While mainline Protestants and some other non-Catholics are upset over a Vatican statement asserting that the Catholic Church is the only valid church, a number of ecumenical leaders mostly shrugged, saying the papal-endorsed words are nothing new.
The statement, “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church,” reasserts the position that only Catholics constitute the true church, while Protestant groups are merely “Christian communities” and not churches “in the proper sense.”
The statement issued on July 10 had softer words for Orthodox churches, saying they are “wounded” but closer to Rome because they share a common historic line of ordained clergy and bishops.
“To be surprised by that is surprising,” said Leonid Kishkovsky, a bishop in the Orthodox Church of America, who is actively involved in ecumenical talks. “It does no more than [restate what] I know to be at the core of the Catholic understanding.”