By Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles
Publication via Dulles, Avery Robert Cardinal
Read or Download Church Membership As a Catholic and Ecumenical Problem (Pere Marquette Technology Lectures) PDF
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Additional info for Church Membership As a Catholic and Ecumenical Problem (Pere Marquette Technology Lectures)
These theories are highly useful for classifying the manifold relationships between the individual and his religious group. No sociological categories, however, can do full justice to the Church as a mystery of grace. While taking proper cognizance of the functional relationships of individuals within the Church, these theories need to be supplemented, and partly corrected, by con- Page 47 siderations derived from the Church's consciousness of itself as a historical manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
Canon law and religious sociology have alike tended to measure membership by assessing the individual's relationship to the structures and activities of the Church. The more personalistic concept of membership, which is at work in many who speak of "partial identification," Page 48 presupposes an understanding of the Church as a dynamic interpersonal communion. Michael Novak is keenly aware of the shortcomings of the juridical and sociological approaches. Like Baum, he refuses to define the Church in terms of its present institutional structures.
On the other hand, a truly supernatural faith, sealed by baptism, could hardly fail to make one a member of Christ and the Church, even if the believer did not profess the entire faith of the Catholic Church. The mystical-organic theory, with its greater attention to the interior dimension, has many advantages over the juridical-dogmatic. The doctrine of the juridical-dogmatic theory with regard to exclusion from the Church, on examination, loses its apparent simplicity. None of the three criteria for loss of membershipexcommunication, schism and heresyis easy to verify.