Thursday, July 10, 2008

Litany of Heresies #8

For those looking for the history of this series, check here and the last post I made on the topic here. I got some recent queries about what happened to it and why I didn't finish it off. Frankly, it didn't look like folks were all that interested, but I guess I was wrong. Anyways, we continue with heresy #8.

Claiming that the early Christian church is somehow distinct and/or different from the Catholic Church.

The Second Vatican Council is clear that the Church founded by Christ is the Catholic Church.

The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government and who, combining together into various groups which are held together by a hierarchy, form separate Churches or Rites.[1]

Echoing the teaching of Pope Pius XII,[2] the Council is quite clear here that the Church and the Mystical Body of Christ are one and the same thing. It is therefore absurd to attempt to divorce the Church of the Apostles from the Catholic Church of today. If the Church of today is the Mystical Body of Christ, as has been taught by Vatican II and the Ordinary Magisterium, distinguishing it from the Church of the Apostles would mean that the early Church was not the Mystical Body of Christ. Since Scripture clearly demonstrates that the early Church shared this divine character,[3] it must be identical to the present-day Church.

Vatican II also proclaims that:

The Catholic Church, since it was founded by Christ our Lord to bear salvation to all men and thus is obliged to preach the Gospel . . .[4]

Again, we see the Council illustrating that the Church founded by Christ is the same Church that exists today.

In addition, the Ordinary Magisterium has provided numerous sources of authority that demonstrate the historical nature of the Church.

From Pope St. Pius X:

Philosophical systems without number, of every form and every kind, rose up against her, arrogantly vaunting themselves her masters, as though they had at last destroyed the doctrine of the Church, refuted the dogmas of her faith, proved the absurdity of her teachings. But those systems, one after another, have passed into books of history, forgotten, bankrupt; while from the Rock of Peter the light of truth shines forth as brilliantly as on the day when Jesus first kindled it on His appearance in the world, and fed it with His Divine words: "Heaven and earth shall pass, but my words shall not pass."[5]

From Pope Benedict XV:

He fixed deeply in his mind and scrupulously observed what the martyr Cyprian, the witness of the ancient tradition of the Church, affirmed: "there is one God and one Christ; There is one Church and one founded on Peter by the word of the Lord."[16] That is what the great Doctor of the Church Ambrose also preached: "Where Peter is, there is the Church. Where the Church is, there is no death but life eternal."[6]

From Pope Pius XI:

Instead, Christ our Lord instituted His Church as a perfect society, external of its nature and perceptible to the senses, which should carry on in the future the work of the salvation of the human race, under the leadership of one head, with an authority teaching by word of mouth, and by the ministry of the sacraments, the founts of heavenly grace; for which reason He attested by comparison the similarity of the Church to a kingdom, to a house, to a sheepfold, and to a flock. This Church, after being so wonderfully instituted, could not, on the removal by death of its Founder and of the Apostles who were the pioneers in propagating it, be entirely extinguished and cease to be, for to it was given the commandment to lead all men, without distinction of time or place, to eternal salvation: "Going therefore, teach ye all nations." In the continual carrying out of this task, will any element of strength and efficiency be wanting to the Church, when Christ Himself is perpetually present to it, according to His solemn promise: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world?" It follows then that the Church of Christ not only exists to-day and always, but is also exactly the same as it was in the time of the Apostles, unless we were to say, which God forbid, either that Christ our Lord could not effect His purpose, or that He erred when He asserted that the gates of hell should never prevail against it.[7]

This is merely a small sample of the writings on this topic, all of which confirm that divorcing the Church of the Apostles from the Catholic Church is a grievous error.[8]

[1] Second Vatican Council, Orientalium Ecclesiarium (Decree on the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite) §2.
[2] Cf. Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis.
[3] Acts 9:3-4; Colossians 1:18, 24.
[4] Second Vatican Council, Inter Mirifica (Decree on the Media of Social Communications) §3.
[5] Pope St. Pius X, Iucunda Sane §8.
[6] Pope Benedict XV, In Hac Tanta §19.
[7] Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos §6.
[8] Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi §65; Solemni Hac Liturgia (Credo of the People of God) §19; Ecclesiam Suam §30, 37, 46; Pope John Paul II, Dominum et Viveficantum §63; Cf. Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cogitum; Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis.

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