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Archive for the ‘consensus patrum’ Category

Many Protestant communions have issues with giving adherence to the traditional Creeds. Creeds bind individual believers to a formal expression of Scriptural truths. Creeds were created to eliminate gray areas which lead to false understandings of eternal truths. Many would view Creeds as intolerant. Especially in this politically correct world, Creeds can be somewhat insensitive to those who would rather hold positions that allow both orthodox and heretical views.

Indeed, Creeds are designed to be just that- intolerant, insensitive, unforgiving. For a Creed defines the boundary with which the enemy Satan is not permitted to enter, nor any of his followers. Heresy is a half truth at best and provides a false sense of security which brings spiritual destruction and in some case physical destruction on a wide scale throughout history. So while Creeds seem to turn on points of scriptural, philosophy & ecclesiastical concerns which they do; they make their mark by sealing literally with the blood of thousands of martyrs as to what is truth.

Christology is the discipline in theology for the study of the Person of Jesus Christ. Since Christ is the basis of belief for all Christians, it is critical to understand who Christ is and who He isn’t; since our belief and salvation are dependent upon Him.

Many of the early church heresies turn on either Christ’s personhood or His natures (Divine & Human). It should be noted that many of these heresies were based on a misunderstanding of scripture and in defense against some other heresy, yet the defense formed to refute a given heresy & supporting a true belief in Christ turned out to be heretical as well.

Today we have many Christians who possess an uninformed or ill formed view of Christ. And like heresies of old these are simply remakes of their older heretical versions. Perhaps the greatest of these today is Nestorianism. This is the belief that Christ has two natures and two persons(human & Divine). Now the reformers would never profess two persons in Christ, however, those who came after them, that have discarded the creeds over the centuries are not generally aware of this dogma nor the history and sacrifice of saints who died for these truths.

Protestants have some motivation for supporting this heresy. Catholicism affirms that Mary is the Mother of God. Various cultures that have significant numbers of Catholics have developed traditions which celebrate this truth of the church and of course the prayer “Hail Mary” also contains this phrase as well. In reaction to this display of honoring Jesus and His mother, Protestants have felt the need over the centuries to counteract this piety, which seems excessively focused on Mary. Part of this is simply because Protestants are not familiar with the theological distinctions about giving honor to a person and for that matter most Catholics haven’t been taught it and don’t understand it either. The average Catholic does not know or likely heard about Latria (worship given to God alone) and Hyperdulia & Dulia (honor given to Mary and honor given to Saints respectfully). The majority of Catholic do however understand that they are not to worship Mary, but likely are not able to explain the process. Hence, the Protestants concern with whether the Catholic is honoring Mary or worshiping her. We must also remember that external actions do not necessarily relay what is going on in the believers mind and spirit. I think a strong reminder once a year from the pulpit on reflecting what these theological categories mean would be helpful.

Those who reconcile with the Catholic church coming from one of the Protestant confessions many times have difficulty with this dogma. However, if one keeps the Creed in mind and why those at the Third Ecumenical Council (Ephesus)
rejected Nestorianism would be beneficial.

In their zeal to defend against a perceived false worship of Mary, some will reject that Mary is the Mother of God. The individual will attempt to apply logic and state that if Mary is the Mother of God that she must be Divine herself in order to give birth to a Divine person. Such reasoning is false because Christ is one Person – not two. Christ has two natures, but once the Protestant attempts to separate the Incarnation of Divine and Human natures they are forced to falsely create two Persons of Christ (one human and one Divine). This destroys the Trinity and creates 4 person in one God.

Given the utter victory of the church in defining the Trinity, this should make any Christian recoil from this type of  reasoning. Yet if they still are unable to accept Mary as Mother of God and they recognize that God is a Trinity there is a host of other heresies waiting for the believer.

Docetists- Christ appeared to have a real human body, but actually was an ethereal being much like an angel. It derives its name from the Greek, dokein, “to seem, to appear.”

Next is Ebionism who rejected the teachings of Paul and emphasized the importance of the law of Moses. Generally, they regarded Jesus as a divinely inspired prophet but not as God.

Valentinianism, Monarchianism, Sabellianism/Modalists all had there respective day in the Sun. St. Epiphanius writes about them:

“Their doctrine is, that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same being, in the sense that three names are attached to the one substance. A close analogy may be found in the body, soul and spirit of man. The body as it were the Father: the soul as the Son ; while the Spirit is to the Godhead as his spirit is to a man. Or take the sun: it is one substance, but it has three manifestations, light , heat and the orb itself. The heat…( is analogous to) the Spirit; the light to the Son; while the Father himself is represented as the actual substance. The Son was at one time emitted, like a ray of light; he accomplished in the world all that pertained to the dispensation of the Gospel and man’s salvation, and was taken back into heaven , as a ray is emitted by the sun and then withdrawn again into the sun.”(Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis 375 AD. Adv. hareses Ixii.1)

If this theological position rings a bell, it’s likely that you know or where at one time a Oneness Pentecostal for they are anti-Trinitarians holding to the belief that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God and one Person.

Adoptionism is where Christ is/was created by generation and nature, and became divine by adoption and grace as an adult. Arians which was created by Arius a presbyter of the Alexandria church in the 4th century taught Christ was not God like the Father, but a creature made in time. Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses hold similar beliefs.

Eutycheanism/Monophysites– archimandrite of Constantinople held that Christ is One person and One nature.

Therefore, following the holy Fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance (homoousious) with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer (Theotokos); one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the Fathers has handed down to us.

This is called the Definition of Chalcedon.

Note that there is a great balance between the two heretical positions of One Person & One nature on the one hand and two persons and two natures on the other.

Christians rightly think of Jesus as God and hence many of us tend to think of Him in exclusively Divine concepts. However Jesus is fully human in nature and therefore we should also realize that He sanctifies us by and through His Incarnation. Eastern Orthodoxy has a wonderful saying that all that Jesus touches is redeemed.

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Perhaps its the internet or more specifically the blogs that I read weekly, but over the past 3 years or so there seems to be a concerted effort in some quarters to reclaim(from their viewpoint) the term “Catholic”.  As a Catholic myself I have some problems with them doing so; their claim is that one can be “Catholic” without formally being a member of that communion. Indeed, they are members of the Catholic Church, but only informally as the Catholic church proclaims based on their membership in the body of Christ. Some individuals however have taken an additional step and chosen to alter IMO the meaning of the term, so that they may in fact reject some or a number of doctrinal and/or dogma definitions and would claim the title to Catholic and that those of us in communion with Rome are historically wrong in these positions, which in any-ones church language is referred to as heresy. Nothing wrong with that, it’s good for dialog for all parties to take a stand on what they believe is true. While it creates conflict, if the parties are concerned about the truth, then there is no inherent problem in having conflicting positions. Of course, traditionally Catholics have define these individuals as heretics or schismatics themselves. Which brings us to the issue – What does “Catholic” mean from the historical aspect in the Christian era?

I’m not a scholar, but experts will agree that the Greek word “katholikos”means universal, generally from kata (by) + holos(whole). The primary sources are pretty easy to gather together for the first 200 years since the pool of material is very limited. But after that it grows substantially. In selecting my material I attempted to draw from the first three periods of the church (Apostolic Father, the pre-Nicene, & Nicene fathers) as well as the first 5 centuries from the three primary geographic regions of the Christianity(Africa, the west & the east) as it existed back then and from both Latin and Greek fathers.

