Page 9, 10th December 1999

10th December 1999
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Page 9, 10th December 1999 — Doubts 12_

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Locations: Rome


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Father Richard Barrett answers readers' questions

My parish priest keeps telling people from the pulpit that those outside the Church can be saved How can this be squared with the traditional teaching of the popes and councils that outside the Church there is no salvation (erira erelesiam Walla salus)?

EiVER SINCE the gatherng of different reliious leaders held at Assisi in 1987, organised at the express will of the Pope, people have been debating what such gatherings mean for the traditional doctrine of the Church on salvation.

Artists have often depicted salvation as a barque into which the foundering members of humanity are pulled by the apostles (DS 870). The Latin

formula used above has always provided an urgency about the Church's missionary drive. If we return to the public ministry of Jesus, who is always our model in this regard, we should note that on the one hand he restricted his public ministry to the House of Israel, but on the other, he alluded to the presence of disciples outside the faithful flock of Israel: "and those others I must lead as well" (John 10:16). The traditional teaching of the Church is often maintained by the formula used above, but the formula has sometimes been interpreted to justify an exclusive ecclesiocentrism and in fact may not be a good expression of the Church's teaching as articulated by Pius XII and Paul VI (International Theological Commis sion, Quaestio de relationibus, 30.1X.1996, No 10).

One could propose that a slight modification of the traditional formula extra ecclesiam nulla salus (DS 870), might be appropriate in order to bring the formula into line with the teaching. Thus one could say sine ecclesia nulla salus (without the Church there is no salvation), i.e. wherever there is salvation there is the Church. Traditional expressions of a restricted interpretation of the first formula have tended to remind us that there is such a thing as baptism by desire and baptism of blood and that furthermore there are people who find themselves tossed into the barque of salvation who have not explicitly embraced visible communion with the Church catholic but who have merited salvation in their search for God and obedience to conscience (St. Thomas, Summa Theologica 11-11ae q.31).

Theologians have oft spoken of an invisible membership of the Church in the same way that the Spirit was active outside the corpus of the 12 apostles during the lifetime of Jesus. These others, who used the name of Jesus in dealing with evil, for example, Jesus also embraces when he states "anyone who is not against you is for you" (Lk 9:50). Events

like those of Assisi should not be understood as exercises in indifferentism but as affirmations of other possible avenues of salvation articulated by the Church at Vatican II (see Lumen gentium 16; Gaudium et spes 22). These are represented by the covenant of Abraham and the covenant of Noah. This said, the Church knows of no other assured way of salvation other than by baptism (New Catechism 1257-1261).

I have always been puzzled by the phrase used in our version of the Our Father where we ask God not to lead us "into temptation". I find this phrase very confusing as it suggests that it is God who is the author of temptation and not the evil one. Can you make sense of this?

isN USING this version of the Our Father, the version which is recited during the acred Liturgy, we should be careful that we do not thereby fall into the error of the Priscillians who believed that God directly created evil in the world and was responsible for the presence of evil in the life of humankind (DS 457). Certainly as it stands confusion can result from a literal interpretation of the English text. It would seem to bring into question the goodness of God. The original Greek text uses the word peirasmos (Lk 11:4), which elsewhere in the New Testament, namely in 1 Peter 4:12, refers to a fiery ordeal to be survived rather than a temptation to sin as such. There is a verb form of the word peirazo which means "to be put to the test" and this is the sense evidently intended in the Gospel of Luke. It resonates well with the fears of the early disciples and refers to the test of martyrdom. "And do not put us to the test" would be a good translation of the original Greek form of the Our Father and would clarify the sense which is intended. Perhaps that is something which the episcopal conference can worry about.

In the consecration of the traditional Mass (Tridentine Rite) it is stated that "he took bread he blessed broke and gave it to his disciples" whereas in the Modern Mass (Roman Rite) it states "he took bread, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples..." Why is the blessing omitted from the consecration in the new rite and similarly with regard to the cup?

T MAY BE A PROBLEM with the execrable translation of the Roman Rite which we all have to cope with since ICEL (International Commission on English in the

Liturgy) produced it in the Seventies, but you should know that the official text of the Roman Rite (Missa normativa) does explicitly mention the blessing in eucharistic prayers one, three and four with the word benedixit (SCCD, Missale Romanum, Rome 1975, pp. 451, 462, 468). The only eucharistic prayer in which the word benedixit is omitted from the consecration is the second eucharistic prayer (p. 457) and this is because it does not appear in the original text taken from Hippolytus, the origin of the second eucharistic prayer.

The eucharistic prayers of the modem Roman Rite have in the main been faithful to the early liturgical formulae that appear in the New Testament, namely that of St Paul (1 Cor 11:21-26), that of St Mark (Mk 14:22-25), that of St Matthew (Mt 26:26-29) and that of St Luke (Lk 22:15-20). Similarly the prayers of the modern Roman Rite are an improvement on those of the Tridentine Rite with its multiple benedictions of the sacred species after the consecration, an altogether unfortunate accretion in the old rite. With regard to the text of the modem Mass, one should lay the blame for poor translations not at the door of Paul VI but at the door of ICEL.

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