Vatikanets presisering av kirkeforståelsen – en klok respons

En anglikansk teologisk doktorgradsstudent i USA skriver en svært interessant respons til Troskongragasjonens presisering av det katolske synet på Kirken. Bl.a. skriver han at Vatikanet her har sagt svært viktige ting om hvordan vi som bekjenner den kristne tro kan være ett, på tross av vår mangel på full kommunion. The answer to (this question) arguably remains unmatched on account of its creativity, tolerance of paradox, and spiritual intelligence. …

… the “how” of the Church’s unity is complicated in interesting and challenging ways. For “the Spirit of Christ” uses all the churches and communities “as instruments of salvation,” the document continues, whence the one Church “is present and operative in” them. Thus, in the words of the council, a “certain but imperfect” communion exists now between all baptized Christians, who rightly call one another sister and brother in Christ. If, in the conjunction of these two points, there are still remnants of old-fashioned triumphalism, it seems crucial nonetheless to insist upon the ecumenical dividends paid out. For an unambiguous, if often poorly understood, option has been taken for describing our common membership in the one, catholic body, even as a motley collocation of churches and communities imperfectly united. Both the irreducible unity of the Church and her licit plurality as a communion have therefore been secured.

… In particular, does sacramental “nonvalidity” rule out sacramental efficacy? The distinction may, at first sight, appear to be one without a difference. The Catholic Church at and after Vatican II has, however, itself proposed the distinction, and answered “no” to the question.

If this is the Roman Catholic view, one nonetheless longs both for a charitable restatement and some development of the point in documents like the recent one from the CDF. For how is the Lord present in the Eucharist as it is celebrated simultaneously in churches that do not ye have the courage or the wherewithal to share the sacrament with one another? …

Obviously Rome’s ecumenical lexicon remains a stumbling block to many Christians—presumptuously authoritative hence annoyingly authoritarian to most mainline protestants … I would argue, however, that the Roman Catholic Church rightly adopts this posture precisely on account of its commitment to visible catholicity; whence the message is a gift, albeit at times a painful one— not only to receive, but, we should presume, to offer. For the avowed end of Catholic teaching is communion-in-love, a goal and a vocation that is irreproachable on gospel grounds. Who, then, would fault our Roman friends for attempting to lead all of us together?

Common prayer and labor toward the end of visible reconciliation are therefore not negotiable. And if we find the Roman style irksome or offensive, what of it? Pragmatically speaking, future ecumenical leaders will surely come to care about these matters in many different ways, including in some cases via a jolt from a Roman Catholic Church that seems to rebuke as it invites and to sting as it embraces. But will this not still be a provision of providence? The bottom line, as always, is love — and faith, and hope.


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