Sunday, December 23, 2007

Traditional Catholic Revival of the Knights Templar!

Share/Bookmark Dear Friends,

Recently I became a postulant for the new order of Knights Templar, officially known as the Christi Pauperum Militum Ordo ("Order of the Poor Knights of Christ"), or simply the Ordo Militiae Templi ("Order of the Militia of the Temple") for short. It is a traditional Catholic revival of the Knights Templar, created in Siena, Italy, in 1979 and approved by the Archbishop of that city. Its mission, in general, is to fight for rights of God and of Catholicism; in our age of crisis, this means to fight for the restoration of the Latin tradition of the Church.

Please pray for me and for my wife (she is a postulant to become a Dame) in this exciting time in our lives, as we go through our formation process, which, after a brief, 30-day postulancy period, will consist of a two- to three-year novitiate, where we are required to recite the traditional Divine Office daily in Latin, to recite the (traditional) Rosary daily in Latin, to assist the traditional Mass as frequently as possible, to study assiduously and live out the spirituality and culture of Christian chivalry, and, in general to invest our energies in the restoration of Catholic tradition. At the end of the novitiate (in two or three years), "si Deus lo vult," we would travel to the Castello della Magione (near Siena) for my investiture as Knight in Obedience and for my wife's becoming a Dame.

If you are interested in learning more about the Militia Templi:

1) Read the article below, from Wikipedia.
3) Email your local preceptor (contact info in the website) about your interest. The Propreceptor for North America is Bro. Charles Adams, CPMO (

The Militia Templi

The Militia Templi is a Roman Catholic lay association of the faithful that celebrates its liturgy according to the traditional form in place in 1962, often referred to as the Tridentine Mass.

Founded under the authority of the Archdiocese of Siena, the Militia Templi's focus is knightly and monastic and members follow a modern adaptation of the Rule written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux for the ancient Knights Templar. The order makes no claims of direct descent from the old Knights Templar and holds that, when made, such self-styled claims are both historically and canonically false.

The Militia was formed civilly and with the approval of the local ordinary on September 21st, 1979. Its Constitutions were approved on Sept. 8, 1988 by the Archbishop of Siena Msgr. Mario Jsmaele Castellano. The next Archbishop, Msr. Bonicelli approved the Rule of the Militia in 1990. The Cardinal Protector of the Militia is Édouard Gagnon.

According to their Constitutions, the Militia has both married and celibate members. The knights with solemn profession (Doms), who consecrate themselves perpetually to the Militia with the investiture and the promise to observe the three classic evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, and obedience) as well as the public testimony of faith (fourth promise), and the non-professed knights (Brothers or “Knights in Obedience”) who, with the investiture, commit themselves to strive for the perfection of Christian life.

The knights have no particular apostolate or pastoral engagement other than public testimony of the Catholic Faith. They are obliged to live by their Rule and recite daily the Hours of the traditional Divine Office. Their members include hundreds of Knights in Obedience, about 30 Knights with Solemn Profession, 10 national preceptories, many local priorates and scout groups.

Magistral See

The order's Magistral See, or headquarters, is situated in the Castello della Magione. It is a former Templar compound that lies in the village of Poggibonsi in the Tuscany region of Italy. Built in the 11th century, the castle was donated by it’s owners, Gottifredo di Arnolfo and Arnolfino di Cristofano, to the Monks of the Saint Michael Abbey in Poggio Marturi, who later bestowed it to the Templars for use as one of their numerous Mansiones or Domus Templi along the Via Francigena. After 1312, the Castello della Magione passed though many hands, including the Hospitallers and the Princess Corsini, until, in 1979 it was purchased by Count Marcello Alberto Cristofani della Magione, the founder and current Grand Master of the Militia Templi.

Attached to the castle is a church, also restored, with impressive Burgundian-Cistercian influence and is used daily by the order for the community recitation of Vespers and the celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

Symbol and Habit

The symbol of the Militiae Templi is a Red Octagonal Cross, symbol of the Eight Beatitudes of the Gospel, while the symbol is a white flag with Red Octagonal Cross. The cross is not to be confused with that of the medieval Knights Hospitaller, which is known as the Maltese Cross. The Grand Master has as its coat of arms just and symbol. The habit of the Professed Knights is white and consist of the tunic, the scapular with the octagonal red cross on the chest and a mantle with a cowl and the same cross on the left shoulder. The Knights in Obedience wear a mantle without cowl but with an octagonal cross on the left shoulder. The Ladies wear a white mantle and a white veil with the cross without the upper arm The Chaplains are dressed with a white Mozzetta with red edge, red buttons and an octagonal red cross on the left front part. The Oblati (Knights and Ladies of Devotion) have a gray mantle with the red octagonal cross on the left shoulder.

