Whilst I’m not a supernaturalist [you're not?! - Ed] the politics, both internal and external, of the organisations involved are still interesting to watch. The latest being the approval by
Emperor Pope Benedict XVI of a document – available here – which, as the Irish Times front page report notes, “reaffirms points originally outlined in the document Dominus Iesus, issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000 when it was headed by Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.” The IT also notes the reactions of other, similar, organisations
The president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Rev Roy Cooper, expressed dismay at its content, while a spokesman for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland pointed out that, in its view, it is the Roman Catholic Church which is in error. A spokesman for the Church of Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin Most Rev John Neill, said: “We regard the Church of Ireland as having full apostolic succession.” The World Alliance of Reformed Churches said the document “makes us question the seriousness with which the Roman Catholic Church takes its dialogues with the Reformed family and other families of the church”.
And now, from the people who brought us Limbo, then took it away. Who gave us Hell, took it away too, and have since tried to give it back to us. Who gave us the Latin Mass, took it from us, and gave it back last Saturday.
Yes, from those same people we now have a repeat, summer-time restatement of why being Roman Catholic is “simply the best”. Furthermore, they explain again why being Protestant is to be a yellow-pack Christian.
Yes, from the very people who under Pope Paul VI told us that Christians who were Protestant belonged to “sister churches” of the Roman Catholic Church, we are being told again that Protestant (Reformed) churches are not really sister churches at all.
Now, they are not even churches “in the proper sense”. A bit like St Christopher, they have been demoted. They are now mere “ecclesial communities”. You could say they remain in something of an ecclesiological Limbo. If Limbo still existed.
Pity our Anglicans, our Presbyterians, our Methodists, etc. They do not know it really, despite being told before, but their priests/ministers are not really priests or ministers at all. And as for their Holy Communion – it’s a sham! All a sham.
Even if, when in 1997 Cardinal Desmond Connell used that word after President McAleese received communion at a Church of Ireland Eucharist service in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, he meant it was “a sham” for a Roman Catholic like her to do such a thing. But, let’s be frank, it is the Holy Orders and the Holy Communion of the Reformed Churches that Rome really sees as “a sham”.
To be fair and as you would expect, Cardinal William Levada, current prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, put in somewhat differently in yesterday’s document (which was approved by Pope Benedict).
He said: “According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘Churches’ in the proper sense.”
All of which can be summarised in one pithy word – sham!