QUAERITUR: Can non-Catholics be saved?

From a reader:

Can non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church be saved? I’ve had the statements of the Council of Florence pointed to as proof to interpret extra ecclesiam nulla salus. This seems to contradict what’s said in the modern CCC, and in Lumen Gentium. Basically, if none are saved outside formal union with the Church, then what would be the point of masses for dead Protestants?

Yes, non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church can be saved.

St. Augustine dealt with a similar question concerning the non-baptized.   He explained that God, who is all-powerful, can do anything in this regard that it pleased Him to do.   God can save whom it pleases Him to save.   We cannot say that God cannot.  Augustine admitted that the non-baptized could possibly be saved, but He didn’t know how God did that, so important is the need for baptism.

Non-Catholics can be saved.   Most non-Catholic Protestants are validly baptized.  By that baptism they belong in some way to Christ’s Mystic Body, the Church.  I don’t know how this works according to God’s plan.  People must stand before God and be judged, and God cannot be fooled.  He will, with the person who dies, judge the mind and heart and there will be no room for self-deception.

I think it must be very hard indeed to come to salvation without the advantages God offered in His Church.  Very hard indeed.  I quail at the idea of it, as a matter of fact, and I am less than optimistic.  I am hopeful for people and desire their salvation, but… how that is worked out is a mystery.

Any way you look at it, however, if a person is saved she is saved because of the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice mediated through the Church He founded.  There is no other way of salvation, whether a person ever heard of the Catholic  Church or not.

Think of the advantages we have as Catholics.  We have sure membership in the Church Christ gave us, without the doubts that come from vague or imagined membership.  We have all the sacraments that Christ established as the ordinary means of our salvation.  We have the clear teaching of the Church, who teaches and governs with Christ’s authority.  We have the possibility of knowing with certainty that we belong to this Church because we have a visible reference point in our Holy Father, Successor of Peter, who points us to the Head of the Church, Christ Himself.    Who would hold themselves away from that, once they know about it?

We also affirm with Lumen gentium that any person who rejects the Catholic Church knowing that the Catholic Church is the Church Christ founded, that person cannot be saved.   The Church does not say in an absolute and entirely exclusive way that non-Catholics cannot be saved.

Let’s see Lumen gentium:

14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

Yet, for many people, they do not know who and what the Church is, usually through no fault of their own.  Woe to anyone who is responsible for a person leaving the Church from disillusionment or lies or sin or scandal or who is an obstacle to their entering.

Your question comes back to the issue of Masses for dead Protestants and you call into questions Masses – prayers – said so that God will be merciful to them.

No prayer we offer to God asking for mercy for the living or the dead is in vain.  We propose and God will dispose.  Also, I cannot fathom a Christian who will not ask God in His mercy to give graces to those who are formally separated from the Church.   What sort of spiritual stinginess or pride is that?

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174 Responses to QUAERITUR: Can non-Catholics be saved?

  1. vivaldi says:

    Helpful answer Father. Thank you. I am often asked by Protestant friends what Catholic’s actually believe about salvation and I have found the answer hard to articulate. Appreciate your posts like this. Also really like the What does the Prayer Really sound like bits you do…can we have more of those please?

  2. wolfeken says:

    Of course, there is a completely opposing side to this answer, interpreting the thrice-defined dogma “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” as “Outside the Church, No Salvation.”

    The chief defenders of this belief are the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary — http://catholicism.org/ — who were recently given a priest (by the local bishop) to offer the traditional sacraments in full communion with their diocese.

  3. Penta says:

    My question is fairly simple…Until I think about it a bit: How did the Council Fathers in Lumen Gentium intend to use the word ‘knowing’?

    Does having heard of the Church count? Having a friend tell you occasionally about Catholic beliefs?

    I guess I’m asking where the line is.

  4. czemike says:

    Statement of this position that non-Catholics can be saved will result in the damnation of many souls that might otherwise have been saved through conversion. While non-Catholics can be saved, there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church! As Father mentioned, Protestant Baptism can be valid and such a baptized person is Catholic until they formally apostocize. [No. Baptism alone does not make one a Catholic. I was baptized as a Lutheran and I had to becoming a member of the Church formally.] But even if they never develop enough knowledge of the false-church into which they were born to commit apostocy, they have the additional handicap that they cannot have their sins forgiven — except by a Catholic priest (to whom they will not have recourse).

    It is a tremendous mercy of God that someone can be outside of the visible structure of the Church and still have the possibility of salvation; however, the normal path to sanctity and salvation is only in the Church because that’s where the Sacraments are. We do our non-Catholic brethren no favors by not doing everything possible to get them into the Church.

  5. Again, I don’t know how this works out, but God can save whom it pleaseth Him to save. We cannot place limitations of God.

  6. Desertfalcon says:

    I agree with Vivaldi! I often get this same question and find it difficult to explain what the Church has stated concerning this. Thank you, Father!

  7. czemike says:

    Vivaldi said: “I am often asked by Protestant friends what Catholic’s actually believe about salvation and I have found the answer hard to articulate.”

    The answer couldn’t be easier: those who die in the state of Sanctifying Grace will go to heaven. Those who die in the state of mortal sin go to hell. This is why it’s urgently necessary for all to be Catholic because the ability to have your sins forgiven is only found in the Catholic Church.

  8. Jason Keener says:

    I agree with your comments, Father Z. I don’t think a strict interpretation of “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” as held by the followers of Fr. Feeney makes sense. Those who are not formal members of the Catholic Church can indeed be saved. I think it also makes sense from a standpoint of reason to believe that. Why would a just and loving God refuse salvation to good people who through no fault of their own never had the Gospel preached to them? (I do not mean to negate the importance of baptism by water or being formally joined to the Catholic Church, the One True Church.)

    In any event, I think Pope Pius X explained things well in his Catechism:

    “Q: But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved? (A.9 Q.29)

    A: If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.

    Q: In what does the Soul of the Church consist?(A.9 Q.22)

    A: The Soul of the Church consists in her internal and spiritual endowments, that is, faith, hope, charity, the gifts of grace and of the Holy Ghost, together with all the heavenly treasures which are hers through the merits of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and of the Saints.”

  9. priests wife says:

    FR- another beautiful, educational post- at this time of the year with all Saints and all Souls coming up- we remember that the Church states who is in heaven- yet does not say who could be in hell

  10. czemike says:

    priests wife: I do hope you’re not suggesting, along with Hans Urs Von Whateversar, that hell could be empty… you do know that you would be contradicting Christ Himself to assert this, right?

  11. czemike says:

    Father Z said: “Baptism alone does not make one a Catholic. I was baptized as a Lutheran and I had to becoming a member of the Church formally.”

    You are, of course, correct that Lutheran Baptism, even if valid, doesn’t make one formally a member of the Catholic Church. But the Sacrament of Baptism is a Sacrament of the Catholic Church alone (though the only one for which any living human can be the minister).

    I stand corrected: one is not formally a member of the Church in such a case, but I think I’m correct in saying that the graces of Baptism flow through the Catholic Church to the one Baptized. It is in that sense that I was saying that one is, in a sense, Catholic.

  12. I think I remember that the Feeney/SIHM folks had some kind of formula come out which put them back under the mantle of Church theology, which is how Feeney got reconciled before he died and how they’ve been allowed to have a priest. I don’t know the details; but I’m sure the t’s have been crossed and the i’s dotted by the local bishop.

  13. MJ says:

    I think the key-phrase in the question from the reader is the phrase, “formal union”. Let me come back to that shortly, however, and begin with me saying that I agree with czemike: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

    The Catholic Church has solemnly defined three times by infallible declarations that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation. The most explicit and forceful of the three came from Pope Eugene IV, in the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441, who proclaimed ex cathedra:

    “The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her… No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

    The other two infallible declarations are as follows:

    There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved.
    ~Pope Innocent III, ex cathedra, (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215).

    We declare, say , define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
    ~Pope Boniface VIII, (Unam Sanctam, 1302).

    The truth that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church has also been supported by all the saints from every age, including St. Irenaeus (130-202), Bishop and Martyr, St. Augustine (354-430), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, St. Fulgentius (468-533), Bishop, Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604), St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), St. Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274), the Angelic Doctor, St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716), St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787), Bishop and Doctor of the Church, and Pope Pius XII (1939-1958).

    Let me come back to the phrase “formal union”. I believe it is possible for one to be saved who is not in “formal union” with the Catholic Church, for this “union”, as Father mentioned, even applies to a properly-baptized Protestant, as they would be in an “informal union” with the Church just by virtue of their being properly baptized — however, it is not possible for one to be saved who is not in some sort union with the Church.

    To phrase it another way, it is possible for one who is not a formal Catholic or in formal union with the Church to be saved, but it is not the normal or usual path, nor is it the path that the Church teaches. If a non-Catholic were to ask me, “Can I be saved?” I would answer yes, as Father correctly pointed out that we cannot place limitations on God and God alone is our judge, but it is truly playing with fire to remain outside the Catholic Church. As Penta said, where would we draw the line? The Church has already drawn the line for us.

  14. Fr. Basil says:

    I recall seeing in my Baptist days an old Fr. Stedham MY SUNDAY MISSAL that was lying around the house; I have no idea where it came from!

    It said something like this about EENS: that someone who was convinced that the Catholic Church was the true Church, yet refused to embrace her could not be saved; THIS is what is meant by “outside the church there is no salvation.”

    ___

    \\priests wife: I do hope you’re not suggesting, along with Hans Urs Von Whateversar, that hell could be empty… you do know that you would be contradicting Christ Himself to assert this, right?\\

    The only ones we KNOW by revelation who will be in hell are two: the Antichrist and the False Prophet. We can and do say that those who neglect and despise the salvation Christ offers are in danger of being in hell themselves, but we cannot say that God has revealed any other particular persons who are or will be there.

  15. MJ says:

    @ Jason Keener, who said, “Why would a just and loving God refuse salvation to good people who through no fault of their own never had the Gospel preached to them? (I do not mean to negate the importance of baptism by water or being formally joined to the Catholic Church, the One True Church.) ”

    I think this would fall under the Baptism of Desire category. Remember the Ethiopian in the book of Acts who was desiring the truth but could not discover it for himself or teach it to himself. God sent Philip to him to teach and baptize him, but if the Ethiopian had perished before being baptized I believe this would have fallen under Baptism of Desire.

  16. JohnMa says:

    czemike:

    So are you advocating Fr. Z give an incorrect answer that flies in the face of what the Church teaches? Just because some may take such an answer and use it for evil purposes does not mean that the answer should not be given.

  17. czemike says:

    @Fr. Basil: Christ didn’t name names but He seems to suggest that many, many more than just two are/will be in Hell in Matt 7:13-14. There’s also Our Lady’s comment to the Children at Fatima about souls falling into Hell like “snowflakes on a winter’s day.” While I live somewhat south of Minnesota, it does snow here a few times a year and that quote always pops to the front of my consciousness as I watch the numberless flakes falling to the ground.

  18. Antony says:

    Dear Fr. Basil:

    What about Core?

    In Christ,

    Antony

  19. MJ says:

    Father made excellent points that I wholeheartedly agree with. With my first post I was attempting to point out that the Church has spoken infallibly on this subject in the past, and this teaching still applies. Father said, among other things:

    “Yes, non Catholic who die outside formal union with the Church can be saved…Most non-Catholic Protestants are validly baptized. By that baptism they belong in some way to Christ’s Mystic Body, the Church. I don’t know how this works according to God’s plan. People must stand before God and be judged, and God cannot be fooled. He will, with the person who dies, judge the mind and heart and there will be no room for self-deception…I think it must be very hard indeed to come to salvation without the advantages God offered in His Church. Very hard indeed. I quail at the idea of it, as a matter of fact, and I am less than optimistic. I am hopeful for people and desire their salvation, but… how that is worked out is a mystery.”

    I think that this along with the infallible declarations of the Church is all we really need to know or worry about. If we laity attempt to take it much farther than this then we run the risk of self-declaring ourselves to be “laity Theologians”. :)

  20. czemike says:

    MJ said: “If we laity attempt to take it much farther than this then we run the risk of self-declaring ourselves to be “laity Theologians”.

    True enough. I guess I would sum it up like this: if someone outside the Catholic Church asked if I thought it was possible that they could be saved I would respond by asking them if they think it would be possible to survive being in a building that is completely engulfed in flames. Sure it’s possible but I doubt they would bet their life on it. Neither should they bet their souls on the possibility of being saved without membership in the Church and access to the Sacraments of the Church.

  21. shane says:

    I’ve always found this a very complex dogma and hard to internalise; this helps shed some light.

  22. robtbrown says:

    czemike says:

    The answer couldn’t be easier: those who die in the state of Sanctifying Grace will go to heaven. Those who die in the state of mortal sin go to hell. This is why it’s urgently necessary for all to be Catholic because the ability to have your sins forgiven is only found in the Catholic Church.

    Are you saying that those in the Orthodox Churches don’t have their sins forgiven by a priest?

  23. robtbrown says:

    I don’t much care for the use of the word “normal” or “ordinary” in this matter of the Sacraments. I prefer the necessary/possible couplet. Thus it is best to say that Baptism is necessary for salvation, but that it is possible to receive the fruits of the Sacrament outside its celebration. This is because Christ is the Principal celebrant in every celebration of every Sacrament.

  24. Coming from families of both apostates and non-Catholics, I am frequently asking our good Lord to save all of them, despite their irregular situations.
    Only Christ’s Blood, shed on the Cross, made present in His Sacrifice in the Holy Mass can save us; only Christ’s Church, founded on the “rock of Peter” can be our assured foundation.
    Whether or not non-Catholics, or those who reject the Catholic Faith (or what they “think” is the Catholic Faith) are ultimately saved is according to the Divine Mercy. But I’ll say this: baptized Catholics better think twice…their fate, unless they are faithful to Christ, is much worse if they reject the saving power of God in His Son, in His Catholic Church.

