Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI to Puerto Rican Bishops: Faith is not Private


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Posted in: Pope Benedict XVI, USA Features

Benedict XVI received in audience prelates from the Puerto Rican Episcopal Conference, who have recently completed their “ad limina” visit.

Addressing the bishops, the Pope noted how their reports had highlighted a “concern for the challenges and difficulties that have to be faced at this moment of history,” because “over the last few years many things have changed in the social, the economic and even the religious field, at times opening the way to religious indifference and to a certain moral relativism which influences Christian practices and which, indirectly, also affects the structures of society.”

“This religious situation,” he went on, “calls out to you as pastors and requires that you remain united in order to make the presence of the Lord more palpable among mankind through joint pastoral initiatives that respond to the new realities. … You bishops and priests in particular are called to an indispensable and profoundly committed mission: ensuring that the Church remains a place where the mystery of divine love is taught and lived.”

The Holy Father then went on to recall that “priests are in the front line of evangelization” and that, for this reason, bishops’ relationship with them must not “be merely institutional” but “animated above all by charity.” He also called for prayers that the Church in Puerto Rico may enjoy “many holy vocations, especially at the current time in which young people often find it difficult to follow the Lord’s call into priestly or consecrated life.”

Turning to consider Puerto Rican society, the Pope noted “the spread of a mentality inspired by laicism which, more or less consciously, gradually leads to derision or ignorance of the sacred, relegating faith to a merely private sphere. … A correct notion of religious freedom is not compatible with such an ideology which at times presents itself as the only voice of reason.”

Another “permanent challenge,” said the Holy Father, is the family which “finds itself beset by the many snares of the modern world, such as overriding materialism” or “the lack of stability and faithfulness in couples.” Hence “the need to intensify … an incisive form of pastoral care of families, to help Christian couples accept the fundamental values of the Sacrament they have received.”

“The aforementioned religious indifference and the temptation of an easy moral permissiveness, as well as ignorance of the Christian tradition, … exert a great influence over new generations. Young people have the right … to be educated in the faith. For this reason, in the integral education of the very young, religious education must not be neglected, also in schools.”

Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that Catholics, “called to concern themselves with worldly affairs so as to order them in accordance with the divine will, must be courageous witnesses of their faith in the various areas of public life. Their participation in ecclesial life is, furthermore, fundamental and, at times, without their collaboration your apostolate as pastors would not reach ‘all men in all times and places’.”
(VIS)


_______________________

Los desafíos de la Iglesia en Puerto Rico, según Benedicto XVI

Sábado, 30 junio 2007

ZENIT, IBLNEWS

Publicamos el discurso que dirigió Benedicto XVI este sábado a los obispos de la Conferencia Episcopal de Puerto Rico a quienes recibió con motivo de su quinquenal visita «ad limina apostolorum».

"Queridos hermanos en el Episcopado:

1. Con sumo gusto os recibo, Pastores de la Iglesia de Dios que peregrina en Puerto Rico, venidos a Roma para la visita ad Limina y para fortalecer los profundos vínculos que os unen con esta Sede Apostólica. A través de cada uno de vosotros envío mi cordial saludo y expreso mi afecto y estima a los sacerdotes, comunidades religiosas y fieles laicos de las respectivas Iglesias particulares.

Agradezco las amables palabras que me ha dirigido, en nombre de todos, Mons. Roberto Octavio González Nieves, Arzobispo de San Juan de Puerto Rico y Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal, exponiendo las inquietudes y esperanzas de vuestro ministerio pastoral, orientado a guiar al Pueblo de Dios por el camino de la salvación y proclamando con vigor la fe católica para una mejor formación de los fieles.

2. Las relaciones quinquenales ponen de manifiesto la preocupación por los retos y dificultades que se han de afrontar en estos momentos de la Historia. En efecto, en los últimos años muchas cosas han cambiado en el ámbito social, económico y también religioso, dando paso a veces a la indiferencia religiosa y a un cierto relativismo moral, que influyen en la práctica cristiana y que, indirectamente, afecta también a las estructuras de la misma sociedad. Esta situación religiosa os interpela como Pastores y requiere que permanezcáis unidos para hacer más palpable la presencia del Señor entre los hombres a través de iniciativas pastorales conjuntas y que respondan mejor a las nuevas realidades.

Es fundamental preservar y acrecentar el don de la unidad que Jesús pedía al Padre para sus discípulos (cf. Jn 17,11). En la propia diócesis estáis llamados a vivir y dar testimonio de la unidad querida por Cristo para su Iglesia. Por otra parte, las eventuales diferencias de costumbres y tradiciones locales, lejos de amenazar esta unidad, contribuyen a enriquecerla desde la fe común. Y vosotros, como sucesores de los Apóstoles, tenéis que esforzaros en «mantener la unidad del Espíritu con el vínculo de la paz» (Ef 4,3). Por eso quiero recordar que todos, especialmente los Obispos y sacerdotes, estáis llamados a una misión irrenunciable y que os compromete profundamente: hacer que la Iglesia sea un lugar donde se enseñe y se viva el misterio del amor divino, que sólo será posible a partir de una auténtica espiritualidad de comunión, que tiene su expresión visible en la mutua colaboración y en la vida fraterna.

3. Un sector que reclama primordialmente vuestra atención pastoral son los sacerdotes. Ellos están en la primera línea de la evangelización y necesitan de manera especial vuestro cuidado y cercanía personal. Vuestra relación con ellos no ha de ser sólo institucional, sino que, como verdaderos hijos, amigos y hermanos vuestros, debe estar animada sobre todo por la caridad (cf. 1Pe 4,8), como expresión de la paternidad episcopal, que se ha de manifestar de modo especial con los sacerdotes enfermos o de edad avanzada, así como con los que se encuentren en circunstancias difíciles.

Los sacerdotes, por su parte, deben recordar que, ante todo, son hombres de Dios y, por eso, han de cuidar su vida espiritual y su formación permanente. Toda su labor ministerial "debe comenzar efectivamente con la oración", como dice san Alberto Magno (Comentario de la teología mística, 15). Todo sacerdote encontrará en este encuentro con Dios la fuerza para vivir con mayor entrega y dedicación su ministerio, dando ejemplo de disponibilidad y desprendimiento de las cosas superfluas.

4. Pensando en los futuros candidatos al sacerdocio y a la vida consagrada, hay que resaltar la importancia de orar sin cesar al Dueño de la mies (cf. Mt 9,38) para que conceda a la Iglesia en Puerto Rico numerosas y santas vocaciones, especialmente en la situación actual en la que los jóvenes encuentran frecuentemente dificultades para seguir el llamado del Señor a la vida sacerdotal o consagrada. Por eso, se ha de incrementar una pastoral vocacional específica, que mueva a los responsables de la pastoral juvenil a ser mediadores audaces del llamado del Señor. Sobre todo, no hay que tener miedo a proponerlo a los jóvenes, acompañándolos después asiduamente, en el ámbito humano y espiritual, para que vayan discerniendo su opción vocacional.

Respecto a la formación de los candidatos al sacerdocio, el Obispo ha de poner suma atención en elegir a los educadores más idóneos y mejor preparados para esta misión. Teniendo en cuenta las circunstancias concretas y el número de vocaciones en Puerto Rico, se podría tomar en consideración la confluencia de esfuerzos y recursos, de común acuerdo y con espíritu de unidad en la planificación pastoral, con el fin de obtener resultados mejores y más satisfactorios. Esto permitiría una mejor selección de los formadores y profesores que ayuden a cada seminarista a crecer con «una personalidad madura y equilibrada, [...] con honda vida espiritual y amante de la Iglesia» (Pastores gregis, 48). En esta delicada labor, todos los sacerdotes deben sentirse corresponsables, promoviendo nuevas vocaciones, sobre todo con el propio ejemplo y sin dejar de acompañar a aquéllos que han surgido de la propia comunidad parroquial o de algún movimiento.

5. En el ámbito social se va difundiendo una mentalidad inspirada en un laicismo que, de forma más o menos consciente, lleva gradualmente al desprecio o a la ignorancia de lo sacro, relegando la fe a la esfera de lo meramente privado. En este sentido, un recto concepto de libertad religiosa no es compatible con esa ideología, que a veces se presenta como la única voz de la racionalidad.

Un reto permanente para vosotros es también la familia, que se ve asediada por tantas insidias del mundo moderno, como son el materialismo imperante, la búsqueda del placer inmediato, la falta de estabilidad y de fidelidad en la pareja, influenciada continuamente por los medios de comunicación. Cuando el matrimonio no se ha construido sobre la roca firme del amor verdadero y de la mutua entrega, es arrastrado fácilmente por la corriente divorcista, soslayando además el valor de la vida, sobre todo la de los no nacidos. Este panorama muestra la necesidad de intensificar, como ya lo estáis haciendo, una pastoral familiar incisiva, que ayude a los esposos cristianos a asumir los valores fundamentales del Sacramento recibido. En este sentido, fieles a las enseñanzas de Cristo, a través de vuestro magisterio proclamáis la verdad de la familia como Iglesia doméstica y santuario de la vida, ante ciertas tendencias que, en la sociedad actual, tratan de eclipsar o confundir el valor único e insustituible del matrimonio entre hombre y mujer.

