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Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

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Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  MRyan on Tue Feb 22, 2011 11:09 pm

Opuscula
http://opuscula.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 11, 2011

Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

By K Gurries:

‘There is not a little confusion on the concept of full communion vs. partial communion with the Church. Specifically, what does it mean to be in partial or imperfect communion with the Church? Is this in fact possible? This question has some relation to the canonical status of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) and recently there has been some controversy on the question of whether or not the SSPX in fact enjoys "full communion" with the Church. For example, Pope Benedict XVI summarizes the situation from the perspective of the Holy See within the context of the remission of the excommunications and reorganization of the Ecclesia Dei Commission in view of the subsequent doctrinal discussions:

In the same spirit and with the same commitment to encouraging the resolution of all fractures and divisions in the Church and to healing a wound in the ecclesial fabric that was more and more painfully felt, I wished to remit the excommunication of the four Bishops illicitly ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre. With this decision I intended to remove an impediment that might have jeopardized the opening of a door to dialogue and thereby to invite the Bishops and the "Society of St Pius X" to rediscover the path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to the Catholic Bishops of last 10 March, the remission of the excommunication was a measure taken in the context of ecclesiastical discipline to free the individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of ecclesiastical penalties. However, the doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry. (Ecclesiae Unitatem)

Full Communion

Before taking up the question of partial communion, it seems worthwhile to take a brief look at the notion of full communion. Basically, those that are fully incorporated into the Church enjoy a threefold bond of unity with the Church: (1) unity of faith; (2) unity of sacraments; (3) unity of ecclesiastical government in communion with the successor of St. Peter.

What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony." But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

- profession of one faith received from the Apostles;
- common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;
- apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family. (CCC, 815)

Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.' (CCC, 837)
The Human Family

If all three of these bonds are missing then there is a complete lack of communion. On the other hand, if there are only partial defects while other elements or bonds of unity remain in tact then the communion with the Church is considered more-or-less imperfect (not full). What this implies is that the question of communion (or lack thereof) is not always answered with a binary (all-or-nothing) solution (e.g., analogous to being half-pregnant). Rather, this implies the possibility of degrees of communion with the Church. Therefore, a more fitting analogy would be the various degrees of family relationships. For example, brothers have a closer family bond than first cousins. First cousins have a closer family bond than second cousins, etc. Ultimately, there is a certain bond that extends across the entire human family. What we are dealing with here has to do with variations of degree rather than a simple yes-no problem.

The Family of God

How does one become a member of the family of God or the Church? He does so by entering through the "door" of baptism. Therefore, all of the baptized are related to one another within the family of God. Just as the wayward son still retains a relationship with his kinsmen, even those Christians that belong to dissident sects retain a certain union with the Church: "Validly baptized Protestants are still by virtue of baptism in a certain union with the Church" (Cf. Ketteler). In one sense it is possible to say that heretics, schismatics and the excommunicated are "separated" from the Church and "excluded from her pale." At the same time, however, this is not understood as an absolute separation. Even those responsible for the personal sin of separation still belong in a certain way to the Church and remain "subject to the jurisdiction of the Church" in a manner analogous to how "deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted" (Cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, art. ix). To put it another way, the prodigal son remains a "brother" to his kinsmen in spite of his "separated" status. Therefore, baptism creates a bond that can never be completely severed.

Baptism makes us members of the Body of Christ: "Therefore . . . we are members one of another." Baptism incorporates us into the Church. From the baptismal fonts is born the one People of God of the New Covenant, which transcends all the natural or human limits of nations, cultures, races, and sexes: "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body." (CCC, 1267)

Baptism constitutes the foundation of communion among all Christians, including those who are not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church: "For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church. Justified by faith in Baptism, [they] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church." "Baptism therefore constitutes the sacramental bond of unity existing among all who through it are reborn." (CCC, 1271)

Elementa Sanctificationis et Veritatis

What is true for wayward individuals is also true for dissident groups. Dissident groups retain a certain union with the Catholic Church insofar as they retain Catholic elements of sanctification and truth. These Catholic element may subsists -- in an imperfect and partially debased state -- even outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Journet explains this as follows:

