November 25, 2007 - Division in the Church
Even in the beginning there were scandals in the church, strongly condemned by the apostles. Later there were more serious scandals which caused a great number to separate from full communion from the Catholic Church. Men of both sides were to blame, but their descendents are not to blame.
One cannot throw the sin of separation to those who are presently born into these communities and are instilled with the faith of Christ. The Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and are properly baptized are brought into a union with the church even though it's an imperfect union.
Most of the elements which give life to the Catholic Church can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Church, such as:
- The bible.
- The life of grace, (Gods life).
- Faith, hope and charity.
- Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
All of these come from Christ and lead back to Him. Separated churches, even though we consider them to be lacking in completeness, have in no means been deprived of a very important mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit uses them as means of salvation due to the fullness and grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church. Only through the Catholic Church can they benefit fully from the means of salvation, for Christ is the head and the Church is His body, it cannot separate, for you cannot destroy God.
The Church has divinely revealed truth and all means of grace, yet members fail to live by them by all kinds of sin, through their actions the church is less visible and the growth of God's kingdom is delayed.
All Catholics must do their part by teaching the truth and living the truth so the church may be purified and renewed.
Catholics need to see the Christian virtues found in separated brethren, and even learn from them. What is Christ like never conflicts with what truly belongs to the faith. Divisions among Christians hurt the Church, preventing the fullness of catholicity, (universal Christianity).
The Right of Individuals of Other Faiths
The Catholic Church accepts the truths of their faith and rejects the non-truths they offer. God's providence, goodness and saving design extend to all men.
All Men Search for Answers
The unsolved riddles of human condition are always in front of man.
- What is man?
- What is the meaning and aim of life?
- What is moral good, what is sin?
- Why suffering, what is the purpose?
- Which is the road to happiness?
- What are death, judgment and retribution after death?
- How did we come into existance and where are we going?
The Church has a task of fostering unity and love among men, and even among nations, she gives great consideration to what human beings have in common and what promotes unity.
Men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through myth, and philosophy. They seek freedom from the anguish of the human condition in rigid and self denying practices, or flight to God with love and trust.
They realize the radical things we lack in a changeable world, so they look for a way to gain perfect liberation or supreme illumination, other religions propose “ways,” rules of life and sacred rites. The Catholic Church respects these views, even though they are different from her own, but they seem to reflect a ray of the Truth which enlightens all men, but they must proclaim Christ, “the way the truth and the life,” in Him is found the fullness of religious life, in Him God reconciled all things to Himself. The Church ask us to have a open dialogue with followers of other religions, to recognize and promote the good things and social cultural values they have.
They adore the one God, they try so hard to follow the decrees, as did Abraham. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, await the day of judgment of the resurrected, and value prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Although there have been many quarrels and hostilities between Christians and Moslems, we urge all to forget the past and to strive for mutual understanding. On behalf of mankind let us all find this mutual understanding and make a common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom.
The Church of Christ sees that the beginning of her faith is found among the patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. All believe in Christ are included in the same patriarch’s call, and the salvation of the Church is foreshadowed by the Exodus with Moses and the chosen people.
The Church received the revelation of the Old Testament through the Jews. The Church believes that His cross, the cross of Christ, reconciled Jew and Gentile, making them both one in Himself.
The Apostles and most early Christians were from the Jews. Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation nor did many Jews, and some opposed the spread of the Gospel. Nevertheless God does not repent of His gifts and holds the Jews most dear.
What happened in His passion cannot be blamed on the Jews living then and now. True the Jewish authorities and those who followed lead and pressed for the death of Christ. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, these views are not shown at all in Holy Scriptures of Jews being rejected or accursed.
The Church rejects every persecution against any man.
(Taken from Vatican 2 Documents, Declaration on the relationship of the Church to non-Christian Religions and Declaration on Religious freedom.)
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