Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who are the Members of the Church? (Pt. 1 of 3)


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A paper submitted by Fr. 'Romanus'
(Copyright of Ite ad Thomam © 2009)



The following paper will treat of the question, "Who is a member of the Church?" This subject being quite broad, only selected considerations of selected authors will be given. The most eminent authorities will thus be consulted,[1] namely, magisterial teaching on the subject, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas. Lastly, the sententiae of some post-tridentine authors will be consulted as the treatise on ecclesiology has developed much since the Council of Trent.[2] The paper proceeds in an investigative method of inveniendi and colligendi as befits the novice, rather than docendi and judicandi concerning such great minds. Nevertheless, it is hoped that some insights can be added from the vantage of point of seeing them all together in retrospect.
Pope Pius XII states in Mystici Corporis (DS 3802): “In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli annumerandi sunt,  qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur, neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separarunt, vel ob gravissima admissa a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt.” Therefore by definition of the ordinary magisterium of the Church, it must be held at least as catholic doctrine, that only the baptized, who profess the true faith, and are not separated from the Church by themselves, or by legitimate authority, are members of the Church. Hence non-baptism, heresy, schism and excommunication place man apart from membership in the Church, as Pius XII goes on to say, “Neque existimandum est, Ecclesiae corpus... hoc etiam terrenae peregrinationis tempore ex membris tantummodo sanctitate praestantibus constare, vel ex solo eorum coetu exsistere, qui a Deo sint ad sempiternam felicitatem praedestinati (cf. DS 1201 1203 1205s 1221 2408 2463 2472-2478). ... Siquidem non omne admissum etsi grave scelus eiusmodi est, ut - sicut schisma vel haeresis vel apostasia faciunt - suapte natura hominem ab Ecclesiae corpore separet” (DS 3803).
            There are various senses in which the term member has been used by theologians throughout the ages, referring to the predestined, those with only faith (not yet baptized), those in the state of grace, etc. Thus the term is analogous. In general the senses vary between the just who are united to Christ, and thus part of his mystical body, and those who are visible professed members of the Church on earth. Both senses can be seen in the consistent magisterial usage[3] of the term member, with the more formal sense becoming more pronounced, culminating in the doctrine expressed in Mystici Corporis

1.          St. Boniface in 422, writes, "Sancti Spiritus in nobis atque in vobis una est eruditio eademque doctrina, quam quisque non recipit, non est membrum corporis Christi, nec potest eo capite gloriari, in quo naturam suam asserit non haberi...” (DS 296). Thus showing that members are those who receive the true faith from the Holy Ghost through the Magisterium.

2.           St. Leo, at the episcopal Synod at Chalcedon writes in 451, “...Quid enim fide ad laetitiam superius? ... Quam ipse desuper nobis     Salvator ad salutem tradidit dicens: ambulantes 'docete omnes gentes ...' (Mt 28,19s), quam ipse tamquam auream catenulam praecepto imponentis deductam in nos conservasti, vocis beati Petri omnibus interpres exsistens et illius fidei omnibus beatitudinem attrahens. Unde et nos tamquam principi tibi huius boni ad utilitatem usi veritatis filii Ecclesiae sortem ostendimus, ... uno consensu et concordia fidei confessionem cognoscentes. Et fuimus in communi exsultatione spiritalibus tamquam imperialibus cenis epulationibus in cibis quas per tuas litteras Christus epulantibus apparavit (quasi in imperialibus cenis deliciis spiritalibus epulantes, quas per tuas litteras Christus praeparaverat invitatis), et supercaelestem Sponsum inter nos cernere videbamur epulantem. (D 149) Si enim ubi sunt duo aut tres congregati in nomine ipsius, ibi ait se esse in medio eorum (cf. Mt 18, 20), quantam circa quingentos viginti sacerdotes familiaritatem monstrabat, qui et patriae et labori circa eum scientiam confessionis praeposuerunt? Quibus tu tamquam caput membris praepositus eras per eos, qui tuam continent vicem, rectum consilium demonstrans...,” showing that membership comes from union with the head, the Pope, receiving from him the faith that unites the Church. (DS 306).