Please consider everything after 200 A.D. as a sample of available texts, hopefully it’s  a representative one, but I admit that I have my biases as well. I welcome any-ones input for primary sources that they feel would add to that which is already here. I was deliberate in trying to avoid texts that historically been use to justify papal claims. To some extent it was unavoidable to do so, since there is a linkage between both issues, but the papacy is secondary to this broader topic.

I will list the primary sources first, then reference back to them with my analysis after, so the reader will get a chance to absorb the material without to much bias input on my part other then the selection of text and the bolding and underlining as to it’s importance to my position. Anyone who has read even a limited amount of the church fathers will recognize these passages a  glance, so there isn’t any obscure quote that can’t be found on a number of internet sites for broader context.

The first preserved written use in the Christian tradition of the term “Catholic” about 105 A.D by St. Ignatius of Antioch(Greek):

ignatius.jpg1)See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. .It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid. St Ignatius of Antioch to the Smyrneans

TheMartyrdom of St. Polycarp around 155A.D. (Greek)

polycarp.jpg

2)The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

Polycarp was one, having in our own times been an apostolic and prophetic teacher, and bishop of the Catholic Church which is in Smyrna Chapter XVI

For, having through patience overcome the unjust governor, and thus acquired the crown of immortality, he now, with the apostles and all the righteous [in heaven], rejoicingly glorifies God, even the Father, and blesses our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls, the Governor of our bodies, and the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world Chapter XIX

We move now to St. Irenaeus of Lyon (Greek) – Against Heresies, book 3 (180 A.D.) For this discussion we can ignore what St. Irenaeus means by authority.

200px-saint_irenaeus.jpg3) For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church{that is the church of Rome}, on account of its pre- eminent authority,that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere. Chapter III paragraph 2.

The truth is to be found nowhere else but in the Catholic Church, the sole depository of  apostolical doctrine. Heresies are of recent formation, and cannot trace their origin up to the apostles. Chapter IV

Note: St. Irenaeus famous passage has been used unmercifully by Catholic apologists to bludgeon our fellow Anglicans and Orthodox alike on the topic of papal primacy. That is not the focus of this issue.

Tertullian(African/Latin) (from his Catholic period 200 A.D.)  

4)Where was Marcion then, that shipmaster of Pontus the zealous student of Stoicism? Where was Valentinus then, the disciple of Platonism? For it is evident that those men lived not so long ago,—in the reign of Antoninus for the most part, and that they at first were believers in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, in the church of Rome under the episcopate of the blessed Eleutherus until on account of their ever restless curiosity, with which they even infected the brethren, they were more than once expelled. Prescription against Heretics – Chapter 30

St. Cyprian(African/Latin) to Antonianus – 252 A.D.

150px-stcyprian.jpg5)Cyprian to Antonianus his brother, greeting. I received your first letters, dearest brother, firmly maintaining the concord of the priestly college, and adhering to the Catholic Church, in which you intimated that you did not hold communion with Novatian, but followed my advice, and held one common agreement with Cornelius our co-bishop. You wrote, moreover, for me to transmit a copy of those same letters to Cornelius our colleague, so that he might lay aside all anxiety, and know at once that you held communion with him, that is, with the Catholic Church. Epistle 51

First Ecumenical Council in 325 A.D – (only 5 western/latin bishops represented of the 318 total)

180px-nicaea_icon.jpg6) We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead. And [we believe] in the Holy Ghost. And whosoever shall say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, or that before he was begotten he was not, or that he was made of things that were not, or that he is of a different substance or essence [from the Father] or that he is a creature, or subject to change or conversion–all that so say, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them. Nicene Creed

St. Cyril of Jerusalem Catechism – 347 A.D. (Greek)

st-cyril-of-jerusalem.jpg7) 22. The Faithwhich we rehearse contains in order the following, And in one Baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; and in one Holy Catholic Church; and in the resurrection of the flesh; and in eternal life.” Now of Baptism and repentance I have spoken in the earliest Lectures; and my present remarks concerning the resurrection of the dead have been made with reference to the Article “In the resurrection of the flesh.” Now then let me finish what still remains to be said for the Article, “In one Holy Catholic Church,” on which, though one might say many things, we will speak but briefly

23. It is called Catholic then because it span extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men’s knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

26…since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to thee now the Article, “And in one Holy Catholic Church;” that thou mayest avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which thou wast regenerated. And if ever thou art sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord’s House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God St. Cyril of Jerusalem – Lecture XVIII

Optatus of Milevis, Against the Donatists 366 A.D. (African/Latin)

(8)You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra on which sat Peter, the Head of all the Apostles(for which reason he was called Cephas), that, in this one Cathedra, unity should be preserved by all, lest the other Apostles might claim—-each for himself—-separate Cathedras, so that he who should set up a second Cathedra against the unique Cathedra would already be a schismatic and a sinner. Well then, on the one Cathedra, which is the first of the Endowments, Peter was the first to sit. Against the Donatists-book 2, chapter 2

II. He proves from the Cathedra Petri that the Cathedra which is the first endowment of the Church belongs to Catholics, not to Donatists.

So we have proved that the Catholic Church is the Church which is spread throughout the world. We must now mention its Adornments and see where are its five Endowments (which you have said to be six, amongst which the CATHEDRA is the first; and, since the second Endowment, which is the ‘Angelus,’ cannot be added unless a Bishop has sat on Cathedra, we must see who was the first to sit on the Cathedra, and where he sat. If you do not know this, learn. If you do know, blush. Ignorance cannot be attributed to you—-it follows that you know. For one who knows, to err is sin. Those who do not know may sometimes be pardoned.

ST. PACIAN, BISHOP OF BARCELONA,EPISTLES TO SYMPRONIAN- 375 A.D. (Spaniard/latin)

9)7. And shall the Fathers rather follow our authority, and the antiquity of Saints give way to be emended by us, and times now putrifying through their sins, pluck out the grey hairs of Apostolic age? And yet, my brother, be not troubled; Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. The former gives me a name, the latter distinguishes me. By the one I am approved; by the other I am but marked.

8.   And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and draw it out from the Greek by a Latin interpretation, “Catholic” is ‘every where one,’ or, as learned men “obedience in all,” i. e. all the commands of God. Whence the Apostle, Whether ye be obedient in all things;and again,For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same man is obedient. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people when named Catholic are separated by this appellation from the heretical name. OF THE CATHOLIC NAME

Jointly from three emperors written in 380 A.D. for all the empire. Note: this is one year prior to the 1st synod of Constantinople (later known as the 2nd Ecumenical council):

10) C. Th.XVI.i.2: We desire that all the people under the rule of our clemency should live by that religion which divine Peter the apostle is said to have given to the Romans, and whichit is evident that Pope Damasusand Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, followed; that is that we should believe in the one deity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit with equal majesty and in the Holy Trinity according to the apostolic teaching and the authority of the gospel. Gratian, Valentinian and Theodosius Augusti. Codex Theodosianus.

