Saturday, November 29, 2003

Update of Previous Series on Church Models:

I did a review of the series posted earlier this week and made some adjustments to it. Though mostly in the area of tiny unnoticeable tweaks, among the changes made are (i) chopping the longer paragraphs into smaller easier to read sections (ii) adding a couple clarifying footnotes in part V and some new material to the final paragraph preceding the epilogue (iii) a few live links to various parts of the series -particularly in part V, and (iv) adding a source to part IV.

Anyway, that refined thread can be viewed in its five parts starting with part 1 which is located HERE. Hopefully within the coming year, this subject can be expounded a bit by this weblog and also serve as an impetus to others to muse on the subjects covered in that thread.

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Points to Ponder:

Many Italians believe that Pope John Paul I was murdered. The conspiracy theory is not news, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it at this time. But the fact that people are willing to believe it is news and must be recorded as such.

There is a stronger strain of paranoia in Italian culture than in American--not without reason, given the tragic past and the tragic present in this battered nation. Just as now there is some reason to believe that Aldo Moro's life{1} could have been spared; there is some evidence--not much--that enemies of his own political party were not eager to save him (the Moro family has publicly resigned from the party). There is also some hint that he may have been held for some time in a foreign embassy. None of this is likely, but none of it is impossible either, especially in Italy.

So both Italian culture and the current crisis in Italian political life incline people to take conspiratorial scenarios even more seriously than do Americans, and heavens knows we take them seriously enough. [Andrew Greeley: Notes From Saturday Night September 30, 1978 as recorded in The Making of the Popes, 1978 pgs. 179-180 (c. 1979)]


{1} Paul VI has been slipping badly week after week. Adolpho says he he does not see how he can last another year. This is the same Adolpho who said last fall that Paul could go for four or five years. He says the Moro kidnapping, death, and funeral were a tremendous strain on the pope, since he and Moro were close friends and since the family is a little mad at the pope, quite a bit mad, because the pope's plea that Moro be released without conditions was in effect the Christian Democratic party line. The pope was apparently quite unsteady and very uncertain at the Moro funeral mass this afternoon, though he is still sharp on occasion. [Andrew Greeley: Notes From Saturday May 13, 1978 as recorded in The Making of the Popes, 1978 pg. 83 (c. 1979)]


Friday, November 28, 2003

Briefly on President Bush's "Thanksgiving in Iraq" Trip
(And Some Rerum Novarum Media Fisking)

First of all, I happen to believe that any president who would have done what President Bush did yesterday would deserve being commended. Troop morale is very important in any context and the Commander in Chief paying a visit to those who could not be with their families for Thanksgiving, talking to and reassuring them was the right thing to do.{1} Having noted that, the media's usual carping on the President's every move or word will forge ahead unhindered.{2}

They are mad because President Bush did this quietly without advance warning to them. I have to say it my friends but these people are mental midgets. If the Iraqi seditionists knew that the President of the United States was coming to Iraq, they would try to assassinate him.Is that what these people want??? It would seem so. How about polling the troops to get their view on this. My wager is that there would be at least 85% support from them if not higher. And that is what is important here, not what some whiny knee-jerk red diaper doper baby journalists have to say about it.

Apparently part of the reason for their griping is because the President probably squelched what was to be a glossy coverage of Senator Moloch Hillary Clinton's trip to Iraq. An article on this can be read HERE. We at Rerum Novarum are about to fisk the article so fans of Moloch Hillary be warned. But because I am in a good mood, it will only be a seventy-five proof fisking.{3}

Hillary Clinton arrives in Baghdad hot on heels of Bush


BAGHDAD (AFP) - Former US first lady Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

About whom we should care about exactly WHY???

arrived in Baghdad hot on the heels of a lightning stealth visit by US President George W. Bush for a Thanksgiving dinner with US troops, officials said.

Notice the way they word this: Hillary "arrived in Baghdad" but President Bush made a "lightning stealth visit." The media wants you to see Hillary's visit in a good light and be asking yourself questions about President Bush's visit. This commentator for one is not fooled for a moment. In addition, who cares that Hillary went to Iraq??? Anyone who followed the Clintons over the years -and is not a disingenuous pundit- is aware that they never did anything without assessing what it would do for their "image." While it is true that all politicians to some extent do this, the Clintons did this at every moment they could.

Clinton was due to spend just one day in the insurgency-ridden Iraqi capital after her visit to Afghanistan Thursday in which she spent Thanksgiving with troops there, said a coalition interior ministry official, Thomas Basile.

Translation: how brave of Senator Clinton to go to Baghdad -so "insurgency ridden" as it is. This is the mark of a leader.

Let us be frank here and cut the crap: those killing soldiers and civilians in Iraq are seditionists not insurgents. The latter word is an attempt to portray them in a less threatening light and I find such Orwellian language manipulation disgusting.

Before lunch, she met with senior officials of the Coalition Provisional Authority including US overseer Paul Bremer, said Clinton's spokeswoman.

Why is this piece of information supposd to be significant???

"She then had lunch with troops from her home state (New York) in the dining hall at the palace," she said, referring to the city centre mansion of Saddam Hussein which is now the seat of the occupation administration.

Gotta shore up those New York voters right???

"She was walking through the hall and people were coming up to her. It was a half-hour lunch," the spokeswoman said.

Yup only a half-hour my friends. Just enough time for a photo-op...

Unlike the US president, who never even left the main military camp at Baghdad airport during his two-and-a-half hour stopover, Clinton then left the heavily fortified complex around the palace to go and visit troops.

Translation: unlike cowardly President Bush, Senator Clinton was so brave as to leave the camp. Again, cut the crap. President Bush is the leader of the free world and his very presence in the war zone was enough of a risk. Think of the morale boost that the Iraqi seditionists would have if they knew that Bush was in Baghdad and one of them actually succeeded in killing him. Think also of the morale of the troops which would probably go in the toilet in that situation.

By contrast, if Senator Clinton was killed, it would be a minor deal. I say this not because of who she is personally but because of her office: one of 535 odd US Congresspeople and one of 100 US Senators. Compared to Bush's position as Commander in Chief of the US military as well as the Chief Executive of the United States of America this is a pretty piddley post.

And in that light, who cares about a senator from New York -someone who would hardly be a target compared to President Bush outside of the compound. (Someone whom if they knew he was there would have every seditionist trying to affix his rifle barrel on.)

"At the moment, she is on a visit with a military division outside the security zone," said the spokeswoman.

Again, they want you to think "how brave of her" in this case.

"Later this afternoon she will be meeting with both non-governmental organizations and Iraqis in leadership positions," including a woman member of the interim government, public works minister Nasreen Mustafa Sadiq Barwari.

That is all Iraqi women politicians need: the poison of a purveyor of the Culture of Death.


{1} And serving them Thanksgiving dinner personally was a classy touch.

{2} It is worth noting that some of the Democratic party candidates wisely applauded this move -particularly Senator Joe Lieberman. (Probably the one Democrat whom I believe has the intangibles to give President Bush an reasonable election fight at the moment.)

{3} Or roughly 38%.

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The Thanksgiving Holiday:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

I noted earlier about attending Thanksgiving dinner at some relatives I had not seen for years -as well as anticipating friction as a result of so many areas which divergent views are held. (Making discussion of these areas difficult if not impossible to do without fireworks.)

Well, I must say that the five odd hours spent there was actually quite pleasant and not for the reasons some readers may think.{1} Indeed the food was good -the turkey quite moist and excellent actually- the wine was good, and the discussions were as well. I also found out something about my second cousin-in-law that I did not know: his Indian heritage. You see, he is about a quarter Indian of an Alaskan tribe the name of which I cannot remember. And in discussing the various Indian artifacts they have -most of which were made by his mother, father, or grandparents- we discussed the outlook of the tribe in various areas including tribal customs and practices as well as sociological and anthropological areas.