Spread in the world

The Militia Templi through Preceptories or Magistral Legations, is currently present in the following countries: Italy, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Ireland, Poland, Romania, Hungary, Spain, United States of America, and Puerto Rico.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Translation of Nos cum prole...


What does this mean? Nos cum prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria. Amen


It means: "May the Virgin Mary with her Loving Offspring bless us. Amen."

But, if you ask me, it sounds a million times better in Latin.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Online "Sources of Catholic Dogma" in English!

Share/Bookmark A year ago I looked in vain all over the internet for an online version of Denzinger's Sources of Catholic Dogma in English. I found the Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish versions, but not the English. A friend just emailed me and sent me a link to what appears to be a new site that has it, plus much more:

Deo gratias!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Is Quo Primum Infallible?

Dear Mr. Romero,

I read Pope St. Pius V's bull Quo Primum and would like to know how it should be understood. Is the pope speaking ex cathedra or not? A Traditionalist, who doesn't appear to be exactly in line with the Church, says this:

Quo Primum is no 'merely ecclesiastical law' (can. 11) that can be revoked, but has been enacted into law and declared ex cathedra to be irreformable, and is therefore a solemnly defined moral doctrine which is also of itself infallible and irreformable (DB 1819). Quo Primum has been infallibly declared to be irreformable because the rite of Mass codified (canonized) in the Tridentine Missal is the 'received and approved rite' (the rite of Sacred Tradition) [iniunctum nobis] of the Roman Church that has been 'handed down by the Holy Roman Church' (a sacrosancta Romana Ecclesia ... tradita) [Quo Primum]. The statutes of Quo Primum,therefore, pertain to Divine Law insofar as they constitute a particular application of the divine law that hasbeen expressed in its general formulation in the Tridentine Profession of Faith [Iniunctum nobis]." Fr. Paul L.Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.B., M.Div., A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism (Nazareth, India:Apostle Publications, [1997]).

What should one believe in this case?

-Dear JM,

Quo primum is not "infallible," in the sense in which a doctrinal statement is infallible, but Pope Pius V did intend it to be legally binding. Pope Benedict, in his recent Motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" acted in conformity with it, as if it had never been abrogated. That's all I know.

I am not a canon lawyer but a theologian (an aspiring theologian, in fact). Not being a canonist I am incompetent to speak about what Quo primum IS (its canonical weight; whether it is still in force; whether it does ensure the perpetuity of the Traditional Mass), but I can certainly speak about what it is NOT (I know it is definitely not a dogmatic decree, for instance).

The pope speaks ex cathedra only when making a defining statement on faith or morals. The defined statements have to be clearly presented and enumerated in propositional form (cf., The Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent) and the Pope must clearly intend to bind all the faithful to give their assent. Even if Quo primum posseses a very high level of authority (i.e., even if it is legally binding), it clearly does not attempt to make any definitions on faith or morals. Rather, it decrees laws governing the rite of Mass in the Roman Rite. In other words, it does not define a doctrine as true, or condemn an error as false, or even declare the moral law to be this or that; it intends to regulate the liturgical discipline of the Roman Rite. It would be a misunderstanding of the nature of papal infallibility to claim that such a document is "infallible" in the doctrinal sense. Law is not binding in the same sense in which doctrine is binding. Doctrine is true or false, and it cannot change; law is good or bad, and at least conceivably it can change. Maybe Quo primum can't be revoked, maybe it can; but doctrinal infallibility does not apply to it as when the pope speaks ex cathedra.

There is a sense in which the universal discipline of the Church is "infallible"; the Church will never impose on its faithful a universal discipline which is inherently evil. But this is something very different from what we mean when we say that a certain dogma was proclaimed ex cathedra and infallibly.