Insofar as the dissident Churches carried away with them fragments of the true Church and still retain genuine Christian elements, something of her nature may still be found there, in a debased state; and therefore also something of her influence. The notes may then in a manner be present, no doubt attenuated and altered, even in the dissident Churches. Far from demonstrating the ineffectiveness of these notes to indicate the true Church, this imperfect presence attests the existence of remnants of the true Church in the very core of the sects that have left her. They enable us to recognize, under the debris, something of the splendor of the original design. Catholic apologists have often recognized the presence of signs of a Christian origin in the separated Churches. They have even proposed to call them "negative notes", that is to say notes accompanying the true Church but insufficient to reveal her. It is, I think, preferable to think of them as debased or mutilated notes. When compared with the notes in their state of perfection and integrity they witness at once to the presence of Christian elements in the dissident Churches and to the alteration they have undergone. One may say, for example, that the Oriental Churches, where the power of order has been validly transmitted, possess a partial and mutilated apostolicity. (Cf. Journet, The Church of the Word Incarnate, Sheed and Ward, 1955, pp. 531-532)

What this means, for example, is that the power of order can survive even the ruptures of schism and heresy. In this case the power of order may exist in a more-or-less debased state insofar as the power of jurisdiction is lacking (following a rupture with the Sovereign Ponfiff). In other words, those lacking this power of jurisdiction cannot legitimately exercise any ministry. Indeed, a certain union exists -- but not the perfection of union insofar as the power of order is exercised in an "uprooted state" or beyond its "proper and natural sphere." Cardinal Journet again explains as follows:

The hierarchy is indivisible. But it can, in certain regions, be broken by force so that fragments of it subsist in a mutilated state beyond the field of the Church. Thus, in lands overrun by schism or by heresy we may find not only the sacramental powers deriving from Baptism and Confirmation, but the hierarchical power of order. The violent disjunction of the power of order from the power of jurisdiction—which latter disappears of itself whenever there is a rupture with the Sovereign Pontiff—its persistence in the uprooted state to which it is then reduced, its transmission, valid but not licit, beyond its proper and natural sphere, is always the sign of a terrible spiritual catastrophe, a partial victory of the spirit of evil over the Church of Christ, which henceforth will move through history as though divided in herself, and become a scandal to the Gentiles. However, the Church is not in reality divided. She is indivisible like the hierarchy from which she is suspended. Peoples who have received her and belonged to her can fall away from her in consequence of schism and heresy; yet, despite failing her in this way, they can still carry away with them some of her treasures and certain relics of her royalty. What then remains of her among them may, at first glance, suggest a division; but to a wider knowledge and a deeper perception these scattered riches will themselves witness to her unicity. They are rays from one same original centre of life and activity. Those who are responsible before God for a schism or a heresy may carry away with them the valid succession of the sacrament of Holy Order. They do so in the darkness of a personal sin by which they partially rend the Church; and insofar as their own hearts are closed to the good influence of the sacraments they are like sick men taking to others medicines which they do not know how to use for their own benefit. But their followers in later times, who inherit a patrimony of schism or heresy from their birth, are not culpable on that account. They can grow in spiritual stature by remaining in good faith. The sanctifying influence of the sacraments, no longer finding the same obstacles in the will, can result in graces of a high order. What they still lack in order to be fully and openly of the Church is the divinely assisted orientation of the jurisdictional power. But, from this standpoint, the uninterrupted transmission of the valid exercise of the power of order within the dissident Churches is a moving witness to the depth of the salvific will of God. By thus continuing to dispense the graces of contact by way of His sacrifice and His sacraments, and thereby closely conforming to Christ many whose spiritual situation is in itself very precarious, He reveals an astonishing design: that of beginning, in a way, to form the Church outside the Church, to collect His "other sheep" as in a flock, and to draw them to the one fold by a strangely powerful ontological desire, a "virtual act" not far removed from ‘act achieved’. (Cf. Journet, The Church of the Word Incarnate, Sheed and Ward, 1955, pp. 504-505)
All of this helps us to avoid the pitfalls of one-sided positions. On one hand, we should not exaggerate the unity that exists between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians. On the other hand, we should not exaggerate the separation that exists between Catholic and non-Catholic Christians. A certain union does not mean full union nor does it mean a complete lack of union. Put another way, one may "affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.

Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church" (CDF, Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church). But if all of this is true regarding "partial communion" then why does it seem as though the Holy See sometimes puts heavy emphasis on the aspect of separation while in other cases it seems to put the emphasis on the aspect of unity? The answer seems to lie in the particular pastoral (prudential) approach depending on the circumstances. For example, if an individual or group is in the process of a growing separation from the Church then the aspect and consequences of separation will be stressed. On the other hand, if an individual or group is in the process of drawing closer to the Church then there appears to be a greater emphasis and appeal to those bonds of unity that link them to the Church. One could say that this pastoral approach is somewhat analogous to using a "carrot" or "stick" depending on the direction one is moving in relation to communion with the Church.’
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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  Roguejim on Wed Feb 23, 2011 7:19 am

So, it appears that once one is baptized, it is all but impossible to put oneself outside the Church. One merely lapses into some degree of imperfect, partial, or "certain" union/communion. I'm confused...


