{22}     Contemporary Orthodox & Catholic churches

ERA 7 << Modern Church (3): Ecumenism & Adaptations (AD 1900–2000) >> SESSION 1

Reference: Gonzalez, volume 2, chapters 31-33

        22.1.1  Undercurrents

·         Optimism: The 19th-c was a century of optimism in the West. Western civilization had considered itself destined to lead the world into an age of happiness.

o        Wealth: The industrial revolution had created wealth and comfort.

o        Missionary success: The success in missionary work led some people to hope that most of the world’s people would eventually be Christians.

o        Relative peace: Further, with minor exceptions, the European powers had lived in peace.

·         Undercurrents: Yet beneath the surface were destructive currents.

o        Colonialism: The relative peace was possible in part because competition among European powers took the form of colonial expansion. Yet, by 1914, most of the territories in Asia, Africa, and Latin American had been colonized.

o        Political instability: In southeast Europe, the breakup of the Turkish Empire had created many unstable states. These lands became the source of rivalry among European powers.

o        Weapons for war: The technological progress made large scale warfare possible by producing submarine, aerial, and chemical weapons.

o        Wide impact: The fact that industrial powers controlled many colonies meant that most of the planet was involved when conflict arose.

        22.1.2  Drastic historic events [1914–1945]

·         World War I [1914–1918]—The 4-year war involved 30 nations and 65 million soldiers, of whom almost one-seventh died and more than one-third wounded. The civilian casualties were at least as high as the military.

·         Russian Revolution [1917]—Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (1870–1924) and his Bolsheviks grabbed power and installed a communist government. His vast program of social reorganization included nationalization of all land and banks, control of all factories and trade unions, and confiscation of all church property.

·         United States: The consequences of armed conflicts were not as acutely felt in the U.S. The nation did not enter the war until 1917. Yet, after the war, 2 social issues drew attention.

o        Prohibition: Alcoholic beverages were prohibited in the 18th Amendment in the Constitution [1919]. It was later repealed by the 21st Amendment [1933].

o        Women’s suffrage: Women’s right to vote was granted in the 19th Amendment [1920].

·         Great Depression [1929–1939]—The crash of the stock market in the United States [1929] caused an economic downturn in the whole world for a decade.

·         Fascism: In Europe, it was hoped that the League of Nations would prevent a repetition of the World War. Yet the rapid growth of Fascism made such hope futile.

o        Italy: Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) exploited wounded national pride and the fear of communism, and turned Italy into a totalitarian military machine.

o        Germany: The Nazi party under Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) came to power [1933]. Hitler’s anti-Semitism would lead to the death of millions of Jews.

o        Spain: With Francisco Franco’s (1892–1975) victory in the Spanish Civil War [1939], fascism was firmly established in Spain until 1978.

·         World War II [1939–1945]—In the 6-year world war, the Axis (the aggressors, including Germany, Italy, and Japan) was successful at the beginning, occupying most of Europe and east Asia. The Germans invaded Russia, and the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor [1941], thus pulling the two neutral powers into the war. In all, 57 nations declared war on each other. A total of 15 million military personnel were killed. The number of civilian deaths was estimated to be 55 million.

        22.1.3  Impact of the historic events

·         End of optimism: An uncounted casualty of the turbulent years was the optimism about the future western civilization. This was the civilization that, through an enlightened combination of Christian values and technical advance, had been expected to bring about a new age for mankind. Yet, with two devastating wars, this civilization had spread death and destruction throughout the world, culminating in the explosion of the atomic bombs at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [1945]. Germany, the intellectual leader of European civilization, had fallen prey to a demonic fanaticism.

·         End of colonialism: Another impact was the worldwide revolt against colonialism. [1] The colonial empires of the defeated nations were dismantled. [2] Nationalist movement suddenly took on new life, and in two decades, every colonial empire was dismantled. [3] In China, the communists conquered the nationalists and wiped out the remnants of colonialism, the last ones were Hong Kong and Macau [1997].

