctification and truth” in other Christian denominations, but had also emphasised that only Catholicism was fully Christ’s Church.

The document said that other Christian faiths “lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church”.

The disappointment of the Anglicans was evident in the response of Canon Gregory Cameron, Dr Williams’s former chaplain in Wales and a leading canonical lawyer and scholar who is now ecumenical officer of the Anglican Communion.

Canon Cameron said: “In the commentary of this document we are told that ”˜Catholic ecumenism’ appears ”˜somewhat paradoxical’. It is paradoxical for leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to indicate to its ecumenical partners that it no longer expects all other Christians merely to return to the true (Roman Catholic) Church, but then for Rome to say that it alone has ”˜full identity’ with the Church of Christ, and that all others of us are lacking.”

He said Anglican bishops had indicated in 1997 that such a position constituted “a major ecumenical obstacle”.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

63 comments on “London Times: If it isn’t Roman Catholic then it’s not a proper Church, Pope tells Christians

  1. RalphM says:

    Sort of reminds me of “we’re in the club and you’re not” from my childhood.
    There are reasons why the reformers broke away from the Roman Church, and they don’t deal only with the sale of indulgences…

  2. rwkachur says:

    Funny, this really doesn’t strike me as “news”. I have lots of Catholic friends encouraging me “swim the Tiber”. I respect their opinions, respect the Catholic Church but this is the attitude I’ve seen my whole life, especially growing up near Notre Dame!

  3. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    cos that is going to be God’s prime concern isn’t it?
    Were you Roman?…oh that’s ok then!!

    Or perhapsl he say, did you love neighbour as yourself, did you seek to lead a holy life, did you respect the sacraments and word of God, did you pray and invite me into your whole life?

    I leave it for others to decide…having said that I do concede that they have a historically significant and very powerful claim…and I kinda want to join them someday

  4. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Not helpful.

  5. Karen B. says:

    I don’t know. Maybe I’m not “getting” it? This comes as absolutely no surprise to me. The CDF statement seems merely to be a restatement of what I’d always understood the Roman Catholic Church to believe. Two Orthodox (as in Eastern Orthodox) bloggers I read seem to have this “no surprise here” opinion too:

    [url=]Fr. Stephen Freeman writes:[/url]
    [blockquote]There is no news in this, except for the fact that the Vatican is now saying openly what the Orthodox thought they were always saying. Honest dialog where all the cards are turned face up on the table is appropriate dialog. Thus, I am pleased.[/blockquote]

    [url=]Crunchy Con, Rod Dreher writes:[/url]
    [blockquote]I’ve now found a copy of the actual document from Rome, which — surprise! — presents a more complex and nuanced picture than the press accounts did. This is really, really not a big deal. Read the document yourself. The pope is not saying that Protestants aren’t Christians, or that people can’t be saved unless they’re Catholic. What he is saying is that the fullness of truth exists only in the Catholic Church — that the rest of us have only part of the whole truth. I disagree, of course, but the Pope is right to say that. Secondly, he explains how for Catholics, the word “church” has a precise theological meaning. You can’t have a church, in a historical and theological sense, without a valid Eucharist, and you can’t have a valid Eucharist without a valid sacramental priesthood … which you can’t have without unbroken apostolic succession.[/blockquote]

    And it would seem to me that the Orthodox certainly have more “claim,” on some level if I can put it in such a sense, to being part of the “true Church,” than those affiliated with Protestant denominations, and thus more right to take offense. Is the press blowing this up into a bigger story than it really is?

  6. Words Matter says:

    Excuse me for commenting before reading the new document, but the Orthodox are included as being truly Churches, in the same ecclesial sense as the Catholic Church.

    For the rest of it, expect the same comments, more or less, as followed on the release of [i]Dominus Iesus[/i].

  7. Conchúr says:

    Typically the headline gets it wrong. The document states the “Catholic Church” not Roman Catholic Church, ie. it refers to all Churches in communion with Rome eg Maronite, Latin, Ukrainian Greek Catholic, Coptic Catholic etc, etc.

  8. Ed the Roman says:

    “And it would seem to me that the Orthodox certainly have more “claim,” on some level if I can put it in such a sense, to being part of the “true Church,” than those affiliated with Protestant denominations, and thus more right to take offense. Is the press blowing this up into a bigger story than it really is?”

    The answers are yes, and yes.

    My question for Fr. Freeman is, what did he think the Holy See was saying before that is substantially different than this?

  9. NancyNH says:

    I haven’t read the whole thing. But my initial response is profound disappointment. Why would the Catholic Church reach out to the Plano conference if they don’t think the folks at the Plano Conference were Christians?

    Yesterday I was talking to an Anglican minister about the Alpha Course. He doesn’t seem to understand why we don’t get into “sacramentalism” at Alpha.

    I intend to go to heaven without joining the Roman Catholic church or any other orthodox church, thanks. Jesus told me so.

  10. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Karen B

    Question for me is why has this been released now. Track record and nuances aside.

  11. Brad Page says:

    There should be no surprize here. While the Pope isn’t saying Protestants aren’t Christians (as some seem to think), and while all that the Pope said is not exactly what the press will highlight/report, I appreciate the honesty of statements like this:

    “The document said that other Christian faiths ‘lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church'”.

    Of course that is the Catholic Church’s position! Duh. And it makes perfect [and logical] sense to say it honestly and clearly.

    Now, before folks get too worked up and tear into the Catholic Church over it’s…uh…theological and logical consistency on such matters….I’d suggest they reflect on the areas of disagreement within Anglicanism and The Episcopal Church where one might say (with as much perceived arrogance (?) as the Catholic Church) that this or that position within their own church lacks some “essential elements”. No matter what side you are on, as you are considering (and arguing about) what constitutes “Church” within TEC and the larger Anglican Tradition each perspective senses that there are “essential elements” missing from their opposite view. (Doubt it? Just ask Peter Akinola or Katherine Jefferts Schori…or most of the posters on this blog).

