Has any new challenge been brought to bear against my previous expositions Down the Yellow Brick Road to Apostasy: the Lumen Gentium Syndrome on the subject of Lumen Gentium and its infamous "subsists in" phrase? No, not really, but I have been asked to comment on a recent Vatican document attempting to discuss the whole "subsists in" matter. Thankfully, this document is mercifully short, allowing me to enclose the entire text (not including headers and footnotes, but correcting for two spelling errors in the English translation), and respond to it all, point by point. The text from this document is printed here in purple and all other text is mine.
The text begins with three introductory paragraphs. Allow me first to deal briefly with the first two:
The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium," and its Decrees on Ecumenism ("Unitatis Redintegratio") and the Oriental Churches ("Orientalium Ecclesiarum"), has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiology. The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter "Ecclesiam Suam" (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter "Ut Unum Sint" (1995).
A "renewal of Catholic ecclesiology" as spoken of here would certainly not be a renewal in the sense of a soul renewing one's sense of the Presence of God, but rather a renewing and reopening for reconsideration of old arguments long since put down in the Church's continual battle against heresy. And note particularly the mention of Ut Unum Sint as an "insight and orientation for praxis." Perhaps you might recall that this was one of the most doctrinally offensive documents ever to have the name of a putative pope affixed to it. Anyone even the least familiar with the writings and mindset of His Holiness Pope Saint Pius X can easily guess what his reaction would have been if confronted with Ut Unum Sint, namely "That is no pope speaking." Yet mentioning it here defintetely links that sorry document to "subsists in," for without "subsists in" the rampant ecumenism spoken of therein could never have been possible.
The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field. In fact it has become evident that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance in the declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae" (1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church "Communionis notio" (1992), and the declaration "Dominus Iesus" (2000), all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Bitter "fruit" indeed! The confusion, despair, loss of faith, and apostasy promoted by these documents is a matter of open record and there is no need to repeat it here. Now we come to the real kicker:
The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection.
Did you see that? Read it again: "The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection."
One more time, this time with emphasis: "The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection."
The novelty? I'm amazed this made it past the proofreaders. Short of that full confession that comes with true repentance I doubt we shall ever see such a clear admission of just what a true and "total novelty "subsists in" actually is. One can take it as a novelty in doctrine (which is otherwise what is known as a heresy) or one can take it (as I do) as a novelty in discipline. Either way, it is an absolute novelty. So yes, novelty. Yes, novelty indeed is precisely what was attempted at Vatican II. The paragraph continues:
Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the Magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.
Well of course when one invents a whole new language of ambiguity there is bound to be many misunderstandings, how can there not be? And that is what most provides the source of the novelty. But the ambiguity is not total and there are certain meanings which are grammatically not admissible, and others which are patently heretical. Now come the questions themselves:
I deny that. The true doctrine has always quite explicitly identified the visible and the spiritual aspects of the Church. They are inseparable and intrinsically equal to each other and cannot but share the exact same boundaries. At Vatican II however, the express intent of those present was to separate and distinguish between them, rendering them separate and distinct entities, such that the boundaries of one are not equal to the boundaries of the other. The goal here was to find a way to "include" other churches and religions by extending the spiritual aspect well beyond and outside the confines of the visible aspect. Much evidence of that goal is clearly shown in the continuation of Lumen Gentium and in most of the remaining documents of Vatican II. The response to this first question continues with a most untenable and unsupportable claim that nothing has changed, that the change indisputably made is somehow (never explained how) no change at all. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." And how dare they invoke our Lord's name in vain, for what the V-2 fathers wanted was far, far removed from what our Lord Jesus Christ wants.
This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution "Lumen gentium": "There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation." The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention .
