The conversation seems to be going something like this:
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF): Only the Roman Catholic church is a church, the rest of y'all are not really churches.
Protestants (P): Say what, now?
CDF: Don't get all upset, we are just articulating our official doctrines.
P: Yeah, we understand that. That's not the point. The point is the official doctrines you are articulating are arrogant, demeaning, unreasonable, and unscriptural.
CDF: No, no, no - you must have misunderstood the situation here. All we are trying to do is clear up a few questions that came up after Vatican II. That's all.
P: Actually, we're pretty sure that we understand you perfectly well. And thank you for nodding in our direction with that cute little "ecclesial communities" quip. It makes us feel oh so special.
CDF: Maybe you missed the part about how important ecumenical dialogue is to us...?
P: No, we read that, too. And as long as you define "ecumenical dialogue" to mean "convince everyone to join us because we are right and they are wrong," we're not really all that interested!
Anyway, that's how I'm interpreting things. Really, I don't think this document will have any impact on the people in the pews. I don't think this document will affect the good things that truly progressive, ecumenically minded congregations are doing together in the world. And of course this document is not going to have any bearing whatsoever upon ultimate concerns such as the realization of the reign of God on earth.
I worry more about the impact of this document on the unchurched/dechurched/non-Christian/seekers/whatever group of people, because it provides yet one more reason to not look for ultimate meaning in life from within the church. Why would I want to participate in that kind of "my pop is bigger than your pop" bickering? How is that going to make my life better?
Christians are called to be evangelists, and the self-centered attitudes expressed in this document are one of the biggest stumbling blocks to accopmlishing that task.
Here's a summary of the document.
Here's a news story about it.
Here's a thoughtful commentary in response.
Here's a hopeful article on the topic.
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