Father Sean McManus in his letter (April 10th) seeks to give the impression that Protestantism and R. Catholicism are really at one concerning the doctrine of justification due to the agreed statement on the Doctrine of Justification between the Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran World Federation.
However for basic Roman Catholic teaching on this key doctrine we need to turn to the last fully definitive document produced solely by the Roman Catholic Church outlining what it believes on this important matter i.e.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Here the RC Church teaches that justification i.e. being put right with God is a continuing process for the individual and is mediated through the Church’s sacramental life especially through baptism (CC Nos. 1987-1992). It is a process in which man co-operates (CC No.1993).
Reformed Christians disagree fundamentally with this RC dogma as Scripture teaches that justification is wholly God’s work from beginning to end (Roms 3 vs24; Roms 5 vs9; Roms 8 vs30/33; Gals 3 vs8).
Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law (Roms. 4:3; Roms 5:1,9; Gals. 2:16; Gals 3:11).
This righteousness is not earned or retained by any effort of the saved. Justification is an instantaneous occurrence with the result being eternal life.
It is based completely and solely upon Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and is received by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9).
No works or sacramental observance are necessary whatsoever to obtain justification. Otherwise, it is not a gift (Rom. 6:23).
Therefore, we are justified by faith alone (Romans 5:1).Justification is one final transaction and rests on the finished work of Christ and not the unfinished work of an individual (John 19 vs30). It is ground alreadypossessed and not a border yet to be crossed (Roms 5 vs9-10).
I hope this makes the biblical position that reformed Christians hold and the position that the RC Church adheres to clear.
D. Howard Gilpin, Moira