Christ's Church

Christ's Church

Frank Mobbs

John Frey (February AD2000) once again raises the question of the import of the use of 'subsists in' in Vatican II's Lumen Gentium. The document says the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church (Art. 8). Does this expression mean that the Church of Christ = the Catholic Church?

A library of books has been written on the subject, to little avail. I think the best way of working out the meaning is paying attention to what Vatican II teaches elsewhere.

Let me repeat points made in my article of September 2007. The Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops: 'In this Church of Christ the Roman Pontiff ... has been granted by God supreme, full, and immediate and universal power over the care of souls' (Art. 2). Note that Church of Christ = ruled by the Pope (Roman Pontiff).

The Decree on the Catholic Eastern Churches speaks of 'The holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ' which was entrusted to 'the pastoral guidance of the Roman Pontiff' (Art. 2). The Catholic Church is the Body of Christ and is governed by the Pope.

The Decree on Ecumenism says, 'Christ founded one Church and one Church only' (Art. 1). Which one? The one taught and ruled by the successors of the twelve apostles - the bishops, 'with Peter's successor as their head' (Art. 2).

Lumen Gentium itself says the sole Church of Christ which we profess in the Creed 'subsists in the Catholic Church which is governed by the successor of Peter ...' (Art. 8).

One might be excused for thinking that is all the evidence needed to answer the question.

FRANK MOBBS (DR)
Gosford, NSW

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