If you are interested in a layman-level explanation of the canonical details of Quo primum, see Michael Davies' Pope Paul's New Mass, pp. 571-580. Although Davies, like Fr. Kramer, wanted more than anything else in the world the full triumph of the Traditional Mass, he nonetheless acknowledged that Pope St. Pius V did not intend Quo primum as a limitation to the authority of any of his successors on liturgical matters. He also argues that Pope Paul VI never even intended to abrogate or invalidate Quo primum or the Traditional Mass. This view was proven correct by the recent Motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum," which openly admits that the Traditional Mass was never abrogated and echoes Quo primum by saying:

" these presents [this law], in virtue of Our Apostolic authority, We grant and concede in perpetuity that, for the chanting or reading of the Mass in any church whatsoever, this Missal is hereafter to be followed absolutely, without any scruple of conscience or fear of incurring any penalty, judgment, or censure, and may freely and lawfully be used."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Athanasian Creed, "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus", and Invincible Ignorance


This is Adam. I was hoping that you could explain invincible ignorance in light of the Athanasian Creed. Thank you very much!

Enjoy Oregon!

-Dear Adam,

The Athanasian Creed (aka, Quicumque vult) begins with the words: "Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever. Now this is the Catholic faith..." Further, it continues with similar phrases such as: "Whoever wishes to be saved must have this conviction of the Trinity," and "It is furthermore necessary for eternal salvation truly to believe that our Lord Jesus Christ also took on human flesh." Finally, it concludes with the words, "This is the Catholic faith. Whoever does not faithfully and firmly believe this cannot be saved."

You ask how invincible ignorance comes into play here. You mean how invincible ignorance is related to the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Church.

First it must be affirmed that there is absolutely no way of being saved outside the Church (and I mean the Catholic Church, which is the only Church). This dogma allows no exceptions. This dogma has been recently put into question and many people in the Church (especially members of the hierearchy, unfortunately) have been trying to soften, qualify, and even to "take back," the teaching, which the Church has held since its Divine Foundation. But the truth is that it has been always believed in the Church in its pristine, "exeptionless" form, not only by the Fathers (notably St. Augustine), the theologians (notably St. Thomas), and the faithful, etc. (i.e., the "Witnesses of Tradition") but it has also been taught by the Pope, as well as by the Magisterium, both in ordinary and extraordinary manner, by the Creeds (as does the Athanasian Creed), the liturgy, and many other sources. It is even in Scripture. It would, therefore, be impossible to give you a positive exposition of this dogma, but just to give you an idea of how convinced the Church is of its truth, simply listen to the words of the Council of Florence:

The holy Roman Church believes, professes, and preaches that no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the 'everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church. For the union with the body of the Church is of such importance that the sacraments of the Church are helpful to salvation only for those remaining in it; and fasts, almsgiving, other works of piety, and the exercise of Christian warfare bear eternal rewards for them alone. And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." (Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, 1438-45, From the Bull "Cantate Domino", February 4, 1441 (Florentine style) Decree for the Jacobites, Denz. 165.)

Now, to enter into the Church, one must receive baptism. Therefore, the Church affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. This is true with a necessity of means (a strict, metaphysical necessity, as in "Baptism is the only means to get there") and not merely a necessity of precept (a mere legalistic necessity, as in "Our Lord wants it to be that way, but he is ready to make exceptions because he is merciful"). So this is another matter in which the Church does not allow exceptions. You need baptism to be saved.

Now, despite what you may have heard from careless catechists, teachers, and even priests, we don't believe in three baptisms, but in one: Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. "I confess one baptism for the remission of sins." However, the Church teaches that the graces of that one baptism, including sanctifying grace and the incorporation into the Church, can be participated by those who either give their life for the Catholic Faith even though they have not received baptism--commonly called "baptism of blood"--and by those who die with the desire of receiving the sacrament of baptism--a situation commonly known as "baptism of desire" but better translated simply as "the desire of baptism" (votum baptismi), so as not to give the impression that there are many "baptisms."

This truth, the possibility of receving the graces of baptism through the desire of the same, is exaggerated by modernists (they want to turn it into an open door for false religions to become "means of salvation"), denied by Feenyites (they want to affirm the dogma of "no salvation outside the Church" to such an extent that they want to obscure the other facets of the mystery), and little understood by the faithful today. However, it has been believed unanimously by the theologians of the Church, including St. Thomas (one unorthodox scholar in the middle ages, Peter Abelard, denied it, but he was attacked vehemently on this point by St. Bernard of Clairvaux), almost unanimously by the Fathers of the Church (one of them denied it), and by the faithful, as it is evidenced in a plethora of Catechisms and other catechetical material throughout the ages. It is even refered to by the liturgy of the Church and by the sacred monuments of Tradition. (Here is a good article on the subject--although I cannot agree with the author in other issues).