3.            Pope Pelagius II in 585, quoting St. Augustine writes, “Ubi namque sit Ecclesia constituta, licet ipsius Domini voce in sancto evangelio sit apertum, quid tamen beatus Augustinus eiusdem dominicae memor sententiae definierit, audiamus. In his namque, ait, esse Dei Ecclesiam constitutam, qui Sedibus Apostolicis per successionem praesulum praesidere noscuntur, et quicumque ab earumdem Sedium se communione vel auctoritate suspenderit, esse in schismate demonstratur. Et post alia: 'Positus foris, etiam pro Christi nomine mortuus eris. Inter membra Christi patere pro Christo haerens corpori; pugna pro capite (Inter membra Christi non numeraberis; patere pro Christo; haerens corpori pugna pro capite)'.” Thus indicating that schismatics separated by legitimate authority are no longer members of the Church. He then goes on to cite St. Cyprian, “Sed et beatus Cyprianus ... inter alia sic dicit: 'Exordium ab unitate proficiscitur, et primatus Petro datur, ut una Christi Ecclesia et cathedra monstretur; et pastores sunt omnes, sed grex unus ostenditur, qui ab Apostolis unanimi consensione pascatur'. Et post pauca: 'Hanc Ecclesiae unitatem qui non tenet, tenere se fidem credit ? Qui cathedram Petri, super quam Ecclesia fundata est (cf: Mt 16, 18), deserit et resistit, in Ecclesia se esse confidit?' ... Cum Deo manere non possunt, qui esse in Ecclesia Dei unanimiter noluerunt: ardeant licet flammis et ignibus traditi, vel obiecti bestiis animam suam ponant non erit illa fidei corona, sed poena perfidiae; nec exigitur (Cypr.: religiosae virtutis exitus) gloriosus, sed desperationis interitus. Occidi talis potest, coronari non potest. ... Peius schismatis crimen est quam quod hi, qui sacrificaverunt; qui tamen in paenitentia criminis constituti Deum plenissimis satisfactionibus deprecantur. Illic Ecclesia quaeritur et rogatur; hic Ecclesiae repugnatur. Illic qui lapsus est, sibi tantum nocuit; hic qui schisma facere conatur, multos secum trahendo decipit. Illic animae unius est damnum; hic periculum plurimorum. Certe peccasse se hic intellegit et lamentatur et plangit; ille tumens in peccato suo et ipsis sibi delictis placens, a matre filios segregat, oves a pastore sollicitat, Dei sacramenta disturbat, et cum lapsus semel peccaverit, hic quotidie peccat. Postremo lapsus martyrium postmodum consecutus, potest regni promissa percipere; hic, si extra Ecclesiam fuerit occisus, ad Ecclesiae non potest praemia pervenire. (DS 469),” showing that those who resist the successor of Peter, on whom the Church was founded and from whom unity arises, are not in the Church, and thus unlike those who fall from grace and are revived through the sacrament of penance, the schismatic cannot enter the kingdom of heaven even if he sheds his blood for Christ, since he is not united to the Church.

4.         Innocent III, in 1199, writes concerning the papal primacy, “Huius etiam primatum Veritas per se ipsam expressit, cum inquit ad eum: 'Tu vocaberis Cephas' (Io 1, 42): quod etsi 'Petrus' interpretetur, 'caput' tamen exponitur, ut sicut caput inter cetera membra corporis, velut in quo viget plenitudo sensuum, obtinet principatum, sic et Petrus inter Apostolos et successores ipsius inter universos Ecclesiarum praelatos praerogativa praecellerent dignitatis, vocatis sic ceteris in partem sollicitudinis, ut nihil eis de potestatis plenitudine deperiret. Huic Dominus oves suas pascendas vocabulo tertio repetito commisit, ut alienus a grege dominico censeatur, qui eum etiam in successoribus suis noluerit habere pastorem” (DS 774). This shows that the members of the mystical body / flock of the Lord, are those united to the head--the Pope, and not those (including Bishops, to whom he writes)  who do not wish to have him as pastor.