6. El mencionado indiferentismo religioso y la tentación de un fácil permisivismo moral, así como la ignorancia de la tradición cristiana con su rico patrimonio espiritual, influyen en gran manera sobre las nuevas generaciones. La juventud tiene derecho, desde el inicio de su proceso formativo, a ser educada en la fe y en las sanas costumbres. Por eso la educación integral de los más jóvenes no puede prescindir de la enseñanza religiosa también en la escuela. Una sólida formación religiosa será, pues, una protección eficaz ante el avance de las sectas o de otros grupos religiosos de amplia difusión actual.

7. Los fieles católicos, que están llamados a ocuparse de las realidades temporales para ordenarlas según la voluntad divina, han de ser testigos valientes de su fe en los diferentes ámbitos de la vida pública. Su participación en la vida eclesial es, además, fundamental y, en ocasiones, sin su colaboración vuestro apostolado de Pastores no llegaría a «todos los hombres de todos los tiempos y lugares» (Lumen gentium, 33).

A este respecto, quiero recordar unas significativas palabras de mi predecesor Juan Pablo II en su viaje pastoral a Puerto Rico: «Cuando en el ejercicio de vuestro ministerio encontréis cuestiones que tocan opciones concretas de carácter político, no dejéis de proclamar los principios morales que rigen todo campo de la actividad humana. Pero dejad a los laicos bien formados en su conciencia moral, la ordenación según el plan de Dios de las cosas temporales. Vosotros habéis de ser creadores de comunión y fraternidad, nunca de división en nombre de opciones que el pueblo fiel puede elegir legítimamente en sus diversas expresiones» (n. 3, 12-10-1984).

8. Algunos sectores de vuestra sociedad viven en la abundancia mientras otros sufren graves carencias, que no pocas veces rayan en la pobreza. En este sentido, es bien conocida la generosidad de los puertorriqueños, que responden de forma solidaria a los llamados de ayuda ante ciertas tragedias en el mundo. A este respecto, es de esperar que esta misma generosidad, coordinada por los servicios de Cáritas de Puerto Rico, se incremente también en aquellas circunstancias en las que grupos, personas o familias del lugar necesiten una verdadera asistencia.

9. Queridos Hermanos: la evangelización y la práctica de la fe en Puerto Rico han estado siempre unidas al amor filial a la Virgen María. Esto lo ponen de manifiesto los templos, santuarios y monumentos, así como las prácticas de piedad y fiestas populares en honor de la Madre de Dios. A Ella encomiendo vuestras intenciones y trabajos pastorales. Bajo su maternal protección pongo a todos los sacerdotes, comunidades religiosas, así como a las familias, a los jóvenes, a los enfermos y especialmente a los más necesitados. Llevadles a todos el saludo y el gran afecto del Papa, junto con la Bendición Apostólica."


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Update: Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library


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Dear Visitors,

Now there is a faster-than-ever method of obtaining scans of Out-of-Print books! For those of you who are interested in only one or two files from the Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library and do not want to wait for them in the mail, I am now making the files available through YouSendIt.com. That site allows me to send you a file immediately to a page where you can download it for free (I have to pay a fee for files larger than 100 MB, but that is usually covered by your donation anyway). So, combine that with Paypal and we can make an an almost immediate transaction!

If interested, just email me (see address on the sidebar) and let me know.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Societas Scholasticorum


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Dear Friends,

I am pleased to announce the forming of the Societas Scholasticorum, or "The Society of Schoolmen," a new organization created by traditional Thomists, with the support of Roman clergy and other contributors, for the restoration of Scholastic Thomism. This is the description from the website:

We are a fledgling foundation commited to restoring the philosophic doctrines, didactic principles, and scientific synthesis of the greatest masters of the medieval universities, the Scholastics. We hold Thomas of Aquin above all other philosophers as the most perfect thinker among the Scholastics and we apply ourselves to renewing the great tradition of Thomistic Philosophy forged by his Commentators throughout the centuries...

First founded among the students of the Roman Pontifical Universities, the Society of Scholastics is a union of philosophers brought together by fidelity to the principles, methods, and doctrines of Thomas Aquinas, Prince of Scholastics, which we hold inviolate, in order that, by association, we may promote the autonomous rights of philosophy as the highest and most universal science investigable by reason alone—a science which is not simply a handmaiden of theology nor a mere apologetic tool—and, thus, work for the reconciliation of philosophy with the partial sciences...

Visit the website and join the Society of Schoolmen!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Maritain, Garrigou-Lagrange, and Democracy


Share/Bookmark Dear Sir,

I must object to your claim [in your previous post on Maritain] that "Aquinas and all of his traditional followers are obviously royalists/monarchists". I do not presume to speak for 'all of his traditional followers' but I have never seen any text or read of any text or heard of any text in which St Thomas endorses hereditary monarchy (the system espoused by 'royalists'). In the Summa Theologiae IaIIae.105.1 he explicitly states that a mixed monarchy elected by universal franchise is the best form of government. The most obvious example of such a constitution in the modern world is the constitution of the United States of America. In fact, the system endorsed by St Thomas is more or less what is meant when we use the word 'Democracy' today. In contrast, when St Thomas uses the term 'Democracy' he uses it in its ancient sense of a polity with no supreme executive magistrate in which the laws are enacted by plebiscite. To use Thomas's criticisms of Democracy as if they applied to the modern institution is quite wrong.

In general your verdict upon M. Maritain has much to commend it, however his disagreements with Garrigou-Lagrange are more complicated than your comments suggest. Garrigou was indeed a royalist and was rather disingenuous in his presentation of St Thomas's political doctrine going so far as to endorse Action Française, a movement subsequently condemned by the Church for 'Social and Political Modernism'. The essential ground of condemnation was that the movement sought to bracket the question of the truth or falsity of the Church's faith in order to use it as a buttress for a social order in which believers and non-believers could participate.

Maritain (who was also supportive of Action Française) persisted in this error after the condemnation but sought to use the Church's faith as a buttress for a pluralist rather than a conservative social and political order. His arguments for the logical dependency upon revealed truths of a 'Democratic' (in the modern sense) political order are worth consideration and are apparently endorsed by Pius XII in his 1944 Christmas Address 'Democracy and a Lasting Peace'. In this address Pius XII states that "If the future is to belong to democracy, an essential part in its achievement will have to belong to the religion of Christ and to the Church, the messenger of our Redeemer's word which is to continue His mission of saving men. For she teaches and defends supernatural truths and communicates the supernatural helps of grace in order to actuate the divinely-established order of beings and ends which is the ultimate foundation and directive norm of every democracy."

Obviously, the alleged dependency is one way. Democracy is said to imply certain truths of the faith, the faith does not require that all states be democracies. On the other hand, Maritain's willingness to bracket the question of the truth or falsity of the Church's faith, accepting as unproblematic and permanent (in his liberal incarnation) the separation of Church and state, is clearly contrary to the teaching of the Church and opens him to the charge of 'Social Modernism' as described by Pius XI in Ubi Arcano Dei §60-61. This is a very serious criticism of Maritain's political thought. Nevertheless, it has nothing to do with his preference for 'Democracy' in which he is a faithful disciple of the Angelic Doctor.

Yours in Christ,
Alan


Dear Alan,
In all truth, I must admit am no expert in political philosophy or in Catholic social thought. In point of fact, that is the one area of philosophy/theology which I have purposefully avoided throughout my formation. I now realize I must not ignore it.
Therefore, pardon my simplistic understanding of the concepts, but by "royalism" I meant no more than the belief that the best form of government is monarchy. Thus, by "royalist" I meant the same as "monarchist." I did not imply that monarchy should be inherited.
Given that this is what I meant, it is true that there are MANY texts, indeed entire works, by Aquinas and his followers where the point is to support "royalism" (in the sense I use it; i.e., where the point is to show that monarchy is the best form of government).

Moreover, I find the following points that you have made difficult to accept, at least prima facie:

1) that "the system endorsed by St. Thomas is more or less what is meant when we use the word 'Democracy' today"; this claim is seriously suspect of hermeneutical violence, and the 'more or less' is an indication that you're stretching it unduly.

2) that the United States is the most obvious example in the modern world of "a mixed monarchy elected by universal franchise," and especially the outstanding implication that the United States is, not only an example (as if that weren't doubtful enough), but an obvious example, of "the best form of government"!!!;

3) Your interpretation of Pius XII's address as implying your thesis and as being authoritative.

