MAY I interject a word about Father A. W. Beer's letter in your issue of November 20th?
Pius XII's Mystici C'orporis indicated art approach to the doctrine of the Church which was new to many Catholics. and proved a stimulant in a study of the nature of the Church, stressing as it did the 'mystic' element of the Church. But no one would say that Mystici Corporis was a full or a perfect document.
In particular, the assertion that only Romdn Catholics are reapse members of the mystical body caused confusion and lengthydiscussions think that Fr. Beer takes too narrowly the remark about those divided in faith not living in the one Divine Spirit. The reference may be understood as regret at the divided condition of Christians, a fact admitted and regretted by our fellow Christians, especially by those in the ecumenical movement.
Although it is true that God does use the different churches as means of holiness and of enlightenment, and although it is also true that God may teach us much precisely through the divisions, nevertheless, as every ecumenist agrees, the existing divisions are contrary to Christ's will, a scandal to the world and an obstacle to the spread of the Christian faith, as the Decree on Ecumenism says. The famous Bull of Boniface VIII, Elnan, Sanctam, if taken as a whole has only doubtful authority. In it, Boniface (perhaps during an attack of stone) concludes from the unicity of the Church that its sole spiritual ruler controls both the spiritual and the civil sword. Pope Pius XII declared this to be 'a medieval conception conditioned by the times' (AAS 47, 1955, p. 628). Pius IX said the same about the deposing power.
As to the Council of Florence's Decree for the Jacobites, which Fr. Beer cites, the last words about the uselessness of martyrdom outside the Catholic faith are a quotation from Fulgentius of Ruspe and what authority they may have is very doubtful. A Lutheran professor at Yale. Doctor George Lindbeck , has defended Catholic theologians when they interpret canonical or legal statements in a strictly canonical and legal sense—even though the intention of the authors of the documents concerned may thereby he frustrated or contradicted.
Pius IX put it that we know the Church is necessary for salvation and we also know that no one is condemned except for his own deliberate fault; how these truths are reconciled we shall understand fully only when we see God in Heaven.
Bernard Leeming, S.J. 1 ondon, W.I.