Protestant “churches” not Churches, Pope says.

Q. Why did the pope say that all the Protestant Churches are not really Churches in the recent Vatican document? June 29, 2007

A. Because the definition that the Catholic Church has for “church” is very specific. This was not published as a put-down of the Protestant’s. It was a point of clarification about the definition that the Catholic Church has for the word “Church”. The Pope has a right to express what we believe. The Catholic Church sees herself as The Church founded by Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. She does not see herself as just another denomination among many.

A body of Christians would be classified as a CHURCH if it has retained authentic sacraments even though the church itself is not in union with the Catholic Church. Thus, the Eastern Orthodox CHURCHES, although separated, have maintained true apostolic succession-the priesthood and the Eucharist.

However, the Protestant “churches” rejected physical apostolic succession, sacraments, and the Eucharist as celebrated in the Catholic Church, after the Reformation. Therefore, they do not possess apostolic succession, nor do they even claim that their ministers have all been ordained, in an unbroken, physical line back to the apostles, by the laying on of hands. And, except for Lutherans and Anglicans most do not believe they are receiving the real body and blood of Christ in communion. For this reason, we call them Ecclesial Communities. But as you will see from the quotes below, these communities are related to the Catholic Church and Christ.

In the document the Pope says

we affirm that the Church of Christ is present and operative in Churches and ecclesial communities not yet fully in union with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.

It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance or importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church

Thus we say with sacred scripture,

There is ONE body and ONE Spirit—just as you were called to ONE hope when you were called— ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; ONE God and Father of all..” Ephesians 4:5-6

This Document is only two pages long and easy to read. I would encourage you to read exactly what was said rather than rely on the media ( because they don’t understand the finer points of faith many times.)
For the actual document Click here.

10 Responses

  1. Isn’t this ingenious logic, the Orthodox and ecclesial communities have a certain validity but there all just prodigals squandering their inheritance until they wise up and return to mother Rome. Considering that Rome’s pomp and structure is modelled on Israel in the OT which lost its Priesthood in Exile and as Nehemiah demonstrates had to be reformed and re-instituted upon the return to Jerusalem, then its fairly certain that the non-Catholic as every right to claim historical and scriptural precedent for the notion that God authenticates the Priesthood and not vice versa. Although considering the fruits of Protestantism and the sin-ridden self-obsessed societies its produced one is more persuaded of Rome’s view at least in regard to the Prods because let’s face it, the entire logic of the position is doomed to become ‘I think, and this is what I say it means’.

  2. Dear Phillip,
    You misunderstand the love and respect the Church has towards our separated brethren in the ecclesial communities. They are deprived of the fullness of the Faith and the sacraments but God loves them all and desires their salvation. No one has any authority to start a church other than the one Jesus Our Lord founded. The Catholic Church is merely speaking the Truth in love. But todays’ Protestants are sincerely following to the best of their ability, what they believe to be the will of God. God knows their hearts. Our job is to love them and work and pray for their enlightenment.

  3. Protestants say that we shouldn’t confess to a Priest since a Priest is not God and does not have the power to forgive sins.
    I’m quick to remind them of the many TV preachers who have healing services and a mere man laying their hands on someone and say I heal you in the name of Jesus.
    If they can heal in the name of Jesus then why are they against Catholics being forgiven through a Priest in the name of Jesus? It’s not the preacher healing the sick just like it’s not the Priest forgiving sins. I would like to know why they feel they have the power but the Catholics don’t?

  4. That is a good question. And the answer is #1) Familiarity…they are accustomed to accepting the Protestant healing ministry as legitimate even if they are not 100% in agreement with it or retain some skepticism. Whereas, confession to a priest is completely foreign to all Protestants, except it is a little known practice among Anglicans. Confession to a priest is, therefore, very suspect for the very reason that virtually no other Protestant churches that practice it.

    #2) They have never had anyone bring to their attention the similarity between a minister healing physically through the power of Jesus and a Priest forgiving sins through the power of Jesus. If forced to give an answer they might point to the fact that at least someone who is healed can be examined and facts investigated, even though they rarely are, where as forgiveness can’t be proven to their satisfaction.

    But your question might very well get those of good will to stop and think and realize you might have a point.

  5. Hello again Pam,

    I would like to comment on the Catholic concept of “Apostolic Succession” (which you mentioned in the article), but I would like to approach it from a different angle, one that is seldom addressed.

    It is usually described as an “unbroken”, “uninterrupted”, and “lawful” chain of successors (popes), starting from the apostle Peter to the present pope.