A. First, it does not imply your thesis; you are committing a logical error by reversing the order hypothetical statement. The statement means that:

1. "if the future is to belong to democracy, then Christianity must play a primary role."

It does not mean that:

2. "if Christianity is to play a primary role, then the future must belong to democracy."
Confusing the two is equivalent to confusing the following two statements:

3. "if a person is a bachelor, then that person is unmarried";

4. "if a person is unmarried, then that person is a bachelor."

The first one is true, but the second one is false, for an unmarried person could be a female or a child (which do not qualify as "bachelors").

Therefore, I agree with Pope XII's claim that "if the future is to belong to democracy, then Christianity must play a primary role." That is the essence of what traditionalists mean by the restoration of the social kingship of Christ in America today. However, I do not agree with the reverse, namely, that "if Christianity is to play a primary role [that automatically means that], the future must belong to democracy." That would mean that democracy is the type of government that best concords with Christianity.

B. Furthermore, the citation refers merely to an address, where the pope does not intend to teach anything new, and much less to bind anyone to believe it, but merely to communicate a fundamental truth of Christianity, namely, the need to implement Christian doctrine and morality in our modern democratic world ( i.e., nothing other than the implementation of the social kingship of Christ in our age).

4) I also find difficult to accept your gratuitous and unwarranted charge that "Garrigou was... rather disingenuous in his presentation of St Thomas's political doctrine" (if you would like to provide justification for this charge, I would like to hear it);

5) Finally, I am unmoved by your misleading statement that he went "so far as to endorse [my emphasis] Action Française," which confuses strategic support with endorsement of principles (as if my voting for Bush meant that I endorse everything he stands for--I simply voted for him because I thought that doing so was the best strategy to help minimize abortion: and it worked). Garrigou did not "endorse" the principles of L'Action Française; he thought that to promote its political leadership was good strategy to obtain the restoration of the traditional order in France!

Thank you for your constructive criticism. I am very grateful for taking the time to share your thoughts with me and point out the inadequacies of what I write on the blog. I will require further research to be able to evaluate/criticize these points.

In Domino,
-FJR.



Dear Dr Romero,

Thank you for your reply. I think you may have mistaken my meaning on a few points. I did not say that Pius XII's address bound in conscience or even had a particularly significant theological note. I was citing him as an individual authority rather than as the voice of the magisterium. I did say specifically that he is asserting a dependency of Democracy (Modern) upon the Gospel not a dependency of the Gospel upon Democracy. 'Democracy is said to imply certain truths of the faith, the faith does not require that all states be democracies.'

Pius says "[the Church] teaches and defends supernatural truths and communicates the supernatural helps of grace in order to actuate the divinely-established order of beings and ends which is the ultimate foundation and directive norm of every democracy." It would be strange to say 'is' if he meant 'ought to be'. Furthermore, as every state whatever its constitutional form ought to take these truths as their foundation and directive norm, it would be odd to single out democracy in this way if that was all that he meant. I suspect that the dependency he was asserting is that for which Maritain argued, though shorn of the secularist errors involved in Maritain's theory.

Maritain in his epistemological writings developed a theory which he called 'Moral Philosophy Adequately Considered'. If I understand him correctly he believes that the actual end of man in this order of providence functions as the first principle of moral philosophy and because that end cannot be deduced from natural reason (whatever de Lubac might think) there can be no truly adequate moral philosophy in this order of providence without supernatural faith. One of the consequences of this inadequacy of moral philosophy when it is not subalterned to sacred theology is that we cannot know by natural reason alone that we ought to love our enemies.

A fundamental characteristic of Democracy as the moderns understand it (in contrast to the ancient form) is universal enfranchisement and the preservation of certain inviolable rights for minorities. Maritain believes that this framework would not develop naturally on the basis of reason unaided by revelation. This is why Democracy in the modern sense requires certain truths to justify it which only the Church can furnish with certitude.

Whatever its deficiencies may be vis-à-vis its predecessor, this seems to be the point the recent Catechism is trying to make at CCC 2244.

"Every institution is inspired, at least implicitly, by a vision of man and his destiny, from which it derives the point of reference for its judgment, its hierarchy of values, its line of conduct. Most societies have formed their institutions in the recognition of a certain preeminence of man over things. Only the divinely revealed religion has clearly recognized man's origin and destiny in God, the Creator and Redeemer. The Church invites political authorities to measure their judgments and decisions against this inspired truth about God and man: Societies not recognizing this vision or rejecting it in the name of their independence from God are brought to seek their criteria and goal in themselves or to borrow them from some ideology. Since they do not admit that one can defend an objective criterion of good and evil, they arrogate to themselves an explicit or implicit totalitarian power over man and his destiny, as history shows."

In regard to nomenclature, just about nobody uses the term 'Monarchism' to mean merely 'rule by one' which is doubtless unfortunate but it is a fact. Even if it was used in this exact sense it would still be misleading to describe St Thomas as a 'Monarchist' as he did not advocate this form but a mixture of the three 'pure' forms. He could be most exactly described as a Republican. The Romans also believed that their Respublica was an ideal blend of the three pure forms. In ST IaIIae.95.4 St Thomas seems to endorse the Roman model in his discussion of Isidore's division of laws.

'Royalism' is never used other than to describe hereditary monarchy. In ordinary speech Monarchy is still distinguished from Aristocracy and Democracy as indicating the sovereignty of the one rather than the few or the many. That this is how Garrigou-Lagrange used it as is clear from the fact that he supported the restoration of the French Bourbon Monarchy. Thomas's mixed monarchy in which the three 'pure' forms were blended and the Monarchical and Aristocratic elements elected by the populace is very different from anything promoted by contemporary 'monarchists' or any royalist programme advanced in early 20 th Century France. It is clearly what we would now call a presidential democracy. I believe Sir John Fortescue (1394 – 1476) used St Thomas's authority to defend the Lancastrian parliamentary transfer of power from Richard II to Henry IV.

Personally, I am a fairly contented subject of HM Elizabeth II and inhabit a parliamentary democracy which does not match up to St Thomas's model, so I am not blinded by patriotic fervour in this matter. I am not saying that the constitution of the United States of America is an ideal. Obviously, it is marred by its failure to acknowledge the truth of the Catholic faith in its constitution and its laws violate Divine and Natural Law in many particulars (as do those of the United Kingdom). It does however match up to the specifications laid down by St Thomas in IaIIae.105.1. This is not to say that a number of other broadly similar systems could not do so too. The French constitution for example is also a presidential democracy with an elected legislature.

Garrigou's enthusiasm for Action Française is a matter of public record. In his own introduction to De Regimine Principium he even defends Charles Maurras's slogan "politique d'abord" which lies at the heart of Pius XI's objections to Action Française. Paradoxically, Garrigou was probably more uncomfortable with this aspect of the movement than Maritain even though Maritain appears to attack it in 'Primauté du Spirituel'.

If you wish to examine the disingenuous character of Garrigou's presentation of St Thomas's political philosophy I recommended that you read his introduction to De Regimine Principium
and compare it to the following (which I have attached to this email)…

Aroney, Nicholas, "Subsidiarity, Federalism and the Best Constitution: Thomas Aquinas on City, Province and Empire" . Law and Philosophy, Vol. 26, pp. 161-228, 2007.

….and then chase up the references and judge for yourself!

Yours in Christ,
Alan

Alan,
Thanks for the info and the references. I will take a look!

In Domino,
-FJR.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Ecclesia Christi" EST Ecclesia Catholica


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CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI
RESPONSA AD QUAESTIONES DE ALIQUIBUS SENTENTIIS
AD DOCTRINAM DE ECCLESIA PERTINENTIBUS
Introductio

Ad catholicam profundius intelligendam ecclesiologiam nemo ignorat quantum Oecumenica Vaticana Synodus II contulerit, sive per dogmaticam Constitutionem Lumen gentium, sive per Decreta de Oecumenismo (Unitatis redintegratio) atque Orientalibus de Catholicis Ecclesiis (Orientalium Ecclesiarum). Ad hoc Romani autem Pontifices peropportune rem aestimaverunt penitus indagari, praesertim quod ad praxim recte dirigendam spectat: exinde Litterae Encyclicae Ecclesiam suam Pauli PP. VI (1964), necnon Ut unum sint (1995) Ioannis Pauli PP. II.

Multiplices ecclesiologiae facies ad profundius investigandas, minime consectaneum theologorum defuit officium, quod locum vero praebuit ut tempestive locupletissima studia florescerent. Sed si thema certo certius ferax evasit, nihilominus necessariis curis explanationibusque indiguit: quod evenit per Declarationem Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), per Epistulam Ecclesiae Catholicae Episcopis Communionis notio (1992), per Declarationem Dominus Iesus (2000): documenta quae omnia a Congregatione pro Doctrina Fidei promulgata sunt.

