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The Unam Sanctam "Problem" Resolved (Can Non-Catholics Be Saved?)
FidoNetRC ^ | 1997 | Phil Porvaznik

Posted on 02/04/2006 4:55:13 AM PST by bornacatholic

The Unam Sanctam "Problem" Resolved

Can Non-Catholics Be Saved?


FILE: UnSanc / DATE: June-July 1997 / CONFERENCE: FidoNet RCatholic

CONTENTS: Response to the common charge by some friendly Evangelical Protestants of FidoNet (Jeff Doles and Robert McKay quoted in red) that there is a contradiction between the papal bull Unam Sanctam (1302) of Pope Boniface VIII which states the necessity of submission to the Pope for salvation, and the teaching of Vatican Council II (for example, see Decree on Ecumenism 3) on the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics, the historical context of the bull and the teaching "No Salvation Outside the Church" (Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus) is discussed, evidence from current documents and the Church Fathers are presented -- I have to give credit and thanks to the contributers to this discussion: Lionel Bruce Binnie, Sean M. Brooks, Michael Brazier, and others for giving me some ideas how to deal with this issue.


"That there is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we are compelled by faith to believe and hold, and we firmly believe in her and sincerely confess her, outside of whom there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.....Furthermore we declare, state and define that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of all human beings that they submit to the Roman Pontiff."

POPE BONIFACE VIII Unam Sanctam (November 18, 1302 AD)


"OUTSIDE THE CHURCH THERE IS NO SALVATION" [from the Catechism of the Catholic Church]

846. How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? [cf. St. Cyprian, Ep 73:21; PL 3:1169; De Unit PL 4:509-536] Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

"Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it." [Vatican II LG 14]

847. This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

"Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience -- those too may achieve eternal salvation." [Vatican II LG 16]


"Don't bother trying to find any documentation for something if you are not willing to deal with the logical difficulties of the things you have already documented. Otherwise it will look like you are being evasive....You need to face up to it, Phil. You need to deal head on with what 'absolutely' means. It allows for no exceptions. You cannot claim infallibility for the statement and then deny the meaning of one of its operative words. You can't have it both ways.

"Do I think there is a contradiction between Boniface's ill-chosen words and the teaching of the RCC elsewhere? Yes, I do."

JEFF DOLES to PHIL PORVAZNIK, FidoNet RCatholic 6/18/97


"The third alternative is to turn around, break through the wall, and come away from the whole unresolvable situation. Forget papal infallibility. Forget Boniface's intolerant and plainly untrue absolute declaration. Forget trying to make the bull say something it clearly does not say. Forget trying to dance around words which have but one meaning, in order to establish a position which conflicts with that meaning....

"I didn't intend this to be so long. Nor did I intend for it to have the conclusion that it does; I never intended it to be a call for you to convert from Catholicism. But it did grow, and it did become what it now is. I just wish that I could afford the phone bill necessary to properly engage in the discussion that I think will result from this post."

ROBERT MCKAY to ALL, FidoNet RCatholic 6/18/97


Four Parts to this series:

(1) The Unam Sanctam "Problem" Resolved: My Brief Answer

(2) The Bull in Context: Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV

(3) No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church: Historical Teaching

(4) Primary and Secondary Sources Consulted



"That there is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church we are compelled by faith to believe and hold, and we firmly believe in her and sincerely confess her, outside of whom there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.....FURTHERMORE WE DECLARE, STATE AND DEFINE THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL HUMAN BEINGS THAT THEY SUBMIT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF [Porro subesse Romano Pontifici omni humanae creaturae declaramus, dicimus, definimus, et pronunciamus omnino esse de necessitate salutis]."

POPE BONIFACE VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam (November 18, 1302 AD) as cited in The Christian Faith by Neuner/Dupuis, page 280-1


I will now strongly state and summarize the objection in my own words and answer it briefly, then go into further elaboration of my answer.

OBJECTION: The Bull Unam Sanctam states that submission to the Pope is "absolutely necessary for salvation" therefore all non-Catholics who do not submit are automatically damned and that contradicts modern Catholic teaching (e.g. Catechism of the Catholic Church).

ANSWER: This is a non sequitur in logic, it does not follow at all that "all non-Catholics are damned" for a number of reasons. The objection also displays a misunderstanding of Catholic teaching and takes the Papal Bull out of context from history and theology.

First, the Church, basing herself on the promises of Christ and His authority (Mt 16:18f; 28:18f; Lk 10:16; Jn 14:16f; 16:13), can and has infallibly defined the conditions of salvation but cannot and does not "damn" anyone, Catholic or non-Catholic. Only God can judge the heart of an individual and knows the state of the soul at death (which in Catholic theology requires for salvation that the person be in the "state of grace"). The Church has canonized Saints and has infallibly declared THEM to be in heaven but does NOT claim to damn any individual to hell; neither is excommunication an "automatic damnation" but a serious "cutting off" from communion with the one true visible Church (Matt 18:17; Rom 16:17; Titus 3:10).

Second, a non-Catholic CANNOT submit or be subject to the Pope, even if the person sincerely desired to obey the Pope in everything and believe all his teachings. Only CATHOLICS can submit to the Pope since one CANNOT submit to the Pope without being a member of the visible One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Christ as necessary for salvation of whom the Pope is the visible head. And that is precisely the point Pope Boniface VIII is making in

(1) There is only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church OUTSIDE OF WHICH there is neither salvation nor remission of sins

(2) It is absolutely necessary for that salvation IN THE CHURCH to submit (or be subject) to the Roman Pontiff

Salvation in Catholic understanding can only be in the true Church which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ as explained by Pius XII (Mystici Corporis) and "subsists" in the Catholic Church according to Vatican II LG 8.

In the context of the Bull itself, Boniface is making a statement about the true nature of the true visible Church, that it must have a visible head (see "The Bull in Context"). So when Boniface insists "all human beings" (Latin omni humanae creaturae) must be subject to the visible head for their eternal salvation, they must be members of the one visible Church for eternal salvation. The first and last sentences of the Bull must be taken together. While the last sentence is the only infallible definition in the Bull, the first sentence has also been infallibly defined (see "No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church: Historical Teaching").

Now it would follow from the above that those who do not submit to the Pope are not FORMAL members of the Catholic Church -- that is true. But it does not follow that all non-Catholics (for example, those BORN into Protestant or Orthodox Christian churches) are necessarily damned. Notice also that Boniface VIII does not define precisely MEMBERSHIP in the Church and the Bull is not a "be-all-end-all" statement on that subject since it does not stand alone. It has a context both in Church history and Catholic theology. Further distinctions can and have been made by later Popes (especially those of the 19th and 20th centuries).

So in answer to the specific question : Can an Orthodox, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, pagan or atheist be subject to the Pope? No, not unless and until they become formal members of the Catholic Church.

The issue for Protestant Christians (who not only deny Papal authority but any number of defined Catholic doctrines) is how they RELATE TO that one true visible Church (for example, see Vatican II Decree on Ecumenism 3).

For more on this issue, see Are Protestants Christians?


Third, in making the objection, the last sentence of the Bull must be taken out of context from its historical setting and Catholic theology.

(1) The objection ignores the immediate context of the Bull, written to French CATHOLICS in the 14th century who were not submitting to the Pope. This will be covered in detail under "The Bull in Context."

(2) The objection ignores the broader context of Catholic theology, especially on salvation, Baptism, and the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.

The Bull simply CANNOT be applied to (for example) modern Protestant Christians (who did not exist in the 14th century and had nothing whatsoever to do with the Bull) without carefully considering the WHOLE teaching of the Church on salvation and the Body of Christ. To so misapply the Bull is to show contempt for Church history, Papal documents, and Catholic theology in general.

The final statement of Unam Sanctam must be understood in light of the first statement about membership in the Church for salvation since ONLY Catholics can submit to the Roman Pontiff. The question that needs to be asked and answered is

"What is the RELATIONSHIP to that Church, the original One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of whom the Pope is the visible head and 'OUTSIDE OF WHOM THERE IS NEITHER SALVATION NOR REMISSION OF SINS' to those non-Catholics who are outside of her visible communion?"

Jeff Doles to Phil Porvaznik, FidoNet RCatholic 7/2/97

JD> But, Bruce Binnie has suggested that Unam Sanctam was addressed to Catholics and should be understood in that context and, as I understand Bruce, the point of absolute necessity should be withstood wholly within that context and not referring to anything outside of that context. I.e., subjection to the Roman pontiff is absolutely necessary for the salvation of Roman Catholics (but not for anybody else).

JD> I have conceded that possibility -- with a provision and a question. I accept that possibility provided that it refers completely and only to Roman Catholics and not at all to anybody else in the world. In such a case, it does not necessarily present a contradiction to RCC teaching....

Jeff Doles has conceded the possibility that the last sentence of the Bull should be limited to Catholics and I will support that when I discuss the Bull in its historical setting in the conflict between Pope Boniface VIII and the Catholic king of France, Philip IV.


THE BULL IN CONTEXT: Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV

Jeff Doles to Phil Porvaznik, FidoNet RCatholic 6/18/97

JD> But if what Boniface said about subjection to the pontiff is true and it is *absolutely* necessary for salvation, then it is just as true for the time of the Protestants as it was when Boniface first declared it. IOW, if it was infallible when he first stated it, it did not cease to be true when the Protestants came along.

PP> We need to understand what is the whole context of the situation at the time Boniface wrote. I hope to get into that.

JD> The context is that people were not subjecting to the Pope. And the effect of Boniface's statement is that those who do not subject are not saved. His statement seems quite clear and direct and quite sensical taken in the plain sense.

Unfortunately, both Jeff Doles and Robert McKay have ignored the historical context of Unam Sanctam which is crucial to a proper understanding of the Bull. My main source here is the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967) but I have also checked the facts with the Church historians Hughes, Boase, Riviere, Schaff and Kelly.

As a historical document, Unam Sanctam must be set among the major events of the second crisis (1300-1303) between Pope Boniface VIII and the Catholic king of France, Philip IV (also called "Philip the Fair") and read as a series of letters sent by Boniface to Philip:

Recordare Rex Inclyte (July 18, 1300)

Secundum Divina, Salvator Mundi, Ante Promotionem Nostram

Ausculta Fili (AF) and its French version Deum Time (Dec 4-5, 1301)

Unam Sanctam (November 18, 1302)

Nuper ad Audientiam (August 15, 1303)

The struggle began in 1296 when Philip IV of France and Edward I of England needed to finance their war over feudal disputes and commercial rivalries. They both decided to tax the clergy with unusual severity. Pope Boniface issued a Bull Clericos Laicos to end the taxation. Philip struck back by forbidding all export of treasure and negotiable currency from France and this created great financial embarrassment for the Pope who relied on revenues from the French Church.

"In September 1296 Boniface sent an indignant protest to Philip (Ineffabilis Amor), declaring that he would rather suffer death than surrender any of the liberties of the Church; but he explained in conciliatory fashion that his recent bull had not been intended to apply to customary dues from the feudal lands of the Church.

"He added that Philip was being deluded by evil counselors and that he was rash to pick a quarrel with the papacy, especially when the pope was the rightful judge of the political disputes in which Philip was involved -- for the King's enemies alleged that Philip had sinned against them, and judgment on matters of sin belonged to the Roman see." (NCE, article "Boniface VIII" page 672)

After the "Jubilee Year" of 1300, Boniface and Philip resumed their dispute. The occasion this time was Philip's treatment of a French bishop of Pamiers, Bernard Saisset. In 1301, Philip had the bishop arrested, tried and thrown into prison for treason. By so doing, Philip was asserting total sovereignty over the persons and property of the French episcopate and in defiance of the universal jurisdiction of the Pope over all bishops. Boniface protested in December 1301 with the Bull Ausculta Fili (which means "Give ear, my son") and accused Philip of subverting the whole state of the Church in France.

"Let no one persuade you that you have no superior or that you are not subject to the head of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, for he is a fool who so thinks." (Boniface in AF from NCE, page 672)

As Catholic historian Philip Hughes explains the purpose of the Bull --

"In many ways this letter hardly differs from the remonstrances which Boniface had already sent to the king. It tells him that his sins, as a Catholic ruler oppressing the rights of the Church, are notorious and a bad example to all Christendom....

"The Church has but a single head, Boniface reminds the king, and this head is divinely appointed as a shepherd for the whole flock of Christ. To suggest, then, that the King of France has no earthly superior, that he is not in any way subject to the pope is madness, is indeed, the prelude to infidelity. This doctrinal note is to appear again, and still more strikingly, in the controversy." (Philip Hughes, A History of the Church, volume 3, page 78)

At the end of 1301, Boniface commanded the French bishops to attend a council to be held November 1302 in Rome to consider the badly needed reform of the French Church. Philip forbade them to attend and in April 1302 organized an assembly of his own in Paris, of nobles, burgesses, and clergy to denounce the Pope and accuse him, based on a crude forgery of AF titled Deum Time (which means "Fear God"), of being "feudal overlord" of France. The French clergy, while addressing Boniface as Pope, protested against Boniface's "unheard of assertions." The Pope denied he ever claimed to be feudal overlord of France but was prepared to depose Philip if necessary, as he reminded them previous popes had done to three French kings.

Philip still refused to permit his bishops to attend the Pope's council in Rome. When the council did finally meet in November 1302, fewer than half of the French bishops attended and no measures for reform were agreed upon. Immediately after this abortive council, Pope Boniface VIII issued the famous Bull Unam Sanctam (Nov 18, 1302).

In light of the above history, we can see the dispute between Boniface and Philip had nothing to do with "Protestants" (they did not exist), it had nothing to do with pagans or any non-Catholic as such (although the Bull Unam Sanctam does mention the Greek Orthodox obliquely).

The controversy was over the Pope's right to intervene when the Catholic king of France refused his Catholic bishops certain liberties and even denounced the Pope who everyone knew had universal jurisdiction in the Catholic Church. The Pope could judge kings when a matter of sin was involved. Boniface denied he intended to take over temporal jurisdiction; his purpose was to correct abuses -ratione peccati- (i.e. in as far as the morality of human acts was concerned).

"We declare that in no way do we wish to usurp the jurisdiction of the King...And yet, neither the King nor anyone else of the faithful can deny that he is subject to us where a question of sin is involved."

(Boniface VIII De Consideratione ad Eugenium III, IV, 3 cited from The Catholic Catechism by John Hardon, page 247)

In this sense the kings are "subject" to the Pope. Catholics are still subject to the Pope in religious matters and this is how the last line of Unam Sanctam should be understood and applied today. How a non- Catholic can be saved "outside the Church" is another question entirely and should be resolved in the context of Catholic theology as a whole, not by taking a line or two out of context from a 14th century document.

UNAM SANCTAM: So What's New?

Now let's take a look at the Bull Unam Sanctam itself. It must first be noted that the Bull said nothing particularly novel. Here I will quote a few of the Church historians, Catholic and Protestant, that speak to this issue. From the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) --

"The Bull also proclaims the subjection of the secular power to the spiritual as the one higher in rank, and draws from it the conclusion that the representatives of the spiritual power can install the possessers of secular authority and exercise judgment over their administration should it be contrary to Christian law.

