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    • Is the Church of Christ the Roman Catholic Church?

      • The new draft still insisted that the Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church, but a clause was added, noting that many elements of sanctification can be found outside its total structure, elements that properly belong to the church of Christ. A revised draft presented to the council in 1964 introduced the word subsistit into the Latin text.
  1. The most obvious, though, is the name: “Church of Christ” and the “Roman Catholic Church.”. Brother Phillip: The Church Of Christ, or Iglesia Ni Cristo, Kirche Christi, whatever language you say it in is the Church that is in the Bible. While the name “ Roman Catholic Church ,” isn’t. We can read here “the Church Of Christ ...

    • The Source of The Issue
    • "Subsists in"?
    • Addressing The Matter
    • Why Didn't They Just Say "is"?
    • Is The Catholic Church The "One True Church" Or Not?
    • What About Eastern Non-Catholic Churches?
    • What About Protestants?
    • What Now?

    The source of the issue is found in Vatican II's dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, where we read: 8. This Church [the Church of Christ] constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

    The matter would be much clearer if the Council had used the traditional language of saying that the Church of Christ isthe Catholic Church. Instead, they use the unfamiliar wording "subsists in" (Latin, subsistit in) instead of "is" (Latin, est). This can make it appear that the Council was backing away from the claim that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, and many people--including Catholic theologians--took it in precisely this way. But was that the Council's intent?

    The controversy over the meaning of this passage in the Council grew to such a point that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided to address it in 2007 in this document. It said: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church? Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.. . . 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 inthe churches and ecclesial Communit...

    The document also addresses this: Why was the expression “subsists in” adopted instead of the simple word “is”? The use of this expression ["subsists in"], which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are “numerous elements of sanctification and of truth” which are found outside her structure, but which “as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity”. “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” [ibid., q. 3]. The CDF also issued a commentaryon the Responses docu...

    This is answered most directly in the commentary that the CDF published along with the document in question. According to the commentary: Contrary to many unfounded interpretations, therefore, the change from “est” to “subsistit” does not signify that the Catholic Church has ceased to regard herself as the one true Church of Christ. Rather it simply signifies a greater openness to the ecumenical desire to recognise truly ecclesial characteristics and dimensions in the Christian communities not in full communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the “plura elementa sanctificationis et veritatis” ["many elements of sanctification and truth"] present in them. Consequently, although there is only one Church which “subsists” in one unique historical subject there are true ecclesial realities which exist beyond its visible boundaries.

    While many Eastern Christians are in communion with the Catholic Church, not all are at present. Examples of the latter include the Orthodox, Copts, and members of the Assyrian Church of the East. Vatican II continued to use "church" to refer to the particular or local churches among these Christians. The Responsesdocument states: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term ["church"]. “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. . . . 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...

    The Responses document explains: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense. This does not exclude referring to them as churches in a colloquial sense. And, in fact, you can find many documents on the Vatican web site doing exactly that. But it does mean that, because they lack a valid episcopate and a valid Eucharist, they are lacking things essential to the nature of a local church in the proper sense. This is a view that can be documented all the way back to the beginning of the second century, where Ignatius of Antioch wrote about the necessity of the three-fold ministry of bishop, p...

    If you like the information I've presented here, you should join my Secret Information Club. If you're not familiar with it, the Secret Information Club is a free service that I operate by email. I send out information on a variety of fascinating topics connected with the Catholic faith. In fact, the very first thing you’ll get if you sign up is information about what Pope Benedict said about the book of Revelation. He has a lot of interesting things to say! If you’d like to find out what they are, just sign up at www.SecretInfoClub.comor use this handy sign-up form: Just email me at jimmy@secretinfoclub.comif you have any difficulty. In the meantime, what do you think?

  2. People also ask

    Is the Church of Christ the Roman Catholic Church?

    Is the Church of Christ a subsistence church?

    Why did the Catholic Church use the term subsistit?

    Where does the fullness of the Catholic Church come from?

  3. The church of Jesus Christ would never step forward and proclaim that they are the ones that killed 150 Million of His followers. Fact is, the Biblical church of Jesus Christ would be those that WERE murdered, raped, and molested throughout history. It is the Church of Jesus Christ that is persecuted, NOT the one DOING the persecution!

    • The Development of A Doctrine
    • Debates Since The Council
    • The Recent C.D.F. Statement
    • What Has Been Left Unsaid
    • A Thought Experiment
    • The Danger of Checklists

    In the four centuries following the Reformation, Catholic theology tended to identify the church of Christ completely with the Catholic Church. This helps explain initial Catholic suspicion of the ecumenical movement as it emerged in the early 20th century. In 1928 Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Mortalium Animos(No. 10), wrote: Fifteen years later, Pius XII issued an encyclical on the church, Mystici Corporis, in which he identified the mystical body of Christ with the Catholic Church. Since a number of Catholic theologians questioned this statement, he returned to it in his encyclical Humani Generis, where he insisted that the mystical body and the Catholic Church are one and the same reality. The preparatory draft document on the church that the bishops were given at the opening session of Vatican II followed Pius XII in identifying the mystical body of Christ with the Catholic Church. So many negative comments were expressed about this draft that it was withdrawn, and a new draf...

