Clink on any of the six links below with Rev. Brian Harrison and me:
I’ve decided to reprint the following old 2008 and 2009 email exchange between Fr. Harrison and myself.
It’s time for me to step in to answer this one.
Harrison stated: The “subsists” in LG 8 is not a “new doctrine” and certainly does not mean a “larger than RC true Church”.
If you read the whole of Vatican 2, you will see that is most definitely a new doctrine, because LG is implying that the Church of Christ also subsists in other churches.
For instance: Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism) Chapter 1. Catholic principles of ecumenism
1. “Yet almost all, though in different ways, long for the one visible Church of God, that truly universal Church whose mission is to convert the whole world to the gospel, so that the world may be saved, to the glory of God.”
If the Catholic Church (yes, others are included in the statement) longs for one visible Church of God that truly universal Church, then it is saying that Church of Christ is made up of more than one visible Church. Therefore, the Church of Christ must subsist outside the Catholic Church too. But we know that the Catholic Church does not long for one visible Church of God for it alone is the one visible Church of God. The Catholic Church is does not long for that truly universal Church for it alone is the true universal church.
All heretics and schismatics believe themselves to be authentic Christians. Non-Catholics claiming to be Christians are not true Christians at all. Vatican 2 denies that heretics and schismatics are heretics and schismatics and now calls them separated brothers and sisters. Try to find the word heretic or schismatic anywhere in Vatican 2.
Unitatis Redintegratio 3. “It follows that these separated churches and communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have by no means been 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 whose efficacy comes from that fullness of grace and truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church.”
This means these other churches are good enough for salvation according to Vatican II, but the Catholic Church has taught differently.
Pope Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum (# 9), June 29, 1896: “The Church alone offers to the human race that religion – that state of absolute perfection – which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence.”
Pope Pius X, Editae saepe (# 29), May 26, 1910: “The Church alone possesses together with her magisterium the power of governing and sanctifying human society. Through her ministers and servants (each in his own station and office), she confers on mankind suitable and necessary means of salvation.”
Unitatis Redintegratio Chapter 3. Churches and ecclesial communities separated from the Roman apostolic see 13-15. “We now turn our attention to the two chief types of division as they affect the seamless robe of Christ. The first division occurred in the east, when the dogmatic formulas of the councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon were challenged, and later when ecclesiastical communion between the eastern patriarchates and the Roman See was dissolved… Everyone knows with what great love the Christians of the east celebrate the sacred liturgy… Hence, through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows, and through concelebration their communion with one another is made manifest.”
Again, Vatican 2 asserting non-Catholic heretics and schismatics build up and help the true Church grow.
Flowing from the apostate principle that the Church of Christ is not alone the Catholic Church, we have the outrageous statements that the Catholic Church is actually joined to those who reject her. And why not, since all are part of the true Church of Christ according to Vatican 2.
Harrison continues: The CDF officially clarified that in July 2007. The Council has to be interpreted coherently with itself, and there are other Vat. II passages that make it very clear and explicit that the RC Church is – equals – the one true Church established by Christ.
Show us that clear and explicit passage. Vatican 2 says that the Catholic Church has the fullness of means of salvation, but other false churches also have a means of salvation. This is heretical. Even if that passage could be presented, it would only mean that Vat2 speaks with a forked tongue.
Again Harrison: The obscure term “subsists” has to be interpreted in the light of more clear and unambiguous texts in the same body of writing. That’s a normal principle of rational hermeneutics.