"This is a fundamental principle which had grown out of the entire development in the early Middle Ages of the central position of the papacy in the Christian national family of Western Europe. It had been expressed from the eleventh century by theologians like Bernard of Clairvaux and John Salisbury, and by popes like Nicholas II and Leo IX. Boniface VIII gave it precise expression in opposing the procedure of the French king. The main propositions are drawn from the writings of St. Bernard, Hugh of St. Victor, St. Thomas Aquinas, and letters of [Pope] Innocent III." (CE, "Unam Sanctam" page 126)

From decidedly anti-Catholic historian Philip Schaff, who says that Boniface was "controlled by blind and insatiable lust of power" and in Unam Sanctam "the arrogance of the papacy finds its most naked and irritating expression," nevertheless admits:

"There was no assertion of authority contained in the bull which had not been before made by Gregory VII and his successors, and the document leans back not only upon the deliverances of popes, but upon the definitions of theologians like Hugh de St. Victor, Bernard and Thomas Aquinas." (Schaff, volume 6, page 20)

While Schaff calls the last line of Unam Sanctam about subjection to the Roman Pontiff as a condition of salvation a "startling declaration," the introduction to the commentary on the Bull by French scholar Jean Riviere states to the contrary:

"Frequently a document's intended meaning is misconstrued by those reading it. Such was the case, argues Jean Riviere (1878-1946), with -Unam Sanctam-. In what amounts to a line by line analysis of its provisions Riviere attempts to show that the pope's ideas were largely traditional and not very startling. If accepted, this view would greatly modify one's understanding of Boniface's motives and ambitions. Riviere was a French abbe and professor at the University of Strasbourg, best known for his work on medieval and patristic theology." (from Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII edited by Charles T. Wood, page 66)

I shall get to Riviere's own commentary shortly. Philip Hughes states that "Riviere is no doubt, as Boase says, the best modern commentator" (vol 3, pg 81) so his work on the Bull will be specially considered.

From the scholarly volume Boniface VIII (1933) by T.S.R. Boase --

"As has repeatedly been pointed out, it contains little new. It is a careful statement of the claims of the papacy to final sovereignty, and bases the claim on the divine origin of that power, not on any practical necessities, nor even historical precedents, for there is no mention of the transference of the empire or the deposition of the last Merovingiam. It is as an 'order established by God' that it must be obeyed: it is a power formally revealed by Christ to St. Peter, and as such it is an article of faith, necessary for salvation. This is the primary case for the papal power; it had often been stated before and the bull's greatest novelty is its absence of involved proof. Amid the controversial literature of the period it sounds a note of solemn and eloquent certainty." (Boase, page 318)

Finally, the best modern commentator on the Bull, Jean Riviere --

"From the strictly theological point of view, the case presented in the bull Unam Sanctam contains nothing very disturbing, or even anything very special....the strong personality of Boniface VIII and the boldness of his actions must not lead to a misunderstanding of the fact that his doctrine is, for the most part, fashioned from traditional elements. One finds, of course, nothing essentially new in the first half of the bull, which is pure dogma: the unity of the Church and the necessity of belonging to it in order to be saved were affirmed in formal the third century; the primacy of the Roman pontiff goes back in multiple strands to the oldest of eccle- siastical history. As for the powers of the Church whose exposition makes up the second part of the bull, not only the foundations, but even the wording is borrowed from older authors...." (Wood, page 70)

All the historians acknowledge that Boniface said nothing new but was deriving his teaching from previous sources, in particular St. Bernard, Hugh of St. Victor, and St. Thomas Aquinas among other theologians.


The text of the entire Bull is reproduced both in its original Latin and in English translation in volume 6 of Philip Schaff's History of the Christian Church. For Catholic sources, there is Denzinger.

The basic teaching of Unam Sanctam can be summarized as follows:

(1) There is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins.

(2) The Church represents the Mystical Body whose head is Christ and in which there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism (Eph 4:5); therefore this one visible Body on earth has one head, Christ (who is the invisible head) and His vicar, St. Peter and his successors (the visible head). This is not two heads (like a "monster") but one. And if anyone says that he is not subject to the vicar of Christ, Peter's successor he necessarily declares he is not of Christ's sheep (i.e. he is not in the Catholic Church).

(3) In the power of the Church are "two swords," (from Luke 22:38 and Matt 26:52 interpreted allegorically), the spiritual and the temporal, to be used by and for the Church. The first is in the hand of priests; the second is in the hand of kings and knights, but is to be used at the direction and permission of the priest (ad nutum et patientiam sacerdotis).

(4) It is fitting that the temporal power be subject to the spiritual since the latter excels the former in diginity and nobility as spiritual things are superior to temporal things. The spiritual power can establish (instituere) the temporal power and judge it if it is "not good" (i.e. when it does evil or a matter of sin is involved, taken directly from Hugh of St. Victor, De Sacramentis, II,2,4). If the supreme spiritual power errs, it will be judged not by man but by God alone since the authority although given to men and exercised by them, is not human but divine. Unlike the Manichean heretics who argue for two original principles of power, there is only one.

(5) Finally, in its only infallible definition the Bull concludes that it is absolutely necessary for salvation (omnino esse de necessitate salutis) for all human beings (omni humanae creaturae) to be subject (subesse) to the Roman Pontiff (quoting from St. Thomas Aquinas, Contra Errores Graecorum, Part II, Chapter 38).


It has been my contention that the last sentence of Unam Sanctam about subjection to the Pope should be understood in an absolute sense of Catholics and interpreted in conjunction with the opening that membership in the Church is also a necessary condition of salvation. Further, I have contended it is impossible to retroject back into the Bull and misapply it by declaring all non-Catholics "damned" without a careful consideration of the whole of Catholic theology on salvation and the Mystical Body of Christ. I credit Lionel Binnie with helping me see this (after re-reading a ton of past posts dating back to mid-June 1997) but also found it in the commentaries I have studied on Boniface VIII and the Bull.

From Jean Riviere, in the chapter "Boniface's Theological Conservatism" in the book Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII by Charles T. Wood --

"It is evident above all that Boniface VIII wanted to place the rights of the Roman pontiff before the Catholic conscience. The final formula, where the last word of this thought is expressed, refers to the conditions necessary for salvation, affirming that submission to the pope enters in as an essential qualification:


"The supernatural order has been determined by Christ and no one then contested that it had been concentrated in the Church. As a result, it became a question of placing the role of the pope in this scheme of things in relief. Underlying the bull Unam Sanctam, therefore, is a theology of the Church and its mission which constitutes the doctrinal framework within which the function of the Sovereign Pontiff, its head, is inserted. The whole is related to the divine plan by means of the various resources that exegesis and philosophy offered to the minds of the time....

"Nothing more remained to be done beyond drawing the conclusions called forth by these considerations. To resist a power ordained by God is to resist God Himself, unless one wants to revive Manichean dualism. Furthermore, the same 'necessity for salvation' that binds all men without exception to the Church equally imposes on them the strict duty of submission to the Roman Pontiff. Such is the doctrine that Boniface VIII sanctioned with every rigorous clause that characterized the acts of his supreme doctrinal magistracy....

"...the final clause, which alone carries the weight of the [doctrinal] definition, affirms nothing more than a general and absolutely indefinite duty of submission to the Roman pontiff...It is a definition that would perhaps be sufficiently safeguarded, if not in spirit at least in the letter, simply by understanding that spiritual power alone is meant, and the conclusion of the bull would thereby be bound to the dogmatic statements of the first part." (Jean Riviere, cited in Wood, page 66ff)

After quoting the last line in Latin, T.S.R. Boase comments:

"It is on the divine charge to Peter that finally the papal power rests. It is a matter of revelation and of faith. And now, in the midst of so much theorising and criticism, men are reminded of the fundamental basis of that which they are questioning. To this point had Boniface arrived: the supreme spiritual power can be judged by no man, but by God alone: his acts are under divine direction and based on a divine charge: no earthly power can claim an existence independent of him, and inasmuch as every act has a moral implication, it is submitted to his judgment....

"It is the claim of Ausculta Fili and of the speech in consistory; and there is nothing in the bull to contradict Boniface's earlier recognition of the right of the state to conduct its own business, to draw up right regulations. The Gelasian position must be maintained: spiritualia can be differentiated from temporalia : and there will be no intervention in temporalia as long as the moral law is not broken. But of that latter the papacy is the sole interpreter, judge and codifier, and to question this is to deny divine revelation. The creature may have some will and rights of its own, but it cannot question the creator.

"In no earlier statement had Boniface stressed the view that all temporal power must come through and from the spiritual. Marshalling his arguments, forestalling new lines of attack, he drew aside the veil from before the full splendour of the Holy See, and exposed its inner mystery to a world that now could only worship or rebel. There was to be no more accommodating doctrine: the light was now too strong for any patchwork of compromise to pass unnoticed." (T.S.R. Boase, Boniface VIII page 322-323)

Catholic historian Philip Hughes comments on the last line as follows:

"For although those who wield this spiritual power are but men, the power itself is divine, and whoever resists it strives against God. Whence it follows that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is, for every human being, an absolutely necessary condition of his salvation: which last words -- the sole defining clause of the bull -- do but state again, in a practical kind of way, its opening phrases,

'We are compelled by the promptings of faith to believe and to hold that there is one holy Catholic Church...outside which Church there is no salvation, nor any remission of sins...'

"The bull Unam Sanctam then is a document which contains a definition of the pope's primacy as head of the Church of is a re-statement of the reality of the Church's divinely-given right to correct the sins which kings commit as kings; but the bull does not set out this right in detail...except in so far as it is included in the general definition with which the bull ends." (Philip Hughes, volume 3, page 82-83)

Here Philip Hughes connects the first sentence of the Bull -- there is one visible Church outside of which there is no salvation -- with the last sentence of the Bull -- that it is absolutely necessary to be subject to the Pope. I have contended that only CATHOLICS can submit to the Pope for this very reason: to be subject to the Pope one must be a formal member of the Catholic Church, and one condition for membership is being obedient to legitimate Church authority (including the visible head). Three more Catholic sources also understand the Bull the same way: that to be subject to the Pope is to be a member of the Church, and vice versa.

"The Bull lays down dogmatic propositions on the unity of the Church, the necessity of belonging to it for the attainment of eternal salvation, the position of the pope as supreme head of the Church, and the duty thence arising of submission to the pope in order to belong to the Church and thus to attain salvation." (Catholic Encyclopedia [1913], article "Unam Sanctam" page 126)

"We must immediately distinguish between defined doctrine and ordinary papal teaching. Only the final sentence, as italicized, was solemnly defined and represents traditional Catholic dogma on the Church's necessity for salvation." (Fr. John Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, page 247)

"The other statements quoted (before and after the words about the two swords) regarding the need to be subject to the Pope for salvation, refer to the obligation to believe the teaching of the Pope on morals -- which Boniface VIII himself pointed out. The statements also express that there is 'no salvation outside the Church.' Actually, the very wording of the last sentence that says men must be subject to the Pope comes word for word from St. Thomas Aquinas [Contra Errores Graecorum, Part II, Chapter 38]. Considering the context of St. Thomas' statement it is just a statement of no salvation outside the Church." (Fr. William Most, Catholic Apologetics Today, page 171)

Now when I tried equating the first sentence and the last sentence that "membership in the Church" = "subjection to the Pope" our Protestant friend Jeff Doles gave the following response (6/17/97)

JD> If the two phrases are equivocal and interchangable, then it would mean that those who do not subject to the pope are not actually in the Church after all -- and again, that precludes salvation for Orthodox, Protestants, and anybody else who does not subject to the pope. Also, equating the two phrases would tend to make, not baptism, but subjection to the pope the sign of membership in the Church.

JD> But if you equate "membership in the Church" with "subject to the pope" then you cannot turn around and say that those who do not subject to the pope are actually members of the Church at all.

JD> If the two phrases are equivalent, then a person who does not subject to the pope is NOT a member of the Church, even though he be baptized.

I must admit that logically it follows that a non-Catholic Christian who does not (indeed cannot) submit to the Pope is not a FORMAL member of the Catholic Church. This much is true but I have contended all along that ONLY Catholics CAN submit to the Pope. There are further distinctions in the relationship of non-Catholic Christians to the Catholic Church that must be taken into account, including the acceptance of the Baptism of these Christian communions (Baptism in the name of the Trinity by Christian heretics and schismatics has always been accepted as valid).

These important distinctions are discussed in later papal encyclicals of 19th and 20th century Popes as well as the teaching of Vatican Council II on salvation, membership in the Church, and the Mystical Body of Christ and its relation to non- Catholics. Again, while it follows that a non-Catholic is not a FORMAL member of the Catholic Church, it does NOT follow that all non-Catholics are automatically damned, as I have explained previously. There are other factors that must be considered in the possibility of salvation.

Nevertheless, the Catholic dogma EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS ("No Salvation Outside the Church") has been infallibly defined by numerous Councils and Popes. It is an issue that must be reckoned with in the discussion of the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics. Books and articles are listed below that further explain this teaching.

For more see the excellent articles at Matt's Catholic Apologetics

See also Are Protestants Christians?



The following is a De Fide teaching of the Catholic Church:


(from Ludwig Ott Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma page 312)

According to Catholic scholar Ludwig Ott, this teaching has been solemnly defined by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and affirmed by the Union Council of Florence, by Popes Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Clement VI, Benedict XIV, Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius XII (among others).

It is also the "unanimous conviction" of the Church Fathers that salvation cannot be achieved outside the Church.

(references found in The Faith of the Early Fathers by Jurgens, in The Christian Faith edited by Neuner/Dupuis, and "The Necessity of the Church for Salvation" by Peter A. Kwasniewski from The Catholic Faith magazine, July/Aug 1997)



"Those, indeed, who belong to God and to Jesus Christ -- they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church -- they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion." (Letter to the Philadelphians 3:2-3)

ST. IRENAEUS (c. 180 - 199 AD)

"The preaching of the Church truly continues without change and is everywhere the same, and has the testimony of the Prophets and the Apostles and all their disciples...That in which we have faith is a firm system directed to the salvation of men; and, since it has been received by the Church, we guard it....

"In the Church, God has placed apostles, prophets and doctors, and all the other means through which the Spirit works; in all of which none have any part who do not conform to the Church. On the contrary, they defraud themselves of life by their wicked opinion and most wretched behavior. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the Church and every grace. The Spirit, however, is Truth." (Against Heresies 3:24:1)

ORIGEN (c. 249 - 251 AD)

"If someone of that people wishes to be saved, let him come into this house [Rahab's house as a figure of the Church], so that he may be able to obtain his salvation....Let no one, then, be persuaded otherwise, nor let anyone deceive himself: outside this house, that is, outside the Church, no one is saved. For if anyone go outside, he shall be guilty of his own death." (Homilies on Josue 3:5)


"The Bride of Christ cannot be defiled. She is inviolate and chaste. She knows but one home, and with a chaste modesty she guards the one bedchamber. It is she that keeps us for God, she that seals for the kingdom the sons whom she bore. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church; nor will he that forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, a worlding, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who does not have the Church for his Mother. If anyone outside the ark of Noah was able to escape, then perhaps someone outside the pale of the Church may escape....

