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The Thomist 72 (2008): 1-44 SUBSISTIT IN: NONEXCLUSIVE IDENTITY OR FULL IDENTITY? CHRISTOPHER}. MALLOY University ofDallas Irving, Texas THE CONGREGATION FOR THE Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published on June 29, 2007, with papal ratification and confirmation, a brief yet highly significant document entitled "Responses to Some Questions regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church."1 The document touches a tender issue, the identity of the Church founded by Jesus Christ. Until the mid 1960s, the vast majority of Catholic theologians simply presumed that the Church Jesus Christ founded is the Catholic Church. Vatican II, on the other hand, in its dogmatic constitution regarding the Church, Lumen gentium, teaches, "This Church [of Christ], constituted and ordered as a society in this world, subsists in the Catholic Church" (emphasis added).2 It would seem that if the Church of Christ "subsists in" the Catholic Church it is not fully identical with that Church and can, moreover, exist elsewhere. Few theologians continued to hold a "full identity" between the Catholic Church and the Church Christ founded. Lumen gentium was taken to be a watershed, an irrefragable warrant for one case of what Pope Benedict XVI has criticized as a "hermeneutic of rupture."3 1 AAS 99 (2007): 604-8. English translation published in Origins 37 (2007): 134-36. 2 "Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica" (LG 8 [AAS 57 (1965): 12]). Unless otherwise noted, translations of the council documents are mine. 3 Pope Benedict XVI, "Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia" (22 December 2005). 2 CHRISTOPHER]. MALLOY The CDF's recent document, however, warns theologians away from such a hermeneutic with regard to "subsistit in" and affirms a "full identity" of the Catholic Church and the Church founded by Jesus Christ: "The council did not wish to change, nor is it to be said to have changed, this doctrine; instead, it wished to unfold it, to understand it more deeply, and to express it more fruitfully ."4 Again, "The use of the terms [i.e., subsistit in], by preserving the full identity fplenam identitatem] of the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church."5 If the council did teach a "full identity," then many Catholic ecclesiologists have, for the past forty years, misconstrued a fundamental matter, one that orients the Catholic ecumenical compass. How could so many have perceived a "watershed" if there was none? Or is the CDF vainly attempting to turn back the clock? In this article, I intend to demonstrate that, in continuity with the preconciliar magisterial teaching, Vatican II does not mitigate the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. First, I will take stock of the textual history of the constitution on the Church. Second, I will present four ways in which one might deny a full identity, focusing on the fourth way, which involves the notion of nonexclusive identity. Third, I will adumbrate the forceful arguments of one of the most respected English-speaking defenders of nonexclusive identity, Francis Sullivan. Finally, I will respond to Sullivan's arguments and offer a number of arguments that "converge" in favor of full identity. I. FROM "IS" TO "SUBSISTS IN" As is well known, the fathers of Vatican II approved a key change in the wording of an early draft of its decree on the Church. The first draft, Aeternus Unigeniti, was the schema drawn 4 "Noluit mutare, at evolvere, profundius intelligere it fecundius exponere voluit, nee earn mutavisse dicendum est" (CDF, "Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church," response to the first question [AAS 99(2007): 605; my translation]). 5 "Usus vocabuli retinentis plenam identitatem Ecclesiae Christi et Ecclesiae Catholicae doctrinam de Ecclesia non immutat" (ibid., response to the third question [AAS 99(2007): 607; my translation]). SUBSISTIT IN: NONEXCLUSIVE IDENTITY OR FULL IDENTITY? 3 up by the Preparatory Theological Commission.6 It taught that there is only one (unica) Church and that the Catholic Church alone could by right (iure) be called "Church."7 The title of this section of the draft (a. 7) reads, "The Roman Catholic Church...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 1-44
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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