This sounds like a Protestant talking about the Bible when they have to twist the plain meaning to say something different. At least Harrison knows that it is wrong to believe that the Church of Christ subsists outside the Catholic Church but unfortunately for him, Vatican 2 is quite clear and unambiguous that it does subsist elsewhere. The normal principle of rational hermeneutics is looking at the whole and talking it at face value. And if this is not enough, just look at how the new religion of Rome applies the Vatican 2 teachings. It recognizes the bishopric of Canterbury, when JPII kisses the guy’s ring. This is an outright rejection of Leo’s condemnation of Anglican’s orders, but flows nicely with UR3 of Vat2. We have JPII and Benedict constantly speaking out how they long for the one Church or even better, we have Benedict implying that the Church of Christ actually subsists in the divided churches when he stated: Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), p. 147: “The Fathers, we can now say, were the theological teachers of the undivided Church…” pp. 145-146: “The Fathers are the teachers of the yet undivided Church.” And Co-Workers of the Truth, 1990, p. 29: “…This means that even in Catholic belief the unity of the Church is still in the process of formation; that it will be totally achieved only in the eschaton…”
Again, he states: Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), p. 202: “It means that the Catholic does not insist on the dissolution of the Protestant confessions and the demolishing of their churches but hopes, rather, that they will be strengthened in their confessions and in their ecclesial reality.” Theological Highlights of Vatican II, 1966, pages 61, 68: “… Meantime the Catholic Church has no right to absorb other Churches. … A basic unity – of Churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church – must replace the idea of conversion…”
We know how Benedict interprets Vatican 2.
How about the exchange of religious gifts to the schismatic Orthodox? These jesters are scandalous but they show how Rome interprets it’s own council. So no matter how Harrison wants to twist the plain meaning of Vatican 2, we have the Vatican 2 Church saying and doing exactly as I’ve shown it to be which is contrary to his defense.
Harrison: So “subsists”, rightly understood, just means “continues to exist fully” – the idea being that certain constitutive parts or elements of the Church, like baptism, the Scriptures, faith in the Trinity and Incarnation etc., are also found outside the true Church – something obviously true, which Catholic doctrine has traditionally recognized.
Ah, now this is interesting. “Continues to exist fully” means altogether something different than “is – equals” which is how Harrison originally presented it.
Vatican 2 is not merely saying those other elements such as Baptism are also found outside the Church (we all know that already, we don’t need Vat2 to tell us) but ARE THE MEANS OF SALVATION IN THOSE FALSE RELIGIONS as I just demonstrated with the statements of Vat2 itself.
The problem is Harrison knows the truth but has to twist the very meaning of Vatican 2 to mean something else.
Interpretation of Vatican 2 is not what we are going for. Vatican 2 words itself are what we are looking at, and at face value they are heretical. This means Vatican 2 itself has formally taught heresy BY IT’S OWN WORDS.
Either the Gates of hell prevailed or sedevacantism is true. I gave this one simple example but I have better ones than this.
AGAIN SPERAY RESPONDS TO ANOTHER HARRISON REPLY- Dear Everybody,
Harrison: (I’ll reply in more detail when I have more time, but really, the claim that “Vatican 2 is quite clear and unambiguous that [the Church of Christ] does subsist elsewhere” is so preposterous as to be scarcely worth refuting. The Council nowhere says or implies that, and the UR passage Steve quotes does not even hint at it.)
To say that it doesn’t is what is preposterous. It actually says that non-Catholic Churches such as Eastern Orthodox build up and help the Church grow. This implies that they too are part of the Church of Christ. Again, subsists is a false word used in LG. It could have easily used “is” or “equals to” but it didn’t and UR clearly tells us why.
HARRISON: (What he says about non-Catholic bodies being used as “means of salvation” ignores my criticisms of Bishop Sanborn’s position (his failure to make the necessary distinction being “used” formally and merely materially), which I believe I forwarded to Matt recently.)
Formally and materially makes no real difference according to the criticism offered against Sanborn. Vat2 is clear that it is the false religions themselves that are used by God “as a means of salvation.” This is false. Also, Baptism may not be valid in most Protestant churches since the wrong intent is involved which is to forgive sins. But even if the correct intent were given, unless it were given to infants, the Baptism won’t take in the sense that it alone will not save since Faith also must be present. Infants that are Baptized in Protestant churches make infant Catholics not Protestants. The Protestant church didn’t make a means of salvation for them but the Catholic sacrament, which can be offered by anybody. If Harrison wants to say this is what Vat2 means, then you could say that God uses everybody, of any religion as a means of salvation, but Vat2 was specific about Protestant churches.