When applied to the introduction of "subsists in" and all that followed from it, the use of this quote can only be described as scholastic dishonesty. Most interesting. Out of the sheer hundreds of lengthy volumes containing the collected works of the Church Fathers, Popes, Councils (not only the big ecumenical councils but also the more local and regional councils), saints, mystics, Doctors, Theologians, Canonists, Catechists, Liturgists, and so forth one would think there might emerge at least one useful quote that, pulled out of context, might at least fool the casual and non-academic reader into thinking that the Church had ever tolerated or hinted at the idea of Her spiritual presence extending beyond or to differing boundaries than Her visible presence, or of other churches not answerable to Her being nevertheless valid means of salvation. How can one validly speak of "what was assumed" becoming "explicit" when no evidence whatsoever of any such assumption has ever been found, nor can it be?
Instead, what one finds in reviewing all of that authentic Church documentation is any such notions being shouted down and condemned with such vehemence again and again by the Church as to provide absolutely no useful quotes whatsoever (and a great deal of memorable quotes against it). Where, for instance, was the dogmatic pronouncement by the authentic Vatican Council (still not concluded) in the 19th Century? which stated: "If anyone should say that the true Church is not one body in itself,
but consists of varied and diverse societies of Christian name, and is spread
out among them, or that various societies disagreeing among themselves in
profession of faith and separated by communion, constitute, as members or
parts, the one and universal Church of Christ, let him be anathema." And "For the Holy Ghost was promised to the successors of Peter not so
that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine, but that,
by His assistance, they might religiously guard and faithfully expound the
revelation or Deposit of Faith transmitted by the Apostles."
Or Pope Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari vos in which he stated, "To use the words of the fathers of the Council of Trent, it is
certain that the Church 'was instructed by Jesus Christ and His Apostles and
that all truth was daily taught by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.'
Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain
'restoration and regeneration' for her as though necessary for her safety and
growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or
other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a
'foundation may be laid of a new human institution,' and what St. Cyprian
detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing 'may become a human
Or St. Jerome's advice, "The best advice that I can give you is this. Church traditions --
especially when they do not run counter to the Faith -- are to be observed in
the form in which previous generations have handed them down."
Or Pope St. Pius X's landmark encyclical against Modernism Pascendi dominici gregis, "They lay the ax not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root,
that is, to the faith and its deepest fibers. And once having struck at this
root of immortality, they proceed to diffuse poison through the whole tree so
that there is no part of the Catholic truth which they leave untouched, none
that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skillful, none
more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious devices, for
they play the double part of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily
that they easily lead the unwary into error; and as audacity is their chief
characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or
which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance."
Or Pope Pius XI's Mortalium animos, "The Catholic Church is alone
in keeping the true worship. This the fountain of truth, it is the household
of the faith, it is the temple of God; if anyone does not enter it or if
anyone departs from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and
Or Pope Pius XII's clear words in his Encyclical Mystici Corporis, "From a heart overflowing with love, we ask each and every one of them
to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw
from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even
though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship
with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those
many heavenly gifts and helps which can be enjoyed only in the Catholic
Church." Now where in those quotes does one find the least hint of an idea that other rival churches and groups, with differing theologies, could ever be used by our Lord as the means of providing salvation to souls?
Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
Now we get to the real nub:
Response: Christ "established here on earth" only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual community," that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. "This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […].
So far, what is written above is basically fine, but has absolutely nothing to do with "subsists in."
This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him."
And this is merely a reiteration of Lumen Gentium. One does not suitably define a term or expression by merely repeating it.
In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium" 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.
OK, I will grant (for it seems reasonable) that the bare use of the word "subsists" in and of itself need not be heretical, but could, perhaps in some future day when things have settled down and infallible proclamations can be again taken at face value without question, be permitted or even approved. Note that what I (and others) have always and consistently objected to is not the lone word "subsists" itself, but the phrase "subsists in." For any thing to subsist, or exist, or do anything else, "in" a thing is for the first thing to be something other and different from the second.
Suppose for a moment that the document had used instead the phrase "subsists as" instead of "subsists in." This would have properly allowed for absolute identity as dogmatically established. But doing that does not allow for any bits and pieces of the Church hierarchical to be elsewhere, outside the confines of both the spiritual and visible (one and the same) Church, thus rendering the rest of that paragraph, and for that matter the rest of Vatican II and all that followed from it, altogether impossible. "In" of course is what provided the wanted "out" for the V-2 fathers. With the two things no longer identical but separate and distinct, they can therefore be of differing boundaries and it becomes possible to be inside one boundary while at the same time being outside the other.