"Does anyone believe that in the Church this unity which proceeds from the divine stability and which is welded together after the heavenly patterns, can be divided, and can be separated by the parting asunder of opposing wills? Whoever holds not fast to this unity holds not to the law of God; neither does he keep faith with the Father and the Son, nor does he have life and salvation." (The Unity of the Catholic Church 6)

"If the Baptism of public witness and of blood cannot profit a heretic unto salvation, because there is no salvation outside the Church, how much the more worthless is it for him, in secret places and in the caves of robbers, dipped in the contagion of adulterous water, not merely not to have put off his former sins, but even to have added new and greater ones!" (Letters 73:21, c. 255 AD)

LACTANTIUS (c. 304 - 310 AD)

"It is, therefore, the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth; this, the domicile of faith; this, the temple of God. Whoever does not enter there or whoever does not go out from here, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation....Because, however, all the various groups of heretics are confident that they are the Christians, and think that theirs is the Catholic Church, let it be known: that is the true Church, in which there is confession and penance, and which takes a salubrious care of the sins and wounds to which the weak flesh is subject." (The Divine Institutions 4:30:11,13)


"The Church is called Catholic, then, because it extends over the whole world, from end to end of the earth; and because it teaches universally and infallibly each and every doctrine which must come to the knowledge of men, concerning things visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings every race of men into subjection to godliness, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals every class of sins, those committed with the soul and those with the body; and it possesses within itself every conceivable form of virtue, in deeds and in words and in the spiritual gifts of every description....And if ever you are visiting in cities, do not inquire simply where the House of the Lord is -- for the others, sects of the impious, attempt to call their dens the Houses of the Lord -- nor ask merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the name peculiar to this holy Church, the Mother of us all, which is the Spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God." (Catechetical Lectures 18:23,26)

ST. JEROME (c. 374 - 379 AD) Letter to Bishop of Rome, Pope Damasus

"I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but Your Blessedness, that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the Rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah [the Church] will perish when the flood prevails..." (Letters 15:2)


"Sara said: 'Cast out the bondwoman and her son; for the son of a bondwoman shall not be heir with my son Isaac' [Genesis 21:10]. And the Church says: 'Cast out heresies and their children; for heretics shall not be heirs with Catholics.' But why shall they not be heirs? Are they not born of Abraham's seed? And have they not the Church's Baptism? They do have Baptism; and it would make the seed of Abraham an heir, if pride did not exclude them from inheritance. By the same word, by the same Sacrament you were born, but you will not come to the same inheritance of eternal life, unless you return to the Catholic Church." (Sermons 3, c. 391 - 430 AD)

"A man cannot have salvation, except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church he can have everything except salvation. He can have honor, he can have Sacraments, he can sing Alleluia, he can answer Amen, he can possess the Gospel, he can have and preach faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; but never except in the Catholic Church will he be able to find salvation." (Discourse to Church at Caesarea 6, c. 418 AD)


"Anyone who is outside this Church, which received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, is walking a path not to heaven but to hell. He is not approaching the home of eternal life; rather, he is hastening to the torment of eternal death. And this is the case not only if he remains a pagan without Baptism, but even if, after having been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he continue as a heretic....For he is saved by the Sacrament of Baptism, whom the unity of love holds within the Catholic Church up to his passing from this present life." (The Forgiveness of Sins 1:19:2, c. 512 - 523 AD)

"From that time at which our Savior said: 'If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven' [John 3:5], no one can, without the Sacrament of Baptism, except those who, in the Catholic Church, without Baptism pour out their blood for Christ, receive the kingdom of heaven and life eternal. Anyone who received the Sacrament of Baptism, whether in the Catholic Church or in a heretical or schismatic one, receives the whole Sacrament; but salvation, which is the strength of the Sacrament, he will not have, if he has had that Sacrament outside the Catholic Church.

"He must, therefore, return to the Church, not so that he might receive again the Sacrament of Baptism, which no one dare repeat in any baptized person, but so that he may receive eternal life in Catholic society, for the obtaining of which no one is suited who, even with the Sacrament of Baptism, remains estranged from the Catholic Church."

"Hold most firmly and never doubt in the least that no person baptized outside the Catholic Church can become a participant of eternal life if, before the end of this life, he has not returned and been incorporated in the Catholic Church." (The Rule of Faith 43, 80 c. 523 - 526 AD)


Psuedo-Athanasian Symbol Quicumque (c. end of fifth century)

"Whoever wishes to be saved must, first of all, hold the Catholic faith, for, unless he keeps it whole and inviolate, he will undoubtedly perish for ever. Now this is the Catholic faith: We worship one God in the Trinity and the Trinity in unity....Thus, in all things, as has already been stated above, both unity in the Trinity and Trinity in the unity must be worshipped. Let him therefore who wishes to be saved think this of the Trinity.... For his eternal salvation it is necessary, however, that he should also faithfully believe in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here is the right faith....This is the Catholic faith. Unless one believes it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved." (also known as The Athanasian Creed)

FOURTH LATERAN GENERAL COUNCIL (Symbol of the Lateran, 1215 AD)

"There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved [Una est fidelium universalis Ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur], and in which the Priest Himself, Jesus Christ, is also the Sacrifice [idem ipse sacerdos est sacrificium Jesus Christus]. His Body and Blood are truly contained in the Sacrament of the Altar under the appearances of bread and wine, the bread being transubstantiated into the Body by the divine power and the wine into the Blood, to the effect that we receive from what is His in what He has received from what is ours [ut...accipiamus ipsi de suo, quod accepit ipse de nostro] in order that the mystery of unity may be accomplished."


POPE INNOCENT III (1198 - 1216 AD)

"There is only one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved."


"We are compelled to believe and to hold...that there is One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins."

POPE ST. PIUS V (1566 - 1572 AD)

"He who reigns on high, to whom is given all power in heaven and on earth, has entrusted His Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, to one person on earth alone, namely, to Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, and to Peter's successor, the Roman Pontiff, to be governed by him with the fullness of power."

POPE LEO XII (1823 - 1829 AD)

"If any man be outside the Church, he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for a Father since he has not the Church for a Mother."

POPE GREGORY XVI (1831 - 1846 AD)

"Preach the true Catholic faith; he who does not keep it whole and without error will undoubtedly be lost....Encourage union with the Catholic Church, for he who is separated from her will not have life."

POPE PIUS IX (1846 - 1878 AD)

"By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it will perish in the flood. Nevertheless equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord."

"The Church is One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman: unique, the Chair founded on Peter...Outside her fold is to be found neither the true faith nor eternal salvation, for it is impossible to have God for a Father if one has not the Church for a Mother."

POPE LEO XIII (1878 - 1903 AD)

"All who wish to reach salvation outside the Church are mistaken as to the way and are engaged in a futile effort....Christianity is, in fact, incarnate in the Catholic Church; it is identified with that perfect and spiritual society which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ and has for its visible head the Roman Pontiff.... By God's commandment, salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church."

POPE ST. PIUS X (1903 - 1914 AD)

"Where is the road which leads us to Jesus Christ? It is before our eyes: the Church. It is our duty to recall to everyone, great and small, the absolute necessity we are under to have recourse to this Church in order to work out our eternal salvation."

POPE BENEDICT XV (1914 - 1922 AD)

"In Holy Mother Church lies all hope of eternal salvation.... If anyone is outside of the ark of Noah, he will perish in the overwhelming flood."

POPE PIUS XII (1939 - 1958 AD)

"If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ -- which is the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church -- we shall find no expression more noble, more sublime or more divine than the phrase which calls it 'the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ' ....

"The Church has received in totality all the means of salvation left by the Redeemer...Christ has entrusted His Church with all truth and all grace."

POPE JOHN XXIII (1958 - 1963 AD)

"It is impossible to be joined to God except through Jesus Christ; it is impossible to be united to Christ except in and through the Church which is His Mystical Body."

POPE PAUL VI (1963 - 1978 AD)

"We believe that 'the Church is necessary for salvation. For, Christ, who is the sole Mediator and the one way to salvation, makes Himself present for us in His Body which is the Church' [Vatican II LG 14]. But the divine design of salvation embraces all human beings; and those 'who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church but seek God with a sincere heart, and under the influence of grace endeavour to do His will as recognised through the prompting of their conscience,' they too in a manner known only to God 'can obtain eternal salvation' [LG 16]."

POPE JOHN PAUL II (1978 - present)

"The mystery of salvation is revealed to us and is continued and accomplished in the Church, and from this genuine and single source it reaches the whole world....We have to be conscious of and absorb this fundamental and revealed truth, contained in the phrase consecrated by tradition: 'There is no salvation outside the Church.' From her alone there flows surely and fully the life-giving force destined, in Christ and in His Spirit, to renew the whole of humanity, and therefore directing every human being to become a part of the Mystical Body of Christ."

"It is a revealed truth that there is salvation only and exclusively in Christ. The Church, inasmuch as it is the Body of Christ, is simply an instrument of this salvation...People are saved through the Church, they are saved in the Church, but they always are saved by the grace of Christ....This is the authentic meaning of the well-known statement 'Outside the Church there is no salvation.'"



Articles from the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967)

"Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" "Salvation, Necessity of the Church for" "Infidel, Salvation of the" "Unam Sanctam" "Boniface VIII, Pope" "Membership in the Church" "Mystici Corporis" "Baptism" "Ignorance" "Teaching Authority of the Church (Magisterium)" "Votum" [Desire] "Mediation of the Church" "Necessity of Means" "Necessity of Precept"

Articles from the old Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)

"Unam Sanctam" "Boniface VIII" "Necessity" "Church" "Infidels"


Books on the Papacy and Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

THE CHRISTIAN FAITH in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church edited by J. Neuner and J. Dupuis, SJ (1996 edition)

FUNDAMENTALS OF CATHOLIC DOGMA by Ludwig Ott (Tan Books, 1974)

THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM by John A. Hardon, SJ (Doubleday, 1975)


CATHOLIC APOLOGETICS TODAY: Answers to Modern Critics by Fr. William G. Most (Tan Books, 1986)

THE FAITH OF THE EARLY FATHERS (3 volumes) by Fr. William A. Jurgens


Taped Debate: Gerry Matatics, et al versus St. Benedict Center "Feeneyites" "Do Only Baptized Roman Catholics Go To Heaven?" (early 1996)


Books on Pope Boniface VIII and Unam Sanctam (US)

BONIFACE VIII by T.S.R. Boase (London, 1933)

PHILIP THE FAIR AND BONIFACE VIII : State vs. Papacy edited by Charles T. Wood (1967), including two commentaries on US

"The Pope's Political Dynamite" by T.S.R. Boase (excerpts from book)

"Boniface's Theological Conservatism" by Jean Riviere

A HISTORY OF THE CHURCH by Philip Hughes (1947), Volume 3

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH by Philip Schaff (1910), Volume 6



Articles from The Catholic Faith magazine (July/August 1997)

"The Church as the Mystical Body of Christ" by John A. Hardon, SJ

"The Necessity of the Church for Salvation" by Peter A. Kwasniewski


Other Recommended Books by Catholics and Non-Catholics

THE BOSTON HERESY CASE in View of the Secularization of Religion: A Case Study in the Sociology of Religion by George B. Pepper (1988)

(History of Fr. Leonard Feeney and the St. Benedict Center)

THE SALVATION OF THE UNBELIEVER by Riccardo Lombardi, SJ (translated from the Italian by Dorothy M. White, The Newman Press, 1956)

(Scholarly study covering all the tough issues and questions involved)

MORE THAN ONE WAY? Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World edited by Evangelicals Dennis L. Okholm and Timothy R. Phillips with chapters and responses by John Hick, Clark H. Pinnock, Alister E. McGrath, R. Douglas Geivett and W. Gary Phillips (Zondervan Publishing, 1995)

THE GAGGING OF GOD: Christianity Confronts Pluralism by Evangelical D.A. Carson (Zondervan Publishing, 1996) [640 pages]

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Ecumenism; Theology
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To: gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis

Dear gbcdoj,

Vincibility is an interesting topic.

I've seen some folks interpret invincible vs. vincible as whether, in a given set of circumstances, any person could come to knowledge of the truth of the Catholic Church's claims. Thus, we get folks who say that anyone who lives in the United States, or the West, generally, cannot have invincible ignorance, because there are at least SOME individuals, given the circumstances in our society, who can overcome their ignorance. I'm not sure, I don't think you're suggesting that, are you?

My own limited intellect suggests that invincibility/vincibility covers a wide range of issues, including, near the top, the intellectual capacity of the individual. I'm not the dimmest bulb in the box, but I often find these debates approaching the limits of my own intellectual capacity, and sometimes moving beyond those limits.

I imagine there are many folks not born into the Catholic Church who may have even more limited intellectual capacity than I have. It would be unsurprising to me if many of these individuals found themselves unable to decisively choose between the competing claims that they might find on either side of these questions.

That inability, combined with cultural, familial prejudices and other factors, might give rise, in my own opinion, to a lot of invincible ignorance.

To me, vincible ignorance is when an individual withholds from Catholic belief because, even though he senses its rightness, he hides from it to avoid disappointing friends and family, taking on hardship - socially, financially, politically, whatever, or to maintain his position. I've heard it said that Mr. Blair, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, would convert save for his position. I don't know whether that's true or not, but it would seem to me that if that's true, he's actually moved well past ignorance, vincible or not, and is precisely the sort of individual toward whom these teachings are directed.

What do you think?

Dionysiusdecordealcis, I'd appreciate your thoughts, as well.



151 posted on 02/06/2006 8:55:54 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: gbcdoj; bornacatholic; InterestedQuestioner; Kolokotronis

Pius IX, Allocution Singulari quadam (1854). I don't have Denzinger at hand so I can't give the Latin (it should be Denzinger 2865i)

"It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who live ignorance of the true religion, if such ignorance be invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord. But then, who would dare to set limits to this ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of people, lands, native talents, and so many other factors."

Especially the last sentence does not sound like Feeneyite-Jansenist rigorism and it sounds an awful lot like Vatican II. I get so tired of those who, from both the right and the left, portray Vatican II as a sudden change of course.

Now, try Pius IX's Encyclical, Quanto conficiamur moerere (1863), addressed specifically to the bishops of Italy in the midst of the Italian Liberal/nationalism chaos:

First a Liberal indifferentism is condemned: "And here, beloved Sons and venerable Brethren, it is necessary once more to mention and censure the serious error into which some Catholics have unfortunately fallen. For they are of the opinion tha those who live in errors estranged from the true faith and Catholic unity, can attain eternal life. This is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching." (Denzinger 2865)

Note that this pararaph is explicitly directed to lapsed Catholics who are alienated from the faith they once held.

Then: "We all know that those who suffer from invincible ignorance with regard to our holy religion, if they carefully keep the precepts of the natural law which have been written by God in th ehearts of all persons, if they are prepared to obey God, and if they lead a virtuous and dutiful life, can, by the power of divine light and grace, attain eternal life. For God, who knows completely the minds and souls, the thoughts and habits of all persons, wil lnot permit, in accord with his infinite goodness and mercy, anyone who is not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal punishment." (Denzinger 2866)

Pardon me if I say it, but this is exactly the kind of thing I was trying to assert in previous postings: that establishing vincible or invincible ignorance in a particular non-Catholic person is not something that you or I has any business trying to do. Exactly how much one knows and how accountable he is for knowing and not knowing is for God alone to judge.

The encyclical continues: "However, also well known is the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who obstinately oppose the authority of the definitions of the Church, and who stubbornly remain separated from the unity of the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the Saviour has entrusted the care of his vineyard, cannot obtain salvation." (Denzinger 2867)

The operative words here are "stubbornly" and "obstinately." Again, I cannot possibly judge who is guilty of obstinate stubbornness in refusing to acknowledge and submit to the claims enunciated here. The Church leaves that judgment to God and I think it would behoove some of the rigorists and crypto-Feeneyites and their fellow travelers to practice a little bit of charity and humility lest they find themselves in hell some day for their stubborn self-righteousness. The lax "all paths lead to God" indifferentists also need to do some conscience examining.

There is at least one more that directly addresses the difference between later generations of cultural Protestants and the 16thc Protestant Reformers who deliberately abandoned the faith, but I can't locate it at the moment.

152 posted on 02/06/2006 9:54:06 AM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Kolokotronis
"... and hold their office by virtue of their union with St. Peter's See."

How does this work out with Orthodox bishops and Patriarchs from a Latin pov?

Because Rome accepts certain episcopal acts among the Orthodox as legitimate, she recognizes a de facto holding of jurisdiction and office by the Eastern Bishops. Since there are many explanations for how this is so it is a debated matter.

The long and short of it is that canonically Rome essentially accepts the Eastern Bishops as legitmate Bishops of the Catholic Church.

153 posted on 02/06/2006 10:32:17 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis
I would be interested if you could produce these "earlier papal teachings." As far as I can tell, the "rigorist" (i.e., something like this) reading of the doctrine was fairly common straight up through the 18th century at least, although it wasn't dogmatic.

The rigorist reading is the doctrine of the Church. It is clearly taught in the Magisterium, especially in the dogmatic definitions of Trent, upheld in the Tridentine and Vatican II Catechisms, contained in the Summa and the writings of the Church's other doctors, is the unanimous belief of the Fathers, and is certainly what I was taught by Opus Dei when I entered the Church just 14 years ago.

