Friday, June 17, 2016

Why We Should not Say, "The Catholic Church" to refer to the Roman Communion.

Why We Should not Say, "The Catholic Church" to refer to the Roman Communion.

The Church, according to the Scriptures, the Primitive Church, and the Fathers, is the body of which Christ is the head, and all the baptized are members.  She is also the bride of Christ, united in one flesh to him.  She is also the new family of God, by adoption into Christ, the New Israel, and the Kingdom of God in the process of being formed.  She includes the Church militant here on earth, the Church in purgatory, and the Church which has entered into the beatific vision before the presence of God, i.e., in heaven.

This Church is sacramentally (and thus really) present in the world, most particularly in the Eucharist.  Thus we speak of particular churches, celebrating in communion with their bishops, in succession to the apostles.

The Church is not just the church militant, nor a particular church, nor a group of particular churches in visible communion with each other.  It is certainly not an organization, juridical, or administrative structure in this world, although particular churches may rightly employ such this-worldly structures as part of their mission.

The Second Vatican Council says that the Church "subsists" in the "Catholic Church", meaning those particular churches in communion with the see of Rom. This is problematic because subsistences do not subsist in other subsistences.  Natures, essences, substances (ουσιαι) subsist in subsistences, but subsistences, being existent things, subsist in themselves.  Human nature subsists in human persons, for instance.  Thus to say that the Church subsists in something else, is to deny to the Church its own existence, since it must exist in something else.

Hence to use the term Church, as the Roman Communion now does so, ends in the logical denial of the fullness of the Body of Christ, and reduces the Catholic Church to only a this-worldly organization. It ends in a denial of that "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" as defined in the creeds, and as understood catholically, and although I am sure that is not the intent, the consequences of this error in the exaltation of bureaucracy and misuse of organizational power in the Roman communion and other churches influenced by its model are most evident.

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