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Archive for the ‘Doctrine’ Category

Many Protestants believe in a once-saved-always-saved doctrine. They believe a true Christian can never lose his salvation. They will point to verses such as Heb. 10:14:

For by one oblation he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

Rom: 8:38-39:

For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

and John 10:28:

And I give them life everlasting; and they shall not perish for ever, and no man shall pluck them out of my hand.

We can answer the Hebrews quote by saying that the sacrifice of Christ does prefect forever those that are sanctified provided we never sin again. Each time we sin, we turn to Christ and His sacrifice, which once again perfects us forever unless we sin again. A few verses later, we are told that Christians can lose salvation.

We answer the Romans quote by noting that it’s true that no one and no thing can make us cease or even hinder our love for Christ. However, we can choose by our own free will to stop loving Christ. God doesn’t make us love Him.

We answer the St. John quote by noting that God is speaking about His elect of whom only He knows. We don’t know who belongs in the group. I’m sure many damned individuals believed themselves to be part of the elect. Even St. Paul was not sure for he told us in I Cor. 9:27:

But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.

These proof-text Bible verses do not support eternal security for all Christians. The fact remains that true Christians can lose their salvation as the Bible clearly tells us.

He who endures to the end will be saved. (Matt. 24:13, Mark 13:13, James 1:12, Matt. 10:22)

We must endure to the end or else we will not be saved.

John 15: 6:

If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch, and shall wither, and they shall gather him up, and cast him into the fire, and he burneth.

To be cast off as a branch, one must first be a member of the tree. This verse implies that a member of Christ can be cut off to be burned.

Rom 11: 22-23:

See then the goodness and the severity of God: towards them indeed that are fallen, the severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God, if thou abide in goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

Again, to be cut off implies that one was a member first. Thus, salvation can be lost.

I Cor. 6: 9-11:

Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God. And such some of you were; but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.

St. Paul is warning those who have been sanctified and justified that they could be deceived and go back to their old ways for such people will not be saved. Period!

I Cor. 15: 1-2:

Now I make known unto you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and wherein you stand; By which also you are saved, if you hold fast after what manner I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.

St. Paul qualifies his teaching with an “if” or else.

Heb. 3:12-14:

Take heed, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, to depart from the living God. But exhort one another every day, whilst it is called to day, that none of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ: yet so, if we hold the beginning of his substance firm unto the end.

This is another warning to those in Christ that they could possibly lose their salvation.

Heb. 6:4-6:

For it is impossible for those who were once illuminated, have tasted also the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, Have moreover tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, And are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery.

Only a Christian can be made a partaker of the Holy Ghost. He can lose his salvation.

Heb. 10:26-29:

For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries. A man making void the law of Moses, dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath esteemed the blood of the testament unclean, by which he was sanctified, and hath offered an affront to the Spirit of grace?

II Peter 2:20-21:

For if, flying from the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they be again entangled in them and overcome: their latter state is become unto them worse than the former. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them.

These two verses are echoing each other. It’s better to never be a Christian than to stop being Christian.

 

 

 

 

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The Wise Men Guided by a Star by Gustave Doré, 1865

There are Catholic sedevacantists that have been so upset with the fact that there is no pope that they decided to join heretical sects and become their own pope. Their private interpretations, decisions, and explanations have become for them law, dogma, and the infallible truth.

Failure to make proper distinctions always appears to be the cause for people to misunderstand Catholicism. However, I find often that people are only looking for an excuse to reject the Catholic religion because of the difficulty of maintaining true Christianity.

Understanding the difference between the pope and papacy:

  1. The Roman Pontiff or pope is the person that holds the office of the papacy. The papacy concerns the system in which the pope governs the Church. Christ didn’t intend to create a papacy without ever having a pope. Indeed, there would be no papacy without ever having a pope. Christ established the papacy by making St. Peter the first pope and giving him the keys. Where Peter is, there is the Church. Therefore, he who separates from the pope separates from unity of the Church, Christianity, and from Christ Himself. When there’s no pope, he who separates from the papacy separates from the same unity of the Church and ultimately Christ.

  2. The papacy is essential. Without the papacy, there is no Catholic Church. However, the Church can exist without a pope as it does each time a pope dies. Sometimes, it has taken years for the Church to attain a pope. For example, the interregnum between St. Marcellinus and St. Marcellus I lasted from 304 to 308 AD. [1] The 13th and 14th centuries also saw long interregnums. During the time of the Great Schism of the West, the Church was unsure who the true pope was. Professor and Reverend Francis X Doyle, S.J. (1927) wrote that Suarez suggested that none of the popes during that time were true popes, which means it’s possible that the Church experienced an interregnum lasting around 50 years. [2] Opinions differ on the subject, but it proves that the opinion that the Church can exist and did exist without a pope during the Great Schism is permitted to be held by the Catholic Church. It also proves that the Church can exist without a pope with an unforeseen resolution for a very, very long time.

