8.0 Lumen Gentium (LG)

There was a website that lists what it calls heresies of Vatican II in Lumen Gentium. In this page I go point by point and answer every objection.

Claim: LG #22 teaches that the college of bishops posses full and supreme power in the church. This means Christ did not institute a single head making the church an ugly double headed monster.Response: LG #22 when read in its entirety teaches that the bishops must be in line with Peter’s successor as their head. This excerpt will be enough to answer the claim. “But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head.” Clearly, there is only one head.
LG 16 “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims.” Makes it sound as if LG teaches Islam can save you or that we worship the same God. Response:  https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-catechism-on-islam
Basically, you have to take this paragraph in context with paragraph 13 and the entire work. It would be odd to think Lumen Gentium (Light for the Nations) is actually teaching you can be saved outside the Catholic Church. –The Church would not be a light then would it? Paragraph 13 of Lumen Gentium starts with, “All women and men are called to belong to the new people of God” and ends with, “All are called to this catholic unity…” It clearly teaches that the Catholic Church is were all are called to be. Lumen Gentium then says people belong or relate in different ways to the Church. These ways are related in the subsequent paragraphs going from closely to distantly related.

Do Muslims worship the same God as Catholics? Muslims don’t get everything right because they don’t worship a Triune God, but they do profess (does not mean they actually do) to hold to the faith of Abraham. Thus, they worship imperfectly the one God just as the Jews do but do so imperfectly because of other wrong beliefs and misconceptions. Any quotations from previous Popes used to counter this claim should be read with the understanding that they also held that the Jews worship the same God, be it imperfectly, even though they did not believe in the Trinity. There would be little continuity between the New and Old testaments otherwise. To deny this would destroy a basic tenant of Catholic thought resulting in a form of Gnosticism which held that the Old Testament God was not the same as the God of the New Testament. In conclusion, Lumen Gentium teaches that the Catholic Church is for salvation but others only have limited connections to God and need to journey closer.

In Fact, Pope St. Pius X goes even further than Vatican II in his Catechism Q12 under the communion of the saints section. All Vatican II says is that the Muslims worship God – that they are theists. St. Pius X’s catechism goes so far as to say that they worship the true God! That is something to recall when debating this issue. It was not something Vatican II came up with, and it never used the word true, just God as to point out that they are theists.
LG 16 teaches that “Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” But Saint Paul in Romans 1:19-20 says that there is no excuse for us not to know God. https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/most/getchap.cfm?WorkNum=243&ChapNum=8 (for the source of my defense – go to the commentary on Rom 1:19-28)
Fr. William Most answers this question well for us in his commentary on Romans. See the link for the full commentary. I summarize below.

“St. Justin the Martyr, in First Apology 46 says that: “He says that many in the past who were thought to be atheists — he mentions Socrates and Heraclitus — were really Christians, since they followed the Logos (the Divine Word).” This Logos becomes a definite part of Catholic thought about Christ-Trinity as the centuries go on so this is not just St. Justin’s crazy idea.
In Second Apology 10.8 he adds that “the Logos . . . is in everyone.” What does the Logos do in each one? He makes known to people what they must do, what morality requires.
Hence, the Logos orders all things and acts as a guiding principle of creation. Thus,
We can see now that such people are not atheists in Paul’s sense, for they do know and follow the Spirit of Christ, without knowing what it is that they are following.
Hence, Socrates, an atheists by some definitions, who does not have explicit knowledge of a creator God -he did not know explicitly who he was following – did indeed follow God at some level and is not condemned by St. Paul in Romans because he served the Logos-Christ’s Sprit. (This is a personal contribution so I am not 100% sure on this defense and understanding)
LG 15 “For several reasons the Church recognizes that it is joined to those who, though baptized and so honoured with the Christian name, do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve communion under the successor of St. Peter.” Several quotes are then brought up from previous popes saying that you cannot be in the Church unless you are in unity with its visible head the Pope. It is the nature of a sacrament to be valid if form and matter are present. Thus, baptisms if recognized as such by the Church cannot be said to have not occurred even if it has taken place in another denomination. All valid baptisms join the person to the Catholic church. To deny this would be to go against the Catholic understanding of sacraments from the early church. To belong fully in the truest sense and be an active member you have to recognize Peter’s successor as the previous papal quotes confirm, but to be simply joined you just have to be baptized. Like if you get baptized then reject the Pope. You cannot undo the baptism, you are still part of the church, just someone in schism. Again, thus if any quotation is taken saying that you must be in union with Peter’s successor to be in the church it must be understood in such a way that if someone was baptized than renounced they would still be joined to the church in some way as baptism cannot be undone.
Lumen Gentium # 15
“For there are many (non-Catholics) who hold the sacred scripture in honour as the norm for believing and living, displaying a sincere religious zeal… They are marked baptism… and indeed there are other sacraments that they recognize and accept in their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities.”
Yet, One quote from Pope Gregory XVI says that when other denominations rejected the authority of the church they often change the meaning of scripture or falsify it.
It is true that when other Christian denominations forgo the authority of the Catholic Magisterium they often distort the meaning of scripture. They would claim the same to us as Catholics. This does not mean that they don’t honor the bible. If you are perfect, throw the first stone if not stand down. If we claim that only Catholics honor the scripture, we open ourselves up to all kinds of arguments. Do you have any sin? Then you do not follow or honor scripture because it says the be perfect? We have to be balanced here. Yes, other denominations do distort some meanings but that does not mean that they don’t honor the bible in other ways. This particular quote from Pope Gregory XVI is not in contradiction with LG 15. Inter Praecipuas (# 2), May 8, 1844 “Indeed, you are aware that from the first ages called Christian, it has been the peculiar artifice of heretics that, repudiating the traditional Word of God, and rejecting the authority of the Catholic Church, they either falsify the Scriptures at hand, or alter the explanation of the meaning. One can both distort and honor scripture. Just as we both love and sin against God. In fact, I don’t think arguing against LG 15 on this point is a particular strong argument, nor would it usually be undertaken unless you already have renounced the authority of the current Popes in some way. So be careful, you may be already more schismatic than some protestants who grew up non-Catholic and so Gregory’s words apply more to you than them.
St. Ignatius Loyola
Founder of the Jesuit Order

“What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.”

Want another great find?

Check out Fr. W. Most on No Salvation Outside of the Catholic Church linked here

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