The laxist view is essentially very broad and sloppy thinking about the prevelance of Baptism of Desire among heathens, sinless living among Protestants without confession and the eucharist, and Invincible Ignorance among all-non Catholics.

I would characterize the rigorist view as: salvation requries explicit belief in the Trinity, Incarnation and salvific redemptive activity of the Lord, and a future state of rewards and punishment for behavior in this life, necessity of Baptism at least in desire for the cleansing from Original Sin, necessity of Confession at least in desire and with perfect contrition for the remission of post-baptismal sin, necessity of the Eucharist and membership in the Church at least in desire to form the bonds of charity uniting us with the Lord and each other in the Church, necessity of prayer in general and specifically devotion to Our Lady to obtain grace from Our Lord.

154 posted on 02/06/2006 10:51:32 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis; bornacatholic
Here's a recent writing on this topic.

We cannot forget that the Church is not merely a way of salvation; it is the only way. This is not a human opinion, but the express will of Christ: he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. This is why we assert that the Church is a necessary means of salvation. No later than the second century, Origen wrote: If anyone wants to be saved, let him come to this house so that he can obtain salvation... Let no one deceive himself: outside of this house, that is outside of the Church, no one will be saved. Of the deluge, Saint Cyprian says: If someone had escaped outside of Noah's ark then we would admit that someone who abandoned the Church might escape condemnation.

Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus. That is the continual warning of the Fathers. Outside the Catholic Church you can find everything except salvation, Saint Augustine admits. You can have honour and sacraments: you can sing 'alleluia' and respond 'amen' You can uphold the gospel, have faith in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit, and preach that faith. But never, except in the catholic Church, can you find salvation.

Nonetheless, as Pius XII lamented little more than twenty years ago, some reduce to an empty formula the need to pertain to the true Church in order to obtain eternal salvation. This dogma of faith is at the root of the Church's co-redemptive activity. It spells out the Christian's grave apostolic responsibility. Among Christ's express commandments is the categorical one to incorporate ourselves in his Mystical Body by Baptism. And our Saviour not only commanded that everyone enter the Church, but also established that the Church be the means of salvation, without which no one can reach the kingdom of celestial glory.

It is a matter of faith that anyone who does not belong to the Church will not be saved; and anyone who is not baptized does not enter the Church. Justification cannot take place after the promulgation of the gospel, without Baptism or its desire, the Council of Trent established.

This is a continual demand of the Church which on the one hand stimulates us to greater apostolic zeal, and on the other manifests clearly the infinite mercy of God with his creatures.

St. Josemaria Escriva, "In Love With the Church", The Supernatural Aim of the Church, 1972

The laxist attitude leads to the following that St. Josemaria observed:

There are many Christians who are persuaded that the Redemption will be completed in all environments of the world, and that there have to be some souls — they do not know which ones — who will contribute to carrying it out with Christ. But they see this in terms of centuries, many centuries. It would be an eternity, if it were to take place at the rate of their self-giving.

That was the way you thought, until they came to “wake you up”.

St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow, 1, 1986

155 posted on 02/06/2006 11:02:00 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

Please note that in your quotations from Saint Joesemaria, he uses "Church" in an unqualified sense. What you quote from him is irrelevant to the debate at hand because the claim made at Vatican II, in Pius XII, in the 19thc documents I quoted in #152 is that there is salvation outside the visible Catholic Church but there is no salvation outside the Church. The claim is that the Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church (that is, in the local churches whose bishops are in communion with the bishop of Rome), this Church of Christ outside of which no salvation is possible, is not identically coterminous with the visible Catholic Church. Saint Josemaria is referring to the broader sense of Church--I cannot imagine that he was unaware of Mystici Corporis or the 19thc documents I quoted or the 1949 Feeneyite letter. He does not specify "visible Catholic Church" or "formal membership"--the qualifying, specifying terms used in the 1949 Holy Office letter to the Feeneyites or the 19thc documents I adduced in # 152.

You read his letter as if he had specified "visible Church" and thus denied Pius XII, Vatican II etc. I'm sorry, but it seems to me that you employ his words in a narrower (yes, indeed, more rigorist) sense than he seems to have meant them. One cannot be absolutely sure that by "Church" he did not mean "visible Church," but since he certainly knew about the "salvation outside the visible church" doctrine, his failure to specify "visible Church" would seem to indicate that he intended to refer to the Church of Christ that is not strictly speaking confined to the visible, formal boundaries of the churches in communion with the bishop of Rome.

156 posted on 02/06/2006 11:13:01 AM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis; gbcdoj; bornacatholic; InterestedQuestioner; Kolokotronis
Vatican II is also pretty clear about how the salvation of non-Catholics is to occur. After listing all the ways various non-Catholics are connected to the Church:

"Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, 'Preach the Gospel to every creature',(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention." (Lumen Gentium, 16).

To say: "procure the salvation of all of these ... the Church fosters the missions" implies that their salvation is dependent upon that activity. If they were already saved in their ignorance, their would be no need for missions. However, ignorance is a purely negative quality. It doesn't unite one closely to God, rather it blinds one to the truth and leads most souls into hell. Thus:

"And so Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: 'We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.'

"There is then, Venerable Brethren, no reason for wonder that the corruption of morals and depravity of life is already so great, and ever increasingly greater, not only among uncivilized peoples but even in those very nations that are called Christian. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Ephesians, repeatedly admonished them in these words: 'But immorality and every uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as become saints; or obscenity or foolish talk.'[4] He also places the foundation of holiness and sound morals upon a knowledge of divine things - which holds in check evil desires: 'See to it therefore, brethren, that you walk with care: not as unwise but as wise ... Therefore, do not become foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.'[5] And rightly so. For the will of man retains but little of that divinely implanted love of virtue and righteousness by which it was, as it were, attracted strongly toward the real and not merely apparent good. Disordered by the stain of the first sin, and almost forgetful of God, its Author, it improperly turns every affection to a love of vanity and deceit. This erring will, blinded by its own evil desires, has need therefore of a guide to lead it back to the paths of justice whence it has so unfortunately strayed. The intellect itself is this guide, which need not be sought elsewhere, but is provided by nature itself. It is a guide, though, that, if it lack its companion light, the knowledge of divine things, will be only an instance of the blind leading the blind so that both will fall into the pit.

"... We do maintain that the will cannot be upright nor the conduct good when the mind is shrouded in the darkness of crass ignorance. A man who walks with open eyes may, indeed, turn aside from the right path, but a blind man is in much more imminent danger of wandering away. Furthermore, there is always some hope for a reform of perverse conduct so long as the light of faith is not entirely extinguished; but if lack of faith is added to depraved morality because of ignorance, the evil hardly admits of remedy, and the road to ruin lies open."

(St. Pius X, Encyclical "Acerbo Nimis")

You don't need to be too versed in the controversies on grace to see the Augustinian emphasis of His Holiness. Also:

"Unbelief may be taken [as] pure negation, so that a man be called an unbeliever, merely because he has not the faith. ... If ... we take it by way of pure negation, as we find it in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character, not of sin, but of punishment, because such like ignorance of Divine things is a result of the sin of our first parent. If such like unbelievers are damned, it is on account of other sins, which cannot be taken away without faith, but not on account of their sin of unbelief. Hence Our Lord said (John 15:22) 'If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin'; which Augustine expounds (Tract. lxxxix in Joan.) as 'referring to the sin whereby they believed not in Christ.'" (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 10, Art. 1)

Ignorance of things divine is a horrible curse of a darkened mind. To think that it provides salvation is a quite contrary notion.

When Bl. Pius IX speaks of the invincibly ignorant obtaining eternal life, it is by means of "the power of divine light and grace". Of necessity, this would involve the dispelling of their ignorance.

157 posted on 02/06/2006 11:22:11 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: sitetest
My own limited intellect suggests that invincibility/vincibility covers a wide range of issues, including, near the top, the intellectual capacity of the individual. I'm not the dimmest bulb in the box, but I often find these debates approaching the limits of my own intellectual capacity, and sometimes moving beyond those limits.

Duh! I aint no beachcomber. Can I still keep my name? :-)

158 posted on 02/06/2006 11:30:41 AM PST by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: gbcdoj
I wasn't arguing against Christian truth. If you will scroll back to prior posts, my faith and values, as well as Christian Doctrine came under attack. My posts were in defense of my Christian faith, they were not intended to attack Catholicism. My point about Mary was this, she did nothing worthy of bringing her worship, she was not irreplaceable had she not been there God would have chosen another to do the exact same thing for which thousands of Catholics across the country worship Mary. Before you deny that, I have personally met several Catholics, "too many to count if you're looking for a number" who themselves worship, "Holy Mary Mother of God" as they were taught in the Catholic church by the priest. "But thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and only him shall thou serve."

I have also had several Catholic friends who carried medals of various saints in their pockets which they clutched as they prayed to these various saints. "Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven images." I could continue, but it is evident to me that I am typing in vain. I appreciate that you hold your faith close to your heart, but just because my faith doesn't follow Catholic tradition doesn't make it wrong. The Catholic church by the way is not the oldest church on record. The Jewish church is the oldest church revering the God of Abraham, so the reformed Messianic Jewish movement starting at the acceptance of Christ's teachings would be the oldest church, existing even before the "almighty Catholic church"
159 posted on 02/06/2006 11:35:44 AM PST by whispering out loud (the bible is either 100% true, or in it's very nature it is 100% a lie)
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis

There is no proper distinction between the visible Catholic Church and some invisible Church which contains more people. Frankly, that distinction is total Protestantism.

Membership by desire in the Church is invisble/informal communion with the visible Church.

160 posted on 02/06/2006 11:54:59 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: Invincibly Ignorant

Dear Invincibly Ignorant,

"Duh! I aint no beachcomber. Can I still keep my name? :-)"

I can think of no one more worthy of the appellation than you. ;-)


161 posted on 02/06/2006 12:05:07 PM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; bornacatholic

Sir, if you read my post # 156 I did not use the term "invisible Church." I am very well aware that it is a Protestant idea. That's why I did not use it. I did, however, use the language of Lumen Gentium as well as the language of Piux IX and others--that the total Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, that is, the visible Church consisting in those bishops and their flocks who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, but that others (your baptism of desire) can be saved and if they are saved they are saved through the Church of Christ that subsists in the visible Catholic Church but that one need not be a formal adherent of this visible Church to be saved.

I wish you would not accuse me of using language I did not, deliberately did not, employ. Your quarrel is with John Paul II, e.g., in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, with Lumen Gentium, with Piux IX.

162 posted on 02/06/2006 1:28:52 PM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis; Hermann the Cherusker; gbcdoj; bornacatholic; sitetest
I'd like to try to give a $0.50 summary of the conversation on vincibility to see if I have understood it correctly.

If I understand this conversation, there is quite a bit of agreement. Dion is working from the precept that one cannot be held accountable for what one does not know (Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains. John 9:41) while Hermann is working from the precept that ignorance of truth is always a negative position (" My people are perishing from a lack of knowledge," Hosea 4:6). Both of these precepts belong to the faith, so the question is how to reconcile the two?

The question that I have to ask at this point is, ignorance of what? The context of the thread suggests that it is ignorance that one must be a member of the Church to be saved. Is that correct?

This comes down to an interpretation of individual responsibility. Dion is asserting that there are a number of conditions which could conspire to put one in a position of invincible ignorance vis a vis the Catholic Church. He asserts, if I understand him correctly, that one must actively reject known truth to be vincibly ignorant. Further, he asserts that it is impossible to judge whether or not an individual outside of the visible Church is in a position to meet the criteria for invincible ignorance. Hermann, on the other hand, suggests that it is nearly impossible for a Christian in Western Civilization to be unaware of the Catholic Church and ask himself why he is not a Catholic.

It seems to me that Dion's position points to a willful rejection of known truth, whereas Hermann's points to the responsibility of the individual to investigate the truth, so that something such as, for example laziness that led one to not consider the truths of the Apostolic Faith, would be a de facto rejection of the Truth. Basically, Hermann seems to be asserting that there are a lot of non-Catholic Christians who, by rights, should know, and that this may in fact may be the default position for non-Catholics. (By Catholic, I assume we I would include both the Orthodox and Latin Catholics.) That is, the individual Christian has the responsibility to investigate the Truth and consider it. (But his master answered him, 'You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed?...Matt 25:26)

I think both Hermann and Dion are rejecting extreme positions; namely, a laxity that asserts itself in a doctrine that people Will be saved in any faith so long as they are validly baptized as Christians, and, on the other hand, a belief in an absolute requirement that one be an formal member of the Catholic Church. The question might be framed as, who can be a member of the Church, without being a formal member of the Church?

Sitetest suggested a number of conditions in the West which could lead to invincible ignorance, including insufficient intellectual ability to evaluate competing claims successfully, and prejudices with which one was raised. Sitetest suggests an approach to invincibility that would in a sense be a lack of faith, such that although a person sensed that the Catholic Faith was correct, he nonetheless rejected it because of worldly concerns, such as approval by family and friends.

Basically, the question is about the prevalence of Invincible Ignorance. Is it the typical condition of non-Catholics Christians, or the exceptional condition among them?

The tension is reflected in Scripture itself where it discusses the Universal Salvific Will.

"{God}who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." 1 Ti 2: 4. Here we see the Universal Salvific will coupled to the desire of the Almighty to see all come to the knowledge of the truth.
163 posted on 02/06/2006 3:40:24 PM PST by InterestedQuestioner (Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

"The long and short of it is that canonically Rome essentially accepts the Eastern Bishops as legitmate Bishops of the Catholic Church."

That is my understanding; and also vice versa, by the way.

164 posted on 02/06/2006 3:43:03 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: sitetest

Well, invincible means unconquerable. Theologians define ignorance as invincible when one does due diligence and still cannot overcome it.

Obviously it is not our place to judge that a person's ignorance is vincible; on the other hand it is equally clear that we cannot be certain that one is invincibly ignorant of the Catholic religion. It is an abuse of the Church's doctrine that one who is invincibly ignorant of the truth of the Catholic religion can be saved without formal membership through an implicit desire for formal membership to argue that the absolute necessity for salvation of membership in the Church (through faith, baptism, and submission to the Apostolic See of Rome,) should not be clearly preached to non-Catholics, as it always has been, or that the "Unam Sanctam" does not mean what it clearly says.

Bl. Pius IX says: "as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is 'one God, one faith, one baptism'; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry."

165 posted on 02/06/2006 4:14:42 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis
Well, you have quoted Bl. Pius IX.

But what you said was that "earlier papal teaching" was that basically EENS applies only to one who "knowingly and deliberately rejected [the claims of the Church regarding her divine foundation and mission], knowing them to be true but still choosing to remain outside her membership." This is apparently what you hold to be the dogmatic content of the doctrine that outside the church there is no salvation.

Even if Bl. Pius IX agrees with you, that hardly proves what you've said about earlier papal teaching, and I believe leaves intact my statement that "As far as I can tell, the 'rigorist' (i.e., something like this [link to a long book by a Fr. Michael Muller, C.Ss.R.]) reading of the doctrine was fairly common straight up through the 18th century at least, although it wasn't dogmatic." I mean, if you look at, for instance, Cardinal Bellarmine's treatise "de Ecclesia Militante," he takes care to explain how catechumens and those unjustly excommunicated are within the Church and hence can be saved, but there's nary a word in favor of heretics and schismatics, ignorant or not. Many others, so far as I have read, seem to speak similiarly, although not all, e.g., one could evidence Pighius on the matter, or Father Fisher's comments in his debate with Archbishop Laud, and these men do hold out a tenuous hope of salvation for such persons. That being said, it's hardly very far from catechumens to those truly laboring under invincible ignorance, and perhaps one could instance this as a devolopment of doctrine (differing merely in the details of the practical application of the principle "extra ecclesiam nulla salus"). Certainly the Letter of the Holy Office does clearly state that some persons who are invincibly ignorant of the divine mission of the Church can be saved through an implicit votum or desire, and this is the controlling authority for theological speculation today.