  3. If a pope defects, he ceases to be pope, but the papacy doesn’t defect. The papacy always remains intact. If it were possible, [but is not possible] there are only two ways for the papacy to defect: (a.) If a pope taught error from the Chair of Peter as part of the papacy. (b.) The ability to have a pope ceases, which means the Church defects. For instance, no more Catholics existed. Opinions differ on what’s the minimum requirement for the Church to exist, but even a layman can be pope since Pope Hadrian V was a layman. Another argument against the papacy is the extinction of the College of Cardinals, which elects the new pope. That argument is answered here The Catholic Bottom Line – Part IV. In scenario (a.), Christ protects the papacy by preventing the pope from teaching error for the world to adhere to. A pope can teach error outside of his office, but his error can’t be against the Catholic faith as defined by the Church. His error would have to be in the realm or doctrine of opinions where the Church or previous popes have not yet made a judgment on the issue. An example of doctrine of opinions would include things like whether the Blessed Virgin Mary died or not.  In the past, the Immaculate Conception and the validity of Holy Orders of simoniacs were in the realm or doctrine of opinions. Now they are dogmas because the Church defined them. In scenario (b.), Christ established a built-in protection for the papacy. When Christ said the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, it was not so much a promise as an established fact. Whatever opinion that would contradict the papacy would be proven false by that fact alone. For instance, the opinion that there are no more Catholics left either in Rome, the Diocese of Rome, or in the World. Since the papacy demands that Catholics exist then Catholics exist somewhere. If they must exist in Rome or the Diocese of Rome, then they exist. We would presume that whatever is needed for the papacy or Church is present regardless of appearances because our faith in Christ’s Word demands it. Proof of its existence exists in Christ’s Declaration, the teaching of the Church, divine law, and logic. When Christ said that He is truly present in the Eucharist, we believe it, but we can’t prove it scientifically. The proof of His Real Presence exists in His Word and the teaching of the Church. We don’t have to prove that Catholics exist and it can’t be proven they don’t exist either in Rome or in the world. That being said, we can easily point to Catholics in Rome and the world. Other arguments against the papacy can be found by those who insist that Vatican 2 and our present day crisis prove the papacy defected. The problem with that argument is that it couldn’t be used prior to 1958. It only proves that those who make such an argument fail to understand either the papacy or the facts that surround Church teaching. Using a Church-permitted theological opinion against the papacy is also futile. The best that anyone could do is present how the theological opinion is false, not the papacy. If a theological opinion by a saint or theologian is found that denied the possibility of our present crisis, it would only mean that opinion by the saint or theologian is erroneous and would be scrapped. I’ve not yet seen such an opinion. All the so-called death knells to Catholicism/sedevacantism are actually proofs or evidence for the truth of Catholicism/sedevacantism. It’s just the failure to make proper distinctions on the part of the heretics.

  4. It’s dogma that Peter has perpetual successors in the papacy. [3] Perpetual succession is not lost unless the principle of perpetuity is lost (the ability to have another pope). We know that as long as there is a bishop and a few Catholics left, the principle of perpetuity remains. It may not even require that much. The Church can have a papacy vacant of a pope as long as the ability to have another pope is present. Since Christ guarantees that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church, the papacy will not defect. As seen from the Great Schism of the West, it’s possible for the Church to not know how it will resolve a papal crisis. In our current situation, there are several possibilities in resolving the crisis. One way is for Francis or his successor to renounce his errors, be universally accepted, and assume the papacy. Another way is for all Catholics to agree that a certain bishop will be pope. Perhaps, it will take a miracle for either case. I’m of the opinion that we’re not going to get another pope not because it’s impossible but rather it seems to best fit the scenario of the final battle with Antichrist as Scripture and the Fathers foretold.

  5. The pope is the center of visible unity. When the pope dies and the Church continues without a pope even during long interregnums, the visible unity of faith doesn’t cease. It remains unified in Catholic doctrine. When a Catholic rejects Catholic doctrine publicly, he ceases to be a Catholic and member of the Body of the Church. The oneness of faith is the first article of faith. When the Church is in an interregnum state, it is in an imperfect and provisional state. Keep in mind that the Church is always perfect in law, doctrine, etc. but it can be imperfect in the sense that Catholics sin or when it’s absent of a pope. The person that represents the visible center of unity is absent but the papacy remains as the foundation for that unity.

If anything I’ve written is used against the papacy, it would only prove that I’m mistaken or the interpreter has misrepresented me, the papacy, or the facts of the matter.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

[2] Rev. Francis X Doyle, S.J. explains: “The Church is a visible society with a visible Ruler. If there can be any doubt about who that visible Ruler is, he is not visible, and hence, where there is any doubt about whether a person has been legitimately elected Pope, that doubt must be removed before he can become the visible head of Christ’s Church. Blessed Bellarmine, S.J., says: ‘A doubtful Pope must be considered as not Pope’; and Suarez, S.J., says: ‘At the time of the Council of Constance there were three men claiming to be Pope…. Hence, it could have been that not one of them was the true Pope, and in that case, there was no Pope at all….” (The Defense of the Catholic Church, 1927, Fr. Francis X. Doyle, S.J.)

[3] https://stevensperay.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/sedevacantism-contradicts-the-first-vatican-council/

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A favorite line from Pseudo-traditionalists is “it’s not infallible.” They say “Pope” Francis’ apostolic exhortation wasn’t infallible, Vatican 2 wasn’t infallible, and the canonization of “Pope” Paul VI wasn’t infallible. What’s implied is the absurdity that when the pope issues decrees, encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, canon laws, or a universal catechism without the charism of infallibility, it means those teachings could be heretical.

The question about what’s infallible and what’s not is not the concern of this study. The only concern for now is the treatment of what is thought to be non-infallible Church teachings in the minds of psuedo-traditionalists.

In the case of the Vatican 2 religion, pseudo-traditionalists recognize that their religion has heretical tenets and are looking for a way to explain how their religion is still Catholic. They’ve spent too much time and energy to admit that the position of sedevacantism is the answer. Therefore, sedevacantism is out of the question.

In the case of Feeneyite sedevacantists, the argument is made that the Roman Catechism of Trent, Canon Law, and the Pope St. Pius X Catechism aren’t infallible. Therefore, the teaching of baptism of desire found in these three sources can be rejected because it’s heretical and contrary to John 3:5 and Trent’s canons. [1]

There are three main reasons why this pseudo-traditionalist novelty is absurd.