HARRISON: (Nor is it true that “continues to exist fully” means something incompatible with “is or equals”. Steve just asserts that as if it were self-evident. He offers no argument, only bare assertion, ignoring my explanatory comparison with considering whether the US is the “same” country now as in 1776.)
He apparently didn’t read what I said. Vat2 says the Catholic Church has the fullness of means of salvation, but that other churches possess a means of salvation. Therefore, the Church of Christ “continues to exist fully” in the Catholic Church but it also “continues partly” in false churches. This is what I meant, if I wasn’t clear enough the first time.
HARRISON: (Also, doctrinally questionable or even false statements made by Father Ratzinger decades prior to his election as Pope, and indeed, prior to his supervision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which corrects or contradicts most of those earlier controversial statements, could not possibly count towards his alleged non-papal status now. (No, not even if he is negligent enough to allowing them to be republished without correction in recent times.)
Ratzinger’s statements are indeed false, but they aren’t mere statements. They are the many words he puts into books. He doesn’t hold the true Faith. He didn’t before he was elected and he doesn’t now. The point I made is that what he says fits what Vat2 says. This is how he interprets it. I gave several examples of JPII and Benedict and how they apply Vat2 to the world.
HARRISON: (It would help the discussion if I knew whether Steve is a ‘Feeneyite” sedevacantist or not. Steve, do you accept the 1949 Holy Office letter, approved personally by Pius XII, which teaches that a merely “implicit desire for the Church” on the part of non-Catholics can sometimes be sufficient for their salvation? Or do you, like Fr. Feeney, insist that everyone must explicitly and consciously accept and submit to papal authority before death in order to be saved?)
Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.)
I’m no Feeneyite. Fr Feeney was incorrect about how one could be justified apart of Baptism but couldn’t go to Heaven.
Baptism of desire is a doctrine that must be held as a Catholic. I just wrote a book on it covering all the objections against it.
As for the 1949 letter, no one knows if Pius XII personally approved it. Where’s are the sources that say so?
The 1949 letter was never placed in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, which is the publication where all official acts of the Church are registered. Without this registration, the letter simply does not exist officially in the Church. (In 1963, the letter was placed in Enchiridion Symbolorum by Rev. Karl Rahner, who pulled the letter from the non-authoritative source of The American Ecclesiastical Review of October 1952.)
I believe the 1949 letter is incorrectly written. To say “merely implicit desire for the Church” on the part of non-Catholics can sometimes be sufficient for their salvation” is heretical. It’s actually ridiculous. It takes much more than merely having implicit desire. But one with implicit desire can be saved if he is open to God’s grace, and has perfect contrition for his sins.
This doesn’t apply to Vat2 since this implicit desire gets one inside the Catholic Church immediately before or at death. His implicit desire didn’t save him, but being open to God’s grace wanting please God alone has God save him. False religions don’t save as Vat2 says.
SPERAY REPLIES TO ANOTHER HARRISON RESPONSE –
My responses are below,
Harrison states:”I have time now only to address part of these objections to what I said previously. I repeat and insist that it is obviously false and preposterous to claim that, according to Vatican II, the Church of Christ “subsists” also in other (non-Catholic) denominations. As far as I’m concerned, those who just can’t see this simple fact disqualify themselves from the capacity to engage in serious theological discussion.”
I agree that Harrison would say such a thing since this the guy who teaches that a pope can be a heretic. I’ve given statements within Vat2 itself, yet, I don’t see them being addressed. I’ve given statements from Benedict himself. I suppose Harrison would think Benedict would disqualify himself from the capacity to engage in serious theological discussion. Benedict clearly believes the Church of Christ is divided.
HARRISON: (The word “subsists” was chosen by the Council precisely to indicate an attribute that belongs uniquely and exclusively to the Catholic Church, and to absolutely no other community, namely, that she alone retains all the elements (or characteristics, or components) originally established by Christ to constitute his true and unique Church.)