That you are in agreement with Bl. Pius IX is by no means clear to me, though. The excerpt from Singulari Quidem speaks of invincible ignorance, sure. But let's look at the whole passage (Denz. 30th edition, Deferrari's translation, no. 1646):

Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition after death of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and "judgments of God" which are "a great deep" [Ps. 35:7] and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive from the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with that skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to you care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice.

For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God. Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, religions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains "we shall see God as He is" [1 Jn. 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is "one God, one faith, one baptism" [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.

But, just as the way of charity demands, let us pour forth continual prayers that all nations everywhere may be converted to Christ; and let us be devoted to the common salvation of men in proportion to our strength, "for the hand of the Lord is not shortened" [Is. 9:1] and the gifts of heavenly grace will not be wanting those who sincerely wish and ask to be refreshed by this light. Truths of this sort should be deeply fixed in the minds of the faithful, lest they be corrupted by false doctrines, whose object is to foster an indifference toward religion, which we see spreading widely and growing strong for the destruction of souls.

Now, his words are clearly directed not against "Feeneyite-Jansenist rigorism" (why the Jansenists? I don't recall any argument between them and the Catholics on the matter) but against indifferentism and denial of the dogma "that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved." Invincible ignorance is introduced here not as an exception, or as uniting to the Church, but only as preventing culpability for failing to join the Church. As membership is not only a necessity of precept but of means, this scarcely asserts that such persons are saved. The rejection of proceeding "further in inquiry" (into the vincibility or invincibility of the ignorance of persons) appears directed at those who pretend to have good hope for the salvation "of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ" on account of their supposedly invincible ignorance. The Pope continues on to assert that "the gifts of heavenly grace will not be wanting those who sincerely wish and ask to be refreshed by this light."

He never asks the bishops to reject that "rigorism" which was a very common teaching in the Church. I mean, come on. Look at Cardinal Newman's "On Faith and Private Judgment." He says that pretty much every Protestant in England doesn't even have real divine faith (without which no man can be saved,) and this sort of teaching was all throughout the Church. The Pope's directives here are to teach the faithful that God will come to the help of those who pray for grace and that God's justice is not contradictory to His mercy--not to inform them that thanks to invincible ignorance, they should affirm to non-Catholics that they have no need to fear for their salvation, as you appear to be claiming is effectively the teaching of the Church.

Quanto conficiamur is more explicit and basically affirms what the Letter of the Holy Office to Archbishop Cushing did. Glossing the Pope's statement as teaching only a necessity of precept, as you seem to do, is off-base. He affirms that the Catholic dogma is "that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who obstinately oppose the authority of the definitions of the Church, and who stubbornly remain separated from the unity of the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the Saviour has entrusted the care of his vineyard, cannot obtain salvation." Here we have both the necessity of means ("no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church") and the necessity of precept ("obstinately ... stubbornly"), the same as the Letter of the Holy Office teaches.

You might want to take a look at Msgr. J. Fenton's extensive commentary on both SQ and QCM in his book The Catholic Church and salvation in the light of recent announcements by the Holy See (Westminster, Maryland: The Newman Press, 1958). Msgr. Fenton was dean of theology at CUA, a cofounder of the CTSA, and editor of the American Ecclesiastical Review: very well respected and hardly an eccentric in his theological positions. The "laxist" reading of these two papal documents you seem to be advocating is hardly the only possible or historical one or even the best one.

Your comments about the Church not being "the visible Catholic Church" are puzzling. You then say to Hermann that you don't believe in an invisible Church. So I take it you hold that there are two visible Churches, one the Church of Christ, the other the Catholic Church which is a subset of the Church of Christ? This hardly seems consistent with the teaching that the Roman Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ are one and the same thing, which was reaffirmed by Pius XII in Mystici Corporis, Humani generis, and then by the Council (see Lumen Gentium §8, esp. footnote 10; also the definition of the Church in OE §2). And I cannot see how the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which on earth is visible, cannot be identical with the society designated by the term "Church of Christ."

166 posted on 02/06/2006 4:15:46 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; Dionysiusdecordealcis; InterestedQuestioner
Yes, St. Josemaria's comments on this are great. Permit me to quote further from the same homily, beginning where your quotation leaves off,
This is a continual demand of the Church which on the one hand stimulates us to greater apostolic zeal, and on the other manifests clearly the infinite mercy of God with his creatures.

This is how Saint Thomas explained it: The sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, in reality and desire, as is the case of those who are neither baptized nor wish to be baptized: which clearly indicates contempt of the sacrament for those who have the use of reason. Consequently those to whom Baptism is wanting thus, cannot obtain salvation: since neither sacramentally nor spiritually are they incorporated in Christ, through whom alone can salvation be obtained. Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to someone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some misfortune he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. Such a man can obtain salvation without actually being baptized, on account of desire for Baptism, a desire which is the outcome of faith that works by charity, whereby God, whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly.

God Our Lord denies no one supernatural and eternal happiness, although it is a completely free gift to which no one has a right, especially after sin. His generosity is infinite. It is a matter of common knowledge that those who suffer invincible ignorance of our most holy religion but carefully observe all the precepts of the Natural Law which are engraved by God in the hearts of all men, and want to obey God and lead an upright life, can obtain eternal life through the efficacious action of divine light and grace.

God alone knows what goes on in the heart of each man, and he does not deal with souls en masse, but one by one. No one on this earth can make a judgement about the eternal salvation or condemnation of any individual.

Let us not forget that conscience can be culpably deformed and harden itself in sin, resisting the saving action of God. That is why it is necessary to spread Christ's doctrine, the truths of faith and the norms of Christian morality. That is also why we need the sacraments, all of which were instituted by Jesus Christ as instrumental causes of his grace and remedies for the weaknesses that ensue from our fallen nature. Finally, that is why we need to receive frequently the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist.

The awesome responsibility of all the Church's members and especially of its shepherds is made clear in Saint Paul's advice: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and in the name of his coming and of his kingdom: Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

167 posted on 02/06/2006 4:20:45 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: whispering out loud

The Christian truth is that the Son of God became incarnate and assumed the form (or rather, nature) of a man. Phil. 2:6-11.

Therefore, in bearing Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, the Blessed Virgin truly became the Mother of God, according to the humanity which he assumed. Otherwise one denies the reality of the incarnation: that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

168 posted on 02/06/2006 4:24:34 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis; Hermann the Cherusker; gbcdoj; bornacatholic; sitetest

Reading through these posts, it seems that what everyone is condemning is a willful ignorance. Is it fair to say that the question is whether vincible ignorance includes more than just those who willfully choose to remain ignorant of the faith? Or is it simply a matter of determining what is included in this willfulness?

169 posted on 02/06/2006 4:25:10 PM PST by InterestedQuestioner (Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.)
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To: InterestedQuestioner; Dionysiusdecordealcis; Hermann the Cherusker
The context of the thread suggests that it is ignorance that one must be a member of the Church to be saved.


Dion is working from the precept that one cannot be held accountable for what one does not know (Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, 'We see,' your guilt remains. John 9:41) while Hermann is working from the precept that ignorance of truth is always a negative position (" My people are perishing from a lack of knowledge," Hosea 4:6). Both of these precepts belong to the faith, so the question is how to reconcile the two?

Well, I think it has more to do with this. Membership in the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation by a necessity of precept and by a necessity of means. A necessity of precept means that it has been commanded by God under pain of mortal sin. A necessity of means is when something has been established by God as the only means of attaining an end, in this case, salvation. Because of this double necessity which is contained in the doctrine "extra ecclesiam nulla salus," not only one will be condemned if he knowingly refuses to join the Church; he who does not join her because he is vincibly ignorant of the truth of her claims is also rejected.

Invincible ignorance does not create an exception, but those who are invincibly ignorant can belong to the Church by desire if they have true supernatural charity, and would submit to the Church if only they were not hindered by whatever reason from discovering the truth. This is well expressed in the Protocol Letter of the Holy Office to Archbishop Cushing; but Dion seems to reduce the Church's necessity for salvation to a necessity of precept only; or he speaks very unguardedly.

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.

In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the sacrament of regeneration and in reference to the sacrament of penance (Denzinger, nn. 797, 807).

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.

These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, On the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.

Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is-composed here on earth, the same august Pontiff says: "Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed."

Toward the end of this same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church" (AAS, 1. c., p. 243). With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution, Singulari quadam, in Denzinger, n. 1641 ff.; also Pope Pius IX in the encyclical letter, Quanto conficiamur moerore, in Denzinger, n. 1677).

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): "Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" (Denzinger, n. 801).

170 posted on 02/06/2006 4:39:39 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: gbcdoj
I don't have to accept the title mother of God to accept the reality of the incarnation. Mary was no doubt the vessel that God chose to usher his human form into the world, that doesn't make her his mother. The term mother indicates that she was paramount to the conception of God. "Before there was time, I am" God himself was not conceived, the flesh he assumed on earth was conceived, but the flesh was not who he was, it was merely a vessel he indwelt to work his plan.
171 posted on 02/06/2006 4:49:46 PM PST by whispering out loud (the bible is either 100% true, or in it's very nature it is 100% a lie)
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To: whispering out loud
The term mother indicates that she was paramount to the conception of God. "Before there was time, I am" God himself was not conceived, the flesh he assumed on earth was conceived,
And since the holy Virgin brought forth corporally God made one with flesh according to nature, for this reason we also call her Mother of God, not as if the nature of the Word had the beginning of its existence from the flesh. (St. Cyril, third synodical letter to Nestorius)

but the flesh was not who he was

This is a denial of the incarnation and of the whole salvific economy. If the Word did not become flesh, who suffered and died and rose again for the sake of our salvation?

"Which none of the princes of this world knew; for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Cor. 2:8) But according to you, the Lord of majesty - the Son of God, was not crucified, just as he was not born of his mother the Virgin. Apparently, for you, all that was crucified was the "human form" of God the Son (rather, the human form united to the Son in name only), not God the Son himself in his human nature.

But when our Lord and Saviour himself was by his questions instructing the faith of the disciples, he said, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” And when they had mentioned various opinions held by others, he said, “But whom say ye that I am?” that is, “I who am Son of Man, and whom you see in the form of a servant, and in reality of flesh, whom say ye that I am?” Whereupon the blessed Peter, as inspired by God, and about to benefit all nations by his confession, said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Not undeservedly, therefore, was he pronounced blessed by the Lord, and derived from the original Rock that solidity which belonged both to his virtue and to his name, who through revelation from the Father confessed the selfsame to be both the Son of God and the Christ; because one of these truths, accepted without the other, would not profit unto salvation, and it was equally dangerous to believe the Lord Jesus Christ to be merely God and not man, or merely man and not God. But after the resurrection of the Lord—which was in truth the resurrection of a real body, for no other person was raised again than he who had been crucified and had died—what else was accomplished during that interval of forty days than to make our faith entire and clear of all darkness? For while he conversed with his disciples, and dwelt with them, and ate with them, and allowed himself to be handled with careful and inquisitive touch by those who were under the influence of doubt, for this end he came in to the disciples when the doors were shut, and by his breath gave them the Holy Ghost, and opened the secrets of Holy Scripture after bestowing on them the light of intelligence, and again in his selfsame person showed to them the wound in the side, the prints of the nails, and all the flesh tokens of the Passion, saying, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have:” that the properties of the Divine and the human nature might be acknowledged to remain in him without causing a division, and that we might in such sort know that the Word is not what the flesh is, as to confess that the one Son of God is both Word and flesh. (St. Leo the Great, Tome to the Council of Chalcedon)

172 posted on 02/06/2006 5:09:40 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: gbcdoj

no matter how many words you use, that doesn't make you any more right.

173 posted on 02/06/2006 5:24:01 PM PST by whispering out loud (the bible is either 100% true, or in it's very nature it is 100% a lie)
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To: whispering out loud

No matter how many times you repeat your Nestorianism, it still won't be compatible with Christian faith.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

174 posted on 02/06/2006 5:42:30 PM PST by gbcdoj (Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us Jud 8:17)
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To: gbcdoj

I didn't say he didn't I just said that doesn't make Mary the mother of God. She was the mother of the Flesh of Jesus Christ, That doesn't make her the mother of the Godhead. Jesus himself said the father was still in heaven. Jesus and the father are one, but in Christ birth that doesn't make Mary Gods mother. Call it Nestorianism, or whatever you like. My beliefs are compatible with the Christian faith. I am a devout Christian, and when the Holy Spirit reveals to me that Mary is the mother of God, or anything more than a normal person that God blessed by allowing her to be used by him. At that point I will admit folly, but until then Catholic teachings are just that Catholic teachings and nothing more.

175 posted on 02/06/2006 5:52:49 PM PST by whispering out loud (the bible is either 100% true, or in it's very nature it is 100% a lie)
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To: gbcdoj; InterestedQuestioner

Actually, I think the differences lie to a greater degree in how one understands the process of knowing something such that one would be capable of willfully rejecting something known.

[I note in passing that gbcdoj in this posting once more uses "Catholic Church" generically, without specifying when he is talking about the formal, visible Catholic Church and when he is not. I think this ambiguous use of "Catholic Church" makes conversation on these points difficult.]

I am not an indifferentist. For God's sake, had I been an indifferentist, I would never have become a Catholic with all the attendant costs in loss of friends and family and the professional costs it brought me.

But precisely because I am a Catholic convert and have spent many hours trying to convey the seriousness and importance of accepting the Catholic Church's claims to those I know well and love dearly but who cannot even seem to grasp the issues at hand, I have, I think, some understanding of how we humans often talk past each other.

FR threads are a very good example of how someone can have an idea or set of ideas spelled out clearly, held in front of his nose, yet not even begin to make the epistemological steps necessary to even entertain the possibility of being persuaded.

Surely political conservatives, such as I assume all of us on all sides of this thread are, should be able to recognize how hard it is, when arguing for a position one holds but is rejected by one's opponent, to reach even a starting point for persuasion. If in every case of such "talking past each other" one of the interlocutors is willfully and knowingly refusing to accept the other one's arguments then we're all in heap big trouble for being obstinate in the face of truth that has been presented to us.

I cannot simply dismiss those who do not agree with me as being obstinate, willfully ignorant fools. I recognize from long experience, from 25 years of marriage, from countless FR threads, and a host of other conversations, how often the failure to persuade the other rests not on the inadequacy of the arguments or the blockheadedness or willful idiocy of the other person but on the way that pre-judices he is unaware of, misinformation, misunderstood information (what he had for lunch a hour ago--just kidding), etc. contribute to invincible ignorance.

I could write off all my friends, my wife (who gets all her political information from NPR), my liberal colleagues (with whom I cannot get to first base in political, cultural, even religious, conversation because they get all their information from a completely different set of sources than I do) as headed for hell because they willfully refuse to listen to the truth claims that are so obvious to me. After all, how many times have I told them that their universe of knowledge derived from NPR and the New York Times and Commonweal is a parochial, narrow, misinformed universe of knowledge and that, if they'd only read the recommended set of blogs I give them and listen to Hugh Hewitt and Dennis Prager regularly they'd see how they have tunnel vision and would then come to the light.