Huiusmodi argumenti structuralis complexitas et quidem multarum propositionum novitas inintermisse excitant theologica studia haud semper immunia a deviationibus dubia incitantibus, quae haec Congregatio diligenti perscrutavit cura. Quamobrem – clarescente sub lumine integrae ac universae doctrinae circa Ecclesiam – mens est huius Congregationis necte firmare germanam significationem nonnullarum sententiarum ecclesiologicarum Magisterii, ne sana theologica disputatio interdum erroribus – ambiguitatis causa – offendatur.

RESPONSA AD QUAESTIONES

1. Quaeritur: Utrum Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II mutaverit praecedentem doctrinam de Ecclesia ?
Respondetur: Noluit mutare, at evolvere, profundius intellegere et fecundius exponere voluit, nec eam mutavisse dicendum est.

Quod Ioannes XXIII incipiente Concilio dilucide affirmavit1. Quod Paulus VI repetivit (2) et in promulgatione Constitutionis Lumen gentium sic expressit: "Huius vero promulgationis potissimum commentarium illud esse videtur, quod per eam doctrina tradita nullo modo immutata est. Quod Christus voluit, id ipsum nosmetipsi volumus. Quod erat, permansit. Quae volventibus saeculis Ecclesia docuit, eadem et nos docemus. Tantummodo, id quod antea solum vitae actione continebatur, nunc aperta etiam doctrina exprimitur; quod usque adhuc considerationi, disputationi, atque ex parte etiam controversiis obnoxium erat, in certam doctrinae formulam nunc redactum est" (3). Eandem intentionem episcopi iterum iterumque manifestaverunt et consecuti sunt (4).

2. Quaeritur: Quomodo intelligendum sit Ecclesiam Christi subsistere in Ecclesia Catholica?

Respondetur: Christus unicam Ecclesiam "his in terris… constituit" et ut "coetum adspectabilem et communitatem spiritualem" (5) instituit, quae inde a sua origine in decursu historiae semper exsistit exsistetque et in qua sola permanserunt ac permanebunt omnia elementa ab eo instituta (6). "Haec est unica Christi Ecclesia, quam in Symbolo unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam profitemur […]. Haec Ecclesia in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a Successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata" (7).

Subsistentia in Constitutione Dogmatica Lumen gentium 8 est haec perpetua continuatio historica atque permanentia omnium elementorum a Christo institutorum in Ecclesia catholica (8), in qua Ecclesia Christi his in terris concrete invenitur.

Dum secundum doctrinam catholicam recte dici potest, Ecclesiam Christi in Ecclesiis et communitatibus ecclesialibus nondum plenam communionem cum Ecclesia catholica habentibus adesse et operari propter sanctificationis et veritatis elementa quae in illis sunt (9), verbum "subsistit" soli Ecclesiae catholicae ut singulare tantum attribuitur, quia refertur nempe ad notam unitatis in symbolis confessam (Credo…unam Ecclesiam); quae Ecclesia una subsistit in Ecclesia catholica (10).

3. Quaeritur: Quare vocabulum "subsistit in" et non simpliciter verbum "est" adhibetur ?

Respondetur: Usus vocabuli retinentis plenam identitatem Ecclesiae Christi et Ecclesiae Catholicae doctrinam de Ecclesia non immutat, rationem tamen habet veritatis, apertius significans quod extra eius compaginem "elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis" inveniuntur, "quae ut dona Ecclesiae Christi propria ad unitatem catholicam impellunt" (11).

"Proinde ipsae Ecclesiae et communitates seiunctae, etsi defectus illas pati credimus, nequaquam in mysterio salutis significatione et pondere exutae sunt. Iis enim Spiritus Christi uti non renuit tamquam salutis mediis, quorum virtus derivatur ab ipsa plenitudine gratiae et veritatis quae Ecclesiae catholicae concredita est" (12).

4. Quaeritur: Quare Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II Ecclesiis orientalibus a plena communione Ecclesiae catholicae seiunctis nomen "Ecclesiae" attribuit?

Respondetur: Concilium usum traditionalem nominis accipere voluit. "Cum autem illae Ecclesiae quamvis seiunctae, vera sacramenta habeant, praecipue vero, vi successionis apostolicae, Sacerdotium et Eucharistiam, quibus arctissima necessitudine adhuc nobiscum coniunguntur" (13), titulum merentur "Ecclesiae particulares vel locales" (14), et Ecclesiae sorores Ecclesiarum particularium catholicarum nuncupantur (15).
"Proinde per celebrationem Eucharistiae Domini in his singulis Ecclesiis, Ecclesia Dei aedificatur et crescit" (16). Quia autem communio cum Ecclesia catholica, cuius visibilis Caput est Episcopus Romae ac Successor Petri, non est quoddam complementum Ecclesiae particulari ab extra adveniens, sed unum e principiis internis quibus ipsa constituitur, conditio Ecclesiae particularis, qua potiuntur venerabiles illae communitates christianae, defectu tamen afficitur (17).

Ex altera parte, plenitudo catholicitatis Ecclesiae propria, a Successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernatae, propter divisionem christianorum impeditur in historia plene consummanda (18).

5. Quaeritur: Cur textus Concilii et Magisterii subsequentis communitatibus natis ex Reformatione saeculi XVI titulum Ecclesiae non attribuunt?

Respondetur: Quia secundum doctrinam catholicam hae communitates successionem apostolicam in sacramento Ordinis non habent, ideoque elemento essentiale Ecclesiam constitutivo carent. Illae communitates ecclesiales, quae, praesertim propter sacerdotii ministerialis defectum, genuinam atque integram substantiam Mysterii eucharistici non servant (19), secundum doctrinam catholicam Ecclesiae sensu proprio (20) nominari non possunt.

SS.mus Dominus Noster Benedictus PP. XVI, in Audientia infrascripto Cardinali Praefecto Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei concessa, supradicta responsa in Conventu Ordinario huius Congregationis deliberata, rata habuit, confirmavit et publici iuris fieri iussit.

Datum Romae, ex Aedibus Congregationis pro Doctrina Fidei, die XXIX mensis iunii MMVII, in solemnitate Ss. Petri et Pauli, Apostolorum.

Gulielmus Cardinalis LevadaPraefectus
+ Angelus Amato, S.D.B.Archiepiscopus tit. Silensis Secretarius

_______________________
1 IOANNES XXIII, Allocutio 11. Oct. 1962: "… Concilium… integram, non imminutam, non detortam tradere vult doctrinam Catholicam…Verumtamen in praesenti oportet ut universa doctrina christiana, nulla parte inde detracta, his temporibus nostris ab omnibus accipiatur novo studio, mentibus serenis atque pacatis…Oportet ut, quemadmodum cuncti sinceri rei christianae, catholicae, apostolicae fautores vehementer exoptant, eadem doctrina amplius et altius cognoscatur …Oportet ut haec doctrina certa et immutabilis, cui fidele obsequium est praestandum, ea ratione pervestigetur et exponatur, quam tempora postulant nostra. Est enim aliud ipsum depositum fidei, seu veritates, quae veneranda doctrina nostra continentur, aliud modus, quo eaedem enuntiantur, eodem tamen sensu eademque sententia": AAS 54 [1962] 791; 792.

2 Cf. PAULUS VI, Allocutio 29 Sep. 1963: AAS 55 [1963] 847-852.
3 PAULUS VI, Allocutio 21. Nov. 1964: AAS 56 [1964] 1009-1010.

4 Sacra Synodus exprimere voluit identitatem Ecclesiae Christi et Ecclesiae Catholicae. Quod invenitur in disceptationibus de Decreto Unitatis redintegratio. Schema Decreti in Aula die 23. Sept. 1964 Relatione propositum est. (Act Syn III/II 296-344). Modis ab Episcopis postea missis, Secretariatus pro Unitate Christianorum respondit die 10. Nov. 1964 (Act Syn III/VII 11-49). Ex Expensione modorum quattuor textus de primo responso hic referuntur:

A) [In Nr. 1 (Prooemium) Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 296, 3-6]

"Pag. 5, lin. 3-6: Videtur etiam Ecclesiam Catholicam inter illas Communiones comprehendi, quod falsum esset.

R(espondetur) : Hic tantum factum, prout ab omnibus conspicitur, describendum est. Postea clare affirmatur solam Ecclesiam catholicam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi" (Act Syn III/VII 12).

B) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 297-301]

"4 - Expressius dicatur unam solam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi; hanc esse Catholicam Apostolicam Romanam; omnes debere inquirere, ut eam cognoscant et ingrediantur ad salutem obtinendam...

R(espondetur): In toto textu sufficienter effertur, quod postulatur. Ex altera parte non est tacendum etiam in aliis communitatibus christianis inveniri veritates revelatas et elementa ecclesialia"( Act Syn III/VII 15). Cf. etiam ibidem n. 5.
C) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 296s]
"5 - Clarius dicendum esset veram Ecclesiam esse solam Ecclesiam catholicam romanam...