  25. Andrew says:

    Christ in His mercy has given me hope to be saved. He has, thankfully, not invited me to sit next to Him in judgement of others and to decide who is and who is not to be saved. With St. Peter I say: “to whom shall I go? You have the words of everlasting life.” If anyone thinks he can make it some other way – go for it. I hope you make it. But as for me: I know of no other way.

  26. StanS says:

    Fr Z. did a wonderful job at explaining and many of the posts have brought in other additional information. The phrase there is “no salvation outside of the Catholic Church” is absolutely true and confirmed by the Church over the centuries. But the wording can be confusing. It could be read to mean that anyone who is not a Catholic will not be saved. I would say that is not necessarily true. As Fr Z. and others mentioned while we do not understand how God saves in all conditions we leave it to his love and mercy, for example, unbaptized infants.

    I believe it is important to see the deeper meaning of the phrase “outside of the Catholic Church.” It is the Church itself, instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ, which in a mysterious and wonderful way is the only way to the Trinity. It is by the Church we are saved, the mystical body of Christ, which all humanity participates in. See Lumen Gentium 8 “This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”.(76) This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.”

    Maybe Fr. Z could give us a brief summary of the term “subsistit in” which was chosen by the Vatican Council Fathers and not “est”?

    God’s peace be with you all. -StanS

  27. czemike says:

    robtborwn said: “Are you saying that those in the Orthodox Churches don’t have their sins forgiven by a priest?”

    Do they have faculties and jurisdiction to forgive sins? I don’t know the answer to this question btw…

  28. robtbrown says:

    Fr. Basil says:

    1. It said something like this about EENS: that someone who was convinced that the Catholic Church was the true Church, yet refused to embrace her could not be saved; THIS is what is meant by “outside the church there is no salvation.”

    2. The only ones we KNOW by revelation who will be in hell are two: the Antichrist and the False Prophet. We can and do say that those who neglect and despise the salvation Christ offers are in danger of being in hell themselves, but we cannot say that God has revealed any other particular persons who are or will be there.

    1. Does embracing the Church mean formal conversion, or some interior act that is preventd from formal conversion by human weakness, which mitigates culpability.

    2. We know that there are angels in hell.

    Balthasar’s Dare We Hope is simply not a very good book. IMHO, it’s just an attempt to defend Origen.

  29. Geoffrey says:

    I think I was in high school when I thought that Purgatory fit into this whole issue very well.

  30. Re: sins forgiven, we have to be very careful. The Orthodox are separated from us by schism, not by sacramental matters. And anybody can have perfect contrition, and be absolved by a certain priest name of Jesus Christ. :) But it’s hard to be sure of having perfect contrition, and it’s better to be able to use the ordinary channels of grace that Jesus gave us.

  31. I knew I loved that Saint Augustine for a reason!

  32. What are we to reconcile the suggestion that even atheists can be saved with Hebrews 11-12?

    “Without faith it is impossible to please [God].” (Hebrews 11:6)
    “Strive for […] the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)

  33. MJ says:

    Geoffrey, I don’t think Purgatory comes into this Q&A, as the question was whether non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church can be saved.

    Souls in Hell will never be in Purgatory and those in Purgatory will never end up in Hell but they will one day be in Heaven. Therefore we can sort of say (and I am not a Theologian so I may not be choosing the right words) that those in Purgatory have “been saved”, they just have not obtained the “right” to take their place in Heaven yet.

    The Q&A here is over whether the final place for souls who die outside formal union with the Church could be that of Heaven.

  34. The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in his book, Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth, has sound teaching well expressed. It was a great help to me as a former ordained Protestant minister myself. At the time I read it I was already a recent convert to the Catholic Church. His commentary, which reflect your own Fr.Z, was also assisted by the CCC esp as regards the Sacrament of Baptism: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.” 1258 Baptism is necessary, I do not understand the CCC to be saying otherwise but ours a Trinitarian baptism even though not celebrated/presided over by the Roman Catholic Church was considered fully valid by the RCC.

    This made much more sense to me than the practice of my former Canadian Pentecostal denomination and that of the Canadian Presbyterian denomination affiliated local church for whom I last worked before becoming Catholic which was, in both cases, to (re)baptize Catholics who converted “to Christ” due to the wrong-headed assumption there being that those Catholics were not saved and their RC baptism not valid – as it was not a “believer baptism.” For the record when I was a Pentecostal pastor who received former Catholics into our local church I did not (re)baptize anyone, sometimes to their disappointment if I was able to discern that they had already been baptized according to the Trinitarian formula.

    Thus, when we were beginning the process of becoming Catholic I asked the local priest if our family members would have to be re-baptised? He looked at me with genuine confusion and immediately inquired under which formula we had been baptized. I told him under the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Trinitarian formula. He answered that scripturally (always a good card to play for a bible only Christian or in our case the already former bible only Christian) there is but one Lord and one baptism and continued to explain that while the Church would need record of those baptisms record would be sufficient for the Church recognizes Trinitarian baptism as valid because it is a valid sacrament of the Church even when practiced, if you will and these are my words not his, by extension.

    Again, for me, this rang true and confirmed for me that we were on the right path to entering, at last, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic (read True) Church established by Jesus Christ.

  35. Jaybirdnbham says:

    This may be simplistic, but the fact that God’s justice is Perfect must be taken into account. To me, this perfect justice means that God will somehow ‘level the playing field’ for those who have not been exposed to or understood the fullness of graces that exist in the Catholic Church. God will not just toss someone into Hell without giving them a fair chance at recognizing and accepting Truth.
    The best example of this, in my mind, is Mother Teresa of Calcutta, as she watched a Hindu man die, and said “Ah, look at that smile! He sees Jesus!”
    As Fr. Z said, let’s just trust the good Lord in this matter, Whose mercy is as infinite as His justice is Perfect.

  36. Belinda says:

    “We do our non-Catholic brethren no favors by not doing everything possible to get them into the Church.” (czemike)

    That’s true, of course.
    But if you tell a non-Catholic that he will certainly (or almost certainly) be damned unless he dies a Catholic, you will probably drive him further from the Church rather than draw him nearer to it, unless he is already on the verge of deciding to become a Catholic (i. e. already knows in his heart that the Catholic Church is Christ’s true Church).

  37. Dr. Eric says:

    The Bible says that Non-Catholics can be saved. It tells is that the Jewish Prophet St. Elias was taken to heaven in a firey chariot. He was not a Catholic.

  38. robtbrown says:

    1. It said something like this about EENS: that someone who was convinced that the Catholic Church was the true Church, yet refused to embrace her could not be saved; THIS is what is meant by “outside the church there is no salvation.”

    2. The only ones we KNOW by revelation who will be in hell are two: the Antichrist and the False Prophet. We can and do say that those who neglect and despise the salvation Christ offers are in danger of being in hell themselves, but we cannot say that God has revealed any other particular persons who are or will be there.
    Fr Basil

    1. Does embracing the Church mean formal conversion, or some interior act that is preventd from formal conversion by human weakness, which mitigates culpability.

    2. We know that there are angels in hell.

    Balthasar’s Dare We Hope is simply not a very good book. IMHO, it’s just an attempt to defend Origen.

  39. tim mccarthy says:

    Dear Father Z.
    Augstine Baker has picked this up and re-posted on Fisheaters. He is twisting your words, [So what? I hope they enjoy themselves.] and I thought you might like to know. [I appreciate that.] I posted a comment and called him a scandal monger, but I leave it to your more capable hands.
    pax tecum

  40. robtbrown says:

    czemike says:

    robtborwn said: “Are you saying that those in the Orthodox Churches don’t have their sins forgiven by a priest?”

    Do they have faculties and jurisdiction to forgive sins? I don’t know the answer to this question btw…

    I’ll answer your question with a question: Has the pope ever said that they did not have potestas iurisdictionis?

  41. MJ says:

    Dr. Eric, St. Elias was prior to the new covenant (prior to the Sacrament of Baptism) so this Q&A does not apply to St. Elias.

  42. dmwallace says:

    Those wishing to go deeper into this topic ought read St. Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, Q. 14, a. 11. This is available in English at http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeVer14.htm#11.

    Here is a meaty chunk: “Granted that everyone is bound to believe something explicitly, no untenable conclusion follows even if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to divine providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as he sent Peter to Cornelius.”

  43. dmwallace says:

    Concerning the salvation of those outside a formal communion with the Church one would do well to read St. Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, Q. 14, a. 11. This is available in English at http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdeVer14.htm#11.

    Here is a meaty chunk: “Granted that everyone is bound to believe something explicitly, no untenable conclusion follows even if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to divine providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as he sent Peter to Cornelius.”

  44. robtbrown says:

    czemike says:

    robtborwn said: “Are you saying that those in the Orthodox Churches don’t have their sins forgiven by a priest?”

    Do they have faculties and jurisdiction to forgive sins? I don’t know the answer to this question btw…

    I’ll answer your question with a question: Has Rome ever said that they did not have potestas iurisdictionis?

  45. Bill F says:

    MJ’s quote from Pope Eugene IV brings up an issue that has been nagging at me for some time now: the “development of doctrine.” Granted, the truths the Church teaches cannot change, but her understanding and presentation of those truths can. But the quoted statement regarding the EENS doctrine seems to flatly contradict the current understanding of that teaching. Are we to suppose that Pope Eugene didn’t mean or understand what he said? It’s pretty clear that he meant what he said: It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that one must be a formal member of the Catholic Church or one will go to hell. And it appears that he was speaking ex cathedra, thus infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. Yet the current “development” of that doctrine effectively says, “Well, that ‘formal’ thing? Yeah, it turns out we didn’t really mean it. It’s a darned good idea to be a Catholic, but you’re not really damned if you’re not.”

    Sorry for any snideness that may have crept in there. I certainly know which interpretation of the doctrine I prefer (and think is correct), but these apparent contradictions in the Church’s teachings, of which EENS is but one example, are causing me no little frustration, confusion, and doubt. When comparing what the Church taught in the past with what it teaches now, I sometimes feel like I’m living in Orwell’s Oceania, with all of its doublespeak. I’m not a dumb guy by any means (and have the degrees to prove it), but I’m also not a theologian. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I don’t know everything – that’s why I’m even posting this in the first place. I don’t understand. Please help.

  46. LaudemGloriae says:

    I was under the impression that the doctrine of infallibility was not declared until 1870 and that the Church as never released an official statement regarding what previous teachings fall under the umbrella of infallibility. As such I’m not sure one can refer to the “thrice defined” Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Council statements as infallible. I am just a simple housewife so forgive my ignorance. In any case the CCC does not seem to support Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

  47. MJ says:

    We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge; we must also, on the other hand, recognize with certainty that those who are invincible in ignorance of the true religion are not guilty for this in the eyes of the Lord.
    ~Pope Pius IX, December 9th, 1854

    It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in His supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin.
    ~Pope Pius IX, Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10th , 1863

    Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.
    ~Unam Sanctam, Bull of Pope Boniface VIII, promulgated November 18th, 1302

    Truly, this subject boils down to two things: the infallible teachings of the Church and the fact that God alone can be judge of the individual soul.

    All Catholics should be both like the martyrs of old, who died rather than relinquish one doctrine of their Catholic Faith, and like the great missionaries, who endured extreme privations and sufferings in order to bring salvation to even one soul. It is only a firm belief in the importance of the Catholic Faith for salvation that motivated these heroic actions and it is only such a faith that can overcome the world today.

  48. We haven’t broached the concept of Christus totus yet. CCC 795:

    795 Christ and his Church thus together make up the “whole Christ” (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ. The saints are acutely aware of this unity:

    Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man…. The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does “head and members” mean? Christ and the Church. [Augustine]

    Our redeemer has shown himself to be one person with the holy Church whom he has taken to himself. [Pope St Gregory the Great]

    Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person. [Aquinas]

    A reply of St. Joan of Arc to her judges sums up the faith of the holy doctors and the good sense of the believer: “About Jesus Christ and the Church, I simply know they’re just one thing, and we shouldn’t complicate the matter.”

    OK. Now, since properly Trinitarian baptisms are valid for Protestants, Protestants are really united to Christ, and thus, Christ being the Church, have some connection — impaired or imperfect though it be — with the Catholic Church as it subsists.

  49. priests wife says:

    czemike- I wish I could just click and reply directly…The Church has told us- through naming saints- that heaven is ‘full’ of souls- about hell…if we really understood what hell is- an eternity with no hope- we would hope that hell is empty- but I don’t think that’s possible

  50. columba says:

    LaudemGloriae, Even if the dogma of infalibility were only declared yesterday it would still include every declaration on faith and morals that has ever been proposed for Catholic belief from the founding of the Church to the last day. When in history it was declared is not important.
    When a dogma is defined it is not to reveal something new but merely to make clear a truth that has always existed.

  51. MJ says:

    LaudemGloriae, Papal Infallibility was not formally defined until it was challenged, however, this does not mean that Papal Infallibility was non-existent or does not apply to dogma defined prior to the formal declaration of Papal Infallibility.

  52. MJ says:

    LaudemGloriae, if by CCC you mean Catechism of the Catholic Church, then it does support Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. I believe a reference is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part One, Section Two, Chapter Three, Article 9 (I believe in the Holy Catholic Church).

  53. The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in his book, Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth, has sound teaching well expressed. It was a great help to me as a former ordained Protestant minister myself.

    At the time I read it I was already a recent convert to the Catholic Church. His commentary, which reflects in greater detail the helpful thoughts made here by Fr.Z.

