Protestants Are Not Our Equals, Vatican Says

Protestants are reacting with dismay to a Vatican pronouncement (see link #1 below).

...The Roman Catholic document Dominus Iesus, issued Sept. 5, questions the validity of Protestant churches.

...The official statement, issued by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, rejects the idea that other branches of Christianity could be considered equal to Roman Catholicism, whose authority comes directly from God through the pope, the successor to St. Peter, it says.

...Other Christian churches - referred to as "ecclesial communities" -- have "defects" even though the "Church of Christ" is present in them, according to the statement.

...A Vatican letter to bishops, also released this week, reminds Catholics that they must evangelize adherents of other faiths. It also tells them not to use the term "sister churches" in reference to Protestant churches. That term is used in reference to Orthodox churches, with which Rome was in communion for many centuries, it explains.

..."The churches born of the Protestant Reformation are automatically excluded from the list of 'sister churches,' " commented La Stampa of Turin, Italy, a leading newspaper.

...The Vatican also deals with non-Christians, saying they are in a "gravely deficient situation" regarding salvation.

...The Vatican's goal is to counteract dilution of its authority by increasingly popular theologies of "religious pluralism," which suggest Catholics are on a par in God's eyes with adherents of other faiths, according to The Washington Post (see link #2 below). The Vatican also may be concerned that Catholicism "must remain competitive with Islam and other expanding faiths," the newspaper reported.

...The Vatican pronouncement implies that the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are more closely related to each other than they are to Protestant and Anglican communities, according to Ecumenical News International. It declares that churches that lack a "valid Episcopate [bishops] and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not churches in the proper sense."

...That dismayed George Carey, the spiritual leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans (see link #3 below), including the Episcopal Church U.S.A. He said the worldwide Anglican Communion "does not for one moment accept that its orders of ministry and Eucharist are deficient in any way. It believes itself to be a part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Christ."

...The Southern Baptist Convention (see link #4 below), the largest U.S. Protestant denomination, drew sharp distinctions with the Vatican. "Salvation comes by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone -- not through any institutional church body, be it Baptist, Catholic, or otherwise," said Jerry Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. "That's why we have always sent missionaries, even to 'Catholic' countries, because people come to salvation only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

..."That is the message of the Christian gospel according to the Scriptures, and that is the message shared worldwide by our missionaries."

...Protestant leaders in Germany said they felt slighted. "The declaration suggests that the Catholic and the Protestant church are not on equal terms with each other," Manfred Kock, chairman of the council of the Evangelical Church of Germany, told ZDF television.

..."The salvation through Christ is not deposited in one religion only," said Valdo Benecchi, president of the Methodist Evangelical Churches of Italy. "This puts only the Catholic Church at the center, but especially the Catholic hierarchy."

...John Wilkins, editor of the Tablet, an influential Catholic newspaper published in London, described the declaration as "enormously negative," according to Reuters (see link #5 below). He said of relations between the churches: "It [the declaration] sees the glass as half-empty, yet since Vatican II we have looked at the glass as half-full."

..."Many sensitive conversations are under way about the relationships of the churches to one another," World Council of Churches (see link #6 below) theologian Tom Best said. "What a loss if these were hindered -- or even damaged -- by language which precludes further discussion of the issues. In addition, one would hope for an acknowledgement of the many positive developments in common Christian confession, witness, and service which have happened within the ecumenical movement over the past 100 years."

1: vatican document dominus-iesus

Religion Today - September 8, 2000

Alla präster inom Katolska kyrkan accepterar dock inte Dominus Jesus. Kyrkoherden Jozef Wegrzynek i Trollhättan företräder den gamla katolska ståndpunkten om Katolska kyrkans ofelbarhet och skriver i Katolskt magasin nr 4/01 "Inte alla kristna samfund och organisationer har rätt att kalla sig för Jesu Kristi kyrka, ännu mindre Jesus Kristi fullkomliga kyrka, därför att inom hela kristenheten finns endast en kyrka som har rätt till detta namn, nämligen Katolska Kyrkan." Och hans slutsats blir: "Den splittrade kristenheten kan finna sin enhet endast i och genom Katolska Kyrkan som är Jesus Kristi fullkomliga Kyrka. Ekumeniken byggd utanför Katolska Kyrkan är dömd till döden."

Pater Henrik Roelvik ofm, V ordf i Katolska Ekumeniska nämnden, uttrycker sig så här i samma nummer av Katolskt magasin angående Dominus Jesus: "Skillnaden mellan vår kyrka och de andra skulle kort kunna anges så här: felen i vår kyrka rör ensidiga läroaccenter eller livsformer inom fullhetens ram, medan felen hos andra också handlar om brister i själva fullheten." Inte heller den ekumeniske teologen och Katolska kyrkans ansikte utåt mot andra svenska kyrkor, pater Roelvink erkänner alltså att Katolska kyrkan kan ha någon brist i själva fullheten, trots all obiblisk tradition, falsk lära och ockultism som ryms inom den Katolska kyrkan.

Back to: The latest page