·         Domination of communism: Europe was dominated by the communist system in the east and capitalist system in the west. The “Iron Curtain” separated the communist Warsaw Pact countries from the rest. The “curtain” terminated free movement of people and led to the Cold War, the diplomatic but non-violent conflicts between capitalist and communist nations led respectively by the United States and the Soviet Union. The “curtain” was destroyed by the downfall of communists governments [1991]. In Asia, a similar phenomenon was sometimes called the “Bamboo Curtain”.

·         Women & blacks: The demand for greater leadership among women and blacks led to the post-war civil rights movement and feminist movement demanding great power and equality.

·         Unity vs division in the church: The church, on one hand, became more universal and more united with the ecumenical movement. On the other hand, war, racial and class strife divided the church.


        22.2.1  Developments since the 15th century

·         Muslim conquest: While the support to the Eastern Orthodox Church given by the Byzantine Empire meant great prestige for the Greek-speaking Church, it also limited the freedom of the church. In the West, the popes often more powerful than the kings; in the East, the emperors controlled the church, and patriarchs who did not cooperated with the emperors were easily deposed and replaced. When Constantinople fell to the Turks [1453], many Byzantine Christians interpreted this event as an act of liberation from a tyrannical emperor who had forced them into a union with heretical Rome.

·         Russian church: At first, the Ottoman regime granted some freedom to the church. But again, those who did not implement the Sultan’s policies were deposed. The Russian Orthodox Church became independent from the Patriarchate of Constantinople [1448]. A century later, the Russian archbishop was granted patriarchate [1589]. Another century later, Peter the Great abolished the patriarchate [1721], and put the church under the control of the Holy Synod.

·         Cyril Lucaris (1572–1638)—He was the patriarch of Constantinople after the Reformation. He published the Eastern Confession of Christian Faith [1629] that combined Eastern Orthodoxy with mild Calvinism. The publication showed that theological issues raised in the Reformation were discussed in the Orthodox Church. It is important to see that even the highest leader of the Orthodox Church came to the same conclusion as Calvin. His enemies persuaded the Sultan to kill him, supposedly for instigating rebellion among the Cossacks. After his death, he was eventually condemned by a synod in Bethlehem [1672] which approved a confession written by Dositheus, patriarch of Jerusalem. The Confession of Lucaris contained 18 chapters, clearly containing Protestant views.

o        Chapter 2: The Bible is the infallible Word of God. We believe the authority of the Holy Scripture to be above the authority of the church.

o        Chapter 3: Predestination is before the beginning of the world and is not based on God’s foreknowledge of any good in us. They elect are chosen only by the good will and mercy of God.

o        Chapter 12: The church is taught by the Holy Spirit, but it is true and certain that the church on earth may err, choosing falsehood instead of truth.

o        Chapter 13: Justification is by faith and not by works. This is not to deny the need for good works, but they cannot merit salvation. It is only the righteousness of Christ applied to the penitent that justifies and saves the faithful.

o        Chapter 14: Free-will in the unconverted is free only to sin. That is, unless God’s grace comes first, we can do no good.

o        Chapter 17: Jesus Christ is present in the eucharist, to the believer. It is by faith and not by our bodily teeth, that we eat and partake of his body and blood. The Roman doctrine of transubstantiation is false.

·         National churches: In 19th-c, the Ottoman Empire broke down and national orthodox churches were formed, including Greece [1833], Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania.

·         Communist government: In Russia, after the communist took over the government [1917], they confiscated the properties of the Orthodox Church. More suppressions continued. The communists outlawed all religious teaching in schools [1920]. All seminaries of the Russian Orthodox Church were closed [1922]. A League of Militant Atheists was founded to circulate atheistic propaganda to discredit religion [1925]. Churches were permitted to hold services of worship only [1928] and were deprived of the right to teach or persuade others to become Christians. With the war against Germany, the government allowed the patriarch to be elected [1943] (vacant since 1925) and reopened the seminaries. The church has maintained its strength since then.