    I was also assisted by the CCC esp as regards the Sacrament of Baptism: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.” 1258 Baptism is necessary, I do not understand the CCC to be saying otherwise but ours a Trinitarian baptism even though not celebrated/presided over by the Roman Catholic Church was considered fully valid by the RCC.

    This made much more sense to me than the practice of my former Canadian Pentecostal denomination and that of the Canadian Presbyterian denomination affiliated local church for whom I last worked before becoming Catholic which was, in both cases, to (re)baptize Catholics who converted “to Christ” due to the wrong-headed assumption there being that those Catholics were not saved and their RC baptism not valid – as it was not a “believer baptism.” For the record when I was a Pentecostal pastor who received former Catholics into our local church I did not (re)baptize anyone, sometimes to their disappointment if I was able to discern that they had already been baptized according to the Trinitarian formula.

    Thus, when we were beginning the process of becoming Catholic I asked the local priest if our family members would have to be re-baptised? He looked at me with genuine confusion and immediately inquired under which formula we had been baptized. I told him under the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Trinitarian formula. He answered that scripturally (always a good card to play for a bible only Christian or in our case the already former bible only Christian) there is but one Lord and one baptism and continued to explain that while the Church would need record of those baptisms record would be sufficient for the Church recognizes Trinitarian baptism as valid because it is a valid sacrament of the Church even when practiced, if you will and these are my words not his, by extension.

    Again, for me, this rang true and confirmed for me that we were on the right path to entering, at last, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic (read True) Church established by Jesus Christ.
    The late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus in his book, Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth, has sound teaching well expressed. It was a great help to me as a former ordained Protestant minister myself. At the time I read it I was already a recent convert to the Catholic Church. His commentary, which reflect your own Fr.Z, was also assisted by the CCC esp as regards the Sacrament of Baptism: “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.” 1258 Baptism is necessary, I do not understand the CCC to be saying otherwise but ours a Trinitarian baptism even though not celebrated/presided over by the Roman Catholic Church was considered fully valid by the RCC.

    This made much more sense to me than the practice of my former Canadian Pentecostal denomination and that of the Canadian Presbyterian denomination affiliated local church for whom I last worked before becoming Catholic which was, in both cases, to (re)baptize Catholics who converted “to Christ” due to the wrong-headed assumption there being that those Catholics were not saved and their RC baptism not valid – as it was not a “believer baptism.” For the record when I was a Pentecostal pastor who received former Catholics into our local church I did not (re)baptize anyone, sometimes to their disappointment if I was able to discern that they had already been baptized according to the Trinitarian formula.

    Thus, when we were beginning the process of becoming Catholic I asked the local priest if our family members would have to be re-baptised? He looked at me with genuine confusion and immediately inquired under which formula we had been baptized. I told him under the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Trinitarian formula. He answered that scripturally (always a good card to play for a bible only Christian or in our case the already former bible only Christian) there is but one Lord and one baptism and continued to explain that while the Church would need record of those baptisms record would be sufficient for the Church recognizes Trinitarian baptism as valid because it is a valid sacrament of the Church even when practiced, if you will and these are my words not his, by extension.

    Again, for me, this rang true and confirmed for me that we were on the right path to entering, at last, the one, holy, catholic and apostolic (read True) Church established by Jesus Christ.

  54. czemike says:

    @priests wife: I’m not sure what you mean by your last post, it’s… opaque. Feel free to reply to me directly: I’m a gmail user. :-)

  55. albizzi says:

    Yes, of course, I believe that non Catholics may be saved because Salvation is God’s concern first and He saves the people He wants to save according to His will. If God wants to save even the worst nonbeliever and sinner, that’s His business, not ours.
    But I acknowledge that the Church is right in obliging the Catholic faithfuls to say aloud “Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus” because we don’t know who will and who will not be saved since we don’t know according to which criteria God’s Mercy will judge the men and, because certainly the Church is the most secure means to reach Salvation, therefore to claim that all religions are equal with that aim (Salvation) is heresy in that it may induce men to stay in the false opinion that they will be saved when a lot among them will not, who would have been saved if they had converted.

  56. Dan says:

    Regarding any knowledge about souls in Hell, I heard it explained very well by a FSSP priest in Scotland at at Requiem Mass a few years ago- he said that we can never know for sure WHO is in Hell (although we know that people go there) because we can’t know what graces God gives to a soul for true repentance/conversion at the moment of death. That is why we pray for the dead.

    I don’t think any who have said that we don’t know who is in Hell are denying that Hell is a pretty crowded place…rather, they’re just saying, like the Church does, that we can’t know “specifics” about who is in Hell because that is a judgment left to God.

  57. Roguejim says:

    Bill F says:
    25 October 2010 at 2:11 pm

    MJ’s quote from Pope Eugene IV brings up an issue that has been nagging at me for some time now: the “development of doctrine.” Granted, the truths the Church teaches cannot change, but her understanding and presentation of those truths can. But the quoted statement regarding the EENS doctrine seems to flatly contradict the current understanding of that teaching. Are we to suppose that Pope Eugene didn’t mean or understand what he said? It’s pretty clear that he meant what he said: It is the teaching of the Catholic Church that one must be a formal member of the Catholic Church or one will go to hell. And it appears that he was speaking ex cathedra, thus infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit. Yet the current “development” of that doctrine effectively says, “Well, that ‘formal’ thing? Yeah, it turns out we didn’t really mean it. It’s a darned good idea to be a Catholic, but you’re not really damned if you’re not.”

    Sorry for any snideness that may have crept in there. I certainly know which interpretation of the doctrine I prefer (and think is correct), but these apparent contradictions in the Church’s teachings, of which EENS is but one example, are causing me no little frustration, confusion, and doubt. When comparing what the Church taught in the past with what it teaches now, I sometimes feel like I’m living in Orwell’s Oceania, with all of its doublespeak. I’m not a dumb guy by any means (and have the degrees to prove it), but I’m also not a theologian. I’m perfectly willing to admit that I don’t know everything – that’s why I’m even posting this in the first place. I don’t understand. Please help.

    Bill has hit on something which I think needs to be explained by the Church, the seemingly contradictory nature of current Church teachings when held up in light of prior infallible statements. There are Catholic religious communities in full communion with the Church who feel completely justified in rejecting certain teachings within the CCC, if these teachings are in opposition to past infallible pronouncements. As one example, they reject BOD as a false teaching. And apparently, the Church allows them to hold and promote their position. I’m not making a case for, or against them, just stating the facts as they currently stand.

    With regard to interpretation of dogmas, and the development of doctrine, I think the following quotes are apropos.

    From The Oath Against Modernism:
    “…Fourthly, I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical’ misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously…”

    From Dei Filius, Chapter 4:
    “14. Hence, too, that meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding.

    May understanding, knowledge and wisdom increase as ages and centuries roll along, and greatly and vigorously flourish, in each and all, in the individual and the whole Church: but this only in its own proper kind, that is to say, in the same doctrine, the same sense, and the same understanding [36].”

  58. columba says:

    albizzi, What you say seems to be a contradiction in terms.
    How can one be saved both inside and outside the Church at the same time?
    God can indeed save those outside the Church but He does so by bringing them inside the Church as there only is “One Church” outside of which there is no salvation.
    This is what the Church has always taught as a truth of the faith and still teaches.
    Christ Himself revealed this and His Church has always proclaimed it
    Not only is it the best means of salvation, it is also the neccessary means of salvation.

  59. moon1234 says:

    Fr. Basil says:
    25 October 2010 at 11:26 am
    I recall seeing in my Baptist days an old Fr. Stedham MY SUNDAY MISSAL that was lying around the house; I have no idea where it came from!

    It said something like this about EENS: that someone who was convinced that the Catholic Church was the true Church, yet refused to embrace her could not be saved; THIS is what is meant by “outside the church there is no salvation.”

    Fr. Basil. The children at Fatima were SHOWN hell by our Lady. There were MANY more there than just two. In fact our Lady said MANY people will be going to Hell if they do not repent.

    The whole salvation outside the Church issue comes across, to a person not schooled in Catholic Theology, as “Ohh if I believe in Christ I am saved I don’t need to be a member of the Catholic church and they even say so.

  60. Brian2 says:

    I wonder if some confusion/disagreement doesn’t come from an equivocation on the word ‘saved’/salus/. It seems to me that it can be taken in at least two ways
    (a) To be saved means that one does not go to hell upon death
    (b) To be saved means that one is in heaven, with God.
    I don’t think it would be double speak, but a natural case of linguistic drift over a few millenia.
    I wonder if the earlier papal pronouncements have (b) in mind, and more recent teachings have (a) in mind.
    This makes some sense to me, although being a philosopher not a theologian, I am open to correction.

  61. twherge says:

    Re: the statement by Pope Eugene IV, I cannot say this for certainty, but I do believe there are canonized saints who were martyred as catechumens. Thus, not in the church, but they were saved. In a literal sense this would appear to be a contradiction. The question is then, in what way can a contradiction exist, and why?

  62. robtbrown says:

    moon1234 says:

    1. Fr. Basil. The children at Fatima were SHOWN hell by our Lady. There were MANY more there than just two. In fact our Lady said MANY people will be going to Hell if they do not repent.

    2. The whole salvation outside the Church issue comes across, to a person not schooled in Catholic Theology, as “Ohh if I believe in Christ I am saved I don’t need to be a member of the Catholic church and they even say so.

    1. Although I accept Fatima as true, nevertheless, it is not Revelation.

    2. Completely disagree. It isn’t necessary to be schooled in theology. It is necessary to have an understanding of the nature of the Church.

  63. wolfeken says:

    Reading some of the comments above, I wonder why the Catholic Church has had missionaries for hundreds of years. What’s the point? (Serious question asked of those who take such a loose approach to Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.)

  64. MJ says:

    twherge, a canonized saint, one who was martyred as a catechumen, would in fact fall under the Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood category. So no contradiction, there was a baptism there.

    Brian2, your option (a) basically says that after death the soul will either be in Purgatory or in Heaven — and I think this is what the early Papal pronouncements had in mind. That is, they pronounced that outside the Catholic Church (what that means has already been extensively discussed), it is not possible for the soul to be in Purgatory or in Heaven (as being in Purgatory implies that one day the soul will be in Heaven).

    I’m not sure what the more “recent teachings” you mentioned would be, as 1) I’m not aware of any new teachings on this subject and more importantly 2) no Pope is allowed to change, add to, or detract from a defined doctrine/dogma — so there can be no new teachings on this subject. The interpretation of the old teachings can change, however (ie, they can be interpreted more or less literally) but the meat of the dogma cannot change.

  65. Bender says:

    Can non-Catholics who die outside formal union with the Church be saved?

    Has St. Joseph been saved? Has St. John the Baptist been saved? Was the thief on the cross saved? Were the innocent babies slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus saved?

    Each of these died before the establishment of the Church. They each died “outside formal union” with the Church. But no one would deny that any of these are not now in heaven.

    Although none of them formally received the sacrament of Baptism, they each did receive the benefit and effect of Baptism, i.e. the removal of the stain of Original Sin. John received this effect while still in the womb, the innocents by their very martyred blood, and the thief while in the throes of dying on the cross. The eternal power of the Cross to forgive sin worked “backward” in time to save each of these and bring them into the eternal Church even though it did not yet exist in the human understanding of time. Likewise the just and righteous Joseph, defender of Mary and Jesus, and patron of the Church, who died many years before the Church was born in human terms was nevertheless in the Church in divine terms. As such, when Jesus “went down into the abode of the dead,” they could be raised up with Him in salvation even though they were, from a human perspective, “outside formal union with the Church.”

    We can see here that Church membership is not limited by temporal or physical considerations, just as the effect of Baptism is not limited to immersion or pouring of water. Both are transcendent, to include more than what human eyes can see or hear or touch. Jesus Himself said that there will be those who are saved even though they did not realize at the time that they were giving Him something to drink, something to eat, etc. Meanwhile, there will be those who will come up to Jesus saying, “Lord, Lord,” who will be rejected with “go away, I never knew you.”

    What is important is that one have Jesus in his heart, that one love Jesus in his heart, and hence, that one be in the Church in his heart, even if he is physically outside the Church. Meanwhile, there will be those physically inside the Catholic Church who, because the Church is not in their heart, they will not be saved.

  66. Dauphin says:

    Father,

    Your post omits certain dogmatic truths concerning salvation. The church teaches that heresy and schism are mortal sins which sever a person from the church, and it has always insisted upon it. It is the consensus of the church fathers and the formal teaching of many ecumenical councils.

    Although we cannot judge whether an individual soul is genuinely guilty of these sins, we can say with certainty that to obstinately deny an article of Catholic doctrine or to obstinately separate oneself from communion with the Bishop of Rome are both sins which damn a soul to hell.

    Your answer is far too ambiguous because it isn’t grounded in these truths. Clarity on this point is absolutely essential. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. [Ask the Pope. This is a blog. I answered by my lights. If you want a different answer, ask the Pope. I bet you will get the same reply.]

  67. Fr. Basil says:

    \\I’ll answer your question with a question: Has Rome ever said that they did not have potestas iurisdictionis?\\

    Orthodox Churches don’t think in those terms. Even if Rome made the (doubtless fruitless) attempt to “withdraw jurisdiction” from Orthodox clergy, no Orthodox would pay attention to it.

    I DO know that the Catholic Church has said on numerous occasions that Orthodox mysteries are valid.

    And I’m reasonably sure this applies to the Non-Chacedonian Churches and Assyrian Church of the East as well.

    \\2. We know that there are angels in hell.

    Balthasar’s Dare We Hope is simply not a very good book. IMHO, it’s just an attempt to defend Origen.
    \\

    Angels are not people, however. I was talking about people.