So there is no denying this doctrine, unless one wants to turn into a Protestant-like Feenyite who defends the false hermeneutical principle that what is not in Denzinger is heresy (although this is in Denzinger, namely D 796 [DS 1524] = the famous expression "re aut voto" in Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4 and Sess. 7, Can. 4.) This Feenyite hermeneutical principle I like to call Sola Denzinger (reminiscent of the Protestant Sola Scriptura).

So here is where invincible ignorance comes into play. I will let the Supreme Pontiffs (notably those who predate Vatican II and, therefore, are beyond the Feenyites' reproof) to explain this doctrine:

Blessed Pius IX wrote in Quanto conficiamur moerore:

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace since God who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin."

Their situation is different from that of people "living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity … stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff."

He also admonishes us,

"the sons of the Catholic Church ... [that we] should always be zealous to seek them out and aid them, whether poor, or sick, or afflicted with any other burdens, with all the offices of Christian charity; and they should especially endeavor to snatch them from the darkness of error in which they unhappily lie, and lead them back to Catholic truth and to the most loving Mother the Church, who never ceases to stretch out her maternal hands lovingly to them, and to call them back to her bosom so that, established and firm in faith, hope, and charity, and 'being fruitful in every good work' (Colossians 1:10), they may attain eternal salvation."

Also, in his encyclical Mystici Corporis, Pope Pius XII said that:

Those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church ... We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. [Cf. Pius IX, Iam Vos Omnes, 13 Sept. 1868] For even though by an unconscious desire and longing have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church.

I hope this helps,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Existentialist Thomism: What to Read?

Share/Bookmark Quaeritur:

I was wondering if you know of any works in English which deal with the problem of existentialist Thomism from a more classical Thomist perspective. I am ordering a copy of The Sacred Monster of Thomism, which seems it may get into this issue to some extent in analyzing Father Garrigou-Lagrange's conflicts with Maritain, Gilson, Chenu, etc., but any other books you are aware of may be helpful. I am particularly interested in any works which may help to emphasize the balance of essence and existence in authentic Thomism as opposed to both the overemphasis on existence in existential Thomism and the overemphasis on logic and essences in essentialist Thomism. No need to fall into the essentialist errors which some of the more existentialist Thomists like to accuse authentic Thomism of.

Respondeo: I don't know of any works that BOTH explicitly contrast "Existentialist Thomism" with the more traditional Thomism of the manuals AND present the latter in a positive light. It would make sense to me that the sole reason why modern authors (last century) bring up the distinction between "Existentialist" and"Essentialist" Thomism is to show that either traditional Scholastic Thomism (supposedly the same as"Essentialist Thomism"), or both traditional and "Existentialist Thomism," don't work.

It is false, and even presumptious, to think that for 600-or-so years Thomists always fell into the error of "essentialism" until Fabro et al came along and removed our blinders. But it is equally false and presumptious to think that the truth lies somewhere in between, as if for 700-or-so years Thomists have always fell into either extreme of essentialist or existentialist Thomism, and that no one has ever found a "balance."

Rather, the truth lies in the consensus of Scholastic Thomists--not in what Fabro taught, not in what Cajetan taught (at least not in the exact way he taught it), but in what most Thomists have always taught. You will find this consensus in the traditional scholastic manuals and other similar scholastic works. So rather than telling you to read some "centrist" neo-Thomist, I would point you towards some of the best examples of traditional Thomism.

As I have mentioned in a previous post, the best idea, in my view, is to start by reading the traditional Thomistic philosophical manuals in Latin (e.g., Hugon, Gredt, Zigliara, etc., which I have available through my Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library in PDF format).

If you can't manage the Latin, then I would refer you to:

or, if you can read French:

If you can read Latin, once you've gotten a good summary from the manuals or from any/all of these works, I would recommend tackling:

  • Ramirez, De analogia, 4 vols (also available through my Ite ad Thomam Out-of-Print Library in PDF format). Ramirez's work is the most thorough discussion on analogy ever written from the traditional Thomistic point of view (painfully thorough, in fact).