·         Reorganization: In 20th-c, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized the autonomy of national churches. The churches have shown signs of vitality in recent years. Most of the orthodox churches have joined the World Council of Churches since 1950.

·         Non-aligned churches: Some orthodox churches are still not part of the Orthodox Communion which has its ecumenical patriarch at Constantinople. One of them is the Assyrian church which refused to call Mary “Mother of God”. Under persecutions, they have scattered through Iraq, Iran, Syria, and the US, with their patriarch now in Chicago.

·         Monophysites: Some churches do not subscribe to the Chalcedonian definition which accepts the two natures of Christ. They are “monophysites” including the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Church of Ethiopia, Syrian Monophysite Church, and the Armenian Church. However, in meetings at the World Council of Churches, there were conversations between the Orthodox Communion and the monophysites, it was found that there is agreement in most issues, and that disagreements were mostly results of misunderstanding.

·         Reconciliation with the RCC [1965]—Pope Paul VI met with the Eastern patriarch Athenagoras in Constantinople [1964]. A year later, Paul in Rome and Athenagoras in Constantinople revoked the mutual excommunication of 1054.


        22.3.1  Recent developments in the Catholic Church

·         Negative reaction: Before 20th-c, the RCC reacted to the modern world with fear and condemnation. The reasons for such reaction included:

o        [1] Loss of Papal States: It was a reaction to the loss of the Papal States.

o        [2] Fear of nationalism: There was the fear that the new national states would hinder the work of the Catholic Church.

o        [3] Fear of heresy: There was a concern that modern ideas would lead to heresy.

o        [4] Fear of Protestantism: It was a continuation of the siege mentality against Protestantism, present since the Council of Trent.

o        Reaction: Many theologians believed that this attitude was incorrect and was seeking more openness and a more creative encounter with the challenges of the modern world.

·         Pope Pius XI [1922–1939]

o        Missions: He was a scholar and an able administrator. He encouraged missionary work, doubling the number of missionaries. He consecrated the first Chinese bishops.

o        Fascism & communism: He was concerned about communism but less so about fascism. He signed an agreement with Mussolini [1929] resolving the issue of Italian sovereignty over Rome. He supported Franco’s fascism in Spain. While he first condemned Hitler and Nazism, he negotiated with Hitler [1933] and signed a concordat signifying qualified support of the Nazi regime. Later, he realized the dangers of Nazism, and he issued 2 encyclicals, condemning both Nazism and communism [1937].

·         Pope Pius XII [1939–1958]

o        Neutrality: He had a highly authoritarian view of the church. When WWII broke out, he followed a policy of neutrality, hoping that by remaining neutral, he could serve later as a mediator. So he was silent about Nazi atrocities against the Jews. On the other hand, he denounced Nazi atrocities against Catholics in Poland.

o        Protect the church: He tried to protect the church at all costs, seeking for it as much freedom and power as possible, and to subordinate all other issues to this overriding concern.

o        Communism: After the war, the pope’s international policy was mostly addressed to the threat of communism. He decreed automatic excommunication for any who supported the communists in whatever country [1949]. The fear of communism led him to sign a concordat with Franco [1953].

o        Dogma on Mary: He proclaimed the dogma of the Bodily Assumption of Mary into heaven [1950], invoking ex cathedra papal infallibility. Yet, in the same year, he issued a bull warning against innovations in theology. The theological works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin were forbidden from publication. On the other hand, he encouraged the use of modern methods of Biblical study.

o        Internationalization: He led the way to the internationalization of the church that eventually made possible the Council of Vatican II. He encouraged the emancipation of the colonies, and the formation of indigenous churches under the leadership of native bishops. He internationalized the college of cardinals. When he died [1958], only one-third of the cardinals were Italian, ending over 500 years of Italian control.