Being reasonably knowledgable about the Indian customs, I nonetheless found that I approached customs like the potlatch -a concept that defies parallel in western thinking- from a western perspective. I also discovered that Steve (the husband of my mothers cousin and the one with the Indian heritage) was similarly "caught betwist and between" as your blog host is{2} but in a different way.{3} And by understanding the Indian connection, I was able to better understand his liberal politics in some areas. Obviously I do not agree with him but at the very least knowing where he is coming from will help in future get togethers.{4}

I also discovered that he plays a lot of musical instruments -six string acoustic guitar, twelve string acoustic (his favourite), banjo, and standup bass. So there is a musical component there as well -as well as his like for the blues. So this is more common ground as my readers probably know I noodle in these areas myself -in my case though it is acoustic and electric guitar.{5}

There were discussions about travelling and various education/occupation topics and also discussions about the family tree project that one of my cousins has been working on for a couple of years now. Anyway, the event was good and I actually look forward to future visits -something I would not have thought before going that would happen. I guess this is another example of how the unexpected can actually happen: in this case, pleasantly so.


{1} I refer here to the idea of winning overwhelmingly in debate in discussing the areas of significant difference.

{2} In my case it is being predominantly western in my outlook, Irish Catholic on my dad's side as well as Latin rite in my Catholic practice -and having ties to Ukrainian Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox outlooks through my maternal ancestry. (As well as this aspect of my heritage informing my generally western approach to theological, doctrinal, devotional, disciplinary, and historical issues.)

The result is that my outlook -while predominantly western with an Oriental twist- is not fully comprehended by Latin rite Catholics nor is it fully comprehended by Oriental Catholics.

{3} In his case, it was being stuck between an Indian heritage and a way of life that no longer exists and having to merge that reality with a western perspective. The result is that he finds himself not fully comprehended by westerners and not fully comprehended by those of his Indian heritage.

{4} So his kids (my cousins) have western, Indian, and Ukrainian Catholoc/Ukrainian Orthodox roots to contend with.

{5} Neither of which I have played much the past six months. Indeed the only time I played an electric was at the music store testing out an amplifier for future acquisition about two weeks ago. To give an idea how long it has been since I have regularly played, I began developing blisters on my fingers about thirty minutes into playing -and after about another thirty minutes there were bubbles on my middle and ring finger. (The one on the ring finger covered the whole tip and was about a quarter inch in size.) I note here for those who do not play that one who practices regularly does not have these kinds of blister problems.

In the session, I played a mixture of blues, jazz, country, and rock and roll riffs and chording and (for the record) my rhythm playing was pretty decent. However, my lead chops were rather sloppy and my hand trilling -usually one of my better areas technique wise - was very subpar. (The lack of finger calluses probably was not a minor factor here.) But I digress.

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Points to Ponder:

The government's view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases. If it moves, tax it. If it continues to move, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it. [Ronald Reagan]

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Monday, November 24, 2003

An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History Part V - The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, a Summary of Thread, and Some Final Notes on EENS:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[This section was modified today which in my mind required an important ethical clarification that readers can consider after reading the contents contained below. -ISM 5/3/09 10:30am]

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this thread, please go HERE.

Having touched on several models already, we are now to the point of discussing the importance of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium as it pertains to the issues in question. To start with, Pope Paul VI in his first encyclical letter put down some musings to help guide the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in their deliberations and formulation of what would eventually become Lumen Gentium. In the process, he reminded them among other things to consider two of the documents already covered in this series -something I want to briefly point to at this time:

It is precisely because the Second Vatican Council has the task of dealing once more with the doctrine de Ecclesia and of defining it, that it has been called the continuation and complement of the First Vatican Council...

There are...two documents which deserve special mention: the encyclical Satis cognitum (15) of Pope Leo XIII, published in 1896, and the encyclical Mystici corporis (l6) of Pope Pius XII, published in 1943. These documents offer us ample and clear teaching concerning the subject of Our present discourse: that divine institution through which Christ continues His redemptive work in the world. [Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam §30 (circa August 6, 1964)]

And on the elements of mystery on which this section intends to treat on, he had this to say among other things:

The mystery of the Church is not a truth to be confined to the realms of speculative theology. It must be lived, so that the faithful may have a kind of intuitive experience of it, even before they come to understand it clearly...[Pope Paul VI: Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam §30 (circa August 6, 1964)]

The intention of Pope Paul VI in his first encyclical was to provide a reflection on these matters that was to help the Council Fathers in their deliberations on the matter in question. And certainly as readers following this thread are aware, there were several previous models of the Church already considered in this outline series. One of these models was developed in the polemical atmosphere of the so-called "reformation" to emphasize as much as possible the visible constituents of the Church -as well as an attitude of triumphalism and exclusivism being inherent to it.

A second model was of ancient vintage which were recently redescovered in the nineteenth century after centuries of being overlooked. This model was gradually incorporated into the magisterium of the Church prior to the Second Vatican Council. (This is the mystical body model.)

A third model also of ancient vintage was rediscovered around the same time as the mystical body model but was slower in development as a result of the complexity it entails. By the 1940's this model (of the Church as sacrament) was being promoted by Fr. Henri de Lubac SJ and Fr. Yves M. Congar OP among others.

The fourth model was based on situating the Church within salvation history and viewing it as on a journey as a favoured people of God, humbly accepting the special graces it has received and seeking to lead the rest of humanity to the promised land beyond this world. This model, because it is a mobile one, is open to new "insights, ideas, methods and approaches" for accomplishing this.

The fifth model is essentially one of the Church as servant. To reiterate what Cardinal Dulles noted about this model:

Commencing from an explicit acceptance that the Church must be part of the human community and intimately associated with all that is genuinely human, because that was what Christ became through the Incarnation, the Church sees that it is called to make a positive contribution to all persons whoever they are and whatever their particular needs, after the example of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve. Briefly, as Christ came to serve, the Church must carry on his mission of service to the whole world...[Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (LG) of Vatican II enunciated several of these models in various points of the document. For example:

---The Church as Sacrament was emphasized in LG §1-17 -particularly LG §1-9 and §13-16.

---The Church as the People of God was particularly covered in LG §9-13, LG §16-18, LG §22-23, LG §28-33, LG §40-41. However, there were also mentions in LG §45, LG §50, LG §66, and LG §68-69.

---The Church as personified in its visual components -or the "Bellarmine model" is covered particularly in LG §18-29 though the divisions made between those who belong to and those who are related to the Church from LG §14-16 also are based in part on this model as well.

---The Church as Mystical Body of Christ is suffused throughout LG; however it is most noticable in LG §7-8, LG §13 , LG §17-29, LG §32-33, LG §36, and LG §43-45.

---The Church as Servant was mentioned only briefly in LG in LG §21, and LG §27-29. These sections cover the bishops, bishops, priests, and deacons respectively. As this was the model that was the least developed of the five mentioned, it makes sense that it would not receive the same emphasis as the others in LG.{1}

In addition, Lumen Gentium resolved through its doctrinal application of the sacramental model several problems that plagued both the Bellarmine "political society" model and the Mystical Body of Christ model. But it did this not by disregarding the other models in toto but by incorporating the truths from each model into its synthesis. Or to quote LG §8 on the matter:

The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible organization(9) through which he communicates truth and grace to all men. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complete reality which comes together from a human and a divine element.(10)

For this reason the Church is compared, not without significance, to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature, inseparably united to him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a somewhat similar way, does the social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ who vivifies it, in the building up of the body (cf. Eph. 4:15).(11) [Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium §8 (c. 1964)]

LG avoided the error of seeing the Church as an invisible intangible or merely pneumatological entity{2} by pointing to the Church's visible nature.{3} LG also avoided a theological snare common to the Bellarmine model at this point.{4} The footnoted source is the encyclical Sapientiae Christianae which I thought initially was an odd reference. However, upon reviewing the source, its usage at this point now makes sense to me.

The other sources footnoted at this point are Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Letter Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis - sources which of course cohere quite excellently with the point being made. Footnote ten balances the scale by avoiding ecclesial Arianism as well as a dualist outlook with regards to the Church.{5} The sources referenced at this point include two encyclical letters by Pope Pius XII. Here is the reference:

Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mystici Corporis, 1. c., p. 221 SS. Id., Litt. Encycl. Humani generis, 12 aug. 1950: AAS 42 (1950) P. 571.

These sources are noted in a paraphrase form because LG's teaching -while it accounts for weaknesses of the Mystical Body model used in them- nonetheless is to be properly understood as congruent with them.

