Dismissing open-ended ecumenism, Pope Benedict (aka, Joseph Ratzinger) has reaffirmed the primacy of the Catholic Church:
Benedict made unity with Protestant and Orthodox churches a priority of his pontificate in his first message as pope in April 2005.
"However, if such dialogue is to be truly constructive it must involve not just the mutual openness of the participants, but also fidelity to the identity of the Catholic faith," the document said.
Central to that identity is the idea that eastern or Orthodox churches were suffering a "wound" because they do not recognize the primacy of the pope.
It said "the wound is still more profound" in "communities emerging from the Reformation" -- the Protestant and Anglican churches.
These were "not Churches in the proper sense of the word", but rather "ecclesial communities", it said.
The Vatican acknowledged that this teaching had "created no little distress in the communities concerned" and recognised the "many elements of sanctification and truth" in other Christian denominations.
But only Catholicism could be seen as the one "Church of Christ", it said, adding that it was "difficult to see how the title of Church could possibly be attributed" to them.
Insistence on the primacy of the Catholic Church--which in this reading is essentially one and the same with the primacy of the pope--is the position one would expect the Catholic Church to take. Although many are dismayed by this hardline position, should one expect the pope to issue a statement essentially stating 'we're not really sure we're right'? There has been far too much hand-wringing in religion, particularly on core doctrines as important as the Divinity of Christ, for example. If one does not believe the religion he practices is right, then why not sleep in on Sunday? Well, such a logical conclusion is exactly what has caused many in our modern world to do just that.
Ultimately, though, the claims of Catholic primacy are based on a pointless adherence to institutional age. It boils down to the idea that 'we're right because we exist.' I would suggest a better standard: 'we're right because we're doing what God reveals in His word.' The Catholic Church is a self-created institution that shows little similarity to the church illustrated in the New Testament, the church that Jesus promised He would build.
If you want to know who is following God according to His plan, then compare what is being done to His revealed word. That is not a comparison the Catholic Church--or many churches at all--would invite.