COMMENTS ON RICHARD MCBRIEN, "CATHOLICISM", 3RD EDITION
by Fr. William Most
Did Christ Found a Church?
On p. 577 McBrien asks: "Did Jesus intend to found a Church? He
answers:" 'No' if by 'found' we mean some direct, explicit
deliberate act by which Jesus established a new religious
organization... . The majority of scholars today support the
assumption that Jesus expected the end to come soon."
We can see the all-pervading notion of ignorance in Jesus peering
out. If He thought the end was soon, why bother to found any
So some have said that Peter was never Bishop anywhere. If we mean
that he did not set up a chancery and bureaucracy, of course not.
But did Peter serve as the spiritual authority? Yes, at Antioch,
later at Rome.
So Jesus did establish an organization, to be entered by Baptism:
"He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not
will be condemned." We pause to notice the word . It
has the silly meaning of infallible salvation by one act. There is
no such thing. Kittel's authoritative simply ignores that notion, since there is no
Scriptural or intellectual basis for it. But means: rescue
from temporal danger; enter the Church; enter heaven. The second
sense is present here, as it is all through chapters 8, 9, 10, 11
He set up authorities (without a bureaucracy again). In Matthew 16
he promised the keys to Peter. In Mt 18:18 He gave all the Apostles
power to bind and loose, which in the language of contemporary
rabbis meant to authoritatively tell what is right or wrong. He
demanded for salvation the reception of the Eucharist. He set up a
means to forgive sins after Baptism in John 20. Is all this just
nothing? And he promised to be with His Church to the end of time?
No hint He thought the end was just around the corner. That is
based only on total denial of the oft-repeated teaching of the
Church on His human knowledge. McBrien clearly does not bother
about the repeated teachings of the Catholic Church that the human
soul of Jesus from the very start saw the vision of God, in which
all knowledge is present (For evidence: Wm. G. Most, , Christendom College, 1980).
Incidentally, a fine theologian, who might not care to he named,
was a seminarian when Karl Rahner was teaching in Austria. He told
me that at that time Rahner used precisely the same theological
argument I have given to prove that the human soul of Jesus not
only happened to have the beatific vision, but had to have it. It
is briefly this: Any soul will have that vision if: 1) it has grace
2) If the divinity joins itself to the soul without even an image
in between. But that was the case with Jesus, since not only His
mind or soul, but His entire humanity was as closely as possible
joined to the divinity, in the hypostatic union.
Rahner tried to make light of the teaching of Pius XII in on the fact that the human soul of Jesus saw the vision
of God from the first moment of conception. Rahner says that
teaching was only given in passing. Not true. that Encyclical came
in 1943, obviously intending to quiet the errors sparked by P.
Galtier in 1939. Then, seeing his doctrine was not being accepted,
Pius XII repeated it in in 1951, and again in
in 1956, and Paul VI ordered the Holy Office to
complain in 1966 that the teaching was still not being accepted.
: the repetition shows the
intent to make it definitive. Yet even today the teaching of Pius
XII is widely denied. On a recent visit to Rome I was told that of
all the theology schools in Rome, only two did NOT contradict the
Church on this point.
In line with that view he says the sacraments were not directly
instituted by Christ (pp. 798-89). We presume he means that the
Church and sacraments just evolved in the next century - Jesus was
too ignorant to foresee any such structure, and, as said above, He
expected the end soon.
McBrien clearly is not concerned about the fact that the Council of
Trent defined that Jesus instituted the sacraments (DS 1601), and
especially that he instituted the priesthood at the Last Supper
when He said,"Do this in memory of me." (DS 1752).
Membership in the Church
Similarly the Catholic Church is really composed of many churches:
Orthodox, Anglicans, Protestants (pp. 648 and 688).
We comment:It is true that the grace of salvation can be found
elsewhere. #16 says: "For they who without their
own fault do not know of the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but
yet seek God with sincere heart, and try, under the influence of
grace, to carry out His will in practice, known to them through the
dictate of conscience, can attain eternal salvation." John Paul II
in his Encyclical ont he Missions in #10 says the same [underline
added]: "For such people [those who do not formally enter the
Church, as in LG 16] salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of
a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the
Church, does not make them part of the Church." We
stressed the word "formally" to indicate that there may be
something less than formal membership, which yet suffices for
salvation. A similar thought is found in LG #14 which says "they
are incorporated" who accept all its organization... . ."