Footnote eleven in the text is another reference to Satis Cognitum -a fitting reference in light of what that part of the text is conveying. At this point, the subject of the Church of Christ and its identification comes up and LG handles it in the following manner:

This is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic,(12) which our Saviour, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (Jn. 21:17), commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it (cf. Matt. 28:18, etc.), and which he raised up for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.{13} Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity. [Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium §8 (c. 1964)]

Footnote twelve is to three symbols of faith: the Symbolum Apostolicum of which it is a paraphrase, the Nicene Constantinopalian Creed, and the Tridentine Profession of Faith. I believe the first is the Apostle's Creed which only refers to "the holy Catholic Church." The second two of course use the familiar unam sanctum catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam expression.

The thirteenth footnote is interesting because it refers to the Sancta catholica apostolica Romana Ecclesia expression in the Tridentine and Vatican I Professions of Faith. Those reading this series also know that this is how Vatican I intended to define the Church of Christ in its Second Constitution on the Church -which never made it out of schema form. So a clear parallel between the two Vatican Councils' intention on this key point is unavoidable to those who know their theology and history on the matter.{6}

I have already gone over the fitting use of the ancient Scholastic term subsistare. Hopefully the readers -in light of the complexity to which this subject we are discussing entails- will appreciate how the Church's historical handling of references to the Church in ecclesial documents prior to the Council was much more cautious -and furthermore why the use of est was not used at this point.{7} But there are a few points more to consider - particularly since the use of the term subsists has been a point of controversy.

Not a few so-called "traditionalists" have sought to posit a contradiction on these points by claiming (essentially) that "Mystici Corporis referred to the Church of Christ as the Catholic Church and Lumen Gentium claims that the Church of Christ merely exists in the Catholic Church." This is the argument advanced to posit a preference for est which was originally in the text when it was in schema form. But of course the Holy Spirit being present did not allow that expression to be approved thankfully.

I have gone over in other places the fallacy of the reasoning of those who propound the est preference before. To summarize it briefly, essentially this stance is defacto Feeneyism because it involves endorsing by default a third century heresy at one point propounded by St. Cyprian. (And corrected by Pope St. Stephen I.){8}

The dangers of uncritically accepting the Bellarmine model either as the most ideal or the most "traditional" model -simply because it was the predominant post-Trent model used- leads very easily to this kind of rationalizing. And of course the Bellarmine model had absolutely no chance of convincing the Oriental Churches who were well aware of what a novelty it really was pace the assertion by the so-called "traditionalists" that it was "what the Church always taught."{9} But I digress.

Much more could be covered but this series is long enough already; therefore it needs to be concluded. Hopefully this brief series illustrates to some degree not only the development of major ecclesiological models over Church history but the folly of those who think that any kind of "return" to the incomplete outlooks prior to Lumen Gentium{10} and the Church's long road to finally setting forth in a document of supreme authority{11} as clearly as possible, and in the tradition laid down by earlier Councils, her own nature and universal mission (LG §1) was at last accomplished. The result is -I would argue- one of the crown jewels of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and it set the foundation for several other texts which were either shaped in conjunction with (and promulgated alongside) LG in Session III of the Council{12} or were projects for Session IV of the Council.{13}

Epilogue on EENS:

Obviously, any discussion of the nature of the Church involves discussing the dogma of "outside the Church there is no salvation." However, a key principle of Catholic theology is understanding a dogma in the sense that it was defined. As most people do not properly understand the sense in which this dogma was reiterated by the Fathers and defined by councils and popes, they erroneously presume that the Church's teaching in LG is a "reversal" of what was previously taught. Having already written on this subject in November of 2001, I will not repeat here what I said there. However, I do want to leave you with a few points to ponder on this subject.

The very dogma extra ecclesia nulla salus to some extent requires an understanding of the Church's nature. Reiterated constantly by the Fathers and Doctors in the first millennium, it received solemn sanction by Lateran IV in that Council's Profession of Faith. Pope Boniface VIII also made it clear that his definition on the requirement of submission to the pope for salvation was to be understood in the sense of the definition of Lateran IV which must be understood in light of the consensus of antiquity.{14}

In short, since the dogmas were defined prior to the Bellarmine model, those who have recourse to the Bellarmine model to assert EENS are the ones not retaining the true sense of that dogma{15} - a dogma that is properly understood in a Christocentric sense and not an Ecclesiocentric one. But that is another subject altogether and I have expended enough print on this series already. Hopefully you have found it useful for reflection.


{1} Gaudium et Spes would develop this line of thought a bit later on.

{2} [T]hey err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely "pneumatological" as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond. [Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis §14 (c. 1943)]

{3} The hallmark of the Bellarmine "society model" of the Church.

{4} This was done by tying the visible society of believers to the supernatural community of grace. Thus, the mystery dimension of the Church -which goes unrepresented in the Bellarmine model- complements the societal structure aspect of the latter in LG.

{5} This was a notable weakness of the Mystical Body of Christ model of the Church.

{6} As you now do.

{7} See my treatise A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' or the Lidless Eye entry Refuting the Late 'Trad' Michael Malone's Errors on Vatican II (which references this source) for details on the matter.

{8} I use this example in the sources noted in footnote seven.

{9} An expression that requires a lot more nuance than most people casually presume it does. (Either non-Catholics who do not understand the conventions or Catholics who apply it in ways where it is not warranted by the aforementioned conventions.)

{10} See the CDF Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae §5 (c. 1973) for a detailed explanation of these fundamental principles often not followed by the false heralds of "progress." (And the false heralds of "tradition" also.)

{11} And yes, this assertion is correct because there is arguably no more authoritative magisterial document than a Dogmatic Constitution.

{12} Such as the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio on Ecumenism and the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarium on the Oriental Catholic Churches.

{13} Such as the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes on the Church in the Modern World, the Declaration Nostra Aetate on the Church's relationship to non-Christian religions, the Declaration Gravissimum Educationis on Christian education, the Decree Ad Gentes on the missionary activity of the Church, the Decree Christus Dominus on the pastoral office of bishops in the Church, the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis on the life and ministry of priests, the Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem on the apostolate of lay people, etc.

{14} The first sentence of Boniface VIII's Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctum reads as follows:

We are obliged by the faith to believe and hold that there is one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and that outside this Church there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.

{15} See either (i) the long footnote reference to Dei Filius in part two of this series (footnote eight) or (ii) the source noted in footnote ten of this post.

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An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History Part IV - The Church as Sacrament Model, the Church as Pilgrim People Model, and a Prelude to Vatican II:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this thread, please go HERE.

This is a continuation of the previous thread's considerations on the developments in ecclesiological understanding during the twentieth century. But before doing that, the teaching of Mystici Corporis Christi and how it is commonly misunderstood needs to be dealt with. Here is the quote from Humani Generis which is so often referred to:

Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. [Encyclical Letter Humani Generis §27 (c. 1950)]

The footnote for this source reads as follows:

Cfr. Litt. Enc. Mystici Corporis Christi, A.A.S., vol. XXXV, p. 193 sq.

The quote in other words is a paraphrase of Mystici Corporis. If you recall my noting earlier of the care in which the Vatican I schema on the Church went to not make a one-to-one identification of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church in complete identity, consider what Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Letter actually said -key implied word put in bold font and later added in brackets to the point in question:

As He hung upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure.

If we would define and describe this true [visible] Church of Jesus Christ - which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church - we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression "the Mystical Body of Christ"- an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. [Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis Christi §12-13 (c. 1943)]

Only by denoting that it was paraphrasing Mystici Corporis Christi (MC) is there a sparing of the encyclical from formal error.{1} But that MC is referring so obviously to the visible Church is something that I am surprised to see how many people miss. Nonetheless, before we can go over Lumen Gentium more models of the Church need to be considered. The next in sequence is that of the Church as sacrament. Again I reference the work of Cardinal Dulles:

The next model to emerge, that of the Church as Sacrament, initially took on vigour in the late 1940's , in large measure through the work of Henri de Lubac. Again it was the case of a resurrection of a very ancient model used by Cyprian, Augustine, Aquinas and in the nineteenth century, by Scheeben. It was adopted and further developed by Rahner, then by Edward Schillebeeckx, Yves Congar, and many others...

