MATT HALTOM SENT THE FOLLOWING PIECE IN AN OPEN EMAIL ON Tue, Aug 23, 2011 06:30 PM:
How is then-Cardinal Ratzinger Not Defying De Fide Catholic Teaching?
The following excerpts are taken from Christopher Ferrara’s and Thomas Woods, Jr.’s, The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church, pages 355-359.
According to DI [Dominus Iesus, whose main author was Cardinal Ratinzger] (which refers to Lumen Gentium’s use of the term subsistit), the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church but is also “present and operative” in the Orthodox churches as true particular churches, even though they lack “full communion” with the Catholic Church . . . But as we know, in Humani Generis 27, Pope Pius XII taught that the Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ are identical: “Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained by Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing [quae quidem docet corpus Christi mysticum et Ecclesiam Catholicism Romanam unum idemque esse].”
… For the past thirty-five years, traditionalists have been claiming that the term “subsists” was inserted by the conciliar liberals to imply that the Church of Christ is “larger” than, and thus not identical to, the Roman Catholic Church, whereas our neo-Catholic brethren insisted that “subsists” was merely a more powerful way of expressing that the Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church. Well, it appears that at least as far as the principle author of DI is concerned, we were right and they were wrong. In an extensive interview in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine following publication of DI, Cardinal Ratzinger addressed various non-Catholic objections to DI’s teaching on the nature of the Church. Here is what the Cardinal said about the Council’s use of the term subsistit [note: in colored text I’ve added key phrases that TGF asserts, as well as shows by the original German text, were conspicuously removed by L’Osservatore Romano]:
When the Council Fathers replace the word “is,” used by Pius XII, with the word “subsistit,” they did so for a very precise reason. The concept expressed by “is” (to be) is far broader than that expressed by “to subsist.” “To subsist” is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject, which exists in itself. Thus the Council Fathers meant to say: the being of the Church as such extends much further than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.
If the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing, then what exactly is this “Church of Christ” whose “being as such extends much further than the Roman Catholic Church,” and which subsists in the Roman Catholic Church while also being present and operative in the Orthodox churches? How can there be an ecclesial entity broader than the Mystical Body itself?
. . . In the Frankfurter Allgemeine interview, Cardinal Ratzinger explicitly denies that the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are identical:
In his Encylical, Pius XII said: The Roman Catholic Church “is” the one Church of Jesus Christ. This seems [!] to express a complete identity, which is why there was no Church outside the Catholic comunity. However, this is not the case: according to Catholic teaching, which Pius XII obviously also shared, the local Churches of the Eastern Church separated from Rome are authentic local Churches.
Cardinal Ratzinger provided no proof that what “seems” to be the complete identity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Christ in the teaching of Pius XII is “not the case.” Further, Ratzinger’s Frankfurter Allgemeine interview provides no demonstration that Pius XII “shared” the teaching of DI 17 that the Orthodox churches are “authentic local churches.” If Pius XII or the other preconciliar Popes had ever taught such a thing, one supposes their teaching would have been cited rather prominently in DI to show its continuity with the perennial Magisterium. To the contrary, in Satis Cognitum, Leo XIII taught the following about the ecclesial status of non-Catholics sees:
[I]t must be clearly understood that Bishops are deprived of the right and power of ruling, if they deliberately secede from Peter and his successors; because, by this secession, they are separated from the foundation on which the whole edifice must rest. They are therefore outside the edifice itself; and for this very reason they are separated from the fold, whose leader is the Chief Pastor; they are exiled from the Kingdom, the keys of which were given by Christ to Peter alone.
Likewise, in his letter on reunion with Eastern churches, St. Pius X declared as follows:
Let, then, all those who strive to defend the cause of unity go forth; let them go forth wearing the helmet of faith, holding to the anchor of hope, and inflamed with the fire of charity, to work unceasingly in this most heavenly enterprise; and God, the author and lover of peace, will hasten the day when the nations of the East shall return to Catholic unity, and united to the Apostolic See, afer casting away their errors, shall enter the port of everlasting salvation.
There is an urgent need for the Church to explain, in a definitive and binding pronouncement, how churches that lack all jurisdiction, are separated from the very foundation of the Church, are outside the edifice of the Church, not within the fold, exiled from the Kingdom, and not yet in the port of salvation, can be “true particular churches” or “authentic local churches.”