We will show presently that there can be a lesser, or substantial
membership, which suffices for salvation.
The root of McBrien's trouble is likely to be in a line in LG #8:
"This Church, in this world as a constituted and ordered society,
the Catholic Church... even though outside its
confines many elements of sanctification and truth are found which,
as gifts proper to the Church of Christ, impel to Catholic unity."
But we must not miss the words in LG #8 which speak of "this one
and only  Church of Christ, which we profess in the
Creed... ." Similarly the Decree on Religious Liberty in #1 says
that" it [this decree] leaves untouched the traditional Catholic
doctrine about the duty of men and societies to the true religion
and the one and only  Church of Christ."
So there really is only one true Church. But really, McBrien seems
to think that protestant churches are as it were
of the Church of Christ. And he probably thinks that follows from
the words about "subsisting in" and the statement that elements of
sanctification can be found outside the visible confines of the
But it does not really follow that there are other legitimate forms
of Christianity. Pope Gregory XVI (DS 2730. Cf. Pius IX, DS 2915
and Leo XIII, DS 3250) condemned "an evil opinion that souls can
attain eternal salvation BY just any profession of faith, if their
morals follow the right norm." So although people who do not
formally join can be saved, as LG #16 says, and #10 also says, they are not saved BY such a faith. It is in
spite of it.
3)Yet we can account for the words about subsisting in and about
finding elements of salvation outside. For this we need the help of
the Fathers of the Church.
We begin with St. Justin the Martyr who c. 145 A.D. in 1.
46, said that in the past some who were thought to be atheists,
such as Socrates and Heraclitus, who were really Christians, for
they followed the Divine Logos, the Divine Word. Further, in
2. 10 Justin adds that the Logos is in everyone. Now of
course the Logos, being Spirit, does not take up space. We say a
spirit if present . What effect?
We find that in St. Paul, in Romans 2:14-16 where he says that "the
Gentiles who do not have the law, do by nature the works of the
law. They show the work of the law WRITTEN ON THEIR HEARTS," and
according to their response conscience will defend or accuse them
at the judgment.
So it is the Logos, the Spirit of Christ, who writes the law on
their hearts, that, it makes known to them interiorly what they
need to do. Some then could follow it without knowing that fact. So
Socrates: (1)read and what the Spirit wrote in his
heart; (2) he had ; (3) he . We see
this obedience in the fact that Socrates went so far as to say, as
Plato quotes him many times, that the one who seeks the truth must
have as little as possible to do with the things of the body.
Let us notice the three things, just enumerated: St. Paul in Romans
3:29 asked: "Is He the God of the Jews only? No, He is also the God
of the gentiles." It means that if God made salvation depend on
knowing and following the law of Moses, He would act as if He cared
for no one but Jews. But God does care for all. Paul insists God
makes salvation possible by faith for them (cf. Romans chapter 4).
Faith in Paul includes the three things we have enumerated which
So in following that Spirit of Christ Socrates was accepting and
following the Spirit of Christ, But then, from Romans 8:9 we gather
that if one has and follows the Spirit of Christ, he "BELONGS TO
Christ". That is, He is a , which in Paul's terms
means a , which is the Church.
So Socrates then was a member of the Church, but not formally, only
substantially. He could not know the Church. So he was saved, not
BY his false religious beliefs BUT IN SPITE OF THEM. He was saved
by faith, and similarly protestants and others who do not formally
join the Church today are saved not as members of e.g., the Baptist
church, which McBrien seems to think is an integral part of the one
Church of Christ -- no, they are saved as individuals, who make use
of the means of sanctification they are able to find even outside
the visible confines of the Catholic Church.
Many other Fathers speak much like St. Justin. A large presentation
of them can be found in Wm. Most, , in a 28 page
Lumen gentium also likes to speak of the Church as a MYSTERY. This
is correct, for it is, since it is ONLY PARTLY VISIBLE. It does
have visible structure, and no one who knowingly rejects that can
be saved. It has members visibly adhering. But it also has members
who belong to it even without knowing that, and without external
explicit adherence. Hence there is much mystery, to be known fully
and clearly only at the end.
So all other forms of Christianity are objectively, not necessarily
formally, heretical and/or schismatic. So they are not legitimate.