          1.  Heresy is a denial of Catholic dogma. Religious assent, both external and internal, is required for  non-infallible teachings of the Church. Religious assent can’t be given to heresy without loss of profession of  faith. The Catholic Church can’t require a denial of its own dogmas.

          2.  All non-infallible decrees, encyclicals, apostolic exhortations, canon laws, etc. would have to be taken with a grain of salt. Suspicion would necessarily follow from all of these teachings. Fear of error would always be present. 

          3.  Protestant churches are heretical even though they are not infallible. If the Catholic Church can promulgate heresy by universal catechism (for instance), it would be the height of hypocrisy for the same church to condemn Protestantism for promulgating heresy

Infallibility means there’s no possibility of error. That doesn’t imply the Church can be heretical outside the charism of infallibility. You won’t find heresy promulgated in any form by the Catholic Church. The possible errors that might be found in non-infallible Church teachings would be very limited. An example might be the Holy Office condemnations under Popes Paul V, Urban VIII, and Alexander condemning Galileo and/or heliocentrism. However, Pope Benedict XV rejects the absolute affirmation of geocentrism in In Praeclara Summorum.

All heresy is error, but not all error is heresy. The possibility of error in non-infallible documents should not be understood as a “possibility of heresy.”

Both sides [Vatican 2 traditionalists and Feeneyite sedevacantists] start with a [false] premise and work out how that premise is true by looking at everything anachronistically. That’s not how it’s supposed to be done. You don’t start with a conclusion and then try to find an argument to prove your conclusion by twisting, ignoring, and rejecting facts, evidence, and reason.

In 1958, Rev. John A. McHugh, OP. and Rev. Charles J. Callan, OP. explain in their Moral Theology study [3] how non-infallible teachings are to be regarded by the faithful and why.           

760.    Many tenets of the Church, indeed, have not the prerogative of infallibility–for example, decrees of the Popes not given ex cathedra, decisions of Congregations made with Papal approval, teachings of Bishops to particular members of the Church, doctrines commonly held by Catholics as theological truths or certain conclusions. These decrees, decisions, etc., receive not the assent of Catholic faith, but what is called religious assent, which includes two things, viz., external and internal assent. 

(a) External assent should be given such teachings–that is, the homage of respectful silence due to public authority. This does not forbid the submission of difficulties to the teaching authority, or the scientific examination of objections that seem very strong. 

(b) Internal assent should be given such teaching–that is, the submission of the judgment of the individual to the judgment of the teacher who has the authority from Christ and assistance from the Holy Spirit. This internal assent differs, however, from the assent of faith, inasmuch as it excludes fear of error, but not of the possibility of error, and it may later on be suspended, called into doubt, or even revoked. Pope Pius X in his Motu proprio, “Praestantiascripturae Sacrae” (Nov. 18, 1907), indicated the binding force of the decrees both of the Pontifical Biblical Commission and of all doctrinal decrees: All are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees which appertain to doctrine, issued by the Sacred Congregations and approved by the Supreme Pontiff; nor can they escape the stigma both of disobedience and temerity, nor be free from grave guilt as often as they impugn their decisions either in word or writing; and this over and above the scandal which they give and the sins of which they may be the cause before God by making other statements on these matters which are very frequently both rash and false. (Reaffirmed by the Biblical Commission on Feb. 27, 1934.)

761. The objects, therefore, which formally or reductively pertain to the virtue of faith, are as follows:

(a) Divine faith has for its object all the truths revealed by God as contained in the Canonical scriptures approved by the Church, and in the teachings received by the Apostles from Christ or the Holy Spirit and handed down to the Church as Tradition. Private revelations in exceptional cases may also be the object of divine faith. 

(b) Catholic faith has for its object all the truths formally revealed in scripture and Tradition that have been defined as such by the Church. The definitions of the Church are either solemn (e.g., those given in the Creeds, ex cathedra definitions of the Popes, decisions of Ecumenical Councils) or ordinary (e.g., those contained in the universal preaching, practice or belief of the Church, encyclical letters [see Humani Generis, n.20]). Equivalent to definitions are the condemnations of error opposed to revealed truths. 

(c) According to some theologians ecclesiastical faith has for its object all infallible decisions of the Church about matters not revealed, but connected with revelation, or necessary for the exercise of the teaching office of the Church. Such are: (i) definitions, that is, definitive declarations of theological conclusions or of dogmatic facts, disciplinary laws made for the entire Church, canonization of the saints, solemn approbation of religious Orders, express or special recognition of Doctors of the Church, declaration of the relation of private revelations to the public revelation; and (ii) censures, that is, condemnations of teachings, on account of falsity, as heretical, near to heresy, savoring of heresy, erroneous, rash, etc.; on account of their expression, as equivocal, ambiguous, presumptuous, captious, suspected, ill-sounding, offensive to pious ears, etc.; on account of their tendency, as scandalous, schismatical, seditious, unsafe, etc. Examples: The definitions concerning the sense of the book Augustinus, the suitability of the terms “consubstantial” and “transubstantiation,” the agreement of the Vulgate with the original scriptures, the lawfulness of the insertion of the Filioque.

(d) Religious assent has for its object all doctrinal pronouncements of the Church that are not infallible, but are yet official and authoritative. Examples are ordinary instructions and condemnations given by Pontifical Congregations and Commissions. The Syllabus of Modern Errors issued by Pius IX was most likely not an infallible or definitive document, although many of the errors it rejects are contrary to dogma, and hence, even apart from the Syllabus, they are to be rejected as opposed to Catholic faith. Likewise, many of its tenets are drawn from encyclical letters. Papal allocutions, radio addresses, and the doctrinal parts of Apostolic Constitutions, in themselves, are in this class. 

