Sunday, December 13, 2009

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

Share/Bookmark A paper submitted by Fr. 'Romanus'
(Copyright of Ite ad Thomam © 2009)
Part Three of Three
(See Parts One and Two)

In Conclusion, to quote Fraghi’s preface, “difficultas praesertim ex eo provenis quod Ecclesia, cum sit societas prorsus singularis, elementum divinum et elementum humanum in se habet; periculum adest ne quis recte iudicet, vel ad elementum humanum magis attendens, vel potius elementum divinum considerans. Etiam membrum, ut planum est, duorum elementorum particeps fit; unde ad utraque elementa oportet animum attendere.” Again the various possible realities (potential, actual, baptized, with or without faith, with ot without charity, etc.) seem to be clearly distinguished by the time of Bellarmine; the debate is over how universally to extend the term member. In general, the tension centers around the status of the baptized in mortal sin. Bellarmine’s important contribution seems to be the vital influx that still remains in the baptized member without charity, due to his faith. This point highlights the dissimilarity with the body analogy, taken from St. Paul. It seems, therefore, that the question gained more light as it began to develop its own terminology, to account more precisely for the particularities of the Mystical Body, which then allowed the terminology to become clear enough for the condemnations of the Protestants and Quesnell and by Vatican I, for general definability.
Lastly, it is to be noted that the theological tension over the issue is ultimately based on a moral tension and the true scandal that exists in the thought that one who belongs to Christ’s Kingdom sealed with His Spirit is morally speaking at the same time a member of sin destined for hell. Thus, in the practical order, the issue would be of less importance if there were no need for so many distinctions, if all would strive to reach full perfection of union with Christ, and consequently truly recognizable as His body, that he might be all in all. 
1 Cor 6:15-19: “15 Nescitis quoniam corpora vestra membra Christi sunt tollens ergo membra Christi faciam membra meretricis absit 16 an nescitis quoniam qui adheret meretrici unum corpus efficitur erunt enim inquit duo in carne una 17 qui autem adheret Domino unus spiritus est 18 fugite fornicationem omne peccatum quodcumque fecerit homo extra corpus est qui autem fornicatur in corpus suum peccat 19 an nescitis quoniam membra vestra templum est Spiritus Sancti qui in vobis est quem habetis a Deo et non estis vestri 20 empti enim estis pretio magno glorificate et portate Deum in corpore vestro.

By way of appendix, Card. Journet’s very excellent summary is included of the whole question summing up and categorizing the various usages of the term 'member', based on the theological reasons of St. Thomas[1]

1)      One is able to be a member of Christ and the Church and pertain to it
a)      In actu- by the presence at the least of either baptism or the faith.
i)        Pertaining by the consent of the faithful
(1)   pertaining overtly, en acte achevé, “re vel actu perfecto” supposing a presence non-univocal, but analogical of the created and indivisible soul of the Church
(a)    by its essence, in a manner direct and salutary, as with the just members who are in the Church “re et voto,” visibly and spiritually. Of which he belongs.
(i)      of the perfect- who reach the end by excluding indeliberate venial sins and become unlimited
(ii)    of the progressive- limited by indeliberate venial sins
(iii)   of the beginners- limted by deliberate venial sins
(b)    by its influx, in an indirect manner, not salutary, as with the sinful members who are in the Church “re non voto” visibly but not spiritually
(2)   Pertaining hiddenly, en acte tendanciel, “non re sed actu virtuali,” of the presence of some of the elements of the created soul of the Church
(a)    pertaining salutary from charity, “non re sed voto,” only spiritaully, as in the just of whom there is charity
(i)      either fully sacramentally but insufficiently oriented, as the just adults of the orthodox churches.
(ii)    Or sacramentally incomplete, as the just adults of the protestant churches en which the baptism is valid.
(iii)   Or not sacramentally as among the other just
(b)    pertaining non salutary from uninformed faith “neque re neque voto,” as in sinners
(i)      by the faith joined to baptismal character as the believing sinners of the dissident churches in which the baptism is valid.
(ii)    Only by faith as among the non-baptized believing sinners: catechumens, etc.
ii)       Not salutary pertaining renouncing by sin:
(1)   Pure schismatics in whom the faith and baptismal character yet subsist.
(2)   Heretics, in whom nothing more than the baptismal character subsists.
b)      Only in potentia when there is lacking baptism and the faith. Not salutary, pertaining:
i)        Of non-baptized adults who have refused the faith, if it has been obscurely proposed to them, by a personal sin of infidelity.
ii)       Of non-baptized infants, held back by original sin.

“Catholics” just or sinners, i.e. overtly catholics in the plentitude of communion. (extends through “1)-(1)” above and its subdivisions.

Non-Catholics, just or sinners, i.e. not overtly Catholic, not overtly in the unity of communion, but who are able to attach themselves in an hidden and tendential manner. “1)-(2)” and its subdivisions.

(The End.)


[1] L'Église du Verbe Incarné. Vol. 3: Sa Structure Interne et Son Unité Catholique (Deuxième partie) from Ouvres Complètes de Charles Journet. Éditions Saint-Augistin. 2000. p. 1750-51. (translation mine).

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