Church Membership As a Catholic and Ecumenical Problem (Pere by Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles

By Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles

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Some non-Catholic Christians are more respectful toward the Holy See and the hierarchy than some Catholics are; their beliefs are as well aligned with the declarations of Page 4 popes and councils, and in some cases they feel thoroughly at home in Catholic liturgical services. Can some of them be considered de facto members of the Catholic Church even without any formal transfer of ecclesiastical allegiance? In view of the increasing similarity in the beliefs and practices of Christians of various traditions, some ecumenists are beginning to ask whether church membership should be something larger than denominational affiliation.

842 subject : Church membership. J. , Professor of Systematic Theology at Woodstock College. Father Dulles was born in 1918. D. from the Gregorian University in 1960. Since 1960 he has been teaching at Woodstock College, specializing in questions of Catholic ecclesiology and fundamental theology. Father Dulles is a widely known author and lecturer on a variety of theological Page iv topics. In addition to numerous articles, his major books include: Apologetics and the Biblical Christ (1963); Dimensions of the Church (1967); Revelation and the Quest for Unity (1968); Revelation Theology (1969); A History of Apologetics (1971); and The Survival of Dogma (1971).

31 The recognition of a certain basic voluntarism in the relationship between the individual and his church had major ramifications with respect to the Council's understanding of the role of the faithful in the areas of belief, worship, and government. The faith of the Church is no longer seen as a single doctrinal system to be imposed on all Catholics regardless of their ability to understand and assimilate. "32 In our own day, each nation is urged to develop "the ability to express Christ's message in its own Page 39 way," 33 rather than simply to repeat formulas hammered out in another cultural context.

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