(e) Respect is due to the judgment of the Church even in non-doctrinal matters and where no obligation is imposed by her, on account of her position and the careful examination given before decision. Example: It would be disrespectful to reject without good reason a pious belief which the Church after mature deliberation has permitted to be held.   

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In a 1973 movie called The Conflict, a modernist priest played by Martin Sheen asks a traditional priest (played by Trevor Howard) how do we begin to define heresy today. The traditionalist gives the answer for the modernist by stating, “yesterday’s orthodoxy is today’s heresy.”

Never has this statement been truer than in today’s religion headed by “Pope” Francis.

In “Why Sedevacantism” I showed that if Vatican 2 is correct that “religious communities are entitled to teach and give witness to their faith publicly in speech and writing without hindrance” [DH 4] then Martin Luther would have been right when he declared “that heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit” and Pope Leo X and his papal bull condemning Luther’s teaching would be heretical.

On Aug. 2, 2018, the Feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, “Pope” Francis has now, once again, officially recognized Martin Luther’s teaching as orthodoxy by ordering the Catechism of the Catholic Church be changed on capital punishment. [1] (Catechism change and the Letter from the CDF.)

The key changes of the 1992 Catechism footnote an Oct. 11, 2017 address from “Pope” Francis to an audience of cardinals, bishops, priests, nuns, catechists, and ambassadors from many countries on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the catechism. The Catechism now implies that the Catholic Church in the past was ignorant to the dignity of the person after very serious crimes and attacked that dignity out of its ignorance.

In the Oct. address, Francis declared the death penalty is “contrary to the Gospel,” “is an inhuman measure,” “is inadmissible because it attacks the inviolability and the dignity of the person” stressing that “here we are not in the presence of any contradiction with past teaching,” that this, “law of progress” he said, “appertains to the peculiar condition of the truth revealed in its being transmitted by the church, and does not at all signify a change of doctrine. One cannot conserve the doctrine without making it progress, nor can one bind it to a rigid and immutable reading without humiliating the Holy Spirit.” [2]

If only Luther could have lived to see this moment when Rome would say he was right all along. Why Luther would be considered a good Catholic today as even “Pope Saint” John Paul II paid homage to him and the Vatican said he was a “witness to the gospel.” In fact, if Luther lived today, he wouldn’t be so well-known. He’d fit right in with the Novus Ordo establishment.

It really is astounding how Protestant Rome is becoming. One of the doctrines held by the earliest Protestants (Anabaptists) was the unlawfulness of capital punishment. In De Laicis, Doctor of the Church, St. Robert Bellarmine called this a “chief heretical belief” of the Protestant sects. [3]

Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Liguori taught, “It is lawful to put a man to death by public authority: it is even a duty of princes and of judges to condemn to death criminals who deserve it; and it is the duty of the officers of justice to execute the sentence; God himself wishes malefactors to be punished.” [4]

The Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent declared, “Execution Of Criminals: Another kind of lawful slaying belongs to the civil authorities, to whom is entrusted power of life and death, by the legal and judicious exercise of which they punish the guilty and protect the innocent. The just use of this power, far from involving the crime of murder, is an act of paramount obedience to this Commandment which prohibits murder. The end of the Commandment¬ is the preservation and security of human life. Now the punishments inflicted by the civil authority, which is the legitimate avenger of crime, naturally tend to this end, since they give security to life by repressing outrage and violence. Hence these words of David: In the morning I put to death all the wicked of the land, that I might cut off all the workers of iniquity from the city of the Lord.” [5]

If this is not enough, I provide more information on how the Church ordered The Death Penalty for Sodomites.

Even when we see a clear reversal of Church teaching on morality, two well-known radio hosts on Relevant Radio, “Catholic” apologist Patrick Madrid and “Monsignor” Stuart Swetland insist that Francis is only making a pastoral change with no actual change in Church doctrine or is just applying a development of doctrine. You can hear the podcasts by clicking on the links provided at the footnote. [6] I haven’t listened to any other talk shows from Relevant Radio to see how they are dealing with this, but I can figure it’s probably all the same.

On July 3, 1907, Pope St. Pius X condemned as an error of the Modernist in Lamentabili, “53. The organic constitution of the Church is not immutable; but Christian society, just as human society, is subject to perpetual evolution.” Is this not what “Pope” Francis is advocating with his statements? Is this not what Madrid and Swetland are defending when they say that we have to understand this in “Francis’ way” or imply that doctrines can develop in the reverse?

It all comes down to the fact that all of them are modernists in the truest sense of the word, for they all hold that “Yesterday’s orthodoxy is today’s heresy.”

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] The Death Penalty

“2267. Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.

Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, [1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.
_______________________________________
[1] FRANCIS, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017, 5.”

“CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
Letter to the Bishops regarding the new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty

1. The Holy Father Pope Francis, in his Discourse on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei depositum, by which John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, asked that the teaching on the death penalty be reformulated so as to better reflect the development of the doctrine on this point that has taken place in recent times.[1] This development centers principally on the clearer awareness of the Church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: “Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.”[2]
2. It is in the same light that one should understand the attitude towards the death penalty that is expressed ever more widely in the teaching of pastors and in the sensibility of the people of God. If, in fact, the political and social situation of the past made the death penalty an acceptable means for the protection of the common good, today the increasing understanding that the dignity of a person is not lost even after committing the most serious crimes, the deepened understanding of the significance of penal sanctions applied by the State, and the development of more efficacious detention systems that guarantee the due protection of citizens have given rise to a new awareness that recognizes the inadmissibility of the death penalty and, therefore, calling for its abolition.
3. In this development, the teaching of the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitæ of John Paul II is of great importance. The Holy Father enumerated among the signs of hope for a new culture of life “a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of ‘legitimate defense’ on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform.”[3] The teaching of Evangelium vitæ was then included in the editio typica of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In it, the death penalty is not presented as a proportionate penalty for the gravity of the crime, but it can be justified if it is “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor,” even if in reality “cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender today are very rare, if not practically non-existent” (n. 2267).
4. John Paul II also intervened on other occasions against the death penalty, appealing both to respect for the dignity of the person as well as to the means that today’s society possesses to defend itself from criminals. Thus, in the Christmas Message of 1998, he wished “the world the consensus concerning the need for urgent and adequate measures … to end the death penalty.”[4] The following month in the United States, he repeated, “A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.”[5]
5. The motivation to be committed to the abolition of the death penalty was continued with the subsequent Pontiffs. Benedict XVI recalled “the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty.”[6] He later wished a group of the faithful that “your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”[7]
6. In this same prospective, Pope Francis has reaffirmed that “today capital punishment is unacceptable, however serious the condemned’s crime may have been.”[8] The death penalty, regardless of the means of execution, “entails cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment.”[9] Furthermore, it is to be rejected “due to the defective selectivity of the criminal justice system and in the face of the possibility of judicial error.”[10] It is in this light that Pope Francis has asked for a revision of the formulation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty in a manner that affirms that “no matter how serious the crime that has been committed, the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and the dignity of the person.”[11]
7. The new revision of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, approved by Pope Francis, situates itself in continuity with the preceding Magisterium while bringing forth a coherent development of Catholic doctrine.[12] The new text, following the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in Evangelium vitæ, affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes. This conclusion is reached taking into account the new understanding of penal sanctions applied by the modern State, which should be oriented above all to the rehabilitation and social reintegration of the criminal. Finally, given that modern society possesses more efficient detention systems, the death penalty becomes unnecessary as protection for the life of innocent people. Certainly, it remains the duty of public authorities to defend the life of citizens, as has always been taught by the Magisterium and is confirmed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church in numbers 2265 and 2266.
8. All of this shows that the new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium. These teachings, in fact, can be explained in the light of the primary responsibility of the public authority to protect the common good in a social context in which the penal sanctions were understood differently, and had developed in an environment in which it was more difficult to guarantee that the criminal could not repeat his crime.
9. The new revision affirms that the understanding of the inadmissibility of the death penalty grew “in the light of the Gospel.”[13] The Gospel, in fact, helps to understand better the order of creation that the Son of God assumed, purified, and brought to fulfillment. It also invites us to the mercy and patience of the Lord that gives to each person the time to convert oneself.
10. The new formulation of number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church desires to give energy to a movement towards a decisive commitment to favor a mentality that recognizes the dignity of every human life and, in respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.
The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 28 June 2018, has approved the present Letter, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on 13 June 2018, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 1 August 2018, Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori.
Luis F. Card. Ladaria, S.I.
Prefect
X Giacomo Morandi
Titular Archbishop of Cerveteri
Secretary

[2] https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/10/11/pope-francis-death-penalty-contrary-gospel

[3] St. Robert Bellarmine, De Laicis, “Among the chief heretical beliefs of the Anabaptists and Antitrinitarians of our time there is one that says that it is not lawful for Christians to hold magistracy and that among Christians there must not be power of capital punishment, etc., in any government, tribunal, or court.” (p. 5)

[4] St. Alphonsus Liguori (Instructions for the People on the Ten Commandments and on the Sacraments) https://archive.org/stream/alphonsusworks15liguuoft#page/n467/mode/1up

[5] http://www.cin.org/users/james/ebooks/master/trent/tcomm05.htm

[6] Listen to Patrick Madrid on the death penalty change here:
https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/the-patrick-madrid-show-august-3-2018-hour-1/
https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/the-patrick-madrid-show-august-3-2018-hour-2/
and
https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/the-patrick-madrid-show-august-7-2018-hour-2/
https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/the-patrick-madrid-show-august-7-2018-hour-3/

and Swetland can be heard here: https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/go-ask-your-father-for-august-7-2018/
https://relevantradio.com/2018/08/go-ask-your-father-for-august-2-2018/

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One of the main arguments made by pseudo-traditional Catholics is that the heretical novus ordo mass, Second Vatican Council, etc. did not fall under the realm of infallibility. Therefore, the Church [that gave us these things] is not actually heretical. They can resist these abominations and remain in the same church because they weren’t imposed or binding. The Church is still holy.

If we follow this logic, then Protestantism is holy and not actually heretical because Protestants don’t even claim infallibility.

The absurdity is glaring. The Catholic Church can’t teach heresy in any capacity. If it could, it would be essentially no different than the Protestant/Eastern Orthodox religions.

Some Protestants pray the Creed each week saying they believe in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church,” but their meaning of those words differs from the Catholic Church’s understanding. Vatican 2’s definition is closer to the Protestant understanding. The only difference is that it declared “the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic…subsists in the Catholic Church” which alone has “the fullness of grace and truth.” The Protestant and Eastern Orthodox religions don’t have the fullness thereof. According to Vatican 2, the “Church of Christ” which includes Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox is “one” even though formally divided. [1]

In principle, the pseudo-Traditional Catholic understanding is exactly like the Protestant/Vatican 2 understanding.

Although the “pope” (and most every bishop and priest) believes, promotes, and defends religious liberty, communicatio in sacris with non-Catholics, novus ordo mass, etc., the pseudo-traditionalists who vehemently oppose such things still believe they are one in faith with their pope and his faithful clergy. For them, formal division in dogma and divine law is canceled out because of their union with their pope or church. For Protestants, it’s canceled out because of their so-called union with Christ. For Vatican 2, it’s canceled out because of baptism.