    The first significant debate on these questions was provoked by Leonardo Boff in his book Church: Charism and Power. The Brazilian theologian suggested that the church of Christ subsists not only in the Catholic Church but also in other churches. In 1985 the C.D.F. issued a notification that rejected Boffs interpretation, asserting that there could be but one subsistence of Christs church, namely the Catholic Church, outside of which there are only elements of the church. (Notice that the council never used the qualifier only, but spoke instead of many elements of the church that are present outside the boundaries of Catholicism.) The C.D.F.s 1985 response effectively denied that the council had initiated a shift in church teaching. Many bishops and theologians closely involved in the formulation of the councils teaching, including Cardinal Johannes Willebrands of the Netherlands, who had served as the head of what was then the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, took issue w...

    The Vatican statement was published in order to correct an erroneous interpretation of the councils teaching. The C.D.F. insists, with Becker, that the councils employment of the subsistit passage did not represent any change in church teaching; rather, the council only developed, deepened and more fully explained it. Later it states that the council used the term subsistitto indicate the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. These claims challenge a solid theological consensus to the contrary that has emerged over the last four decades, one variously affirmed by such distinguished theologians and ecumenists as the late Yves Congar, George Tavard, Guiseppe Alberigo, John Borelli, Joseph Komonchak and Francis Sullivan, among others. The C.D.F.s Responses must be taken seriously as an authoritative document issued by a Roman dicastery; its authority, however, does not place it beyond respectful yet critical analysis. The document and accompanying commentary c...

    Many have reacted negatively to certain terms that have appeared throughout this debate, like fullness and defect, which suggest an enduring form of Catholic triumphalism. However, these terms apply only to one legitimate, but limited, perspective on the church: when the council used terms like fullness, the bishops had in mind certain objectiveelementspresent in the church. Thus the council wrote of the means of sanctification and truththe sacraments, the Scriptures, the Petrine ministry, etc.that are fully present only in the Catholic Church. The council admitted that many of these ecclesial elements (the Scriptures, baptism) are present in other Christian traditions, but that non-Catholic communities lack certain other elements (e.g., Petrine ministry). It is often overlooked that the council was content to confine its reflections to the objective institutional integrity of the church. No conciliar document, nor any postconciliar document that I am aware of, has attended to a som...

    Consider the following thought experiment. Imagine a neighborhood with two churches: Grace Lutheran and St. Bernadette Catholic parish. According to the councils teaching, the Lutheran congregation would be lacking some specific means of sanctification and truth available, in principle, to St. Bernadettes. Presumably, they do not have access to a universal ministry of unity (the papacy), the sacrament of reconciliation or the full reality of the Eucharist. Yet Grace Lutheran Church might be fostering a community that emphasizes Christian fellowship, hospitality and the dignity of ones baptismal calling. Church leaders might stress the necessity of being biblically literate and living with fidelity and passion, a biblical vision of discipleship. On the other hand, St. Bernadettes might be a community where Christian hospitality is almost completely absent and genuine fellowship minimal, a community in which baptism is simply a christening ritual performed on infants, where the Script...

    There are real dangers in reducing an analysis of Christian community to a kind of checklist. At certain points in the history of Christianity, communities flourished in spite of having little if any access to certain means of sanctification and truth that the Catholic Church now considers vital. Many churches of the first three centuries, for example, flourished with only minimal if any contact with the church of Rome. For almost 1,000 years there was no access to anything like the sacrament of reconciliation (penance) as we know it today. In Korea, Japan, the Hispanic American Southwest and among some North American native tribes, the faith was kept alive for decades and even centuries despite the absence of ordained clergy. We must also question whether these means of sanctification and truth can be adequately grasped in the juridical language of validity/invalidity. For example, the most essential elements at stake in ecumenical debate include apostolic succession, the Petrine m...

  4. Christ's Church Subsists in the Catholic Church. Christ founded only one Church his Church — on Peter, with the guarantee of indefectibility in the face of the persecutions, divisions and obstacles of every kind which she would encounter in the course of history (cf. Mt 16:18). Therefore, only one Church exists, which we confess, in the Creed ...

  5. Oct 20, 2021 · Pope Francis meets with Catholicos Karekin II, the leader of the Armenian Apostolic Church, on Oct. 16, 2021. | Vatican Media. By Andrea Gagliarducci Vatican City, Oct 20, 2021 / 02:00 am

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