Wounds to unity
In fact, “in this one and only Church of God from its very
beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly
censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more
serious dissensions appeared and large communities became sepa
rated from full communion with the Catholic Church—for which,
often enough, men of both sides were to blame.”
that wound the unity of Christ’s Body—here we must distinguish
heresy, apostasy, and schism
—do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, here-
sies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also
are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and
one soul of all believers.
“However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separa-
tion those who at present are born into these communities [that
resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the
faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect
and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith
in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right
to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as
brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”
“Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of
are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic
Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope,
and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well
as visible elements.”
Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and
ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives
from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the
Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to
and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”
3 § 1.
270 Cf. CIC, can. 751.
Hom. in Ezech.
9, 1: PG 13, 732.
3 § 1.
8 § 2.
3 § 2; cf.