From 1949 onwards this was a very popular model among Catholic theologians, though it never seems to have caused much excitement among non-Catholic ecclesiologists. To many it appeared to offer a solution to the dilemma of the relationship between the visible and the invisible. The visible community in this model was the visible form of the invisible communion in Christ. It was seen to have an advantage over the Body of Christ model in permitting a kind of shaded area in place of a sharp line of demarcation between Church and non-Church. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

In my view, the sacramenta model is the preferable one because (i) it is among the most ancient (ii) it was attested to by notable Fathers and Doctors at least as late as the thirteenth century if not later{2} and (iii) though this model also re-emerged in the theological schools of the west in the nineteenth century, its increased popularity shows in part IMHO the influence of the Oriental studies that Pope Pius XI sought to promote. To quote from my favourite academic orientalist Fr. Robert Taft SJ:

The Oriental Catholic's religious point of view is as universal in essentials as the Westerner's. But he is unwilling to associate this with the fruits of human organization, of law and order and uniformity. Tending to emphasize the mystery of the Church rather than its earthly form, he is less concerned with the disciplinary and administrative aspects of its life.

He sees the Church not so much as a visible society headed by Christ, than as His theophany, a coming of the eternal into time, an unfolding of the divine life through the deifying transformation of humanity in the worship and sacraments of Christ. Life in the Church is spoken of in terms of glory, light, vision, union, and transfiguration. The more juridical vocabulary of power, order, right, justice, sanction is less known to him. [Robert Taft SJ: Eastern-Rite Catholicism: Its Heritage and Vocation]

The sacramental model due to its ancient pedigree and the particular emphasis it places on the realm of the Church's mystery is a model that probably best promotes ecumenism between the Churches of the West and the East. In that light I also concur with the following assessment of the model by Cardinal Dulles:

This model had the capacity to provide a new impetus to the missionary activity of the Church by stressing the fact that the Church community is essentially an effective sign as a light to the world, a beacon of hope, and a community-building force at the heart of the world, rather than some weird sect on the fringe of human society. The model could also motivate loyalty to the Church from the realisation of the importance of being in the community and striving to be one with it. One would thus be striving to accept its doctrines and discipline and yet be permitted the right to make constructive criticism in the light of the Church's collective effort to be a better sign. The model thus avoided the static, "perfect" (complete) impression given by the previous models, since human expressions of the divine are never adequate! [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

However, as Cardinal Dulles notes, this model has not cohered with the non-theologians most probably because "sacrament" is already a technical term, the meaning of which is difficult to grasp and consequently poorly understood. Hence it would not impress with the simple clarity of the earlier models. This is unfortunate, however that does not mean we cannot strive to make it better understood. Nor does it mean that we cannot strive to make it better known in our ecumenical endeavours. But I digress.

The fourth model is that of the "pilgrim people." Cardinal Dulles explains it in this manner:

Several decades of important work in the fields of scriptural, patristic and liturgical studies gave a renewed sense in the Church of "sacred history", the gradual unfolding through history of God's plan to unite all men in Christ by means of a single people. This people is itself on pilgrimage through history like the rest of humanity. But this is a favoured people; because it has hope, it is enabled to walk by faith, led by the Spirit of God. It sees itself in this model as in the vanguard of the whole pilgrim human race not, hopefully, in the old triumphalist way, but specially graced in order to lead the rest of them on their pilgrimage to their ultimate destiny.

In this model the Church is no longer seen as an immobile, supra-terrestrial institution (semper idem), unaffected by time, change and history. It is a historical community on pilgrimage. Not only has it not "arrived", it still has a long way to travel; it has limitations that are to be overcome with the assistance of the Spirit of God. It is not exempt from the common human lot of having to live with uncertainty and make its way tentatively, often by trial and error. The people have the consolation that all along the way God travels with them, and the providential guidance of the Spirit will always be with them. New insights, ideas, methods and approaches are continually to be expected. There is no provision made for "things" to settle down into a new static stability after a period of transition and updating. Yesterday was yesterday - today we have new ground to cover. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

This is another more flexible model and certainly a popular one. However, I do not believe this model apart from the others can be promoted without dire consequences occurring -much as was the case with the old Bellarmine society model for too long.{3} But that is a subject for later on perhaps.

Finally, we have the Church as Servant model which Cardinal Dulles notes as follows:

The human community model owes less to theological theory than to basic human needs and to pastoral strategy. The final model, however, owes a great deal to theology, especially a theme that developed in an unexpected manner in the Council itself: the model of the Church as Servant. This model is dominant in Vatican II's pastoral constitution on the Church in the Modern World, and all the official social documents that have followed the council have further developed and applied the model.

Commencing from an explicit acceptance that the Church must be part of the human community and intimately associated with all that is genuinely human, because that was what Christ became through the Incarnation, the Church sees that it is called to make a positive contribution to all persons whoever they are and whatever their particular needs, after the example of Christ, who came not to be served but to serve. Briefly, as Christ came to serve, the Church must carry on his mission of service to the whole world...

Generally, however, and in a way that is surprising in Catholic writing and official documents, this model is developed in a low-key, non-authoritarian, even humble vein. Emphasis is placed on the need first of all to scrutinise the "signs of the times", a phrase originating in the New Testament (Mt. 16:2-4), but given a particular twist and introduced into Catholic theology by Pope John XXIII, especially in Pacem in Terris.

These "signs" can be summarised as the major movements of men towards personalization (development) and socialisation (grouping for the achievement of common purposes). These movements are considered to reflect the movement of the Spirit in the world towards the achievement of the plan of God. Thus this model introduces a rather new attitude of listening to and learning from the world. It is claimed that it makes the world a theological focus, that is, a reality to be investigated by a properly theological method. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

To balance out the references in this series to Jesuit scholars, consider the following instruction from the Rule of St. Augustine written by the Doctor of Grace around 400 AD. The aforementioned Rule is the governing Constitution of the Dominican Order. Note that the similarity to the Church as servant model cannot be plainer:

The superior, for his part, must not think himself fortunate in his exercise of authority but in his role as one serving you in love. In your eyes he shall hold the first place among you by the dignity of his office, but in fear before God he shall be as the least among you. He must show himself as an example of good works toward all. Let him admonish the unruly, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, and be patient toward all (1 Thes 5:14). Let him uphold discipline while instilling fear. And though both are necessary, he should strive to be loved by you rather than feared, ever mindful that he must give an account of you to God.

It is by being more obedient, therefore, that you show mercy not only toward yourselves but also toward the superior whose higher rank among you exposes him all the more to greater peril. [Rule of St. Augustine §5,3-4 (c. 400 AD)]

In the next section, I will attempt to fuse all of these models into a cohesive structure by examining the key points of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium as promulgated by the Second Vatican Council and highlight how the various models cohere within it.

To be Continued...


{1} My 1955 book The Church Teaches - Documents of the Church in English Translation has a very interesting translation of this part of Humani Generis which reads as follows:

That the Mystical Body of Christ and the Catholic Church in communion with Rome are one and the same thing is a doctrine based on Revealed Truth and as such was set forth by Us in an encyclical a few years ago. [The Church Teaches - Documents of the Church in English Translation by Jesuit Fathers of St. Mary's College pg 121 (c. 1955)]

This is in my view a better reading text with fewer ecclesiological difficulties. However, it is not a common translation of the text apparently.

{2} Including St. Thomas Aquinas.

{3} I mention it because this is the model most often emphasized since Vatican II. It has its value certainly but -like all models- also has its limitations.

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An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History Part III - More on the Emergence of the Ancient Ecclesial Models:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE. To start from the beginning of this thread, please go HERE.

Having already dealt with the model of the Church as political society, and having dealt with the preliminaries of the Church's increased emphasis even during the Counter-reformation on the Church's element of mystery -as well as the magisterium of Pope Pius IX and the intentions of Vatican I- it is now time to consider the developments in ecclesiological understanding during the twentieth century.