5.           The Council of Constantine in 1415, against Wycliffe, condemns the following, “Si Papa sit praescitus et malus, et per consequens membrum diaboli, non habet potestatem super fideles sibi ab aliquo datam, nisi forte a Caesare” (DS 1158), showing that ecclesiastical office is not lost on account of the loss of grace, which makes him a member of the devil, which implies, and seems confirmed from the following condemnation by the same Council, that those who are morally members of the devil, may still be members of the Church as only a member of the Church could have true power over souls.  “Si Papa est malus et praesertim, si est praescitus, tunc ut Iudas Apostolus est diabolus, fur, et filius perditionis, et non est caput sanctae militantis Ecclesiae, cum nec sit membrum eius”(DS 1220).

6.         The Council of Florence in 1439, defined that, “Primum omnium sacramentorum locum tenet sanctum baptisma, quod vitae spiritualis ianua est : per ipsum enim membra Christi ac de corpore efficimur Ecclesiae” (DS 1314), showing that through Baptism we are made both a member of Chirst and of the body of the Church. Note that it does not only say of Christ, as it later says that this is effected more precisely by grace, “per gratiam homo Christo incorporatur et membris eius unitur” (DS 1322).

7.            Against Luther, Pope Leo X writes in 1518, “Romanum Pontificem, Petri clavigeri successorem et Jesu Christi in terris vicarium, potestate clavium, quarum est aperire regnum caelorum tollendo illius in Christi fidelibus impedimenta (culpam scilicet et poenam pro actualibus peccatis debitam, culpam quidem mediante sacramento paenitentiae, poenam vero temporalem pro actualibus peccatis secundum divinam justitiam debitam mediante ecclesiastica indulgentia), posse pro rationabilibus causis concedere eisdem Christi fidelibus, qui caritate jungente membra sunt Christi, sive in hac vita sint, sive in purgatorio, indulgentias ex superabundantia meritorum Christi et sanctorum” (DS 1448) from which it is drawn again that by charity one is a member of Christ (as in 6 above, “by grace”), and thus capable of obtaining indulgences.

8.            The Council of Trent in 1547, against Luther, declares, “Nam fides, nisi ad eam spes accedat et caritas, neque unit perfecte cum Christo, neque corporis ejus vivum membrum efficit” (DS 1531), from which is drawn again the distinction between union with Christ and being a living member of his body, and that faith alone does not suffice for living membership (cf. DS 1582 and DS 1638 which also refer to being members of Christ by grace, and faith hope and charity).

9.            The Council of Trent again in 1551, discussing the differences of baptism and penance, again distinguishes members of the body by baptism. “Caeterum hoc sacramentum multis rationibus a baptismo differre dignoscitur (can. 2). Nam praeterquam quod materia et forma, quibus sacramenti essentia perficitur, longissime dissidet: constat certe, baptismi ministrum iudicem esse non oportere, cum Ecclesia in neminem iudicium exerceat, qui non prius in ipsam per baptismi ianuam fuerit ingressus. 'Quid enim mihi, inquit Apostolus, de iis, qui foris sunt, iudicare ?' (1 Cor 5, 12). Secus est de domesticis fidei, quos Christus Dominus lavacro baptismi sui corporis membra (cf. 1 Cor 12, 13) semel effecit. Nam hos, si se postea crimine aliquo contaminaverint, non iam repetito baptismo ablui, cum id in Ecclesia catholica nulla ratione liceat, sed ante hoc tribunal tamquam reos sisti voluit, ut per sacerdotum sententiam non semel, sed quoties ab admissis peccatis ad ipsum paenitentes confugerint, possent liberari” (DS 1671), from which it is learned that by the gates of baptism one becomes a member of the Church, and that before which point one cannot be judged by the Church, and consequently after it may be judged in the sacrament of penance.

10.         Again, in 1563, the Council of Trent refers to living members of Christ, for which the ratio is holiness of life, “Sanctorum quoque martyrum et aliorum cum Christo viventium sancta corpora, quae viva membra fuerunt Christi et templum Spiritus Sancti (cf Cor1 3.16; 6.19; Cor2 6.16)” (DS 1822).

