PRESS ALLEGES PAPAL CONTRADICTION
But Vatican Clarifies Erroneous Interpretations of Pope´s Words
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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2000 (ZENIT.org).- Several European newspapers published articles today saying that John Paul II contradicted the "Dominus Iesus" declaration of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
At first it seemed to be a scoop, since the Pope had made it clear that he himself approved the document, which is signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The faulty press reports may have started with a brief dispatch Wednesday from the Italian ANSA agency. Entitled "The Pope: All the Just, Including Nonbelievers, Will Be Saved," the article was what the agency reported on the Pontiff´s address at the midweek general audience.
The second paragraph of the service stated that the papal affirmation contradicted the Vatican declaration. It read: "On the contrary, ´Dominus Iesus,´ a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, of Sept. 5, affirms that only in the ´one and universal´ Catholic Church can there be salvation, causing critical reactions on the part of other religions and stirring doubts about the Holy See´s ecumenical will."
In order to clarify the misunderstanding, the Vatican Press Office published a statement today explaining that this "hurried news results, in fact, from insufficient knowledge of the ´Dominus Iesus´ declaration."
The Vatican statement noted that section number 20 of "Dominus Iesus," states: "For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, ´salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit.´"
The Vatican press statement concluded: "The teaching of the Second Vatican Council taken up by the Holy Father, according to which those who are saved, even if they are not Christians, are saved by the grace of Christ, is precisely what ´Dominus Iesus´ declares regarding the unique and universal character of Christ."
Moreover, the Pope´s catechesis did not refer to salvation, but to collaboration between believers and nonbelievers in building the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of heaven.
The Kingdom of God, the Vatican statement clarified, "is the effective but mysterious action of God in the universe and in the tangle of human events," adding that all "the righteous on earth, including those who do not know Christ and his Church and who, under the influence of grace seek God with a sincere heart, are called to build the Kingdom of God, cooperating with the Lord who is its first and decisive architect."
Nevertheless, major newspapers ran headlines containing affirmations which the Pope, in fact, did not make Wednesday and which are not opposed to "Dominus Iesus."
Il Corriere della Sera, the Italian newspaper with the widest circulation, included a statement in quotation marks that the Pope did not make: "Even the nonbeliever can be saved," the newspaper reported. While the statement is in line with the Church´s magisterium -- Vatican II´s dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium" affirmed as much -- the Pope did not say it Wednesday.