So, Benedict is once again stating clearly what he (and the church he serves) has always believed, and people are getting a bit upset about it. On the one hand, I wonder why they are upset, because nothing has changed in his doctrine, or that of the Catholic Church of which he is the head. On the other hand, this is a move toward asserting the late doctrine of papal infallibility which was not defined dogmatically until 1850.
In the release of the paper "RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH" Pope Benedict XVI asserts some things, which we non-catholic Christians thought they still believed all along, such as: 1) Roman Catholicism is the only, one and true church established by God, 2) Other Churches are either faulty, or they are not really church at all, because they do not have the necessary apostolic succession in leadership.
As to the second point, Orthodox Denominations are considered faulty because they "lack something." Protestant, and other non-Orthodox Churches fall short of even being worthy of the title church, because "[a]ccording to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.
Otherwise, Protestant churches may have some semblance of Christian behavior in them, but they have no chance of being real churches according to Catholic doctrine.
A real Church according to Catholicism exists on the basis of these points: 1) Peter laid hands on some guy in the first century and passed apostolic authority on to him. This in turn has happened successively through the generations down to today. and 2) Because this occurred today's priests have the ability to say the words of Jesus over the bread and the wine, and turn the elements into his literal body.
Because Protestant, and non-Orthodox Churches are not really churches they do not have the ability to offer true salvation to people according to the Catholic Church.
I am not sure I would call myself a Protestant, but I do call myself a Christian, and I do believe the church I pastor opens a clear pathway for people to find God, and salvation. I also believe that the doctrine of apostolic succession places the Will of God into the hands of failing men, and negates it power. Furthermore the teaching of transubstantiation appears as a form of magic, and I do not find sufficient support for it in scripture.
Having said this, I have wonderful committed Christian friends who consider themselves Catholic. As for Benedict: His words make me want to take up the word Protestant. Now I know what Luther was mad at. Does anyone wonder why we held a conference entitled, "God for People Who Hate Church?" Perhaps it's time for some good ol' apostolic secession.