11.         Pope St. Pius V, in 1567, contra de Bay, likewise uses the terminology of member of Christ through Charity. “Illa quoque distinctio, qua opus dicitur bifariam bonum, vel quia ex obiecto et omnibus circumstantiis rectum est et bonum  (quod moraliter bonum appellari consuevit (appellare consueverunt),  vel quia est meritorium regni aeterni, eo quod fit (sit) a vivo Christi membro per Spiritum caritatis, reicienda putatur (est)” (DS 1962). 

12.         Clement XI, in 1713, against the Jansenist Quesnel, condemns the following statements:

72. Nota Ecclesiae christianae est, quod sit catholica, comprehendens et omnes angelos caeli et omnes electos et iustos terrae et omnium saeculorum. - Hebr 12, 22-24.

73. Quid est Ecclesia, nisi coetus filiorum Dei manentium in eius sinu, adoptatorum in Christo, subsistentium in eius persona, redemptorum eius sanguine, viventium eius spiritu, agentium per eius gratiam, et exspectantium gratiam futuri saeculi ? - 2 Thess 1, 1s: ed. 1693.

74. Ecclesia sive integer Christus incarnatum Verbum habet ut caput, omnes vero Sanctos ut membra. - 1 Tim 3, 16.

75. Ecclesia est unus solus homo compositus ex pluribus membris, quorum Christus est caput, vita, subsistentia et persona; unus solus Christus compositus ex pluribus Sanctis, quorum est sanctificator. - Eph 2, 14-16.

76. Nihil spatiosius Ecclesia Dei: quia omnes electi et iusti omnium saeculorum illam componunt. - Eph 2, 22.

77. Qui non ducit vitam dignam filio Dei et membro Christi, cessat interius habere Deum pro Patre et Christum pro capite. - 1 Jo 2, 24: ed. 1693” (DS 2472-77),

from which it is evident, that neither predestination to heaven nor the state of grace are essential to being a member of the Church, and having Christ for one’s head. 

13.         The following from Quesnell are also condemned:

91. Excommunicationis iniustae metus numquam debet nos impedire ab implendo debito nostro; numquam eximus ab Ecclesia, etiam quando hominum nequitia videmur ab ea expulsi, quando Deo, Jesu Christo, atque ipsi Ecclesiae per caritatem affixi sumus. - Jo 9, 22 23.

92. Pati potius in pace excommunicationem et anathema iniustum, quam prodere veritatem, est imitari sanctum Paulum; tantum abest, ut sit erigere se contra auctoritatem aut scindere unitatem. - Rom 9, 3.

97. Nimis saepe contingit, membra illa, quae magis sancte ac magis stricte unita Ecclesiae sunt, respici atque tractari tamquam indigna, ut sint in Ecclesia, vel tamquam ab ea separata ; sed 'iustus vivit ex fide' (Rom 1, 17), et non ex opinione hominum. - Act 4, 11. (DS 2491-2, 2497),

which show that excommunication, even when reckoned unjust, truly separates one from the Church.[4] 

14.         Benedict XIV in 1749 writes: “deinde id etiam compertum est, eum qui baptisma ab haeretico rite suscepit, illius vi Ecclesiae catholicae membrum effici; privatus siquidem baptizantis error hac eum felicitate privare nequit, si sacramentum conferat in fide verae Ecclesiae, atque eius instituta servet in his quae pertinent ad validitatem baptismi. Egregie hoc confirmat Suarez in sua Fidei catholicae defensione contra errores sectae Anglicanae lib.I cap.24, ubi probat baptizatum Ecclesiae membrum fieri, hoc etiam addens, quod si haereticus, quod saepius accidit, infantem lustret impotem ad fidei actum eliciendum, hoc impedimento non est, quominus ille habitum fidei cum baptismo accipiat” (DS 2567), showing that the baptism of an infant, even conferred by an heretic, makes it a member of the Catholic Church.

