Pope, Restating 2000 Document, Cites "Defects" of Other Faiths

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Pope Benedict XVI restated Tuesday what he said were the “defects” of Christian faiths other than Roman Catholicism, prompting anger from Protestants who questioned the Vatican’s respect for other beliefs.

“It makes us question whether we are indeed praying together for Christian unity,” the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which represents Protestants in more than 100 countries, said in a statement. The Vatican document repeated many of the contentious claims of a document issued in 2000 by the Vatican office on orthodoxy, which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed for more than two decades before being elected pope in 2005.

The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles. Thus, it said, the world’s Orthodox Christians make up a church because of shared history, if “separated” from the “proper” Catholic tradition, while Protestants split from Catholicism during the Reformation are considered only “Christian communities.”

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