·         Pope John XXIII [1958–1963]

o        Calling of a council: The 77-year cardinal was thought to be elected as a transitional pope. Yet, just 3 months after being elected, he initiated immense changes by announcing his plan to call an ecumenical council. Many thought that the age of councils had come to an end as the pope can rule like absolute monarch after the declaration of papal infallibility.

o        Objective: Despite opposition, the pope was convinced that the time had come for a total updating of the church.

o        Ecumenism: He created the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity [1961], aiming at rapprochement with other Christians. At the WCC meeting in New Delhi [1961], 5 Catholic observers were allowed to be present. A Joint Working Group of Roman Catholics and WCC representatives have met since 1965.

·         Pope John Paul II [1978–2005]—He was the second longest reigning pope. As a Pole, he was the first non-Italian pope since 16th-c. While his theology was conservative, he spoke strongly about the plight of the poor and the injustice of their oppression. He continued the internationalization of the church. Of the cardinals that he appointed, less than one-fifth were Italians. By 2005, only 17% of all cardinals were Italians.

·         Pope Benedict XVI [2005–  ]—John Paul II was succeeded by another conservative theologian, this time a German. As he was elected just after he passed his 78th birthday, most people believed that he was selected as a transitional pope like John XXIII.

·         Charismatic Catholics: The charismatic movement in the RCC was probably begun in 1967 with a weekend retreat organized by two Pittsburgh (Duquesne University) professors who had experience in Protestant Pentecostal meetings. Similar meetings were held in the same year in the universities of Notre Dame and Michigan State. In 1969, the church gave cautious approval, and the movement swelled. There are an estimate of over 10 million charismatic Catholics in North America. At the same time, there has been growth in an evangelical Catholic movement which emphasizes a personal and experiential religion.

        22.3.2  Council of Vatican II [1962–1965]

·         Expectation: Few expected that this council would make radical changes. The documents to be discussed and approved had been prepared by the curia, generally reaffirming traditional Catholic doctrine and warning the dangers of the time.

·         Intention of the pope: The pope’s opening speech indicated that it was time for the church to respond to the concerns of the modern world with words of understanding and encouragement, not condemnations. He wanted the council to be pastoral rather than doctrinal or governmental. The council did not bring major changes in doctrine or polity but created new attitudes.

·         Different directions: Less than half of the prelates came from the West. Most wished to see vast changes. The prepared documents were rewritten with drastic changes. This direction was supported by the more conservative new pope Paul VI [1963–1978]. However, he added “explanatory notes” to the documents maintaining the primacy of the pope and declared Mary as “mother of the church”.

·         Reports: The final documents were fairly progressive on bishops, priests and their formation, the laity, the church and non-Christians, missionary activity. The council brought the Catholic Church to a new epoch.

o        Liturgical renewal: The use of vernacular languages is authorized in most occasions. The importance of laity was recognized. They were encouraged to read the Bible and were even allowed to participate in the mass.

o        Religious freedom: All religious groups have the right to organize according to their own principles “as long as the just requirements of public order are not violated.” Protestants were described as “separated brethren” rather than as schismatics and heretics as in the past. Cooperation in the ecumenical movement, forbidden earlier by Pius XII [1928], was encouraged. In addition, a permanent Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was appointed.

o        Emphasis on the Bible: The laity is encouraged to study the Bible. Catholic Biblical scholarship is encouraged. But it is to be “under the watchful care of the sacred teaching office of the church.” The Gospel is the one source of all saving truth. It is transmitted in two ways—by tradition and by Scripture. The concept of inerrancy of Scripture is qualified—allowing for “error in the Bible where this does not affect its essential message” or for “incidental misstatements”.

o        The church and modern world: While insisting on Catholic principles of faith and morality, it shows genuine openness towards the positive aspects of modernity. It deals creatively with issues of family life, economic and social issues, politics, technology and science, the significance and variety of man.

o        Affirmation of extra-Biblical traditions: These included papal infallibility, past affirmations about Mary, 7 sacraments, and the authority of tradition (as Scripture and tradition together form “one sacred deposit of the Word of God”).