The sinlessness of Jesus
He admits that Jesus did not sin, yet He was capable of sinning (p.
547). He as not immune to sexual desires (pp. 562-63).
McBrien grants that the Church does teach, as does the NT, that
Jesus was without sin. But he has trouble about the impeccability,
inability to sin, of Jesus. He quotes the Third Council of
Constantinople (381) saying that His human will is
"compliant, it does not resist or oppose, but rather submits to the
divine and almighty will." We grant this does not explicitly state
impeccability. McBrien continues saying it seems better to conclude
that it is the "clear and constant belief and teaching of the
Church that Jesus Christ was perfect in his humanity." He seems
then to think of the Council of Chalcedon which he cited earlier
saying He was "like us in every respect apart from sin," and the
similar statement of Hebrews.
So McBrien says the NT does not go in for theological speculation.
And the official texts do not formally teach impeccability. This is
Nor are there many patristic texts on impeccability, not enough to
satisfy the requirement of being practically unanimous. St. Cyril
of Alexandria wrote (R 2141):they are stupid, who affirm, I do not
know how, that even Christ could have sinned." St. John Damascene
is more helpful (R 2386): "Because there is one person of Christ,
and in Christ, there is one who wills through each nature: as God,
in approving, and as man, being made obedient." (Cf. also St.
Athanasius in R 798).
But we can sharpen this up a bit: We do not say it is nature that
sins, but a person sins. But in Christ there was only one Person,
even though two natures. If He had sinned, the sin would have been
attributed to the one Person, a Divine Person. Which of course is
Finally we mention Canon 12 of the second General Council of
Constantinople, in 553 (DS 434) which spoke of Theodore of
Mopsuestia as "impious" because he spoke of Christ as "suffering
from passions of soul and desires of the flesh, and gradually going
away from the worse things, and so becoming better by advancing in
works... merited divine sonship... ."
The Great Sacrifice
As to the death of Jesus, McBrien says it was not a sacrifice of
expiation-- just a peace offering (p. 457).
McBrien here does not understand what a sacrifice is. We
can gather the nature of sacrifice from the words of God in Isaiah
19. 13: "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts
are far from me." So we see there are two elements, lips, that is,
the outward sign, and heart, the interior dispositions.
On Holy Thursday the outward sign was the seeming separation of
body and blood, standing for death, as if He said to the
Father: "Father, I know the command you have given me: I should die
tomorrow. Very good, I turn myself over to death - expressed by
this separation - I accept, I obey". He made that pledge Thursday
night, and carried it out on Friday. Then the outward sign shifted
to the physical separation of body and blood. In the Mass He goes
back again to the same outward sign as on Holy Thursday. |So the
Council of Trent defined that the Mass is a true sacrifice: DS
1751. Obviously, for the same two elements, outward sign, and
interior disposition, are present there again.
The fact that all forgiveness and grace was "bought and paid for"
by the cross, does not make the Mass empty. God willed that there
be a Mass 1) so that we might join our obedience to His --mere
answering of prayers is not enough: cf again Is 23. 19. And Romans
8. 17 says that we are,"fellow heirs with Christ - we inherit with
Him - provided that we suffer with Him, so we may also be glorified
with Him." 2)In His love of good order, He is pleased to have one
thing in place to serve as the title or reason for giving a second
thing: Cf. I. 19. 5. c.
But on all three occasions, the essential, the interior is His
obedience to the Father, without which the external sign, even His
death, would not redeem anyone. On the altar now He does not repeat
that attitude of obedience, rather it is continuous from the first
instant of His conception in which He said, Heb 10. 7: "Behold I
come to do your will O God."--- Incidentally we note that even then
He knew who He was! That obedience was the theme of His whole life:
"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me" (Jn 4. 34).
It has become the fashion today to attack the perpetual virginity,
in fact, even the virginal conception of Jesus. Martin Luther,
archheretic, was kinder to her than McBrien and some others today.
In His work (In: . vol. 22, p. 23) we read: "Christ... was the real
and natural fruit of Mary's virginal womb... . this was without the
cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that." And in
his (, vol. 43, p. 40): "...
she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin... .
God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of
all evil... ."