REV. BRIAN HARRISON REPLIED Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:13 PM:
What Ratzinger said in a newspaper interview of course has no magisterial authority. A better explanation of “subsistit” is in the 2007 CDF document n this subject, approved by the same man, but after he became pope.
In the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s document, “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church” (June 29, 2007), the answer to Q. 2 includes the following statement: “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, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.” (The text is accessible online at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_2007062 9_responsa-quaestiones_en.html .)
In other words, “subsists in” means essentially the same thing as “is” but within the historical and diachronic, rather than abstract and synchronic, perspective that the context calls for. The Council can be accurately paraphrased as saying in LG #8 that the same Church as was founded two thousand years ago continues to exist now, with all the elements Christ gave to it, as the Catholic Church under Peter’s successor. (When Christ founded the Church, of course, it didn’t go by the name “Catholic”, which we don’t find in documents dating before the early second century; and Peter himself, rather than one of his successors, was its earthly leader.)
As regards Eastern Orthodoxy, DI is not saying that this whole denomination is a “true church”. That would indeed be heretical because the Catholic Church is the only true church, using the word “church” in the sense of “complete religious denomination”. A “particular church” in DI does not a mean a “church” in the sense of the Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc., “churches”. It just means a local church community under a bishop, that is, a diocesan community. DI is saying Eastern Orthodox dioceses, insofar as they have the full range of sacraments and real bishops and priests, are true local church communities. But DI (or some authoritatuve explanation of it) also says somewherethat these are ‘wounded’ or ‘incomplete’ churches insofar as they lack full unity with Rome. I suppose an analogy would be a one-legged man. He is a wounded, incomplete man., but still a man. And a local Christian community whch has Christ, the Haed of the Church, truly present in its sacrifice of the Mass, can fairly be called a “true (local) church”, even though, wounded and incomplete, because where the Head of the Church is present sacramentally the Eucharist – from sacrament from which the Church derives her existence, we can hardly say the Church is smply absent or non-existent.
Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.
MATT HALTOM REPLIED Wed, Aug 24, 2011 10:12 PM:
Well, Fr. Harrison, thanks very much for your reply. Here’s my reaction.
After taking a much closer look at Ratzinger’s interview, my impression is: what a confusing mess! Can anyone honestly understand what he’s talking about? (I realize newspapers botch articles in the post-interview process of editing, so perhaps the blame doesn’t fall on Ratzinger).
Wasn’t this the primary author of DI, the then-doctrinal watchdog of the Church, who should have known what DI and the Council meant?
Are you saying the interview content isn’t a denial of the correct understanding of the one true Church, i.e., when Ratzinger says the Church extends further than the Roman Catholic Church? Or is this extension only pertaining to the “one legged” local churches, and not the whole denomination?
So a local Orthodox church is at that lower level a true and authentic church which denominationally and at the highest level is false and exiled from the Kingdom?
I, STEVEN SPERAY, REPLIED Fri, Aug 26, 2011:
I submit that Harrison never answered Matt Haltom’s initial question: “How is then-Cardinal Ratzinger Not Defying De Fide Catholic Teaching?” The magisterial authority of Ratzinger’s statements is not in question as Harrison attempted to divert the question.
Also, Harrison says DI is not saying that any of the whole, complete Orthodox denominations are the true Church. Who then are these Patriarchs, like the Patriarch of Constantinople, who conciliar popes speak of as pastors of the Church, etc? Are they not heads of Orthodox denominations rather than mere local churches only?
Below are some papal quotes addressing these apparent heads of heretical and schismatic denominations as belonging to the one Church of Christ:
Common Declaration with [schismatic/heretic] Orthodox Chrysostomos II, June 16, 2007: “We, Benedict XVI, Pope and Bishop of Rome, and Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus… we assure our faithful of our fervent prayers as Pastors in the Church…”
Letter to [schismatic/heretic] Romanian Patriarchate, published August 2, 2007: “In conveying my closeness in prayer at this time of grief, I also wish to express my earnest good wishes for you and your brother Bishops as you guide the Church in this time of transition.”
