Superior General's Letters

Concerning Dominus Jesus

By Bishop Fellay

            On August 6th the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a declaration “on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church”.  This declaration provoked violent reactions in modernist circles as well as outside the Church, in most of the communities concerned with ecumenism.

      The document forcefully restates and imposes numerous points of traditional Catholic doctrine on the matter.  At the same time the truths of faith are strongly tempered by other propositions originating from Vatican II.  (The great principles of Nostra Aetate, Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes are here recalled.)  The new principles of the last council regarding the relations of the Catholic Church with the other Christian and non-Christian religions are presented as if they were perfectly integrated with the Catholic faith.

      What some have said of Vatican II can be said of Dominus Jesus: “Two theological traditions which fundamentally cannot understand each other have collided” (Mgr Henrici, ‘The maturation of the Council’ Communio).  “The real problem is so unusual to Catholicism that it is easy to understand the instinctive blindness which enables one to elude it: the will to remain faithful to two councils which differ so decidedly from each other is simply impossible.”

      This contradiction is obvious in the text, especially when it speaks of the unicity of the Catholic Church.  The identity of the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church is affirmed when it speaks of historic continuity between the Church founded by Our Lord and today’s Catholic Church. (N. 16) But at the same time this is denied by the ‘subsistit in’ (N16-17). Last spring Cardinal Ratzinger himself declared that there is no continuity between the ‘is’ (affirming this identity) and the ‘subsistit in’ (which allows to place other ‘true’! churches along side the one true Church cf. N 17).

      In the same text he affirms on the one hand that the ‘subsistit’ is the foundation of ecumenism and on the other that this same ‘subsistit’ is in contradiction with the ‘is’ of tradition: “Since sin is a contradiction, we cannot in the final analysis, fully logically solve this difference between subsistit and is.  In the paradox of the difference between the singularity and realization of the Church on the one hand and on the other the existence of an ecclesial reality outside the unique subject, is reflected the contradictory character of human sin, the contradiction of division.”

      It is not therefore difficult to conclude that ecumenism, founded on a contradiction with the traditional doctrine by the avowal of its promoters, will itself be in the same way contrary to traditional doctrine.

      With Dominus Jesus we find ourselves confronted with the tragic confirmation that an inexpressible cloud darkens the Vatican, since never in the past has contradiction been taught, much less one which is recognized as such.     

      The document, despite the praiseworthy aim of condemning abuses, will be useless to solve the doctrinal crisis which it wants to fight, since the true doctrine is only half stated which is a distortion.

Menzingen October 29 2000 Feast of Christ the King.