Nicene Constantinopolitan creed 381 A.D. (150 Greek bishops -no latins)

314px-gregor-chora.jpg11)We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages, (God of God) Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten, not made, of one essence(one in being) with the Father, by Whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;

And we believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.We look for the Resurrection of the dead, And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

Pope St. Damasus I – 382 A.D.

damasus.jpg

12) 1.After all these [writings of] the prophets and the evangelical and apostolic scriptures which we discussed above, on which the catholic church is founded by the grace of God, we also have thought necessary to say what, although the universal catholic church diffused throughout the world is the single bride of Christ, however the holy Roman church is given first place by the rest of the churches without[the need for] a synodical decision, but from the voice of the Lord our saviour in the gospel obtained primacy: ‘You are Peter,’ he said, ‘and upon this rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind upon Earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatever you release upon Earth shall also be released in heaven’.

2. In addition there is also the presence of the blessed apostle Paul, ‘the chosen vessel’, who not in opposition, as the heresies jabber, but on the same date and the same day was crowned in glorious death with Peter in the city of Rome suffering under Nero Caesar; and equally they made the above-mentioned holy Roman church special in Christ the Lord and gave preference in their presence and veneration-worthy triumph before all other cities in the whole world.

3. Therefore first is the seat at the Roman church of the apostle Peter ‘having no spot or wrinkle or any other [defect]’. However the second place was given in the name of blessed Peter to Mark his disciple and gospel-writer at Alexandria, and who himself wrote down the word of truth directed by Peter the apostle in Egypt and gloriously consummated [his life] in martyrdom. Indeed the third place is held at Antioch of the most blessed and honourable apostle Peter, who lived there before he came to Roma and where first the name of the new race of the Christians was heard. Section 3

Next is St. Augustine of Hippo who wrote Against the Epislte of Manichaeus in 397 A.D. (African/Latin)

saint_augustine_oldest_image_sm.jpg13) 5. For in the Catholic Church, not to speak of the purest wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it, in the scantiest measure, indeed, because they are but men, still without any uncertainty (since the rest of the multitude derive their entire security not from acuteness of intellect, but from simplicity of faith,)—not to speak of this wisdom, which you do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, there are many other things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house. Such then in number and importance are the precious ties belonging to the Christian name which keep a believer in the Catholic Church, as it is right they should, though from the slowness of our understanding, or the small attainment of our life, the truth may not yet fully disclose itself. But with you, where there is none of these things to attract or keep me, the promise of truth is the only thing that comes into play. Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church; but if there is only a promise without any fulfillment, no one shall move me from the faith which binds my mind with ties so many and so strong to the Christian religion.

6.For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you;—If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichæus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel;—Again, if you say, You were right in believing the Catholics when they praised the gospel, but wrong in believing their vituperation of Manichæus: do you think me such a fool as to believe or not to believe as you like or dislike, without any reason? It is therefore fairer and safer by far for me, having in one instance put faith in the Catholics, not to go over to you, till, instead of bidding me believe, you make me understand something in the clearest and most open manner. To convince me, then, you must put aside the gospel. If you keep to the gospel, I will keep to those who commanded me to believe the gospel; and, in obedience to them, I will not believe you at all. But if haply you should succeed in finding in the gospel an incontrovertible testimony to the apostleship of Manichæus, you will weaken my regard for the authority of the Catholics who bid me not to believe you; and the effect of that will be, that I shall no longer be able to believe the gospel either, for it was through the Catholics that I got my faith in it; and so, whatever you bring from the gospel will no longer have any weight with me. Wherefore, if no clear proof of the apostleship of Manichæus is found in the gospel, I will believe the Catholics rather than you.But if you read thence some passage clearly in favor of Manichæus, I will believe neither them nor you: not them, for they lied to me about you; nor you, for you quote to me that Scripture which I had believed on the authority of those liars. But far be it that I should not believe the gospel; for believing it, I find no way of believing you too. For the names of the apostles, as there recorded do not include the name of Manichæus. And who the successor of Christ’s betrayer was we read in the Acts of the Apostles; Acts 1:26 which book I must needs believe if I believe the gospel, since both writings alike Catholic authority commends to me. Chapter 4 & 5.

St. Augustine  – Letter to Vincentius – 408 A.D. 

14) 23. You think that you make a very acute remark when you affirm the name Catholic to mean universal, not in respect to the communion as embracing the whole world, but in respect to the observance of all Divine precepts and of all the sacraments, as if we (even accepting the position that the Church is called Catholic because it honestly holds the whole truth, of which fragments here and there are found in some heresies) rested upon the testimony of this word’s signification, and not upon the promises of God, and so many indisputable testimonies of the truth itself, our demonstration of the existence of the Church of God in all nations. In fact, however, this is the whole which you attempt to make us believe, that the Rogatists alone remain worthy of the name Catholics, on the ground of their observing all the Divine precepts and all the sacraments; and that you are the only persons in whom the Son of man when He comes shall find faith. Letter 93, Chapter 7, para.23

Next is Sozomen a Greek church historian 425 A.D. as background on the previous law issue by the Emperors quote above (#7)

15)Finally we as Gaul was about this period infested by the incursions of the Alemanni, Gratian returned to his paternal dominions, which he had reserved for himself and his brother, when he bestowed the government of Illyria and of the Eastern provinces upon Theodosius. He effected his purpose with regard to the barbarians; and Theodosius was equally successful against the tribes from the banks of the Ister; he defeated them, compelled them to sue for peace, and, after accepting hostages from them, proceeded to Thessalonica. He fell ill while in this city, and after receiving instruction from Ascholius, the bishop, he was initiated, and was soon after restored to health. The parents of Theodosius were Christians, and were attached to the Nicene doctrines; he was pleased with Ascholius, who maintained the same doctrines, and was, in a word, endowed with every virtue of the priesthood. He also rejoiced at finding that the Arian heresy had not been participated in by Illyria. He inquired concerning the religious sentiments which were prevalent in the other provinces, and ascertained that, as far as Macedonia,all the churches were like minded, and all held that equal homage ought to be rendered to God the Word, and to the Holy Ghost, as to God the Father; but that towards the East, and particularly at Constantinople, the people were divided into many different heresies. Reflecting that it would be better to propound his own religious views to his subjects, so as not to appear to be using force by commanding the unwilling subject to worship contrary to his judgment, Theodosius enacted a law at Thessalonica, which he caused to be published at Constantinople, well knowing that the rescript would speedily become public to all the other cities, if issued from that city, which is as a citadel of the whole empire. He made known by this law his intention of leading all his subjects to the reception of that faith which Peter, the chief of the apostles, had, from the beginning, preached to the Romans, and which was professed by Damasus, bishop of Rome, and by Peter, bishop of Alexandria. He enacted that the title of Catholic Church should be exclusively confined to those who rendered equal homage to the Three Persons of the Trinity, and that those individuals who entertained opposite opinions should be treated as heretics, regarded with contempt, and delivered over to punishment. Ecclesiastical History (Book VII)

Drawing from St. Vincent of Lerins 434 A.DCommonitory chapters 2 & 3 otherwise known as the Vincentian Canon which is used by our Orthodox and Anglican friends to bludgeon my fellow Catholics;>)

16) [6.] Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense Catholic; which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

Analysis. Still here? Well I hope this will be worthy of your time & effort.