The absurdity continues with the mark of holiness. For pseudo-traditionalists, heresy and abomination is canceled out because infallibility wasn’t used. For Protestants, it’s canceled out because sola scriptura is foundational. For Vatican 2, it’s canceled out because of the human condition which is fallen.

Whatever argument that’s employed by pseudo-traditionalists against sedevacantism, it always comes down to this: They want you to believe in the absurdity that oneness and holiness of the Church includes formal division, heresy, and abomination just like Protestantism and the teaching of Vatican 2.

 

 

Footnote:

[1] In an interview with the German newspaper, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Ratzinger, aka Benedict XVI, stated:

“When the Council Fathers replace the word ‘is,’ used by Pius XII, with the word ‘subsistit,’ they did so for a very precise reason. The concept expressed by ‘is’ (to be) is far broader than that expressed by ‘to subsist.’ ‘To subsist’ is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject, which exists in itself. Thus the Council Fathers meant to say: the being of the Church as such extends much further than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.”

Avery Cardinal Dulles, a member of the International Theological Commission: The Church of Christ is not exclusively identical to the Roman Catholic Church.  It does indeed subsist in Roman Catholicism but it is also present in varying modes and degrees in other Christian communities.” (Toward the Church of the Third Millennium: Verso la Chiesa del Terzo Millennio, Brescia: Queriniana, 1979)

Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, one of the main drafters of Vatican II documents, stated: “It is difficult to say that the Catholic Church is still one, Catholic, apostolic, when one says that the others (other Christian communities) are equally one, Catholic and apostolic, albeit to a lesser degree. —- at Vatican Council II, the Roman Catholic Church officially abandoned its monopoly over the Christian religion.”

To the contrary, Pope Pius XII repeatedly taught that “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.” (Mystici Corporis Christi, 1943, Humani Generis, #27, 1950.)

 

 

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I recently called Catholic Answers Live and the Right Here, Right Now radio show with host Patrick Madrid. Without being antagonistic, I just asked them some simple questions about membership in the Church, the Balamand statement, etc. What I got were discombobulated answers to the questions. The day I called Madrid’s show, he began talking how he’s about the truth and getting to the truth. But when I challenged him with papal declarations, he cut me off, and then he cut me short without dealing directly with the actual question. When I called back the next day to follow up on my question, I was told that I wouldn’t get on the program.

It’s funny really. Catholic radio criticizes mainstream media for misrepresentation, yet they do precisely what they condemn. Interestingly enough, Patrick Madrid spoke about hypocrisy the day I was told that I wasn’t going to be brought back on air to follow up on the Balamand statement. There’s nothing like criticizing hypocrisy while being hypocritical.

Anyway, below is my position that the so-called Catholic media won’t allow the public to hear.

Pope Pius XII repeatedly taught that “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.” (Humani Generis, 1950)

In Mystici Corporis Christi the same pope declared: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, ….And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered — so the Lord commands — as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit.”

Later in the same document, Pope Pius XII taught that heresy, schism, and apostasy severs one from the Body of the Church.

As a Catholic, I believe there’s only one true Church and that all other churches are false churches. It doesn’t matter how many truths a church has, if it has one error in doctrine, then it’s a false church.

The 1993 Balamand statement heretically teaches “that the Catholic Churches and the Orthodox Churches recognize each other as Sister Churches, responsible together for maintaining the Church of God in fidelity to the divine purpose, most especially in what concerns unity.”

It’s heretical because it implies that the one visible Church is divided. The Balamand statement implies that the one Church of God is made up of false churches, hence false religions. The Orthodox churches are in no way (formal or informal) part of the Church of God. On May 25, 1995, John Paul II, in Ut Unum Sint, n. 59, approved the Balamand declaration.

The 1999 JOINT DECLARATION with the Lutherans heretically states, “44. We give thanks to the Lord for this decisive step forward on the way to overcoming the division of the church. We ask the Holy Spirit to lead us further toward that visible unity which is Christ’s will.”

It’s heretical because it’s implying that Lutherans are part of the Body of Christ the Church, and that the Church of Christ is not visibly unified. This is a blatant rejection of the Dogma. John Paul II approved and blessed the Joint Declaration.

In an Apostolic Letter by Pope Pius IX to all Protestants and other Non-Catholics at the convocation of the Vatican Council, September 13, 1868: “neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity…

we exhort them warmly and beseech them with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ…

we await with open arms the return of the wayward sons to the Catholic Church, in order to receive them with infinite fondness into the house of the Heavenly Father and to enrich them with its inexhaustible treasures. By our greatest wish for the return to the truth and the communion with the Catholic Church, upon which depends not only the salvation of all of them…”

Notice that baptized non-Catholics are not members of the Body of Christ, and that they are guilty of the sin of separation since they are “wayward sons” and need to “return.”

Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos (1928) affirmed Pope Pius IX: “the union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it…”

In a Jan. 22, 2013 L’Osservatore Romano article titled: The divisions among Christians disfigure the face of the Church, it was written that Benedict XVI said, “One of the gravest sins ‘that disfigure the Church’s face’ is the sin ‘against her visible unity’, and, in particular, ‘the historical divisions which separated Christians and which have not yet been surmounted’”.

The two references of the “Church’s face” and “Against her visible unity” is a point blank denial of the dogma that the visible Church is one in faith.

Conclusion:

The Catholic Church has declared that the Mystical Body of Christ (Church of Christ) is the Catholic Church and that it’s visibly one in Faith. This is an Article of Faith, a dogma and highest form of Catholic doctrine.

Vatican 2 and the conciliar popes have declared that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. Other non-Catholic churches form part of the Mystical Body of Christ as well. Therefore, the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church are not one and the same thing. The Catholic Church is visibly one, but the Church of Christ is not visibly one.

