The Continuity of the Church

The Holy Father had an interesting comment during last Wednesday’s general audience. He spoke of St. Bonaventure and the Franciscans, but then tied into that the reality of the continuity of the Church throughout the centuries. I have translated the pertinent comments from the Italian original below.

“…perhaps it is useful to say that even today there exist visions of the Church that suggest that the whole history of the Church in the second millenium is in a state of permanent decline; others see the decline immediately after the New Testament. In reality,’Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt’, the works of Christ do not retreat, but progress…. Even today this affirmation is important: Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt,’ ‘it moves forward’….. And while it repeats itself, this idea of decline in the Church, there is another idea, a ‘spiritualistic utopia’ that also repeats itself — in fact, after the Second Vatican Council some were convinced that all would be new, that there would be another Church, that the pre-Vatican II Church would end and we would have another Church, totally ‘other’. A utopia of anarchism! Thanks be to God that the wise helmsmen of the ship of Peter, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, on one hand defended the innovations of the Council and on the other hand, at the same time, defended the oneness and continuity of the Church, always the Church of sinners and always the place of grace.”  

The Holy Father is stating what should be obvious to us all:  we are one Church, one faith, one in hope, and one in love. The Second Vatican Council didn’t create a new Church; it renewed an existing Church, a Church which continues and is formed by over two centuries of saints, sinners, and the working of the Holy Spirit.

Those of us who glory in the Mass as we have know it for the past 45 years are as Catholic as those of us who glory in the Tridentine extraordinary form of the Mass recently re-authorized by the Holy Father. We are one with our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters of the Byzantine rite, the Chaldean rite, the Maronite rite, and others. We are one. We cannot separate one from the other. We all would do well, I think, to enter into the other’s experience from time to time.

What do you think?

About Deacon Bob

Moderator: Deacon Bob Yerhot of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota.
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