And notice I don't initially recommend Cajetan. While Cajetan is the most famous commentator of the Summa, by no means are his views the very definition of "Thomism of the strict observance" (or, as I prefer to call it, traditional Scholastic Thomism). He is number one in the existentialists' list of "essentialist Thomists." And the reason is that Cajetan is perhaps a bit more an "essentialist" than the average--and certainly moreso than the best--traditional Scholastic Thomists. But it is an illegitimate move to lump Cajetan and the rest of the traditional Scholastic Thomists into one group, and then thinking that by refuting Cajetan one is refuting the entire school of Scholastic Thomists. The reality is more nuanced than that. Most Thomists don't put things in Cajetan's exact terms.

In fact, Garrigou-Lagrange, whose thought I DO consider to be the most advanced and profound expression of traditional Scholastic Thomism, sides with Cajetan in a qualified way only. Garrigou praises Cajetan over and over throughout his writings for his profound sense of mystery and says of him that, "[his] glory lies in his recognition of the true grandeur of St. Thomas." However, Garrigou acknowledges that Cajetan sometimes gets a bit hung up on logical abstractions, and every now and then you'll see Garrigou saying things such as, "Cajetan conceived the matter too abstractly." So, overall, he sides with Cajetan, but although Cajetan was usually right in Garrigou's view, things could nonetheless be expressed or conceived in a better or more adequate way. A bit like Aquinas, who treats Augustine with reverence and hides the fact that he disagrees with him, so Garrigou will do with Cajetan, to a lesser degree. In fact, you won't really see Garrigou-Lagrange flat-out rejecting the views of too many Thomists (Suarez's views were a definite exception, as he didn't consider Suarez to be a Thomist at all!), and this is partly because he revered them, partly because he practiced the axiom: seldom affirm, never deny, always distinguish.

PS. Pictured above are Cajetan and Luther. Cajetan was the Apostolic Legate to Germany and was commissioned by the Pope to confront Luther.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blog Update

Share/Bookmark Dear Friends,

After almost a month of inactivity in this blog, perhaps some of you may be thinking that I dissapeared from the planet. I answered (most of my) emails and replied to all PDF-file, book, and course requests, but I did not publish any new posts. So, in a way you could say I did dissapear. Once my final exams for the summer session were done, I invested my time in praying to St. Joseph and moving forward with my long-term plans.

As many of you know, my plans for this coming academic year were to move from Miami, FL to Pamplona (Navarra), Spain with my family to attend a graduate theology program at the University of Navarra. But, it turns out St. Joseph had something else in mind. I had great difficulties finding both a visa and means to supporiting my family while we lived there (it would have been illegal for me to work in Spain if I had a student visa). This meant that Spain was not an option for us.

In turn, I was offered a full-time position as Academic Dean at a small, independent, conservative Catholic school near Salem, Oregon--close to my wife's hometown and family, the place she has always dreamt of settling in. I decided to accept the position and move there. The trip was grueling (it took 7 days of driving--not counting Sunday, when we rested) and extremely expensive (most of my savings went into the gas tank). I can't deny, however, that it was quite exciting: we saw many incredibly-beautiful landscapes (the Rockies, WOW!) and visited many interesting places (including four more MLB stadiums!!!).

So here we are now, in Northwestern Oregon's gorgeous Willamette Valley. This is not Spain, but, ironically, it is, as it were, a virgin version of Aragón (Northeastern Spain, where the Romeros are originally from), with its rolling hills, winding rivers, luscious vineyards, ubiquitous evergreens, and fields after fields of green, with the snow-capped Pacific Crest Mountains in the distance. I didn't even know so many tones of green exist! My wife is terribly excited to be back here; she is finally home. She is very much acting herself--something she couldn't do in Miami. We will now be here for a good, long time, Deo volente.

So my plans to pursue theological studies have changed a bit. I will still do it but, for now, in a different way. I am still enrolled in a Distance Education program through which I will eventually earn an M.A. in theology. Perhaps when I finish that--and I'm doing it in a very much part-time fashion, as time allows--perhaps then I will reconsider plans to pursue an STD (a canonical Doctorate in Sacred Theology), but it will all depend on Divine Providence, through the intercession of the good St. Joseph. Close by I have Mount Angel Seminary, which offers an STB... who knows?!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

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

Share/Bookmark Puerto Rico: Facing Challenges of this Moment of History
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’.”


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

Sábado, 30 junio 2007


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."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Societas Scholasticorum


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,

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,

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,

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

In Domino,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"Ecclesia Christi" EST Ecclesia Catholica


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.


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.


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:



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.


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

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


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.