  • From #1(St. Ignatius) we find that a “bishop is need” in the Catholic Church and that Christians “follow” him as “Jesus does the Father”. IOWs “obedience” &instituted” by God
  • From #2 (St. Polycarp) we see his use of the term “church of God” with various locations, but regardless they are all congregations of the Holy Catholic Church. IOWs “unity”.Jesus Christ is the Shepherd of the Catholic Church throughout the world.
  • From #3 (St. Irenaeus of Lyon) dealing with Gnostics who’s claim is hidden knowledge, not known to the general public; his solution is that every church should agree with the church of Rome, based on some undefined authority, and a unity with all other Apostolic church in the world.
  • Secondly, of more importance is that the Truth is found nowhere else but in the Catholic church & is the sole depository of apostolic doctrine. IOWs preservers of the “deposit of faith”.
  • Next is #4 (Tertullian) our have our first latin and first African. Prior to this we heard only from Greeks in the east. Tertullian deals with internal descent of believers who are misleading/”infecting” other believers. The solution is to “excommunicate” those formally within the church.
  • And #5 (St. Cyprian) deals with schism over the issue of liberal or rigorist application of christian principles. The Novatian issue. He solution is to send a letter to the bishop of Rome(Cornelius) stating that he was in communion with him and therefore with the Catholic Church. IOWs “unity with the bishop of Rome” is somehow connected to “communion with the Catholic Church”.

That closes out the Apostolic Father and pre-Nicene era.

B) The next section, I have separated because of the course altering change of the imperial gov’t of Rome saw the light of truth. It is critical to understand the period between 350 A.D. & 451 A.D. for a proper take on Christiology & church authority. There are just about as many creeds as there were local churches in the 4th century.

  • The Nicene Creed(#6) we see not just the affirmation of faith, but the penalty for those who profess something other then the Trinity. Namely the Arians and also Monarchianists. The term Apostolic is added as a requirement to be Catholic.
  • St. Cyril of Jerusalem (#7) attended the 2nd Ecumenical Council. In his catechism he adds the space to the requirement as well as teaching a unified comprehensive doctrine from one end of the earth to the other. One is to avoid membership in churches which teach heresy, it is not enough to be called the church of God.
  • Optatus of Milevius (#8) adds that the chair of St. Peter is required for unity. This is in reaction to the Donatist. IF one reads about the history of this sect there is IMO a striking similarity between it and modern day schismatics. The Catholic church was considered to “liberal” the Donatist after all had in fact remained true to the faith under persecution and dead by the pagan emperors. They refused to turn over the Sacred Scriptures and liturgical & Church father writings. They referred to the Catholics who were permitted back into the church after the persecutions as  traditor. This will come up again when dealing with St. Vincent’s canon.
  • St. Pacian (#9) adds the word obedience as the quality of a Catholic.
  • The 3 emperors (#10) place into Imperial law not the Creed of the 318 which was the rallyin cry throughout the turbulent times of this century, but the faith delivered by St. Peter the Apostle to the Romans (not the empire, but the local church in Rome, headed by it’s bishop) and St. Peter II bishop of Alexandria, who lived in exile in Rome, prior to being restored. Confirmed in (#15). It is now civil law that all who would be Catholic were required to profess a Trinitarian belief.
  • The Nicene-constantinopolitian Creed (#11 -Greek-easterners) is the most used in liturgies for all parties involved in this topic. These truths are to be held by everyone who is called by the name Catholic. It dealt with the Macedonian heresy( the three great Cappadocians fathers fought against this) , however the church in Antioch was in schism at the time and St. Meletius of Antioch (who was president of this council) was not in communion with the west or Alexandria (being suspect of Semi-Arian leanings). It’s creed was not used in the liturgy for centuries after the fact in the west and it was not until the Ecumenical council of Chalcedon(451 A.D.) that the creed was considered an Ecumenical council by Pope Leo the Great. The numerical number of “one” is included as a requirement of the Catholic church. There is no other.
  • St. Damasus I (#12) delivers his tome possibly accepted by the council of constantinople in 382, adds what has become to be known as papal supremacy as a condition of being Catholic. It establishes the gov’t structure as being of divine origin and the two other Petrine sees(Alexandria & Antioch) share in this authority bases on St. Peter.
  • St. Augustine (#13 &14) is simply dialog which I think explains what is not Catholic as much as what is.
  • St. Vincent (#16)  as stated above is IMO the primary quote used by those who desire to make a claim on the term Catholic, while not being in obedience, unity or communion to the bishop of rome, successor to St. Peter’s chair. He  uses examples to clarify what he meant by his theory, which can be found in the same book and link under #16  Chapters 4, 5, & 6
  • He draws on the example of the Donatists who as mentioned were schismatics, then the Arians who were heretics, then Martrys as witnesses to the Catholic faith, then one would think strange statement from Pope Stephen ” Let there be no innovation—nothing but what has been handed down.” This example point to communion with the bishop of Rome in the historical record. One would think then that this canon appeals in communion with Rome and required to be in global unity, doctrine, obedience with(not necessarily under) the chair of St. Peter in Rome.

As one can see from the primary sources the western church dealt with a lot of internal schism, from rigiorist mostly in Africa, heretics from the east and west, whereas the east deal more with theological speculation, which created heresy. It is my opinion that Christ select St. Peter as an integral part of the church and due to historical circumstances St. Peter chose Rome as his permanent chair. One of the theme’s that the fathers speak about is Catholic is from one end of the earth to the other. The ancients thought that they had achieved that goal; however today we know they were off a bit. That doesn’t change their claim however and I believe it is achieve by the Catholic church. A map of the Dioceses in the World

My conclusion is that Catholic is universal in geographic scope, unity in doctrine, unity with the bishop of Rome, obedience to scripture and the deposit of faith.

IOW’s your Catholic if your in communion with his guy:

pope-b16.jpg

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Before I begin I want to say that this is my personal opinion & understanding of the aforementioned documents and can not be construed as having any sort of teaching authority as a Catholic (pre or post Vatican II) would understand those terms, except where I quote the document directly. I don’t have any specialized training in theology. That which is infered, implied and or otherwise drawn from those documents is my own. As one who was born just several years prior to the Vatican II council, I was provided a solid, which is to say in those days “standard” understanding of the church and it’s teachings.

In the post conciliar era, the education of individuals hasn’t been maintained at that level as it was in the 50’s & 60’s and the culture has decline in morals and with the internal church scandals both in liturgical areas and in a percentage of it’s immoral priests and bishops caused further doubt in what is true. This is no fault of those individuals receiving that education, the fault lies elsewhere. Many, many individual Catholics I have known over these past 30 years or so as an adult have suffered greatly by what is commonly called the “spirit of Vatican II”.

For those that are not Cradle Catholics or for that matter post Vatican II Cradle Catholics, it’s likely difficult understanding the frequency and degree of the unnecessary changes made the past 40 years. This is not to say that the 50’s & 60’s were ideal times as a Catholic, but one obtained assurance that what was taught to you was firmly held by those who taught it and witnessed it as the Truth. Confusion, doubt and dispair can come to mind for those with a poor or limited grasp of the material.

This article then is for you who were raised in this environment and who desire to try and wrap you hands around this topic. This is not to say that this article by any means is all that you will need on the topic, but it is hoped that it will point you in the correct direction.

I say that because there are numerous, too numerous in fact, web sites which claim a traditional Catholic bend, which will attempt to lead the individual in a direction which believes these documents are not a continuation of Catholic tradition but a rejection of it.

Given the track record of a significant (IMO) number of Catholic bishops world-wide who either failed to recognize the agenda of certain prelates, who in some cases acted in what they believed was good faith and others not, would appear to give these web site justification in making that claim. I am not qualified nor will I attempt to discern motives of either those web-sites or those Catholic prelates.