Subsist is defined as: (a.) To exist; be. (b.) To remain or continue in existence. To attribute this word to mean or indicate as “belongs uniquely and exclusively” and “to absolutely no other” and “alone” is so ridiculous that I should stop right now. But so I’m not accused of not answering everything, I’ll continue.
HARRISON: (To put it as simply as possible: “subsists” means “exists fully”; and far from teaching that the original Church of Christ also “exists fully” in one or more other (non-Catholic) denominations, the Council and other post-conciliar documents explicitly deny that heretical notion: they teach very plainly that only certain parts or elements of Christ’s original Church can be found in other (non-Catholic) denominations – never the fullness.)
No one said that subsists would also teach that it “exists fully” in one or more other denominations. Harrison clearly demonstrates that he either can’t comprehend very simple phrases or is dishonest in his arguments. First of all, the law of non-contradiction would keep this statement out of the picture. I made it very clear that Vat2 teaches that the Catholic Church has the fullness of means to salvation. It also teaches that other non-catholic churches have a means of salvation. Therefore, it implies that the Church of Christ exists in non-catholic churches. This is very simple logic. Never did anyone say or imply that Vat2 was teaching that the Church of Christ exists fully in non-catholic churches. That being said, to say that the Church of Christ exists fully in the Catholic Church was meant to be understood, that the Catholic Church has all elements needed for salvation.
However, the word “subsists” in LG taken at face value doesn’t even mean this, since the Church of Christ is distinguished from the Catholic Church. “Subsists” would mean that it merely exists within the Catholic Church, not necessarily “in full.” But it doesn’t matter since the Church of Christ could exist fully in one thing and partly in another.
HARRISON: (As can be seen below from the official CDF explanation of June 2007 (see Vatican website), the word “subsists” is said to “indicate the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church” (response to third question). And to remove all possible doubt that Steven’s interpretation of Lumen Gentium #8 conflicts with the Church’s own official interpretation of that document, we read below in the response to the second question that “the word ‘subsists’ can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone” (my emphasis).)
As I suspected, Harrison said Vat2 itself was clear on this point. Where is that passage I asked. Instead, he goes to an explanation outside the council. I said that if that passage could be shown, then Vat2 is speaking with a forked tongue. This is how JPII and Benedict operate. They say one thing, and then later contradict themselves in word and practice. I actually give examples, even from Vat2 itself.
But as I said before, it doesn’t matter what interpretation you give or some CDF gives, Vatican 2 gives a false word to begin with. So false, so erroneous, that it takes us to have to ask what does this mean, because the face value of this word doesn’t square up.
The word Subsists does not mean what Harrison or the CDF says it means. The definition of this word is clear and this definition, (not some definition that Harrison or the CDF creates out of the word) is heretical. It’s not my interpretation, it is a simple definition and it is completely ridiculous for the CDF to try to cover up the plain meaning of the word.
HARRISON: (Given these official clarifications, it is clear that there is no incompatibility between saying “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church” and saying, “The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church”. As the CDF explains here, the reason for introducing the former term in Lumen Gentium #8 was not in order to change the traditional Catholic doctrine, but just to give more emphasis than previously to the truth (always acknowledged by the Church but not so much emphasized) that certain parts or elements of the Church (i.e., some sacraments, Scriptures, and beliefs, which by right belong to her alone), have been retained by groups that broke away from her.)
Vat2 doesn’t just say certain parts or elements exist elsewhere but that false churches themselves are building up and helping the Church of Christ grow. Give me whatever interpretation you want, but we know what Vat2 really means regardless of what anybody says.
HARRISON: (Other Vatican II passages that show that the Council continues to equate the Catholic Church – and her alone – with the one true Church of Jesus Christ are the following: (a) Dignitatis Humanae #1 affirms that “the one true religion” made known by God “continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church”;)
No one says otherwise and this statement does not say or imply anything contradictory to what I have said thus far.