Though the model of the Church as Mystical Body made a re-emergence in the nineteenth century -and was even alluded to in the magisterium of Pope Pius IX and the unpromulgated schema on the Church from Vatican I, it still had to struggle to regain the prominence it once had and -during the period prior to the so-called "reformation"{1} and afterwards- fell into not infrequent neglect though it never completely vanished.{2}

Indeed though it was in the background for some time, the body of Christ model received a "resurrection" of sorts in the nineteenth century in the theological schools and the magisterium begin appropriating it to a limited degree -as was noted in the last section of the thread.

It remains to explain how theologians of the twentieth century shaped this and another rediscovered ancient model of the Church and fused them together in a synthesis which was promulgated by the Second Vatican Council in a Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium and some of the aftermath of that momentous event. This section and the next will aim to do just that concluding with final reflections on the dogma of extra ecclesia nulla salus (EENS) and how it pertains to these models outlined for your consideration.

While the magisterium had given enunciation to principles in the older models of the Church, the Bellarmine model was still predominent and in the late nineteenth century -when the first rumblings of the ecumenical movement begin taking shape-{3} the magisterium in its first enunciations on the matter of Church reunion utilized the Bellarmine model in its elucidations.

Pope Leo XIII -in some ways the "Father of Modern Catholic Ecumenism" had the promotion of reunion of Christendom as one of his primary objectives. His eye turned most naturally towards the Churches of the East and in 1894, he issued an Apostolic Exhortation on the subject{4} where the "perfect society" model of Bellarmine was predominent. (And the exhortation was made to the Oriental Churches to "return" to the Church which they had "left" - complete with a degree of retrojection into the past of the later fully developed notion of papal supremacy.){5}

However, Pope Leo's reiteration of the policy of the pope's respecting the ancient traditions and usages of the Eastern Churches was to be a significant milestone in the development of communio ecclesiology as sanctioned by the Second Vatican Council.

For His Holiness followed the aforementioned Exhortation up with an Apostolic Letter{6} addressed to the Oriental Catholic Churches. It traced out a history of the pope's approach to the eastern churches and highlights the dignity and splendour of the eastern usages. Also involved in this Apostolic Letter was the promulgation to all the Oriental Churches the decree originally promulgated by Pope Benedict XIV on December 24, 1743 to the Greek Melkite Churches.{7}

All of this set the stage for a major encyclical letter on the unity of the Church which was promulgated on June 29, 1896. This would be the Encyclical Letter Satis Cognitum which followed in the mould of the previous pronouncements to some degree{8} but which differed significantly in some areas from the previous pronouncements.{9} As one writer who studied these matters noted (and I would say noted well):

Leo XIII reflected on church unity in light of the incarnational economy of salvation. As the divine and human natures were united inseparably in the person of Jesus Christ, so the spiritual and institutional aspects of the church cannot be separated.

The visible structures of the episcopacy and the primacy are necessary for church unity because Christ himself willed to order the church in this way. Thus the unity of Christians is possible only by means of a return to that community governed by bishops in communion with the successor to Peter. [William Henn: Ut Unum Sint and Catholic Involvement in Ecumenism as published in The Ecumenical Review (April 2000)]

Of course one should note that this paragraph has both principles and a prescription for what should be done in light of the principles enunciated. The principles themselves though do not necessarily involve the utilization of the same prescription for action -particularly when we move from the abstract to reality.{10} But as long as the Bellarmine model of the Church was predominant, the "ecumenism of return" would be the policy taken by the Apostolic See at least "officially" anyway.{11}

Thus when the Protestant movements of ecumenism began in the twentieth century, this was the approach "officially" taken by the Church -though the popes since Benedict XV begin allowing "unofficial" meetings of this kind to take place.{12} Pope Pius XI continued this pattern of not allowing "official" meetings but allowing "unofficial ones."{13} Nineteen twenty-eight saw him issue the Encyclical Letter Mortalium Animos in January which took issue with the ecumenical movement of his time on certain points of doctrine. The apologetical approach combined with an anachronistic accounting of history on the west-east divide meant that the "official" ban on involvement remained in place. However, as disappointing as this was in some respects, the Holy Father was to contribute another milestone in the development of the current understanding of the Church with another encyclical letter later in that year.

The subject of this encyclical letter was the promotion of Oriental studies. This letter{14} would provide the impetus for studying Church history through the eyes of the east -something which would be of tremendous value in the decades ahead as the ecumenical movement begin to solidify itself and become more credible as a movement. And in part through this study, as the ancient models of the Church began to surface to a wider theological audience, a realization slowly began setting in just how incomplete the Bellarmine ecclesial model really was. However, the model of the Mystical Body -though a welcome refining of the older Bellarmine model, was not free of its own problems. As Cardinal Dulles noted on the matter:

[The Mystical Body model] it raised in an acute way one central ecclesiological concern, in particular the relationship between the mystical and the visible, between the supernatural community of grace in Christ and the visible society of very human beings. The relationship between these two has been perennially problematical. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

Of course the temptation on the part of some towards overreaction against the Bellarmine model -and overemphasizing the supernatural element of the Church- was of course always a danger. To again reference Cardinal Dulles' work:

In 1943 Pius XII in his encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi signalled each of these dangers by stressing on the one hand that the Church is not "something invisible, intangible, a something merely `pneumatical'", and conversely that any presentation of the doctrine is to be rejected that makes the faithful in any way pass beyond the order of created things so that even one single attribute of the eternal God can be predicated of them in the proper sense. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

The biblical imagery of the mystical body and of the "head" and "members" was of course much more servicable for enunciating a positive agenda than the "perfect society" model. And though the Church is in some respects a "perfect society" the problem with such monikers is that it was all too easy to blame others for the divisions in Christendom under the guise that a "perfect society" cannot be at fault.{15}

The sanction by Pope Pius XII in his magisterium of the Body of Christ model was another important milestone in the direction of communio ecclesiology. It drew on the Bellarmine model of "perfect society" and also in recognizing the external verificators of what constituted a "member" of the Church{16} and was a model more conducive to action on the part of the Church Militant. (Rather than docile passivity.) However, the problem of how those who were not "members" but of good-will{17} were to be accounted for was not well serviced by this model. However, Pope Pius XII did mention this towards the end of the letter drawing on the teachings of Pope Pius IX and the Vatican I schema previously mentioned:

As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of Christ," and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.

For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic God of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their father's home. [Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis Christi §103 (c. 1943)]

Pope Pius XII would note that though not part of the visible Church that such people of good-will (or those who were "invincibly ignorant" of their situation) nonetheless had a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer. Exactly how this relationship was to be understood was of course to be worked out in later pronouncements. The first of these was in 1949 when Pope Pius XII had the Holy Office issue a correction to the Archbishop of Boston on the errors of Fr. Leonard Feeney -one who espoused the Bellarmine model in its most literal rendering possible. The correction itself involved approaching this subject to some extent from the realm of mystery and that seems to be the best starting point for discussing the third model of the Church -that of mystery or sacrament. That is where the next section will resume this thread. The promised addressing of the common misinterpretation of Mystici Corporis Christi though it did not materialize in this installment as planned will be the first item in the next one to be treated on.

To be Continued...


{1} I refer here to the previously noted centralization of the papacy after Gregory VII -which reached its apex during the Avignon years, the attitudes of the popes in this period, the resulting conciliarist backlash, and of course the battles fought at Constance and Basle on these matters only to be settled finally at Florence. In this period, the Church as mystical body of Christ and as sacrament gave way to greater and greater emphasis on the visible components of the Church.

{2} Trent's reference to baptism of desire and penance of desire in the Decree on Justification are one such witness to this: arguably the first explicit magisterial pronouncement on this aspect of the Church. (Even if they were mentioned more in passing than anything else.)

{3} The earliest of these was an organization called The Association for the Promotion of the Reunion of Christendom which was founded in 1857 and had both Catholics and Anglicans as members. However, because this association's formula rested on the Anglican "branch theory" of ecclesiology and was rooted in indifferentist outlooks, the Holy Office on September 16, 1864 issued a condemnation of this association and reiterated the four traditional "notes" of the Church (one, holy, catholic, apostolic) and declared that the Anglican Church was bereft of them.

{4} This would be the Apostolic Exhortation Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae promugated on June 20, 1894.

