As usual, the secular media confuses the issue and makes the Catholic Church looks rather arrogant and intolerant. I refer to the “subsist” argument now touted on numerous news stories and blogs. (see Zenit.org)
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarifies, in the form of five questions, what the Second Vatican Council meant by the term "subsists in" with regard to the nature of the Catholic Church.
The responses affirm that the "Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change" Catholic doctrine on the Church, but rather "it developed, deepened and more fully explained it."
The doctrinal congregation explains in the clarification: "Christ 'established here on earth' only one Church and instituted it as a 'visible and spiritual community,' that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.
The responses say that "it is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them."
The expression "subsists in" was adopted, instead of simply the word "is,"
because it indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church.
It “brings out more clearly the fact that there are 'numerous elements of sanctification and of truth' which are found outside her structure, but which 'as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel toward Catholic unity.'"
Christian communities born out of the 16th-century Reformation are not given the title Church, the document explains, because these communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church.