R(espondetur): Textus supponit doctrinam in constitutione ‘De Ecclesia’ expositam, ut pag. 5, lin. 24-25 affirmatur" (Act Syn III/VII 15). Commissio quidem de emendationibus Decreti Unitatis redintegratio iudicans, dilucide exprimit identitatem Ecclesiae Christi et Ecclesiae Catholicae atque eius unicitatem, retinens huius doctrinae fundamentum in Constitutione Dogmatica Lumen gentium consistere.

D) [In Nr. 2 Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 297s]

"Pag. 6, lin. 1-24: Clarius exprimatur unicitas Ecclesiae. Non sufficit inculcare, ut in textu fit, unitatem Ecclesiae. R(espondetur): a) Ex toto textu clare apparet identificatio Ecclesiae Christi cum Ecclesia catholica, quamvis, ut oportet, efferantur elementa ecclesialia aliarum communitatum".

" Pag. 7, lin.5: "Ecclesia a successoribus Apostolorum cum Petri successore capite gubernata (cf. novum textum ad pag. 6, lin.33-34) explicite dicitur ‘unicus Dei grex’ et lin. 13 ‘una et unica Dei Ecclesia’ " (Act Syn III/VII). Hae duae sententiae inveniuntur in Decreto Unitatis redintegratio 2.5 et 3.1.

5 Cf. CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Const. Dogm. Lumen gentium, 8.1.

6 Cf. CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.6.

7 CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Const. Dogm. Lumen gentium, 8.2.

8 Cf. CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI, Decl. Mysterium Ecclesiae, 1.1: AAS 65 [1973] 397 ; Decl. Dominus Iesus, 16.3: AAS 92 [2000-II] 757-758; Notificatio de scripto P. Leonardi Boff, OFM, "Chiesa: carisma e potere": AAS 77 [1985] 758-759.

9 Cf. IOANNES PAULUS II, Litt. Enc. Ut unum sint, 11.3: AAS 87 [1995-II] 928.

10 Cf. CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Const. Dogm. Lumen gentium, 8.2.

11 CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Const. Dogm. Lumen gentium, 8.2.

12 CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, DECR. UNITATIS REDINTEGRATIO, 3.4.

13 CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 15.3; cf. CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI, Litt. Communionis notio, 17.2: AAS 85 [1993-II] 848.

14 Cf. Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1.

15 Cf. CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 14. 1; IOANNES PAULUS II, Litt. Enc. Ut unum sint, 56 s : AAS 87 [1995-II] 954 s.

16 CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 15.1.

17 Cf. CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI, Litt. Communionis notio, 17.3: AAS 85 [1993-II] 849.

18 Cf. CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI, Litt. Communionis notio, 17.3: AAS 85 [1993-II] 849.

19 Cf. CONCILIUM OECUMENICUM VATICANUM II, Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 22.3.

20 Cf. CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI, Decl. Dominus Iesus, 17.2: AAS 92 [2000-II] 758.

_______________________

Official Vatican English Translation:

CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS
OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH

Introduction

The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, and its Decrees on Ecumenism (Unitatis redintegratio) and the Oriental Churches (Orientalium Ecclesiarum), has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiolgy. The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (1995).

The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field. In fact it has become evident that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance in the declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Communionis notio (1992), and the declaration Dominus Iesus (2000), all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.

RESPONSES TO THE QUESTIONS

First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council (1). Paul VI affirmed it (2) and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium: "There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation" (3). The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention (4).

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community" (5), that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. (6) "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him" (7).

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church (8), in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. (9) Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church. (10)

Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity" (11).

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church" (12).

Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds" (13), they merit the title of "particular or local Churches" (14), and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches (15).

"It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature" (16). However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches (17).

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history (18).

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: 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 (19) cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense (20).

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

William Cardinal Levada
Prefect


+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
Secretary

_______________________

1 JOHN XXIII, Address of 11 October 1962: "…The Council…wishes to transmit Catholic doctrine, whole and entire, without alteration or deviation…But in the circumstances of our times it is necessary that Christian doctrine in its entirety, and with nothing taken away from it, is accepted with renewed enthusiasm, and serene and tranquil adherence… it is necessary that the very same doctrine be understood more widely and more profoundly as all those who sincerely adhere to the Christian, Catholic and Apostolic faith strongly desire …it is necessary that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which is owed the obedience of faith, be explored and expounded in the manner required by our times. The deposit of faith itself and the truths contained in our venerable doctrine are one thing, but the manner in which they are annunciated is another, provided that the same fundamental sense and meaning is maintained" : AAS 54 [1962] 791-792.

2 Cf. PAUL VI, Address of 29 September 1963: AAS 55 [1963] 847-852.

3 PAUL VI, Address of 21 November 1964: AAS 56 [1964] 1009-1010.

4 The Council wished to express the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. This is clear from the discussions on the decree Unitatis redintegratio. The Schema of the Decree was proposed on the floor of the Council on 23.9.1964 with a Relatio (Act Syn III/II 296-344). The Secretariat for the Unity of Christians responded on 10.11.1964 to the suggestions sent by Bishops in the months that followed (Act Syn III/VII 11-49). Herewith are quoted four texts from this Expensio modorum concerning this first response.

A) [In Nr. 1 (Prooemium) Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 296, 3-6]

"Pag. 5, lin. 3-6: Videtur etiam Ecclesiam catholicam inter illas Communiones comprehendi, quod falsum esset.

R(espondetur): Hic tantum factum, prout ab omnibus conspicitur, describendum est. Postea clare affirmatur solam Ecclesiam catholicam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi" (Act Syn III/VII 12).

B) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 297-301]

"4 - Expressius dicatur unam solam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi; hanc esse Catholicam Apostolicam Romanam; omnes debere inquirere, ut eam cognoscant et ingrediantur ad salutem obtinendam...

R(espondetur): In toto textu sufficienter effertur, quod postulatur. Ex altera parte non est tacendum etiam in aliis communitatibus christianis inveniri veritates revelatas et elementa ecclesialia"(Act Syn III/VII 15). Cf. also ibid pt. 5.

C) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 296s]

"5 - Clarius dicendum esset veram Ecclesiam esse solam Ecclesiam catholicam romanam...

R(espondetur): Textus supponit doctrinam in constitutione ‘De Ecclesia’ expositam, ut pag. 5, lin. 24-25 affirmatur" (Act Syn III/VII 15). Thus the commission whose task it was to evaluate the responses to the Decree Unitatis redintegratio clearly expressed the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church and its unicity, and understood this doctrine to be founded in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium.

D) [In Nr. 2 Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 297s]

"Pag. 6, lin. 1- 24: Clarius exprimatur unicitas Ecclesiae. Non sufficit inculcare, ut in textu fit, unitatem Ecclesiae.

R(espondetur): a) Ex toto textu clare apparet identificatio Ecclesiae Christi cum Ecclesia catholica, quamvis, ut oportet, efferantur elementa ecclesialia aliarum communitatum".

"Pag. 7, lin. 5: Ecclesia a successoribus Apostolorum cum Petri successore capite gubernata (cf. novum textum ad pag. 6, lin.33-34) explicite dicitur ‘unicus Dei grex’ et lin. 13 ‘una et unica Dei Ecclesia’ " (Act Syn III/VII).

The two expressions quoted are those of Unitatis redintegratio 2.5 e 3.1.

5 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.1.

6 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.6.

7 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen gentium, 8.2.

8 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 1.1: AAS 65 [1973] 397; Declaration Dominus Iesus, 16.3: AAS 92 [2000-II] 757-758; Notification on the Book of Leonardo Boff, OFM, "Church: Charism and Power": AAS 77 [1985] 758-759.

9 Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 11.3: AAS 87 [1995-II] 928.

10 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.2.

11 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.2.

12 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.4.

13 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 15.3; cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Communionis notio, 17.2: AAS, 85 [1993-II] 848.

14 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1.

15 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 56 f: AAS 87 [1995-II] 954 ff.

16 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 15.1.

17 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Letter Communionis notio, 17.3: AAS 85 [1993-II] 849.

18 Ibid.

19 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 22.3.

20 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 17.2: AAS 92 [2000-II] 758.

Letter on the Occasion of Summorum Pontificum


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LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS
ON THE OCCASION OF THE PUBLICATION OF THE APOSTOLIC LETTER "MOTU PROPRIO DATA" SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM ON THE USE OF THE ROMAN LITURGY PRIOR TO THE REFORM OF 1970
My dear Brother Bishops,

With great trust and hope, I am consigning to you as Pastors the text of a new Apostolic Letter “Motu Proprio data” on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970. The document is the fruit of much reflection, numerous consultations and prayer.

News reports and judgments made without sufficient information have created no little confusion. There have been very divergent reactions ranging from joyful acceptance to harsh opposition, about a plan whose contents were in reality unknown.

