Friday, July 13, 2007

Sky is blue and Pope is Catholic: Media Shocked and Outraged

Shortly after Papa released the Motu Proprio freeing the extraordinary rite of the Holy Mass (yay Papa!) there was another document put out by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the Vatican organization charged with protecting the faith from heresy and error. Basically, that's the office that smacks down "pro-homosexual activity" propaganda, ""Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus" nonsense, and "Christ was not God but just a you're-okay, I'm-okay sage" silliness. The CDF is one of the reasons the Church will never go down the road of the Presbyterians, the Evangelical Lutherans, the Episcopalians, the United Methodists, or the American Baptists, etc etc ad nausuem.

Anyway, the CDF's document, published under the Pope's authority, pointed out that Protestant communities do not have ecclesiastic bone fides, in other words, they are not churches in the proper sense of the term. This was greeted by howls of shocked protest. We have been treated to such wonderful, accurate headlines as "Protestants aren't proper Christians, says Pope". Way to go, media.

The funny thing is that most Protestants (and most Catholics!) in America don't know what ecclesiology is. Does your denomination have seven sacraments (Baptism, Confession, Holy Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Anointing of the Sick, more popularly know as the Last Rites)? Does your denomination have at its head what you believe to be validly ordained bishops who were ordained by previous validly ordained bishops, and so on and so forth, all the way back, you believe, to the time of the Apostles? Does your denomination have validly ordained priests who confect what you believe to be the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in what looks like bread?

The reality is that the word "church" is a very technical theological term. A church, properly and theologically understood, is one that has a sacramental priesthood and apostolic succession. Large numbers of Protestants would recoil in horror at the idea of having a sacramental priesthood! We are so used to hearing "church" used to describe any group of Christians that of course, some will be offended when they hear it said that they are not a church. The Pope is not saying that Protestants are not good Christians; he is stating that their beliefs do not correspond to what the word "church" entails in its technical, theological meaning.

Incidentally, the Catholic Church is not the only "proper church," although of course Catholics consider it the True Church :) The Greek, Russian, Lithuanian Orthodox, the Copts, basically all the ancient churches, do indeed match the theological meaning of "church."

If you are interested in reading what the CDF (and thereby, the Pope) actually said instead of what our dear friends in the media say they said, the link is here. It's in a very nice question and answer format.


  1. I was hoping you'd address this, sorry it has taken me so long to comment! While the media might feign shock, this is a calculated play to divide two huge voting blocks in the US. It is most certainly in the interest of the American Left (and their henchmen in the media) to foment division among the faithful. After all, any educated Protestant will tell you that there's no new ground covered here.

    Anyway, I was glad to read your comments on the "news."


  2. Extraordinary form*, not rite...

  3. Thanks for the catch, Brendan :)