    We already know that unrepentant sinners went to hell (though at what point I don’t pretend to know) before the apparitions of Fatima.

    And I’ve never read Balthasar at all.

  68. Microtouch says:

    WoW! Did you ever start a ruckus with the Rad-Trads at Fisheaters. :)

  69. david andrew says:

    Dauphin,

    Fr. Z repeats, over and over again, that WE cannot limit God’s mercy and that we cannot understand it. To do so, from what I’ve been told, is to “presume upon or deny” God’s mercy, something I’ve been told is a serious sin worthy of confession.

    I take comfort in knowing that there is a moment between life and death where the soul can make an act of perfect contrition, and God in his infinite mercy can receive it, thus granting us salvation. I do what I can to live in conformity with God’s will and the Teachings of Holy Church. But I know that I’m no saint, and not perfect, and in that “thin spot” between the temporal and eternal, I’m glad to know that there is yet one last opportunity to be fully contrite, and that my soul will be granted the privilege of time in Purgatory being purified for entrance into the Eternal Kingdom.

  70. twherge says:

    MJ, thank you. I am quite familiar with this concept. I was merely pointing out that from a very strict interpretation of union with the Church, one derives a contradiction from Pope Eugene’s declaration. Of course, had I remembered the rest of the comment or who had written it, I might not have made a comment, but perhaps it is valuable for those reading who may very strictly interpret the declaration. Besides, it’s tons of fun using proof by contradiction (not getting enough of it in my current math classes).

  71. Elizabeth D says:

    I am writing here about what I do not know a great deal about, but it is my understanding that Bernard Haring was the theologian who proposed to the 2nd Vatican Council that 1. God cannot (does not) make unfillable demands and 2. God wills that all men be saved. The Cardinals who were defending the traditional understanding that outside the (visible communion of the) Church there is no salvation, could think of no response to that, and the possibility of salvation of those outside the visible bounds of the Church became part of the final document. According to what I read on the internet, Haring became interested in this question because when he was 14 his sister gave birth to twins, one lived long enough to be baptized, the other did not, and the pastor allowed only the baptized infant to be buried in consecrated ground.

    Whatever one thinks of Haring otherwise as a theologian, it seems like the simple reasoning he contributed to Vatican II pretty much has to be taken into account now.

  72. Dauphin says:

    David Andrew,

    My answer was simply the Catholic doctrine. The Catholic doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus doesn’t limit God’s mercy any more than the church’s teaching against promiscuity or abortion does. People who commit sins, including the sins of heresy and schism, can always repent before their death. They can always have access to God’s mercy.

    However, it’s profoundly disordered to excuse someone from their sins because “God is merciful”. God is merciful to the sinner with a contrite heart, but His forgiveness cannot extend to this who obstinately reject Him or His church, since they refuse to receive it.

    I genuinely have trouble understanding this resistance to the Catholic teaching on salvation. I’m convinced it’s because people have difficulty distinguishing between the dogmatic truths, which we can define and understand, and the effective culpability of those who are separate from the church, which we cannot possibly assess.

    To clearly enunciate the Catholic doctrine on salvation is not uncharitable. To judge the salvation of particular souls is.

  73. Maltese says:

    These things are difficult, and not easy to differentiate. On the one hand, you have extra ecclesiam, on the other, you have the true fact that God is Love, and the liberal interpretation that thereby there is universal Salvation.

    Christ suffered and died, and why? If we are all somehow saved anyway, why DID He die an absolutely horrific death?

  74. Geoffrey says:

    “Has St. Joseph been saved? Has St. John the Baptist been saved? Was the thief on the cross saved? Were the innocent babies slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus saved?”

    Excellent observation! One could also mention the saints of the Old Testament (Moses, Elijah, etc.).

  75. Sorry, but “Dare We Hope that All Men be Saved” has gotten a “bad rap”…just read it; it’s not a defense of Origen. Nope.
    It’s the call to take seriously the fact that we ALL stand before judgment; and we cannot determine the fate of another, while standing in judgment of any other.
    Hell is a real possibility (v. Balthasar never denies this). And as for the “vision of hell” at Fatima…he does not deny this, at all. He’s making the point that the absolute seriousness of salvation, the ultimate “choice” each one has to make, is connected to the prayers and goodness and love of others (as in the Fatima prayer for sinners). We are truly connected to one another; we’re not predestined to hell or heaven. God is the ultimate judge here.
    But to talk about “massa damnata” (sorry, St. Augustine) is to make Christ’s complete Sacrifice something that is “limited”, so to speak…well, I’ll shut up now, awaiting the “arrows”…just read it, please?

  76. Bill Strom says:

    There are is one problem with the theory of not limiting God and his salvation, which is that He has limited it Himself through His teaching from His Church. He started it so all could be saved. St. Ignatius of Loyola summarizes it nicely in his spiritual exercises: “Here, it is how the Three Divine Persons looked at all the plain or circuit of all the world, full of men, and how, seeing that all were going down to Hell, it is determined in Their Eternity, that the Second Person shall become man to save the human race, and so, the fullness of times being come, They sent the Angel St. Gabriel to Our Lady” He did HAVE to become man to save us but he did. Does all salvation come through Jesus? Yes. Even though God could have saved us another way, He didn’t.
    Also when the Church speaks Ex Cathedra it says the limits God has drawn:
    Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra:
    “With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… ”
    There is no remission of sins outside the Church. Those who are validly baptized would only need to repent of all their sins with a perfect contrition to be saved. As we say in the mass “those mark with the sign of Faith” this is the sacramental mark of baptism.
    Pope Leo XII, Quod hoc ineunte ,May 24, 1824,# 8 : “We address all of you who are still removed from the true Church and the road to salvation… you might sincerely agree with the mother Church, outside of whose teachings there is no salvation.”
    Acceptance of the teachings is also necessary too. I don’t want to make this too lengthy.
    more at http://catholicvox.blogspot.com/

  77. Bill Strom says:

    sorry it posted twice — I don’t know why or how?

  78. Thomist says:

    The first Pope to express the true doctrine was Pope St Clement I who wrote in about 95 A.D. to the Church in Corinth: “Those who repented for their sins, appeased God in praying and received salvation, even though they were aliens to God.” [Catholic Apologetics Today, 1986, Fr William G Most, p 145].

    From “Extra Ecclesiam, Nulla Salus” OSV, Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine (written by Msgr Cormac P Burke, auditor of the Roman Rota):

    Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus (literally, “outside the Church, there is no salvation”). Some people have wished to understand this saying in the most literal sense: that is, that the person who is not formally a practicing Catholic cannot be saved. The Church has condemned such an interpretation (cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, 3870-3873).

    This is not to say that the maxim is false. Properly understood, it is quite true. The Latin word extra can mean either “without” or “outside.” The correct interpretation and sense of the maxim is that we cannot be saved without the Church. It is through the Church, which carries on and makes present the salvific work of Jesus Christ in the world, that all who are saved reach heaven (even if it is perhaps only there that they realize it). [My emphasis].

    Those who, through no fault of their own, have never known Christ or his Church can still be saved. But their salvation, too, is the effect of Jesus working through his Church. In a positive sense, this theological principle “means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC 846).

    But this cannot make us indifferent to the situation of those outside, saying that “no doubt they are in good faith and so can be saved.” While this of course may be so, objectively such people are exposed to many more difficulties. Lacking so many sources of strength, they are weaker against the attraction of evil and the devil and more exposed to the temptation of ultimate despair (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, 16).

  79. Elizabeth D says:

    “There are is one problem with the theory of not limiting God and his salvation, which is that He has limited it Himself through His teaching from His Church”

    Not according to the Church, it seems. Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and Vatican II says: “Those also can attain everlasting salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” The Church itself says God is not limited from saving people who are not part of the Catholic Church.

    From the Papal Brief declaring the Second Vatican Council completed: “We decide moreover that all that has been established synodally is to be religiously observed by all the faithful, for the glory of God and the dignity of the Church ahd for the tranquility and peace of all men. We have approved and established these things, declaring that the present letters are and remain stable and valid, and are to have legal effectiveness, so that they be disseminated and obtain full and complete effect, and so that they may be fully convalidated by those whom they concern or may concern now and in the future; and so that, as it be judged and described, all efforts contrary to these things by whoever and whatever authority, knowingly or in ignorance, be invalid and worthless from now on.”

    Sounds like efforts contrary to the teaching of Vatican II are, by Papal decree, to be judged invalid and worthless.

  80. Thomist says:

    No teaching is infallible in Ecumenical Councils except as declared by Vatican I in Pastor Aeternus. No reasons nor arguments, only definitive teaching on faith or morals or in dogmas approved by the Pope. (Such as in Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I).

  81. Dauphin says:

    Elizabeth,

    What you quoted is simply a repetition of the teaching of Pius IX. This teaching on innocent ignorance in no way nullifies the doctrine of no salvation outside the church; it merely includes in the church those people who are implicitly and invisibly united to her. The corollary of this teaching is that those who are culpably ignorant of the church or refuse to enter it through their own fault cannot be saved. It is not for us, though, to judge this culpability.

    Don’t attempt to wield the Second Vatican Council as a weapon against Catholic orthodoxy; it’s been done far too much in the past 50 years. Don’t read into it things which aren’t there!

  82. Elizabeth D says:

    Dauphin, I was responding to (and quoting) the comment by Bill Strom, who I think does not believe what you said, but rather seems to believe like Feeney that ONLY those formally within the Church can be saved.

    As for me and my house, we shall agree with Vatican II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and “Dominus Iesus”. I do not think Vatican II “anathematized” those who hold that formal union with the Church is necessary.

  83. Elizabeth D says:

    Should be a “however” somewhere in that sentence about Vatican II not anathametizing the stricter interpretation, by which I meant to say something like, I think Catholics can probably discuss it cordially among ourselves.

  84. Thomist says:

    The definitions of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 and the Council of Florence (1442) were associated with combating defections from Catholic unity and refuting heresies. The Council of Trent (16th century) solemnly defined the dogma of baptism by desire, recognizing “that actual membership of Christ’s Church is not required to reach one’s eternal destiny.” (Fr John A Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, 1975, p235).

    Pius IX in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (1863), is of one mind with Clement I and Vatican II: “There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.”

    “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. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, land, native talents, and so many other factors” (Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem, 1863 A.D.).

  85. Jillian says:

    It is hogwash to think that Lumen Gentium taught that non-Catholics could be saved without baptism (/becoming a member of the Church). READ THE WHOLE THING

    Lumen Gentium 16 “…Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. 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”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.”

    The salvation of these ignorant persons is procured by the missionary activity of the Church… following the natural law is a preparation for the Gospel, not a replacement of it. Should we then worry about all these (supposed) invincibly ignorant persons? No, because God is both omnipotent and provident and will not deny them the helps necessary for salvation.

    There are a lot of things in the world that God COULD do… such is irrelevant. What matters is what God HAS revealed through His Church. The Church knows of no other means of entering into the Ark of Salvation except through Baptism (sacramental Baptism, that is… with water).

  86. Elizabeth D says:

    from “Dominus Iesus” (CDF/Ratzinger 2000):

    Above all else, it must be firmly believed 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 (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”. This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.

    The Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation”, since, united always in a mysterious way to the Saviour Jesus Christ, her Head, and subordinated to him, she has, in God’s plan, an indispensable relationship with the salvation of every human being. For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”; it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.

    With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”. Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above about the mediation of Jesus Christ and the “unique and special relationship” which the Church has with the kingdom of God among men — which in substance is the universal kingdom of Christ the Saviour — it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her, even if these are said to be converging with the Church toward the eschatological kingdom of God.

  87. Thomist says:

    The ranting and raving against the Magisterium, and playing at Magisterium, tries to denigrate the Popes who protect doctrine:
    Even for non-Christians: “Normally, it will be in the sincere practice of what is good in their own religious traditions and by following the dictates of their own conscience that the members of other religions respond positively to God’s invitation and receive salvation in Jesus Christ, even while they do not recognize or acknowledge him as their Saviour. (cf. Ad gentes, nn. 3, 9, 11)” (Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue – Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 19 May 1991, n. 29; L’Osservatore Romano English edition, 1 July 1991, p. III).
    [John Paul II General Audience, Wednesday 9 September 1998]

    Dominus Jesus, CDF 2000, 12:
    “Just as Christ even now associates the believer to Himself in a living manner and “gives him the hope of resurrection,” likewise this is true not only for Christians, but all men of good will. Therefore all men of good will in whose hearts grace is active are joined to Christ in a living manner, and have the hope of resurrection. It would be absurd to say that unbelievers are joined to Christ in a living manner if they do not have faith, hope, or charity.

    “The Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation”, since, united always in a mysterious way to the Saviour Jesus Christ, her Head, and subordinated to him, she has, in God’s plan, an indispensable relationship with the salvation of every human being. For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation.”

  88. Dauphin says:

    Thomist,

    That first quote isn’t a statement of the Magisterium, and I think it’s very misleading. It doesn’t contradict the Catholic doctrine on salvation, but it completely ignores the question of innocent ignorance and opens itself to false interpretations. Only those who are outside of the visible church through no fault of their own can be saved. Those who reject or ignore the gospel are not saved.

  89. “Ecumenical Councils are infallible, and Vatican II says…”

    Not all Ecumenical Councils, it turns out, are infallible… and Vatican II was not… according to Pope Paul VI.

    Sorry… continue.

  90. Sliwka says:

    Fr Z

    Thank you for the edifying post and spurring fairly civil (especially for the internet!) discussion.