15.         Pius VI against the Pistorians, in 1794, writes, “doctrina, quae proponit Ecclesiam 'considerandam velut unum corpus mysticum coagmentatum ex Christo capite et fidelibus, qui sunt eius membra per unionem ineffabilem, qua mirabiliter evadimus cum ipso unus solus sacerdos, una sola victima, unus solus adorator perfectus Dei Patris in spiritu et veritate'; intellecta hoc sensu, ut ad corpus Ecclesiae non pertineant nisi fideles, qui sunt perfecti adoratores in spiritu et veritate: - haeretica” (DS 2615), from which it is infallibly certain that not only the just are members of / pertain to the body of the Church.

16.         Blessed Pius IX, in 1868, to Protestans and other non-catholics writes, “Nunc vero qui accurate consideret ac meditetur condicionem, in qua versantur variae et inter se discrepantes religiosae societates seiunctae a catholica Ecclesia, ... vel facile sibi persuadere debebit, neque aliam peculiarem ex eisdem societatibus neque omnes simul coniunctas ullo modo constituere et esse illam unam et catholicam Ecclesiam, quam Christus Dominus aedificavit, constituit et esse voluit, neque membrum aut partem eiusdem Ecclesiae ullo modo dici posse, quandoquidem sunt a catholica unitate visibiliter divisae. Cum enim eiusmodo societates careant viva illa et a Deo constituta auctoritate, quae homines res fidei morumque disciplinam praesertim docet eosque dirigit ac moderatur in iis omnibus, quae ad aeternam salutem pertinent, tum societates ipsae in suis doctrinis continenter variarunt, et haec mobilitas ac instabilitas apud easdem societates numquam cessat. Quisque vel facile intelligit... id vel maxime adversari Ecclesiae a Christo Domino institutae...” (DS 2998), from which we learn that those who are visibly separated from the Catholic Church, are in no way able to be called a part of member of it, as they lack union with the authority which teaches the rule of faith, morals and discipline.

17.        Vatican I[5], in 1870, declares, “Unde quicumque in hac cathedra Petro succedit, is secundum Christi ipsius institutionem primatum Petri in universam Ecclesiam obtinet. 'Manet ergo dispositio veritatis, et beatus Petrus in accepta fortitudine petrae perseverans suscepta Ecclesiae gubernacula non reliquit.' Hac de causa ad Romanam Ecclesiam 'propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse' semper fuit 'omnem convenire Ecclesiam, hoc est eos, qui sunt undique fideles', ut in ea sede, e qua 'venerandae communionis iura' in omnes dimanant, tamquam membra in capite consociata in unam corporis compagem coalescerent” (DS 3057), showing that membersip in the Church depends on submission to the Roman Pontiff.

18.         Leo XIII in Satis Cognitum, 1896, writes, “Illud accedit, quod Ecclesiam Filius Dei mysticum corpus suum decrevit fore, quocum ipse velut Caput coniungeretur, ad similitudinem corporis humani quod suscepit. ... Sicut igitur mortale corpus sibi sumpsit unicum, quod obtulit ad cruciatus et necem, ut liberationis humanae pretium exsolveret, sic pariter unum habet corpus mysticum,  in quo et cuius ipsius opera facit sanctitatis salutisque aeternae homines compotes : 'Ipsum (Christum) dedit (Deus) caput supra omnem Ecclesiam, quae est corpus ipsius' (+Ep 1, 22s.). Dispersa membra atque seiuncta non possunt eodem cum capite, unum simul effectura corpus, cohaerere. Atqui Paulus 'omnia autem' inquit 'membra corporis cum sint multa, unum tamen corpus sunt : ita et Christus' (+1Co 12, 12). Propterea corpus istud mysticum 'compactum' ait esse 'et connexum ... Caput Christus: ex quo totum corpus compactum, et connexum per omnem iuncturam subministrationis, secundum operationem in mensuram uniuscuiusque membri' (Ep 4, 15s.). Quamobrem dispersa a membris ceteris siqua membra vagantur, cum eodem atque unico capite conglutinata esse nequeunt. ... Est igitur Ecclesia Christi unica et perpetua : quicumque seorsum eant, aberrant a voluntate et praescriptione Christi Domini relictoque salutis itinere ad interitum digrediuntur,” from which it is evident that the members of the Church are like unto members of the body, which cannot each be joined to the head if they are not united to each other, and thus those who leave the mystical body, leave Christ the head, from whom salvation flows.

