La verdad hace la Fe; y algunas veces la Fe hace o arrastra la verdad reacia.
-Dulce Maria Loynaz
(The truth makes Faith; and sometimes Faith makes or drags the reluctant truth.)
The other latest buzz going around the Catholic world is this clarification
of the doctrine of the Church by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The issue of course is the nature of the Church, its unity and the role of the Petrine office within it. Many non-Catholics have felt that this is an affront to ecumenism, even though it says substantially what Dominus Iesus
said back in 2000: the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church, other Churches are in imperfect communion, and Protestant congregations are no churches at all.
People who know me know that I am not the most ultramontanist person in the world. I have done my share of ecclesial and theological wayfaring in my life. I can concede that discerning the "true Church" in this day and age can often look like a gamble in which a lot of personal and non-theological factors enter into play. But at the end of the day, one must choose, and even if rhetorically my words do not seem the most decisive, in my actions I am very much so. I worship in what I firmly believe is the one Church that Christ founded.
The most interesting aspect of the question for me is not the historical or even directly theological questions. As I have said before, the most fascinating question for me to ask is: what does the encounter between God and man look like? Because that is what the Church is. For me, that is what I ask intellectually when I think about religion in this postmodern age. And the Roman Catholic Church seems the most likely to be the image that answers my question. Above all, this is true because it exists as an authoritative enitity outside of my own conscience that I have to constantly wrestle and deal with whether I like it or not. That for me is Faith: not the absolute and unconditional assent to a party line, but an uncomfortable conversation with an ancient institution that is much older and wiser that I am.
I am glad in one sense that the Vatican has made what we believe about the Church a little more clear, even if it was just re-stating what everybody suspected. At the end of the day, the gamble that we all make on what is truth may not be as absolute as in the days before the Second Vatican Council where popular notions conceived that all non-Catholics were going to Hell. It is a serious gamble nontheless. And the only way to surely win is to be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. Everyone else is playing with some rather uncomfortable odds.