Pope: Other Christians Not True Churches
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
"Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.
Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.
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.
Benedict, who attended Vatican II as a young theologian, has long complained about what he considers the erroneous interpretation of the council by liberals, saying it was not a break from the past but rather a renewal of church tradition.
In the latest document — formulated as five questions and answers — the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II's ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.
It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."
In the new document and an accompanying commentary, which were released as the pope vacations here in Italy's Dolomite mountains, the Vatican repeated that position.
"Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession — the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles...."
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Excuse me for being so blunt, but
What the hell?
..."Therefore did not have the 'means of salvation.' Because we don't claim apostolic succession? Last time I checked, Christ said He loved the whole world and whoever believes in Him should have eternal life. Not whoever believes the Pope succeeds directly from Peter and that Rome holds authority over all believers.
I'm mad. I'm mad because here I am reading about Catholics, finding the faith beautiful and meaningful, attempting to understand what I don't believe, and all in the name of Christ. And now...I have no means to salvation? That makes me want to stop. That makes me want to put all my books away and quit.
So is that document considered ex cathedra? I know there are liberal Catholics who believe otherwise. Are all Catholics now required to believe what that document says? I haven't read the entire document. I should read it. I don't know where to find it, but I should read it.
Vatican II was a positive step, in my opinion, and this is backwards. I don't understand this. I apologize for the ranting and raving but.... One of the things I admired about the Catholic faith was the interpretation by the Magisterium. I feel that we as Protestants think we can interpret Scripture any way we see fit, and if it's different, we just start another church, and it's all good. I appreciate the standards of authority put in place by the Catholic church. But I can't respect this. I have a really hard time respecting this. I just don't understand.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here, like I've misunderstood Catholics in the past. I guess I'll try to find that document....Any clarification on this would help...