It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.
No, it is not. One never finds the faintest vestige of any suggestion of any such thing in any official document of the Church prior to Lumen Gentium. Instead one finds that notion simply condemned wherever put forth by any heretic or heretical body. There is only one way to escape heresy at this point, and that is to recognize that the so-called "catholic church" spoken of in such Vatican II contexts is not that real Catholic Church, One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, but a different "catholic church" significantly misnamed. Let me illustrate.
Supposed we believed in a man named John Smith, who was born on January 1, 1950, and it would be heresy to deny that fact. Now all of a sudden there is all of this talk about a John Smith who was born on April 1, 1974, and who also has many interests not at all in common with the known interests and concerns of THE John Smith born January 1, 1950. Would it be heresy to now claim that John Smith was born April 1, 1974? Or might there be room to surmise that we have at some point switched to speaking of some other John Smith? But doubtless some, or even many, might make the common mistake and heretically come to believe that THE John Smith actually born in 1950 was really born in 1974. The similarity of the name might prove confusing to many, and ideally the distinction should be made explicitly, but even a few minor hints to that effect can be taken as evidence that a different John Smith is indeed being spoken of.
There is a Catholic Church, indeed, THE Catholic Church, which is intrinsically one and the same as what Lumen Gentium calls the "Church of Christ" (the Mystical Body of Christ), and then there is a "catholic church" (I find it inappropriate to capitalize, just as one capitalizes "God" when speaking of the true God and does not when speaking of other gods), which is of more limited scope and boundaries, and which is merely "subsisted in" by the other. It cannot be "subsisted in" by itself, for that is as illogical and impossible as being taller or shorter than oneself. Though I as an individual only exist, not subsist as does the Church, the same grammatical and logical principle applies: I must exist AS myself, but I cannot exist IN myself.
Is this a valid hermeneutic to use in the interpretation of a document? In interpreting Sacred Scripture it certainly is, for consider how one resolves the apparent Biblical self-contradiction: Did Jesus heal Bartimeus the blind man while entering Jericho (Luke 18:35-43) or while leaving Jericho (Mark 10:46-52)? From the account alone one must be able to see that there are actually two Jericho's, and so indeed we find, for Jericho was a double town, with a Jewish portion and a Roman portion, and both separated by some small geographical distance. Jesus was obviously on His way from one to the other when He healed Bartimeus. I can therefore claim with equal validity to interpret their two different and contradictory uses of the phrase "Catholic Church" as referring to two separate and distinct entities
So what such a statement would really mean is that you have a more limited (and man-made) "catholic church" with only partial and limited jurisdiction, since there is also the Church of Christ (real Catholic Church) of universal jurisdiction over all of Christ's affairs in this world (and the next), and not all portions of this Church are answerable, de jure to this more limited "catholic church" of their creation.
Nevertheless, the word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one" Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
This is new. I think they made here a mistake, even from their own peculiar standpoint. In all other discussion of this "subsists in," it is never anywhere else said that the Catholic Church itself does this "subsisting," but only the "Church of Christ" which does this "subsisting" "in" a "catholic church." This is yet again one that should never have made itself past their proofreaders. But in a certain way this works out true since in fact the real Catholic Church, the Church of Christ (Mystical Body of Christ) does indeed subsist. But this would be like slipping, accidentally, from speaking of the John Smith born 1974 to the John Smith born 1950 without giving the least notice of the change of subject. And we all know the dishonesty of changing the definition of terms in the middle of an argument when done without expressly calling attention to that fact. By the way, on account of this, notice the way the above actually denies a tautology, by speaking of a thing "subsisting in" itself, if one attempts to interpret both occurrences of the phrase "Catholic Church" as being the same thing. It's like saying "John Smith is older than John Smith." The only way such a statement makes any sense is if you read it as "The John Smith born 1950 is older than the John Smith born 1974."
