Reflections on Lumen Gentium, Part XV

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15. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

(14) Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Apost. Praeclara gratulationis, 20 iun. 1894; AAS 26 (1893-94) p. 707.

(15) Cfr. Leo XIII, Epist. Encycl. Satis cognitum, 29 iun. 1896: ASS 28 (1895-96) p. 738. Epist. Encycl. Caritatis studium, 25 iul. 1898: ASS 31 (1898-99) p. 11. Pius XII, Nuntius radioph. Nell’alba, 24 dec. 1941: AAS 34 (1942) p. 21.

(16) Cfr. Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Rerum Orientalium, 8 sept. 1928: AAS 20 (1928) p. 287. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl Orientalis Ecclesiae, 9 apr. 1944: AAS 36 (1944) p. 137

(17) Cfr. Inst. S.S.C.S. Officii 20 dec. 1949: AAS 42 (1950) p.142.

In this paragraph, the Council Fathers recognize the sincere faith and true devotion of those committed to Christ in Christian traditions that are not united to the successor of St. Peter and who do not profess the fullness of God’s revelation given to us in Jesus Christ. The Council Fathers honor and respect the love and devotion such Christians have for Sacred Scripture and for Jesus.

Consecrated in true Baptism, they are truly united, if not fully, to the Catholic Church through these saving waters. Some recognize the efficacy of other sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders, though many see these sacraments differently. Some hold true reverence and devotion to St. Mary as the Mother of Jesus. Many hold firmly to a deep faith in the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Most share with Catholics a rich tradition of prayer and spirituality, harvesting from the wisdom of the saints practices of prayer, meditation, and benefiting from the Scriptural reflections and commentaries of the Fathers. Many, in a love for and desire to be faithful to Jesus in all things, have given everything in martyrdom. What greater love can a Christian have than to give his or her life for Christ?

In recent decades, especially since the Second Vatican Council, there has been a great deal of effort on the part of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches and the various Protestant and even Evangelical church to dialogue on and appreciate what we have in common more than what separates us. Like-minded concerns, such as the legalization of abortion and euthanasia, the imposition of the homosexual-transgender agenda on churches, and the efforts of state and federal governments to limit the free exercise of religion, have united Christians of various traditions, sometimes with believers of non-Christian traditions, in the effort to protect the most vulnerable among us and the various churches from the encroachment of non-Christian agendas and seizure by secular powers of authority over the lives of the churches and individual believer. These efforts have united us in prayer and action and have often blossomed into greater appreciation and respect for the sincere faith of those who believe differently about Jesus in some ways, but love Him just the same.

It is always the prayer of the Church that those who believe in Christ, all those united, no matter how tenuously, to the Church in common baptism, be fully united to the one Church under the pastoral care of the bishops in union with the pope. Failing that, or until that day arrives, it ought to be the genuine desire of all believers to respect and honor the true faith of those who claim Christ as their own.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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