But McBrien says( p. 541) that "the arguments historicity
[of virginal conception] are also strong." First, he seems to say
that if Mary and Joseph knew He had no human father, and they had
not kept it from Him, then He would not have been so ignorant about
who He was. He is so convinced of ignorance in Jesus that he can
used it as an a argument against the virginal conception. (Later we
will see his arguments for ignorance in Jesus).
Secondly he says that the infancy narratives, the first two
chapters of Matthew and Luke,"suggest a nonhistorical rather than
historical accounting of the conception of Jesus." He says that the
two accounts are "virtually irreconcilable." As one example, he
mentions that Matthew tells of a flight into Egypt, while Luke in
2:39 goes straight from the presentation in the temple to a return
to Nazareth. McBrien seems not to know there can be a compendious
or even a telescoped account of events, e.g., most scholars think
Acts 15 telescopes two meetings of the Apostles in Jerusalem (the
reasons given are useless, but that is another question. There is
also telescoping in Isaiah 37. 37-38).
He says (p. 542) that Matthew shows "artificiality in format"
because he has groups of 14 generations in the genealogy of Jesus.
Yes, he does have one thing that is artificial there. But that says
nothing about the rest of the infancy narratives. Latest research
shows there was a special genre of genealogy in ancient times:
genealogies were not always just family trees, but were made up to
bring out some special point. Matthew wanted to show the relation
to David, whose name has the numerical value of 14.
It is surprising McBrien does not bring up the case of the census
in Luke. Perhaps he has read and accepted the remarkable work of E.
L. Martin, , a work that has
caused hundreds of planetariums both here and in Europe to change
their Christmas star programs.
Then McBrien asserts that the rest of the NT is silent on the
virginal conception. Of course. There was no special reason to
Finally, he asks how that fact could have been known to anyone but
Mary and Joseph. Right. But she, according to John Paul II (General
Audience, Jan 28, 1988), did give much information to the early
Church. What is more natural? In fact, we might even
that the reason why Matthew centers his account on Joseph, while
Luke does on her, is that she was still reticent -- the Gospels
show she did not even tell Joseph at first-- so perhaps at first
she told Matthew and others only the things that pertained to
Joseph. Later Luke, perhaps getting to know her better, managed to
get further data from her and used it.
After all this, McBrien thinks the virginal conception may have
been just a . That would mean that physically there
was no such thing, that to say it is just a way of asserting her
holiness. To that we reply: Where else in Matthew and Luke do we
find even one clear case of a theologoumenon? Further, the Church
shows no sign of considering it such. From the earliest creeds on
she is called simply ever virgin, . Pope Leo the
Great, in his at the Council of Chalcedon wrote
(DS 291): "She brought Him forth without the loss of virginity even
as she conceived Him without its loss." What point is there in
talking about keeping virginity if it was only a theologoumenon?
What would that add when extended to during and after birth?
Following Pope Leo, the Council of Chalcedon in 451 taught (
7. 462): "As was fitting for God, He her womb." St.
Ambrose in 8. 52 (PL 16. 320) wrote:
"What is this gate but Mary, closed for this reason, because she
was a virgin. So Mary was the gate through which Christ entered and
did not lose the genital barrier of virginity." (The gate is
mentioned in Ezek 44:2). The Lateran Council of October 649 (DS
503) with the Pope present and approving, taught: "If anyone does
not, in accord with the Holy Fathers, acknowledge the holy and ever
virgin and immaculate Mary as really and truly the Mother of God,
inasmuch as she in the fullness of time, and ,
conceived by the Holy Spirit... and without loss of integrity
brought Him forth, and after His birth persevered her virginity
inviolate, let him be condemned." Finally, Vatican II, ( #57) says that "she joyfully showed her firstborn Son to
the shepherds and the Magi, he who did not diminish but consecrated
her virginal ." That word is clearly
physical, does not express a mere theologoumenon. Let these people
who boast so loudly of the great theology of Vatican II find how to
reject this. And in passing we note the matter of fact way in which
Vatican II spoke of the shepherds and the Magi.
Still further, Vatican II, in LG #12, wrote: "The entire body of
the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in
matters of belief." That is, if the whole Church, pastors and
people, have ever, for even one period, believed something as
revealed, that belief cannot be in error, is infallible. Now of
course the people have never dreamed that her virginity is a mere
Similarly, John P. Meier in spends page after page
trying to disprove perpetual virginity. More Protestant than Luther
Our Lady's Faith
More than one scholar today has said that the passage in Mark 3.
