July 15, 2007

Once again, the mainstream dino-media gets a story wrong when it comes to religion. Of course, how could they not? My guess is, you ask any number of AP, AFP, or Reuters employees (we’ll set 99% of the nation’s major daily newspapers and networks like CNN and MSNBC aside for now) when the last time was they worshipped at a church (note I said, “worshipped”, not “attended”) and you’re likely to get a “are you kidding?” kinda look back at ya, as if you asked them if their mother was a watermelon or orangutan or something. The fact is, the major wire services have no clue about religion whatsoever, and, even if they did, they love to take their pointed sticks out whenever the Roman Catholic Church issues a statement or document about anything and everything.

So it came as no surprise this week when, after the Vatican issued a short document reaffirming the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church as “the one true Church of Christ”, and stating that other faiths (namely, the Protestant and Orthodox churches) “lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church”, there were gasps and rushes to judgment quicker than you could say, Mysterium Ecclesiae. Of course, if one were to take what the mainstream dino-media writes at face value, such strong statements can easily lead to misinterpretation and controversy – especially when a reporter looking for a controversial line without paying any kind of attention to the context in which these statements are offered sticks a microphone in some Protestant pastor’s face, or reads a line back to some Orthodox priest and says something to the effect, “well, what do you think about the Pope calling all youse guys ‘untrue Christians'”, or something to that effect. Well, of course they’ll be a big brouhaha, but that’s just a result of lazy reporting and/or a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts (both of which the mainstream dino-media has perfected to the nth degree over the past two decades).

The fact is, what the actual document states is, as NRO’s Corner blogger Michael Novak writes, a necessary clarification of (and, if you will, a “redefinition” of) the meaning of the word “Church”, designed to uphold the Roman Catholic Church’s sacramental teachings and doctrine after decades of that term being watered down in the spirit of the modern ecumenism movement following Vatican II. Novak nails both the media and the true spirit of the Vatican’s document in one fell swoop:

Following upon the sloppy reporting, once again by the Associated Press, as well as some others, virulent seeds of division have been sown in the Christian world, totally without necessity, it seems almost with malice (although the true cause is probably carelessness). Pope Benedict has been accused of turning back the clock on Vatican II (1962-65), regarding that Council’s teaching on the meaning of the “Church.”

In actual fact, the new document from the Vatican, more precisely the “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith”, under the American William Cardinal Levada, is quite short, not quite ten paragraphs long. It is also quite calm and reasoned in tone. It takes the form of asking 5 brief questions about how Vatican II used the term “Church.” There is really nothing new here. These questions have been asked and debated for at least thirty years now. It is simply a clear exposition, in a realm in which for some years not a few have been seeding low-lying clouds with confusion.

And Novak’s fellow Corner blogger Mike Potemra offers an even clearer picture of what the Vatican’s reasons behind the release of this document at this time might have been:

Before the Sixties, Catholics were generally forbidden even to attend, e.g., Protestant services; now the Pope himself was hosting Lutherans and Methodists. If it’s suddenly OK to be Protestant or Eastern Orthodox, why—many asked—be Catholic? What difference does it make? Today’s Vatican document is intended to clarify, especially for Catholics, the truth claim that continues to be made by Catholicism: that it constitutes the most faithful existing realization of what Christ intended when he founded a Church. This means, according to Catholic doctrine, that Protestant churches are not really the Church. Today’s Vatican document says: “These Communities [i.e., Protestant churches] 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 is the Vatican’s answer to the question, “Why be Catholic?”: In short, because Catholicism is more faithful to what Christ intended. Some will, no doubt, portray this as an arrogant statement, and one that represents a backtracking from ecumenism and Christian unity. But all it is, really, is a making explicit of what Catholicism really teaches. The cause of truth is not served by a failure to be honest on the part of Catholics—any more than on the part of, say, Landmark Baptists, who hold a similar belief that their denomination is the only one that technically qualifies as a “church.” Say what you believe—and then people of good will will try to sort it all out for themselves. And, as far as ecumenism is concerned, even today’s document makes clear that “there are ‘numerous elements of sanctification and of truth’ which are found outside [the Catholic Church’s] structure.” The Protestant churches “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.” As a Presbyterian who grew up Catholic, I view today’s Vatican statement as fundamentally an assertion that Protestants aren’t Catholics. Fair enough, and no cause for offense.

In other words, rather than saying the Roman Catholic Church is either: a) dissing the Protestants or the Orthodox, or b) being arrogant, or c) even turning a blind eye to its problems in recent years, a more correct and honest reporting of the Vatican’s release of this document would be to simply say that, by reaffirming itself as the original Christian church with true, unabated apostolic succession, and by asserting that its own practices and doctrinal teachings regarding the sacraments are closest to what Christ Himself and His followers instituted, the Roman Catholic Church is simply restating that it is the ‘true’ Church of Christ, and the fact that all other churches in Christendom have been founded and/or established after or in protest or defiance against it makes them a step or two removed from that ‘true’ Church. In other words, as Potemra summarizes, “Protestants aren’t Catholics”, and that the latter should understand the differences between them and the former.

Exactly. So what’s the big deal?

Filed in: Religion & Culture by The Great White Shank at 01:00 | Comments Off on “True Churches” and Shoddy Journalism
No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Search The Site

Recent Items


September 2021
April 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006



4 Goodboys Only

Site Info