In Lumen Gentium 8 we find the words, "Haec Ecclesia [...] subsistit in Ecclesia catholica..." ("This Church [...] subsists in the Catholic Church").

The Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Concilii Oecumenici Vaticani II is a collection of all of the speeches, debates, and written submissions of the Council Fathers at Vatican II. For example, it is well known that "subsistit in" replaced the original formulation of "est" due to an intervention during the Council.


According to the Acta Synodalia of Vatican II, what is the meaning of "subsistit in"? What did the Council Fathers mean by subsistit in and why did they use this term to convey the relation between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church?

Note: I am only interested in the interpretation of subsistit in with respect to the Acta Synodalia. Strong answers will include insight into central discussions and debates that took place at the Council as well as the names of the parties who put forward various positions.

  • If I write an answer summarizing the debates in this wikipedia article + more quotes from the referenced 2006 paper A Response to Karl Becker, S.J. On the Meaning of Subsistit In + more quotes from the referenced Card. Ratzinger 2000 interview which includes the meaning of "subsistit in" in Dominus Iesu 16 which in turn references Lumen Gentium 8, would that suffice, or do I need to research more? May 12 '21 at 6:02
  • Another resource I will potentially use is the America magazine 2000 article The Impact of Dominus Iesus on Ecumenism by the same author of the 2006 paper, Francis A. Sullivan, SJ, which is a commentary on "subsistit in" and the famous footnote 56. May 12 '21 at 6:58
  • A more recent paper by (Lawrence J. Welch and Guy Mansini OSB) which refute Francis A. Sullivan's position: Lumen Gentium No. 8 and Subsistit in, Again which I would include in my answer. Also often cited is CDF response to Leonard Boff's book and Unitatis Redintegratio no. 4 May 12 '21 at 13:27
  • @GratefulDisciple I suppose if no answer derived from the Acta is possible then secondary answers would be acceptable. Yet even then I would prefer that such secondary answers take as their starting point(s) bishops and theologians who were present at the Council. People like Ratzinger and Sullivan would therefore be good sources. If your journal articles rely heavily on the Acta, all the better.
    – zippy2006
    May 12 '21 at 17:50
  • In other words, the clarification should only be made by other documents included in the 4 volumes Acta to throw light not only the change of formulation from the original (done by Sebastian Tromp, SJ) but what the bishops and theologians would have understood "subsistit in"? So similar to how Biblical exegesis in Biblical Theology should only use other NT books or the NT authors to clarify the meaning of a passage? I understand this would rule out Dominus Iesu, CDF response to Leonard Boff's book and Card. Ratzinger interview. May 12 '21 at 21:36

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