HARRISON: (and the document goes on (same article) to affirm its intention of “leaving intact” the “traditional doctrine” regarding our moral duty to embrace “the true religion and the one Church of Christ”.)
What does the one Church of Christ mean according to Vat2? That it is one and unified? And yet the very same Vat2 says we long for the one visible Church of God, that truly universal Church. Why if it exists fully in the Catholic Church? Vat2 clearly contradicts itself over and over.
HARRISON: ((b) In the Decree on Ecumenism, #2, we read that the holy Church established by Jesus “till the end of time” is governed by “the Apostles and their successors – with Peter’s successor at their head”, and is “the Church, God’s only flock”. In other words, the Roman Catholic Church alone (for she alone is governed by “Peter’s successor”) is “God’s only flock” – i.e., the one true Church established by Jesus.)
This doesn’t contradict what I’ve been saying.
HARRISON: ((c) In the Decree on Bishops, Christus Dominus, articles 1-2, the Roman Catholic Church is simply equated with the “Church of Christ”. )
Vatican 2 doesn’t say that.
HARRISON: (We read there of “the Body of Christ (Eph 4: 12), which is the Church.” And then, next sentence, “In this Church of Christ, the Roman Pontiff . . . has been granted by God supreme, full, immediate and universal power in the care of souls”. So, according to this passage, “Body of Christ” is (equals) “the Church of Christ”, and this Church in turn is (equals) that body over which “the Roman Pontiff” has full power. And the only such body, of course, is (equals) the Roman Catholic Church. No other group. Period.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.)
Three things to summarize: First, the word Subsists is defined other than what Harrison or the CDF says and JPII and Benedict have also spoken differently about it. Vat2 is heretical by its words. Interpretation is something else. There is no universal and ordinary magisterial interpretation of “subsists.”
Secondly, if Harrison and CDF are correct, then you still have Vat2 itself saying that other false churches are a means of salvation when “outside the Church there is no salvation” therefore false churches must be part of the Church of Christ. This means that Vat2 is at best contradicting itself.
Lastly, Harrison admitted the word was obscure. It’s ambiguous at best. Vat2 at best created a serious doubt which the Catholic Church cannot do. The fact that Harrison and the CDF have to clarify it proves that subsists is the wrong word. End of debate.
HARRISON ATTACHED THE FOLLOWING:
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN ASPECTS
OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURC
What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
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. (. . .)
In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.
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. Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
Why was the expression “subsists in” adopted instead of the simple word “is”?
The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and 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 towards Catholic Unity”.
I will shortly return to Steven’s specific points (see below), I hope, now that the Christmas/New Year rush is over.
In the meantime I attach the text of two relevant pieces of mine that have been published recently, arguing that two key Vatican II documents constantly assailed by sedevacantists – those on ecumenism and religious liberty respectively – do not contradict traditional doctrine. (It is not true, for instance, that Dignitatis Humanae teaches the heretical doctrine that there exists “a right to teach falsehood”, or a “right to do what is wrong”, as is so often asserted by traditionalists.)
The article “Is Ecumenism a Heresy?” has just come out in the January 2009 issue of This Rock, published by the “Catholic Answers” apologetics outfit based in San Diego, CA. The piece on Dignitatis Humanae is the entry on that topic in:
Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy, edited by M.L. Coulter, S.M. Krason, R.S. Myers & J.A. Varacalli (Lanham, MD, Toronto, & Plymouth, U.K.: Scarecrow Press, 2007), vol. 1, pp. 304-307;
Best wishes and blessings for 2009,
Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.