This document was most directly opposed on account of two fears, which I would like to address somewhat more closely in this letter.

In the first place, there is the fear that the document detracts from the authority of the Second Vatican Council, one of whose essential decisions – the liturgical reform – is being called into question.

This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were “two Rites”. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite.

As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal. Probably it was thought that it would be a matter of a few individual cases which would be resolved, case by case, on the local level. Afterwards, however, it soon became apparent that a good number of people remained strongly attached to this usage of the Roman Rite, which had been familiar to them from childhood. This was especially the case in countries where the liturgical movement had provided many people with a notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier Form of the liturgical celebration. We all know that, in the movement led by Archbishop Lefebvre, fidelity to the old Missal became an external mark of identity; the reasons for the break which arose over this, however, were at a deeper level. Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them. This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear. I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Pope John Paul II thus felt obliged to provide, in his Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei (2 July 1988), guidelines for the use of the 1962 Missal; that document, however, did not contain detailed prescriptions but appealed in a general way to the generous response of Bishops towards the “legitimate aspirations” of those members of the faithful who requested this usage of the Roman Rite. At the time, the Pope primarily wanted to assist the Society of Saint Pius X to recover full unity with the Successor of Peter, and sought to heal a wound experienced ever more painfully.

Unfortunately this reconciliation has not yet come about. Nonetheless, a number of communities have gratefully made use of the possibilities provided by the Motu Proprio. On the other hand, difficulties remain concerning the use of the 1962 Missal outside of these groups, because of the lack of precise juridical norms, particularly because Bishops, in such cases, frequently feared that the authority of the Council would be called into question. Immediately after the Second Vatican Council it was presumed that requests for the use of the 1962 Missal would be limited to the older generation which had grown up with it, but in the meantime it has clearly been demonstrated that young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them. Thus the need has arisen for a clearer juridical regulation which had not been foreseen at the time of the 1988 Motu Proprio. The present Norms are also meant to free Bishops from constantly having to evaluate anew how they are to respond to various situations.

In the second place, the fear was expressed in discussions about the awaited Motu Proprio, that the possibility of a wider use of the 1962 Missal would lead to disarray or even divisions within parish communities. This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded. The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often. Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.

It is true that there have been exaggerations and at times social aspects unduly linked to the attitude of the faithful attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition. Your charity and pastoral prudence will be an incentive and guide for improving these. For that matter, the two Forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal. The “Ecclesia Dei” Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard. The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality which attracts many people to the former usage. The most sure guarantee that the Missal of Paul VI can unite parish communities and be loved by them consists in its being celebrated with great reverence in harmony with the liturgical directives. This will bring out the spiritual richness and the theological depth of this Missal.

I now come to the positive reason which motivated my decision to issue this Motu Proprio updating that of 1988. It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church. Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew. I think of a sentence in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where Paul writes: “Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!” (2 Cor 6:11-13). Paul was certainly speaking in another context, but his exhortation can and must touch us too, precisely on this subject. Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.

There is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal. In the history of the liturgy there is growth and progress, but no rupture. What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Needless to say, in order to experience full communion, the priests of the communities adhering to the former usage cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating according to the new books. The total exclusion of the new rite would not in fact be consistent with the recognition of its value and holiness.

In conclusion, dear Brothers, I very much wish to stress that these new norms do not in any way lessen your own authority and responsibility, either for the liturgy or for the pastoral care of your faithful. Each Bishop, in fact, is the moderator of the liturgy in his own Diocese (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 22: “Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet quae quidem est apud Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, apud Episcopum”).


Nothing is taken away, then, from the authority of the Bishop, whose role remains that of being watchful that all is done in peace and serenity. Should some problem arise which the parish priest cannot resolve, the local Ordinary will always be able to intervene, in full harmony, however, with all that has been laid down by the new norms of the Motu Proprio.

Furthermore, I invite you, dear Brothers, to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this Motu Proprio has taken effect. If truly serious difficulties come to light, ways to remedy them can be sought.

Dear Brothers, with gratitude and trust, I entrust to your hearts as Pastors these pages and the norms of the Motu Proprio. Let us always be mindful of the words of the Apostle Paul addressed to the presbyters of Ephesus: “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

I entrust these norms to the powerful intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, dear Brothers, to the parish priests of your dioceses, and to all the priests, your co-workers, as well as to all your faithful.

Given at Saint Peter’s, 7 July 2007

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum"


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LITTERAE APOSTOLICAE
MOTU PROPRIO DATAE
BENEDICTUS XVI
SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM



Summorum Pontificum cura ad hoc tempus usque semper fuit, ut Christi Ecclesia Divinae Maiestati cultum dignum offerret, «ad laudem et gloriam nominis Sui» et «ad utilitatem totius Ecclesiae Suae sanctae».

Ab immemorabili tempore sicut etiam in futurum, principium servandum est «iuxta quod unaquaeque Ecclesia particularis concordare debet cum universali Ecclesia non solum quoad fidei doctrinam et signa sacramentalia, sed etiam quoad usus universaliter acceptos ab apostolica et continua traditione, qui servandi sunt non solum ut errores vitentur, verum etiam ad fidei integritatem tradendam, quia Ecclesiae lex orandi eius legi credendi respondet»[1].

Inter Pontífices qui talem debitam curam adhibuerunt, nomen excellit sancti Gregorii Magni, qui tam fidem catholicam quam thesauros cultus ac culturae a Romanis in saeculis praecedentibus cumulatos novis Europae populis transmittendos curavit. Sacrae Liturgiae tam Missae Sacrificii quam Officii Divini formam, uti in Urbe celebrabatur, definiri conservarique iussit. Monachos quoque et moniales maxime fovit, qui sub Regula sancti Benedicti militantes, ubique simul cum Evangelii annuntiatione illam quoque saluberrimam Regulae sententiam vita sua illustrarunt, «ut operi Dei nihil praeponatur» (cap. 43). Tali modo sacra liturgia secundum morem Romanum non solum fidem et pietatem sed et culturam multarum gentium fecundavit. Constat utique liturgiam latinam variis suis formis Ecclesiae in omnibus aetatis christianae saeculis permultos Sanctos in vita spirituali stimulasse atque tot populos in religionis virtute roborasse ac eorundem pietatem fecundasse.

Ut autem Sacra Liturgia hoc munus efficacius expleret, plures alii Romani Pontifices decursu saeculorum peculiarem sollicitudinem impenderunt, inter quos eminet Sanctus Pius V, qui magno cum studio pastorali, Concilio Tridentino exhortante, totum Ecclesiae cultum innovavit, librorum liturgicorum emendatorum et «ad normam Patrum instauratorum» editionem curavit eosque Ecclesiae latinae usui dedit.

Inter Ritus romani libros liturgicos patet eminere Missale Romanum, quod in romana urbe succrevit, atque succedentibus saeculis gradatim formas assumpsit, quae cum illa in generationibus recentioribus vigente magnam habent similitudinem.

«Quod idem omnino propositum tempore progrediente Pontifices Romani sunt persecuti, cum novas ad aetates accommodaverunt aut ritus librosque liturgicos determinaverunt, ac deinde cum ineunte hoc nostro saeculo ampliorem iam complexi sunt redintegrationem»[2]. Sic vero egerunt Decessores nostri Clemens VIII, Urbanus VIII, sanctus Pius X[3], Benedictus XV, Pius XII et beatus Ioannes XXIII.

Recentioribus autem temporibus, Concilium Vaticanum II desiderium expressit, ut debita observantia et reverentia erga cultum divinum denuo instauraretur ac necessitatibus nostrae aetatis aptaretur. Quo desiderio motus, Decessor noster Summus Pontifex Paulus VI libros liturgicos instauratos et partim innovatos anno 1970 Ecclesiae latinae approbavit; qui ubique terrarum permultas in linguas vulgares conversi, ab Episcopis atque a sacerdotibus et fidelibus libenter recepti sunt. Ioannes Paulus II, tertiam editionem typicam Missalis Romani recognovit. Sic Romani Pontifices operati sunt ut «hoc quasi aedificium liturgicum [...] rursus, dignitate splendidum et concinnitate» appareret[4].

Aliquibus autem in regionibus haud pauci fideles antecedentibus formis liturgicis, quae eorum culturam et spiritum tam profunde imbuerant, tanto amore et affectu adhaeserunt et adhaerere pergunt, ut Summus Pontifex Ioannes Paulus II, horum fidelium pastorali cura motus, anno 1984 speciali Indulto “Quattuor abhinc annos”, a Congregatione pro Cultu Divino exarato, facultatem concessit utendi Missali Romano a Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito; anno autem 1988 Ioannes Paulus II iterum, litteris Apostolicis “Ecclesia Dei” Motu proprio datis, Episcopos exhortatus est ut talem facultatem late et generose in favorem omnium fidelium id petentium adhiberent.

