The Inquisition rumbles:
Pope Benedict XVI has ignited controversy across the world by approving a document saying non-Catholic Christian communities are either defective or not true churches, and the Roman Catholic Church provides the only true path to salvation.
“Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” said the document, reasserting the primacy of Catholicism.
It said other Christian communities such as Protestants “cannot be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense” since they don’t have what’s known as apostolic succession – that is, the ability to trace their bishops back to the original 12 apostles of Jesus. The document said the Orthodox church suffered from a “wound” because it did not recognize the primacy of the pope, adding the wound was “still more profound” among Protestant denominations.
It was “difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to them,” said the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, purporting Roman Catholicism was “the one true Church of Christ.”
“These separated churches and communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation,” the document read. “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.”
I don’t take much exception to this statement, except for the inaccurate report that Pope Benedict is claiming salvation comes through the Catholic Church. He isn’t, nor is the Congregation, such a description is simply an example of the inability of the media to understand theological issues than anything very controversial.
Dread should have a field day with this one. The statement makes complete sense if you understand what the Congregation is asserting, which almost certainly isn’t what 99.99 percent of the people think he is saying. And honestly, I’m delighted to see the Latin Mass is back. I’ll probably attend a service or two, in fact. John Paul II was a good pope, but Benedict is off to a blazing start. (Just a little Inquisition humor for you there….) Someone should send him one of Sam Harris’s books, that just might be enough to cause him to rethink that whole “we don’t burn atheists” thing.
Oh… you did know that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is the institution formerly known as the Inquisition, right?