On the heals of the Motu Proprio, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican has released another controversial document, called Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church. As the title suggests, the document attempts to answer some theological questions on the Catholic Church's doctrine about itself ("the Church").
The introduction clearly shows that this document is written for and about theologians, who, in recent decades, have been notorious for coming to conclusions about certain aspects of theology which go against the centuries old teaching of the Church in which they claim membership.
The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field.The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt.
This is why the document was written. To clarify some aspects of Church teaching after decades of erroneous assumptions on the part of many in the field of theology. These erroneous assumptions have of course, filtered down to the media, and even to many in the Church.
The document is written in question and answer format. The first question clarifies that the Second Vatican Council did not, in fact, change any teachings on the nature of the Church, despite many claims to the contrary. The answer to the second question states that The Catholic Church still believes that she is the Church Christ established on earth.
The document goes on to state quite clearly, however, that those churches and communities that are not in communion with the Holy See, possesses numerous elements of sanctification and truth and that the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation.
The document differentiates the Eastern Churches from Protestant Congregations in that the Orthodox Christians have preserved apostolic succession and The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist whereas the Protestant Communities have not. This perspective comes from 2 thousand years of the Church recognizing and preserving importance of the literal interpretation of Jesus' words at the Last Supper, "This is My Body".