    So, think about that before you trash Rome over this one.

    ‘Nuff said.

  12. NancyNH says:

    John 14:6. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me. (Not by the Roman Catholic Church!!!!!)

  13. Jackson says:

    This is not news coming from the RCC, but it seems laughable to claim that ones ecclesiastical form of organization is directly related to ones salvation. And if its not directly related, then why does Rome seem to find it necessary to push this issue? Seems a bit distracting from the more important work in front of the RCC and other churches.

  14. APB says:


    Whether as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, or Benedict 16, he was not saying the folks at Plano were not Christians. They were not Catholics. They were recognized as Christians, and involved in standing against the “deformations” which have occurred in TEC as well as Rome.


  15. Vincent Lerins says:

    [blockquote]The document said that the Second Vatican Council’s opening to other faiths – including “ecclesial communities originating with the Reformation” – had recognised there were “many elements of sanctification and truth” in other Christian denominations, but had also emphasised that only Catholicism was fully Christ’s Church.[/blockquote]


    So….if one were to compare the doctrines and practices of the RCC to the doctrines and practices of the apostolic church, we would have the same church? It’s because of the fact that the RCC has not been a faithful steward of the faith once delivered that we have all of these groups with “many elements of sanctification and truth.”

    Thankfully, believers are added to the church Jesus Christ is building when they believe, repent and are baptized.

  16. William Tighe says:

    “… but it seems laughable to claim that ones ecclesiastical form of organization is directly related to ones salvation.”

    It may indeed seem “laughable” but only, I fear, to those whose “ignorance quotient” is embarassingly high. For anyone who has any knowledge of Early Christianity will realize (whether they regard it as erroneous or not) that the Fathers all believed that salvation came to individual Christians through the Church, that Christ founded one Church and that that One Church was both visible and indivisible, such that if a schism occurred only one of the bodies resulting from it would be “the Church” and the others would be schismatic bodies. That is why today each and every pre-Reformation church that survives to this day — the Catholic church, the Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church (i.e., those bodies that rejected the Council of Chalcedon [451]) — regards itself as “the One True Church” while not denying the possibility of salvation to those Christians who are not within its visible boundaries. (There is the rather complicated position of the “Holy Catholic Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East” [that body that rejects all but the first two councils and was once termed “Nestorian”], which may or may not hold that same view today, but which certainly held it down to the early 1900s.) In fact, within this paradigm embraced by all these churches, the Catholic Church is the most forthcoming and even “generous” in recognizing that certain “aspects of the Church” even valid sacraments, can exist outside its visible boundaries.

    The view of these churches is not the Protestant or Anglican one, but it is important to recognize that before ca. 1519 nobody, and certainly no church in Christendom, ever professed anything like the later Protestant or Anglican view on this question.

  17. Tikvah says:

    NancyNH wrote: “John 14:6. I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through me. (Not by the Roman Catholic Church!!!!!) ”

    Spot on Nancy. And not through the BVM, either! It’s Mary as the co-redemptrix that so offends me. I’ve been in RC churches that have no physical reference to Jesus at all, none, only statues and icons of Mary. So, tell me about the whole truth?

  18. The_Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I like Pope Benedict, personally, though I don’t agree with him on some things. I guess that is why I never swam the Tiber. Granted, I am fairly certain in the Pope called a Vatican III, that council would largely wipe away most of what was done in Vatican II. That having been said, I still don’t see anything shocking in this new statement.

    I went to a Catholic High School in the 90’s. I never had a bad experience with the RCC; in fact, I toyed with the idea of converting when I was in college. But I recall numerous times in the Religion classes that statements were made by the priest about the Catholic Church being the true church. The Protestants always squirmed at this point. I think the Pope is officially stated what is taught in a lot of trenches anyway.

  19. AnglicanFirst says:

    As an Anglican, I believe that I am an equal member of the Church Catholic along with Roman Catholics and the Orthodox.

    The remark from the Vatican stating “…that only Catholicism was fully Christ’s Church” presumes, that among those who belong to the Church Catholic, that only the Roman Church is “fully Christ’s Church” which means that Anglicans and the Orthodox Churches are not “fully Christ’s Church.”

    I am well disposed towards the Roman Church but am not a Roman Catholic and probably never will be one. But I am a member of the Church Catholic and I see myself and other orthodox (small ‘o’) Anglicans as being equals with the Romans and the Orthodox in that church.

    If Rome can’t see it that way, then that’s the Vatican’s problem, not mine.

    When I look at this Roman presumption of being the only church that is “fully Christ’s Church,” two thoughts come to mind.

    The first thought is that the Vatican has made an idol of the Roman Church and in a sense using worship of that idol to support a claim of exclusivity.

    The second is that the the papal history of the Roman Church is anything but clear. The path of supposedly uninterrupted passing of papal authority from pope to pope is much much more clouded than the Anglican Church’s clear claim to being in direct apostolic succession.

    This claim by the Vatican seems almost defensive. Why make the claim if the evidence speaks for itself. This defensiveness is not new, it goes back to the early days of the See of Rome claiming supremacy in the Christian Church.

  20. DavidBennett says:

    The pope and the Catholic Church are NOT suggesting that Protestants aren’t Christians. This statement from the pope is not news in the least bit, and simply restates basic Catholic teaching on other denominations, which can be found in plenty of documents including the Catechism and “Dominus Iesus” released in 2000. The problem is that the secular media doesn’t know enough about religion in general, let alone Catholicism, to accurately portray the nuances of what the Catholic Church teaches, so the press releases and sound bytes tend to scare those unfamiliar with Catholic Teaching. This is unfortunate, because it leads some folks to conclude that the Catholic Church teaches Protestants can’t go to heaven or that Protestants aren’t Christians, which is not true.

  21. Brad Page says:

    To NancyNH, Tikvah, et al: Oh dear. I see the trashing of the Catholic Church continues a pace. Oh well, have fun guys.