For 2000 years, the Church has declared that only those who are baptized and profess the true Faith are to be counted as really members of the Church, meaning in the external forum.

Vatican 2 and the conciliar popes have declared that all baptized persons regardless of profession of faith are to be counted as members of the Church in the external forum. All baptized persons have a “right” to be called Christian.

It’s gone from…

YES, the visible Church is one in Faith, to
NO, the visible Church is not one in Faith.

YES, the Church of Christ is the Catholic Church, to
NO, the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church.

YES, heresy, schism, and apostasy severs you from the Church, to
NO, heresy, schism, and apostasy only keeps you from the fullness of truth but membership in the Church is maintained.

YES, all baptized non-Catholics are outside the Church of Christ in the external forum, to
NO, all baptized non-Catholics are inside the Church of Christ in the external forum.

I often hear on Relevant Radio that no doctrine changed after the Second Vatican Council. Yet, one can easily see that there’s no continuity with the past on doctrines and dogmas concerning the nature of the Church.

What I’ve discovered over the years is that if a person is not willing to consider the possibilities that his position on religion is wrong, then no argument, no matter how brilliant or logical, will convince such a person of his error. He will not concede. Only those with the ability to consider the possibilities will be able to see and understand the facts, the arguments, and the truth.

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A friend of mine asked if I would respond in a short reply to a local column found in the Asbury Theological Seminary’s paper. Below is my reply.

The Historical Facts

Sola Scriptura is not found in Christian history prior to the Reformation. Not a single Church father can be used to justify its existence.

-Fourth century Catholic Bishop St. Athanasius was the first person to acknowledge the 27 books of the New Testament as we have it today.

-For centuries, the Church was unclear as to what precisely constituted the Word of God in Holy Writ. The Bible was first given by the authority of the Catholic Church affirming the Canon of Scripture in 380 AD at the synod of Rome.

 Two Brief Arguments against Sola Scriptura based on the Facts

-There is no inspired table of contents. Therefore, no authority could definitively provide a Canon of Scripture. An infallible collection of infallible books is impossible without an infallible authority outside of Scripture. Sola Scriptura-ists must hold that the Bible is a fallible collection of books necessarily leaving no absolute assurance that the Bible is God’s Word. A sure belief in the Bible is essentially groundless.

-The quantifying state of sola is one. The person interpreting Scripture or what Scriptures interpret others necessarily comes into play. The final authority simply comes down to the individual doing the interpreting. Practically speaking, it doesn’t work for a unified Church.

-Sola scriptura is a tradition of men that nullifies the Word of God, because the Word of God provides information that the Church makes the final decisions, not each individual (I Tim. 3:15, Matt. 18:17-18, Titus 2:15, Matt. 16:18).  

The Historical Alternative

-Believe that the Word of God is contained in both the Bible and in Sacred Tradition which is found in the practice of the Church and the oral traditions not written down (II Thess. 2:15).

-Accept the fact that Christ established one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church unified in faith doctrinally with the successors of St. Peter as the visible head of the Church. Believe the Catholic Church is infallible so that it can provide the infallible interpretation of the Word of God and the parameters thereof. This is the logical extension of Christ’s established authority. Since God can give fallible men the ability to write down the infallible Word of God, would God not grant His Church’s established authority the ability to provide the faithful the infallible interpretation of it? After all, Christians accept the Church’s authority in its decision on the Canon of Scripture.

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Last night, I sent three comments quickly exposing the lies of the following video:

No Apologies #120: Against the Sedevacantists

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92HxVOtqS10

Of course, they must have removed them so that the public won’t see the truth.

I don’t have exact copies of what I stated but below is close to how I remember it.

My first comment went something like this:

John Paul II wore a pagan stole act and actually participated in Zoroastrianism. Benedict XVI bowed towards Mecca in a Mosque while praying with Muslims. That’s active participation. Jesus eating with tax collectors and prostitutes has nothing to do with it. You don’t find Jesus praying with those who worship BAAL or Dagon. This is the issue. Bishop Hay was praised by Rome and the British bishops for teaching the Church’s condemnation of inter-religious worship as contrary to the Divine Law.

My second comment:

The conciliar popes (antipopes) reject the dogma that the Church is one in faith. They clearly explain how non-Catholics are members of the Church. For instance, antipopes Paul VI and Benedict XVI refer to Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs as “Pastors in the Church of Christ.” Can you explain how they are not rejecting the dogma based on these statements? They don’t believe in the Creed as the Church has always understood it, but rather as Protestants who recite the same creed.

My third comment:

You make up nothing but straw-man arguments. You don’t even get the position of sedevacantism correct. By the way, most sedevacantists are not Feeneyites.  SeptemberCatholic18 has made many videos against sedevacantism, but won’t debate a single sedevacantist because he knows that he’ll be exposed as a liar and fraud. Why don’t you make a video with a sedevacantist where both sides get equal treatment rather than hearing your side of the story with a misrepresentation of sedevacantism?

If the Franciscans were at least honest, they would have answered my comments, apologized for misrepresenting sedevacantism, and/or removed the video. But no, they aren’t honest. They removed my comments so that the world won’t see the truth. They are a bunch of liars and haters of Christ whom they claim to follow.

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Dear Patrick,

On Thursday’s show, Dec. 6, 2012, you stated, “starting in January onward, we’re doing a whole hour just on the phenomena of radical traditionalism, not just the SSPX, but folks we might affectionately call High Church Protestants…more Catholic than the popes, kind of a handy way of summarizing it.” [1]

This is not the first time you’ve called Catholics holding to the historic Catholic faith inviolate “High Church Protestants.”

Since Protestants are those who reject dogmas of the Church, my first challenge for you is to show that dogma that the SSPX, sedevacantists, etc. are rejecting which would make them Protestants. If you can’t do so, then I submit that you are guilty of bearing false witness against your neighbors, and expect a public apology on your radio show for your derogatory and slanderous remarks.