        22.4.1  New directions

·         Representatives: Modern Catholic theology had developed in a new direction for a few decades before Vatican II. Their work was either rejected or ignored by the papacy. However, some of them, including Lubac, Congar, Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and Küng exerted major influence on changes adopted by Vatican II.

·         Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955)French Jesuit

o        Compromise with evolution: Teilhard was interested in defining the relation of Christianity to evolutionary thought. He tried to reinterpret Christian theology in evolutionary terms. While accepting the general principles of the evolution theory, he rejected the “survival of the fittest.” He proposed the “cosmic law of complexity and consciousness,” which means that there is a pull in evolution towards the more complex and the more highly conscious. Man is still evolving towards “hominization” in which we are involved in our own evolution. There is some similarity of this with process theology. God is to be seen not as immutably transcending the world but as active and involved in the natural process of evolution.

o        God and evolution: The “alpha particles” are part of an upward development. God and His world are together evolving to a new, more perfect order. The entire evolutionary process has an “omega point”, the converging point of maturation of the entire cosmic process.

o        Omega point: At that end, that “omega point” is Jesus Christ. In Him, a new stage of evolution—the final stage—has appeared: the “Christosphere”. Each of us will be perfectly united with God, while also being perfectly united ourselves. The church, the body of Christ, is the new historic reality centred in the omega point. In other words, human history is evolving to its climax, when all will be consummated in Christ—the omega point. Redemption is also seen as the evolutionary process.

o        Creation and evil: Creation is seen as the process of evolution. Sin and evil is reinterpreted as the inevitable imperfection that accompanies the evolutionary process.

o        Mysticism: He combined science with theology, with a strong mystical inclination. He was a world-affirming mystic. He influenced Christians to look again at eschatology—the doctrine of the last things. His emphasis on the continuing evolutionary process, and our conscious participation in it, encouraged other theologians to explore the field of human participation in the divine purpose. His this-worldly mysticism has inspired many to relate their devotional life to their political activism.

o        Errors: Teilhard gave too much to evolutionary thought and the Christian element is not sufficiently preserved. He himself saw his thought as tentative and aimed at opening up new horizons rather than to settle all questions.

·         Henri de Lubac (1896–1991)—French Jesuit

o        Tension: His concern was to join the modern world with Christian tradition in a dynamic and creative tension. He found modern Catholic theology narrow and stale.

o        Single goal: He believed that all of humanity has a single goal, which is none other than Jesus Christ. The church is the mystical body of Christ and is a sacrament in the midst of the world.

o        Spiritual exegesis: He revived interest in the spiritual exegesis of Scripture, leading to the development of Roman Catholic Covenantal Theology.

·         Yves Congar (1904–1995)—French Dominican

o        Church in modern world: Like Lubac, he also believed that the church had narrowed its own tradition so he tried to go beyond the juridical and hierarchical view of the church. His influence was mostly on the nature of the church, on ecumenism, and on the church in the modern world. He encouraged openness to ideas stemming from Protestantism.

·         Karl Rahner (1904–1984)—German Jesuit

o        Great theologian: He was arguably the greatest Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th-c. He wrote a systematic theology entitled Foundations of Christian Faith [1976].

o        Objective: He affirmed both tradition and the modern world. His purpose was not to solve the mystery of the universe, but rather to clarify the mysterious nature of existence, to bring mystery back to the heart of everyday life.

o        Renewed interpretation: He called theologians to a new openness and a renewed interpretation of tradition in response to the changes in the society and in culture.