Joint Declaration with [schismatic/heretic] Patriarch Bartholomew, Nov. 30, 2006: “This fraternal encounter which brings us together, Pope Benedict XVI of Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is God’s work, and in a certain sense his gift. We give thanks to the Author of all that is good, who allows us once again, in prayer and in dialogue, to express the joy we feel as brothers and to renew our commitment to move towards full communion. This commitment comes from the Lord’s will and from our responsibility as Pastors in the Church of Christ….”
Ratzinger was echoing Paul VI who addressed in a telegram to the newly elected Patriarch of Constantinople: “At the moment when you assume a heavy charge in the service of the Church of Christ…” (L’Osservatore Romano, July 27, 1972, p. 12.)
I also submit that Harrison’s explanation that individual heretical and schismatic churches are still real but incomplete or wounded churches within the Church of Christ is false. Are we to conclude the same with those satanic churches that conduct black masses which also have a valid Eucharist from true fallen away Catholic priests? Because Christ is present sacramentally in these false churches doesn’t mean the Church is present in them as if they are wounded or incomplete true churches. The Catholic Church has time immemorial taught that these churches are totally outside the Body of Christ. It’s that simple and I challenge anyone to explain how the above quotes and Ratzinger’s interview is not rejecting de fide teaching.
REV. JOHN RICKERT ENTERED THE DISCUSSION Tuesday, August 30, 2011 9:57 AM:
Good morning —
With this post it is my intent to exit this discussion, though I will have a look at any replies that may be made to this one. Thank you for your consideration.
We should bear in the mind that the Orthodox have valid sacraments, and that it is Christ Who operates in the sacraments. “Present and operative” to borrow a phrase from the original post.
Here’s something to ponder from the Council of Trent, which I’m taking to be a valid council.
SESSION THE THIRTEENTH,
Being the third under the Sovereign Pontiff, Julius III., celebrated on the eleventh day of October, MDLI.
DECREE CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
The sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent,-lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legate, and nuncios of the Apostolic See presiding therein, although the end for which It assembled, not without the special guidance and governance of the Holy Ghost, was, that It might set forth the true and ancient doctrine touching faith and the sacraments, and might apply a remedy to all the heresies, and the other most grievous troubles with which the Church of God is now miserably agitated, and rent into many and various parts;
I don’t have all the answers, but I have all the ones I need. And God is in charge, not me. Thank God!
In Christ and Mary —
STEVEN SPERAY REPLIED Tue, Aug 30, 2011 04:45 PM:
I noticed that Rev. Rickert left out the rest of Trent’s statement. Allow me to quote it here so that you can ponder some more.
“yet, it had among its chief aims right from the beginning to tear up root and branch the tares of those detestable error and schisms which the enemy in these calamitous times has sown in the teaching of the faith in the most holy eucharist and its use and liturgy, the very sacrament which the Saviour left in his church as a symbol of its unity and love, whereby he wished all Christians to be mutually linked and united.”
Trent most certainly was not implying that heretical and schismatic churches are part of the Church of Christ.
MATT HALTOM REPLIED TO RICKERT: Tue, Aug 30, 2011 07:35 PM:
Hello Fr. Rickert,
You’re kidding, right?
No one is saying the Orthodox don’t have valid sacraments, nor that they lack elements of the true Church!
Sorry, but you haven’t demonstrated that Fr. Harrison’s position and DI’s is right.
REV. BRIAN HARRISON REPLIED AGAIN Mon, Sep 05, 2011 12:35 AM:
As regards Eastern Orthodoxy, DI is not saying that this whole denomination is a “true church”. That would indeed be heretical because the Catholic Church is the only true church, using the word “church” in the sense of “complete religious denomination”. A “particular church” in DI does not a mean a “church” in the sense of the Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc., “churches”. It just means a local church community under a bishop, that is, a diocesan community. DI is saying Eastern Orthodox dioceses, insofar as they have the full range of sacraments and real bishops and priests, are true local church communities.
My reply: Supposing this were correct, what would we get if we put all the true Orthodox dioceses together, but a whole denomination? Then we’d have to assume this denomination is a true Church since it’s made up of true dioceses! And at that point we’d arrive at the denial that the one true Church is the Roman Catholic Church.
BH: Your conclusion doesn’t follow logically from the premises.