However it isn’t very difficult to see that which was permitted to take place within the church these past 40 years and how many, both inside and outside the church’s formal structure, could led one to believe that Unitatis Redintegratio is not a continuation, but a departure from the documents of both Pope Pius XI & Pope Leo XIII. In this respect I emphasize with those who have grave concerns about how the Ecumenical movement has historically been implemented in actual practice. I share those concerns and I added on the documents of the CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH which addresses many of these false applications of Unitatis Redintegratio during this time frame. The timing of these IMO came about way to late in the game for my liking, but we are after all called to suffer with Christ.

I selected a blog Rorate Caeli,which I otherwise favor on other subjects as the example of what I would describe as a typical concerned, objection or rejection of this Vatican II Council document in the traditional corner and of course representative of schismatic traditional groups as well.

With all that said, due simply to the body of work involved you will need to grasp your favorite choice of beverage and snack, advise your spouse you will be busy wasting time on the computer again. Hopefully in this case it’s a good thing.

The primary source documents are:

Satis Cognitum-ON THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII – June, 1896

MORTALIUM ANIMOS-ON RELIGIOUS UNITY

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XI-Jan. 6, 1928

Mystici Corporis-ON THE MISTICAL BODY OF CHRIST
ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII – June 1943

ECCLESIAM SUAM -ON THE CHURCH

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PAUL VI- August, 1964

UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO(Decree on Ecumenism)

Second Vatican Council -November 1964

Ut Unum Sint – On commitment to Ecumenism

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE John Paul II- May, 1995

Dominus Jesus- ON THE UNICITY AND SALVIFIC UNIVERSALITY
OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHURCH

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH Joseph Card. Ratzinger confirmed by Pope John Paul II- August, 2000

RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS
OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
William Cardinal Levada confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI – June, 2007

Those quotes bolded and or underlined is by me for emphasis.

Pre- Vatican II Popes Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI , & Pope Pius XII

Pope Leo XIII

(SC) (9) para. [2]…St. Augustine notes that other heresies may spring up, to a single one of which, should any one give his assent, he is by the very fact cut off from Catholic unity. “No one who merely disbelieves in all (these heresies) can for that reason regard himself as a Catholic or call himself one. For there may be or may arise some other heresies, which are not set out in this work of ours, and, if any one holds to one single one of these he is not a Catholic” (S. Augustinus, De Haeresibus, n. 88)…..9. para.[5]…If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith: for what the Apostle St. James judges to be the effect of a moral delinquency, the same is to be said of an erroneous opinion in the matter of faith. “Whosoever shall offend in one point, is become guilty of all” (Ep. James ii., 10). Nay, it applies with greater force to an erroneous opinion. For it can be said with less truth that every law is violated by one who commits a single sin, since it may be that he only virtually despises the majesty of God the Legislator. But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and theformal motive of faith.“In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them” (S. Augustinus in Psal. liv., n. 19). And this indeed most deservedly; for they, who take from Christian doctrine what they please, lean on their own judgments, not on faith; and not “bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. x., 5), they more truly obey themselves than God. “You, who believe what you like, believe yourselves rather than the gospel”(S. Augustinus, lib. xvii., Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3).

13.para.[4]…In the formula of Catholic faith drawn up and proposed by Hormisdas, which was subscribed at the beginning of the sixth century in the great Eighth Council by the Emperor Justinian, by Epiphanius, John and Menna, the Patriarchs, this same is declared with great weight and solemnity. “For the pronouncement of Our Lord Jesus Christ saying: ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,’ &c., cannot be passed over. What is said is proved by the result, because Catholic faith has always been preserved without stain in the Apostolic See”(Post Epistolam, xxvi., ad omnes Episc. Hispan., n. 4). We have no wish to quote every available declaration; but it is well to recall the formula of faith which Michael Paleologus professed in the Second Council of Lyons: “The same holy Roman Church possesses the sovereign and plenary primacy and authority over the whole Catholic Church, which, truly and humbly, it acknowledges to have received together with the plenitude of power from the Lord Himself, in the person of St. Peter, the Prince or Head of the Apostles, of whom the Roman Pontiff is the successor. And as it is bound to defend the truth of faith beyond all others, so also if any question should arise concerning the faith it must be determined by its judgment” (Actin iv.).[Emphasis mine]

14. para. [2]….”The safety of the Church depends on the dignity of the chief priest, to whom if an extraordinary and supreme power is not given, there are as many schisms to be expected in the Church as there are priests” (S. Hieronymus, Dialog, contra Luciferianos, n. 9). It is necessary, therefore, to bear this in mind, viz., that nothing was conferred on the apostles apart from Peter, but that several things were conferred upon Peter apart from the Apostles. St. John Chrysostom in explaining the words of Christ asks: “Why, passing over the others, does He speak to Peter about these things?” And he replies unhesitatingly and at once, “Because he was pre-eminent among the Apostles, the mouthpiece of the Disciples, and the head of the college” (Hom. lxxxviii. in Joan., n. I). He alone was designated as the foundation of the Church. To him He gave the power of binding and loosing; to him alone was given the power of feeding. On the other hand, whatever authority and office the Apostles received, they received in conjunction with Peter. “If the divine benignity willed anything to be in common between him and the other princes, whatever He did not deny to the others He gave only through him. So that whereas Peter alone received many things, He conferred nothing on any of the rest without Peter participating in it” (S. Leo M. sermo iv., cap. 2).

Pope Pius XI

(MA) 2….For which reason conventions, meetings and addresses are frequently arranged by these persons, at which a large number of listeners are present, and at which all without distinction are invited to join in the discussion, both infidels of every kind, and Christians, even those who have unhappily fallen away from Christ or who with obstinacy and pertinacity deny His divine nature and mission. Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule.

8. This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.

9. These pan-Christians who turn their minds to uniting the churches seem, indeed, to pursue the noblest of ideas in promoting charity among all Christians: nevertheless how does it happen that this charity tends to injure faith?…How so great a variety of opinions can make the way clear to effect the unity of the Church We know not; that unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of belief and one faith of Christians. But We do know that from this it is an easy step to the neglect of religion orindifferentism and to modernism, as they call it. Those, who are unhappily infected with these errors, hold that dogmatic truth is not absolute but relative, that is, it agrees with the varying necessities of time and place and with the varying tendencies of the mind, since it is not contained in immutable revelation, but is capable of being accommodated to human life.

10. So, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics: for the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it.

14. That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred Scriptures. “Christ,” says the Apostle, “is the Head of the Body of the Church.”[13] If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity, according to those words of Paul: “Though many we are one body in Christ.”[14] But it is not enough that the Body of the Church should be an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: “the Church is visible because she is a body.[15] Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely “pneumatological” as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are untied by an invisible bond.

23….For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.

Pope Pius XII

(MC)103…Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the “great and glorious Body of Christ” and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church.

One can see from reading Pope Leo that any diverging for the teachings of the Catholic church means one is outside the formal structure of the church. Drawing on St. Augustine even if one has agreement on many points, if you disagree on a few you are not in the church. He goes on in paragraphs 13 & 14 that unity depends on the papacy. Pope Pius XI in a concise document (unlike Pope John Paul II;>) states that indifferentism, modernism and relativism are to be avoided; paragraphs 2,8-10. This will be an important point that needed to be addressed in the later documents of the CDF.