I even had one colleague who honestly wanted to dip her toe into this other universe of knowledge with regard to the Terry Schiavo case (she was getting all her information from the NYT). I fed her some stuff from WorldNetDaily and Empire Journal etc. She did the standard, "but this stuff is flawed in its reasoning etc." I argued that, having lived my life both in her universe of knowledge and in mine, whereas she had only lived in one of the two, she needed to do a lot more "converting" and opening up to entertain honestly the information from my universe of knowledge than I had to do to honestly entertain hers. She couldn't see the point. Finally, when I offered what I thought was an axiom that any intelligent observer of American history over the past 40 years could agree to, as a possible starting point for a real conversation, namely, that more than anything else, the cultural shifts of the last 40 years resulted from court rulings, not from representative elections, instead of stipulating my point then arguing that some of these court decisions nonetheless were good and necessary, she simply refused to accept the premise, rambling on about all sorts of other causes of the major cultural changes. (All of which are traceable back to and therefore indirectly caused by the courts decisions, in my view.) I realized at that point we stood no chance of ever even getting to a starting point for discussion. So I stopped trying. She seemed to have realized the same thing, since she stopped seeking conversation.

Some of the people I know who simply cannot even entertain as a possibility the fundamental principles needed in any conversation about Catholic claims are people who genuinely love Jesus Christ, would give their lives for Him, are honest, selfless, generous people. I cannot in honesty call them willful and knowing rejecters of Catholic claims.

I recognize that some people are vincibly ignorant. I regularly teach C. S. Lewis's Last Battle and point out to students that the dwarfs willfully refuse to trust anyone after having been betrayed and hoodwinked once. They end up in hell, which in Lewis's account involves them sitting in the open air and beautiful sunlight of paradise but incapable of seeing paradise around them because they have willfully closed their minds to truth: the "dwarfs are for the dwarfs" and will not trust anyone again. But notice that their sin is a sin against charity, a refusal to trust anyone, having been taken in by a truly untrustworthy, lying Ape. In the same book, the very son of the heathen, pagan captain, because he is full of lived truth (Emeth) and has charity/selfless love in his heart, is admitted to heaven even though he did not know Aslan or the claims about Aslan.

Now, C. S. Lewis was not a formal member of the visible Catholic Church and I don't claim magisterial authority for his books which were written for children after all. Someone like him who certainly knew all the claims of the Catholic Church and whose theology was Catholic in virtually every way except his submission to the Roman Pontiff, he, according to my rigorist brethren, is a prime candidate for the fires of hell. I'm sorry, I can't accompany you folks down that path. For the life of me I can't see why Lewis could not have taken the final step to Rome. Books have been written speculating why (anti-Catholic prejudice from his Ulster childhood etc.). I could care less about speculating why. I just know he did not and I can well imagine him invincibly ignorant despite his great knowledge of all sides of the Catholic/Anglo-Catholic/Protestant debates. Perhaps he did willfully and knowingly reject Catholic claims and is right now suffering in hell. But for my part, I will cut him some slack and say, I don't know

Call me what you wish, but I am invincibly ignorant of the truth of the rigorist position that declares these people damned to hell for not listening to my forthright and (I thought) utterly clear presentation of the truths of Catholicism. And so I entrust them in my heart and my prayers to the mercy of God who alone knows whether they are being willfully, damnably, knowingly, vincibly ignorant or whether they are invincibly ignorant.

I am not an indifferentist and I truly wish that my rigorist fellow Catholics would stop implying that I believe in a sort of cheap grace.

And, since this conversation has apparently reached the point of mutually exclusive invincible ignorances on the two sides of the argument, I will wander off in my invincible ignorance and attend to other matters.

176 posted on 02/06/2006 6:18:09 PM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: whispering out loud
" I appreciate your courteous tone, and will return it with the utmost of respect."

Thank you, Whispering out Loud, I appreciate your saying that. I see that there is a discussion about the title "Mother of God." In this case, when we speak about Mary, we are really speaking about Jesus and the mystery of Salvation. Scripture tells us that Mary was the Mother of Jesus, and we hold that Jesus is God, so from our perspective, that would make Mary the Mother of God.

It does not mean that Mary created God or that Mary somehow preexisted God. We recognize that Mary is a purely human creature, created by God. However, we recognize that God sent His son, born of a woman, to ransom us so that we might receive adoption as sons, and therefore heirs. So Mary was created by God, but was also the human mother of God, Jesus Christ.

I understand that you have no intention of separating Christ into two persons, or in somehow denying that he was both fully man and fully God. I think that the concern by several persons here is that the rejection of the title, "Mother of God" would imply that you do not see Christ's Humanity and Divinity as fully united in one person, or that you perhaps believed that Christ did not have a human will.
177 posted on 02/06/2006 6:20:22 PM PST by InterestedQuestioner (Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.)
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To: InterestedQuestioner
Once again I appreciate your tone. My only concern is that there are alot of Catholics in the general sense that put way to much emphasis on Mary as more than just a woman blessed by God, and I think it has alot to do with the title, "Mother of God"
178 posted on 02/06/2006 6:38:56 PM PST by whispering out loud (the bible is either 100% true, or in it's very nature it is 100% a lie)
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To: gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis; bornacatholic; InterestedQuestioner; Kolokotronis
These are some of the marginal notes and commentary of the original Rheims New Testament of 1582 which have a bearing on the topic of salvation outside the Church. I think they adequately address the topic as to the flavor of belief at the time of the Council of Trent:

St. Luke 10:16. He that heareth you, heareth me: and he that despiseth you, despiseth me. And he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.
Marginal Note: It is all one to despise Christ, and to despise his Priests and Ministers in the Catholic Church: to refuse his doctrine, and theirs.

St. Luke 13:25. But when the good man of the house shall enter in, and shut the door, and you shall begin to stand without, and knock at the door, saying, Lord open to us: and he answering shall say to you, I know you not whence you are: then you shall begin to say,
26. We did eat before thee and drink, and in our streets didst thou teach.
26. Eat before thee.] It is not enough to feed with Christ in his Sacraments, or to hear his word in the Church, to challenge heaven thereby, unless we live in unity of the Catholic Church. So St. Augustine applieth this against the Donatists, that had the very same service and Sacraments which the Catholic Church, had yet severed themselves from other Christian countries by Schism.

St. John 3:5. JESUS answered, Amen, Amen I say to thee, Unless a man be borne again of water and the Spirit, he can not enter into the kingdom of God.
5. Born again of Water.] As no man can enter into this world nor have his life and being in the same, except he be born of his carnal parents: no more can a man enter into the life and state of grace which is in Christ, or attain to life everlasting, unless he be born and baptized of water and the Holy Ghost. Whereby we see first, this Sacrament to be called our regeneration or second birth, in respect of our natural and carnal which was before. Secondly, that this sacrament consisteth of an external element of water, and internal virtue of the Holy Spirit: Wherein it excelleth John's baptism, which had the external element, but not the spiritual grace. Thirdly, that no man can enter into the Kingdom of God, nor into the fellowship of Holy Church, without it. Whereby the Pelagians, and Calvinists be condemned, that promise life everlasting to young children that die without baptism, and all other that think only their faith to serve, or the external element of water superfluous or not necessary: our Saviour's words being plain and general. Though in this case, God which hath not bound his grace, in respect of his own freedom, to any Sacrament, may and doth accept them as baptized, which either are martyred before they could be baptized, or else depart this life with vow and desire to have that Sacrament, but by some remediless necessity could not obtain it. Lastly, it is proved that this Sacrament giveth grace ex opere operator, that is, of the work itself (which all Protestants deny) because it so breedeth our spiritual life in God, as our carnal birth giveth the life of the world.

St. John 3:18. He that believeth in him, is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.
18. Is judged already.] He that believeth in Christ with faith which worketh by charity (as the Apostle speaketh) shall not be condemned at the later day nor at the hour of his death. But the Infidel, be he Jew, Pagan, or Heretic, is already (if he die in his incredulity) by his own profession and sentence condemned, and shall not come to judgment either particular or general, to be discussed according to his works of mercy done or omitted. In which sense St. Paul saith that the obstinate Heretic is condemned by his own judgment, preventing in himself, of his own free will, the sentence both of Christ and of the Church.

St. John 10:1 AMEN, amen I say to you, he that entereth not by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbeth up another way: he is a thief and a robber.
1. Climbeth another way.] Whosoever taketh upon him to preach without lawful sending, to minister Sacraments, and is not Canonically ordered of a true Catholic Bishop, to be a Curate of souls, person, bishop, or what other spiritual Pastor soever, and cometh not in by lawful election and holy Church's ordinance to that dignity, but breaketh in against order by force or favor of men, and by human laws, he is a thief and a murderer. So came in Arius, Calvin, Luther, and all Heretics: and all that succeed them in room and doctrine. And generally every one that descendeth not by lawful succession in the known ordinary line of Catholic Bishops and Pastors that have been in all countries since their conversion. And according to this rule St. Irenaeus li. 3 c. 3 trieth the true shepherds from the thieves and heretics. So do Tertul. de Praescr. nu. 11; St. Cypr. de unit., Ec. nu. 7; St. August. ep. 165 and cont. ep Manich. c. 4 and Lirinensis.

St. John 15:4. Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch can not bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine: so you neither, unless you abide in me.
4. Unless it abide.] Whosoever by Heresy or Schism or for any other cause is cut off or separated from the Church, he can do no meritorious work to salvation.

St. John 17:3. And this is life everlasting that they know Thee, the only true God, and JESUS CHRIST Whom Thou hast sent.
3. Life everlasting.] Both the life of glory in heaven, and of grace here in the Church, consisteth in the knowledge of God: that, in perfect vision: this, in faith working by charity; for, knowledge of God without keeping his commandments, is not true knowledge, that is to say, it is an unprofitable knowledge. 1 Io. 2.

Romans 5:14. But death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even on them also that sinned not after the similitude of the prevarication of Adam, who is a figure of him to come.
14. Unto Moses.] Even in the time of the Law of nature, when men knew not sin, and therefore it could not be man's judgment be imputed: and in the time of Moses Law, when the commandment taught them to know it, but gave them no strength nor grace to avoid it, sin did reign, and thereupon death and damnation, even till Moses inclusive, that is to say, even till the end of his Law. And that not in them only which actually sinned, as Adam did, but in infants which never did actually offend, but only were born and conceived in sin, that is to say, having their natures defiled, destitute of justice, and averted from God in Adam, and by their descent from him: Christ only excepted, being conceived without man's seed, and his mother for his honor and by his special protection (as many godly devout men judge) preserved from the same.

1 Corinthians 10:21. You can not drink the chalice of our Lord, and the chalice of devils: you can not be partakers of the table of our Lord, and of the table of devils.
21. Partakers of the table.] Though the faithful people be many ways known to be God's peculiar, and be joined both to him and among themselves, and also severed and distinguished from all others that pertain not to him, as well Jews and Pagans, as Heretics and Schismatics, by sundry other external signs of Sacraments, doctrine, and government: yet the most proper and substantial union or difference consisteth in the Sacrifice and Altar: by which God so specially bindeth his Church unto him, and himself unto his Church, that he acknowledgeth none to be his, that is not partaker of his one only Table and Sacrifice in his Church: and acquitteth himself of all such as join in fellowship with any of the Heathen at their Idolatry, or with the Jews at their Sacrifices, or with the Heretics and Schismatics at their profane and detestable table. Which because it is the proper badge of their separation from Christ and his Church, and an altar purposely erected against Christ's Altar, Priesthood, and Sacrifice, is indeed a very sacrifice, or (as the Apostle here speaketh) a table and cup of Devils, that is to say, wherein the Devil is properly served, and Christ's honor (no less than *by the altars of Jeroboam or any profane superstitious rites of Gentility) defiled. And therefore all Catholic men, if they look to have fellowship with Christ and his members in his body and blood, must deem of it as of Idolatry or sacrilegious superstition, and abstain from it and from all society of the same, as good Tobias did from Jeroboam's calves and the altars in Dan and Bethel: and as the good faithful did from the Excelses, and from the temple and sacrifices of Samaria. Now in the Christian times we have no other Idols, but heresies, nor Idolothytes, but their false services shifted into our Churches instead of God's true and only worship. Cypr. de unit. Ec. nu. 2.; Hiero. in 11 Osee. & 8. Amos. & in 3. Habac.; Aug. in Ps. 80 v. 10. De Civ. Dei li. 18 c. 51.

1 Corinthians 13:3. And if I should distribute all my goods to be meat for the poor, and if I should deliver my body so that I burn, and have not charity, it doth profit me nothing.
3. Deliver my body.] Believe (saith St. Augustine) assuredly and hold for certain, that no Heretic and Schismatic that uniteth not himself to the Catholic Church again, how great alms so ever he give, yea or shed his blood for Christ's name, can possibly be saved. For, many Heretics by the cloak of Christ's cause, deceiving the simple suffer much. But where true faith is not, there is no justice, because the just liveth by faith. So it is also of Schismatics, because where charity is not, justice can there be none: which if they had, they would never pluck in pieces the body of Christ which is the Church. Aus. seu. Fulg. de fid. ad Pet. c. 39. So saith St. Augustine in divers places, not only of Heretics that died directly for defense of their heresy, as the Anabaptists and Calvinists now a days do (for that it is more damnable): but of some Heretics and Schismatics that may die among the Heathen or Turks for defense of truth or some Article of Christ's religion. Aug. de verb. Do. sr. 50 c. 2. & in Psal. 34 conc. 2 prope finem.; Cypr. de unit. Ec. nu. 8.

Ephesians 4:5. One Lord, one faith, one baptism
5. One faith.] As rebellion is the bane of civil Commonwealths and kingdoms, and peace and concord, the preservation of the same: so is Schism, division, and diversity of faiths or fellowships in the service of God, the calamity of the Church: and peace, unity, uniformity, the special blessing of God therein, and in the Church above all Commonwealths, because it is in all points a Monarchy tending every way to unity. But one God, but one Christ, but one Church, but one hope, one faith, one baptism, one head, one body. Whereof St. Cyprian li. de unit. Ec. nu. 3 saith thus: One Church the Holy Ghost in the person of our Lord designeth and saith, One is my dove. This unity of the Church he that holdeth not, doth he think he holdeth the faith? He that withstandeth and resisteth the Church, he that forsaketh Peter's chair upon which the Church was built, doth he trust that he is in the Church? When the blessed Apostle St. Paul also showeth this Sacrament of unity, saying, One body and one spirit, etc. Which unity we Bishops specially that rule in the Church, ought to hold fast and maintain, that we may prove the Bishoply function also itself to be one and undivided, etc. And again, There is one God, and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair, by our Lord's voice founded upon Peter. Another altar to be set up, or a new Priesthood to be made, besides one altar, and one Priesthood, is impossible. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere, scattereth. It is adulterous, it is impious, it is sacrilegious, whatsoever is instituted by mans fury to the breach of God's divine disposition. Get ye far from the contagion of such men, and flee from their speeches as a canker and pestilence, our Lord having premonished and warned before hand, They are blind, leaders of the blind, etc. Whereby we learn that this unity of the Church commended so much unto us, consisteth in the mutual fellowship of all Bishops with the See of Peter. St. Hilary also (li. ad Constantium Augustum) thus applieth this same place of the Apostle against the Arians, as we may do against the Calvinists. Perilous and miserable it is, saith he, that there are now so many faiths as wills, and so many doctrines as manners, whiles either faiths are so written as we will, or as we will, so are understood: and whereas according to one God, and one Lord, and one Baptism, there is also one faith, we fall away from that which is the only faith, and whiles more faiths be made, they begin to come to that, that there is none at all.

Ephesians 5:23. Because the man is the head of the woman: as Christ is the head of the Church. Himself, the Saviour of his body.
Marginal note: No salvation out of the Catholic Church
23. Saviour of his body.] None hath salvation or benefit by Christ, that is not of his body the Church. And what Church that is, St. Augustine expresseth in these words. The Catholic Church only is the body of Christ, whereof he is head. Out of the body the Holy Ghost quickeneth no man. And a little after, He that will have the Spirit, let him beware he remain not out of the Church, let him beware he enter not into it feignedly.

Hebrews 11:6. But without faith it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him.
6. He that cometh.] Faith is the foundation and ground of all other virtues and worship of God, without which no man can please God. Therefore if one be a Jew, a heathen, or an heretic, that is to say, he be without the Catholic faith, all his works shall profit him no whit to salvation.

