It was kindly brought to my attention by an Orthodox member of my board that Forbes had an article discussing the document issued today from the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith concerning the Catholic Church's relation to non-Catholic churches and communities. According to what he gathered from the article, he explained to me, "Apparently, one of the 'lungs' is defective."
Now, right off the bat I knew the article was sure to distort what the document was actually saying. And lo and behold, after reading it myself, I was not incorrect. I suggested that it's probably wise to actually read the document itself before coming to any conclusions about its content, as the media is consistently misleading when talking about Catholicism.
Then I compared a bit of what the article said to what the actual document said. It's not even anything new!! It's just RESTATING (quite literally, by using quotes from past documents) what has already been said, and nowhere does the term "defective" appear in it.
The title of the article is "Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches." A very nice way to start out misleading people. This document wasn't put together by the Pope, it was ratified by him, and the problem is that the document is using "Church" in a very specific way, which it explains itself, using it in the "traditional" way. When speaking theologically (and philosophically) you have to use very precise terms. The article is assuming they mean church in the everyday way we speak, and makes it sound like "the pope" is saying other Christian groups aren't good enough to be considered a church, or something whack like that.
The truth is, the document is simply stating what has already been said, that we believe Christ instituted ONE Church, to which He entrusted the sacraments, and which is carried on by apostolic succession, which subsists in the Catholic Church. Without those things, it's not Christ's one Church instituted by Him. No big surprises there! Nothing new!
But look at what was so conveniently glossed over by Forbes in the document:
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.
Instead they say things like this:
On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, but more liberal ones called it a step back from Vatican II.
Translation: By the way readers, just in case you didn't know, Benny is an old fogey that's trying to get rid of all the progress we libs have made. BOOOOO!!!
Looks like they didn't actually read the cover letter to the motu proprio, big surprise.
Reading on in the Forbes article, we find this little gem:
...it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
Oh brother...that statement is completely backwards. It's not that they are ecclesial communities and therefore do not have the sacraments (I assume that's what the "means of salvation", which appears nowhere in the document, is referring to), it's that BECAUSE they do not have the sacraments (because they broke away from apostolic succession) "The Church" does not subsist in those communities by definition.
However, let's take a little look at what the document itself says:
"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"
So, this is where the whole "defective" bit is from. Boy, them Catholics sure are meanies, trying to explain that even the separated churches and communities are used as instruments of salvation. How dare they?
Now, hold onto your hat, I'm about to post the awful stuff "The Pope" supposedly said about the Orthodox...implying they're a defective lung and all that. Brace yourself...
Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds", they merit the title of "particular or local Churches", and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.
"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.
On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history.
Oh! The horror! How could he say such things?
And more from Forbes:
Despite the harsh tone of the document, it stresses that Benedict remains committed to ecumenical dialogue.
Oh it's so harsh, I know, saying how other communities offer truth and act as instruments of salvation, saying how the Orthodox Churches have true sacraments and apostolic succession. How DARE they?!?!
There was no indication about why the pope felt it necessary to release the document, particularly since his 2000 document summed up the same principles. Some analysts suggested it could be a question of internal church politics, or that it could simply be an indication of Benedict using his office as pope to again stress key doctrinal issues from his time at the congregation.
Translation: Who knows why the old bat wanted to stress all that HARSH stuff, we all know he's just a rad trad waiting to build back the walls we worked so hard to tear down.
(Maybe they should have read the introduction.)
So, there it is. Oh dear me...how will we ever build back the bridges that have been so virulently destroyed by this vicious document? I fear the damage it did, heartlessly restating what has been said countless times before, is simply irreversible!
And THAT, my friends, is why we don't take the media seriously.