from chicago sun-times: With Pope Benedict XVI‘s blessing, the Vatican released a document Tuesday that said the Catholic Church is the one true church and other Christian bodies shouldn’t be called churches.
Predictably, the document drew praise from some, while critics called it insensitive and a harsh example of religious intolerance.
But in some Catholic circles, the document was viewed as sort of a Chicago Manual of Style.
“The Vatican is interested in theological precision in using the word ‘church,'” said Lawrence Cunningham, a theologian at the University of Notre Dame.
The Rev. James Massa, who heads the U.S. bishops’ office for ecumenical and interreligious affairs, insisted the Vatican wasn’t building walls, but laying the groundwork for “fruitful” discussions between Catholics and other Christians.
“This clarifies the meaning of certain technical theological terms that had been confusing to scholars,” he said. “There’s no retreat from ecumenical dialogue nor our love and respect for other Christians.”
After 2000 years, were theologians really unclear about the meaning of “church”?
Benedict believed so, scholars said. For him, the battleground was a phrase used in a document of the 1960s Second Vatican Council. It said the church instituted by Jesus and his apostles “subsists in the Catholic Church.”