Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


The Oneness and Unity of the Catholic Church; the Only One of its Kind

March 17th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


The October 19, 2000 issue of the CATHOLIC COURIER article ‘Critics seek document’s saving grace’ included the following quotes from prominent leaders in Rochester who expressed their objections to DOMINUS IESUS:

To the Rev. Ellen Wondra (a professor and Rochester Episcopal priest involved in national dialogue between the two churches) the document said, “There’s one church and you’re not it.”

To the Rev. J. Paul Womack of Rochester, it said his church, the United Methodist Church, is not a “proper” church and its essence is “deficient.”  “I am not convinced by reading it that……… church is deficient based on the standards declared in the Declaration………..”

Rev. Richard Barbour, senior pastor of Rochester’s Messiah Lutheran Church said, “it poses a challenge for the Christian church as a whole to work on its understanding of church.”

Father Brennan said, “It certainly raises problems…..”

I would ask the critics a number of questions.

Did you or your forbears raise the same objections at the close of the Second Vatican Council which promulgated Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio, Ad Gentes, Dei Verbum, Gaudium et Spes and Nostra Aetate?

Did you raise the same objections after Pope John Paul II wrote and published Redemptoris Missio, Fides et Ratio, and Ut Unum Sint?

Did you raise the same objections after the Pope authorized the CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?

Lastly, since there is nothing new in this Declaration which merely repeats truths from the above documents for the sake of necessary clarification, WHY ARE YOU OBJECTING NOW?

While I can only imagine why, I would not be surprised to learn the objections and criticisms surfaced after DOMINUS IESUS because the Catholics in ecumenical dialogue never shared truths about the Catholic Church with their dialogue partners. Worse yet, but still not surprising, is the possibility some Catholics engaged in ecumenism denied or interpreted official documents in a way that emptied the texts of substance and meaning.

Perhaps critical protestants had encountered only ‘the spirit of Vatican II’; the darling spirit of those who have fought the hermenuetic of continuity and anything which bespeaks of genuine, authentic, traditional Catholicism.

There are separated brothers to be respected and admired; separated brothers who have engaged in conversations with orthodox Catholics.

When DOMINUS IESUS was published, Dr. Timothy George was the Dean of Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in Homewood, Alabama, the executive editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, an active participant in EVANGELICALS AND CATHOLICS TOGETHER and a member of the Southern Baptist-Roman Catholic Conversation Team.

Here is a sampling of Dr. Timothy George’s comments regarding the CDF’s Declaration:
“As an evangelical theologian committed to Christian unity, I welcome this new statement by Cardinal Ratzinger as an encouragement to the kind of ecumenism we ought to be engaged in. In some ecumenical circles, the barometer of conviction has fallen so low that it no longer registers the temperature of truth. In the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement, both sides are equally committed to an ecumenism of conviction, not an ecumenism of accommodation. We do no service to the cause of Christ by smudging the serious theological differences that still divide our two traditions.”

This particular evangelical welcomed the Declaration because it encouraged real ecumenism; an ecumenism of conviction not one of accommodation. We can only imagine whether or not the ecumenical Catholics in Rochester allowed the barometer of conviction to fall so low that the temperature of truth failed to be measured.

George lists a number of his concerns and disagreements with particular aspects of Catholic faith, but then goes on to offer a breath of fresh air by stating:

“We must continue to work for greater mutual understanding on the basis of a shared commitment to the core of orthodox Christian belief. Evangelicals who care about the gospel should welcome the Vatican’s spurning of religious relativism and its reassertion that Jesus Christ is the one and only Redeemer for all peoples everywhere………There is no place for either Catholic-baiting or Baptist-bashing among true believers in Jesus. And it behooves all of us to pray for and seek genuine reformation and revival within our own ranks before throwing too many stones at others.”

The one and one-half pages devoted to the UNICITY AND UNITY OF THE CHURCH includes the following truths:

1) Jesus Christ continues his presence and his work of salvation in the Church and by means of the Church.
2) Christ and the Church can neither be confused or separated.
3) Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: ‘a single Catholic and apostolic Church’.
4) The unique oneness and unity of the Church will never be lacking.
5) By apostolic succession, there is an historical continuity between the Church founded by Christ and the Catholic Church which is the single Church of Christ, entrusted to Peter’s pastoral care.
6) This single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.
7) The Church of Christ, despite the divisions which exist among Christians, continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church.
8) Ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense.
9) Separated Churches and communities have significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. Although suffering from defects, the Spirit of Christ has used them as a means of salvation since they have many elements of sanctification and truth.

An unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment?

In an interview published on September 22, 2000, the future Pope Benedict reminded objectors, “The truth is always disturbing and never easy. Jesus’ words are often terribly hard and expressed without much diplomatic subtlety.”

He also told the story of meeting two men who approached him and said, “We are missionaries in Africa. How long we have waited for those words!”

An unfortunate document, problematic and an embarrassment?
No, not now, not ever.

This document declares the Lord Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world.  This document reminds readers that God’s single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church: the only one of its kind.

Next and last article: “The Mission is not complete, woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!”


One Response to “The Oneness and Unity of the Catholic Church; the Only One of its Kind”

  1. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    One thing is that the Catholic Church is the inly Church founded by Christ. All the 20 or 40,000 other protestant churches were founded by men.

    It is only a question of our protestant bretherin believing in the truths of the Catholic church. The Catholic Church will NEVER compromise on her doctrine.

    It was too bad that numerous individuals in the Catholic Church, including here in the DOR, sought to de-emphasize certain Catholic teachings and becamena “Nice ” church in order to foster dialogue with their protestant bretherin. It was too bad that they buroed Catholic teachings and tried instead to seek the lowest common denominator.

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