"Sometimes people say 'It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic.' That is not true. That would mean at bottom that one could be saved without the true Faith. No, a bad Catholic remains a child of the family - although a prodigal; and however great a sinner he may be, he still has the right to mercy. Through his faith, a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant is, for he is a member of the household, whereas the Protestant is not. And how hard it is to make him become one!"

St. Peter Julian Eymard
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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  columba on Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:30 am

Mryan I don't buy any of that at all and I can't seriously believe that you do either.
I assume that this is meant to refute the argument of Griff L Ruby (previous thread) whereby those in partial communion can still be identified as somehow being part of the Church while absolving the Pope of any authoritative control over this part of the Church which he is bound to exercise by the definition of his office.
It merely provides yet another sea of utter confussion and ambiguity in which we can all splash around in aimlessly without a single point of reference from which one could ever hope to gain ones bearings; a kind of modern day liquid version of the infamous Tower.

Rouguejim says:
I'm confused...

Mission accomplished.

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  MRyan on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:01 am

If you aren’t buying it, then state your objections clearly and be specific. I don’t appreciate these negative critiques when they amount to nothing but “I don’t buy it”. You don’t buy what? Tell us what he said that is so disturbing and then tell us why he is wrong.

Do you think you are up to the challenge? I’m not sure that you are. You, like many so-called “traditionalists” seem to be locked into some ultramontane static and fossilized conception of the Church where prudential matters and orientations of a certain era are mistaken for universal traditions and doctrines.

Neither do I understand Roguejim’s confusion as he seems to want to place his own simple and unique spin on what the article actually says.

This thread has nothing to do with G. Ruby – why in the world do you think I want to waste any more time on his silly thesis than I have to?

Now, state your objections with some level of rational thought and reasoned argumentation, or stop your unproductive foot stomping.

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  tornpage on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:07 am

Maybe I'm getting "soft" in my old age. But I see a lot of sense in what Cardinal Journet had to say in those quotes. After all, turn back the clock on the Great Schism and the Protestant revolt, and you have only the Catholic Church. The elements of sanctification which still exists in any of those severed limbs may indeed be used by God to save the children of their schismatical and heretical forefathers, might it not? After all, we all affirm that as to infants baptized in those sects who would meet the misfortune of dying before maturity. As to those who do reach maturity, I do indeed see the wisdom of reticence in judging their states depending upon their knowledge, good will, etc.

The more I myself mature, the more it seems to come together. It falls naturally to me (and others here; we are all current or lapsed Feeneyites) to draw lines like some white knight around the old faith and mount my stead and, lance in hand, take off after "modernism." I'm younger and older than some here. At any rate, I'm beginning to see how the rupture is not a rupture, and that the old faith continues unsullied - though it is walking into crowds that I'd rather not associate with. But then again, I just have to remind myself I'm not the King, but a mere knight. One who knows how easy it is to claim the King has abdicated (or has exceeded his authority) in order to avoid the duty of being where one would rather not be.

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  MRyan on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:10 am

Roguejim wrote:So, it appears that once one is baptized, it is all but impossible to put oneself outside the Church. One merely lapses into some degree of imperfect, partial, or "certain" union/communion. I'm confused...


"Sometimes people say 'It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic.' That is not true. That would mean at bottom that one could be saved without the true Faith. No, a bad Catholic remains a child of the family - although a prodigal; and however great a sinner he may be, he still has the right to mercy. Through his faith, a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant is, for he is a member of the household, whereas the Protestant is not. And how hard it is to make him become one!"

St. Peter Julian Eymard
Roguejim,

Please demonstrate where the article even remotely suggested that "It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic".

Please also demonstrate where the article suggested that a validly baptized Protestant is a "member" of the Church. But, does this also mean that an imperfect communion cannot exist by virtue of this same Baptism and the elements of Catholic truth that the Protestant retains?

I'm a bit disappointed in such a shallow understanding.
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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  MRyan on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:20 am

Tornpage,

Well said, as usual.

Faith that seeks understanding:

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief”
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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  tornpage on Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:45 am

MRyan,

Thanks.

Praise the Lord for His patience.

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  Lourdes on Wed Feb 23, 2011 1:51 pm

and others here; we are all current or lapsed Feeneyites

I am neither. Is this a followers of Fr. Feeney only forum? If so, I apologize for registering.

I like Fr. Feeney very much and have his books. Also have some old issues of The Point. One of my favorite articles is the one entitled "Pious Frauds".

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  Elisa on Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:29 pm

(and others here; we are all current or lapsed Feeneyites

Tornpage (you old "softy"),

If you remember some of us only became Feeneyite-ish lol

Seriously though, I learned a lot from you guys on Pascendi’s website. Especially about explicit faith and predestination and I’m grateful to you all for it.


But then again, I just have to remind myself I'm not the King, but a mere knight.

That reminds me of Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN. Sometimes, when during the Q&A he is asked to decide something or state his opinion on matters that the Church hasn’t defined or made a decision on, he will say, “I leave that to God to decide. God is management. I’m only in sales.” lol

I love him.



PS Lourdes, there are a few of us here who are not Feeneyites, but can have respect and affection for him.
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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  Roguejim on Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:48 pm

MRyan wrote:
Roguejim wrote:So, it appears that once one is baptized, it is all but impossible to put oneself outside the Church. One merely lapses into some degree of imperfect, partial, or "certain" union/communion. I'm confused...


"Sometimes people say 'It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic.' That is not true. That would mean at bottom that one could be saved without the true Faith. No, a bad Catholic remains a child of the family - although a prodigal; and however great a sinner he may be, he still has the right to mercy. Through his faith, a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant is, for he is a member of the household, whereas the Protestant is not. And how hard it is to make him become one!"

St. Peter Julian Eymard
Roguejim,

Please demonstrate where the article even remotely suggested that "It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic".

Please also demonstrate where the article suggested that a validly baptized Protestant is a "member" of the Church. But, does this also mean that an imperfect communion cannot exist by virtue of this same Baptism and the elements of Catholic truth that the Protestant retains?

I'm a bit disappointed in such a shallow understanding.


Not sure where to start, so I'll start with your first sentence, which is simply a straw man, and can be dismissed. I thought that in all of your deep understanding, you would easily pick out the relevant passages of St. Eymard pertaining to family or household membership. But, disappointingly enough, you didn't. Okay, enough with disappointments, right?

The portion of the article copied below is what I'm questioning, i.e., asking for clarification on. The underlined sentences would seem to demonstrate that a baptized Protestant is a Church member. But, what comes after, in the rest of the paragraph, is what I'm trying to understand. "Church membership" is dropped and we are presented with new terminology, such as:

"retain a certain union"
"retains a relationship"
"in a certain union"
"separated" from the Church and "excluded from her pale", yet,
" not understood as an absolute separation"

A question:
Is "Validly baptized Protestants are still by virtue of baptism in a certain union with the Church" a nice way of saying that Protestants are outside the Church? If not, then what is being said?









The Family of God

"How does one become a member of the family of God or the Church? He does so by entering through the "door" of baptism. Therefore, all of the baptized are related to one another within the family of God. Just as the wayward son still retains a relationship with his kinsmen, even those Christians that belong to dissident sects retain a certain union with the Church: "Validly baptized Protestants are still by virtue of baptism in a certain union with the Church" (Cf. Ketteler). In one sense it is possible to say that heretics, schismatics and the excommunicated are "separated" from the Church and "excluded from her pale." At the same time, however, this is not understood as an absolute separation. Even those responsible for the personal sin of separation still belong in a certain way to the Church and remain "subject to the jurisdiction of the Church" in a manner analogous to how "deserters belong to the army from which they have deserted" (Cf. Catechism of the Council of Trent, art. ix). To put it another way, the prodigal son remains a "brother" to his kinsmen in spite of his "separated" status. Therefore, baptism creates a bond that can never be completely severed."


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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  tornpage on Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:05 pm

If you remember some of us only became Feeneyite-ish lol

PS Lourdes, there are a few of us here who are not Feeneyites, but can have respect and affection for him.

So true, Elisa. Sorry. I was thinking in terms of most of us, not all - I bow chastised.

Hey, Rasha, where's the flagellation "smilie"?

I learned a lot from you guys on Pascendi’s website. Especially about explicit faith and predestination and I’m grateful to you all for it.

Ay yes, explicit faith and predestination. The two areas (see my Father GL quote below) where I'm still hard as a rock.
Very Happy

Hmmm. We'll let that stand . . . uh oh. Better shut up.

Can puns like that fly on a serious Catholic forum? I hope so. After all, the master of such, Will Shakespeare, was a devout Catholic.

I'll close chastely:

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Re: Full Communion vs. Partial Communion

Post  tornpage on Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:18 pm

Lourdes,

I like Fr. Feeney very much and have his books

That's more than enough to qualify. And I wasn't speaking about the forum. The standards here, no matter how you cut them (Feeneyite, etc.), are pretty low. I say that thinking of myself and Groucho's (?) witty remark: he wouldn't join any club that would have him as a "member."
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