    But we have to ask, what about those popes who obtained their office by 1) simony (buying their office), or by 2) the manipulation of influential prostitutes in high places, or 3) by force? Are these popes considered to be “valid” holders of the chair of Peter? Is this “lawful” succession? Can this ever be considered “God-ordained”?

    If it is, then how can the “Vicar of Christ” obtain his office in such immoral and illegal ways, when even in the SECULAR world, this kind of thing is not (usually) tolerated?

    If it is NOT “lawful,” then what does this say about the concept of apostolic succession?

    What I am focusing on is NOT the idea that the man needs to be impeccable to be pope, but rather, it is the idea that the man needs to acquire the highest position in the Catholic Church, i.e., the office of “Vicar of Christ,” in a God-ordained and God-approved MANNER to be pope.”

    I’ll be looking forward to your response.


    • You misuderstand. It would be great if every pope was God-ordained in the way you describe but it is a straw man. And, that is not how it all happened in every case. No matter who is the legitimate Pope, God then protects the Church from error no matter who the pope is. This is the essence of infallibility–Lack of error. No matter how good or evil the pope is, for even good men can err, God, by His power protects the Church from all error.

      God Bless Pam Forrester

  6. Pam,

    You said: “You misuderstand. It would be great if every pope was God-ordained in the way you describe…”

    So, are you admitting that these particular popes were NOT God-ordained? I would certainly agree with you on that.

    You said: “No matter who is the legitimate Pope, God then protects the Church from error no matter who the pope is.”

    But, the whole point I’m trying to make is that they can’t be LEGITIMATE holders of that office if they obtained it ILLEGITIMATELY.

    If you say that they were legitimate, then can we say that “anything goes” when it comes to competing for the papal throne? If it works for the popes, is it also ok for deacons, priests, bishops and cardinals to obtain their office in the same way? If not, why not?

    Are we REALLY expected to believe that God approves of a man BUYING the papal throne, the supposed “highest ecclesiastical office” in the world, the visible head of the “one true Church”? When Simon Magus (Acts 8:18-23) wanted to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, they didn’t say, “No problem, Simon, we’ll sell it to you. After all, we shouldn’t expect you to be impeccable or anything.” No, Simon Magus was sharply rebuked. He was about to forfeit his legitimate position as a believer… and in the same way, those popes guilty of simony have indeed forfeited their right to the office they received… by the very WAY they obtained it. Using the terms “buying the papal throne” and “legitimate pope” in the same breath is an oxymoron. They cannot exist together. This concept makes terms like “lawful” and “legitimate” totally meaningless.

    Again, my emphasis is not on how good or evil the pope was after he obtained the position of pope – it’s on HOW he obtained that office in the first place. I question how the position was made available to him – if the SYSTEM (the Church) is corrupt enough to allow the position to be given to someone illegally or immorally, then this reflects more on the corrupt nature of the Catholic Church (which openly allowed it) than on the moral status of the individual. This makes a mockery of Jesus and His church.

    Pam, you can’t convince me that God considers those popes who were guilty of obtaining the throne by finances, fornication, or force, to be legitimate or lawful holders of the office of the head of the church of Jesus Christ.

    And remember, all it takes is one “bad link” in this line of “Apostolic Succession,” to make the whole “chain” fall apart.

    By the way, I do believe in apostolic succession, but not the Catholic Church’s version of it. I believe that apostolic succession is simply believing in that which Jesus and the apostles taught, as revealed in the Scriptures, and passing it on.


  7. After reading the link you posted I would like to comment on the below quote.
    “ It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to 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.[9] 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.”

    That “possible” Church, the one that has the Church of Christ present and operative on account of elements of sanctification and truth sounds like it doesn’t need subsist because it’s operative.

    I read their twisted tortured words and weep for them. They made the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church non-synonyms. I would guess the Catholic doctrine they use to affirm correctly it’s possible for the Church of Christ to be present in a non-Catholic Church comes from Vatican II.

    They so desperately want to destroy tradition and modernize the Church and save their Vatican II council even though its fruit is poison. They spend so much effort clarifying foolishness, which can never be made whole or holy.

    • Joseph, There is nothing wrong with the documents of Vatican II. But, using Vatican II as an excuse the modernizers siezed the opportunity to cram changes down the throats of Catholics around the world. These changes are being eliminated gradually in order to protect many from confusion. In one hundred years this last 40 years of ridiculousness will be a little blip on the radar screen.

      God Bless Pam Forrester

  8. I will think over your words please consider mine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: