Pope Benedict XVI approved a declaration yesterday maintaining a 2000 document that Protestants cannot have churches. Saturday the man had reinstated the abolished Latin mass which includes a Good Friday prayer describing Jews as blind to the Christian truth.
In a world where fanatic fundamentalists are daily increasing their sectarian violence; and countries with religious differences, such as Lebanon and Syria, hover on the brink of war, the Pope has to blast the flames with pure oxygen? Isn’t the Catholic Church supposed to be THE Church of Christ? AKA The Prince of Peace ?
The UK Guardian chronicles the dismay and anger generated by the pontiff’s brazen actions.
Protestant churches yesterday reacted with dismay to a new declaration approved by Pope Benedict XVI insisting they were mere “ecclesial communities” and their ministers effectively phonies with no right to give communion.
Coming just four days after the reinstatement of the Latin mass, yesterday’s document left no doubt about the Pope’s eagerness to back traditional Roman Catholic practices and attitudes, even at the expense of causing offence.
The view that Protestants cannot have churches was first set out by Pope Benedict seven years ago when, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he headed the Vatican “ministry” for doctrine. A commentary attached to the latest text acknowledged that his 2000 document, Dominus Iesus, had caused “no little distress”.
But it added: “It is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to [Protestant communities], given that they do not accept the theological notion of the Church in the Catholic sense and that they lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church.”
Forgive my Unitarian upbringing, I may have misunderstood the finer points of the Protestant Reformation. Was that not a formal declaration of independence from the Catholic Church? What ON EARTH gives this man the idea he can dictate such nonsense to other demominations? “No little distress” may be the understatement of the decade. It seems the Pope took it upon himself to revisit and rejudge positions changed decades ago.
The Pope’s old department, which issued the document, said its aim was to correct “erroneous or ambiguous” interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965. Quoting a text approved by the Council, it said Protestant churches, “because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood”, had not “preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery”.
His Eminence presumes to know better than the Second Vatican Counsel, not to mention pure common sense. Not surprisingly, other denominations did not see it the same as the Pope.
However, other Christians saw the latest document as another retreat from the spirit of openness generated by the Council, which laid the basis for talks on Christian unity. Bishop Wolfgang Huber, head of the Protestant umbrella group Evangelical Church in Germany, said: “The hope for a change in the ecumenical situation has been pushed further away by the document published today.”
He said the new pronouncement repeated “offensive statements” in the 2000 document and was a “missed opportunity” to improve relations with Protestants. The president of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy, pastor Domenico Maselli, called it a “huge step backwards in relations between the Roman Catholic church and other Christian communities”.
A statement from the French Protestant Federation warned that the internal document would have “external repercussions”.
Although the Episcoplians were less upset due to a somewhat kinder, gentler opinion from Benedict XVI, the Jews echoed Italian Pastor Maselli.
The president of the Italian rabbinical assembly, Giuseppe Laras, yesterday called it “a heavy blow”. He told the daily Corriere della Sera: “We are going back. A long way back.”
The last thing this world needs is to go a long way back in religious differences between Catholics, other Christians and Jews. I was not aware that the Bible directs Christians to bring about the Apocalyse. This action plays straight into fundamentalist portrayals of the Pope as the AntiChrist.
How do the five Catholic Supreme Court Justices get to interpret this? That all Jews appearing before the court or appealing a conviction are liars? I sincerely doubt it will give W any anxiety that he can no longer go to church and get communion. He’ll just do it, anyway.
Maybe the Protestants could have another Reformation and tell Mr. Ratzinger to bug off.