    As for #13 (Jackson) and his/her comment: “This is not news coming from the RCC, but it seems laughable to claim that ones ecclesiastical form of organization is directly related to ones salvation”.

    Hmmm. Maybe that Episcopal priest who is Christian and Muslim is onto something after all?

  22. FrKimel says:

    I would like to second Dr Tighe’s important point above (#16). If we allow the early Church to be our guide, then we must reject the simplistic formulation that the visible community of the Church is irrelevant to salvation. All the Church Fathers would have agreed with the following assertion: Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the Church there is no salvation”). However one wants to parse and nuance this assertion, it directly contradicts the popular view that salvation is a one-on-one relationship to Jesus. I would also remind the brethren that older Anglicanism also recognized the mediation of salvation through the visible Church–hence the claim of the old Anglican Catechism that the two dominical sacraments–Baptism and the Supper–are generally necessary to salvation.

    This is why the question “Where is the Church?” will always be a vital and pressing question.

  23. Jackson says:

    [blockquote] For anyone who has any knowledge of Early Christianity will realize (whether they regard it as erroneous or not) that the Fathers all believed that salvation came to individual Christians through the Church, that Christ founded one Church and that that One Church was both visible and indivisible, such that if a schism occurred only one of the bodies resulting from it would be “the Church” and the others would be schismatic bodies.[/blockquote]

    Agree with the fact on early Christianity stated above and it informed my previous comment, so no ignorance . Its 2007, nearly 500 years after the Reformation, and to publish this does little to no good for the unbeliever (who does not care and is searching for gospel truth and a Christian church/community that proclaims it and holds to it) or the believer (who is already in God’s care regardless of Church affiliation).

    This RCC statement reminds me of the small college I attended that said they were the “Harvard of the midwest”. The phrase was meant to pump up alumni and students, but did nothing to move the college forward.

    The key question seems to be this, if the specifics necessary for salvation are not exclusive to membership in the RCC, then what exclusive claim does the RCC have, if any, on what *really* matters in the universe? If they don’t have an exclusive claim, then why is Benedict putting this statement out?

    Its time for the RCC (and any other church that makes the same calim) to stop making these claims and get on with living, proclaiming, and protecting the gospel and showing the results, then by appropriating the exclusive claim by monarchical fiat.

  24. Bob Lee says:

    Catholicism boarders on hipocracy in my opinion. They don’t study the Bible, the foundation of Christianity, God’s own words. They worship Mary, like an ashlin pole ( sp ). Talk about exclusive! I can’t imagine Jesus telling me I can’t have communion at the alter in His Church like they do. All they know is what they are told by “The Church”. They do not strive to be a good Christian and follow Jesus’ ways—they desire to “…be a good Catholic…”

    Sounds cultish to me.


  25. William Tighe says:

    See this:“>interview

    an interview with Fr. Augustine DiNoia of the CDF in rome as to the meaning of the document ans why it was important to release it now.

    And Re: #23,

    Given what you’ve claimed about your awareness of the factuality of what I’ve asserted about the Early Church and its ecclesiology, I can interpret what you go on to write here

    “Its time for the RCC (and any other church that makes the same calim) to stop making these claims and get on with living, proclaiming, and protecting the gospel and showing the results, then by appropriating the exclusive claim by monarchical fiat.”

    as a demand that the Catholic Church (and the orthodox and Oriental Orthodox) abandon their common ecclesiology of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and embrace a Protestant denominational one. I’d advise you not to bet on it, buddy, as it ain’t gonna happen.

    And as to 3 24 and “Sounds cultish to me,” all I can say is, the feeling is mutual, Mr. Chick.

  26. Ed the Roman says:

    “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” – John Henry Cardinal Newman.

    A great difficulty in Protestant ecclesiology is that it is itself undeniably recent. It’s one thing to claim that your theology is correct. It’s another to have a theory of the Church that cannot be found historically before the Reformation, even among the Fathers one cites as supporting the theology. There isn’t even a record of this theory having been defeated; it appears to have never been there in the first place.

  27. Phil says:

    I also don’t accept the Papal claims, Jackson #23, but you must recognize that this type of reasoning:

    “Its time for the RCC (and any other church that makes the same claim) to stop making these claims and get on with living, proclaiming, and protecting the gospel and showing the results, then by appropriating the exclusive claim by monarchical fiat.”

    could be, and is, used daily by those that want to overturn Christian morality and central portions of the Faith. In other words, you’re using the same argument as the reappraisers.

  28. Brad Page says:

    Bob Lee: As far as hypocrites go, there are those in every church (and religion). The rest of what you say is simply not true, and you are bearing false witness (check your Bible on that one). Then, please have a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You’ll find that the big, bad, Catholic Church actually takes the reading of the Bible very seriously, and bases its teaching upon it; that it doesn’t tell the faithful to “worship Mary” (worship is for God alone); that Communion is connected to an ecclesiastical unity (“that they all may be one”) that is not quite there, but is what we pray for (and, by the way, even accommodating Anglicanism is having its own struggles on that “Communion: issue, dear brother); and that being a “good Catholic” is ALL about being a good faithful, Creedal, and Bible-believing Christian.

    Check it out, and then try again.

  29. Ed the Roman says:

    “I’ve been in RC churches that have no physical reference to Jesus at all, none, only statues and icons of Mary.”

    A Catholic church with no crucifix is not following the rules.

  30. NewTrollObserver says:

    #26 Ed the Roman,

    [i]A great difficulty in Protestant ecclesiology is that it is itself undeniably recent.[/i]

    Surely, “recentness” can’t be used a major critique of Protestantism, given the importance in Catholicism of “development of doctrine”?