20-35 may man she did not believe in her Son. On pp 1079-80 McBrien
seems not to understand this passage of Mk 3:20-25, seems inclined
to take it as negative, as differing from Luke's Gospel.
The verses he indicates are part of a three part passage in Mk
But to really get the picture, we should go over that three part
passage. 1)In the first part, those about Him -- not clear if His
Mother is included -- think Him out of His mind, and come to take
Him by force () 2)In the second part, the scribes charge
He casts out devils by the devil. 3)In this third part His Mother
and "brothers" come to a crowd where He is speaking. He says:who is
Many raise the objection that here the NT speaks of "brothers and
sisters" of Jesus. A full reply would take many pages. Let us note
these things: Hebrew is very broad, can mean almost any kind
of relative. John P. Meier of Catholic University (in ) adds that the Gospels are in Greek which did have such terms
for relatives. He forgets that the speech habits of one's first
language may carry over. There are numerous examples of that, e.g.
St. Paul uses Greek not in the Greek-Roman sense, but
in the Hebrew sense. Paul uses , to know, not in our narrow
sense, but in the broader Hebrew sense. He knew there are words in
Greek for more and less, degrees of comparison, yet Paul usually
ignores them and speaks like a Hebrew: "Christ did not send me to
baptize, but to preach." So was Paul wrong in baptizing? Not at
all. The one is more than the other. Similarly in Luke 14. 16 Jesus
Himself says we must hate father and mother - meaning:love less
than you do me.
Out of many other things on this point, we might mention that even
John P. Meier (pp. 340-41) admits that starting with Philo, the
rabbis taught that Moses after his first encounter with God, never
again had sex with his wife. What then of her who carried Him
within her for nine months? What of St. Joseph too?
McBrien seems certain that since she is in unit 3, she must be in
1. If he knows Form Criticism, he should know that is not clear.
Passages are often put together out of originally independent
units. And the second unit, the charge of the scribes, hardly
provides a connection to parts 1 or 3.
But even if she were in the group of #1, are we certain she did not
believe in Him? Vatican II insists in #12 that we must
pay attention to the unity of all of Scripture. Yes it is all right
to suppose each Evangelist had his own special slant. But since the
Holy Spirit is the chief author, there can be no contradiction.
McBrien admits that Luke pictures her as the first believer.
Vatican II, #56, said that at the annunciation,"she
totally dedicated herself to the Person and work of her Son."
McBrien ignores the rules given by Vatican II. He also ignores Mt
7:1: "Judge not". It means we must not state as certain the
interior of a person, for we can seldom know it. Yet He seems
certain she did not believe, with no reason for saying that, and
with contrary reason from Luke and Vatican II. We said he seems
certain because of what he said earlier on the same page: "it is
not possible to establish the time when Mary's own belief in her
son's messianic significance began, or even the cause of it."
We reply: Just any ordinary Jew, even if not full of grace, as soon
as Gabriel said that He would reign over the house of Jacob forever
-- any ordinary Jew would at once see that this meant the Messiah,
for only He would reign forever.
Still further, even if we grant she was in the group of unit one
and went along, it would not follow that she did not believe in
Him. Rather, she could have gone along to try to hold down the
others. We know that even a very ordinary mother is apt to stand up
for her son even when he is clearly in the wrong. So McBrien seems
to make her less than just an ordinary mother!
About the words of Jesus in the third unit, Who is my Mother? --
Vatican II explained it in LG 58,"In the course of His public life,
she received the words of His preaching, in which her Son,
extolling the Kingdom more than reasons of flesh and blood,
proclaimed blessed those who heard and kept the word of God, "
That chapter 8 of The constitution on the Church is very
remarkable. It starts with the fact that she is joined with her Son
eternally, by the eternal decree for the incarnation. Then it goes
through every one of the mysteries of His life and death, and shows
her role in each, and continues on into eternity after the end of
time, where she is and always will be Queen of the Universe along
with Him. That is a marvelous base for strong marian devotion,
since objectively, we can do nothing better than to imitate the
ways of the Father, who has put her everywhere in His approach to
In LG 67 the Council said that everything the Church has ever
taught in regard to marian devotion is still "of great importance".
No mention of this by McBrien. Nor does he report what John Paul II
did in his , In his earlier document on St.