First of all, to avoid confusion, we need to remember that “true” can mean either: (a) right or correct (in contrast to mistaken or incorrect); or (b) real (in contrast to phony or spurious). If you ask me what the square root of 16 is and I answer “5”, then that’s a “true” answer in sense (b), but since it’s mistaken, it’s not a “true” answer in sense (a). It’s a real answer because it does at least properly address the question: it gives an arithmetical response to an arithmetical question. But if in answer to the same question I reply, “Paris is the capital of France”, then that’s not a real answer to the question at all. It’s not true even in sense (b), and much less in sense (a). It’s a phony “answer” (note that we need quotation marks here around “answer”), because it does not even properly address the question about the square root of 16.
OK, now, when the magisterium says Eastern Orthodox dioceses are “true particular churches”, it must be understood as meaning they are “true” only in sense (b). They are real (though mistaken and incomplete) particular churches; but that is the case only because they have the kind of leadership that churches are supposed to have at that local (particular) level, namely, a validly ordained bishop in Apostolic succession.
But if you put all these local Eastern Orthodox churches together and consider them as an entire denomination, they do not, as you suppose, add up to “a true Church” (i.e., a real Church) at that level, because they no longer have the have the kind of leadership which they are supposed to be at this higher, denominational, level, namely, the Roman Pontiff. For they completely reject his jurisdiction.
In short, what the magisterium has come to teach explicitly (it was implicit in traditional doctrine) about Eastern Orthodox dioceses as “true [that is, real] particular churches” does not imply the heretical conclusion that all of them put together form “a true [that is, real] universal Church”. This recently developed doctrine is logically compatible with the traditional Catholic doctrine that there is, and can only ever be, only one real Church at the universal (denominational) level, namely, the Catholic Church under Peter’s Successor.
But DI (or some authoritatuve explanation of it) also says somewherethat these are ‘wounded’ or ‘incomplete’ churches insofar as they lack full unity with Rome. I suppose an analogy would be a one-legged man. He is a wounded, incomplete man., but still a man. And a local Christian community whch has Christ, the Haed of the Church, truly present in its sacrifice of the Mass, can fairly be called a “true (local) church”, even though, wounded and incomplete, because where the Head of the Church is present sacramentally the Eucharist – from sacrament from which the Church derives her existence, we can hardly say the Church is smply absent or non-existent.
My reply: Yes, we can say that the one true Church as such is simply absent from Eastern Orthodoxy. The primary issue about what makes the true Church true is that it maintains all the authentic teachings of Christ and the Apostles; otherwise, if this were not the case, being incomplete, it would not be the one true Church. Thus we can say that because authenticity demands completeness at both the diocesan and denominational levels — which Fr. Harrison admits is lacking within Orthodoxy– the Orthodox, being incomplete, do not make up the true Church of Christ.
BH: I think what has been said above about the distinction between “true” in the sense of “correct” and “true” in the sense of “real” answers this objection sufficiently. This is my last contribution to this discussion, as I have too much else on my plate to argue endlessly with theologically untrained (or at best, self-taught) folks who presume they understand Catholic theology and doctrine better than the Church’s own magisterium (and who disrespectfully and sarcastically talk to a priest like Fr. Rickert with expressions like “You’re kidding, right?”).
Matt Haltom replied Tuesday, September 6, 2011 10:44 AM
Unfortunately, the email by Fr. Harrison, who has exited the discussion, raises more questions:
1. What magisterial sources implicitly teach that local Orthodox churches are true churches?
2. Did Harrison mean to include Christopher Ferrara, whose legitimate questions in, The Great Facade, we were discussing, as one of the “theologically untrained (or at best, self-taught) folks who presume they understand Catholic theology and doctrine better than the Church’s own magisterium? “
3. Why would questioning apparent contradictions make one a pompous laymen who thinks he knows more than the Church’s magisterium, rather than be a true desire to acquire clarity about what we, as Catholics, are expected to follow? Had we questioned or even condemned John XXII’s heretical teaching that there is no particular judgment immediately after death, if we had lived during his days, would we have been presumptous?
4. As for my alleged disrespect toward Fr. Rickert when I asked him, “You’re kidding, right?”: Australian Fr. Harrison may not understand this American expression as one of polite amazement, esp. since I’d already publicly and clearly acknowledged the existence of valid Orthodox sacraments which it seemed impossible for the very bright Fr. Rickert to not catch.