  31. Chris Taylor says:

    I don’t understand why Canon Cameron, or anyone else is, would be so offended by this statement by His Holiness. OF COURSE the Pope feels that only the churches in direct and full communion with Rome are fully Christ’s Church. If he didn’t believe that why would he be a Roman Catholic, let alone the pontiff? I certainly hope that the Ecummenical Patriarch in Constantinople (Istanbul) feels the same way about his communion, or he has NO business being the Eccumenical Patriarch. I know that Pope Shenuda III feels that only the Coptic Church and other Oriental Orthodox churches in communion with the See of Alexandria, knows that ONLY those churches in communion with him are the only ones that are fully Christ’s Church.

    As an Anglican, I obviously don’t believe that ONLY the Roman communion, or either of the Orthodox communions are fully Christ’s Church — if I believed that I would not be an Anglican. As an Anglican I believe in the “branch theory” of the Church, and I believe that the branch I’m in, the Anglican branch, is as fully a part of the One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ as are all churches in commnunion with Rome, or with Constantinople, or with Alexandria. I furthermore believe, athougth it’s VERY hard to believe sometimes, that the branch I’m in, the Anglican branch, EVEN WITH all of its contradictions, is doing the BEST job (in a post-Reformation world) of living into the charge given to the early Church than ANY of the other true branches of the Church Catholic. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be an Anglican — I’d be a Roman Catholic, or, more likely, an Orthodox Christian.

    What surprises me about Canon Cameron’s concern is that he feels that the Pope’s commitment to the Roman communion, or the commitment of any other Christian similarly committed to their branch of the Church Catholic, is some sort of an obstacle to eccumenical dialog. That would be absurd. As Anglicans I think that we historically have tended to voice greater humility than our Roman, or Orthodox brothers and sisters precisely because we do adhere to the “branch theory” of the Church Catholic. In other words, we try to see them as EQUALLY genuine branches. However, that humility should not obscure the recognition that we also believe, in our own way, that our own branch is somehow the fullest. If we didn’t believe that, what business do we have being Anglicans?

  32. Ad Orientem says:

    [b] I posted the below at Ad Orientem. I think its easier to just copy it here rather than write a new post or send up a link. If anyone wants to read the original with the built in links it can be found here. [url=] Rome speaks on “other churches”[/url][/b]

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) – ex Holy Office- has issued a document reaffirming the traditional Roman Catholic understanding of the nature of non-Roman religious confessions. Protestants are said to not be true “churches” because they have abandoned apostolic succession and departed from the apostolic faith. The Orthodox although recognized as “sister” churches with some nice things said about us are nonetheless deemed defective for want of our understanding of primacy and communion with the Roman See. In short this rather brief document seems to restate much of what was said in Dominus Jesus, a similar document Pope Benedict XVI authored while head of the CDF.

    It’s not completely clear why +Benedict has chosen to restate these positions now. However I suspect it is in keeping with a developing theme of his Pontificate, namely assertion of the hermeneutic of continuity in relation to Vatican II. This has been a major point of his going back decades. The former Cardinal Ratzinger was a consistent and vocal critic of those espousing the hermeneutic of rupture, i.e. the concept that Vatican II was the end of one church and the beginning of another. This was also reinforced by his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum issued this last Saturday (see most of the immediately preceding posts).

    How is this likely to be received? I suspect that internally most Roman Catholics will not care greatly. However liberal Catholics will groan at yet another blow to their agenda, while conservative Catholics will feel that the man whose election to the Chair of Peter they cheered a couple of years ago seems finally to be emerging. Many Protestants will huff in indignation. And most Orthodox will say that this is not helpful in the cause of restoration of communion (and they are of course right). But since most Orthodox take the idea of restoration of communion with more than a grain of salt (more like the whole shaker), I think expressions of indignation will be a bit contrived.

    I for one am not even remotely offended. This is the traditional understanding that Rome has always had and it’s on balance a good thing for them to reassert some level of orthodoxy (small ‘o’) in the face of the liberal wing in their church. Also it’s not terribly far removed from Orthodoxy’s understanding of the Church. We would generally agree with most of what the document says about Protestants although we might employ a different rational for reaching the same conclusions. Most Orthodox would say that Protestants lack the grace of the Holy Mysteries by virtue of being heretics, as opposed to simply having abandoned the mechanics of apostolic succession. Here we differ from Rome. Orthodoxy generally does not recognize that true sacramental grace exists outside of the Church, which of course we would argue subsists (what a wonderful term) in Orthodoxy. Whether or not a certain sect was careful to maintain the form and intent of Apostolic Succession is not terribly germane to us. In short, the so called “Dutch Touch” does not impress on this side of the Bosporus.

    Broadly speaking this is a document which restores clarity where it was lacking, and helps to explain where Rome is coming from when they talk to other religious confessions. And that’s a good thing. True, it will not be helpful in the discussions with us (Orthodox) on important theological questions. But I think honesty is more important. And I think it may facilitate an agreement to disagree between the two sides on those issues where agreement is impossible or at least out of reach for the foreseeable future. This in turn could open the door to a very fruitful and productive level of collaboration on other matters where such is possible and in my opinion even desirable. Possible fields of joint venture or coordinated effort might include charity and combating the rising tide of secular humanism now rampant in Europe and much of North America. Both have already been proposed (several times) by the Moscow Patriarchate. Cooperation on this level over a long period of time might ultimately produce more positive results than more charity or a unified voice against post modernism. In time it might produce good will and trust, which in my opinion is a key ingredient to any substantive agreements on other more controversial subjects.

    For now this Orthodox Christian will give a hearty two cheers for +Benedict XVI and his program for putting the Roman house back in order.

  33. Chris Molter says:

    “He said Anglican bishops had indicated in 1997 that such a position constituted “a major ecumenical obstacle”.
    And so, not to be outdone, the Anglican bishops went to work on even larger, more powerful ecumenical obstacles!