Instantibus precibus horum fidelium iam a Praedecessore Nostro Ioanne Paulo II diu perpensis, auditis etiam a Nobis Patribus Cardinalibus in Concistorio die XXIII mensis martii anni 2006 habito, omnibus mature perpensis, invocato Spiritu Sancto et Dei freti auxilio, praesentibus Litteris Apostolicis DECERNIMUS quae sequuntur:

Art. 1. Missale Romanum a Paulo VI promulgatum ordinaria expressio “Legis orandi” Ecclesiae catholicae ritus latini est. Missale autem Romanum a S. Pio V promulgatum et a B. Ioanne XXIII denuo editum habeatur uti extraordinaria expressio eiusdem “Legis orandi” Ecclesiae et ob venerabilem et antiquum eius usum debito gaudeat honore. Hae duae expressiones “legis orandi” Ecclesiae, minime vero inducent in divisionem “legis credendi” Ecclesiae; sunt enim duo usus unici ritus romani.

Proinde Missae Sacrificium, iuxta editionem typicam Missalis Romani a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgatam et numquam abrogatam, uti formam extraordinariam Liturgiae Ecclesiae, celebrare licet. Conditiones vero a documentis antecedentibus “Quattuor abhinc annos” et “Ecclesia Dei” pro usu huius Missalis statutae, substituuntur ut sequitur:

Art. 2. In Missis sine populo celebratis, quilibet sacerdos catholicus ritus latini, sive saecularis sive religiosus, uti potest aut Missali Romano a beato Papa Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 edito, aut Missali Romano a Summo Pontifice Paulo VI anno 1970 promulgato, et quidem qualibet die, excepto Triduo Sacro. Ad talem celebrationem secundum unum alterumve Missale, sacerdos nulla eget licentia, nec Sedis Apostolicae nec Ordinarii sui.

Art. 3. Si communitates Institutorum vitae consecratae atque Societatum vitae apostolicae iuris sive pontificii sive dioecesani quae in celebratione conventuali seu “communitatis” in oratoriis propriis celebrationem sanctae Missae iuxta editionem Missalis Romani anno 1962 promulgatam habere cupiunt, id eis licet. Si singula communitas aut totum Institutum vel Societas tales celebrationes saepe vel plerumque vel permanenter perficere vult, res a Superioribus maioribus ad normam iuris et secundum leges et statuta particularia decernatur.

Art. 4. Ad celebrationes sanctae Missae de quibus supra in art. 2 admitti possunt, servatis de iure servandis, etiam christifideles qui sua sponte id petunt.

Art. 5, § 1. In paroeciis, ubi coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium continenter exsistit, parochus eorum petitiones ad celebrandam sanctam Missam iuxta ritum Missalis Romani anno 1962 editi, libenter suscipiat. Ipse videat ut harmonice concordetur bonum horum fidelium cum ordinaria paroeciae pastorali cura, sub Episcopi regimine ad normam canonis 392, discordiam vitando et totius Ecclesiae unitatem fovendo.

§ 2. Celebratio secundum Missale B. Ioannis XXIII locum habere potest diebus ferialibus; dominicis autem et festis una etiam celebratio huiusmodi fieri potest.

§ 3. Fidelibus seu sacerdotibus id petentibus, parochus celebrationes, hac in forma extraordinaria, permittat etiam in adiunctis peculiaribus, uti sunt matrimonia, exsequiae aut celebrationes occasionales, verbi gratia peregrinationes.

§ 4. Sacerdotes Missali B. Ioannis XXIII utentes, idonei esse debent ac iure non impediti.

§ 5. In ecclesiis, quae non sunt nec paroeciales nec conventuales, Rectoris ecclesiae est concedere licentiam de qua supra.

Art. 6. In Missis iuxta Missale B. Ioannis XXIII celebratis cum populo, Lectiones proclamari possunt etiam lingua vernacula, utendo editionibus ab Apostolica Sede recognitis.

Art. 7. Ubi aliquis coetus fidelium laicorum, de quo in art. 5 § 1 petita a parocho non obtinuerit, de re certiorem faciat Episcopum dioecesanum. Episcopus enixe rogatur ut eorum optatum exaudiat. Si ille ad huiusmodi celebrationem providere non potest res ad Pontificiam Commissionem “Ecclesia Dei” referatur.

Art. 8. Episcopus, qui vult providere huiusmodi petitionibus christifidelium laicorum, sed ob varias causas impeditur, rem Pontificiae Commissioni “Ecclesia Dei” committere potest, quae ei consilium et auxilium dabit.

Art. 9, § 1. Parochus item, omnibus bene perpensis, licentiam concedere potest utendi rituali antiquiore in administrandis sacramentis Baptismatis, Matrimonii, Poenitentiae et Unctionis Infirmorum, bono animarum id suadente.

§ 2. Ordinariis autem facultas conceditur celebrandi Confirmationis sacramentum utendo Pontificali Romano antiquo, bono animarum id suadente.

§ 3. Fas est clericis in sacris constitutis uti etiam Breviario Romano a B. Ioanne XXIII anno 1962 promulgato.

Art 10. Fas est Ordinario loci, si opportunum iudicaverit, paroeciam personalem ad normam canonis 518 pro celebrationibus iuxta formam antiquiorem ritus romani erigere aut rectorem vel cappellanum nominare, servatis de iure servandis.

Art. 11. Pontificia Commissio “Ecclesia Dei” a Ioanne Paulo II anno 1988 erecta[5], munus suum adimplere pergit.

Quae Commissio formam, officia et normas agendi habeat, quae Romanus Pontifex ipsi attribuere voluerit.

Art. 12. Eadem Commissio, ultra facultates quibus iam gaudet, auctoritatem Sanctae Sedis exercebit, vigilando de observantia et applicatione harum dispositionum.

Quaecumque vero a Nobis hisce Litteris Apostolicis Motu proprio datis decreta sunt, ea omnia firma ac rata esse et a die decima quarta Septembris huius anni, in festo Exaltationis Sanctae Crucis, servari iubemus, contrariis quibuslibet rebus non obstantibus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die septima mensis Iulii, anno Domini MMVII, Pontificatus Nostri tertio.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI


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[1] Institutio generalis Missalis Romani, Editio tertia, 2002, 397

[2] Ioannes Paulus Pp. II, Litt. ap. Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[3]Ibid.

[4]S. Pius Pp. X, Litt. Ap. Motu proprio datae Abhinc duos annos (23 Octobris 1913): AAS 5 (1913), 449-450; cfr Ioannes Paulus II, Litt. ap. Vicesimus quintus annus (4 Decembris 1988), 3: AAS 81 (1989), 899.

[5] Cfr Ioannes Paulus Pp. II, Litt. ap. Motu proprio datae Ecclesia Dei (2 iulii 1988), 6: AAS 80 (1988), 1498.



Friday, July 06, 2007

Is There Real Fire in Purgatory? -An Interview.


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An Interview on Purgatory

Where is Purgatory? How do the fires of Purgatory differ from those of Hell?

-I quote Aquinas. In Book IV of his Commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sentences (distinction 21, article 1), he asks “Whether purgatory and hell are in the same place.” He answers:

In Sacred Scripture one cannot find anything explicit regarding the location of purgatory, nor is it possible to formulate adequate arguments on this point. However, one can formulate a probable argument, based on the sayings and [private] revelations of the Saints, that the location of purgatory is twofold.

The first is by common law; accordingly, the place of purgatory is a low place conjoined to Hell, such that it is the same fire that both burns the damned in hell and purifies the just in purgatory, although the damned, because they are inferior in merit, are in fact sent to a lower place.

The other is by special dispensation. And thus, sometimes we read that some people are punished in different places, either for the instruction of the living, or for the liberation of the dead, so that, alerting the living, their punishment might be mitigated through the suffrages of the Church.



What are some of the sufferings that a soul in Purgatory has to endure? Is the suffering in Puragatory worse than the most horrendous suffering on earth?

Again, I quote Aquinas. In the same place, he says:

In purgatory there will be a twofold punishment. One is the punishment of [temporary] damnation (poena damni), insofar as the souls are delayed in attaining the divine vision. The other is sense-punishment (poena sensus) as far as they are punished by corporeal fire. And in both respects the slightest punishment in purgatory exceeds the greatest punishment of this life.

This is the case because the more something is desired, the more disturbing its absence, and the affection with which the holy souls, after this life, desire the Supreme Good is most intense, because this affection is not retarded by the bulk of the body. Another reason they suffer is because their goal of enjoying the Supreme Good would already be taking place were it not for the impediment of sin and its consequences, and hence they suffer from the delay.