{5} To note a few bits from Pope Leo XIII's Apostolic Exhortation Praeclara Gratulationis Publicae on these subjects:

As we consider the mystery of this unity We see before Us all the countries which have long since passed, by the mercy of God, from timeworn error to the wisdom of the Gospel. Nor could We, indeed, recall anything more pleasing or better calculated to extol the work of divine Providence than the memory of the days of yore, when the faith that had come down from heaven was looked upon as the common inheritance of one and all; when civilized nations, separated by distance, character and habits, in spite of frequent disagreements and warfare on other points, were united by Christian faith in all that concerned religion...

Our mouth is open to you, to you all of Greek or other Oriental rites who are separated from the Catholic Church. We earnestly desire that each and every one of you should meditate upon the words, so full of gravity and love, addressed by Bessarion to your forefathers: "What answer shall we give to God when He comes to ask why we have separated from our brethren: to Him who, to unite us and bring us into one fold, came down from heaven, was incarnate, and was crucified? What will our defence be in the eyes of posterity? Oh, my Venerable Fathers, we must not suffer this to be, we must not entertain this thought, we must not thus so ill provide for ourselves and for our brethren."

Weigh carefully in your minds and before God the nature of Our request. It is not for any human motive, but impelled by divine charity and a desire for the salvation of all, that We advise the reconciliation and union with the Church of Rome...

{6} This was the Apostolic Letter Orientalium Dignitas promulgated on November 30, 1894.

{7} In short, very rigid proscriptions for dealing with those who would "Latinize" the Easterns or in any way try to get them to forsake their traditions for those of the Latin rite. Priests of the Latin rite who would help out the Eastern Patriarches when there were shortages of priests were bound to follow Eastern formularies. (And permission to commune by the Latins in the Eastern rites and vice versa.)

{8} The model of the Church being emphasized was still primarily the Bellarmine model as well as an apologetical approach couched in an "ecumenism of return" styling.

{9} For one thing, Pope Leo placed a heavy emphasis on the role of the episcopate here. This was in part an affirmation of the unpromulgated Vatican I schema which intended to treat on the role of the bishops. Thus, after asserting the primacy of the Roman See as in previous pronouncements, Pope Leo balanced out the reiteration of that teaching with another milestone in the development of communio ecclesiology:

But if the authority of Peter and his successors is plenary and supreme, it is not to be regarded as the sole authority. For He who made Peter the foundation of the Church also "chose, twelve, whom He called apostles" (Luke vi., 13); and just as it is necessary that the authority of Peter should be perpetuated in the Roman Pontiff, so, by the fact that the bishops succeed the Apostles, they inherit their ordinary power, and thus the episcopal order necessarily belongs to the essential constitution of the Church.

Although they do not receive plenary, or universal, or supreme authority, they are not to be looked as vicars of the Roman Pontiffs; because they exercise a power really their own, and are most truly called the ordinary pastors of the peoples over whom they rule. [Encyclical Letter Satis Cognitum §14 (c. 1896)]

From there the pope outlines the relationship between the pope and the bishops and another milestone towards communio ecclesiology -as well as a milestone in the teaching on the collegiality of the episcopate- is firmly established.

Further still, unlike the previous pronouncements, Pope Leo XIII noted in Satis Cognitum that departure from unity was not necessarily culpable on the part of those he was trying to reach out to (see SC §1). This was yet another important step though there would be some time until it was forthrightly acknowledged by the magisterium that there was blame on both sides for the various divisions in Christendom.

{10} In the abstract, the apologetical approach to ecumenism makes sense; however in reality it does not work as long as only one side is making all the movement. Further still, the divisions -particularly between West and East- were not a case of the easterns "going into schism" as much as it was a process where communion between the Churches broke down for various reasons.

However, as long as it was viewed as the Easterns who "left" the Church and had to therefore "return" -and failure to formally accept some responsibility for the divisions as a result of the actions of previous bishops and popes- then any success at restoring unity among the Churches and ecclesial communities would fail to succeed.

{11} See this link for details.

{12} The Holy Office under Pope Benedict XV issued a decree on July 4, 1919 which forbid involvement in conferences involving Christian unity without explicit sanction from the Apostolic See. Though "unofficial" meetings were allowed -as the source in footnote 11 notes- the "official" sanction was not granted in part until 1949 and to a larger degree after Vatican II's Decree Unitatis Redintegratio. (The latter of which formally committed the Catholic Church to involve herself in the ecumenical movement.)

{13} For this reason, when it was noted in Mortalium Animos §8 that it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises this was (to put it charitably) a half-truth.

{14} I refer here to Rerum Orientalium promulgated on September 8, 1928.

{15} This is an example to some extent of an overemphasis on the divine properties of the Church while overlooking the human elements: almost a form of ecclesial Docetism.

{16} [O]nly those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. [Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis Christi §22 (c. 1943)]

{17} Either because they were not sacramentally baptized or because they were but due to inculpable heresy or schism "could not be accounted" as members.

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Sunday, November 23, 2003

An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History Part II - The Overshadowed Ancient Models Gradually Re-Emerge:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The previous installment of this series can be read HERE.

Having already dealt with the model of the Church as political society, it leaves us to consider at this time the other more authentically traditional models and how they fared in the period from 1600-1940. Again, they were not lacking; however, the polemical atmosphere of the Counter-reformation led to their being downplayed in favour of the Bellarmine model.{1} And of course the Bellarmine model -being so heavy on the visible constituents of the Church- led as Cardinal Dulles noted to success being measured in statistics of conversions, baptisms, regular attendance and communions. While these are not areas to be disparaged of course, at the same time statistics of any kind can be utilized in a deceptive manner.{2}

There is also in this examination the subject of salvation "outside the Church" which will also be dealt with. It is at least mildly interesting that the Church promoted a paradox over the centuries in espousing the dictum extra ecclesia nulla salus (EENS) while at the same time not specifying her precise boundaries if you will.{3} I will go over that in the last section of this thread as it is not an insignificant point to dwell on. (Particularly for those whose view of the Church is overly-juridical.) Before doing that though, we need to get to the first alternative model of ecclesiology to emerge in the nineteenth and twentieth century to vie for prominence with the Bellarmine model.

In reality this first alternative model was nothing more than one of the ancient models I mentioned already. It never really went away but it did undergo serious neglect probably because (in part) it did not suit the purposes of Counter-reformation polemicists very well. To quote from Cardinal Dulles again on the matter:

After such a long period under one single paradigm, it was the beginning of a new era for ecclesiology when another model began to rise to prominence. This model was the "Body of Christ". It was an ancient model resurrected by the Tubingen School in the nineteenth century (Mohler, Scheeban) then given prominence through the work of such theologians of the 1930's as Emile Mersch and Sebastian Tromp, the latter eventually being the ghost-writer of the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi (1943).

This model stressed all those things that were obviously missing from the political society model. It was a more democratic model as well, stressing the activity and gifts of the Spirit in all members and the dependence of all on the contributions of each. It was a welcome and much needed complement of the earlier model, and much enriched ecclesiology and Catholic Church life.

However, it did not solve all theological difficulties. Indeed it raised in an acute way one central ecclesiological concern, in particular the relationship between the mystical and the visible, between the supernatural community of grace in Christ and the visible society of very human beings. The relationship between these two has been perennially problematical. It sees that Church as not just an invisible communion of grace, but it also sees the visible community as the fullness and completion of Christ, Christ in the Church being in some sense brought to complete achievement.

Stressing the mystical dimension of the spiritual communion can take an anti-institutional turn, as has occurred with some Protestant theologians such as Rudolph Sohm and Emil Brunner. On the other hand, stressing the visible community as the Body of Christ, continuation of the Incarnation, and so forth, can draw one towards "biologism" or a form of panchristism, a crassly literal application of the model which is, after all, essentially a metaphor. This leads to a divinisation of the Church, making it one divine organism with the Head, hypostatically united with the divine nature. [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

Though theologians had long enunciated that salvation through the Church was not understood solely in an ecclesiocentric sense, the popes had not enunciated in their magisterium anything on the matter directly. The Council of Trent in its Decree on Justification in Session VI had taught that the sacraments of baptism and penance were required either in actuality or in desire.{4} This was a nod to the ancient understanding of the Church as mystery even at the point in history when the Church was most strident to emphasize the visible consituencies of the Church.

