Click here if you don’t see subscription options
October 01, 2007

Clarifying the Council

In The Church of Christ and the Churches (8/27), Richard Gaillardetz correctly summarizes the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as teaching that the church of Christ continues to exist fully in the Catholic Church, and only incompletely in other churches and ecclesial communities. But he seems not to agree that there is only one subsistence of the church of Christthe Catholic Church. His article gives the impression that subsistit in was introduced to weaken the statement in a previous draft that the Catholic Church is the church of Christ.

But he omits a crucial intermediate draft, which stated simply that the church of Christ is present (adest) in the Catholic Church.

The doctrinal commission, rejecting adest, wanted to safeguard the doctrine that Christs church is completely present in the Catholic Church and nowhere else. Such was the well-known position of Sebastian Tromp, S.J., who proposed the term subsistit in. He and the members of the doctrinal Commission were well aware that the verb subsist in classical metaphysics meant full and substantial existence. The C.D.F. is therefore correct in its interpretation of the term.

Mr. Gaillardetz also assures his readers that the council was content to confine its reflections to the objective institutional integrity of the church. I do not know the basis for that interpretation. Far from being concerned only with means of sanctification, the council insisted that the church is a spiritual community vivified by the Holy Spirit, and that only the Catholic Church is in full communion with the body of Christ. To be out of communion, even partially, is no small matter.

(Cardinal) Avery Dulles, S.J.

Bronx, N.Y.

Fraternal Dialogue

My gratitude to America and to Richard Gaillardetz for the article The Church of Christ and the Churches (8/27). Right on the mark is his distinction between institutional integrity and ecclesial vitality and his suggestion that such a distinction is an antidote for Catholic triumphalism and a vehicle for more fruitful fraternal dialogue among those whose different Christian communities want to continue to work for that Christian unity for which Jesus prayed.

Lucien Longtin, S.J.

Wernersville, Pa.

Sufficient Qualification

A Partner for the Pastor, by Thomas P. Sweetser, S.J., (7/30) presented a pastor-administrator model of parish leadership. Father Sweetster described the effective administrator as one equipped with pastoral as well as administrative skills. Could I suggest that such an administrator should be certifiable as a lay ecclesial minister as envisaged in the U.S. bishops document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord? They should have appropriate theological, pastoral, human and spiritual formation. It is unfair to ask parish ministers to report to someone who lacks this formation. As a catechetical leader, I have experienced situationsI fear they are not uncommonin which parishes operated according to a dualistic brick and holy distinction, where an administrator dealt with the brick and the pastor dealt with the holy. Professional issues were invariably deemed to fall under brick rather than holyas though ministry and all that we do is not holy. Theological, ecclesiological, pastoral and ethical issues permeate all aspects of parish life. For example, a staff member who makes a prophetic but unpopular stance based on Catholic social teaching may be the subject of complaints that raise issues outside the scope of a knowledge of human resources. Indeed, an appreciation of Catholic social teaching on labor would seem essential to the role of parish administrator. Likewise, the parish budget is a moral document. Force of personality, friendship with the pastor and a corporate background are not sufficient qualification. I respectfully submit that a parish administrator should be experienced in parish ministry and formally trained as a lay ecclesial minister or else we sell parish ministry short. I am grateful that my parish currently has such an administrator. After all, the business of the parish is ministry.

Alan MacGiola

Atlanta, Ga.

Carry a Dictionary

I have been following with interest the responses to Bishop Donald W. Trautmans earlier comments on the latest attempts at translations from the New Roman missal (5/21). The letter from Msgr. Bruce Edward Harbert (7/16) seems to miss the point totally. The prayers used at our Masses in the United States should mean something to those in our congregations listening to them. Msgr. Harberts work at ICEL seems to revolve around the translations of modern prayers written in Latin. He is not translating Scriptureso why all the effort to fuss over remote language, theological questions, difficult texts? If the translation cannot be made comprehensible to the average American in the pew, forget work on translation and write new prayers in contemporary American English.

People in the congregation are not theologians and do not use language of this sophistication in daily life. Trust me, no one in the parishes upon whom this work will be foisted will carry a dictionary to decipher the differences between prefiguring, indescribable, ineffable and inviolate. Language is for communication. If English is used that cannot be understood, you may just as well use the original Latin.

What we hear in this translation will simply be inexplicable and incomprehensible. Jesus taught in simple-to-understand parables and used simple language for prayer (Our Father in heaven...). The ICEL members are engaging in language Pharisaism and sophistry. Eucharistic celebrations around the Lords table are not the opportunity to provide deep theological commentary on topics such as the implications of a virgin birth.

Joan R. Koechler

Brewster, Mass.

Pastoral Process

Regarding A Great Mystery (Current Comment, 7/16), I offer the following.

Although now retired, I have had the opportunity in two dioceses to work with marriage tribunals, and from that experience I can truthfully say that not only many Catholics but many priests find the annulment process not only difficult to understand but a travesty of ordinary justice. I cite the convolutions of the Petrine and Pauline privileges as examples of this claim. Moreover, the sensus fidelium about this juridical process is probably right on the money and should gain a greater hearing in revisiting procedural norms for an updated and less harmful process.

If we truly believe what we teach about sacramental marriagenamely, that the man and woman contracting a sacramental marriage are the ministers of that sacramentthen perhaps we should allow the ministers themselves to take responsibility for the sacramentality of their Christian marriage and determine before God the validity, or better yet the authenticity, of the sacrament they have confected together.

Such a process would simply substitute the human judgment of the couple for that of the supposed objective human judgment of the priest, who more than likely is devoid of any experience about the intimacy of a marriage relationship or its attending difficulties.

Explanation of todays process is not needed, but rather another more pastoral process that does not alienate the faith of our people. We made up the current process; surely we can invent another.

(Rev.) Joseph Sanches

Nashville, Tenn.

The Ursuline Tradition

As a longtime subscriber to Americaone sometimes not so thrilled with some of its articlesI was delighted to read Giving Back (9/10), the interview by Jim McDermott, S.J., with Jane Martinez Dowling regarding her plans and hopes for the Academy of Mt. St. Ursula in the Bronx, N.Y. If she is going to try to create a Regis for Girls up there on Bedford Park Blvd., then I say (as a graduate of M.S.U. elementary and high schools), hooray for her! The education I received at that wonderful school has stood me in great stead throughout my life, and my oldest and truest friends are from that school. Ms. Dowling is continuing the wonderful work of the Ursulines since the day they were founded by St. Angela Mericithe education of young girls and women. The hand that rocks the cradle does indeed rock the world, and the educated hand rocks it that much better. Thank you, Father McDermott, for this interview and America for publishing it.

Patricia S. Paone

Manhasset, N.Y.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

In the 1950s in Omaha, Neb., a segregated city nicknamed “the Birmingham of the North,” the inter-racial DePorres Club realized it needed to escalate its tactics from uplifting the Black community to confronting white discrimination.
Matt HollandMay 20, 2022
“I really would prefer not to do this,” the archbishop of San Fransisco told Gloria Purvis. “But I cannot in my conscience allow the situation to continue and cause this scandal.”
“Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi’s position on abortion has become only more extreme over the years, especially in the last few months,” Archbishop Cordileone said in a statement May 20.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 20, 2022
Image: Apple TV/Netflix/IMDB
My heart is not large enough, my consciousness is not spacious enough for all the spot-on characters, the hectic energies, the ripping stories. I am not skillful, I think, at TV.
Joe Hoover, S.J.May 20, 2022