I quoted the document in full down below. The release of this document was trumpeted by the secular press as another example of Catholic bigotry. Some of my parishioners were asked by their Protestant friends why the Pope said they were going to hell.
Our ministers' discussion group that meets on Thursdays finally met again after a hiatus of about 4 weeks because of vacations and travel. I brought the document for us to read through. All were enlightened when they were able to go through it and see what is really said. Here are some points:
- It didn't say anything different that the Vatican Council had said.
- The document Dominus Jesus, issued by the CDF said the same thing. (There was a flap then, too, but it had died down. Did Rome, by posting this new document want to stir the pot again?)
- The Church teaches that there are several integral things that Christ instituted when he established the Church that are absolutely necessary for the Church to be.
- One of these is the Apostolic Succession---given to Peter and then all the Apostles that established a hierarchical government of the Church---it was not of human foundation.
- A second thing is the Eucharist. A valid Eucharist can only be confected by a validly ordained presbyter who was ordained by a validly ordained bishop in the line of succession.
- The Oriental Churches possess these elements, and are therefore true churches, however, they do not accept the primacy of Peter and his successors, therefore, while being churches in a very real sense, they are lacking a fundamental element: acceptance of the Petrine primacy.
- The churches born of the 16th c. Reformation abandoned apostolic succession, and therefore a valid Eucharist, and, obviously, the acceptance of the Petrine ministry. Therefore, they cannot be truly called particular churches since they lack these things that are necessary and constitutive of "Church."
- The recent document, as well as Dominus Jesus, and Unitatis redintegratio of Vatican II made these same distinctions, so this is nothing new, except that it has been published again let anybody get the idea that these ecumenical activity can be played fast and easy by anyone who is a champion of peace at any price. (History has proved the unreality of that!)