The Jansenists in subsequent centuries would present such a rigorous understanding on the Church and salvation that the popes would be forced to intervene. It is also worth noting that not a few of the propositions of the Jansenists which were condemned were ones which restricted God's grace. And with every advanced proposition which attempted to limit God's grace throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the popes routinely issued condemnations. The Church's understanding as mystery was thus indirectly retained despite the overwhelming dominance of the "political society model."

Finally in the nineteenth century, what had long been accepted to varying degrees by the theological schools in the Church found expression in the magisterium of Pope Pius IX (r. 1846-1878) who in an allocution of 1854{5}, an encyclical epistle of 1856{6}, and another encyclical epistle in 1863{7} was to emphasize both the dogma of EENS and the traditional understanding of invincible ignorance{8} which must always accompany a proper understanding of the dogma.{9}

I mention the magisterial pronouncements of Pope Pius IX here because (i) he enunciates the proper sense of the dogma EENS and (ii) his work was to be incorporated into the unpromulgated schema on the Church -a source which would influence theological reflections on the nature of the Church among theologians for decades afterwards.

It is not commonly known that one of the intentions of the First Vatican Council was to contribute to developing doctrine on the nature of the Church that -due to the circumstances of the time{10}- the council was suspended. It's work lay unfinished, particularly the planned Constitution on Divine Revelation and the Second Constitution on the Church. The latter was to be the first intention by the Church to explicitly set forth doctrine on her very nature and -while the schema was never approved as such- it nonetheless provides some very interesting points of interest on several fronts. Before resuming with the quote from Cardinal Dulles, I want to highlight a significant part of them at this time.

For subsequent developments of Church teaching would to some extent be traced to this schema which -even though it was never promulgated- nonetheless was to influence the thinking of theologians in the period between the two Vatican Councils. But before pointing out some key areas, it is important to recall this schema for it is as important to understanding the intentions of Vatican I (and harmonization between Vatican I and Vatican II on the doctrine of the magisterium) as the Relatio of Bishop Vincent Gasser is to understanding the proper scope of magisterial infallibility.{11} To quote from a pre-Vatican II theology source on this matter:

The third session of the Vatican Council on April 24, 1870 dealt primarily with faith and reason (see Introd. to 58), but in the same place it dealt with the position of the Church as guardian and teacher of the revealed word (see 67, 80) and as a visible proof of its own divine mission (see 68). Originally the council...had planned to define much more on the constitution and nature of the Church, but there was not enough time to complete its work.

The first draft of the constitution...contains no official teaching on the part of the Church, since it was never voted on by the fathers in solemn assembly. However, since it had been carefully prepared by theologians and presented to the fathers of the council, the draft may be said to reflect the mind of the teaching Church at that time...[Schema on the Second Constitution from Vatican I: From The Church Teaches - Documents of the Church in English Translation by Jesuit Fathers of St. Mary's College pgs 86-87; 93 (c. 1955)]

Now there is no denying that in speaking of the visible Church, the moniker "Catholic Church" has been so often used down through the centuries. However, when speaking on the nature of the Church, there is an amazing reluctance to use this moniker at all. Consider the aforementioned schema, which was intended to explain the more important headings of the true Catholic doctrine on the nature of the Church (Introduction to schema) and the ramifications that such intentions would have on ecclesiology -particularly in light of the dominant model of the previous nearly three hundred years.

The aforementioned schema consisted of ten chapters. I will note them by title and also list the references to the Church in each one -excluding references in the titles of each chapter. Observe:

---Chapter 1: The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ

There is one reference to "the Church."

---Chapter 2: The Christian Religion Cannot Be Practiced Except Through the Church that Christ Founded

There is one reference to "this Church."

---Chapter 3: The Church is a True, Perfect, Spiritual, and Supernatural Society

Four references to "the Church", two references to "this Church" and two to "this society", and one to "a spiritual society."

---Chapter 4: The Church is a Visible Society

Four references to "the Church" and one to "the Church of Christ."

---Chapter 5: The Visible Unity of the Church

One reference to "the true Church of Christ", one reference to "this same Church", and one reference to "the true mysticall body of Christ." In light of how the theology of relation to the Church of non-Catholic bodies is dealt with in this chapter, it is a good thing that this schema was never promulgated as magisterial. (Though there are many fine features in it for the most part.)

---Chapter 6: The Church is a Society Absolutely Necessary For Salvation

One reference to "the Church of Christ", one reference to "his Church", four references to "the Church", and one reference to "the Church of which Christ is the head."

---Chapter 7: Outside the Church, No One Can Be Saved

This section basically recapitulates the teachings on the Church as enunciated in the aforementioned statements of Pope Pius IX. (Essentially a condemnation of indifferentism and a recognition of the existence of invincible ignorance.) As far as references to the Church in this chapter go, they are as follows:

Three references to "the Church" and one reference to "his Church."

---Chapter 8: The Indefectibility of the Church

One reference to "the Church of Christ", one reference to "his Church", one reference to "the Church", one reference to "Christ's Body", and one reference to "Christ's Church."

---Chapter 9: The Infallibility of the Church

This is a section I have typed out on Rerum Novarum before as well as in other discussions -frankly those who claim that Vatican I taught Church infallibility *only* in ex cathedra pronouncements{12} are in need of an education in this area. However, that is another subject altogether. In this section the references to the Church are as follows:

Two references to "the Church", one reference to "the Church of Christ", one reference to "the whole Church of Christ", one reference to "Christ's Church", and one reference to "his Church."

---Chapter 10: The Power of the Church

Three references to "the Church", two references to "Christ's Church", one reference to "the Church of God", and a final definition of the Church well worth pondering which includes one of the above references and reads as follows:

This true and highly favoured Church of Christ is none other than the one, holy, catholic, apostolic, and Roman Church.

In short, there was no affiliation of the Church of Christ with the Roman Catholic Church in a one-to-one identity. Nor did Pope Pius XII do this in Mystici Corporis Christi as so many people commonly misinterpret that encyclical. And that is where this series will pick up in the next installment.

To be Continued...


{1} Presumably because the elements of the Bellarmine model coincided with those which were not infrequently doubted or denied by the so-called "reformers" and their descendants.

{2} The hagiography surrounding the Oriental missions tended to give a greater appearance of success than there actually was -in part due to the manipulation of statistics. (Consciously or otherwise.)

{3} I go over this in my treatise contra "traditionalism" when explaining why subsistare is so much more fitting for describing the locus of the Church of Christ than est is with relation to the Catholic Church. The second Vatican I schema on the Church is also of assistance in this area.

{4} Something taught by St. Thomas Aquinas who was canonized twenty years after Boniface VIII and whose work had supplied Boniface with his definition in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctum. (Indeed the dogmatic definition was taken verbatim from Aquinas.)

{5} Allocution Singulari Quadam promulgated on December 9, 1854. The key enunciation here is as follows:

By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into, will perish in the flood. Nevertheless, equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord.

{6} Encyclical Epistle Singulari Quidem promulgated on March 17, 1856. The key enunciation here is Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.

{7} Encyclical Epistle Quanto Conficiamur Moerore promulgated on August 10, 1863. Sandwiched between a censure of the error of indifferentism -or that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity- and preceding a vigorous reaffirmation of EENS, Pope Pius IX noted that:

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

{8} So far as fixing human responsibility, the most important division of ignorance is that designated by the terms invincible and vincible. Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory.

This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of "moral diligence". This certainly does not mean all possible effort; otherwise, as Ballerini naively says, we should have to have recourse to the pope in every instance.

We may say, however, that the diligence requisite must be commensurate with the importance of the affair in hand, and with the capacity of the agent, in a word such as a really sensible and prudent person would use under the circumstances. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the obligation mentioned above is to be interpreted strictly and exclusively as the duty incumbent on a man to do something, the precise object of which is the acquisition of the needed knowledge.

