It has been ten years since cardinal William Levada – the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) – issued a document entitled ‘Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine of the Church’ during the summer of 2007. These ‘responses’ by the Roman congregation concerned a specific passage in the constitution Lumen gentium (1964), in Article 8, which states that Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. The main point of contention Rome tried to settle here is the double question whether there is devotion outside the limits of the Roman-Catholic Church, and whether the Church of Christ does exhaustively correspond with the Roman-Catholic Church. The answers to this question are obviously of importance for the way the Catholic Church relates to the other churches and religious communities. The document is remarkable for two reasons. First, for the fact that it was drafted in the form of a Responsa, the type of church document that had mainly been used in the crisis of modernism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Second, its reasoning is that of the historian: its (nuanced) interpretation of Lumen gentium is also based on the editorial history of the text, on its genesis. This article will address this genesis in more detail, and it will look at the way it influenced the reception of this council text. For this purpose, it uses an number of historical sources to show the way this passus was handled during two phases preceding the current (third) phase of the debate. The two phases referred to are the debate at the council itself, and the situation after the 1985 Synod, respectively. In this article, we have used various sources from relevant archives, that show that bishops and theologians from the Low Countries played a remarkable role in these developments.
- Vatican II