  91. Elizabeth D says:

    I don’t understand the people saying Vatican II is not infallible. What do you say it is then, those of you who say it is not infallible, just an extra-long homily, with no special authority even though it’s all the bishops speaking together, including the Bishop of Rome who approved and promulgated each document? Sorry, I don’t think that’s like when my pastor is giving a well intentioned homily and he innocently/ignorantly says something inconsistent with the real doctrine of the Church. Even if it is so that Vatican II does not define new dogmas, clearly it is authoritatively showing us how to interpret authentically dogmas like the necessity of the Church for salvation.

  92. robtbrown says:

    Fr Basil,

    In your first comment you used the word “persons”: but we cannot say that God has revealed any other particular persons who are or will be there.

    In your second, attempted refutation of my response, you used the word “people”: Angels are not people, however. I was talking about people.

    Angels are not people, but they are persons.

    The question at hand was whether is it possible that Hell is empty. If there are angels there, it is not empty. Further, strictly speaking, a disembodied human soul is not a human person because man is a composite creature.

    And I realize that you didn’t mention Balthasar, but I was replyubg to your comment, which was a reaponse to another comment that mentioned Balthasar.

  93. Fr. Basil says:

    OK. Allow me to clarify.

    The only two human beings we know FOR SURE will be in hell are the Antichrist and the False Prophet, who have the dubious distinction of being cast alive thereinto.

    So far as we know, without God’s extraordinary mercy extended to such, those human beings who reject the salvation that our Lord Jesus Christ offers will join them.

    Please God, may I be spared first hand experiential knowledge of this.

    As far as the visions at Fatima, with all respect to the Theotokos, they are not on the level of Sacred Scripture. That human beings will wind up in hell if they do not repent we already knew before 1917.

  94. These are good things to discuss and reflect upon.

    They have to do with our own judgment.

    Don’t make judgment into an academic concept. It WILL happen to YOU.

  95. robtbrown says:

    Fr Basil,

    1. That’s fine, but the question at hand was the possibility of an empty hell. My point was simply that we know there are angels there, so it’s not empty. And so why would anyone hope that it is?

    2. Re the Orthodox Churches and jurisdiction: I realize that they don’t think that way, but I was replying to a response that said “because the ability to have your sins forgiven is only found in the Catholic Church”.

  96. Thomist says:

    Elizabeth D
    “I don’t understand the people saying Vatican II is not infallible”

    This is what I wrote about Ecumenical Councils: “only definitive teaching on faith or morals or in dogmas approved by the Pope.”

    This is what Vatican II teaches (Lumen Gentium, 25):
    “Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ’s doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as definitively to be held.(40*) This is even more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.(41*)”
    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

  97. Jerry says:

    @priests wife – “if we really understood what hell is- an eternity with no hope- we would hope that hell is empty- but I don’t think that’s possible”

    Why would we hope for something that has been revealed to be untrue?

    Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! (Matt. 7:13-14)

  98. albizzi says:

    Columba,
    Yes I acknowledge that my opinion may be ambiguous, but we have a number of examples of people who were saved in the time of Jesus who weren’t baptized nor were catholic:
    – “Go, your faith saved you”
    – “Today Salvation entered this home”
    – “I say this unto you (the good thief): Today you will be with Me in my Kingdom”
    But, I repeat, that’s not our business to say who will be or will not be saved.
    It would be a disaster to claim that Islam is a way to Salvation because only one muslim (I hope they will be more, I have no means to know) was saved. This would be like encouraging the muslims to stay in a dead ended religion.
    If possibly a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist would be saved that’s not through his religion, no, that’s through God’s Mercy

  99. I can’t remember word for word but, in a case involving St. John Vianney, there was a wonderful, faithful, Catholic woman, whose husband was a wretch…a very wealthy wretch. His wife prayed for him to become a Christian but he wouldn’t convert and leave his pagan ways. One day he was out riding his horse; the horse got spooked or missed a jump and the man was thrown from the horse and killed instantly. The wife was so distraught she went to the Cure of Ars with her concerns that because her husband was horrible she feared he was in hell. St. John Vianney said, “Between the saddle and the ground forgiveness was sought and it was given.”

    And then there is Pranzini and St. Therese’.

  100. Papabile says:

    Father Basil:

    This is an honest question, and not simply rhetorical. What do you think Christ meant by this?

    “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born. ” (Matt. 26:24)

    Dare we hope?

    I think Christ was being pretty straightforward about where Judas was going.

  101. danphunter1 says:

    “Has St. Joseph been saved? Has St. John the Baptist been saved? Was the thief on the cross saved? Were the innocent babies slaughtered by Herod in an attempt to kill the baby Jesus saved?”

    Bender,
    St Joseph, upon his death, went to Limbo Patrem to await the death of his foster Son.
    When Christ descended in to the part of Hell called theLimbo of the Fathers, after His death, he baptised all the righteous, thus formally making them Catholics, and took them to heaven.

    St John the Baptist, as noted previously, had already been baptized in utero, and entered the Limbo of the Fathers upon his beheading, also to await the death of his cousin, the Saviour. He obviously did not need baptism at he point that Christ decended to Hell, but entered the Beatific vision at that time.

    Dismas was baptised by Desire on the cross and entered formal union with the Catholic Church then upon his death, entered heaven that very day, as Christ said.

    The Holy Innocents were baptized by blood and incorporated into the Catholic Church the moment they were slaughtered and entered the Limbo of the Fathers to await the descent of Christ at which time our Saviour brought them to heaven.

  102. columba says:

    albizzi,
    There are no examples of people being saved after baptism was made necessary by the institution of the sacrament. This ocurred moments before Christ ascended into heaven when He pronounced the words, “Go therefore and make diciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (Mat 28: 19)

    Before the institution of the sacrament of baptism, people hoped for salvation by following the precepts of the old covenant while awaiting the salvation that Christ was to bring. Christ, in instuting the sacrament of baptism did away with all the requirements of the old covenant, eg, circumcision and Johns baptism of repentance, replacing them all with the requirement of the New Covenant which was/is baptism into the body of Christ, His Church.
    Any one who refuses this sacrament can not be saved and God has made it possible for all to be saved through this means by not withholding this means from anyone.

    How can anyone say that we cannot limit the mercy of God while at the same time limiting His omnipotent power to draw all men of good will into His Church? And would it be imposible for God to bring such souls to the Ark of Salvation in accordance with His own infallible decree that all should be saved by being baptised into the Body of Christ.
    It is far more in accord with the power and merciful love of God to say that He could accomplish this. The other view tries to exalts His mercy while deminishing His power and by doing so (in reality) does neither.

    As St Louis de Montfort has said,
    “The means of holiness and salvation are known to EVERYONE, since they are found in the gospel; the masters of the spiritual life have explained them; the saints have practised them and shown how essential they are for those who wish to be saved and attain perfection.”
    (My emphisis in capitals)

  103. robtbrown says:

    NB:

    Eternity, which has no beginning and no end and is all reality present at once, is only properly predicated of God. Aeveternity is often used to refer to the state of those who participate in His eternity (Heaven).

    Thus, eternity cannot be predicated of Hell. Von Balthasar correctly mentions this in his “Dare We Hope”. Unfortunately, he then makes a very serious error by concluding that Hell must have an end. He makes this mistake because he does not distinguish eternity from infinite succession. Hell is succession without end. To borrow from what has been attributed to Henry Ford, Hell it is one damned thing after another.

  104. robtbrown says:

    danphunter1 says:

    St Joseph, upon his death, went to Limbo Patrem to await the death of his foster Son.

    Where did you get that idea? I know of no one who says that St Joseph went to the Limbo Patrum.

  105. Supertradmum says:

    Father Z,

    I have been taught, and by priests, that all baptisms are Catholic sacraments, if, of course, they are Trinitarian baptisms, and therefore, all who are baptized are technically Catholic, until they hold Protestant ideas which are contrary to the Catholic Teaching in doctrine. Can you clarify this? I also heard this on EWTN. Secondly, if a person looks into the Catholic Faith and rejects it, that is a completely different matter-which it why I am uncomfortable with icons of Gandhi, as much as I admire him, as he claims to have studied Christianity and not followed Christ.

    As to apostates, many in my family, we need to pray for them daily.

  106. czemike says:

    robtbrown said: “Where did you get that idea? I know of no one who says that St Joseph went to the Limbo Patrum.”

    The gates of heaven had not yet been re-opened — where do you think St. Joseph went when he died?

    (I suspect that the Church Fathers are in unanimous agreement on the answer to that question, so opine carefully…)

  107. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Oh, I’m asking for it by posting! What is it about this topic that mortals go where angels fear to tread?

    Here goes…

    1. I’m not sure that anything actually “proves” that anyone is in hell other than the devil and his angels. Divine Revelation does refer to the false prophet and antichrist, as pointed out; that’s a good point, so perhaps them. The only possible qualifier would be to argue that these figures from the Apocalypse are not necessarily to be identified with specific human beings. I’m not sure I want to make that argument; I’m not qualified to do so; but I think–given the special nature of the Book of Revelation and its style of presentation, I would certainly be interested in such an argument. It’s not self-evident to me, at this juncture, that such an interpretation would do violence to Scripture, but it might.

    2. Question about the vision of Fatima; and this requires care in answering: did the children say that they saw a vision of hell as it actually is, or as it would certainly be; or did they see a vision of a fate that was to be averted–i.e., through prayer, penance and conversion?

    3. In any case, no matter what the children at Fatima reported, it is private revelation. I’m not denying the validity of Fatima. I might have a private revelation–a true one–and I might even be accurate in recounting it; but it may be the message was meant specifically for me, or was meant only for some. I would not reject the message of Fatima, but I would not decide a dogmatic question on the basis of it; I would stick to public revelation.

    4. There are many Scripture passages cited to show that many go to hell. Some have been cited here; but too often, they are cited as if they are predictions, when they may well be warnings. Example: our Lord’s answer, “strive to enter by the narrow gate”; he was answering a direct question about how many or few are saved. But our Lord answered, not the question actually posed, but the question that ought to have been posed: he answered, not “how many” but “how”–i.e., how to be saved. His answer both described those who are shut out; as well as multitudes who are saved. My question is whether his answer was meant to predict how it would be, or meant to give warning so that we would avoid the fate he described. Because it seems to me these passages could be either, I think it’s unreasonable to rule out the possibility they are warnings–which, if they are, does not actually prove anything about the eventual population of hell.

    5. Lest this seem like quibbling, there are very good reasons to entertain the possibility that hell–while real–may yet be lightly populated. There are many Scripture passages that raise the question, and there is the more fundamental issue of how powerful God is, in his saving will, in relation to human resistance.

    6. In short, it goes to the much broader question of grace. It is Catholic dogma that we cannot repent or turn to God, without the prior prompting of grace; grace is active in the entirety of any human being’s salvation. Further, we profess that grace can change people’s hearts–do we not pray for that? So we are stuck wrestling with the question of how human freedom (itself dependent on grace, because unless grace acts on us, we cannot even be free to respond to God) is free, in relation to an infinite, loving God who seeks every which way for our salvation.

    7. The image that comes to mind is a man in a house, with a strong wind blowing outside. He wants to keep out the wind; he closes doors and windows, and keeps at it, plugging every draft. The more he tries to block out even the least bit of draft, the harder his task. So it is with the working of grace. God’s grace acts on us in countless ways, directly and indirectly (through others, and through events), and we are hard pressed to shut it all out. I did not say it was impossible; but too many tell the story of God hounding them, for me to believe God only makes one or two calls, before crossing us off his list of prospects.

    8. After all, God wants to save souls, and presumably he wants to be successful at it. It stands to reason he would like hell to be empty, does it not? Yes, I know; human freedom. We cannot deny it; but anyone who thinks its easy to work out how God’s grace and human freedom work together, has not thought about it very much.

    9. As for “extra ecclesiam…” I do not know why this is so difficult for so many. It absolutely stands to reason to say that anyone who ultimately is saved, will be saved through the merits of Christ-and-his-Church-which-is-his-Body. So it is absolutely true that 100% of all who will be saved, will be part of the Church and saved through the agency of the Church. I would argue that there will be no one in heaven who got there without the merits of Christ and the saving action of his Church. But that is not the same thing as saying that they must be explicit members of the Church in this life, but it would presumably help!

    10. It obviously stands to reason that there are many in the world, right now, who–if they understood the situation, and had the matter explained properly, and were not unduly influenced by falsehood, fear, or other considerations, would be Catholics. Yet many of these folks are not actually, formal Catholics, because they haven’t heard, or they’ve been misinformed, or any other sound reasons. God knows their hearts and minds perfectly.

    11. And it stands to reason that many hold back or avoid becoming Catholics for reasons that would count, in God’s eyes, as venial rather than mortal sins. So while their resistance, or sloth, or whatever holds them back is sinful, it isn’t mortally so. We can discuss it with them when we are in Purgatory together. But in any case, they will be saved “through” the Church, and will be Catholics, if you will, at that point.

    12. It thus stands to reason, I think, to say that some are “Catholics in spirit but not in name.” I’m not saying that’s enough; but it is a reality we all encounter and it causes us to ponder. What role in God’s Plan do such people play? We all know people who are “better Catholics than Catholics”; we know people who say they don’t believe in God or in religion, and yet they excel in so many virtues. The Council of Trent taught that no one can live a life of sustained virtue without the assistance of grace. I am not saying these folks will be saved; I am saying it’s clear that God’s grace is active in many people who aren’t Catholics. There is no question that many graces are operative in our fellow Christians who aren’t Catholic; it does seem, at times, as if God is sending us Catholics messages through them, such as when we see non-Catholic Christians excel in a way that we, as Catholics, might want to excel at. Father Benedict Groeschel–making a different point–observed that this shows the power of baptism.