Pope Pius XII states that there is a relationship between those not in union with the Catholic church but are with the Mystical Body of Christ.

All three documents are direct and at least the first two relatively concise.

Council and post Council documents:

If one reads Pope Paul VI, Vatican II -Unitatis Redintegratio, & Ut Unum Sint by Pope John Paul II there is a discernable difference in tone and openness to the failures of the human aspect of the church institution, not found in the pre-council documents and a clear plea for dialog with other churches and communions. One must recall that Pope Paul VI lifted the anathemas of 1054 as did Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople on December 7,1965. The question arises does the lifting of the anathema from the Catholic side mean that the Orthodox church while not in full communion is no longer in schism?

The emphasis on the post council documents are about dialog, pray and acknowledgement that the Holy Spirit works in and through individual Christians outside the formal boundaries of the Catholic church, but that these efficacy is by the same Catholic church. Corporate bodies are defined as communities, not particular churches.

Pope Paul VI on

Popes Leo XIII and Pius XII on the Church

(ES) 30. There are, however, two documents which deserve special mention: the encyclical Satis cognitum of Pope Leo XIII, published in 1896, and the encyclical Mystici corporis of Pope Pius XII, published in 1943. These documents offer us ample and clear teaching concerning the subject of Our present discourse: that divine institution through which Christ continues His redemptive work in the world.

46. First We must lay down a few rules to guide us in the work of reform. Obviously, there can be no question of reforming the essential nature of the Church or its basic and necessary structure. To use the word reform in that context would be to misuse it completely. We cannot brand the holy and beloved Church of God with the mark of infidelity.

109. We readily accept the principle of stressing what we all have in common rather than what divides us. This provides a good and fruitful basis for our dialogue, and we are prepared to engage upon it with a will. We would even go further and declare our readiness to examine how we can meet the legitimate desires of our separated Christian brothers on many points of difference concerning tradition, spirituality, canon law, and worship, for it is Our dearest wish to embrace them in a perfect union of faith and charity.

We must stress however that it is not in Our power to make any concessions regarding the integrity of the faith and the obligations of charity. We realize that this may cause misgiving and opposition in certain quarters, but now that the Catholic Church has on its own initiative taken steps to restore the unity of Christ’s fold, it will not cease to exercise the greatest prudence and deliberation. It will continue to insist that the claims it makes for itself-claims which still have the effect of alienating the separated brethren-derive from the will of Christ, not from any spirit of self-aggrandizement based on the record of its past achievements, nor from any unsound theological speculation. Rightly understood, they will be seen to be for the good of all, for the common unity, liberty and fullness of the Christian life. The Catholic Church will never cease to prepare itself by prayer and penance for the longed-for reconciliation.

110. Are there not those who say that unity between the separated Churches and the Catholic Church would be more easily achieved if the primacy of the Roman pontiff were done away with? We beg our separated brothers to consider the groundlessness of this opinion. Take away the sovereign Pontiff and the Catholic Church would no longer be catholic. Moreover, without the supreme, effective, and authoritative pastoral office of Peter the unity of Christ’s Church would collapse. It would be vain to look for other principles of unity in place of the true one established by Christ Himself. As St. Jerome rightly observed: “There would be as many schisms in the Church as there are priests.”

And Primacy of Service and Love

We would add that this cardinal principle of holy Church is not a supremacy of spiritual pride and a desire to dominate mankind, but a primacy of service, ministration, and love. It is no vapid rhetoric which confers on Christ’s vicar the title: “Servant of the servants of God.”

Vatican II

(UR) 3…The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ’s body,(21)refers to Council of Florence Session VIIIand have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.(22)refers to S. AUGUSTINUS, In Ps. 32, Enarr. 11, 29: PL 36, 299

3.[con’t]….It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life-that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.

Reference #23. Cf. CONC. LATERANENSE IV (1215) Constitutio IV: Mansi 22, 990; CONC. LUGDUNENSE II (1274), Professio fidei Michaelis Palaeologi: Mansi 24, 71 E; CONC. FLORENTINUM, Sess. VI (1439), Definitio Laetentur caeli: Mansi 31, 1026 E.

4….The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult; then, “dialogue” between competent experts from different Churches and Communities. At these meetings, which are organized in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of his Communion in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features. In such dialogue, everyone gains a truer knowledge and more just appreciation of the teaching and religious life of both Communions. In addition, the way is prepared for cooperation between them in the duties for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience; and, wherever this is allowed, there is prayer in common…..the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from attaining the fullness of catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons who, though attached to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all her bearings.

24…the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from attaining the fullness of catholicity proper to her, in those of her sons who, though attached to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all her bearings.This Sacred Council exhorts the faithful to refrain from superficiality and imprudent zeal, which can hinder real progress toward unity. Their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic, that is to say, faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed, and at the same time directed toward that fullness to which Our Lord wills His Body to grow in the course of time.

Pope John Paul II

(UUS) 10 …The Council states that the Church of Christ “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him“, and at the same time acknowledges that “many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside her visible structure. These elements, however, as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, possess an inner dynamism towards Catholic unity”.

“It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe that they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and value in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church“.

11. The Catholic Church thus affirms that during the two thousand years of her history she has been preserved in unity, with all the means with which God wishes to endow his Church, and this despite the often grave crises which have shaken her, the infidelity of some of her ministers, and the faults into which her members daily fall.

38…As far as the formulation of revealed truths is concerned, the Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiaestates: “Even though the truths which the Church intends to teach through her dogmatic formulas are distinct from the changeable conceptions of a given epoch and can be expressed without them, nevertheless it can sometimes happen that these truths may be enunciated by the Sacred Magisterium in terms that bear traces of such conceptions. In view of this, it must be stated that the dogmatic formulasof the Church’s Magisterium were from the very beginning suitable for communicating revealed truth, and that as they are they remain for ever suitable for communicating this truth to those who interpret them correctly”.

Ok so what’s the beef and what happened?

The recovery begins-

J.Cardinal Ratzinger

Dominus Iesus:

4. The Church’s constant missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de iure (or in principle).[ Exactly what Pope Pius XI warned against.]As a consequence, it is held that certain truths have been superseded; for example, the definitive and complete character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, [denial of which is heresy] the nature of Christian faith as compared with that of belief in other religions,[ditto] the inspired nature of the books of Sacred Scripture,[ditto]the personal unity between the Eternal Word and Jesus of Nazareth,[ditto] the unity of the economy of the Incarnate Word and the Holy Spirit, [ditto]the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability — while recognizing the distinction — of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church.

You get the idea

The roots of these problems are to be found in certain presuppositions of both a philosophical and theological nature, which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth. Some of these can be mentioned: the conviction of the elusiveness and inexpressibility of divine truth, even by Christian revelation; relativistic attitudes toward truth itself, according to which what is true for some would not be true for others; the radical opposition posited between the logical mentality of the West and the symbolic mentality of the East; the subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its “gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being”; the difficulty in understanding and accepting the presence of definitive and eschatological events in history; the metaphysical emptying of the historical incarnation of the Eternal Logos, reduced to a mere appearing of God in history; the eclecticism of those who, in theological research, uncritically absorb ideas from a variety of philosophical and theological contexts without regard for consistency, systematic connection, or compatibility with Christian truth; finally, the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.On the basis of such presuppositions, which may evince different nuances, certain theological proposals are developed — at times presented as assertions, and at times as hypotheses — in which Christian revelation and the mystery of Jesus Christ and the Church lose their character of absolute truth and salvific universality, or at least shadows of doubt and uncertainty are cast upon them.