o        On the church: His greatest impact was on the role of episcopacy. Roman Catholicism had for a long time moved towards more centralization, following the model of a monarchical government. While not rejecting Roman primacy, Rahner underlined the collegial nature of the episcopacy. The church can adapt itself to each culture while remaining truly catholic. He influenced the use of the vernacular and the adaptation of the liturgy to various cultures and conditions.

o        Anonymous Christianity: The traditional RCC position is that there is no salvation outside the one visible organized Catholic Church. Pope Boniface VIII emphasized again [1302]: “it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff.” However, it was not as clear in the Council of Vatican II. On the one hand, the council declared: “Whoever knows that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ but refuses to enter her or to remain in her, could not be saved.” On the other hand, the council also said: “Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or his church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience…. [Salvation is] for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way.” Rahner followed this in his theory that all people have the chance to believe as God’s grace is at work in all men. Until an individual is effectively confronted by the Christian gospel, the grace of God in Jesus Christ can reach him through a non-Christian religion. More than this, God’s grace is even at work in the atheist, “provided that he has not acted against his moral conscience as a result of his atheism.” These “anonymous Christians” are saved not by their natural morality but because they have experienced Jesus Christ’s grace without realizing it.

o        Errors: Rahner’s concept of “anonymous Christian” is a dangerous one because it serves to justify “secular Christianity”—the interpretation of the church’s message and mission in increasingly secular terms, as seen in statement of liberation theology and the World Council of Churches. If the essence of Christian discipleship can be manifested without any conscious religious element, the church is justified in abandoning her religious concerns in favour of the vital and pressing social and political concerns of the day. No wonder a totally different gospel has been preached by liberal theologians.

·         Edward Schillebeeckx (1914–  )—Belgian Dominican

o        Reformist: Together with Chenu, Congar, Rahner, and Küng, he founded the new theological journal Concilium, promoting “reformist” thought [1965]. He was most sympathetic to the “critical communities”. His book on ministry [1980] argued for the ordination of women and against priestly celibacy.

o        Stress on experience: Schillebeeckx tended to stress on experience—both the believer’s experiential struggles with faith and the human experience of Jesus. Based on the Bible, he sought to retrieve the experience of both the man Jesus and the early Christian community. He also emphasized that revelation is not only in word but also in reality (experience). For example, by partaking the eucharist, the participant comes into contact with the revelation-in-word as well as the revelation-in-reality. The reality of partaking is possible only through the illumination of the Holy Spirit. So he also emphasized the witness of the Holy Spirit.

o        A human Jesus: His book on Mary humanized her, tying her to the humanity and work of Jesus which is based on historical criticism. This focus, more limited than the previous tendency to associate Mary with the entire history of salvation, was more congenial to Protestant theologians.

·         Hans Küng (1928–  )—Swiss priest

o        Catholic rebel: His theology is largely based on the Bible and has been mostly disapproved by Rome. His authority to teach Catholic theology was rescinded by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [1979] (formerly the Holy Office which was previously the Inquisition). However, he has not been excommunicated.

o        Justification by faith: In his book Justification [1957], he studied Barth’s doctrine of justification and found it similar to Catholic faith (in the teaching of the Council of Trent), concluding that the differences were not fundamental and did not warrant a division in the Church. He seemed to be concerned with reunion of Christianity. The effect of Küng’s book has been a widespread feeling among Roman Catholic theologians that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is acceptable.

o        Apostolic succession: In his book Apostolic Succession [1968], he suggested that prophets, teachers, and other spiritually gifted individuals can claim succession just as well as Apostles.

o        Against papal infallibility: His book Infallible? An Enquiry [1971] attacks papal infallibility, based on the Bible and church traditions. He argued that infallibility is not possible, instead it should be indefectibility. He believed that the real role of pope is service and pastoral ministry to the whole church, not sovereignty.

o        Unorthodox doctrines: In his popular work On Being a Christian [1974], Küng sought to answer the question, “Why be a Christian? Why not rather aim at being genuinely human?” His conclusion was that only by being truly Christian can we be fully human. While he stressed the centrality of Christ, he rejected Chalcedonian Christology, and seemed to present Christ more as an example to follow than a divine Saviour. He denied the infallibility of the Scripture. He called many NT stories uncertain, contradictory, and legendary. His theology resembles a liberal Protestant.



