Alright, I won’t go into my pet-peeve of the fact that I can’t take communion in Catholic churches and my Catholic friends telling me that it’s not because I am not viewed as a Christian, it is because of the difference in the Protestant interpretation of the host. Well, folks, the Pope just issued a statement of his long-held and published beliefs that the rest of us aren’t true Christians because our Bishops cannot trace directly back to Peter.

The Pope authorized the release of a Paper authored by Vatican Prefect William Cardinal Levada, seeking to “clarify” the Vatican II Council changes (the Pope was part of the Council while a priest) in theological discussions, to “teach” and in the Preamble states,

Among the many new contributions to the field, [MBT: of the Vatican II Council interpretation] some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt.

Using some thick theological jargon, the preamble concludes with:

Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.

Among other things the Vatican states:

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. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”.

and in response to the question:

“Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?” (ie, Protestant churches)

Response: 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.

Half of my family is Catholic and I have no problem with the Christian beliefs of others; I think God interacts with folks at different levels and in different ways. However, apparently, the Pope doesn’t have the same tolerance.

It seems the Catholic Church just took a huge step backward. I guess the lineage of Protestant churches that arose out of the Catholic traditions don’t count? The Pope must no realize that we too, believe that Christ chose Peter to start the church and we recognize him as the “rock” upon which the church was built.

Unfortunately, my initial feeling of not being served communion was right. It is a pity when faced with a major assault on our beliefs by Muslim fundamentalists, that the Pope does not feel the imperative to lock arms with fellow Christians to let the world know that we have been commanded by our savior to serve the world.

WWJD?

Please let me know if my interpretation is wrong…… I hope so, but I don’t think so. This document will not change my feelings toward my Catholic brothers and sisters. I still believe in “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church” [paragraph 1 of the second question], and I trust that the sentiment will be returned.

The Vatican letter is found here, Latin texthere, Italian text here, and Spanish text here.

**Update:

The Pope’s well-publicized speech at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006
which enraged Mulsims, actually had more to do with his thinking on Protestants and went into a lot more detail about his thoughts on the Reformation. The speech can be found here.

Source: BBC

He equated the Reformation with “dehellenization” of the faith, and that the reformers removed faith and replaced it with reason. I can’t speak for the reformers, but I do hope that the Pope realized that Protestants view faith as a living historical Word.

Dehellenization first emerges in connection with the postulates of the Reformation in the sixteenth century. Looking at the tradition of scholastic theology, the Reformers thought they were confronted with a faith system totally conditioned by philosophy, that is to say an articulation of the faith based on an alien system of thought. As a result, faith no longer appeared as a living historical Word but as one element of an overarching philosophical system.