THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I have to admit I must have a sick sense of humor. Something about this whole eruption in the world over traditional Catholic ecclesiology is making me smile. On Tuesday, July 10, 2007 the 'Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith' (CDF) released a document reaffirming its long standing tradition entitled "Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the Church". The document clarifies the teachings of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) within the context of historic Catholic tradition. The issue causing so much hyperventilation in the non-Catholic world is the premise that the Catholic Church actually believes it is the "true Church" established by Jesus Christ and the apostles. Is it just me or does anyone else find it hysterical that people would get all worked up over this? Granted, I suppose in the age of religious relativism it was totally predictable, and perhaps that's one reason why I find it even more amusing.
What the pope authorized in the CDF document was nothing short of historic Catholic tradition. This is what the Church has always believed. Nothing in Vatican II even remotely suggested to change that. A careful examination of the text of Vatican II's "Decree on Ecumenism" reveals this. Not once does the decree ever refer to Protestant communities as "churches." So should it be any surprise to people today that the Vatican CDF simply reaffirms what the Church has always believed and has never changed?
Exactly what were non-Catholics expecting such a document to say? Perhaps they would have been more satisfied if the document said the Catholic Church IS NOT the "true Church" established by Jesus Christ. Perhaps they would have preferred it say something like: "We really don't know which church is the 'true Church,' so we'll just have to assume that all churches are the same and there really is no absolute truth." Maybe this is the kind of relativism people need to hear in order to stay comfortable.
Well, if that's what non-Catholics were hoping for, all I can say is "good luck with that!" It's never happened before, so I don't know why they would expect it to start happening now. People should have learned by now that if you want relativism, you're not going to get it from Rome. If the Vatican CDF document makes you a bit uncomfortable, you can always look to the "moral leadership" coming out of the Episcopal Church USA instead. Of course within that denominational community (i.e. "non-church") just about anything goes. So I'm sure there is a little something for everybody there, and I can almost guarantee you won't find any of those uncomfortable "absolute truths" in that part of the Christian world.