Dear Father Harrison,
It’s nice to hear from you again. Thank you for the articles. I want to start off the year in love and charity. So please don’t think that I’m attacking you personally, and if I offend you in any way, I don’t mean it in a malicious manner. That being said let me begin…
I noticed that you skipped the first points concerning subsists which you say means that Church of Christ means ONLY AND IS the Catholic Church but where Vatican 2 states in UR that we all
“long for the one visible Church of God, that truly universal Church” and “the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of Catholicity proper to her,…the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full Catholicity in all its bearings.”…
and false religions “build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace” and “For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation”
The Catholic Church does not long for one visible Church of God for it alone is the one visible Church of God. The Catholic Church is does not long for that truly universal Church for it alone is the true universal church. It also is not and cannot be prevented from realizing in practice the fullness of Catholicity proper to her. What the Catholic Church longs for is for all heretical and schismatic churches to renounce their heresies and join the one true Catholic Church. The final statement is saying false churches are good enough for salvation according to Vatican II, but the Catholic Church has taught differently.
Then you have UR saying that Schismatic churches, “the Church of God is built up and grows, and through concelebration their communion with one another is made manifest.”
Fr Harrison if you think that Vatican 2 is not saying that the Church of Christ subsists in false religions then you disagree with Paul VI and the rest of the gang since they most certainly have interpreted it that way.
For instance, Paul VI, Telegram upon election of new Schismatic Patriarch of Constantinople, July, 1972: “At the moment when you assume a heavy charge in the service of the Church of Christ…” (L’Osservatore Romano, July 27, 1972, p. 12.)
Here Paul VI is saying that the Church of Christ subsists in the Eastern Schismatic churches.
Then you have Benedict speaking on Principles of Catholic Theology (1982), p. 147: “The Fathers, we can now say, were the theological teachers of the undivided Church…” pp. 145-146: “The Fathers are the teachers of the yet undivided Church.” And Co-Workers of the Truth, 1990, p. 29: “…This means that even in Catholic belief the unity of the Church is still in the process of formation; that it will be totally achieved only in the eschaton…”
What is going on here is that the Church of Christ is divided in the minds of your popes, as Vatican 2 is implying. But how can this be if the Church of Christ ONLY AND IS the Catholic Church?
Now to continue what you stated in your latest letter…
As for your argument that DH does not teach “a right to teach falsehood”, or a “right to do what is wrong,” I must say that this is so blatantly false that I find it hard how you could make such a statement. The articles you sent confuse the issue as it creates a false argument.
The Epistle of James clearly says that man is not justified by faith alone but by faith and works. Yet, Protestants still argue that James doesn’t mean what he says. Protestants know that James destroys their theology of sola fide if taken as it says, and so they will refuse to admit the obvious. You are doing the very same thing with Vatican 2.
Sedevacantism does not rest on Vatican 2, so it doesn’t matter with us. (Vat2 is the bad fruit, not the foundation) but I think you know that if Vatican 2 can be shown to teach heresy, then you will either have to be a sedevacantist or say the gates of hell prevailed.
As a matter of fact, your article argues along the same line as Martin Luther, as your position (as is Vatican 2) on religious freedom is the same as his. Are you aware of this?
Your explanation is different from what other apologists give. As a matter of fact, novus ordo apologists all give a different spin on the plain wording of Vat-2. Over 40 yrs later, and novus ordo apologists have to keep explaining away the heresy of DH, which means, you all must admit that DH is terribly ambiguous at best. Something the Church can’t do. So every time one of you attempts to explain away the plain wording of Vat-2, you prove sedevacantism.
DH is clear. “This Vatican synod declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Such freedom consists in this, that all should have such immunity from coercion by individuals, or by groups, or by any human power, that no one should be force to act against his conscience in religious matters,
No problem, we all agree, but DH continues, “nor prevented from acting according to his conscience, whether in private or in public, within due limits.”
The addition of public is a particular problem. For one does not have this “right.” The government is the one that has the right to forbid such “public” worship. I submit that blasphemous PRIVATE worship has no right, such as in Satanism, but DH is saying the contrary. “Due limits” is referring to laws, such as anything that would cause physical harm to another or something along those lines. Examples: mutilation, murder, use of illegal drugs, etc. This obviously would not be allowed. But I guess, it is how you interpret it. Regardless, it doesn’t change the error of the previous statement.