1 St. Peter 3:21. Whereunto Baptism being of the like form now saveth 'you' also: not the laying away of the filth of the flesh, but the examination of a good conscience toward God by the resurrection of JESUS Christ.
21. Of the like form.] The water bearing up the Ark from sinking, and the persons in it from drowning, was a figure of Baptism, that likewise saveth the worthy receivers from everlasting perishing. As Noe (saith St. Augustine) with his, was delivered by the water and the wood, so the family of Christ by Baptism signed with Christ's Passion on the Cross. Lib. 12 Cont. Faustum c. 14. Again he saith, that as the water saved none out of the Ark, but was rather their destruction: so the Sacrament of Baptism received out of the Catholic Church at Heretics or Schismatics hands, though it be the same water and Sacrament that the Catholic Church hath, yet profiteth none to salvation, but rather worketh their perdition. Which yet is not meant in case of extreme necessity, when the party should die without the said Sacrament, except he took it at an Heretics or Schismatics hand. Neither is it meant in the case of infants, to whom the Sacrament is cause of salvation, they being in no fault for receiving it at the hands of the unfaithful, though their parents and friends that offer them unto such to be baptized, be in no small fault. St. Jerome to Damascus Pope of Rome, compareth that See to the Ark, and them that communicate with it, to them that were saved in the Ark: all other Schismatics and Heretics, to the rest that were drowned.

1 St. John 1:3. that you also may have society with us, and our society may be with the Father and with his Son JESUS Christ. Marginal note: No salvation but in the Society of the Church
3. You may have society.] St. John showeth manifestly, that whosoever desire to be partakers with God, must first be united to the Church's society, learn that faith, and receive those Sacraments, which the Disciples received of the Truth itself, conversant with them in flesh. So saith Venerable Bede upon this place. Whereby we see there is no society with God in sects or schisms, nor anywhere but in the unity, fellowship, and commandment of that Church which can prove itself to descend from the Apostles.

Undoubtedly, this all qualifies as the "rigoristic" view.

179 posted on 02/06/2006 7:53:54 PM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: gbcdoj; Dionysiusdecordealcis; bornacatholic; Kolokotronis
The excerpt from Singulari Quidem speaks of invincible ignorance, sure.

Actually, this is the Allocution Singulari Quadem.

Singulari Quidem was an Encyclical of Bl. Pius IX issued several years later. It reads in part:

Teach that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and come to the community of His children (Romans 1; Hebrews 11; Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 8). There is only one true, holy, Catholic Church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded on Peter by the word of the Lord (St. Cyprian, Epistle 43), outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church (ibid, On the Unity of the Catholic Church).
Bl. Pius IX, Encyclical Singulari Quidem, March 17, 1856

For very obvious reasons, the partisans of the laxist position never cite this Encyclical. Sounds quite like a recapitulation of Boniface VIII's "Unam Sanctum", doesn't it?

Quanto conficiamur is more explicit and basically affirms what the Letter of the Holy Office to Archbishop Cushing did.

Why not take the simple one line summary of this Encyclical that Bl. Pius IX himself caused to be written and use it as the guide to properly divining its meaning?

17. One ought to at least have good hope for the eternal salvation of all those who in no way dwell in the true Church of Christ. - Encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10, 1863, etc.
Syllabus of Errors, December 8, 1864

That was easy, wasn't it? Catholics are bound by faith to reject the idea that there is at least good hope for the salvation of those apart from the Church.

The laxist interpretations of Bl. Pius IX also ignore the clear teaching of the First Vatican Council concerning the nature of the Catholic faith compared to false religions:

And since "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6) and to attain the fellowship of His children, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification: nor will anyone obtain eternal life, unless he shall have persevered in faith unto the end (cf. Matthew 10:22, 24:13). And that we may be able to satisfy the obligation of embracing the true faith and of persevering in it, God has instituted the Church through His only-begotten Son, and has bestowed upon it manifest marks of that institution, that it may be recognized by all men as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word; for to the Catholic Church alone belong all those many and admirable tokens which have been divinely established for the evident credibility of the Catholic Faith ...
... And its (the Catholic Church's) testimony is efficaciously supported by a power form on high. For our most merciful Lord gives His grace to stir up and to aid those who are astray, that they may come to a knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Timothy 2:4); and to those whom He has brought out of darkness into His own admirable light, He gives His grace to strengthen them to persevere in that light, deserting none who desert not Him. Therefore there is no parity between the condition of those who have adhered to the Catholic truth by the heavenly gift of faith, and of those who, led by human opinions, follow a false religion; for those who have received the faith under the magisterium of the Church can never have any just cause for changing or doubting that faith (canon 6).
Vatican Council I, Session 3, Dei Fillius (Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith), Chapter 3, April 24, 1870

Laxists also studiously ignore other Papal pronouncements of the same period, as if Popes such as Leo XII who proceeded Bl. Pius IX by but a few decades, had nothing relevant to say on the matter. Quite contrary though:

It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth Itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members. For we have a surer word of the prophet, and in writing to you We speak wisdom among the perfect; not the wisdom of this world but the wisdom of God in a mystery. By it we are taught, and by divine faith we hold, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and that no other name under heaven is given to men except the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in which we must be saved. This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.
Pope Leo XII, Encyclical Ubi primum, 14, May 5, 1824

Its really so simple and elementary. The mental contortions and gymnastics needed to prove that the pithy summary of St. Cyprian really means the opposite of its literal reading are quite painful.

When St. Paul says: "God will have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Truth." (1 St. Timothy 2.4), it should immediately spring to mind that the Lord said "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but through Me." (St. John 14.6) "And this is life everlasting that they know Thee, the only true God, and JESUS CHRIST Whom Thou hast sent." (St. John 17.3)

That this is the authentic interpretation of 1 St. Timothy 2.4 is made clear in the Catechism:

Indeed, God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4); that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 851

The universal salvific will of God is accomplished in and by the Church through her missionary work of rescuing souls from ignorance and sin. This is why the Catechism can simply explain this dogma in one sentence that cuts through all the obfuscation.

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"
846. How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? (cf. St. Cyprian, Epitle 73.21; De unitate catholicae Ecclesia.) Reformulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 846

In other words, the dogma is joyful news. "Salvation can be had in the Catholic Church. Here Almighty God communes with man and divinizes him."

The contrary sad reality is painfully aparent to anyone with eyes and a mind to think. Original sin closed heaven off to mankind, and all the superstitions of Hinduism, of heresies, of Shamanism, of Astrology, of Fertility Cults, and so on can do nothing to change this reality.

Man can beg for forgiveness of sins apart from the Catholic Church - if he is even awake enough spiritually to realize his crimes - but in the Catholic Church he can actually have that forgiveness. Man can ask to be reborn from his filth apart from Christ and His Church - within it he is assured of being and actually is reborn and washed clean. Man can seek grace and blessings without - inside he can have them and rejoice in them.

"No salvation outside the Church" is a proclimation that no longer is religion the spiritual equivalent of the mathematical empty set when it comes to securing man eternal rewards. Now there is a solution for THE problem of mankind. We were apart from God out there. But God is with us here.

How can we contaminate such good news then with placid assurances that salvation is easily available to everyone outside the Church, even if they never join themselves to her? Isn't this really a total rejection of everything we believe?

180 posted on 02/06/2006 9:00:04 PM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: whispering out loud
"My only concern is that there are alot of Catholics in the general sense that put way to much emphasis on Mary as more than just a woman blessed by God, and I think it has alot to do with the title, "Mother of God"."

This is a very common concern among non-Catholic Christians. We Catholics believe that the Saints in Heaven Intercede on behalf of those of us on here earth, (Rev 8; 1-5) ) and we ask them to pray to God for us. The phrase that you quoted earlier is from the last line of the Hail Mary, a very common Catholic prayer: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen." (The rest of the prayer is taken from Scripture.)

People commonly ask us, "Why don't you just pray straight to Jesus?" By all means, we do, but we also ask the Saints to pray on our behalf as well. We Orthodox and Roman Catholics are descended from the men who lived and and slept with Jesus, our ancestors ate with Him. The History of Salvation is very personal to Catholics. The Saints are our family, and we ask them to pray for us, for as St. James tells us, the prayer of the righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). We do not believe that we are separated from the Saints by death, and and we see those in Heaven as members of the Church. We worship God on earth now, they worship God in Heaven. To put it another way, "Any friend of God's is a friend of mine."

Another reason that Mary is important to us is that we also believe Jesus gave Mary to Christians to be our spiritual Mother. This is reflected in the Gospel of John, where Jesus, immediately before He dies on the cross, gives Mary to the beloved disciple to be his mother.

Mary represents the way of the Christian: she carried Christ within her, and she brought Christ into the world, which is exactly what we Christians are called to do. Notice that at the start of Jesus' Ministry at the wedding feast of Cana, the servants approach Mary with their request. Her words are directed to all of us: "Do what He says." We see Mary as always pointing to Christ, whose handmaiden she is. She is also a model of Christian obedience to God. "Be it done unto me according to your word."

Mary is not God, but she is the handmaid of the Lord. Many non-Catholic Christians are uncomfortable with the Catholic Church's teachings about Mary, and I can understand that. For us, however, she was given the great Grace of a very important role in the history of salvation. We also believe that as a Saint in Heaven, she prays to God on our behalf, and we look to her as our Spiritual Mother, very much in the same way we look to the Church, the Bride of Christ, as our Mother.
181 posted on 02/06/2006 11:07:24 PM PST by InterestedQuestioner (Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.)
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis
Well, said, brother.

We Catholics have had quite a fortnight or so on Limbo and EENS. Such easy, superficial, mundane topics :)

We are in agreement. But, what I instinctively am drawn toward you have had to struggle with and are therefore more adept at spelling out. Well, that plus you're a lot smarter.

We Christians have a lot of soul-searching to do this Lent. And it also wouldn't hurt for us to read that Resasourcement site you posted recently. Our Pope is where, IMO, we ought be. And that is Patristics and Ressourcement

182 posted on 02/07/2006 4:17:15 AM PST by bornacatholic (peace, brother)
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To: All
Google ressourcement + EENS and one link brings you to Rerum Novarum blog. Scroll down to EENS discussion.

Interesting. Writtten by former spx'er McElhinney

183 posted on 02/07/2006 4:24:35 AM PST by bornacatholic (peace, brother)
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To: Kolokotronis

Amen, Brother...I agree....:)

184 posted on 02/07/2006 4:27:38 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

The Patriarch of Rome is deserving of the Primacy of Honor,
(Primus Inter Pares) and anything else applies to the Western or Latin Church, not Eastern Christianity. As "Koko" stated earlier, Orthodox choose to overlook the unfortunate ramblings of the medieval Popes, etc. (in the interest of possible reunion)

185 posted on 02/07/2006 4:41:44 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

Orthodox Christians will never accept the type of Primacy that allows the Pope to decide doctrine & dogma.

Not gonna happen.

186 posted on 02/07/2006 4:47:07 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

Orthodox Christians will never accept the type of Primacy that allows the Pope to decide doctrine & dogma.

Not gonna happen.

187 posted on 02/07/2006 4:47:48 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: InterestedQuestioner

Kolokotronis is NOT RC...He is Orthodox Christian.

188 posted on 02/07/2006 4:52:09 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: Kolokotronis

I know...:)

189 posted on 02/07/2006 5:07:27 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: TexConfederate1861; annalex; Hermann the Cherusker; InterestedQuestioner; bornacatholic

"I know...:)"

I don't doubt that for one instant, brother! :)

You know, along the lines of heresy and the early Church, I have of late been re-reading The Spiritual Meadow by +John Moschos. I've noticed something which I hadn't picked up on before and that is the multiplicity of heretical sects which were in existence at the time he wrote (late 6th early 7th century). He writes almost continually of encounters between monks of the holy catholic Church and monks or adhereants of heretic sects. Most of these people were Monophysites or variations on Monophysites, but there were others too. There seem to be two common threads among these heretical groups. First, they claim to celebrate a Eucharist with the Real presence and second, they are all hierarchial. They appear to exist side by side in the same towns or adjacent monasteries or even adjacent pillars (stylites) with The Church in a sort of snarling co-existence. He also speaks of a whole series of mini schisms as where he remarks that a certain abbot or bishop, " the time being out of communion with the Archbishop of Jerusalem." He doesn't seem to attach much opprobrium to those little schisms. I have yet to run across anything that looks like proto Protestantism.

I mention this because I think we in The Church have an image of the pre-schism days after so many of the big heresies had been suppressed or driven utterly, even geographically, from The Church, as being a sort of fully united Christendom when in fact it appears that that was not necessarily the case, at least in the Holy Land.

By the way, I again recommend that little book.

190 posted on 02/07/2006 5:53:49 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

I will try and get it...By the way, what is your opinion on the current move by the Antiochians to intercommune with the Monophysites? (Copts & Armenians) I understand the Armenians are Nestorians....I mean, the way I understand it, These guys rejected Chalcedon.....

191 posted on 02/07/2006 6:13:47 AM PST by TexConfederate1861
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To: TexConfederate1861
By the way, what is your opinion on the current move by the Antiochians to intercommune with the Monophysites? (Copts & Armenians) I understand the Armenians are Nestorians

The Armenian-rite Catholics are no longer Nestorians, so that's an exception.

192 posted on 02/07/2006 6:26:39 AM PST by Pyro7480 (Sancte Joseph, terror daemonum, ora pro nobis!)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; bornacatholic; InterestedQuestioner; gbcdoj

I'm sorry but I cannot just let this pass.

Your prooftexts in this post fail to distinguish between formal membership in the visible Catholic Church and the Catholic Church as The Church of Christ in toto. The "new" theology that you oppose (Lumen Gentium and the other documents of Vatican II, Mystici Corporis, the 19thc documents I cited earlier, JPII in Crossing the Threshold of Hope) is "new" insofar as it makes precisely that distinction.

The "laxist" position does not deny that salvation is impossible apart from the See of Peter and the Catholic Church. On the contrary, we fully affirm that no one will enter heaven apart from membership in the Catholic Church that Christ founded upon Peter.

Our "laxist" position simply disagrees with your "rigorist" position over the nature of "membership" or "adherence" to the Church founded upon Peter--over how absolutely essential formal membership in the visible manifestation of that Church founded upon Peter is. In other words, over the possiblity that the Church Christ founded upon Peter is not exactly coterminous with the visible, historic structure we call the Catholic Church here and now. Please note that I am not thereby claiming a true "invisible Church" different from the visible Church. They are one and the same church but not absolutely identical in their boundaries. That's all the Vatican II documents claim. It is a necessary and important nuancing of "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" to avoid the risk that one totally identifies the visible church on earth with the Church of Christ founded upon Peter, lest one turn the mystery of the universal Church into an idolatry of the Church's visible structures.

PLEASE NOTE the underlying theological issue: the mystery of the Church--a theological mystery that cannot be utterly identical with any historical, visible structure. It would be easy to float away into saying that visible, historical church structures don't matter, that all denominations are equally paths to heaven. I WANT TO BE CLEAR THAT I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT KIND OF INDIFFERENTISM. But I am insisting that Catholic theology itself requires that we treat the mystery of the Church with rigorous care and not totally reduce the Church to her visible structures.

Christianity is based on the scandal of particularity, the scandal that God saves us through incarnation in time and space. The Gnostics and others wanted to deny that particularity in favor of merely spiritual, universal, invisible salvation. I am not at all interested in that and I denounce that as error. I became a Catholic in large part because Catholic teaching insists that the historical, visible Church founded by Christ on Peter cannot be dissolved into a merely spiritual, invisible aggregate of all believers over time. Against my raving feminist colleagues I insist that Christ's action in time and space, his particularity in choosing only men for apostles carries significance for all time and governs us to this day. They cannot fathom why I would give so much authority to such particularity.