STEVEN SPERAY ANSWERS HARRISON Friday, September 9, 2011, 4:53 PM:
Rev. Brian Harrison has once again side-stepped the original question and my challenge, and then he says he’s finished and has no time for this debate.
Benedict XVI and Paul VI referred to patriarchs of the heretical and schismatic Eastern Orthodox churches as “Pastors in the Church of Christ.”
The question on how Benedict XVI and Paul VI are not rejecting de fide teaching was never answered.
What makes a church true was the next challenge Harrison tackled.
According to the long standing and definitive Catholic teaching of the Catholic Church, the reason Eastern Orthodox churches are not true particular churches, despite the fact that they have a valid bishopric and Eucharist, is they are not Christian. The Catholic Church has repeatedly taught that heresy and schism separates one from Christianity, causing all heretics or schismatics to be separated and no longer members of the Church of Christ. As such their respective churches are not true churches of Christ because they are not Christian churches.
Harrison created a diversion to the challenge by attempting to distinguish between churches that are real vs. those that are true.
Harrison said that at the local diocesan level the Eastern Orthodox churches are “real” churches because they have “a validly ordained bishop in Apostolic succession.” Yet, Harrison has also argued that as a whole denomination, they are not real because they reject the jurisdiction of the papacy. Therefore, according to Harrison, “Eastern Orthodox dioceses are “true particular churches,” but as a whole denomination “they do not, as you suppose, add up to “a true Church” (i.e., a real Church).”
In other words, he is saying that a lower level church is real because it has a bishop, but at a higher level the same church, also having bishops, is not real because it rejects the papacy.
But here’s the glaring disconnect: DOMINUS IESUS specifically made reference to the fact that these Eastern Orthodox churches are true even when they reject “the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.” Harrison’s other conclusion didn’t follow his premise, because if the term “real churches” simply means having valid sacraments, then, at the higher denominational level they must also qualify as real churches. However, at the local diocesan level, the Eastern Orthodox churches have neither the Catholic Faith necessary to be Christian, nor any actual jurisdiction of their own, and they also reject papal jurisdiction which has jurisdiction over each and every diocese of the world. If the Eastern Orthodox churches at the denominational level, according to Harrison, can’t be considered “real” churches simply because they reject papal jurisdiction, then the same holds true for them at the local diocesan level. So what’s Harrison, the trained theologian, saying since he says the opposite?
However, we already know that Eastern Orthodox churches are not real Christian churches, but they are real heretical and schismatic churches.
Not only did Harrison give a red-herring, but he embroidered it with a non-sequitur.
I guess it takes a snooty priest like Harrison to show us peons where the real truth lies. Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to confuse anyone: a real truth is really just a mistaken one.
Rome’s teaching in DI implies that Eastern Orthodox churches are part of the Church of Christ because they are united albeit imperfectly: “The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church.” You’ll also find that DI and the Second Vatican Council, were very careful NOT to say that the Eastern Orthodox are separated from the Church of Christ.
The conciliar popes clearly understand DI and Vat2 teaching that the heretical and schismatic Eastern Orthodox churches are indeed part of and united to the Church of Christ with their statements to the Patriarchs of Eastern Orthodox denominations as “Pastors in the Church of Christ.” This is a clear rejection of de fide teaching, but you won’t find Harrison touching this minor detail with a ten foot pole. No wonder Harrison’s high-tailing it.
REV. JOHN RICKERT COMMENTED Tue, Sep 13, 2011 09:32 AM
Good morning, Fr. Harrison, Matt and Steve —
Hope you are doing well. You have my permission to send this email to others if you are so inclined. Please continue to assume that emails are private unless otherwise indicated, and thank you for your consideration in that regard.
I’m going to propose an exegesis of the paragraph:
Among the ecclesial communities there are many disagreements, and what disagreements! The three “persons” constitute one God in an authentic and supreme unity. When the Council Fathers replaced the word “is” with the word “subsistit”, they did so for a very precise reason.  The concept expressed by “is” (to be) is far broader than that expressed by “to subsist”.  “To subsist” is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject which exists in itself.  Thus the Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.
I am using the translation on EWTN’s site, as I think it accurately includes any corrigenda that may have been needed.