Similarly, also, because pain is not the same as injury, but rather it is the sensing of injury, the more sensitive something is, the more it suffers pain from injury. Hence, the injuries received in the most sensitive parts are the ones that cause the most pain. Moreover, because the body’s entire capacity to sense comes from the soul, therefore, if something injurious acts on the soul itself, this will necessarily be most afflicting... Therefore, it is necessarily the case that the punishment of purgatory, with regard to both the punishment of [temporal] damnation and the sense-punishment, exceeds all the punishments of this life.


What are indulgences? How do they assist the holy souls?

The Supplement to the Summa Theologiae (Question 13, article 2) establishes that God allows one man to satisfy for another. Again, let us listen:

Satisfactory punishment has a twofold purpose, namely, 1) to pay the debt, and 2) to serve as a remedy for the avoidance of sin. Accordingly, as (2) a remedy against future sin, the satisfaction of one does not profit another, for the flesh of one man is not tamed by another's fast; nor does one man acquire the habit of well-doing, through the actions of another, except accidentally, in so far as a man, by his good actions, may merit an increase of grace for another, since grace is the most efficacious remedy for the avoidance of sin. But this is by way of merit rather than of satisfaction. on the other hand, as regards the payment of the debt, one man can satisfy for another, provided he be in a state of charity, so that his works may avail for satisfaction. Nor is it necessary that he who satisfies for another should undergo a greater punishment than the principal would have to undergo (as some maintain, who argue that a man profits more by his own punishment than by another's), because punishment derives its power of satisfaction chiefly from charity whereby man bears it. And since greater charity is evidenced by a man satisfying for another than for himself, less punishment is required of him who satisfies for another, than of the principal: wherefore we read in the Lives of the Fathers (v, 5) of one who for love of his brother did penance for a sin which his brother had not committed, and that on account of his charity his brother was released from a sin which he had committed. Nor is it necessary that the one for whom satisfaction is made should be unable to make satisfaction himself, for even if he were able, he would be released from his debt when the other satisfied in his stead. But this is necessary in so far as the satisfactory punishment is medicinal: so that a man is not to be allowed to do penance for another, unless there be evidence of some defect in the penitent, either bodily, so that he is unable to bear it, or spiritual, so that he is not ready to undergo it.

And, later, in question 25, article 1, he argues that an indulgence can remit the punishment due for the satisfaction of sins:

All admit that indulgences have some value, for it would be blasphemy to say that the Church does anything in vain. But some say that they do not avail to free a man from the debt of punishment which he has deserved in Purgatory according to God's judgment, and that they merely serve to free him from the obligation imposed on him by the priest as a punishment for his sins, or from the canonical penalties he has incurred. But this opinion does not seem to be true. First, because it is expressly opposed to the privilege granted to Peter, to whom it was said (Matthew 16:19) that whatsoever he should loose on earth should be loosed also in heaven. Hence whatever remission is granted in the court of the Church holds good in the court of God. Moreover the Church by granting such indulgences would do more harm than good, since, by remitting the punishment she had enjoined on a man, she would deliver him to be punished more severely in Purgatory.

Hence we must say on the contrary that indulgences hold good both in the Church's court and in the judgment of God, for the remission of the punishment which remains after contrition, absolution, and confession, whether this punishment be enjoined or not. The reason why they so avail is the oneness of the mystical body in which many have performed works of satisfaction exceeding the requirements of their debts; in which, too, many have patiently borne unjust tribulations whereby a multitude of punishments would have been paid, had they been incurred. So great is the quantity of such merits that it exceeds the entire debt of punishment due to those who are living at this moment: and this is especially due to the merits of Christ: for though He acts through the sacraments, yet His efficacy is nowise restricted to them, but infinitely surpasses their efficacy.

Now one man can satisfy for another, as we have explained above (13, 2). And the saints in whom this super-abundance of satisfactions is found, did not perform their good works for this or that particular person, who needs the remission of his punishment (else he would have received this remission without any indulgence at all), but they performed them for the whole Church in general, even as the Apostle declares that he fills up "those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ . . . for His body, which is the Church" to whom he wrote (Colossians 1:24). These merits, then, are the common property of the whole Church. Now those things which are the common property of a number are distributed to the various individuals according to the judgment of him who rules them all. Hence, just as one man would obtain the remission of his punishment if another were to satisfy for him, so would he too if another's satisfactions be applied to him by one who has the power to do so.

The Church teaches that when the world ends, there will only be heaven and hell. What happens to the souls that live until the end of the world, if they are not yet worthy to witness the Beatific Vision, nor are deserving of eternal damnation? What happens to Purgatory at the end of time?

Sacred Tradition has always affirmed that, in the end, only Heaven and Hell will remain. Consequently, purgatory will cease to be. But the souls in purgatory are predestined to Heaven. In other words, after they have entered purgatory, it is impossible for them to “fall out” of purgatory. Yet, they must be fully purified to go to Heaven. Thus, they must finish their time of purification before the end of the world. St. Augustine says: “Let purification punishments be counted on only before that last and terrible judgment.”

Therefore, the souls on earth that die in sanctifying grace but whose venial sins have not been forgiven or whose punishment for venial sin has not been remitted must be completely purified (perhaps immediately) before the end of the world.

Can the souls in Purgatory pray for each other?

Theologians do not have certainty about this. This topic has been the subject of much speculation among scholastics. It is certain that the souls in purgatory can pray (in general). In fact, it is certain that they can pray for themselves, e.g., for the remission of their venial sins, for the application of the merits of the living for their salvation, etc. Now, Aquinas seems to imply that we can pray to them to seek their assistance (Summa Theologiae II-II.83.4 ad 3):
Those who are in this world or in Purgatory, do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word, so as to be able to know what we think or say. Wherefore we do not seek their assistance by praying to them, but ask it of the living by speaking to them.
And, again, he says (Summa Theologiae I.89.8 ad 1):

The souls of the departed may care for the living, even if ignorant of their state; just as we care for the dead by pouring forth prayer on their behalf, though we are ignorant of their state. Moreover, the affairs of the living can be made known to them not immediately, but the souls who pass hence thither, or by angels and demons, or even by "the revelation of the Holy Ghost," as Augustine says.

Moreover, the Council of Vienna says of the Holy Souls that, “by their suffrages they help us.” Another ecclesial source says “we believe they pray for us to God.”

A probable argument could be made that if they can pray both for themselves and for us who sojourn on Earth, it would seem likely that they are also able to pray for other Holy Souls.


Why does the majority of society today scoff at the Catholic dogma of Purgatory? Because Purgatory can't be proved by reason alone, what is the most clear and concise way that a Catholic can prove to another that it does indeed exist?

Protestant influences have infected our western culture for five centuries now. One of the principal attacks of the “Reformers” against the Catholic Faith was their hatred of anything having to do with our collaboration with redemption. That includes: merits, indulgences, purgatory, the Mass and the sacraments, Our Lady, etc. This is partially why our western culture scoffs at the dogma of Purgatory.

Another influence is simply ignorance. Also due to the Protestant notion of salvation, our society tends to think somehow that all it takes for one to go to heaven is faith alone, and maybe a sign that one has faith is that one is generally good, that one abstains from committing murder and other horrendous acts of that sort. So it is relatively easy, according to our culture, to go to heaven. So the assumption is that God sends you to Heaven automatically as long as you don’t do something terribly evil with a malicious intention. The notions of sanctifying grace, the theological virtues, mortal and venial sin, and even hell do not cross their minds, at least in any serious way. So, in that worldview, Judgment, Purgatory, Limbo (and even Hell) can be dispensed with.

The most straightforward way to prove the existence of purgatory to a Catholic (and I mean a true, well-intentioned Catholic, who accepts in principle the authority of the Pope and Magisterium) is to show him the text of the definition of the dogma from the Council of Trent:

Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful (Denzinger, Enchiridon, 983).

The teaching of the Magisterium is straightforward. However, it is not the only proof for the Catholic. The Magisterium is what theologians call an “Organ of Sacred Tradition.” In proof of the existence of purgatory you could also quote what theologians call the “Witnesses of Tradition,” which are equally infallible and which are represented by the unanimous consensus of the Fathers, of the theologians, of the faithful, throughout the centuries. These can be easily known through the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and of the Saints, as well as through catechisms, liturgical texts, sacred places, etc. All of Catholic culture cries out that there is indeed a Purgatory.

But, practically speaking, this will hardly do for those who call themselves “Catholic” but do not believe in the authority of the Magisterium. So, if they don’t believe in Sacred Tradition (that is, neither in the Organs nor in the Witnesses of Tradition), you should at least be able to quote the other source of Divine Revelation, namely, Sacred Scripture.

The most obvious text of Scripture for this purpose is 1 Maccabees 12:42-46:

And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Now, if you are speaking to a Protestant, he most likely does not believe that the books of the Maccabees are authentic books of the Sacred Scripture (these, and other books of the Old Testament are missing from their Protestant bibles). So you just quote Our Lord Himself (Mt. 12:31):

Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.