Again, DH # 4: “In addition, religious communities are entitled to teach and give witness to their faith publicly in speech and writing without hindrance.”
Again, this gives error a right, unless you are arguing that non-catholic religious communities are not teaching and giving witness to error. Yet, the document says entitled to do it publicly in speech and writing.
DH clearly contradicts: Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 15), Aug. 15, 1832:“Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which, though small in weight, are very great in malice.”
Pope Leo XIII, Libertas (# 42), June 20, 1888: “From what has been said it follows that it is quite unlawful to demand, to defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, of speech, or writing, or of worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature of man.”
Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei (# 34), Nov. 1, 1885: “Thus, Gregory XVI in his encyclical letter Mirari Vos, dated August 15, 1832, inveighed with weighty words against the sophisms which even at his time were being publicly inculcated – namely, that no preference should be shown for any particular form of worship; that it is right for individuals to form their own personal judgments about religion; that each man’s conscience is his sole and all-sufficing guide; and that it is lawful for every man to publish his own views, whatever they may be, and even to conspire against the state.
Please don’t tell me that “due limits” is the clause that keeps from contradicting Gregory and Leo.
John Paul I most clearly saw it when he stated, “the Church had always taught that only the truth had rights, but now the Council made it clear that error also has rights.”
In 1978, John Paul I knew what DH meant. Why would you argue that DH is not giving “a right to teach falsehood” or “a right to do what is wrong” when it actually states that very thing?
This blows my mind.
Is sedevacantism true or is it an error? Do I have a right to publicly teach it by word and writing?
This is a no-brainer.
Will you admit the obvious and become a sedevacantist or say the gates of hell prevailed?
Sincerely and happy feast of St Polycarp,
PS: There is one more point that we may address later and that is Muslims and their god. Vatican 2 and all your popes say it is the same true God as ours. I’ll will prove otherwise using the words of Jesus and past popes.
Thank you for these thoughts. I “skipped” the first point you made about UR because I was (and still am!) pressed for time. I’ll return to it in due course.
Let me “skip” the Church and “subsists” issue once again, to address first of all your points regarding Dignitatis Humanae. First of all, I don’t accept the false alternative you propose: that if DH teaches false doctrine, then the only alternatives are either sedevacantism or admitting that the gates of hell have prevailed. The gates of hell would have prevailed only if the (putative) false doctrine of DH had been proposed with the solemn wrding that characterizes an infallible teaching. But since DH makes no claim to be infallible teaching, it would not mean the gates of hell had prevailed even its doctrine were false. For the Church is making no claim that the teaching of this Declaration is 100% guaranteed to be true.
But is the teaching in fact false? You consider it a “no brainer” that DH “obviously” teaches there is a right to believe and teach error and to do what is wrong. But I’m afraid you do not even address my argument in the encyclopedia entry I sent you dealing briefly with that accusation against the Council. All you do is assert, without any argument, that it just “confuses” the issue. What I said there is that we have to distingush carefully between (a) affirming a “right to do X” and (b) affirming a “right to immunity from human coercion in doing X”. Basically that’s the same important distinction we all make between sin and crime: government doesn’t have the authority to punish any and every kind of sin and wrongdoing.
You and I have a natural “right to immunity from human coercion”, for instance, even in committing the mortal sin of masturbation in private, or that of setting our hearts on treasure on earth by being a greedy and materialistic businessman, because the government and police don’t have any God-given jurisdiction over such matters. But do we have a natural “right to masturbate (even in private)”, or a natural “right to lay up treasure on earth in preference to treasure in Heaven”? Of course not. No one has a “right” to do what God has forbidden.