1. Let us prescind from the text that follows (i.e., from  onward) and start just with dictionary meanings. The meaning of “is” is broader than “to subsist.” This is true. “is” does not have to assert existence, as in saying “3 is greater than 2,” because this statement is true even if “3” does not really exist outside the mind, and likewise “2.” Also, one could say that “My favorite color is blue.” In my case, that is true, yet, as we know from our Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy “blue” doesn’t exist “on its own,” but rather is an accident of something that does exist.
On the other hand, whatever “subsists” indeed is, and “subsists” asserts existence whereas “is,” as I have just argued above, doesn’t necessarily do so.
Whatever subsists, is — True
Whatever is, subsists — False (e.g., accidents have existence but not subsistence)
The concept expressed by “is” (to be) is far broader than that expressed by “to subsist” — True.
2. Again, relying on Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy, some things exist “on their own” and others not. As mentioned above, the color “blue” doesn’t exist on its own, but it has to be the color -OF- something. That something, let us imagine that it is a ball, might be blue, red, brown, white, etc. However, what really exists is not even the -abstract- substance Ball, but rather this particular ball or that particular ball, which have their own size, weight, position, hardness, color, etc. In other words, this concretely existing thing is a constituted unity of substance along with all of its accidents. The philosophical term for this is “suppositum.”
How do we say that a suppositum exists in real life, really, extramentally, and concretely? The accepted, Thomistic technical term for this is “subsists.” Supposita subsist, and what subsists is a suppositum. Subsisting, as noted in 1. above, is a very particular way of being.
“To subsist” is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject which exists in itself. — True.
3. In light of the above, the being in the totality of its meanings and modes, the totality of all the truths beginning “The Church is…” is broader than saying “The Church of Christ subsists.” Again, as with the example of “blue” and accidents, we can say true things about them without asserting that Blue really exists “on its own,” extramentally, out there in real life. It is a further assertion to say, “The Church of Christ -subsists-“: it is not merely some abstraction. Very well, if the Church of Christ subsists, and indeed it does, which ecclesial body is it? Answer: The Catholic Church. Recap: The Church of Christ subsists and that -suppositum- is namely the Catholic Church. The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church; or, if it is grammatically clearer, in the Catholic Church the Church of Christs exists as in a true and proper subject, extramentally, on its own; it subsists.
Thus the Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject. — True.
God bless —
STEVEN SPERAY REPLIES TO RICKERT Sat, Sep 24, 2011 02:42 PM:
Dear Fr. Rickert,
I hope you had a pleasant vacation.
There are several issues I’d like to raise regarding your recent email about Ratzinger’s statements in the German newspaper.
Your explanation of the phrase “To subsist” (subsistere) is not the issue. The issue is with the Vat2 phrase, “subsists in” (subsistit in).
The use of the phrase “subsists in,” creates three problematic implications:
- Two different entities.
- The loss of exclusivity.
- The direct object becomes something more than the subject.
An analogy for clarification:
Hydrogen subsists (exists or is found) in the sun. Hydrogen also subsists (exists) in water. Thus something can subsist (exists) in different things.
Therefore, saying “This Church… subsists (exists) in the Catholic Church” doesn’t exclude the possibility that the Church of Christ can subsist (exist) in the Orthodox Church. Thus implication (b) is proven true. Also, hydrogen and water are two different things, thus implication (a) is proven true.
Since oxygen also subsists in water, then water is more than just hydrogen.
If the Church of Christ subsists (exists) in the Catholic Church, then the implication is that the Catholic Church is more than just the Church of Christ. Thus implication (c) is proven true.
Now that the Council used the false, indeed, heretical phrase, the conciliar popes then proceeded to confer upon Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox the title “Pastors in the Church of Christ.” This then confirms that “subsists in” means to them that the Church of Christ also subsists in the heretical and schismatic sects.
P.S. I was going to argue that the preposition “as” would have made the phrase correct, but it wouldn’t have solved all the problematic implications. A Chevy truck subsists AS a Silverado, but a Chevy truck also subsists AS a Colorado. So the change in preposition wouldn’t have mattered. I would have been wrong in trying to argue this way.
Rev. John Rickert answers Sat, Sep 24, 2011 11:26 PM
Good evening, Steve —
Thanks for your letter. The vacation is going very well. Tomorrow I will be present at the celebration of 50 years of ordination of a relative of mine who is a priest. I’ll get back to Lexington on Oct. 1, though I have a number of big things planned very soon after I return. So, I hope I can be better able to respond around the 2nd week of October.
