The Roman Catholic Church reiterated its position that Protestant groups including Anglicans are not proper “Churches.” According to a press release from Vatican City and approved by the Pope:
“Made public today was a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Responses to some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.” It is dated June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, and bears the signatures of Cardinal William Joseph Levada and Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., respectively prefect and secretary of the congregation.”
The document offers 5 questions and answers on the status of bodies and churches outside the Roman Catholic Church. The fifth question has to do with those who have separated since the Reformation and why they are not proper churches.
“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.
Tobias Haller at In a Godward Direction offers a fine commentary.
The full press release is here.
This news makes Ruth Gledhill of The Times proud to be an Anglican.