[1] treasure our heritage

The church stood firm despite the drastic historic events.

[2] appreciate God’s providence

Despite low expectations, Council of Vatican II moved the RCC to a new openness, although still very far from possible reconciliation.

[3] avoid past errors

The RCC’s compromise with fascism and communism proved eventually to be unwise decisions.

[4] apply our knowledge

Even Küng, a wellknown Roman Catholic theologian, attacked papal infallibility, using Biblical evidence and church tradition.

[5] follow past saints

Lucaris, Congar, and Küng came to conclusions similar to the Protestants and were not afraid to speak out.



        What changes in worldview did the two World Wars bring?

o        Christianity lost its position as the leading ideology.

o        rise of democracy and political liberalism

o        loss of the optimistic view of the future of western civilization

o        revolt against colonialism

o        conflict between capitalism and communism (defeat of communism in 1990)

o        equality for blacks and women

        What are the main differences between the Eastern Orthodox Church and other Christians? Are they real brothers and sisters in Christ?

o        They believe the traditions of the church are expressed not only in words, but in actions, gestures, and art used in worship. As a result, liturgy and sacraments are vital elements in their church life. They encourage veneration of icons by the worshippers because they believe that these are one of the ways whereby God is revealed to man.

o        With respect to Christian life, they emphasize the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctification. The true aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit, particularly through the church and the sacraments. As a result, they value mystical experiences in seeking God.

o        They adopted some unbiblical doctrines like the Roman Catholic Church, such as prayers to the saints, prayers for the dead, and 7 sacraments, but not papal infallibility.

o        As they believe in the salvation of Jesus’ sacrifice, they should be regarded as brothers and sisters. However, some of them are monophysites, rejecting the two natures of Christ, such as the Coptic Church. Since this is an important point in orthodox doctrine, it is unclear whether they can be included as true Christians.

        Pius XII condemned the Nazis for persecuting Polish Catholics but he was silent about mass execution of Jews by the Nazis. What was his reason? Was he correct in his position?

o        He hoped that by remaining neutral, he could serve later as a mediator after the war. In addition, he was on friendly terms with Mussolini.

o        He compromised his principles by differentiating the death of Jews and death of Christians. His rationale could not justice the compromise. He was wrong and was harshly criticized for it. His influence as a mediator after the war was minimal as he was hated by the Jews.

        What were the main changes in the Catholic church as the result of the Council of Vatican II?

o        liturgical renewal

o        use of vernacular languages in mass

o        changes in the system of bishops, priests and their formation, the laity, missionary activity

o        recognized that all religious groups have the right to organize according to their own principles

o        openness towards positive aspects of modernity

        What were the main teachings of the Catholic theologians: [a] Teilhard, [b] Lubac, [c] Congar, [d] Rahner? Were they Biblical?

o        [a] Teilhard: Man evolves towards the more complex and the more highly conscious, ending in an “omega point” where we unite perfectly with God. The whole scheme is an invention from imagination and with no Biblical support.

o        [b] Lubac: All of humanity has a single goal, which is none other than Jesus Christ. The church is the mystical body of Christ and is a sacrament in the midst of the world. This is similar to the allegorical method of exegesis of early Fathers. It reads in more than the Biblical text but is not unbiblical.

o        [c] Congar: He believed that the church had narrowed its own tradition so he encouraged openness to ideas from Protestants. Such a position emphasizing unity of Christians is of course Biblical.

o        [d] Rahner: He tried to bring mystery back to the heart of everyday life. He called for a new openness and a renewed interpretation of tradition in response to the change in the society. This position is Biblical.