Subsequent posts include:
A Blueprint for Order
Some Presuppositions and Rules for Protestant/Catholic discussions on GB
Key to these discussions is the way that Rome understands the word "church," and the subtle way it defines itself as "church" while it simultaneously excludes Protestants from being "church".
The key document is the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, and section 8, which contains this definition:
Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy [Roman] Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element. For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.The key word from that selection is the word subsists in, which is a change from prior documents, which expressed that "this [Roman Catholic] Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, is the Roman Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him ..." It actually went further than that. The language surrounding "the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him" is a scale-back of the language of Vatican I.
This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which He erected for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth". [Note the abuse of 1 Tim 3:15 as a proof-text here]. This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the [Roman] Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure.
But what Rome seems to give, in terms of "good will towards Protestants" with one hand, it takes back with the other. While some theologians understood the word "subsists" as allowing for other Ratzinger, it has been noted that Ratzinger sees the word "subsists in" as meaning "integral existence as a complete, self-contained subject."
See the Avery Dulles article in the February 2006 issue of "First Things," From Ratzinger to Benedict.
It is Ratzinger who is behind the documents that prohibits addressing Protestant churches as "churches," but rather, calls them "ecclesial communities."
Please note this well:
Catholic ecumenism might seem, at first sight, somewhat paradoxical. The Second Vatican Council used the phrase “subsistit in” in order to try to harmonise two doctrinal affirmations: on the one hand, that despite all the divisions between Christians the Church of Christ continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand that numerous elements of sanctification and truth do exist outwith the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church whether in the particular Churches or in the ecclesial Communities that are not fully in communion with the Catholic Church. For this reason, the same Decree of Vatican II on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio introduced the term fullness (unitatis/catholicitatis) specifically to help better understand this somewhat paradoxical situation. Although the Catholic Church has the fullness of the means of salvation, “nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from effecting the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her.”From the document: "COMMENTARY ON THE DOCUMENT 'RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH'"
This is the attitude that we are dealing with when you speak with the more informed Roman Catholics here. Some of the luddites merely echo these sentiments in their own bad way.