Protestant churches reacted with dismay yesterday to a new declaration approved by Pope Benedict XVI insisting they were not true churches, merely “ecclesial communites” and their ministers effectively phonies with no right to give communion.
It seems to me that if the Roman church is the only true church, then all other Protestant churches are false. The document does not use that language but calls them “defective”. “It is …difficult to see how the title of ‘Church’ could possibly be attributed to [Protestant communities], given that they do not accept the theological notion of the Church in the Catholic sense and that they lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church.”
As for the Orthodox churches, they are “wounded” because they do not accept the primacy of the Pope. This is somewhat ironical at a time when more and more power is centralized in Rome and many Catholic theologians (and indeed lay people) are questioning what the so-called infallibility of the Roman pontiff really means.
Bishop Wolfgang Huber, head of the Protestant umbrella group, the Evangelical church in Germany, said: “The hope for a change in the ecumencal situation has been pushed further away by the document published today.”
It is difficult to see how a church stained by the universal sex scandal involving the abuse of children, is able to say that all other Protestant churches are “defective.”