A reader sent me a ZENIT piece of an interview with Dominican Father Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary of the doctrinal congregation concerning the new CDF document. Some have wondered about the timing of the document.
Q: Why was it decided to have this document come out at this time?
Father Di Noia: That’s an important question.
I suppose it has to do with the reaction to an earlier document, the famous " Dominus Iesus" that came out, if you recall, in 2000.
I remember that when I was working for the bishops’ conference in the United States, and we had received advanced copies of this document, and I was asked to prepare the bishops for " Dominus Iesus," I said well, there is absolutely nothing new here, so the bishops will be fine with it. But as you know, the reaction to " Dominus Iesus" was extremely, let’s say, contestative. I mean, it was a very difficult document.
What we saw was the people […] didn’t understand that not simply we had to speak of Christ as being the universal savior, but that the Church was the principle means by which the grace of Christ would be communicated to the world, and that, if you recall, created most of the controversy, certainly ecumenically.
So this was kind of a wake-up call. I’d say that "Dominus Iesus" was a wake-up call, that 30 years after Vatican II, people seemed to have forgotten something very essential that Vatican II taught. And so it was out of that moment that the cardinal members of the congregation — and also other people, bishops and so on, raising questions about this — the congregation decided to proceed with a clarification.
The document is called "Responses to [Some] Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church." It is a very narrow point, it’s a relatively short document, as you know, and the commentary attached, so it’s a very precise set of responses to questions that have arisen.
Because the easiest way to commit controversy in the Church is to restate something she has always believed.
Many people also have raised the issue of ecumenical dialogue and this interview also addresses it. This type of question has always confused me. It it is as if ecumenical dialogue is to conducted in the mode of a used car salesman. "This Church has only been visited on Sundays by old ladies." That the only way to dialogue is to play down what we really believe and to ignore what they believe. The old bait and switch. I would have thought that complete honest was the best form of dialogue.
In related news Phillip Blosser points to a piece in Christianity Today by Stan Guthrie on the CDF document. While Mr. Guthri certainly doesn’t accept the Church’s teaching he doesn’t get worked up over it and appreciates the "bright lines" drawn and know that they are restatements.
Update: Fr. Powell posts on the article and says much better what I was trying to say.