So I am not abandoning or downplaying the importance of formal membership in the visible, historic Church with its center in the See of Peter. But I am saying that the theological mystery of the Church founded by Christ on Peter cannot be reduced to that visible earthly structure. It subsists in it. And, if the Church of Christ is not absolutely coterminous with that visible, earthly structure, then there is room for salvation outside that visible earthly structure but within the Church of Christ founded upon Peter. The wonder of the mystery of the Church is that it is at the same time intensely focused on the visible, particular, historic structure of the Catholic Church with Peter at its visible head and also not identical with that but incredibly and profoundly more than that.

And so, our position (Lumen Gentium etc.) claims that visible formal membership in the concrete structures of the Catholic Church is not always coterminous with membership in the Catholic Church of which the successor of Peter is the earthly head.

Your documents in the post to which I am now responding do not directly address the issue we have been debating. You make them address the issue by your interpretation of them, but they do not explicitly address the exact nature of the "baptism of desire," the characteristics or possibliity of any non-formal membership in the Catholic Church.

In effect, the entire debate is over the nature of adherence by desire--just what that is, how it functions. You accept it in principle, even as you accept invincible ignorance in principle. You interpret both of these narrowly; Lumen Gentium, Mystici Corporis and the documents from the 19thc I cited yesterday explicitly enlarge your narrow definition. Your documents are silent; the ones I cited explicitly address the issue and do so in an "enlarged" way.

In response to my citations from the 19thc you cite other contemporary documents that simply are silent on the question of how the visible, concrete bishop-of-Rome headed historical Catholic Church relates to/overlaps with, is or is not utterly coterminous with the Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church.

Your documents may have a sterner tone (certainly you think they do) and you read sterner tone as prooftexting for your minimalist interpretation of baptism of desire/invincible ignorance. I gave you documents that explicitly offer an enlarged reading of invincible ignorance and you refute them with documents that do not address that point.

Finally, anyone observing this conversation from outside either camp could scarcely fail to see that a lot of invincible ignorance is floating around on this thread. That was my point in my last post, which I thought would be my last. But it didn't seem to register with you: our conversations, with spouses, with adolescent children, with political opponents involve invincible and vincible ignorance. It is very true that often we should be able to understand the other's point--often our inability to disagree with a spouse or a colleague stems from willful pride, greed, animosity (lack of charity) etc. I am not saying that everytime a conversation ends up as "agreeing to disagree" we have invincible ignorance. I am, however, saying that sometimes honest, good faith irresolvable disagreements take place. That is invincible ignorance. Unless you, Hermann, wish to claim that everyone who disagrees with you is always at fault because he is willfully choosing not to entertain your ideas and willing to be persuaded, that his disagreements with you never stem from factors in his or your background for which he and you are not culpable, then you ought to be more generous with allowing for invincible ignorance than you are.

I am not interested in letting everyone off the hook. I am, however, convinced that all of us encounter aspects of invincible ignorance alongside tons of vincible ignorance in our day-to-day lives. Invincible ignorance is very frustrating. To me it's just so obvious that I'm right about X, Y, or Z. I can't see why someone else, someone like you, Hermann, can't see that the interpretation I'm giving (and Lumen Gentium, Pius XII etc. give) to Extra Ecclesiam is the right one. But I am not going to declare that Hermann's inability to see my point stems from Hermann's sinful, willful disobedience to the voice of conscience within him that is telling him, "Oh Hermann, listen up now, Dionysiusdecordealcis is right about this and if you want to escape hell you better listen to him."

No, I ascribe to Hermann good faith, honesty, integrity, when he sets forth a minimalist interpretation of Extra Ecclesiam. I believe that Christian charity requires me to think of Hermann this way and that, if I did not, I, not Hermann, would be guilty of sin.

Why I should not apply the same principles to at least some of those who, despite my best efforts and the best efforts of many Catholics far better skilled at explaining the reasons for accepting Catholic teaching in general, I must confess, I am powerless to understand. I am invincibly ignorant of the reasons why I should not be more generous toward those who are not yet Catholic but who are honest, good faith believers in Jesus Christ or (more rare but not impossible) honest desirers of Truth.

193 posted on 02/07/2006 7:04:10 AM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: gbcdoj

Identical yes, coterminous, no. One has termini that are of a different sort than the other. See # 193. The debate is really about "termini" and boundaries. I'm simply applying a sacramental, incarnational principle: wondrously the Infinite and Absolute Creator stoops to our level and becomes incarnate. He is on th eone hand visible, bounded by his human nature, bounded in space and time. But He, the Divine Person, who is bounded is also obviously at the same time not bounded. The incarnation and his incarnate boundedness cannot be ignored in the manner of the Docetists or Gnostics but neither can the Savior be reduced to his incarnate boundedness.

It would be an awful lot easier to understand if we could go to the one extreme (Gnostic spiritualizing unboundedness) or the other (Adoptionist/Liberal merely human, bounded, prophet with an extra dose of the Spirit's unction) but our faith insists on holding both in tension.

Therefore, the Church is both bounded, terminated, structured in its visible, earthly form and we can be bounded, visible, formal members of that Church but the Church in toto, the Church founded by Christ upon Peter is not coterminous.

You have pointed out a fallacy in my terminology. I should have avoided saying not "identical" because it's potentially confusing--there is identity between the visible Church on earth headed by the successor of Peter and the Church founded by Christ on Peter, identity of subsistence, but not coterminousness because the one has clear, earthly termini and the other does not.

194 posted on 02/07/2006 7:13:08 AM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Dionysiusdecordealcis; bornacatholic; InterestedQuestioner; gbcdoj
Your prooftexts in this post fail to distinguish between formal membership in the visible Catholic Church and the Catholic Church as The Church of Christ in toto.

I'm just pointing out the complete teaching on this topic by referencing points you seem to be ignoring. I am not "prooftexting".

The "new" theology that you oppose (Lumen Gentium and the other documents of Vatican II, Mystici Corporis, the 19thc documents I cited earlier, JPII in Crossing the Threshold of Hope) is "new" insofar as it makes precisely that distinction.

How can I be "opposing" Lumen Gentium, Unitatis Redintegratio, the new Catechism, etc. when I explicitly point to where they uphold what I am saying by quoting them and saying I agree with them?

I don't understand where you are going with this at all.

In other words, over the possiblity that the Church Christ founded upon Peter is not exactly coterminous with the visible, historic structure we call the Catholic Church here and now.

Where do you find this anywhere? Lumen Gentium says the Chruch of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. That means that the Catholic Church is the substance of the Church of Christ just like a singular human being is the substance of a particular human person. If a particular person is able to exist partly outside the substance of his own body and soul, the Church of Christ can extend beyond the Catholic Church, and this sort of explication can be harmonious with Lumen Gentium. The Catholic Church is the complete manifestation of the Church of Christ. Everything outside of her that has fallen away is only "ecclesial" - "Church-like". It partially resembles the reality of the Catholic Church, but it is not a part of the Church that is now missing.

PLEASE NOTE the underlying theological issue: the mystery of the Church--a theological mystery that cannot be utterly identical with any historical, visible structure.

I did note that. That's why I said you are dividing the Church into a physical visible reality - the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and an invisible entity - the Church of Christ. You appear to be saying what Leonardo Boff was condemned by the CDF for.

And, if the Church of Christ is not absolutely coterminous with that visible, earthly structure, then there is room for salvation outside that visible earthly structure but within the Church of Christ founded upon Peter.

Here is where you are speaking in riddles again. "No salvation outside the Church" does not mean its opposite.

You make them address the issue by your interpretation of them, but they do not explicitly address the exact nature of the "baptism of desire," the characteristics or possibliity of any non-formal membership in the Catholic Church.

By making a vow to receive Baptism, the person simultaneously makes a vow to become a member of the Catholic Church. They are of course Catholics, because to make a vow to receive Baptism, even implicitly, one must hold explicitly the rudiments of the Catholic Faith, and the resulting justification of the person unites them to Christ and His members in His spouse the Church in grace. The Catholic Church is defined as the union of all the faithful under the Pope and Bishops sharing in the Sacraments of Christ. Someone who has Baptism of Desire is sharing in the Sacraments in reality although not actually (yet), so they are in reality a member of the Church.

What seems to be confusing you here is that you appear to be trying to extend membership in the Church to people who do not hold the Catholic Faith, but explicitly uphold paganism, Judaism, or heresy. Someone who worships the demons, rejects Christ, or believes in his own fancies instead of divine revelation imparted to mankind through the Prophets and Apostles does not know Christ Jesus, and therefore does not hold the Catholic Faith.

195 posted on 02/07/2006 8:43:06 AM PST by Hermann the Cherusker
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To: TexConfederate1861

"I will try and get it..."

Its on Amazon.

"By the way, what is your opinion on the current move by the Antiochians to intercommune with the Monophysites? (Copts & Armenians) I understand the Armenians are Nestorians....I mean, the way I understand it, These guys rejected Chalcedon....."

All I know about that is that there is a lot of talk going on along the idea that the distinction between the Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians is only in words and not belief. I know almost nothing about the talks, though. I thought it was the MP who was behind that but I guess it would make sense for the Antiochians to be involved. I have heard that by economia its OK to receive communion in Non-Chalcedonian and Armenian Churches if one of ours isn't available and vice versa but I don't know if that's just a rumor or really true. Never having found myself in that situation, I haven't given it much thought.

196 posted on 02/07/2006 9:43:26 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Hermann the Cherusker

I nowhere spoke of an invisible Church. I nowhere said that those who are not formal members of the visible church are members of an invisible church. I did not posit two churches. All I said was what JPII said in Crossing the Threshold and what the Vatican II documents say: although the fullness of the Church of Christ subsists in the visible Catholic church bounded by communion with the bishop of Rome, some can be saved who are not formal members of that visible church (are not within those visible boundaries). If such are saved they are saved through Christ and through the one single Church of Christ but they are not formal members of that Church. I cannot state it any plainer.

Because the mystery named Church of Christ does not have visible boundaries whereas the historical, visible, structured thing called the visible Catholic Church does have visible boundaries these two facts have to be kept in paradoxical tension theologically or the mystery is collapsed into non-mystery. But the reality of these two characteristics of the ONE (get that, ONE) Church of Christ means that the mysterious Church of Christ is not coterminous with the visible Catholic Church. Its fullness subsists in the visible Catholic Church but the visible Catholic Church does not and cannot, simply cannot, exhaust the unboundedness of the mysterious Church of Christ.

It's the same principle as the sacraments: the fullness of Christ, body, soul, divinity is present under the appearance of bread and wine but not present locally or sense-perceptibly. The visible Catholic Church is a time-bounded, space bounded, history-bounded reality on earth. It is the same Church as the one Church of Christ that constitutes the Corpus Mysticus of Christ himiself but the Corpus Mysticus of Christ is not and cannot be coterminous with the visible, bounded historic Catholic Church because the one is bounded and the other is not. And we are bound to believe in both and hold them in theological, mystery-paradox.

I'm sorry you perceive this to be a riddle. Sounds like invincible ignorance, again. Your interpretation is sooooooooooo obvious to you that mine seems a riddle to you. Mine is soooooooo clear to me that yours seems like a riddle to me. This will get us nowhere.

And please don't throw Leonardo Boff at me. It's very rude! ;)

197 posted on 02/07/2006 9:59:42 AM PST by Dionysiusdecordealcis
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To: Hermann the Cherusker; Dionysiusdecordealcis
By making a vow to receive Baptism, the person simultaneously makes a vow to become a member of the Catholic Church. They are of course Catholics, because to make a vow to receive Baptism, even implicitly, one must hold explicitly the rudiments of the Catholic Faith

Do I understand you correctly, Hermann, that a baptized (in a Protestant setting, but validly) Protestant is a capital-C Catholic Christian who fell off on the rest of the sacraments? If so, then do you not arrive at a community of Catholic Christians that is larger than the community of practicing Catholic Christians? And then, does Dionysius not speak of the same duality of boundary you do?

198 posted on 02/07/2006 10:00:03 AM PST by annalex
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To: Kolokotronis
The minefield is treacherous. When you said,

...the Latin Church does not hold a blanket condemnation of Holy Orthodoxy or the Orthodox. The condemnation of the Feeneyites, which I assume is authoritative as I said, pretty clearly does.

To be better informed, you ought to know what led up to the so-called excommunication of Fr. Feeney, what the nature of the process was, of what it consisted and how it was eventually "lifted." By the way, the Church does not condemn a group of people, but only a false doctrine or proposition that anyone can hold. The Church cannot condemn a person, either. Excommunication is the extent of her power, which has temporal and supernatural implications, but is not a "condemnation" of the person. In any event, excommunication must be based on some specific denial of dogma. Disobedience, per se, is insufficient, because it presumes the order disobeyed was an absolutely just order.

To be better informed, you should also pay attention to the response the Feeneyites made to a "liberal" (Fr. P.J. Donnelly, S.J.), who published a theological paper at the time, in their next issue of From the Housetops, which includes this: the modern liberal presentation of the Church’s doctrine concerning salvation outside the Church, there are contained THE FOLLOWING ERRORS:

1. One can be saved outside the Church.

2. One can be saved without having the Catholic Faith.

3. Baptism is not necessary for salvation.

4. To confess the supremacy and infallibility of the Roman Church and of the Roman Pontiff is not necessary for salvation.

5. One can be saved without submitting personally to the authority of the Roman Pontiff.

6. Ignorance of Christ and His Church excuses one from all fault and confers justification and salvation.

7. One can be saved who dies ignorant of Christ and His Church.

8. One can be saved who dies hating Christ and His Church.

9. God, of His Supreme Goodness and Mercy, would not permit anyone to be punished eternally unless he had incurred the guilt of voluntary sin.

10. A man is sure of his salvation once he is justified.

11. One can be saved by merely an implicit desire for Baptism.

12. There are two Churches, the one visible, the other invisible.

13. There are two kinds of membership in the Church.

14. Membership in the Church can be invisible or even unconscious.

15. To know and love the Blessed Virgin is not necessary for salvation.

Ever since that reply, there has been a mysterious silence from Rome, except to refer back to the so-called condemnation. These 15 false propositions have not been dealt with, as challenged there in that little old magazine, long ago. So, why the silence? They've had plenty of time. It's been 57 years, now. Are they waiting for the entire generation of people who were alive then to die off or something? Let's keep it in perspective: when Abp. Lefebvre consecrated 4 new bishops, the new Vatican cranked out her response in a couple of days!

You have to recall the climate and history of the time. Post WWII, nuclear warfare, Red China rising, Israel setting up shop, Communist USSR rattling sabers. IOW, lots of problems. It's fairly well known now that he was considering an ecumenical council, but to address the dangers to the faith, which would have had to include Communism. It could be that Pope Pius XII was looking toward the definition of the Assumption, the preparatory texts of which must have been already in the works, even early 1949. Did he expect that would cure all his ills? And remember, it was he who appointed Annibale Bugnini to high office. Not to excuse his reticence, but he was certainly kept busy those last years by ecclesiastics with an undercurrent of common purpose: delay the council until a more liberal pope can be its head.

Any way you look at it, the 15 points above, at odds with Catholic Tradition, have yet to be answered by the Vatican. In fact, each one of them has become conspicuously larger over the years, as successive popes have added to the appearance that the Church officially approves them.

199 posted on 02/07/2006 10:09:34 AM PST by donbosco74 (EENS: more than you might think, or ever imagine!)
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To: donbosco74

You know, db, it is a minefield. I suppose I should just be pharisaical and say thank God I worhip God the way my people have for 1700 odd years and believe the same things in the same way they did. Truth be told, if there is never a reunion, it won't change my life one whit. Sometimes it does seem to me that if there is a reunion, however, my life might change decidedly for the worse.

200 posted on 02/07/2006 10:30:57 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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