In other words the mere fact that one is bound by some extrinsic title to do something the performance of which would have actually, though not necessarily, given the required information, is negligible. When ignorance is deliberately aimed at and fostered, it is said to be affected, not because it is pretended, but rather because it is sought for by the agent so that he may not have to relinquish his purpose. Ignorance which practically no effort is made to dispel is termed crass or supine. [Catholic Encyclopedia: From the article Ignorance (c. 1913)]

{9} That meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.

May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding. [Vatican I: Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius §4,14 (c. 1870)]

{10} I refer here to the invasion of Rome by Italy.

{11} This is a valid criticism that I have not been hesitant in recent years to forcefully assert.

{12} A profoundly erroneous yet sadly not uncommon error even amongst Catholics. (And a key error in the weltanschauung of the so-called "traditionalists.")

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An Outline of Various Church Models Throughout History Part I -Origins of Models and Preliminary Sketch:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

The Church's doctrine on the nature of the Church has gone through several different kinds of emphasis over the centuries. I could never hope to cover adequately in detail these factors; however, as a tool for possible future discussions, I want to at this time trace a schema of the pattern of ecclesiology and apologize in advance for any omissions. For assistance on this, I will rely on some work of Cardinal Avery Dulles{1} as well as online sources. Without further ado, let us get to it...

Early and Medieval Pre-Schism Church (ante-1054):

The first millennium of the undivided church saw several models of the Church proposed but the general view was one of mystery. The two most prevalent models were that of the Church as sacrament and the Church as the Body of Christ.

The model of the Church as sacrament has a scriptural basis for it -most significantly the following from Ephesians:

[Submit] yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. [Ephesians v,21-32]

The model of the Church as mystery (Lat. sacramentum) was probably first explicitly enunciated by St. Cyprian of Carthage in his treatise The Unity of the Church written in approximately 251 AD. It was slightly revised in 256 after his own run-in with the Bishop of Rome on a matter of doctrine{2} but that is another subject altogether.

Furthermore, there was coexisting with the Church as mystery model another conception of the Church: the Body of Christ model. This conception of the Church may well have more explicit Scriptural support than the Church as mystery model. Indeed, so many passages could be noted here that for the sake of time I ask the reader to simply trust me on this one.{3}

The ecclesiology of St. Cyprian was influential in the thought of St. Augustine whose work was influential on the thought of the great Scholastics such as St. Albert the Great, St. Bonaventure, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Even with the division of the west and the east, the Church's self-understanding as enunciated by the theologians who wrote tractates on the Church was primarily that of mystery though the increasing centralization of the papacy in the first centuries of the second millennium{4} -and the resultant conciliar backlash-{5} provided the impetus to emphasize with greater explicitness the external (or visible) elements of the Church.

Post-1054 through Counter-Reformation Period and Bellarmine's "Political Society" Church Model:

Naturally as the Church centralized and as the backlash against this policy developed, the visible elements of the Church were emphasized to a greater degree. However, it was not until after the double-whammy of the so-called "western schism" and the so-called "reformation" which followed that a definition of the Church primarily encompassing the visible elements was promulgated not by the Church but by one of its most esteemed of theologians. I refer here to St. Robert Bellarmine who in 1588 presented a model of the Church based on a political society:

The one and true Church is the community of men brought together by the profession of the same Christian faith and participation in the same sacraments under the authority of legitimate pastors and especially of the one Vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff.... The one true Church is as visible and palpable as the Kingdom of France or the republic of Venice.

This was the model that would supplant the two much older models previously mentioned and be the primary paradigm in describing the Church from approximately 1600-1940. Cardinal Dulles described this model as follows:

[Bellarmine's] definition, which enumerated only the visible and structural characteristics of the Church, did not fully express Bellarmine's concept of the Church. But it was this definition which Catholicism took to itself with enthusiasm in the following centuries, sometimes referring to the Church as the "perfect society". It is the model that is found in Cardinal Gasparri's Catechism (1932), which intentionally reflects Pius XI's Mortalium Animos (1928). We will generally refer to this model as the "political society model".

It was a serviceable model in the Counter-Reformation period. It gave definite guidelines by which Catholics could identify one another. Some elements of this model must be incorporated into any complete description of the Church...But the emphasis on visible, institutional characteristics alone together with its polemical, exclusivist intent makes it a very deficient model of the Church. The Church is much more than a social structure....In fact, the whole "mystery" dimension of the Church goes unrepresented in this model. And that is surely a basic weakness in a model that aims to express a reality that is above all a mystery of faith.

This model was dominant for far too long, with serious effects on Church life. It fostered what Yves Congar has called a "hierarchology" rather than an ecclesiology. With this went a corresponding over-emphasis on authority and a corresponding lack of lay involvement in the life and mission of the Church. Much heroic missionary activity was undertaken in the period, but the aim was generally to build up the Church society on earth, efforts to save souls being directed precisely to bringing more and more people into the Church society.

Success for the missionary, and for the pastor at home as well, was measured in statistics of conversions, baptisms, regular attendance and communions. Bishop de Smedt was describing succinctly the effects of this model when he criticised the first preliminary schema on the Church presented to the Fathers at Vatican II, using the words "clericalism, juridicism, and triumphalism". [Avery Dulles SJ: Models of the Church]

This is the model of the Church most often referred to as "traditional" by self-styled "traditionalists." However, this is another case of them elevating a post-Trent novelty to the level of "Tradition" and giving short shrift to the more ancient patristic models which are more venerable and have a much longer pedigree of usage. But as dominant as the Bellarmine model became in the Counter-reformation period, the older models never completely disappeared but indeed were witnessed to in some interesting ways.

To be Continued...


{1} I recently heard an excellent program on EWTN where Cardinal Avery Dulles so frequently enunciated my views on Vatican II that it pleased me greatly. (It is nice to know that my views so closely align with this brilliant man.)

{2} Most scholars believe that St. Cyprian's enthusiasm for the See of Peter as the root and matrix of the Catholic Church was diminished after he was on the receiving end of this same authority. Hence, in the redacted version, he emphasized more the episcopate than the papacy -though in both versions he recognized that all the bishops were what the Bishop of Rome was in episcopal dignity.

To quote BC Butler on this subject from his excellent work The Church and Infallibility written in 1954, in the more Petrine of the two passages (referred to generally as the "Primacy Text"):

The comparison with Ephesians...makes it clear that Cyprian is teaching the necessity of retaining communion with the Catholic Church by retaining communion with the Bishop of Rome. And was it not just because of this that at the time of his conflict with Stephen he felt obliged to "soft pedal" his language in the second edition, preserving the notion of the Church's indivisible unity, but giving less emphasis than in the first edition to the See of Rome as unity's abiding source?

But of course the logic of his own first edition defeated him, and the second version itself only achieves full internal coherence (between chapters 4 and 5) when we mentally re-emphasize the point which Cyprian was trying to blur. [BC Butler: The Church and Infallibility - A Reply to the Abridged Salmon pg. 151 (c. 1954)]

{3} But if you need some passages, see 1 Corinthians xii, Ephesians iv,11-16, and Colossians i,18-25 for passages on the Church as mystical body model. For passages on the Church as mystery model, see the Lord's parables of the Church as a sheepfold and the sole gateway to Christ (John x,1-10), the imagery of the Church as a cultivated field planted by the heavenly husbandman (Matt. xxi,33-43; cf. Isaiah v,1-7), and the image of the vine and branches (John xv) - the latter passage also applying to the Church as body of Christ model.

{4} This process started in the eleventh century but only with the Avignon papacy did the degree of centralization begin sparking opposition. To quote from one reliable source on this matter:

From the time of Gregory VII, the government of the Church had become increasingly centralized under the personal control of the Roman pontiff. In many respects this movement reached its climax in the fourteenth century. [G. Mollat: The Popes of Avignon Book III, Ch. III pg. 335 (c. 1963, 1949)]

{5} It is my opinion that the backlash against the papal centralization began after the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) when Pope Clement V basically told the Council Fathers that either they went along with him on a particular judgment -and thus it would be decreed in the name of the pope and other bishops- or the pope would do it himself.

Whatever problems there are in conciliarist theories -and there are many from a functional as well as historical aspect- it is not difficult to understand the undercurrents that developed at the time and would affect the Church until the so-called "reformation" and also the later Jansenist heresy.

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