Church Membership As a Catholic and Ecumenical Problem (Pere by Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles
By Avery Robert Cardinal Dulles
Booklet by way of Dulles, Avery Robert Cardinal
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3 This would seem to be logical enough. But it is also Page 3 a fact that many Catholics whose doctrinal stands are more deviant than those of Davis insist on their right to remain within the Church. They look upon Davis's notion of orthodoxy as too rigid. Thus the credal tests of Catholic Christianity are today unclear. The same must be said of behavioral patterns. While there have always been marginal Catholics who did not practice their faith, today we find many committed Catholics whose moral standards are consciously at variance with the official directives.
Vatican II, although it approaches the question of membership from a markedly different point of view, contains some traces of the juridical-dogmatic theory. The Constitution on the Church enumerates certain criteria, both visible and invisible, for full incorporation in the Church. The visible criteria correspond approximately to the requirements of actual membership according to Bellarmine and Mystici corporis. The Council specifies, first, acceptance of the whole constitution (integram ordinationem, translated by J.
As doctrinal deviance and behavioral nonconformity become more widespread in the Catholic community, new questions arise regarding the relationships between Roman Catholicism and other Churches or denominations. 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?