Pope Asserts Catholicism Is The Only True Church genre: Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation

Dancing On The Head Of A Pin

Many Thought Theater readers have been following the dialogue in the comment thread of my open letter to Michael Glatze. In that comment thread, there has been ample debate about the notion of truth and where one might actually be able to find it and how one might determine who really knows the truth. This dialogue included some spirited debate about the Bible and how it has been interpreted over the years.

The prevailing problem with religious institutions is their belief that the doctrines each espouses are in fact the only true words and all else are lesser interpretations. In its worst form, religions have chosen to assert that those who follow other faiths will not find salvation.

In a move consistent with the above issues, the Vatican has issued a document in which it asserts that the Catholic Church is the only true church because it can track its existence back to the apostles of Jesus. In issuing the document, the Church contends that the position is consistent with the prevailing belief of the church over the years...and that the vague deviation from that position that was evidenced in Vatican II was actually a misinterpretation of intent.

Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.

Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians. It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.

In the latest document formulated as five questions and answers the Vatican seeks to set the record straight on Vatican II's ecumenical intent, saying some contemporary theological interpretation had been "erroneous or ambiguous" and had prompted confusion and doubt.

It restates key sections of a 2000 document the pope wrote when he was prefect of the congregation, "Dominus Iesus," which set off a firestorm of criticism among Protestant and other Christian denominations because it said they were not true churches but merely ecclesial communities and therefore did not have the "means of salvation."

"Christ 'established here on earth' only one church," the document said. The other communities "cannot be called 'churches' in the proper sense" because they do not have apostolic succession the ability to trace their bishops back to Christ's original apostles.

While I don't ascribe to the sanctity of any one church or their proximity to truth, I am fascinated by their need for certainty and absolute authority. In essence, the Pope has stated that millions of followers of other churches lack the means to salvation...or as my dad recalls it being stated when he was a young man, "Everyone who isn't a Catholic is going to hell".

The obvious problem with this kind of thinking is that it is found in many faiths and leads to the denunciation of other religions and, of course, the people who embrace those religions. Given this construct, there are, in reality, only a limited number of truths. One possibility is that one church is right and only those members of that church will be saved. The other possibility is that all of them are wrong...that there is no one true church...and that those who condemned others had no authority to do so.

I tend to see the phenomenon as the ultimate attempt to create a human hierarchy...the means by which one group of humans is attempting to assert superiority over all others. I find the practice little more than brazen arrogance coupled with a virtual pathology of grandiosity.

Moreover, I find those who embrace this dynamic have an inordinate need to advise all others of their "Truth". Why not simply relish in your chosen status and the fact that you have already won the big prize? Of course I can answer my own question...they are simply giving others the opportunity to find salvation.

For me, abrasive as it may sound, I could care less who thinks they're right and where anyone thinks I'm destined to go upon my death. While ideologues debate their proximity to "Truth" and what will happen when we die, the only thing we really know and that history has proven to be "Truth" one hundred percent of the time is that we're born, we age, and we die.

So while the various religious leaders battle for supremacy, I'm content to sit back and know that they'll all be dead and buried long before they can prove their superiority. That's not a matter of faith...that's a fact.

Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2007 | 9:53 AM
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1 On July 11, 2007 at 9:57 AM, Rainbow Demon wrote —

My partner got a huge laugh out of this one, Daniel...
He was a Ukrainian Orthodox Priest, and tells me that the Catholic Church is not the “original" Church that was supposedly founded by Saint Peter.

Apparently, they broke and reformed after a schism, which actually makes Rome the “heretic" religion.

I happened to be “brought up" in the Roman Catholic tradition, and this is some history that they never taught us… Only after my whole family was ‘excommunicated’ because of divorce in the early ‘60’s did I learn about what actually happened in 1054…

Since I am of Irish descent, I have both Roman Catholic and ‘Episcopalian’ (the second schism) followers in my family.

It seems that my Great Grandparents left Ireland and Wales respectively to be married here because of the turmoil.

Interesting isn’t it?

...and people wonder why I’ve embraced Paganism.


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