  34. Chris Taylor says:

    Yes, Chris #33, and they succeeded! NEVER to be outdone by Rome, we Anglicans always love to push that envelope, don’t we? On a more serious note, however, I think the current crisis presents a perfect opportunity for those of us who accept the branch theory to see whether or not it’s true. Can the Anglican Communion shake off heresy when it strkes? We’re clearly being put to the test on that one, and we’re not the only ones watching either. Pax

  35. William Tighe says:

    Perhaps of interest:

    Moscow Reacts

    Metropolitan Kirill comments on the Vatican’s controversial document on ecclesiology

    The following brief report contains a rather favorable Russian Orthodox reaction to the Holy See’s document on the Church, published July 10. The report comes from the Russian news agency Interfax, which has close links to the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow. The man quoted, Metropolitan Kirill, whom we have come to know over the past few years during meetings in Moscow, Vienna and Rome (and who has granted interviews in the past to Inside the Vatican), is the equivalent of the “foreign minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, although that term would be inappropriate to use in regard to a Church official. Kirill’s work of representing the Patriarchate in various forums around the world has made him one of the most visible of the Russian Orthodox Church’s leaders, and one of the most authoritative and influential. –The Editor

    Vatican’s “honest” position furthers dialogue, says Metropolitan Kirill

    Moscow, July 11, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church has called “honest” the position of the Vatican published in a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stating that the Catholic Church is the only Church approved by Christ.

    “It is an honest statement. It is much better than the so-called ‘church diplomacy’.” It shows how close or, on the contrary, how divided we are,” Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who heads the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, told journalists in Moscow.

    “For an honest theological dialogue to happen, one should have a clear view of the position of the other side,” because “it helps understand how different we are,” he said. Basically, the Vatican’s current document has nothing new and is in “full conformity with the doctrine of the Catholic Church,” Metropolitan Kirill said.

    “The Orthodox Church is, according to Apostolic Succession, successor and heir to the old, undivided Church. Which is why everything contained in the Catholic document rightfully applies to the Orthodox Church,” the Metropolitan added.

  36. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Perhaps of Interest:
    The reaction of the general secretary of the World Council of Churches comprising 347 churches and 550 million Christians.
    [blockquote] 10.07.07 16:40
    WCC deputy general secretary comments on the document issued today by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

    “Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it.” Photo: Plenary at the 9th WCC Assembly.
    “Each church is the Church catholic and not simply a part of it. Each church is the Church catholic, but not the whole of it. Each church fulfils its catholicity when it is in communion with the other churches.”

    This affirmation, made by the 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC), which met in Porto Alegre Brazil in February 2006, reflects the common struggle of the 347 WCC member churches in fellowship as they seek to make visible their unity in Christ.

    To recall this statement, contained in the document “Called to be the One Church: An invitation to the churches to renew their commitment to the search for unity and to deepen their dialogue”, seems appropriate in view of the “Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the church” issued by the Roman Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith today.

    The WCC’s 9th Assembly affirmed “the progress made in the ecumenical movement,” and encouraged the fellowship of member churches “to continue on this arduous yet joyous path, trusting in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, whose grace transforms our struggles for unity into the fruits of communion”.

    According to the Assembly, “the honest sharing of commonalities, divergences, and differences will help all churches to pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life”.

    As was stated in 2000, when the declaration Dominus Iesus was issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the WCC affirms the importance of genuine ecumenical dialogue, and of common Christian witness on the problems facing the world today.

    Georges Lemopoulos

    WCC deputy general secretary[/blockquote]

  37. Bob Lee says:

    Brad Paige:
    You are wrong.
    I watched as a whole church full of Catholics took communion, the last in line was my 16 yr old son, an Anglican who wanted to take the body of Christ and His blood, only to be asked as the whole church looked if he was Catholic. He said no. They refused him communion. What can you say about that?

    I have heard close friends tell their sons and daughters to “be good Catholics” meaning… good works. Be good. Do good. Go to church. etc, etc….but as we all know, these things do not get you into Heaven.

    And the Mary thing. Please, you know I’m right about this.

    And the Bible thing….well if they read their Bibles, they would not have any of the above problems.


  38. Ed the Roman says:

    #30. Surely, “recentness” can’t be used a major critique of Protestantism, given the importance in Catholicism of “development of doctrine”?

    When you can show me how Protestant ecclesiology is the logical development of the ecclesiology of the previous 1500 years, let’s talk. There’s development and then there’s the reorg that follows a leveraged buyout, and that is the better analogy to the ecclesiological change from first through fifteenth centuries to Protestantism.

    #39. I am very sorry that your son was refused. How did they know to ask if he was Catholic? Because that is, shall we say, a really, really unusual occurrence.

    Does your son believe in the Real Presence the way Catholics do? If not, why did he want to say by his actions that he did? My wife is Methodist and I sing in their choir, but I don’t take communion there, because I’d be saying something I don’t believe in addition to breaking my own Church’s discipline.

  39. deaconjohn25 says:

    My mother was Protestant, my father Catholic. As a teen-ager I had the option of choosing which path to follow. One big reason I chose the Catholic Path was the Catholic Church’s teaching that it had the “fullness of Truth” with regard to faith and morals. On the other hand I kept hearing from my Protestant relatives the equivalent of “What floats your boat.” This reminded me too much of Pontius Pilate’s : “Truth! What is Truth?” Many of my Protestant friends (especially Evangelicals and Anglicans) are very conservative on many moral issues and decry today’s moral relativism. But moral relativism is the kissing cousin of churches which can’t bring themselves to say what they believe Truth to be and that all of what they teach is the Truth-period. It just feeds into more relativism.

  40. Words Matter says:

    [i]And the Mary thing. Please, you know I’m right about this.[/i]

    [i]Since there is no salvation outside The Church (yes, you’ve affirmed it many times) we’re all going to Hell together! [/i]

    Well, a sin against the 8th commandment might send Mr. Lee, Mr. Paine, and the rest of us to hell, unless repented.

    Mr. Lee, you obviously misread Mr. Page, and it’s clear you didn’t read The Catechism of the Catholic Church as he suggested. You can post all day that Catholics believe this or that; I could say that Baptists believe “God helps those who help themselves” and other entertaining things, since I know Baptists who believe that. I could also say that “Episcopalians believe two men should be married” and would have better evidence than the proposition that “Catholics worship Mary”. None of these things would be, in and of themselves, true.