This distinction is not just mine, by the way. Paul VI asserted it in defense of DH, as did the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in reply to Archbishop Lefebvre, who in 1987 sent in to the CDF exactly the same objection that you have sent me, namely, that DH falsely teaches a supposed “right to do wrong” and “to propagate error”. No it doesn’t, insisted the Vatican. In fact, the relator’s official explanation given to the Fathers of Vatican II as to how the document must be understood made the same point. He said: “Nowhere is it affirmed – nor could it be truly affirmed, as is obvious – that there is any right to propagate error. If people propagate error, that is not the exercise of a right, but the abuse of a right, which can and should be restrained if it seriously harms public order, as is affirmed a number of times in the text and explained in article 7” (Acta Synodalia, IV, VI, p. 725). The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes the same point (cf. first ines of #2108).
So there can be no doubt whatsoever that the interpretation of DH which you think is so obviously correct that it’s a “no brainer” is not at all the interpretation which the Church herself gives to that document. Who is more likely to understand its true meaning correctly – you, or the bishops and cardinals and Pope wo signed the document?
This is all I have time for right now. I get so swamped with emails that I have to ration my daily email time, and so you have to go on the waiting list again for now!
God bless you,
PS If we suppose “X” in this case to mean publicly practising a false religion, then far from affirming (a), DH 1 denies the truth of (a) by affirming that there is not only a moral duty to seek religious truth (which it makes clear is Catholicism), but also to “embrace it and hold on to it once it is known”. DH 1 also goes on to make clear that the kind of religious liberty it is affirming “leaves intact the traditional Catholic doctrine about the moral duty of men and societies to the true religion and the one Church of Christ” (Note, once again, how the Roman Catholic Chrch is identified here as “the one Church of Christ”.
Dear Fr. Harrison,
Thank you for the quick response. It appears to be two different arguments involved, one on authority and the other on logic. First the question of authority:
You’re saying DH is not infallible, that it could be heretical?
What sort of teaching is DH if not the supreme ordinary and universal magisterium?
Is it not formal teaching?
On logic… You are correct to say that one must distinguish between what you call “A” and “B”. Your argument is trying to say that DH is saying “B” and not “A”.
I already stated that we agreed with DH on “no coercion” and private limited “error”. However, DH is clear that is also teaches “A”. This is why I quoted DH with: “nor prevented from acting according to his conscience, whether in private or in public.” and 4: “In addition, religious communities are entitled to teach and give witness to their faith publicly in speech and writing without hindrance.”
I’m glad that Lefebvre brought it up but the Vatican response clearly contradicts the clear wording of DH. In other words, the words don’t mean what they say.
Perhaps, you can tell me what those two sentences mean in DH if not a right to promote error through speech and writing.
This is why I said the articles confuse the issue and create a false argument. Because “no coercion” does not equal to a “no prevention” from the state and this what the “A” “B” puzzle was trying to establish. At least, that is how I’m seeing it.
Again, is sedevacantism a truth or error? You say “error”. Do I have a right to promote it in public without hindrance in word and writing?
DH is saying I have a right to do “promote” my “error” in public. Therefore, it gives error a right. And again, John Paul I saw this and said it is contrary to historic teaching and he did sign the document. Even Fr Malachi Martin during Vatican 2 said it contradicted previous teaching. So it didn’t just come up with Lefebvre in 1987 that in the end of Vatican 2, he refused to sign it. I’m much more inclined to believe Lefebvre and Martin over the rest of the bishops. So it is not just my interpretation over all the bishops and pope.
I don’t believe Paul VI is a true pope, so I won’t go by what he says. I must try to follow Christ in the way I believe He wants me too, which is the historic Catholic Faith using my mind the best way I can and only through His Grace.
The state has the right to silence and stop religious communities from teaching and giving witness to their faith in public speech and writing, but it does not have a right to coerce them out of their religion.
If DH were trying to teach what the Vatican said in response to Lefebvre then it would have stated it as easily and plainly as I just did in the previous sentence. But it didn’t, it said exactly the opposite on the first part.
Anyway, sorry for my much-too-long letter before. I’ll try to keep it short (1 page) in the future. I’m not holding you up on answering all my emails. I know you are busy with your life as I am. I’ll look forward to hearing from you when you get the time.
HARRISON NEVER REPLIES.
HIS POSITION IS DESTROYED.