Hence the traditionalist valid concerns with the validity of Vatican II is actually caused by those who implemended the council in ways not only not intended, but in ways counter to them.

6. Therefore, the theory of the limited, incomplete, or imperfect character of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which would be complementary to that found in other religions, is contrary to the Church’s faith….Such a position is in radical contradiction with the foregoing statements of Catholic faith according to which the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God is given in Jesus Christ.Thus, theological faith (the acceptance of the truth revealed by the One and Triune God) is often identified with belief in other religions, which is religious experience still in search of the absolute truth and still lacking assent to God who reveals himself. This is one of the reasons why the differences between Christianity and the other religions tend to be reduced at times to the point of disappearance.

17… the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church.

The Christian faithful are therefore not permitted to imagine that the Church of Christ is nothing more than a collection — divided, yet in some way one — of Churches and ecclesial communities; nor are they free to hold that today the Church of Christ nowhere really exists, and must be considered only as a goal which all Churches and ecclesial communities must strive to reach”. In fact, “the elements of this already-given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities

Donimus Iesus isn’t quite as blunt as the pre-council popes letters, but it IMO strikes an excellent balance that appears harsh to the spirit of vatican II crowd and to some of our separated brothers. But it was and is needed to combat the relativism that creeped into the church particularly with her theologians.

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

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. Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church

“It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”.However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.

In summary then Vatican II council and the post conciliar popes have been and continue to be faithful to the pre-Vatican II popes and the ancient Tradition of the Catholic church. It can be said in all frankness that the response times were like the liturgy responses rather late in the damage control area. This however is not the fault of the councils documents, but of the individuals who chose to be as Pope Puis XI termed “pan-christian” which is to say false christians.

1st draft, on the 80th anniversary of Pope Pius XI Mortalium Animos.

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1. An Anglican is fully Catholic by the standards of the Scriptures and the Patristic period.

This is pretty non-specific and therefore difficult to address. Since Fr. Hart has refered to the Vincentian Canon in the past which was written in the 5th century, what are the odds that the Catholic church St. Vincent refers to is one other then the bishop & church of Rome? And the standard of Scripture is if anything a canon, which was developed over time by a given church. So while one can discuss which church (Rome or Canterbury) is closer to “the church” , one can certainly say that Pope ST. Leo the Great was closer still to said church and I don’t think there’s much argument as to who is closer in standards to St. Leo.

2. Our orders have been preserved without defect, with all of the charisms and power Christ has granted through his apostles to his Church.

I am out of my depth on this one. I defer to the bishop of Rome, but I recognize that his judgement in this is jurisdictional not doctrinal, so there’s hope that perhaps some evidence in the historical record will come to light that perhaps will change that ruling.

3. Our doctrine is better and more pure than that of Rome.

The standard for schism & or heresy more so then the Vincentian Canon is the Formula of Hormisdas, I doubt that Fr. Hart’s doctrine is as pure(as in compliance with) as the following Formula

And consequently I hope that I shall be in one communion with you, the communion which the apostolic see preaches, in which is the whole and perfect solidarity of the Christian religion, promising for the future that at the celebration of the holy mysteries there shall be no mention made of the names of those who have been separated from the communion of the Catholic Church, that is, who are not in agreement with the apostolic see.

Points 4 & 5- given that he is a Saint of the church aren’t deemed to give a response on the issue of his Character. I never cared for his concept of development either, but that’s not a cause to speak ill of the dead.

6. The Pope is not infallible.

Pope Agatho letter to the 6th Ecumenical council builds on Pope Hormisdas Formula and maintains the Apostolic see has never err and remains unsoiled, that with a pope condemned of failing to correct heresy. In fact Vat.I uses the Formula in it’s definitions.

7. The Pope does not have Universal Jurisdiction.

Only if your of the school of Orthodoxy which rejects the doctrine of a universal church. If the Catholic church is only visible as a local entity, joined with other Catholic churches aka. insofar as a local church possesses Christ entirely, every Eucharistic community is the Church and all other forms of synodal, national or universal bodies which are external to the nature of the church. If that could be demonstrated I think he would have a point.

8. The Pope is the bishop of Peter’s See, but so is the Patriarch of Antioch.

In the first three centuries Rome, Alexandria and Antioch were the Peterine sees. There was however, only one Chair of St. Peter and it went with him to Rome. IMO one would have to bring forth evidence that the church in Antioch celebrated the feast of the Chair of St. Peter to claim that they actually believed that venerable see still held some or joint authority of the Apostle. Info on the Cathedra Petri

9. The service of Holy Communion is a perfectly valid Mass or Eucharist.

Like point #2 I’ll have to defer on this one.
10. Our Anglican fathers were not Calvinists or Lutherans. –Agreed
11. “Protestant” is not the opposite of “Catholic.”-The meaning has changed over time and the revelance today certainly isn’t as strong as it once was, but isn’t that because the Protestants are finding more in common today with Catholicism then in the past?

12. Some Catholics are Protestant Catholics.

I haven’t read that much of Fr. Hart to know what he means by that. Since the term “Catholic” is IMO attempted to be co-oped I don’t know if he is referring to Anglo-catholics protesting, Catholic-Protesting [in which case they either are in heresy or schism on doctrinal matters already determined or they are at liberty to hold positions not yet finalized, in which case they aren’t protestant, but simply Catholic.

13. We do not need doctrines like “the merits of the saints” or a concept of Purgatory as “temporal punishment.”

If I agreed that his points 1, 3, 6 to 8 were correct; but I don’t. The need is easier to accept when one holds to point #1 as expressed by the Catholic church.

14. When the Articles say that “The Romish doctrine of Purgatory is a fond thing,” this does not mean that we are supposed to be fond of it.

Naturally, but perhaps if Article VI had not removed the two books of Maccabees from Bible as in point #1, then a continuing practice of prays for the dead would allow for a better understanding of Purgatory.

15. At the end of the day, if it is not in the Bible, it REALLY cannot be necessary for salvation.

Again standing on Article VI, I would expect from an Anglican. I can as my church understands it agree with it, but certainly not as those in 1563. But I’m much to much a fan of St. Ambrose, Eusebius of Vercelli & Lucifer of Cagliari to allow the state to determine articles of faith.

I think the Anglican communion has much tradition to bring to the Catholic communion. It should be welcomed back and allowed to keep it’s rites. The church would greatly benefit from it just as it does it’s other rites within the faith. And I’d much rather have a Fr. hart in the fold then a Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.

The last two points seem more of an appeal to Anglicans so I’ll leave those alone.

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I’m at the point in my life were I’d like to say that I’m like a fine bottle of wine which only improves with age. However, it’s more likely that I’m a late 50’s Chevy, which only appreciates in value because my peers are slowly dying off and there’s not many of us left.

If you go to just about any Catholic Church web site, you’ll see great pictures of stain glass windows (if their old enough) or the architectural design (again before 1970 [who looks at at any church designed after 1970 anyway]), their new resource center,etc., but it’s the rare site that has a picture of the confessional.