    13. I’ve often been told, when I make these points, that there’s no point in becoming Catholic. That doesn’t really follow, it seems to me. If someone asks me, why s/he should become Catholic, I say because it’s true, and because we have more spiritual resources. Also, the image I frequently use is this. Suppose you must cross a room–a door on the other side is heaven; but there are many ways you can trip up or be waylaid. Now, if you crossed in total darkness, it is *possible* you can make it; but the perils are many. The more light you have, the more hope you have of success. Once again, it stands to reason one should want more, rather than less, light. And having the fullness of the Faith–and cooperating fully with God in that Faith–is the “most light.” But in the end, it comes back to what Lumen Gentium said: if someone, knowing the Catholic Faith to be true, refuses to embrace it–that one cannot be saved. At some point, folks who opt for being semi-Catholic in some fashion, counting on the merits of being near the Church rather than in it, must be confronted with that question.

  108. danphunter1 says:

    robtbrown,
    From the “Baltimore Catechism:
    Q. 401. Whither did Christ’s soul go after His death?

    A. After Christ’s death His soul descended into hell.

    Q. 402. Did Christ’s soul descend into the hell of the damned?

    A. The hell into which Christ’s soul descended was not the hell of the dammed, but a place or state of rest called
    Limbo, where the souls of the just were waiting for Him”
    St Joseph was one of the just.

  109. albizzi says:

    Elizabeth D & Thomist
    “I don’t understand the people saying Vatican II is not infallible”
    I was always told that VATII was mainly “pastoral” and thus it doesn’t bind the faithful in any way.
    In addition, our Holy Father recently said that “Vatican II must be re-read in the light of Tradition”. If so, there are some issues that become lapsed, the least one among them being the ecumenism itself.

  110. adorientem says:

    With all due respect to those who use such arguments, I think the point about God being able to save those outside the Church is a red herring. After all, God can do all sorts of things that are contrary to the doctrine we have concerning His behaviour. The question is not whether He can save such individuals, since this is without doubt to any theist, but rather whether He in fact does will the salvation of any such individuals. Do the flames of Hell burn any cooler because God was able to save you but did not? I doubt it.

    It is not my position, but there is a good reason the Feenyites were reconciled without being required to recant their position: it may be correct.

  111. dspecht says:

    Re: Limbus Patrum/St. Joseph:

    All saved men before the resurrection of CHrist the Lord went into this limbus. That´s the teaching of all theologians. [So also St. Joseph did].

  112. Sid says:

    All who have good works and who are sorry for their bad works will be justified. Romans 2 is often overlooked by some Lutherans. St. Paul may not have been a systematic theologian, but he was a coherent one. There are in Paul three “righteous-makings” (Justifications):

    1. The first justification is by the work of Our Lord both by the cross and the resurrection: Romans 4:25

    2. The 2nd justification is the reception of Baptismal Grace, the participation in the Paschal Mystery by the faith of Christ: Romans 3: 21-26 (the “of” of the Greek text is, granted, ambiguous and possibly mistranslated by the RSV) and Romans 6:1-11. And the reception of Baptismal Grace, as St. Augustine says (rightly quoted by Fr Z), can be sent to those unable to receive formal Baptism.

    3. The 3rd justification is in the judgment at the eschaton/parousia of all human beings, baptized or unbaptized, in which those found righteous are righteous by their good works at the eschaton/parousia: Romans 1:18-2:17. It follows that non-Christians, by their good works, can merit salvation. Of course, their ability to do good works comes from infused Grace.

  113. dspecht says:

    Re: Iurisdictio of the “Orthodox”

    They can not have/exercise iurisdiction (or faculties) because they are schismatics.

    This was and is the traditional teaching about it.

    It seems to be that on the one hand also in the modern Code and teaching this is hold up – theoretically – , but at the same time/concurrently it some times seems to be held on the other hand that the “Orthodox” have/ can exercise iurisdiction (f.e. re confessions; also according to the new marrigae law…).

    How that inconsisty can be solved I don´t know – It seems for me to be a real (and non-solvable) inconsisty!

    The old teaching was clear (and as I said also the modern teaching is — on the one hand…!):
    they do not have/ can not exercise iurisdiction (as schismatics) — but most of the theologians (or let´s say all) held and tought also (and so the magisterium, at least through silent or implicit consent) that (many of) their acts of iurisdiction, f.e. the absolvations in confession, are valid because of “ecclesia supplet”.

  114. dspecht says:

    Re: formal membership in the Church through baptism (contra Fr. Z.):

    Well, there are two ways of using the word “Catholic”, also in the Code.

    According to one [i] (let´s say using the word in a broader sense or not so accurate), Protestants etc. (all baptized heretics and schismatics and apostates) are called “non-Catholics” or “a-Catholics”.

    But in the strict and accurate sense [ii] all these persons are Catholics. In the strict sense via baptism you are incorporated in(to) the Mystical Body of Christ, so in (to) the Catholic Church.

    So in the strict sense [ii] if validly baptized you are formally Catholic, indipendent of the minister of the sacrament (beeing a protestant heretic or even a muslim or atheist…).

    And because of the chracter indelibilis you can not defect from the Church (in the strict sense).

    And also according to the broader usage [i] in the Code, treating the protestant baptized as if they were not Catholics, as a little baby you are seen as Catholic if you are baptized (as a baby) in a “non-Catholic” sect in any case, at least as far as / until you reach the age of discernment.
    – Yes, in the marrigae laws (f.e.) you are treated as “non-Catholic” [as if you were non-Catholic] if you are baptized in a protestant sect (according to [i]); but that does not change the just-said: Until you reach the age of discernment you are seen as Catholic (also in the broader sense [i]).

    That´s the reason that Canon law – principially – binds all baptized — because they are (via baptism) Catholics!

  115. dspecht says:

    So to summarize:

    The broader-sense/inaccurate usage [i] only means that you are treated AS IF you were NOT-Catholic — whilst in reality or in the strict sense [ii] you ARE (in fact).
    – Proof: That´s the reason there is some special exception for heretics from the duty of form in case of marriages. They need the exception (and the treating as “non-Catholics”, so as if they were not Catholics) because without this esception they would fall under the the duty of canonical form — because in fact the ARE Catholics, the Code is also binding them.

  116. danphunter1 says:

    Two infallible Church taught truths that have always and everywhere have been and must needs be, according to the Church, absolutely necessary for salvation;
    A] The removal of Original Sin, and therby incorporation into the Church,
    Either by the only means humans know : Baptism of Water, Desire or Blood, or, and we have no Church taught knowledge of this, howsoever Almighty God desires to remove Original Sin from the soul.
    No removal of Original Sin and incorporation into the Catholic Church, no salvation.

    The second absolute needed for men to be saved is to be in a state of sanctifying grace at the moment of death.
    After baptism and when the man reaches the age of reason, if he commits any sin of grave matter, and of course has full knowledge that the sin is mortal, he must either confess the sin sacramentally to a valid priest or make a perfect act of contrition.
    This latter act is the more difficult of the two means of absolution to have assurance of, since to make a perfect act of contrition the soul must be completely sorry for the grave sin committed, out of pure love of Almighty God and having offended His infinite justice.
    Fear of eternal damnation or recieving some form of temporal punishment does not suffice for absolution here, only fear of punishment suffices in the confesional for valid absolution to take place.

    Most men, Catholic or not, unless they are severely mentally impaired, have a good knowledge of when they commit grave sin,[by the Natural Law] so it would behoove them to come to sacramental confession since it is unsure if we have a perfect sense of contrition outside the sacrament.
    Here is what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about “Perfect Contrition Outside of the Sacrament”:

  117. danphunter1 says:

    “Perfect Contrition without the Sacrament:
    Regarding that contrition which has for its motive the love of God, the Council of Trent declares: “The Council further teaches that, though contrition may sometimes be made perfect by charity and may reconcile men to God before the actual reception of this sacrament, still the reconciliation is not to be ascribed to the contrition apart from the desire for the sacrament which it includes.”
    It sounds here that for Almighty God to absolve sins through perfect contrition, the penitent must have the desire to recieve the sacrament.
    From the Catholic Encyclopedia.

  118. dspecht says:

    Re: We can only be sure that the antichrist and his prophet are – will go to – hell

    No, there is one other person we can be sure he´s in hell – all Fathers teach this unanimously and Holy Scripture (an our Lord Himselfe) is very clear on that: Judas.

  119. dspecht says:

    Re: infallibility of Vat.II

    As Thomist correctly said and quoted, not all teachings of an Ecumenical Council are infallible.

    And there is not only “all” or “zero”. Magisterial teachings can have different ranks and grades of binding force, different degrees of compulsion.

    They can be authentic teachings but not infallible ones — most (if not all) of Vat.II -teachings belong – per se – to this category. Well they may be infallible, but then not “per se” but because of some recapitulation and reiteration of some previouse infallible teaching.

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  121. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Dan Hunter says:

    “After baptism and when the man reaches the age of reason, if he commits any sin of grave matter, and of course has full knowledge that the sin is mortal, he must either confess the sin sacramentally to a valid priest or make a perfect act of contrition….

    Most men, Catholic or not, unless they are severely mentally impaired, have a good knowledge of when they commit grave sin,[by the Natural Law] so it would behoove them to come to sacramental confession since it is unsure if we have a perfect sense of contrition outside the sacrament.”

    I would differ on whether one can assert that most people, Catholic or not, have the requisite “full knowledge” for them to be culpable of mortal sin. (Refresher: for a person to be culpable of mortal sin, three elements must all be present: grave matter, full knowledge and freedom.)

    Certainly a great deal of the moral law is widely understood, the ten commandments coming to mind; but I think a lot of folks do not know contraception and many other sexual activities are sinful, let alone gravely sinful. I would argue that “full knowledge” not only means knowing a thing is wrong, but that it is gravely wrong.

  122. Elizabeth D says:

    “I was always told that VATII was mainly “pastoral” and thus it doesn’t bind the faithful in any way.”

    Always told by whom? I’ve never been told that. Are we not bound to let ourselves be guided by legitimate pastoral guidance, in a special way when it is coming from the Bishops speaking all together headed by the Pope? What is the point of having an ecumenical council that nobody is bound to listen to?

  123. robtbrown says:

    czmike,

    That sounds like a constipated concept of the Atonement (or Ransom) theory of Soteriology. I prefer the thought of St Thomas. A few points:

    1. It is true that before Christ’s Passion the Gates of Heaven were closed.

    2. The Redemption is accomplished by Christ the Priest offering Himself as Victim (i.e., His Passion and Death). But from the beginning of His conception Christ merited our eternal salvation (ST, III, 48, 1, ad 2-). Why? Because this Perfect Priestly Offering begins at the Incarnation when God takes on passable flesh. It is then consummated on the Cross.

    Thus it would not be necessary for St Joseph to wait for the Crucifixion in order to enter Heaven.

    2. Man is saved by the Grace of Christ the Head (Gratia Christi Capitis Ecclesiae). But this Grace is due to the Incarnation. Thus Christ’s status as as Head of the Church is ontological rather than functional (a common error of those pushing low Christology). NB: the pleroma in the Prologue of St John (plenum gratiae et veritatis) and the famous Christological Hymn in the Letter to the Colossians:

    1:18 et ipse est caput corporis ecclesiae qui est principium primogenitus ex mortuis ut sit in omnibus ipse primatum tenens

    1:19 quia in ipso conplacuit omnem plenitudinem habitare .

    3. The intellectual foundation of the above is St Thomas’ concept that principal efficient cause of the Redemption is God, the instrumental cause (instrumentum coniunctum) is Christ’s Human Nature.

  124. robtbrown says:

    danphunter1,

    See my comments above. Those in the Limbo Patrum died before the Incarnation.

  125.  dspecht: Well, there are two ways of using the word “Catholic”, also in the Code.

    Here is what I wrote in the top entry, with my emphases and comments..

    Non-Catholics can be saved.   Most non-Catholic Protestants are validly baptized.  By that baptism they belong in some way to Christ’s Mystic Body, the Church. [This is really the point about people who are validly baptized but not formally members of the Catholic Church.  They may not belong to the Church formally, but they do belong – otherwise the sacrament could not have been valid.   The Catholic Church is the only mediator of these graces, even if they are adminstrated in some other Church or community. ]  I don’t know how this works according to God’s plan.  People must stand before God and be judged, and God cannot be fooled.  He will, with the person who dies, judge the mind and heart and there will be no room for self-deception.

    I think it must be very hard indeed to come to salvation without the advantages God offered in His Church.  Very hard indeed.  I quail at the idea of it, as a matter of fact, and I am less than optimistic.  I am hopeful for people and desire their salvation, but… how that is worked out is a mystery.

    Any way you look at it, however, if a person is saved she is saved because of the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice mediated through the Church He founded.  There is no other way of salvation, whether a person ever heard of the Catholic Church or not.

     Thanks for your post.

  126. Fr. Martin Fox: Thank you , Father.
    You express most eloquently and well the teaching of our Church.
    It is absolute depression/despair to even contemplate the damnation of any soul; how horrid it may be.
    The pierced Heart of Jesus groans with suffering and horror at this; of this, I am certain (why else would He have even become Incarnate?)
    Yet, the possibility is there; and that is the real horror.
    I don’t deny that a soul could and does want to be alienated from his Creator, Savior and Sanctifier for all eternity.
    Somehow the Divine Mercy has to have some kind of place in all of this; not to condone sin and rebellion; but to make present the dignity, respect and absolute honor the Almighty have given to human nature.
    There may, alas, be souls damned to hell.
    But to relegate this to the “massa damnata” is just to ignore something much greater: Christus regnat, Christus vincit, Christus imperat!!

