This 'letter' (the subject of the thread) is not really a letter at all. It is a portion and not the whole of an casual interview. The publication of it is intended to be informative - and it is not presented as infallible nor as any kind of official pronouncement or letter.
Nor is it intended to to replace such official Constitution documents such as Lumen Gentium (from which quotes are used in the interview) and several other documents from which quotes (and mis-quotes!) are used in the interview. And so this interview is not intended to present a coherent 'doctrine' and should not be read as doing so. It is, as it were, a patchwork addressing assorted items from several documents (and it is the original documents which present the stance and position of the Roman Catholic church - not this interview).
And so I, at least, am one who assumed the 'letter' to be something other than what it is.
Reading the interview without being familiar (as I was not) with Lumen Gentium ... lacks context to the interview. The interview assumes familiarity with a considerable number of offcial documents:Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintergratio, Orentalium Ecclesiarum, Ecclesiam Suam, Ut Unum Sint,
and other official documents Mysterium Ecclesiae, Dominus Iesu, Communionis Notio
which were intended to clarify terms and definition.
This interview was not intended with the purpose of clarifying terms and definitions. In fact the interview tends to muddy the waters. But then again ... it is only a causal interview and the world does not hinge on it.
In other words this interview does not stand alone - it requires the context of these other documents for its meaning. Mis-quoteing
The quotes are not real accurate if one compares them to the official documents. The interviewed seems to quoting from memory perhaps, but in any case ... some of the quotes are not accurate and there is at least one typo error, that I can see, that has unwittingly changes something very significant.
From Lumen Gentium ...
"These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity."
which has the meaning that these gifts (which may be present in many churches and communities) are forces that impel these churches and towards a universal unity.
That he word 'catholic' is not capitalized which makes it a description (according to traditional use of the Greek term) and not the name of one particular church. It therefore represents the meaning of a catholic (universal Christ based) unity between all churches and communities ... which is caused by the gifts themselves.
and now the mis-quote from the interview ...
�as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity�
With the typo, the capitalization of the word 'catholic' to 'Catholic' ... the word is now a formal name of only one particular church - the Roman Catholic church. And the meaning would be that these gifts that other churches and communities have - impel them toward unity with - the Roman Catholic church and may seem to imply a non-voluntary and non-free will submission to its Pope. In other words - a command - to submit.
Such a new meaning given to Lumen Gentium is not the same meaning that this section Lumen Gentium has in its own context.
Lumen Genium is the trump card.
But this mis-quote and capitalization has set the stage for further misunderstanding.
And so rather than clarify this section of Lumen Gentium ... it appears to inadvertently significantly altered the meaning of the authoritative and approved Lumen Gentium intends to present to the Petrine collective.
You will see what I mean in my coin of the phrase 'Petrine collective' below.
This typo coming so early in the interview ... cast a different shade of color upon all else which follows. It 'sets the stage' so to speak. Further Confusion
This particular portion of the interview refers to section 8 of Lumen Genium ...
In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium �subsistence� means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.
It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the word �subsists� can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the �one� Church); and this �one� Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
But because the stage has already been set by a transformation of catholic (universal and non-specific to any one particular church) ... to ... a meaning specific to the one particular church (the Roman Catholic church) ... the reader will now tend to give the meaning of 'Roman Catholic church' to any appearance of 'Catholic Church' in the interview. And so this one typo, and loose quotes, tends to continue (in the mind of the reader) a shift in the shading from the official document meanings.
As I said in a post which I had asked Fr. Anthony to delete (it was a pre-mature post) ... official Vatican documents are generally very careful with the use of capitalization of certain terms which can carry a dual meaning. The meaning of the term in use - is shaped by if it is capitalized or not. Of course we also find this in every day common English also
(bob: to bounce up and down AND Bob: the first name of a person).
In the official document of Lumin Gentium ... the meaning of 'Catholic Church' is wider than a designation of the particular church which is the Roman Catholic church. The meaning in Lumen Gentium designates - all the particular churches which voluntarily submit to the Primacy of Peter. In the follow quote from Lumen Gentium ... we can see its use to designate that wider collective. It is important to note its use for the fact that it is saying that the act of maintaining the Church of Christ - is found in this collective - and not in the Roman Catholic church alone or exclusively. Note that Lumen Gentium uses the word 'sustains'. I had to look-up 'subsists' and it simply means: to sustain, to maintain, to continue. It does not have the meaning of a source or an origin. The origin and source is Christ himself - who maintains and sustains 'His holy Church' (the members) ... in what I am calling ... the voluntary collective governed by Peter.
8. Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation (9*) through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element.(10*) For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.
Pay attention to the capitalization!
In the above quote .. the capitalized 'Church' mean the Church - as a collective - and not particular to any one particular church and/or to the exclusion of other churches in the collective. If we change the capitulation so say " continually sustains here on earth His holy church" the meaning would be one specific and particular church (such as the Roman, or such as the Coptic) to the exclusion of others.
Now note another mis-quote.
From the intervieiw ...
�Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all � because of the apostolic succession � the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds�
and now form the official document of Unitatis Redintegratio from which the person is attempting to quote...
These Churches, although separated from us, yet possess true sacraments and above all, by apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us in closest intimacy.
And so we can see that his quotes are very loose to say the least. We can also note that this interview is a patch work of portions of official documents and by that fact ... a lack of familiarity of the intended meaning of the quotes as they originally exist inside the documents to which they belong ... lends the uninformed reader to combine the quotes on his own, which has the effect of creating a haphazard picture which is really all out of context.
It is good to note that, in my experience of reading Vatican and Roman Catholic official documents ... the Roman Catholic official documents never presumes to speak for the Orthodox churches. The documents are addressed to its own church (the Roman Catholic members) and to the collective of churches who are united to Peter.
That is to say that the meaning of all of these official documents - is applicable to the Petrina collective. The meaning of these documents is not pushed, thrust, demanded, or officiated upon the Orthodox world or its members. If you ask me ... this is great respect for the Orthodox desire for separation.
The application of these documents (what one should believe) is only to the Petrine collective (those churches and members who voluntarily consent to governance by the Primacy of Peter).
It is also to be noted that just because documents like this claim such things as the subsistence of Christ to be present in the Petrine collective - they make no assumption that it does not exist in other churches outside of that collective - it leaves the subject alone - as it should because the Orthodox have their apostolic bishops and and synods, etc..
May peace be to all my Orthodox friends.
May the subsistence of Christ within your own churches - bring you all to heaven.
Please pray for us Catholics to obtain haven also.
Peace to my brothers and sisters in Christ's churches.