19.       Pius XII, in 1947 (cf. quotes above from Mystici Corporis to begin respondeo), in Mediator Dei writes, “Baptismatis enim lavacro, generali titulo christiani in mystico Corpore membra efficiuntur Christi sacerdotis, et 'charactere' qui eorum in animo quasi insculpitur, ad cultum divinum deputantur; atque adeo ipsius Christi sacerdotium pro sua condicione participant...” (DS 3851), from which it must be noted that again, one is made a Christian, and a member of the mystical body in baptism, in which a character is given conforming one to Christ the priest, and which is ordered towards divine cult.

20.        Lastly, the Holy Office, relying on and interpreting Mystici Corporis, in 1949, against Fr. Feeney writes, “Idem autem suo modo dici debet de Ecclesia, quatenus generale ipsa auxilium salutis est. Quandoquidem ut quis aeternam obtineat salutem non semper exigitur, ut reapse Ecclesiae tamquam membrum incorporetur, sed id saltem requiritur, ut eidem voto et desiderio adhaereat. Hoc tamen votum non semper explicitum sit oportet, prout accidit in catechumenis, sed ubi homo invincibili ignorantia laborat, Deus quoque implicitum votum acceptat, tali nomine nuncupatum, quia illud in ea bona animae dispositione continetur, qua homo voluntatem suam Dei voluntati conformem velit (DS 3870). 3871 Quae clare docentur in (Pii XII Litt. encycl.) ... De mystico Iesu Christi Corpore. In iisdem enim Summus Pontifex nitide distinguit inter eos, qui re Ecclesiae tamquam membra incorporantur, atque eos, qui voto tantummodo Ecclesiae adhaerent.... 'In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli adnumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separaverunt vel, ob gravissima admissa, a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt' (DS 3802). Circa finem autem earundem Litterarum encyclicarum, amantissimo animo eos ad unitatem invitans, qui ad Ecclesiae catholicae compagem non pertinent, illos commemorat, 'qui inscio quodam desiderio ac voto ad Mysticum Redemptoris Corpus ordinentur', quos minime a salute aeterna excludit, ex altera tamen parte in tali statu versari asserit, 'in quo de sempiterna cuiusque propria salute securi esse non possunt ... quandoquidem tot tantisque caelestibus muneribus adiumentis carent quibus in catholica solummodo Ecclesia frui licet'” (DS 3821), in which is clearly drawn the distinction between true members of the Church, who have been baptized, profess the true faith, and have not separated themselves or been separated from it, and those who are ordered towards it by a certain desire and will, who by this desire may possibly be saved, but who lack so many helps to persevere in this supernatural state.  


           Summing up these excerpts of magisterial usage of membership, it can be said that members of the Church are those baptized (6,9,14,19,20), and thus disposed to divine and catholic worship (19), who receive and profess the true faith from the magisterium (1,2,16)[6], remain in visible union with the visible head (3,4,13,16,17) and members (18). Predestination (5), nor the state of grace (5,12,15) are necessary to be a member, as those who do not live a worthy life may still have Christ as head (12 (#77)). A distinction is drawn however sometimes between members of the Church and members of Christ (6,7), or as is more precisely spelled out for the latter - living members (8,10,11,) of the Church, or those perfectly united with Christ (8), for which grace and charity are needed (6,7,10).[7] A further distinction is made between those who are ordered towards the Body of Christ by justifying desire, who therefore are in the state of grace (albeit insecurely) but without baptism, and thus not formal members (20).[8]


(See Part Two)




Notes:
[1] Examination of the sources in Scripture as such will be set aside in this paper as like many aspects of the issue, it would require a whole paper in itself. However key scripture passages will be seen in the citations of the theologians and Magisterial texts. Of key importance are the texts in 1 Cor 6, and 12, in which members are referred to as those having been incorporated into the Body by baptism, and preserved in it by the Spirit. The text in c.6 being more of the moral order, c.12 more of the juridical order. Also very important to the discussion are the parables on the Kingdom of Heaven, and who it includes- just and unjust, wheat and chaff, etc. 

