Tuesday, July 10, 2007


This is an "Inside the Vatican" Newsflash.

Pope Benedict Continues His "Benedictine Reform" by Stressing Catholic Identity

A document published today by the Holy See reaffirms the traditional teaching that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ

by Dr. Robert Moynihan

VATICAN CITY, July 10, 2007 -- Just three days after Pope Benedict XVI published his motu proprio allowing wider use of traditional Latin Mass in the Catholic Church, the Vatican doctrinal office he used to head, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, today published a brief text on one of the most controversial passages, and words, from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and in so doing reaffirmed the traditional Catholic teaching that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

In our view, this is part of a continuing series of decisions and initiatives, beginning with the liturgy motu proprio on July 7, 2007, to increase the sense of Roman Catholic identity in the face of many challenges posed by the modern world. The Pope's intent, it seems clear, is to lessen confusion in the Church, and at the same time to reinforce the sense of Catholic identity over against a type of exaggerated ecumenism in which all Christian communities are increasingly, in practice, regarded as equally valid expressions of Christian faith.

Why is the Congregation publishing this text at this time, so soon after the motu proprio? The answer is not clear. Perhaps the text, which has been in preparation for some time, was simply completed now, and so was published. But there is one scheduled encounter later this year, in Ravenna, Italy, in October, between Catholic and Orthodox theologians, where the identity of the Church and the role of the Pope in that identity will be at the center of the discussion. It is in a certain sense opportune, then, that this document appear now, before October.

As we stated on July 7, we expect more such initiatives in the near future.

(We note in passing something many have already noted on the internet: that the date July 7, 2007, may be written in shortened form as 7/7/7. Speaking a bit humorously, some internet bloggers have asked whether the Vatican chose the date 7/7/7 to issue the motu proprio knowing that it would seem like a "lucky" date and one very different from the number 6/6/6 given in the Book of Revelation as the number of the Beast, who is against Christ (the "Anti-Christ"). We do not wish to engage in numerology, but we do think it may be a useful aid to memory for Catholics, and others, trying to remember when Pope Benedict's "Benedictine Reform" was launched: on 7/7/7.)


The document is finally up at the Vatican website.

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