I’m involved in a Catholic apologetic debate on a Protestant Web site. My opponent had made the following argument. Can you help me with this?
“Let’s go closer to Rome. In Sep 2000, Rome published the Dominus Iesus encyclical. The document, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope), the Pope’s chief of doctrine, said that the way of salvation was ‘only in the unique and universal Catholic Apostolic Church’. Then in Dec 2000, the Pope amended the Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the ‘only way to salvation’, saying that Heaven is open to all as long as they are good. He said at an audience that ‘all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church’ were ‘called upon to build the kingdom of God’. His words repeated what was pronounced at the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, but were clearly intended to repair harm to religious dialogue caused by a document issued in September. The amendment follows criticism of the pronouncement, which called other faiths ‘gravely deficient’ as a means to salvation. Ratzinger, in a letter following the publication, forbidded Roman Catholic bishops from using the term ‘sister churches’ to refer to Protestant faiths. The letter said such ‘sloppy terminology’ diminished the Roman Catholic Church’s position of pre-eminence as ‘the mother of all churches’”.
“So, Gene, wouldn’t you consider this matter in Dominus Iesus a cardinal doctrine on our salvation? And if so, how has the magisterium handled it? It would seem to me that either Ratzinger was wrong - and now as the Pope he could make it right if he wanted to - or Pope John Paul II was wrong, but certainly both can’t be right. So, the longing for that ‘infallible fuzzy’ that comes from turning your responsibilities over to an ‘infallible guide’ remains as unfulfilled as ever.”
I was trying to tackle this myself but I realized what a great resource is available from my brothers and sisters on this Web site.
Thanks in advance for your help!
Grace and peace,