    Mr. Paine is, of course, unhinged and worth mentioning only because what he (a raving reappraiser) wrote is just as untrue as what Mr. Lee (I presume a reasserter) wrote.

  41. Ad Orientem says:

    Re: #s 38 & 39
    Bob Lee,
    When a guest in someone else’s house one should abide by the customs and rules of that house. It is discourteous to do otherwise. I am somewhat surprised that you would permit your son to do something that you should reasonably have known was not allowed in a church that he (and persumably you) do not belong to. Taking communion is something that is treated very very seriously by some churches. The fault for this unfortunate situation was not the priest’s, but yours. I say that with love and charity. But really if you don’t want to abide by the rules of the house, don’t go in.

    Ed the Roman,
    I don’t think you have any reason to apologize. On the contrary I find the idea of actually attempting to restore something resembling Eucharistic discipline in the Latin Church quite refreshing.

    In many if perhaps not most Orthodox parishes a priest will ask anyone approaching the chalice if they are Orthodox. In some they will also ask if you have kept the fast and been to confession recently. Most Orthodox know better than to attempt to commune in a parish they are visiting unless they have spoken to the priest in advance and received his blessing to do so. Some (notably parishes of the Russian Church Abroad) require sacramental confession as part of the preparation, and will not commune those they are not certain have been to confession in the last 24 hrs.


  42. Ad Orientem says:

    A minor correction to the above. When I wrote “In many if perhaps not most Orthodox parishes a priest will ask anyone approaching the chalice if they are Orthodox.” I meant to insert the qualifying words “that they don’t know.”

  43. Ed the Roman says:

    Ad Orientem,

    I will now confess the insincerity of my apology.

    Bluntly, Bob Lee’s story sounds like BS. There is a very high level of coincidence required for his son both to be the last to present AND to be challenged. We just don’t challenge people very often unless they are public excommunicates or publicly known to be non-Catholics (which is what I suspect would have to have been the case here). Not always even then: Bill Clinton communed in Africa one time, IIRC.

    Bob’s issue here stems from the fact that he really doesn’t get it that anyone [b]besides him[/b] really ought to take unity of faith in their own church seriously.

  44. Vincent Lerins says:

    It’s interesting reading the comments in response to the declarations of the RCC. Why should we care what they declare? The RCC has not been a true church of Jesus Christ since the Reformation, maybe even before. They had a chance to repent and return to the apostolic truth during the Reformation and especially at the Council of Trent. How can anyone believe or think for a moment that the RCC is during the work of Jesus Christ is amazing to me. Here are only five of many observations about the RCC.

    1.The unbiblical hierarchical structure of the RCC. – Where in scripture is their organizational structure reflected? Their organizational structure comes from the pre-Christian pontifex maximus and college of priests organization. Do simple research on the history of many of the terms the RCC uses such as pontifex Maximus, pontiff, curia, etc.

    2.Was it Jesus intention for his church to be organized as a political state? Should Christ church have a Secretary of State? Passports? Where is the biblical justification? Is Jesus’ kingdom of this world?

    3.Take a look at the Vatican. Is that how Jesus wanted his church to operate? Wouldn’t it be biblical to sale their holdings and aid the poor of the world?

    4.What about the political intrigues and the history of violence surrounding the RCC. Is that how Jesus wants his church to behave?

    5.The RCC have not repented of ANY of the erroneous doctrines that the reformers questioned.

    Unfortunately, nothing as changed since the Reformation, except for the discernment of the protesting churches.


  45. Ed the Roman says:

    1. “Who hears you hears Me.” “When you have turned, strengthen your brethren.”

    2. See 1. Also, let us know central Italy was supposed to have been governed in the eighth century, or at what point and to whom secular authority was supposed to have been turned over subsequently. Welcome to History; it’s not theoretical and it’s not an elective.

    3. “This ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”

    4. Utterly unlike the politics and violence surrounding the states in which the Reformers prevailed.

    5. Sorry, which Reformers’ complaints are the governing ones again? Is it Luther’s Eucharistic doctrine or Zwingli’s?

  46. Brad Page says:

    #45. Vincent Lerins: There’s a lot of stuff there, and thanks for sharing your opinions so freely. I disagree with them but don’t have any desire to argue with you. However, having read your little list, I wonder:
    #1: Where do you find the perfect biblical model in the world today? #2 Do you really think the Catholic Church sees its mission as so one-demensional and focused on the Vatican’s role and relations with the nations? There’s more to it than that, I assure you.
    #3 There’s a lot of aid to the poor going on from the Catholic, and other churches. It is a huge part of the Mission of the Church. Should all churches have a big “going out of business” sale?
    #4 You are right. The Catholic Church has a long, big history, some good and some bad. Taking a historic view, the behavior of any church often misses the mark. Or do you know of that has not? Please share.
    #5 Actions? yes. Sins? yes. Repented of doctrine? Thankfully, No.

    And, I’ll also agree with you in calling the discernment of the protesting churches into question. I question it a lot hese days, though for markedly different reasons than you.

  47. Vincent Lerins says:

    Ed and Brad:

    Thanks for your replies. I’m not seeking to argue about whether the RCC is a true church of Jesus Christ or not. Many of the points I’m making about the RCC applies to many other churches. However, it is the RCC that is under discussion. Ed in response to your reply to point one, Peter was to strength his brethren. However, where in Scripture is one Apostle ‘above” another. Where does it teach that Peter’s leadership among the Apostles passes down to the Bishops of Rome? 1 & 2 Peter was written as a reminder of what Peter taught (see 2 Peter 1:12 – 15). Where is the papacy taught in 1 & 2 Peter? Surely, Peter would have mentioned it and his successor. Also, the earliest church fathers knew nothing of the supremacy of the Roman church. The organization of the current church of Rome is not based on the New Testament, but on the pre-Christian Pontifex Maximus religious system. The ancient church of the Rome was co-opted during the Dark Ages. Simple research will reveal this. In fact, what is the title of the Pope? Brad, no church is organized exactly according to New Testament principles as far as I’m aware. The apostolic church was organized similar to the synagogue system. Philip Schaff in his work on the History of the Christian Church has an excellent write-up on this subject.

