The Associated Baptist Press has a detailed article about the reaction of some Protestants to the Pope’s statement that other Christians communities are not the church. The following is an excerpt of the news release:
DALLAS (ABP) -- The document issued July 10 by the Vatican was meant to clarify its doctrine of the church. But nearly a week later, its timing and language still leaves some Protestants and Catholics feeling confused or angry.
Much of the document, entitled "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," was aimed to clearly define “church.” The part that incited some anger said Christian denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church are not true churches. Instead only those with a direct link to the apostles and that submit to the authority of the pope are genuine. the Vatican said.
The document said Protestant churches suffer from a “profound wound,” causing them to warrant only “Christian community” status, not that of a church. The document said the Roman Catholic Church meets the criteria for a “church” because it can trace its history directly through bishops to the original apostles. It said Eastern Orthodox churches suffer from a lesser “wound” than Protestants because, while they claim apostolic authority, they don’t recognize the primacy of the pope.
“This is nothing but a naked attempt by Pope Benedict to ‘own’ Jesus by virtue of the Catholic Church considering the apostle Peter as its leader,” said American talk-show host Roland Martin. He told CNN July 13 that the Vatican document divides the community of faith rather than supports it.
There's little new in the Vatican document, however. Most of the contentious statements were also included in “Dominus Iesus,” a document issued in 2000 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the current pope, Benedict XVI. According to Reuter’s, the purpose of July 10 document was to correct “erroneous or ambiguous” interpretations of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which opened the door for ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholic Christian bodies.
Some critics say the divisive nature of the latest document is ironic, since Pope Benedict has portrayed himself as a supporter of Christian unity. The day after he was elected pope, he delivered a speech in which he said God will judge him for what he does to foster Christian unity.
One key Protestant leader added his criticism of the document, which he said "makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with Reformed family and other families of the church." Rev. Setri Nyomi, general secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, offered that view in a letter to Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, according to Catholic World News.
Read the news release in its entirety by clicking here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
Tags: Catholic Church, Church, Pope, Protestants, Vatican