July 27, 2007

Letters to the Editor

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Readers: Statement on ‘truth of Catholic Church’ could harm dialogue

We read the statement of Pope Benedict XVI reasserting the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, saying that “other Christian communities are either defective or not true Churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation.”

We also read the Protestant leaders’ responses to this statement and, frankly, can understand their disappointment in the pope’s statement, particularly in light of the late Pope John Paul II’s apparent sincere efforts at ecumenism—plus Vatican II’s efforts in the same direction.

We also believe that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, and that’s why we are Catholic—otherwise, we would likely be somewhere else. It also happens we were born into the faith.

We do not believe that all of those that are not Catholic are lost, and we think the statement will have a dulling effect on our relationships with our separated brethren.

On the whole, we have a great respect for Pope Benedict, but are somewhat disappointed with this release and feel sure this will cause considerable discussion and questioning in any future dialogues with those not of our faith.

- William and Rosemary O’Bryan, New Albany

(Editor’s Note: The Vatican document, “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church,” does say that salvation is attainable outside the Catholic Church. It reads, in part:

“It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the Churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.”

“There are ‘numerous elements of sanctification and of truth’ which are found outside her [the Roman Catholic Church’s] structure. …”

“It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, 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.”

To read the entire document, click here)

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