Thursday, July 12, 2007

Detroit News Article on CDF Statement

Well, it looks like my prediction about Protestants getting angry about the CDF's document clarifying Lumen Gentium was well founded, as all across the nation Protestant clergy protest what they see as the belittling of their faith by the Pope. Below I have the whole article by Gregg Krupa (USC commentary in red). I have included his emal address and phone number at the bottom; please contact him and let him know what you think of the article.

The pope's 'true faith' remark causes stir
Protestants say he discounts validity of other denominations
Gregg Krupa / The Detroit News

Protestant leaders in Metro Detroit fear that a recent pronouncement by Pope Benedict XVI about their denominations will discourage decades of ecumenical efforts and calls into doubt whether he desires a constructive dialogue ["dialogue," one word I despise] between Catholics and Protestants.

"When I heard on the television and saw it in the paper, I was surprised, because there was so much freedom and a coming together of Protestants and Catholics through the 40 years of my ministry," said John Huhtala Sr., director of connectional ministries, for the Detroit Conference of the United Methodist Church. "Will these cooperative ventures cease or will they continue on with partnership in the local churches? It is a concern." [Yes, but "coming together" around what? This guy talks as if unity was in itself a good thing. What is the basis for the unity? If there is no common ground of unity, then it is just false, feel-good "togetherness" and not the true unity envisioned by Christ when He said that the Church should be one "as I and My Father are one."]

In issuing a statement Tuesday from the Vatican to clarify church policy on other Christian faiths, Pope Benedict XVI referred to the Protestant congregations as defective and not true churches [Pope Benedict didn't make this up; Vatican II, which these liberals love so much, is the source of these statements. Benedict is just reiterating Church teaching.]

The statement said, in part, "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, whose value derives that fullness of grace and truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church" [Again, this is a direct quote from Vatican II's Unitatis Redintegratio. Also, notice how much good stuff he says about Protestantism here. The bottom line is that the Protestants, like the Muslims and the Jews, will not be satisfied until the Church declares that their faiths are just as good as that of the Roman Church, which has simply never been Church teaching and never will.]

Some Catholic clergy interpret the document as a clarification of the status quo, and say it will have no effect on years of interfaith work, dialogue and worship.

"I think the statement is not saying anything radically new and different and was not meant to be offensive," said John Zenz, moderator of the curia for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "It just says the Catholic Church would have the fullness of the teachings and (the Protestant denominations) would enjoy elements of it." [Good so far]

But even some Catholics say [Uh oh. Here comes the liberal theologians!] they fear the Pope's view may stifle interfaith cooperation.

"It is a very rigid understanding of the faith that doesn't leave any room for the kind of friendship that people of faith can provide, that will enhance the truth as we understand it," said Bob Bruttell, who teaches religious studies at the University of Detroit Mercy. ["Irenicism": a belief that unity is more important value than truth. This concept was condemned Pope John Paul II in Ut Unum Sint] "The pope is putting our Catholic faith into a place that is going to be very difficult for us to work out of."

Protestant clerics also objected to the document. "No one has the lock on the truth just because of a title or name," said the Rev. David Eberhard, pastor of Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit. "I think that it's a step backward for the Roman Catholic Church. The term Catholic is not the sole property, ownership and title of the Roman Catholic Church [What? Where does he get this notion from? What else to people think of when you say the "Catholic Church?]. It is a universal church that believes in Jesus Christ as the savior."

The stated purpose of the document was to clarify church positions about Christian denominations first asserted by the Second Vatican Council, a three-year conference ending in 1965 that changed some policies of the church [Policies, yes, but not doctrines. And the doctrine that the Roman Catholic Church was founded and established by Christ, and as such is the only authentic Church, is a dogma of our faith that will never be changed].

In his tenures as both pope and a cardinal, when he led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Benedict has been perceived as in the vanguard of a conservative [secular media can only view the Church in terms of conservative vs. liberal. It is much more complex than that!] view that some of the reforms of the seminal conference were not intended as significant change. Whether re-authorizing the "old, Latin Mass," as many Catholics call it -- which he did last week -- or issuing a clarification on the status of Christian faiths, the pope is seen as stressing the continuity of the reforms with earlier church dogma.

Catholic clergy say, most emphatically, that the pope is not saying that salvation is unavailable except through the Roman Catholic Church. The other denominations provide a path to salvation, too [the document acknowledges this, although I wouldn't say the other denominations provide a "path to salvation", as if there were more than one path. Rather, what the pope means is that it is possible for Protestants to be saved; but, if they are saved, it is because of graces that come through the Catholic Church, not through their own].

But many Protestants say they believe the pope has discounted their faith for a second time in seven years, since he issued a similar statement when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. When asked if he feels there is a forum in which the issues can be addressed, Huhtala was not hopeful.

"I don't even know what the avenue would be," he said. "I have always assumed that there was a sense of camaraderie and togetherness [But again, togetherness around what? The togetherness has to be around something and the "dialogue" has to tend towards something. We are not just talking for the sake of talking!] . But a couple of his comments seem to diminish anyone but the Roman church."

Catholic leaders sought to reassure other Christian denominations that the Pope has done nothing to discourage the interfaith work, which they assert he has long championed. The document serves as instruction to Catholics involved in ecumenical efforts "to make sure they properly represent the church in the dialogue," said the Rev. James Massa, executive director of the secretariat of Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops.

"Catholics are not pulling out of the dialogue," Massa said. "We will continue to minister to inter-church families, continue to cooperate with our Protestant partners at the local level, continue to pray with them, continue to engage in works of charity and justice with them and continue to study with them ways in which we can advance the cause of religious unity," Massa said.
Some Protestants say they perceive a return to the old days, in the middle of the last century, in which some Christian clergy perceived a pitched battle among the congregations to attract new congregants. [Of course! The end goal for Catholic "dialogue" is for all people involved in the "dialogue" to become Roman Catholics!]

"I think that Benedict is probably taking that as an opportunity to bring people into one true church," [I'll say! Good insight!] said John Keydel, canon for ministry and development for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. "I don't see it impacting the Episcopal church, at all -- unless we get disaffected Romans who want something very much like what post Vatican II liturgy has been like. We're not looking to take advantage of it, but we're certainly offering people a spiritual home" [Oh, I see! You don't mind if your denomination attracts new members, but God forbid we assert that people should convert to ours!] .

Other Protestants said Benedict might be appealing to his conservative base of supporters [There's that tired old political analogy again; "conservatives" and "base of supporters." A College of about a hundred or so chooses who will fill the Papal throne, not a "base of supporters"] . "I do understand that he has pastoral challenge or debate within the Roman church and he is leaning towards the pre-Vatican II interpretation," said Gustav Kopka Jr., a pastor of the Lutheran churches in Metro Detroit, long active in ecumenical affairs. "The document will encourage those who have been wanting to have something more rigidly understood, all along" [Wow! The Protestant commentator understands the situation better than the liberal Catholic theologian quoted above! *sigh*] .

You can reach Gregg Krupa at (313) 222-2359 or [Contact him!]

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