Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pre-Vatican II Popes' Use of the Description "Separated Brethren"

By Dave Armstrong (9-30-08)

Pope Leo XIII used the term "separated brethren" in his 1896 encyclical Adiutricem:

No better way is afforded of proving a fraternal feeling toward their separated brethren than to aid them by every means within their power to recover this, the greatest of all gifts. (19)
For that reason We say that the Rosary is by far the best prayer by which to plead before her the cause of our separated brethren. (27)
. . . and again in his 1898 encyclical Caritatis Studium (On the Church in Scotland):

The ardent charity which renders Us solicitous of Our separated brethren, in no wise permits Us to cease Our efforts to bring back to the embrace of the Good Shepherd those whom manifold error causes to stand aloof from the one Fold of Christ. Day after day We deplore more deeply the unhappy lot of those who are deprived of the fullness of the Christian Faith.
Pope Pius XI also used the term in his 1926 encyclical Rerum Ecclesiae. In the same sentence he refers to Protestant "errors". Both/and . . . They are brothers in Christ by virtue of their baptism, but they lack fullness and teach many errors.


Pope Pius XII follows course in his 1939 encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, even while blasting liberal Protestants for denying the divinity of Christ. He used it again in another encyclical of the same year: Sertum Laetitiae.

Pope John XXIII wrote in his 1959 Christmas message:
Nor do We wish to forget Our separated brethren for whom Our prayers rise unceasingly to Heaven so that the promise of Christ may be fulfilled: one Shepherd and one flock.
There had long been a less strict interpretation of salvation outside the Church (along the same ecumenical lines later developed by Vatican II), taught by St. Augustine (hence his view that Donatist schismatics need not be re-baptized), St. Thomas Aquinas, and many others. 

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