Third Question: Why was the expression "subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?
Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity."
Is the above a deliberate lie, or the product of a confused and schizophrenic and disintegrating mind which has lost the capacity to understand the law of contradiction? "Full identity" is exactly and expressly the one thing grammatically not admissible to "subsists in," and there is no ambiguity about that.
If only one could have change without change. If only one could be faithful to one's wife so as to not go to Hell and at the same time still have another woman on the side. If only we could indulge in the wicked pleasures of sinning without having to be sinners. If only we could keep our same doctrine while making a new doctrine. If only we would be honored without ever having to do anything honorable. If only we could be recognized as Christ's ministers without having to minister. If only salvation could come to heretics without their having to renounce their heresy. "It's exactly the same thing, but completely different." A is equal to B, but B is greater than A. A is equal to B, but B is greater than A. All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church."
As any false principle begets another and yet another and so on. All of the false ecumenism got its start right here. Vatican II ecumenism was never a matter of merely a "good neighbor" policy with regards to our fellow citizens of different religions (we always had that), nor even of a person attaining salvation while in a heretical sect, due to invincible ignorance (for that is salvation DESPITE their false religion), but of now claiming that their heretical sects save them, e. g. salvation BECAUSE of their false religion.
Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all -- because of the apostolic succession -- the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds," they merit the title of "particular or local Churches," and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.
"Gee, after nearly 2,000 years, let's 'adopt' a traditional use of a term which has never been used in this manner before." There has always been use of the terms "Churches," "Particular Churches," and even "Sister Churches," and these expressions have always and consistently applied to the particular Rites, lead by Patriarchs of the various and most ancient and venerable Sees, and always and everywhere still subject to the Pope, and accepted by him as his subjects. One never sees (until Vatican II) the schismatic bodies spoken of as anything better than "Schismatic Churches." Maybe the above was a misprint, in that they wanted to say "adapt" instead of "adopt"?
And by the way, given that what grants these "alternate churches" the title of "Churches" at all (at least they always WERE called "Schismatic Churches") is the valid orders and succession and presence of all 7 sacraments, where is the logically implicit talk there ought be about such "Sister Churches" as the SSPX or CMRI or SSPV, and so forth? For they too meet ALL these criteria (and much more, in view of the fact that our communion with the See of Peter is total and without reservation).
"It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature." However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches.
The principle of attachment to the Successor of Peter is of course a valid one, but one does not meet it by attaching themselves to just any person, even if commonly accepted as such by many, where the person is plainly unqualified canonically, theologically, and ontologically, even if he is a nice guy.
On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realized in history.
Yeah, yeah, the Church has had Her bad days, as during the First Great Western Schism, and again now during this the Second Great Western Schism (both internal). We all know that. To that extent, the above is obviously true. However to equate the real internal schisms (that were definitively resolved in the past) and ultimately will be resolved again with those external schisms of those who simply unilaterally separated themselves from an existing and unified Church is unwarranted and gravely erroneous.
Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery  cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.
It is confusing to speak of them as "Christian Communities" since they in fact have no part in the Church of Christ, but other than that one imprecision, this is the one part of this document that comes closest to being something a Catholic could write.
So Protestants and East Orthodox and Jews and Moslems and Mormons need not fear that this document in any way changes their status as being firmly ensconced in the Vatican II Pantheon of salvific religions. So the use of the word "church" in a careful technical sense is not to be applied to Protestants, so what? They never believed in "church" in that technical sense (of a sacramental and hierarchical succession) in the first place, so of what have we deprived them here? It's like "how can they object to a teaching against priestesses when they don't even believe in priests in the first place?" No, this document changes nothing, clarfies nothing, stirs up a little mud perhaps, but the nonsense simply continues, the poison remains in their system, and there still remains no cure but its absolute revocation. Let Vatican II with all of its "subsists in" and all that followed from it be revoked, and only then might the Vatican leaders be again capable of recieving jurisdiction from its present rightful holders.