  127. albizzi says:

    Elisabeth D,
    VATII was not binding because there was no affirmed will to bind. In fact it could bind us in that sense that sometimes it reaffirmed some dogmas already defined by previous councils or by the Magisterium or by other Popes. Yes in that sense we are bound but we were already bound before.
    In other occasions the council was in contradiction with previous statements, for example in matters of ecumenism and religious liberty it contradicted the council of Florence (13th century). In that case, sorry to say, a council cannot say the contrary of a previous council. Therefore it cannot bind us in any way (for the least) and even became highly questionable.
    That is why our Holy Father recently said that “VATII must be re-read in the light of Tradition”. If so, what is remaining to bind us?

  128. danphunter1 says:

    robtbrown,
    You said: “It is true that before Christ’s Passion the Gates of Heaven were closed.”
    Did St Joseph somehow have a passkey to the back entrance?
    I was always taught by the Church that the consummation of Christs Passion took place the last day of His life.
    As Fr Zuhlsdorf said;
    “Any way you look at it, however, if a person is saved she is saved because of the merits of Christ’s Sacrifice mediated through the Church He founded.”
    We are saved through Christs SACRIFICE, not His Incarnation as a standalone.
    Of course Christ could have chosen to redeem mankind by just His Incarnation, or even just a split second thought, but He chose to do so by His death on the Cross.
    THEN He rose from the dead, to not only show us His Omnipotence and Divinity, but to show us that we will one day be raised from corruption.
    No Cross, no glory.
    The death of St Joseph took place before the salvific Sacrifice of his foster son on the Cross, therefore, he could not attain the realm of heaven since, as Father pointed out we are saved by Christs Sacrifice. Man is only saved when he is purgatory or heaven.
    The Church has always taught that Christs Sacrifice took place on Calvary, not in Nazareth.

  129. MJ says:

    Elizabeth D, here is some information about the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral nature:

    “In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility…” (Pope Paul VI, General Audience of 12 January 1966)

    His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict of course), addressing the Chilean Episcopal Conference (cf. Il Sabato 7/30–8/5/1988), reaffirmed the same when he said, “The truth is that the Council itself did not define any dogma, and that it consciously wanted to express itself on a more modest level, simply as a pastoral Council.”

    The Documents of the Second Vatican Council are acts of the Church exercising its Ordinary Magisterium. In this regard it is crucial to a right understanding of Vatican II to remember what His Holiness Pope John XXIII declared in his opening discourse (L’Osservatore Romano 10/12/1962), what was reaffirmed by the Secretariat of the Council (November 16, 1964), by His Holiness Pope Paul VI at the close of the Council (L’Osservatore Romano, 12/7/1965; AAS 1967,57; Audience of 1/12/1966 published in L’Osservatore Romano 1/21/1966) namely that the Council did not intend, nor did it in fact propose any teaching as an infallible, irreformable definition.

    Hope this helps!

  130. albizzi says:

    MJ,
    I don’t intend to scandalize anyone:
    Is it possible to be a good practising catholic faithful while ignoring Vatican II?
    Yes in my opinion.

  131. Fr_Sotelo says:

    adorientem commented: “With all due respect to those who use such arguments, I think the point about God being able to save those outside the Church is a red herring. After all, God can do all sorts of things that are contrary to the doctrine we have concerning His behaviour. The question is not whether He can save such individuals, since this is without doubt to any theist, but rather whether He in fact does will the salvation of any such individuals.”

    It appears, adorientem, that Blessed Pius IX indeed answered just that question when he was quoted above: “Nevertheless, equally certain 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. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, land, native talents, and so many other factors” (Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem, 1863 A.D.).

    God in fact does will the salvation of such individuals, as Our Lord states in the Gospel of St. John, that it is not the will of the Father that any of those given to Our Lord should be lost, but that they should be raised on the last day. And in the teachings of divine Revelation, hell is always spoken of as a punishment for the guilt of sin, specifically, dying in the state of mortal sin. Hell is not the place to send people who were invincibly ignorant and therefore not guilty of the mortal sins of heresy, schism, or apostasy, or of the mortal sin of refusing to enter the Catholic Faith when they had certain knowledge it was the True Religion.

  132. MJ says:

    albizzi, that question is probably a can of worms that could easily take a post or two (maybe a whole website) to discuss. ;-) I don’t want to open that can of worms, although I will say just that personally I prefer the EF at my all-FSSP parish.

    The quotes I cited for Elizabeth D were just to clarify for her that Vatican II was not a dogmatic council but rather a pastoral one, and therefore contained no infallible statements on doctrine or dogma.

  133. Sam Schmitt says:

    Then what are we to make of all the “dogmatic constitutions” and the dogmatic-sounding statements in the documents?

    Saying a council is pastoral doesn’t mean it is meaningless and we are free to ignore it.

    At any rate, a teaching does not have to be defined infallibly for a Catholic to be obliged to accept it, as explained in Vatican II’s Constitution on the Church, #25.

  134. Bender says:

    danphunter1 — where are those people I listed right now?

    In heaven. They are each in heaven. They each were and are saved. And they were all saved despite dying without being “formally” in the Church. Whatever intermediary steps were involved between their physical deaths and their entry into heaven are irrelevant to the fact that they were and are saved.

    Look, this whole argument is being made much more complicated than it needs to be, or really is. It is very simple — if God wants someone to be saved, whoever they are, whatever their status vis-a-vis Church membership, they will be saved. Period.

    If, for example, God wanted to, and did, save a bunch of American Indians who died in the 13th century who had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of Jesus or the Church, then who I am to say that He couldn’t do that?

  135. MJ says:

    Sam Schmitt, I didn’t say Vatican II was meaningless nor did I say we are free to ignore it. As you can see from the comment I left directly above yours, I specifically avoided saying anything related to what our response to Vatican II should be. I merely attempted to answer Elizabeth D’s question/statement “Always told [Vatican II was pastoral] by whom? I’ve never been told that.” All I gave quotes for and all I stated was that the Second Vatican Council was not a dogmatic one, but a pastoral one. What we are to make of the council and how we are to respond to it is another topic entirely (one which I don’t wish to get into).

  136. Bender says:

    The death of St Joseph took place before the salvific Sacrifice of his foster son on the Cross, therefore, he could not attain the realm of heaven . . .

    We need to remember that God is eternal. That is, He exists outside of time. Jesus is simultaneously the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. It is not the case that He was the Beginning and He will be the End, but that He is both and everything in-between simulaneously.

    Jesus is not and was not bound by the laws of human linear time. From His divine perspective, the Crucifixion and Resurrection did not happen 2000 years ago, but are happening right now (as we celebrate in the Mass). Likewise, from His divine perspective, salvation on the Cross extended before they actually happened in human time, such that Mary could gain the merits of the Cross and Resurrection when she was conceived some 45 years or so before her Son was crucified.

    Just as Mary could be “saved” by the Cross years before the Cross happened, so too could Joseph be saved by the Cross upon his death even though he died years before the Crucifixion. From the perspective of humans living at that time, it might be said that Joseph was “waiting” for salvation, but from God’s perspective, it had already happened.

    Linear time is for humans, not for God.

  137. Elizabeth D says:

    I have my copy of Vatican II right here, and Pope Paul VI says in his brief declaring the Council completed (I already quoted this more extensively somewhere way up above, but here it is again): “We decide moreover that all that has been established synodally is to be religiously observed by all the faithful.”

    What does “religiously observed” mean if not “bindingly observed”, with the excellent bonus of this observation having the virtue of religion, if observed freely and for love of God? My understanding is that is the etymology of the word religion, “to bind”. What does “all the faithful” mean, if it does not mean including you?

    The need to re-interpret Vatican II (especially, according to a “hermaneutic of continuity” rather than of discontinuity) does not imply that Vatican II is invalid or can be freely ignored. I suggest that it is in need of being rightly interpreted, in keeping with the Tradition of the Church and her true doctrine, because we are to observe it religiously.

    If you say that Vatican II is “pastoral”, however even though you consider yourself one of the faithful, you feel you need not “religiously observe” it, it seems to me you are mistaken.

  138. robtbrown says:

    DanHunter,

    1. Let me re-state (with emphasis) what I wrote above, which you seem to have missed.

    The Redemption is accomplished by Christ the Priest offering Himself as Victim (i.e., His Passion and Death). But from the beginning of His conception Christ merited our eternal salvation (ST, III, 48, 1, ad 2-). Why? Because this Perfect Priestly Offering begins at the Incarnation when God takes on passable flesh. It is then consummated on the Cross.

    FYI, ST, III, 48, 1, ad 2 indicates that I have quoted directly from the Summa Theologiae.

    2. As noted before, Christ’s Sacrifice begins to take place at the moment of His Incarnation, when He took on passable flesh.

    3. You seem to have adopted the Theologia Crucis, which is commonly found both in Counter Reformation Theology and in Protestantism. Unfortunately, Theologia Crucis usually de-emphasizes Christ’s Priestly Act.

    4. You say that the Resurrection happened ” not only to show us His Omnipotence and Divinity, but to show us that we will one day be raised from corruption”. This omits causality: The Resurrection of Christ is the cause of our own Resurrection.

  139. MJ says:

    Elizabeth D, you said “If you say that Vatican II is “pastoral”, however even though you consider yourself one of the faithful, you feel you need not “religiously observe” it, it seems to me you are mistaken.”

    Perhaps you were not referring to me when you wrote this, but if you were — I did not say this nor do I do this. I merely gave you a few quotes to try to explain where the idea that Vatican II was a pastoral council came from.

    As I said just a few comments above, I didn’t say Vatican II was meaningless nor did I say we are free to ignore it.

  140. MJ says:

    Oops clarification — I did say that Vatican II was pastoral, and I am one of the Faithful, but I never stated anything about how Catholics are obliged to respond to Vatican II. That is, I never said I could “not religiously observe it” or “ignore it”. I merely gave quotes to try to help answer your question and show that it was a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one.

    Perhaps the difference between a pastoral council and a dogmatic council is not understood. It seems to me that this may be the case.

  141. PaterAugustinus says:

    With all do respect to czemike above, who opined that the answer to Roman Catholic teaching on salvation “couldn’t be easier,” I would disagree. You state that all who die in the state of Sanctifying Grace will (eventually, I presume you mean) go to Heaven; all who die in mortal sin, go to Hell.

    What about the Emperor Trajan?

    Bottom line: we can be certain that those who die a good death will be raised with the Just on the Last Day. Regarding those who die apart from the saving Grace of Christ in the Church, we can only say this: their situation is very dire and there is not great cause for optimism, save perhaps in the case of profoundly righteous men who never heard the real Gospel (because our God is good, and so His beneficence is grounds for optimism in their case). But, it is plainly true that God may do as he pleases – and, in the case of Trajan, He plucked him right out of Hades and translated him to Paradise at the prayer of the Great Pope, Saint Gregory. It is quite plain that Trajan did not die in the state of sanctifying Grace. So, we have to leave room for God’s inscrutable will and power.

    Orthodoxy sometimes looks askance at a lot of the precise categories and unbreakable syllogisms in Catholicism’s theology. We think it guilds the lily a bit too much, and lends people a great sense of “certainty” in matters which are ultimately involved in too many factors for us to calculate and know, cleanly and easily. And we know that faithful Catholics would affirm the truth of this, but the cut-and-dry, tied-neatly-with-a-bow conclusions of many a Scholastic or Jesuit discourse often gives the impression that more is known, and known conclusively, than really can be. One of the great moments in the Brothers Karamazov, is when Zosima is describing who will go to Heaven at the Resurrection. He says that all the harlots and thieves will go rushing in, and men who led “moral” lives out of convention or self-regard, will rise up and ask why they are being permitted to enter. God thunders at them: “Because none of them thought himself worthy of entering.” We know that our God is a Just Judge. We also know He is the fount of all compassion. And, we all know that He has a particular delight in the underdog, mingled with the keen, child-like delight of a proper old sage. I suspect Judgment Day will surprise many of us, and we’ll see God introduce many proper old rogues into the pearly gates, grinning like a wily Irishman as He does so. If I should be so fortunate as to receive His mercy on That Day, I suspect that three main things will give me a surfeit of joy: 1) The vision of my God; 2) The wonder at my own transfiguration in the Resurrection; 3) The hearty grin on all of our faces, as we finally see the Big Picture, and wonder at how many things turn out contrary to our expectations while we were mortal… and see the perfection in that which counfounds are expectations. I imagine it will be hilarious, in the Latin sense of the term. Though that Day will have its share of woe, it will also know the most heady of delight. I think we will all suddenly feel as if we’ve been let in on a joke.

    That may seem callous now – the idea that one could look back on it all as a long story worth having a laugh over, even though many millions (presumably) are to be damned. But, that’s not how we’ll feel then; indeed, the whole point of a Final Judgment, as I think Lewis so aptly put it, was to say that there would finally be a day when the misery of those who choose misery, can no longer tyrannize over the Just. As tragic as the Judgment Day will be for many, for those who enter Zion it will be a day of laughing, merriment and good cheer. A day that will never end.

    In Orthodoxy, we say that the state of a person’s death can be a pretty good indication of where he will go immediately: either to paradise or to hades. But, come Doomsday, I think a lot of us will be surprised at the judgments rendered. When has God’s work ever failed to confound mortal expectations?

  142. columba says:

    Elizabeth D,
    How is one meant to rigorously observe something that is so ambiguous that scarcely theologions themselves are sure as to what certain statemants mean when they can be interpreted in so many different ways?

    That’s why this topic has well over a hundrerd posts because everyone has taken their own meaning out of Vat II Council. Therefore the obvios way to make sense of it is to interpret it in line with traditional Church teaching. That way you can’t go wrong. That way you don’t end up trashing 2000 yrs of church teaching and dogma.

