From The CBC Today comes this report

“The Vatican issued a document Tuesday restating its belief that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church of Jesus Christ…. The document adds that Protestant denominations — called Christian Communities born out of the Reformation — are not true churches, but ecclesial communities. "These ecclesial communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood … cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called ‘churches’ in the proper sense," it said.” To read the rest of the article click here.

This is alarming indeed! Cardinal Ratzinger issued a similar document in 2000. This thought process and theology is now housed in the office of Pope in the name of Benedict XVI.  For us Catholics who are not Roman Catholic, this is alarming. This news comes fresh after the news that restrictions on the Tridentine mass (which includes a prayer for “the conversion of the Jews”) have been lifted. So much for moving forward.  I fear the Roman Catholic Church is moving in a direction which is not in keeping with the message of Jesus of Nazareth. Sadly this statement from Rome places me on the outside of “church” looking in.

I care deeply for the Roman Catholic ecclesial community and I have been involved with the RC ecclesial community for almost 15 years as I have admired my wife’s devotion to God and her ecclesial community . Thankfully I can say that this attitude is not what I have come to know from Roman Catholics in general. I have been respected and included by priest, lay person and bishop in the Roman Catholic Church. My Orders (Priest and Deacon) have been respected by most. For instance, one of the sweetest moments after my ordination to the Priesthood was, in fact, a conversation between Fr. Joe and me in Labrador City. Fr. Joe was the Pastor of The RC Cathedral for the Diocese of Labrador City/Schefferville. I had just returned to Labrador after my Ordination to the Priesthood in my home parish. I went to Mass with Catherinanne and at the end of Mass I was greeted with an embrace from Father Joe. After he embraced me he took off his stole and placed in over my head and onto my shoulders. It is a multicoloured stole that was woven by the women of Latin America where he was a missionary and sewn by the Innu women in Ungava Bay where he also was missionary. With this very touching gesture came these kind and very heartfelt words; “Kevin you are Priest now. God Bless you – this is my gift to you.”  

Where does Rome’s present attitude leave this devoted Oblate Priest who accepted my sacramental priesthood? Where does it leave the millions of faithful who have worked hard to build bridges to other communities in a spirit of ecumenism? Where does it leave the holy conversation of seeking and serving Christ in the midst of all peoples?

I am going to choose to take Fr. Joe Baril’s words as proper catholic teaching. I  want to say that I am grateful that the RC people that I know, love and respect do not profess this attitude and I am certian will be dismayed by today’s news. I will pray that Holy Spirit will influence the hearts and minds of those who write encyclicals from Rome that they too might hear the voice of love that the faithful are hearing. In the meantime I will continue to enjoy worship and sacrament and discipleship in my own chur….oops sorry “ecclesial community.”