Another exercise in the judicious parsing of church documents

Let’s take a look at a noteworthy excerpt from the Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II, article 3:

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

For clarity sake, let’s enhance what is being said by substituting nouns (in italics) for pronouns:

It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using the separated Churches and Communities as such as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

To enhance the clarity of this section just a bit more, let’s substitute specific ecclesial terms (in italics)for the general references:

It follows that the schismatic Churches and heretical Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using the schismatic Churches and heretical Communities as such as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

It gets better…