The Catholic Church - Clarification of Doctrine
The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic Constitution 'Lumen Gentium,' and its Decrees on ecumenism ('Unitatis Redintegratio') and the Oriental Churches ('Orientalium Ecclesiarum'), has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic ecclesiology.
The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter 'Ecclesiam Suam' (1964) and John Paul II in his Encyclical Letter 'Ut Unum Sint' (1995).
The consequent duty of theologians to expound with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted in a flowering of writing in this field.
In fact it has become evident that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at times required clarification by way of precise definition and correction, for instance in the declaration 'Mysterium Ecclesiae' (1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church 'Communionis Notio' (1992), and the declaration 'Dominus Iesus' (2000), all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The vastness of the subject matter and the novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt.
A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the Magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.
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