Spring 1969

Page 21



gratefully accept all that others have to give us. The catholicity of the Church, according to Vatican II, consists not so much in its present fullness as in its unlimited capacity to absorb. Just as Christ was receptive to the entire religious heritage of the Old Testament, which he appropriated as his own, and just as Paul was not ashamed to make himself a debtor to both Jews and Greeks, so the Church today should he ready to learn from non-Catholics, from non-Christians, and even from those who do not profess any religious belief at all. We should be quite uncatholic if we proudly close our ears to all that we stand to gain from protestant biblical scholarship, Anglican Patristic theology, Oriental spirituality, and the concern of the free Church tradition for human freedom and dignity. Thirdly, the Church should be openhanded. It should imitate the heavenly Father who makes his sun shine, P.nd his rain fall, on believers and unbelievers alike. It should follow in the footsteps of Christ who loved us when we were as yet hi~ enemies. In this perspective we should rethink the concept of ¡Christian mission, which should not be seen as an effort primarily to recruit new members, but rather to spread the beneficient influence of Christ's coming everywhere. Vatican II, as the Council of the open Church, went far beyond all previous official pronouncements in the stress it put on two crucial points: first, that the Catholic Church, in its actual historical realizations, is in some ways defective; and secondly, that there is a true ecclesial presence of Christ in other Christian communities. On the first point we have the well known texts from Lumen gentium n. 8 and De Oecumenismo n. 6, declaring that the Church, insofar as it is a human institution, is always in need of repentance, renewal, and reform. On the second point, there are the pronouncements of Lumen gentium n. 15 and De Oecurnenisrno n. 3, regarding the life-giving endowments of the Church which are available in other Christian communities. Among these gifts are listed: "the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, along with other interior