Granted the post-Vatican II Church was rife with divisions – disputes over doctrine, morals and the liturgy. These disagreements continue still. However, at no time during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI was there ever any doubt as to what the Church teaches concerning her doctrine, morals, and liturgical practice. Both recognized that what truly made the Church one is her unalterable apostolic and universal faith, and her sacraments, especially the Eucharist, as fount and means of her holiness. They, therefore, faithfully taught, clearly developed, and ardently promoted the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching, and her authentic sacramental practice – all for the sake of guaranteeing and fostering her ecclesial communion. Such is not the case, in many significant ways, within the present pontificate of Pope Francis.
The Four Marks of the Church: The Contemporary Crisis in Ecclesiology
by Thomas G. Weinandy, OFM., Cap. *
Sydney, Notre Dame University (Australia), February 22, 2018
The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD) professes that we believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Each mark, in its fullness, must be properly conceived and articulated, and yet only together, in their perichoretic relationship, do they form the theological foundation of the Church’s authentic self-understanding. Without them the Church’s own self-identity would become opaque, possessing no discernable defining character, and so would be exposed to any and every imposed guise – either by herself or from without. Moreover, these four ecclesial marks are most fully expressed and most abundantly nurtured within the Eucharist liturgy.
In this talk I will argue for the above in the following way. First, I will examine, at some length, St. Ignatius of Antioch’s seven letters. Second, I will examine, more briefly, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. Each text perceives the Church’s revealed identity within these four defining marks. Lastly, with the aid of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, I will contend that these four defining ecclesial marks are presently at risk. This threat comes not only from within the Catholic theological community, but even and regrettably from within Church leadership. Because of this danger I will conclude by advocating the need to mount a robust defense and clear advocacy of the Church’s four marks. Without such an apology, the Church’s identity – what she truly is – will become disordered, and so will enfeeble her ability to live and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This enfeeblement, then, will also be most visibly enacted within the Eucharistic liturgy which will not only cause scandal but also, and more importantly, demean the Eucharistic liturgy as the supreme enactment of the Church being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. (My comment: what I have highlighted in red, red underlined and dark blue is the bombshell! It is a long article read it by pressing below:)
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