Joseph, he said he intended in to deepen the
theology of the Council on her faith - a remarkable thing! Now
faith includes obedience, conformity to the will of the Father. So
she was called on at the time of His death to positively will that
He die, die then, die so horribly, for she knew well that such was
the positive will of the Father -- and this in spite of her love
which, as we gather from Pius IX () is so great
the "only God can comprehend it." (He spoke of her holiness, but
that in practice is equivalent to love).
Speaking of original sin, McBrien says: "theologians today would
probably agree with the philosopher Paul Ricoeur, who refers to the
doctrine as a rationalized myth about the mystery of evil."
To follow this problem we need some background. In 1942 Pius XII,
in his Scripture encyclical, , encouraged
the use of the approach by literary genres in Scripture study. It
had not been forbidden, but he promoted it. This means that there
are many patterns of writing in ancient and modern works, e.g.,
today we have the modern historical novel, for example, one about
the Civil War. Such a novel has a main line of history, with
background descriptions that fit the period, but there are
fictional fill-ins. The key word is . What does the author
assert? He asserts the main line is history, but not the fill-ins.
Now of course it would be folly to suppose the ancient Semites used
exactly the same patterns as we do. So Pius XII said we need to
study historically what patterns were in use then.
Once the Pope wrote this, things began to move more freely. Some
scholars became very loose. As a result, he saw the need to warn
about it in his Encyclical in 1950. He wrote about
Genesis: "The first chapters of Genesis, even though they do not
strictly match the pattern of historical writing used by the great
Greek and Roman writers of history... do pertain to the genre of
history." , even though they do it in a special, different way.
What way? John Paul II, in his series of audiences on Genesis, on
Nov 7, 1979 called the genre of the creation account He
explained carefully, however, the sense in which he used that word
. He did not mean mere fairy tale, with no foundation. He
meant the writer used an ancient story to bring out things that
How does this work? The account tells us chiefly these things: God
made everything -in some special way He made the first human pair.
He gave them some sort of command - we do not know if it was about
a fruit tree or something else. They violated His order, and fell
from favor or grace.
In passing, we can see from this last item, that Genesis does teach
original sin, in that Adam and Eve -- or whatever names they may
have used -- were not able to pass on grace to their descendants,
since they had cast it away. For a baby to arrive without it is
what we mean by original sin. So it is wrong for McBrien to say
that the OT has no formal concept of original sin. We agree it is
not explicitly and formally taught. But it is there none the less.
So now we return to McBrien and Ricoeur. Did Ricoeur mean the same
as John Paul II? Hardly. We know Ricoeur said that in general, when
a writing leaves the hand of its author, it can take on any of many
meanings. We neither know nor care what the author intended.
Clearly, this is not what John Paul II meant. He meant the account
does tell us things that really happened, chiefly those we just
McBrien comments: How can one be really guilty of a sin that
someone else committed, without our knowledge or approval?
Vatican II, in the Decree of Ecumenism #7 said that if the language
of older texts of the magisterium is less good, we should improve
it, without say it was erroneous. John Paul II has done just that
in the case of original sin. In two General Audiences, of October 1
& 8, 1986, he said that original sin consists in "the privation of
sanctifying grace." Privation means the lack of something that
should be there. He added that we call it a sin only in . That means that we use a word twice, with the sense partly
the same, partly different. So if we compare a new baby with an
adult who has just committed a mortal sin, we find both are the
same in lacking grace; but there is great difference: baby lacks it
through no fault of its own; the adult lacks it by grave personal
McBrien does admit this analogous nature, but not very clearly, on
p. 190. But is not really as clear as he should be. We are left to
wonder about our being culpable only by imitating Adam's sin (cf.
His fuzziness is made worse in his Summary, starting on p. 194:
"... the human person is constituted by social relationships with
other persons, by history and by the world in which she or he
lives. Indeed, the human person is in a sense, a of
the world with God." If we are only constituted by such
relationship, then an unborn baby would not be a person. And
abortion would be all right.
In the same summary, in item 23 he adds:"... grace transforms not
only persons but the whole created order (Romans 8:19-23)." He does
not understand the beautiful vision of St. Paul, who says that at
the end, the whole world will be freed from slavery to corruption.
But that is in the future, not now.
Item 15 of the summary says "The Eastern tradition viewed grace as