[2] I originally hoped to incorporate the authors who flourished around Vatican I and subsequently (Billuart, Billot, Dorsch, Journet, De Groot, Herve, Berry, Schultes, Zubizaretta, Salaverri, Fraghi, Pesch, Perrone, Theologians of Wirceburg, Palmieri) but alas, time was lacking. Amongst the most useful were Dorsch SJ, Franzelin SJ, Salaverri SJ, Fraghi SJ and Journet. Seeminlgy important works to be read and incorporated as well are Tromp, Murray, and Straub on this subject. The sections of the authors read and incorporated are preserved on PDF format, available through ITOPL.

[3] The following quotes are limited to a word search of the term membrum in Denzinger. Time was lacking for more thorough research, of like terms, and broader collections of magisterial documents.

[4] The Jesuits authors of Theologia Wirceburgensis (v.1, p. 97, an.1852), also note, following this text, that an unjust excommunication would still be valid, and is to be humbly obeyed, though grace may be present still for one’s salvation, as St. Augustine wrote, “Saepe etiam sinit divina providentia, per nonnullas nimium turbulentas carnalium hominum seditiones expelli de congregatione christiana, etiam bonos viros Quam contumeliam vel injuriam suam cum patientissime pro Ecclesiae pace tulerint, neque ullas novitates vel schismatis vel haeresis moliti fuerint, docebunt homines quam vero affectu, et quanta sinceritate charitatis Deo serviendum sit.”