    Point 2 – The church’s mission is not political!!! Church and State were not meant to be merged. They are two separate spheres. That is probably the worst thing that the church could have ever done. Many of the moral failings of the church can be traced back to church-state merging. The church is the body of Christ, a spiritual body, in which believers who have believed, repented and baptized have been placed. The visible manifestation of the church is the local assembly of believers coming together in Sunday worship. The local assemblies are more of a mutual aid society than a political state. The assemblies are for worship, teaching, edification and fellowship. The church was to be organized by city with each church being independent and autonomous ( i.e. the church of Rome, the church of Ephesians, etc) In fact, the Scriptures and Ante-Nicene Fathers generally described the local church as the church of God at Philippi or whatever city. The local church was to be governed by a college of elders with a presiding elder (the Bishop) taking the lead. The RCC organizational structure goes far beyond this.

    Point 3 – When you look at the ornate architecture of the Vatican and even many Protestant churches, is that biblical? Did Jesus intend for Christians to prance around ornate palaces? Why isn’t the Pope, Cardinals, ABC or even mega tele-evangelists living among the poor and getting their hands dirty. Jesus wouldn’t be in a palace. He would be living next to the crack house in the ghetto preaching and teaching. I will say, if those buildings were being used to house and care for the poor and foster evangelism, I might be of a different opinion.

    Point 4 – The use of violence is a clear sign that someone is NOT of God. Even if someone is holds heretical doctrine, believers should not torture or kill them. Love is the identifying mark of a true Christian.

    Point 5 – Sorry, but may of the heretical doctrines that have no basis in scripture have not been repented of by the RCC. Prayers to various saints, Mariology, works gospel, indulgences, and papacy are a few examples that nothing has changed with the RCC.

    I’m not saying that the Protestant churches were and are perfect. They are not. However, we have been infected with a lot of the Roman ideology. All churches should seek to be more like the early church in faith and practice. That’s why what I have stated can also apply to many Protestant churches.


  48. Ed the Roman says:

    Why is it that the NT is filled with Peter and the rest of the Twelve references, but no similar references to other apostles?

    The passage of this authority need not be attested to in Scripture. One reason is that the authority contains authority to preserve itself. The second is that the contents of Scripture is delimited by his same authority of the Pope and bishops in the first place. Who do you think said “these books and no others are the Bible” in the first place?

    Re secular authority, what was the papacy, the sole remaining meaningful authority in the West in the early Middle Ages, supposed to do? Sit back and watch the chaos?

    The early church, once it was safe to have beautifully decorated churches, had beautifully decorated churches.

    The reformers used violence as well, often on each other. Doesn’t make it right, but it DOES mean that you can’t use the absence of violence to find the true church.

    Your point 5 is best addressed by asking you to read the Catechism to find out what the Catholic Church actually teaches, as distinct from what you have been told, or have otherwise gathered, that it teaches.

  49. deaconjohn25 says:

    Vincent–So when Christ told the apostles he would be with them until the end of time–clearly referring to the community which would be gathered around them -and their successors:: According to you Christ lied.
    When Jesus told Peter he would be the rock on which His Church would be founded and the gates of Hell could never harm it:: According to you Christ lied.
    When Christ gave His mother to John–and to us– on the cross–it was so later Christians could throw her overboard as much as possible instead of honoring her unique role in our salvation. Not likely!

  50. Larry Morse says:

    If the RC maintains it is the only road to salvation why is that any skin off your nose? What harm has it done you? Let them be, for they have established their standards for belief, standards that have worked well for a few years, one might say. This is their identity. At least they have an identity, which is more than most Anglicans can say, dammit. Do we really let everyone in the doors and say, “Gosh we are so glad you’re here and, no, we don’t mind fleas and lice, because even ticks can be saved if they wish to be. Peace be with you, love your neighbor, don’t discriminate against anyone for all are the God’s children, and it’s OK, we don’t really stand for anything so what you believe is of small consequence. Everybody is good enough! I’m OK, your OK, we’re all OK! Hey nonny nonny and down a down down.

    Please. The anti-permissive Grinch in Maine

  51. Ed the Roman says:

    I’d like to apologize for style of my last post seeming to be that of someone who speaks English as a third language, the first two languages being Klingon and K’zinti. Haste is not my friend.

  52. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    ◙╛↓ ┬ш‡┼╒◊◄


  53. Vincent Lerins says:

    Ed and deaconjohn:

    Peter was the “leader” of the Apostles. It may be the correct interpretation of Matt 16 that Peter is the rock on which the church is built. However, it still has to be proved that his leadership position is passed down to his successors. Also, which successors of Peter? Peter founded churches in many other cities. The elders of those churches would be his successors as well. Also, Linus, the first bishop of Rome, was placed in charge by both Peter AND PAUL according to the testimony of Irenaeus. In addition to all of this, the teachings of the RCC are definitely not the same as the apostolic teaching of the Apostles. They have not been faithful stewards of the faith once delivered. When a local church goes heretical, right believing members are the continuation of that church. They are the true church. The heretical churches are not. True believers are to break away from heresy to maintain the purity of the church. Ultimately, the poor stewardship of apostolic truth is the main reason why saying the RCC is the true church is a farce. Apostolic lineage is meaningless if you are not teaching and preaching what the apostles what teaching and preaching. As St. John said in 1 John 4, “They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God HEARS US; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

    The Macpherson brothers who are former Roman Catholics have written one of the best articles I have read on why the claims of the RCC are false. Using the Bible and the writings of the ante-Nicene Fathers, they show why the claims of the RCC are false and the true origns of the current RCC.