As a Cradle Catholic [TM pending;.)] I recall about 40% of my parish going to confession on any given Saturday. We had 4 priests hearing confessions and there were 2 lines on either side at each confessional. An additional 15 to 20 folks in the pews, half saying their penance and the other half reflecting on what they needed to confess. A sense of sin loomed large back then.

Hollywood still has the image of the “traditional confessional”old-style-confessional.jpg

Now that’s what I’m talking about – old school (although I like the darker stained wood for more somber effect)! In the grand old days of pre-Vatican II- it’s dark, confined, quite enough to hear yourself and the priest exhale. The role of the one confessing is like having to wait to get a root canal. Your tooth is killing you, but you don’t want to admit there’s a problem. Confession lets face it- is dirty business. We are all saved by the BLOOD of Christ and it’s His blood we spilled when we sin.

I know that’s confessionally incorrect (pun intended) as oppose to politically incorrect to mention going to confession these days. Won’t want to upset folks in the pews to much. But that’s the bottom line. Why even Britney Spears in her new condemned music video knows what a confessional should look like (but not dress like). I’d post a link, but it would be an occasion for sin for me. And don’t look it up either, because then I’m leading you into an occasion to sin. Just be thankful your not an Irish-guilt ridden genetically trained Cradle Catholic like me. Another trademark pending. Although knowing my family surely one of them or half of Boston, Chicago, NYC or New Jersey Irish, must have coined that as well or at least thought it.

Humanity and in particularly myself don’t like to have to place a spotlight on our sinfulness. We don’t need to be reminded that we’re sinners, unless of course we actually desire to correct those evil habits we have ignored or rationalized into acceptable behaviour based on the prevailing secular value. Co-habitation must head the list these days with 60% of society finding it “better”to live together then marry; must be a lot of Christians and I’m sure Catholics have a good share in that 60% Christian co-habitation deal, but that’s a topic for another day.

Confession is always good around Advent and Lenten seasons. I like a campaign Wuerl ran this past Lenten season–dubbed “The Light Is On for You”. It kind of grows on me.

You don’t hear the Latin Mass traditionalist & the SSPX complaining about confessionals like this one confession-modern.jpg in the modern confessional. Heck I couldn’t even find the face to face set-up with a priest as is the norm in many post Vat. II designed churches.

I admit I need that screen. I’m confessing to a priest, but he’s just a representative of Christ. For me it’s like he isn’t even there, until I’m finishing saying what I need to say to repent of. When I confess I’m speaking to the Creator of the universe. The one who gives me life, sustains me, gives me everything I have, everyone I’ve ever loved, everyone I will ever love or care about in this life. He’s the one I’ve offended, but the priest is the witness, the representative not just of Christ, but of the church community, he stands in for the individual I cut off on the highway, whom I can’t ask for forgiveness, he stands in for the co-worker who drives me nuts and can’t seem to forgive or ask forgiveness. To the hundreds or perhaps thousands whom I may have sinned against but in my youth didn’t care, couldn’t care or was to young or to stupid to know I offended.

And when you walk out of the dark enclosed place a warmth of heat and light comes over you. Intellectually I know I can “simply” ask God to forgive me and I know He will. But hearing the word of the priest validates what I know in my mind and God graces makes it so in the heart.

Perhaps confession will make a comeback as Time magazine indicates. Then again we may just view it like Confessionals Cartoons.

I’ll pray for the former and hope the church continues to “Keep the light on – On any given Saturday”.

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women-priestees.jpgWell theNational Catholic Reporter

set me off. The cries of injustice (believe me if we could we would ordain them) this isn’t a secret men’s club that is suppressing women. All of those issues are moot. Though church bans women priests more and more women are saying, ‘Why wait?’

by PAMELA SCHAEFFER.

Woman IMO have always had a clearer understanding of the spiritual realm then men. I think this is because they have the gift from God to bear children. The connection between the life growing within ones body is a miracle and woman have a stronger sense of creating and maintaining bonds within the community. The church has throughout it’s history offered opportunities for women that secular society up until this century was denied them. Heading up hospitals, convents, schools, allowing upper level education have been a hallmark of the church.

No one has an entitlement or a right to being a priest. One is called by God, one doesn’t tell God they have a right to be a priest based on gender.  Perhaps as our Lord says “It not you who chose me, but I who chose you…” Jn 15:16 .However, now some are attempting to claim the church is oppressive to women by denying them access into the ministerial priesthood. Some men are denied as well and this IS by canon law only not doctrinally as is the case for women. I’m married and I can’t be a priest. If I felt called to be a deacon I still have to have permission from my wife to do so. In this age it’s rather difficult to see obedience as anything but oppression. This is because rights are touted over responsibilities; self-absorption is promoted over self-sacrifice.

As all powerful and all knowing as detractors of the papacy think it(the papacy) claims for its self the document Ordinatio Sacerdotal points out that

2. the Church does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination.

IOW the papacy and the collective church has no authority to grant women into the priesthood, even if it desired to do so.

4.Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.

Note that the church doesn’t say it doesn’t want women as priest. It says it doesn’t have the authority to do so; implied here is that even if it wanted to it couldn’t. What you mean the papacy acknowledges that it doesn’t have authority to over rule anything foundational to the Church? Yes Roman Catholic Women priests that’s what it means.

Thankfully Archbishop Burke was pro-active in re-stating the church position on this on November 9, 2007

An the archbishop raises the second grave issue of attempting to celebrate Mass by these newly “ordained” priestess. Bring scandal, disobedience and sacrilege gives one a whole new meaning to church lady. I have no problem if they feel called by their god to worship as they deem fit and necessary, just drop the catholic from their claims and allow everyone to go on with their lives.

I also find it offensive that a Jewish community would offer up their Jewish synagogue to ordain two local Catholic women as priests. First I would think that Jews would take offense to anyone using their synagogue for non Jewish rites. Secondly if the shoe was on the other foot, I’m sure that they would not take kindly to some non Jewish religious community providing a save harbour to disgruntled Jews intent on causing scandal and sacrilege to their faith.

Thankfully the local archbishop, Pope John Paul II declared the position of the ancient church; and JOSEPH Card. RATZINGER excommunicated the Danube Seven.

It is sad that women who have such energy, obvious theological education, desire to serve their community have channelled it into such destructive manners. I guess thankfully both sides have come out and drawn lines in the sand. At least everyone knows where they stand or fall as the case may be.Other then prayers for the women, prayers for those who helped assisted them, prayers for those scandalized and prayers for the sacrilege of offering up a false mass.

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pine-cone-b16.jpg

For those that didn’t notice it, I was trying to get a close up of what Pope Benedict XVI had cope bearers.

Nicola De Grandi has posted a good article on The penitential Papal Formale (it’s back. Here I thought I’d be breaking new ground and it’s already been on the net today. A good book on vestments and protocal is The Church Visible for those with an interest. Shouts In The Piazza also has a few excellent comments as well.

As a cradle Catholic and old fart, it may be informative to say that the cope while appearing to the world as simply more pomp, the theological underpinnings as I understood them is that the bishop does not act on his own during the liturgy, he is dependent on someone else even the wearing of ones cloths. It’s an act of humility or at least thats the intent.

Other touches made by Fr Guido Marini (new Vatican director of Liturgy) are the Pope’s mitre belonged to Pope Pius IX, and the gilded throne was used by Leo XIII.

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