[5] Vatican I, of course was not able to conclude the document on ecclesiology it had well prepared, as the Council had to close early, and only finished the first part on the primacy. The prepared schema, which went through various changes included the following (Mansi, tomus 53 pp. 308-332):
a) The full ratio of membership is not only to be considered from the external bonds of the Church. It uses the distinction between more perfect animated and less perfect unanimated members of the body: “neque tamen qui sunt in ecclesia externis tantum nexibus inter se cohaerere existimandi sunt. Sacramentis enim veluti sacris vinculis Christo Jesu et sibi invicem coniuncti, spiritualium bonorum communio quadam et pietatis commercio sociati sunt…Qua de causa etiam perfectiore modo de ecclesia esse dicuntur, eo quod non solum corpori eius tamquam membra inhaerent, sed spiritu quoque animantur (c.5).”
b) Members of this body are those who adhere to the same doctrine, sacramental communion and government under one head: “Cum igitur hac lege ecclesia sit divinitus constituta, ut in ea Christi fideles eiusdem doctrinae eorundemque sacramentorum communione tamquam corporis membra sub uno capite visibili coalescant; unam esse veram ecclesiam, fide catholica constanter tenuit et profess est….
c) Outside of the Church there is no salvation; however, those who attain to it in spirit, by grace, are sufficiently in it to be saved: “…fidei catholicae dogma esse definimus, extra unam ecclesiam Christi nullam esse sperandam salutem. Hunc vero sensum dogmatis declaramus…si qui nullo suo vitio ecclesiam ignorant…si legem scriptam in cordibus Deo iuvante custodierint, eique obedire in omnibus parati sunt, divinae gratiae operante…vitamque aeternam consequi possunt. Quod si contigerit, non ideo hi extra eccleisam salvi fiunt, quippe ad quam spiritu pertineant, et ideo spiritu pertinere possint, quod ab externa communione praeter voluntatem suam impediuntur” (c.6).
d) The Church is external and visible and does not only consist of the predestined and just: “Canones: 4. Si quis dixerit, ecclesiam, cui factae sunt promissiones divinae, non esse coetum fidelium externum et visibilem, sed spiritualem societatem praedestinatorum vel iustorum soli Deo cognitam; anathema sit.
e) Sects separated from the Roman Church are not part of the Church of Christ: “5. Si quis dixerit, sectas omnes vel aliquot, quae a Romana ecclesia dissident, una cum hac Christi ecclesiam universalem componere; anathema sit.”
f) It is necessary to be in this true Church of Christ to be saved: “6. Si quis negaverit, ad salutem aeternam consequendam necessarium esse, relicto quovis alio religionis cultu, veram Christi ecclesiam ingredi, in eaque fideliter perseverare; anathema sit.”
g) The true Church is knowable: “7. Si quis dixerit, de vera ecclesia homini certo constare non posse; anathema sit.”
 R.P. Iosephus Kleutgen, in the official relatio on this schema has the following qualifying statements. To the many council fathers who wanted a definition of the Church given he says, “Ecclesiae definitio nunc satis communis, quae etiam in observationibus patrum proponitur, haec est e Bellarmino assumpta: Ecclesiae est coetus hominum eiusdem christianae fidei professione et eorundem sacramentorum communione colligatus, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum et praecipue unius Christi in terris vicarii, Romani pontificis. Secundum hanc igitur definitionem ab ecclesia non excluduntur haeretici occulti, siquidem veram fidem profitentur; excluduntur autem schimatici, etiamsi iidem haeretici non sint…Controversia haec, si ex re ipsa ponderatur, non magni videatur momenti esse. Nam qui occultos haereticos adhuc de eccleisa esse dicunt, non ideo eos eodem modo atque vere fideles ad eam pertinere aiunt; et qui schismaticos ab ea excludunt, eos tamen aliquo modo in ea esse non negant. Sed hac ipsa de causa abstinent, ne scilicet sine necessitate aut magna saltem utilitate libertas docendi restringatur, et viris de re catholica optime meritis erroris, nedum haeresis nota inuratur,” from which it is noted that the definition of St. Robert Bellarmine is sufficiently common, to put it beyond debate, but that his opinion concerning the status of occult heretics and shicmatics, is still open to debate.
On chapter 5, he similarly relates, “Ecclesiam non esse spiritualem societatem iustorum vel praedestinatorum, sed coetum externum fidelium.  In expositione huius dogmatis corpus ecclesiae eos omnes complecti dicitur, qui eiusdem fidei et sacrorum communione inter se coniuncti, et eidem summo pastori subiecti sint. Omissum est (post eiusdem fidei) vocabulum, quod plerique ponunt professione, ut parceretur sententiae quorundam theologorum, qui, ut supra commemoravimus, occultos haereticos in ecclesia esse negant, proindeque hoc loco non soluam fidei professionem, sed ipsam fidem requirunt. Parcitur autem horum sententiae, quia incertum relinquitur, utrum communio fidei, quae requiritur, externa tantum, an etiam interna sit. Neque per ea, sequuntur, damnatur aliorum opinio, schismaticos, nisi iidem sint haeretici, esse de ecclesia. Dum enim dicitur corpus ecclesiae complecti eos omnes, qui summo pastori subiecti sunt, non negatur, alios quosdam suo modo in eo corpore esse, sed statuitur contra haereticos, non solos iustos vel praedestinatos, sed eitam peccatores et reprobos posse in ecclesia esse” (p. 322).

[6] So many more endless citations could be made for these categories, for example, for unity of faith and governance could be cited virtually the whole of the Enchiridion Symbolorum, and the condemnations of every heretic and schismatic--anathema sit.

[7] This qualification is important for an integral reading, for the language of members of the body of Christ (2,9), members of Christ (3), seems to be used for formal membership at times as well. It is also important for correctly preserving the unity of the Church, and not making two churches, or severing Christ the head from the body, as well as preserving the sense of the dogma extra Ecclsiam nulla salus.

[8] Cf. Is Feenyism Catholic by Rev. Laisney SSPX, for a summary statement of the tradition on this question, and the ecclesiological considerations that flow therefrom, which will not be incorporated into this paper.

(Copyright of Ite ad Thomam © 2009).


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