Please don’t resort to the argument that because traditionalists reject Vatican 2 they are heretics because as you and Tim Staples have admitted, Vatican 2 is not infallible in virtue of itself and therefore a rejection of it wouldn’t constitute a heresy. Also, Tim Staples has tried several times using the old straw-man that sedevacantists reject Vatican I’s definition of perpetual succession. Although, Tim has seen how his Protestant-like private interpretation of Vatican I is contrary to the explanation given by the Vatican’s own theologians, he continues, like the dishonest Mike Gendron, to perpetuate lies about the faith anyway.

My second challenge for you is to explain how your new religion founded in the 1960’s is not more like High Church Protestants when in Nov. 2011 your pope entered a Lutheran temple, praised the radical apostate Martin Luther, bowed towards their altar (which has no real sacrifice) and prayed alongside a woman bishop of that apostate religion that has been anathematized by Trent.

I’m sure Tim Staples thinks this was a good thing as he also stated that he thought it was a good thing for Benedict XVI to go into a mosque, arms folded, shoes off, and bowing towards Mecca as he prayed alongside the Muslim leaders of Islam. He first denied that it ever happened on the radio and even called it a sin. I guess a sin actually becomes a good thing to good ole Tim, as long as his pope is doing it.

You believe and follow Vatican 2’s new definition and explanation of the Church, which falls more inline with Protestantism. Protestants believe that the Body of Christ (the Church) crosses all denominational lines and that it subsists in all denominations. The only difference between Protestantism and Vatican 2ism is that the latter teaches that it has the fullness of truth. The historic Catholic Faith, which you reject, teaches that the Church of Christ is one and the same as the Catholic Church. It doesn’t “extend much further than the Catholic Church” as your pope explained the meaning of Lumen Gentium’s word “subsists” in place of “is.” Vatican 2 teaches that all who have been baptized are members of the Church of Christ, which is simply not true. Heretics (baptized) are not members of Christ’s Body. They’ve been cut off. We don’t assume that everybody is invincibly ignorant and really inside the Church. We also don’t assume that everybody who has been baptized in invincible ignorance remains invincibly ignorant. We don’t call these non-Catholics Christians, yet, your religion says they all have a right to be called Christians.

Can you explain how you are not the real “High Church Protestant?”

Lastly, the whole, “more Catholic than the popes” is incredibly immature. Popes can and have been wrong, and they have been corrected by inferiors. I could give many examples, such as St. Peter Damiani who proved to have known better about Holy Orders than Pope St. Leo IX.  Does that make the inferiors more Catholic? Of course not, because you can’t be more Catholic than another. One is either Catholic or not. The question is whether Benedict XVI is Catholic? I’ll be waiting to hear your explanation why he would be considered a Catholic when he apparently believes his actions in the Lutheran temple are good and righteous. If he believed that artificial contraception or homosexuality was good and promoted it, would you consider him a Catholic? All three are contrary to the Divine law, so what says Patrick Coffin?

I’ll be interested in hearing your one hour show in January devoted to traditional Catholicism. Catholic Answers has never been honest in the past about the subject, so it won’t be surprising to hear a terrible misrepresentation with a ton of straw-man arguments to go with it.

I will post this letter on my blog and any and all replies you send. Again, I expect a public apology on the radio if you can’t produce that heresy proclaimed by those traditional Catholics whom you label “High Church Protestants.”

Sincerely,

Steven Speray

[1] http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/open-forum-7753

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The staunchest of all apologists on the Catholic Dogma EENS was Fr. Michael Müller C.SS.R. (1825 – 1899). He always submitted his works to two Redemptorist theologians (as his rule required) and to his religious superiors before publication.

One of his many great Catholic books titled “The Catholic Dogma” defended the Church’s teaching of BOD. He wrote that an invincibly ignorant person cannot be saved by his ignorance, but can be saved outside the Sacrament of Baptism. He also defended the true meaning of Pope Pius IX’s teaching on this topic.

Fr. Michael Müller, C.SS.R., The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888:

“Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Savior, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. ‘Invincible ignorance,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is a punishment for sin.’ (De, Infid. Q. x., art. 1). “It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation… Hence Pius IX said ‘that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord who knows the heart and the thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer anyone to be lost forever without his own fault.’ Almighty God, who is just condemns no one without his fault, puts, therefore, such souls as are in invincible ignorance of the truths of salvation, in the way of salvation, either by natural or supernatural means.”

Fr. Michael Müller also wrote a catechism titled “Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine.” He writes:

Q. What are we to think of the salvation of those who are out of the pale of the Church without any fault of theirs, and who never had any opportunity of knowing better?

A. Their inculpable ignorance will not save them; but if they fear God and live up to their conscience, God, in His infinite mercy, will furnish them with the necessary means of salvation, even so as to send, if needed, an angel to instruct them in the Catholic faith, rather than let them perish through inculpable ignorance.

Q. Is it then right for us to say that one who was not received into the Church before his death, is damned?

A. No.

Q. Why not?

A. Because we cannot know for certain what takes place between God and the soul at the awful moment of death.

Q. What do you mean by this?

A. I mean that God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten, at the hour of death, one who is not yet a Catholic, so that he may see the truth of the Catholic faith, be truly sorry for his sins, and sincerely desire to die a good Catholic.

Q. What do we say of those who receive such an extraordinary grace, and die in this manner?

A. We say of them that they die united, at least, to the soul of the Catholic Church, and are saved.

Q. What, then, awaits all those who are out of the Catholic Church, and die without having received such an extraordinary grace at the hour of death?

A. Eternal damnation.

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