Briefly, we are construing “subsist” in very different ways. I am construing it in the way as it has been understood as a philosophical term, as I explained earlier. In regard to your points, I do not think that “subsist” should be construed in the way you have taken it. Could you explain, according to the traditional philosophical understanding of the technical term “subsistere,” how oxygen “subsists” in water? One of the essential features of a suppositum is its “freestanding” aspect. In other words, oxygen is found in a water molecule, but in the philosophical sense of the term, it does not “subsist” due to the bonding with two hydrogen molecules which makes water a distinct substance. A water molecule certainly can subsist in the philosophical sense of the term, and water has properties that oxygen and hydrogen don’t (e.g., freezing at 32 degrees Fahrenheit). This fact is an indicator that water is truly a substance and not merely a congeries.
As for the “pastors” problem, I need to do some more homework on this. For now, it is worth noting that the Orthodox have valid sacraments, including Confession and Matrimony, so evidently their ministers exercise some kind of jurisdiction.
Finally, heresy entails much, much more than the use of an infelicitous phrase. Several rather stringent criteria must be met in order to be a formal heretic. Accordingly, I think that the use of “heretical” is unwarranted here. One of my math professors was very insistent that “you have to mean what you say and say what you mean,” and because I believe he is correct, I will try to be exact in my use of terms and hope that others will be also.
Have a good evening.
God bless —
Steven Speray answers Wed, 28 Sep 2011 04:30:05 GMT
Dear Fr. Rickert,
I almost envy you as you enjoy your vacation. I have not had one since 1994 which was my honeymoon. It only lasted 4 days. Congrats to your 50 year priest relative! Anyway, getting back to your latest reply, would it be alright with you if we tested your explanation to see if it’s really just a red-herring?
Using your philosophical explanation that “is” is broader than subsists, how could the broader sense of “is” apply in the phrase, “This Church…is the Catholic Church” so that the phrase is incorrect, improper, or not specific enough?
Are you suggesting that the Church of Christ is something other than the Catholic Church since the time honored way of expressing the two as one and the same thing is by using the verb “is?”
In his Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, Pope Pius XII declared on June 29, 1943: 13. “If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ — which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church — we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression “the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ” – an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.”
Pope Pius XII apparently didn’t have any problem using “is” and he was so clear that no explanation is needed to explain what he means. Remember Slick Willie’s line, “It depends on what your definition of is, is.”? I think the argument about the broadness of “is” is invalid. Because “is” doesn’t always have to assert existence, doesn’t mean this definition can be applied in every instance of its use. The verb “is” is understood based on how it is used. Our discussion proves that this is not so with “subsists.”
Rome explained that subsists means exists, and now you are saying that exists in a normal sense is different from exists in a philosophical sense. Your argument supports my position. Which of the two words is really broader? “Subsists” is only a precise way of being depending on what precise way of being you’re looking for. The novel term “Subsists” is the problem, not the verb “is.”
Also, I agree that the Orthodox have valid sacraments, but the issue about calling these non-Catholics“Pastors in the Church of Christ” is as Matt said, “the elephant in the room.” As for heresy, the question was how is Ratzinger not going against de fide teaching?
Lastly, a modernist doesn’t state plainly what he means. Rather, he intertwines carefully crafted ambiguities with orthodox propositions in order, “to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.” The result is that modernists can’t be easily pinned down and accused of heresy. Pope Pius VI’s “Auctorem Fidei” was promulgated on August 28, 1794, to formally condemn the Council of Pistoia for doing precisely what Vat2 did. I include the relevant part of the document below.
Taken from “Auctorem Fidei” of Pope Pius VI
Condemnation of the Council of Pistoia August 28, 1794
“[The Ancient Doctors] knew the capacity of innovators in the art of deception. In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, they sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith which is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation. This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used. For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error.
“Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.
“It is as if the innovators pretended that they always intended to present the alternative passages, especially to those of simple faith who eventually come to know only some part of the conclusions of such discussions which are published in the common language for everyone’s use. Or again, as if the same faithful had the ability on examining such documents to judge such matters for themselves without getting confused and avoiding all risk of error. It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor Saint Celestine who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.
TO BE CONTINUED….