  54. Ed the Roman says:

    When you say that the correct interpretation of Matt 16 [b]may[/b] be that the man whose name was changed from “Simon” to “Rock” is the rock on which the Church is built, your Mastery of the Tao of understatement dazzles the eye. 🙂

  55. Tikvah says:

    And here I thought the Church was to be built upon Peter’s confession … not Peter himself. Silly me. Seems to be a bit of a disagreement on this issue, eh? Depends on which theologian(s) one chooses to believe then.

  56. Chris Molter says:

    #56, unless you prefer to look at the general consensus of the undivided Church, which would lead you either to believe that Peter and his successors held universal primacy over the Bishops, or at the very least, a place of pre-eminence and honor as a sort of “first among equals”. Either way, the Petrine office was certainly held as a unique station among Bishops.

  57. Ed the Roman says:

    If it’s all really about his confession, why did the man’s name change?

  58. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Interesting how one’s background and upbringing give one an entirely different take on things. I’ve learnt a lot from this discussion. Many thanks.

  59. Tikvah says:

    58. – Because of his confession. Do we not confess the same thing, that He is the Christ (messiah) and the Son of the living God?

  60. deaconjohn25 says:

    Vincent–many, many great minds and scholars have looked at the same evidence you and these brothers looked at–and converted to the Catholic Church. One of the greatest of course was John Henry Newman. In the last few years there have been some astounding conversions to the Catholic Church by scholars of different types of Protestant (many of the “Bible-believing” type) based on their in- depth research of the Bible,the apostolic church and the early Church Fathers.
    So how is one to choose who are the heretics??? Those who break with the Mother Church or those who embrace the Mother Church ????.
    Did the Holy Spirit abandon the community Christ pledged the Spirit would protect and that the Gates of Hell would not prevail against ???(And that whole passage doesn’t fit the watered down Protestant understanding.)
    And in such a situation isn’t to spurn the Church headed by the pope, the successor to St. Peter, to set onesself up as one’s own pope??? What you see as heresies John Newman saw as flowers grown from the Biblical seed—proper lineal developments over a 2,000 year span. For the Catholic Church does not believe Scripture is a paper and ink strait-jacket, but the part of His Revelation intended to keep us going forward down the Way Of Truth into the future.

  61. Ed the Roman says:

    #60: Then why don’t all Christians, then, take the name Peter the same way all Sikhs take the name Singh?

    “… [b]you[/b] (emph. added) are Rock, and on this Rock I will build My Church….”

    not “…your confession is Rock…”. Not “…faith in Me like yours is Rock…”. But [b]you[/b]. Simon, son of John. Who is repeatedly referred to in “…Peter and the Twelve…” in a construction a bit like “James Brown and his Famous Flames” or “Manfred von Richthofen and his Flying Circus”. Implying preeminence and leadership.

    Now you’re free to argue that that charism is meant to be extinct now, but I wouldn’t like to try to make that argument.

  62. Vincent Lerins says:

    I have not thoroughly looked at the Greek of Matt 16, so I can not definitely say that Peter is or is not the rock that Jesus was referring to. I don’t have a problem with Peter as the rock or Peter’s confession as the rock. Peter definitely had a pivotal role in the foundation of the church as Acts 2, 3, and 10 illustrates. Also as Acts 8:37 and Rom 10 illustrate that confessing/believing in Jesus as Lord is essential to salvation. However, my question is where is the evidence (biblical and early ECF’s) that Peter’s “primacy (if you can call it that) passes on to his successors. Where is the proof? All biblical evidence points against such an assertion. Also, who is Peter’s successor? Peter like the other Apostles established many churches. Would not those church leaders be the successors of the founding apostles? Why Rome? If any church should have primacy, it should be the church of Jerusalem, the mother church of all churches. Also, the church of Antioch, the mother church of all Gentile churches would be a good candidate. So again, I ask, where is the proof that Rome and the bishop of Rome has primacy. Roman primacy may have been the consensus of the undivided church from the 4th century onward, but was it taught by the apostles and believed by the church in the first century?

    I does not matter if a great many scholars have looked at the same evidence I have and converted to the Catholic Church. Many scientists believe in evolution, but that doesn’t mean evolution is true!

    Here is how you determine who are heretics or not. Does their doctrine conform to Apostolic teaching are not. The Apostles laid the doctrinal foundation in the first century. It is fixed and cannot be changed. As the real Vincent Lerins in the 5th century stated true teaching/tradition can be distinguished from false tradition by what has been believed everywhere (universality), always (antiquity) and by all (consensus). God the Father sent Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ sent the Apostles out into the world. The Apostles teached and preached the same contents of the faith. They deposited the whole content of the faith in each independent and autonomous local church. The elders of each church were charge with maintaining the apostolic teachings and passing them along to the next generation. This pattern is to continue until Jesus returns. The “prescription” I just outlined is the same one used by Irenaeus (see Against Heresies, Book 3, chap 1-2) and Tertullian (Prescription against Heretics) to refute the Gnostics and other heretics. It is also interesting that in establishing the truth, they said nothing of Peter’s primacy, his successors primacy or a papacy office.

    Jesus’ word is true that he would be with the church till the end of the age. When people depart from apostolic teaching they are departing from the church. Heresy is very serious because it can lead to apostasy, departing from Jesus Christ. But, the church of Jesus Christ still continues with those who continue in the apostolic teaching.


  63. deaconjohn25 says:

    Vincent–I am surprised you admit that your research proves Roman primacy was the consensus of the undivided church at any point–especially as early as the 4th Century. For this is the type of historical linear accurate development from Biblical passages–guided by the Holy Spirit per Christ’s promise–which in the minds of many validates the whole Catholic understanding of the situation. To say that, later, the Holy Spirit’s power was not enough to keep the Catholic Church from heresy or apostasy, is itself a form of heresy in which the power of the Holy Spirit is denied.