  143. Elizabeth D says:

    “Orthodoxy sometimes looks askance at a lot of the precise categories and unbreakable syllogisms in Catholicism’s theology”

    I like your thoughts, Pater A. I witnessed a catechetical talk one time that greatly bothered me, in which the presenter drew a chart with one axis being something like the goodness of the person’s deeds, and the other axis being something like the amount of those deeds, and he drew in a shape within those axes and colored it in, and the shape represented the amount of reward the person would be due in heaven! I objected based on St Therese of Lisieux who loathed this kind of mathematical tallying of personal merits: she renounced all her own merits and wanted to go to Paradise solely by the mercy and merits of Jesus (whose merits infinitely exceeded her own, so she thought this was frankly a better deal, as well as being solidly based in loving faith in Him rather than herself), like the Good Thief who died on the cross beside Him. She was convinced that the greatest sinners had the greatest reason for confidence in divine Mercy. The presenter didn’t acknowledge the point but simply reiterated what he had said, and that St Therese merited a big reward. Others who were at the talk also thought it was bad theology! So, which version is “Catholicism’s theology”? Well, I think the principle that virtue will be rewarded in the hereafter is in fact part of the Catholic tradition (and is Scriptural), but what St Therese was saying about what Jesus gives freely out of his mercy to those who hope in him and ask, is, to me, a greater truth: “heaven rejoices more over one sinner who repents…”.

    MJ thanks for clarifying, I think I had you in mind together with others, but basically my “you” in that comment was a very generic “you” or “you all”.

  144. jlmorrell says:

    Excellent discussion! I’d like to point out one of the errors condemned by Pius IX in the Syllabus:

    17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. — Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc.

  145. DominiSumus says:

    jlmorell, that is true, but those who are baptized are baptized at in the true Church of Christ whether they want to accept it or not.

  146. albizzi says:

    MJ & Elisabeth D,
    I agree with MJ, that is the very question: We have to ackowledge that VATII was sometimes very confusing for everyone, including for the best theologians. The better and often, sad to say, the worst things were made or said in the name of that hollow word that nobody could explain me (and which I hate personally) “spirit of the council”. How is it possible that we have been discussing for almost 40 years how to interpret the council until the Pope recently said that we must do this with the Tradition in mind (that is clearly to say rejecting all that contradicts the Tradition).
    In my opinion a council is called to refocus the faithfuls on how to deal about a given number of new issues, not to sow the confusion in the minds and discord in the hearts like everyone may witness this has happened with the sad outcomes of millions faithfuls losing the faith and priests and nuns defrocking.

  147. Thomist says:

    albizzi
    “In other occasions the council was in contradiction with previous statements, for example in matters of ecumenism and religious liberty it contradicted the council of Florence (13th century). In that case, sorry to say, a council cannot say the contrary of a previous council. ”
    No, there is no contradiction between Vatican II and the Council of Florence on religious liberty.

    Elizabeth D, albizzi

    Vatican II issued no new dogmas, it developed doctrine.
    The term ‘pastoral council’ as applied to Vatican II is merely a popular description and does not refer to any specific type of council recognized by the authority of the Catholic Church. There are traditionally councils, or synods, which are styled ‘national councils,’ ‘provincial councils,’ or ‘general (ecumenical) councils, but none styled specifically a ‘pastoral council.’ Pope John XXIII himself, in using the word, spoke of the need today of a Church Magisterium “which is predominantly pastoral in character.” Pope Paul VI similarly spoke of the “pastoral nature of the Council” in his Weekly General Audience of January 12, 1966, but he didn’t call it a “pastoral council”.
    Vatican II has two Dogmatic Constitutions — the same as Vatican I which issued the dogma on papal infallibility in defining doctrine. In Vatican II the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) #25 teaches that bishops “proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ….when…..in their authoritative teaching on faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitely and absolutely. This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council….whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith.” Fr John A Hardon, S.J., describes this as “collegial infallibility” marking “a turning point in doctrinal history.” [The Catholic Catechism, 1975, Doubleday, p 232-233].
    The Council defined that the assent of will and intellect are required of non-infallible papal teaching, for the first time (LG 25), and Christ’s Church as indispensable as Christ for the salvation of all mankind (LG 38, op cit., p 236).
    Of Lumen Gentium #8, that “the sole Church of Christ…subsists in the Catholic Church”, Fr Hardon declares this is “ ‘unequivocal’ for the first time in conciliar history” — the Church is not one of many branches (op. cit. 213).
    Pope Benedict XVI, as a cardinal, assessed the Council: “Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two Councils [Trent and Vatican I] and thereby detaches them from their foundation. To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them.” [The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius 1985, p 28-31].

  148. dspecht says:

    Elisabeth, MJ, Thomist,…:
    Re: Vat.II:

    As MJ stated correctly: the VAt.II did not pronounce an infallible teaching. That does not mean – as he (she?) also states – that you need not “observe” it “religiously”.

    And to add: there was neither an infallible teaching of the extraordinary (solemn) magisterium [that is undoubtable clear] nor of the ordinary magisterium [what is perhaps not that clear and some in fact argue that Vat. II teachings are infallible via ordinary magisterium].

    As Thomists cites correctly (see above), the precondition for infallibility also for the ordinary magisterium is the intention of teaching and binding *definitely* and *absolutely*, so the intenion that the “teaching is to be held definitely and absolutely” [see above Thomist].

    That was not the case in Vat. II – or at least this is not so clear and obviouse.

    So, as I said above [see there], there is not only “all” or “zero”.

    There are authentic teachings of the magisterium, that you have to observe religiously, but are not infallible and therefore – if you have good reasons and are competent enough – you can critizise – – and even reject them (with all due respect) if the reasons are very grave.
    [cf. f.e. OTT, handbook of dogmatics, introduction.]

  149. dspecht says:

    robtbrown, Bender:

    Re: limbus, St. Joseph:

    Not the death on the Cross opened the gate of Heaven finaly, but the *RESURRECTION*!

    CHrist the Lord was the first Who entered Heaven [He shall be the first in and of all!].

    Before his *resurrection* all justified waited in limbo patrum.

    Only after the *resurrection* they could go to Heaven.

    (Btw, that´s a clear teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium, so I think it´s infallible – but at least much clearer and less doubtfull than the teachings of Vat.II are infallible teachings of the ordinary mag. ;-)

  150. dspecht says:

    Rev. Fr. Z.:

    It was the word “formal”/ “formally” [“They may not belong to the Church formally”] that disturbed me.
    Through valid baptism you are formal member of the Church.

    But I think we do not disagree as regards content, but only as regards the correct and accurate nomenclatura. I don´t think (but I also do not really know or better I am not sure, I have to admit) that (resp. if) “formally” is an accurate qualification in our context.

    Perhaps in the last years this word is chosen to qualify the respective difference by the canonists [I have to look this up]; in earlier days there were other words (“not active member”, etc.; cf. Mörsdorf-Eichmann f.e.) that seem to be more accurate.

  151. dspecht says:

    Addendum (re Fr. Z.):

    “formally” means what gives the form and therefore the essential thing, the important and crucial “part” (so it means “essentially”).

    But if you are in the state of Grace – and that was the presupposition here – then of course you have the important and crucial point of beeing Catholic: the very formal and crucial point of the membership is the Sanctifying Grace.
    So perhaps you can rather say the Protestants in the state of Grace are formally members of the Church but not materialiter (formaliter but not materialiter).

    Or do I mix-up unwarranted the words “formally” and “formaliter” here?

    Perhaps I do so and “formally” does not mean “formaliter” but “officially”. Then it is my fault.

    (Well, I think in English it can mean both; in German we have two different words, “formal” and “formell”, although it is some times not so clear what is meant by them exactly as well… – and in latin you do perhaps better know, Fr. Z., than me!! [And can perhaps provide some correction!Thanks.]).

  152. dspecht says:

    Addendum II:

    Also in German neither “formal” nor “formell” are really aequivalent to “formaliter”.

    I think I mixed them up unwarranted.

    So yes, Protestants may be “formaliter” members of the Church — but that is not the English “formally” (is it)?!

    But also if using the English word “formally” I am not sure if this is the best nomenclatura for qualifying an (material or formal) heretic or schismatic in the state of Grace….

  153. Thomist says:

    dspecht
    “There are authentic teachings of the magisterium, that you have to observe religiously, but are not infallible and therefore – if you have good reasons and are competent enough – you can critizise – – and even reject them (with all due respect) if the reasons are very grave.”

    Incorrect. Any “rejection” would be dissent as Donum Veritatis (CDF 1990) affirms:
    “B. The problem of dissent
    32. The Magisterium has drawn attention several times to the serious harm done to the community of the Church by attitudes of general opposition to Church teaching which even come to expression in organized groups.
    36. The freedom of the act of faith cannot justify a right to dissent. In fact this freedom does not indicate at all freedom with regard to the truth but signifies the free self-determination of the person in conformity with his moral obligation to accept the truth.”
    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19900524_theologian-vocation_en.html

    As Vatican II teaches: (Lumen Gentium) # 25: “This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledged with respect….”
    This is affirmed in Canon 752.

    Thus CCC #88 clearly combines exactly with Pope John Paul’s Motu Proprio Apostolic Letter “Ad Tuendam Fidem”, 1998, which requires the assent of divine and Catholic faith to believe (credenda sunt) dogmas (a category one truth) (Canon #750.1).

    A category 2 truth requires the assent of ecclesial faith, as a secondary truth, “proposed definitively” (definitive proponuntur) to be “firmly embraced and held” (now Canon 750.2). So both the dogmas and the infallible (definitive) doctrines that are secondary truths, require an assent of faith, though there is a distinction between theological faith and ecclesial faith.

    THE CATEGORY 3 TRUTHS ARE NON-DEFINITIVE (NON-INFALLIBLE) AND REQUIRE INTELLECTUAL ASSENT, Lumen Gentium, 25, not an assent of faith. (Canon 752).

    In a new doctrinal development, Vatican II declared what may be summarized as “Non-Catholics have a right to immunity from coercion in propagating their religion publicly” (to the extent that it does not violate public order). [Dignitatis Humanae, # 2-3, 10].

  154. cheekypinkgirl says:

    I want many of the commenters here to know that all over the Catholic blogosphere in the last couple of days, regular Catholics are absolutely scandalized by the commbox on this entry.

    Some, like me, think the superior, theology-read few are trying to tell the rest of us unenlightened pions that our own salvation as Catholics is in jeopardy. Others have observed from this commbox that the “rad trads” think they are the only ones worthy of being saved. And overall, it would seem that no matter what Father Z has said on the matter (and YES, I recognize that he’s not the pope, but I do respect his priestly educational background), that some here are actually gleeful at the prospect of a hell filled with Protestants who were baptised and who lived according to the teachings of Christ.

    I, for one, read this commbox and walked away in absolute fear for my own salvation, when previously I felt reasonably assured of a chance to get into, at least, purgatory, based upon a basic obedience to the precepts of the Catholic faith. I do not understand why that is not enough for these people and why they feel so happy and excited as they cast out their judgements.

  155. Thomist says:

    cheekypinkgirl
    That is why it is so important for Catholics to Study the teaching for themselves, and understand what Fr Z, and other faithful writers, have explained.

    Playing at magisterium and denigrating the Popes and Ecumenical Councils is par for the course for the dissenters — it smacks of Karl Rahner’s “parallel magisterium”. We all need to study so that we can be faithful apologists.

  156. ALL: I particularly enjoyed Mark Shea‘s comment about the discussion going on here and elsewhere in the blogosphere.


    Fr. Z…
    tackles the “Can people not in visible union with the Church be saved?” question. The short answer is “Yes.” Comboxers who dislike the short answer and who feel a strange longing to make sure as few people as possible are saved get upset at Fr. Z, that damned liberal, as well as policing other readers to make sure they do not commit the grave sin of Hope. The curious notion that the sacraments were intended as reducing valves to keep as many people out of heaven as possible is one of the odder quirks of the uber-Traditional subculture. I’ve never understood it.

    In case you are interested, I tackled a similar question here, and also received the wrath of folks who can’t stand the idea that God’s mercy might be wider than theirs.

     

  157. robtbrown says:

    robtbrown, Bender:
    Re: limbus, St. Joseph:

    Not the death on the Cross opened the gate of Heaven finaly, but the *RESURRECTION*!

    CHrist the Lord was the first Who entered Heaven [He shall be the first in and of all!].

    Before his *resurrection* all justified waited in limbo patrum.

    Only after the *resurrection* they could go to Heaven.

    (Btw, that´s a clear teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium, so I think it´s infallible – but at least much clearer and less doubtfull than the teachings of Vat.II are infallible teachings of the ordinary mag. ;-)

    1. Was the Redemption accomplished through Christ’s Passion and Death?

    From the Catechism:

    571 The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished “once for all”313 by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ.

    So it would seem that, according to you, the Ordinary Universal Magisterium didn’t find its way into the new Catechism. I recommend that you read the Letter to the Hebrews and the Letter to the Romans (esp the 5th chapter, which links sin to death and grace to life).

    You might also want to consult the Synoptic Gospels.

    2. That the Redemption was accomplished by Christ’s Suffering and Death is why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is so important.

    3. Further, as noted above by others, Christ’s descent into Hell occurred before His Resurrection. This is plainly stated in the Credo.

    4. And of course, there are now souls in heaven whose bodies have not yet been Resurrected.

  158. danphunter1 says:

    robtbrown,

    I consulted a theology professor priest friend at the FSSP seminary in Denton Nebraska and here is what he said:
    “I checked out the Ludwig Ott book, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, and he says: “The purpose of the descent into Hell was, according to the general teaching of Theologians, the freeing of the just in Limbo by the application of the fruits of the Redemption, that is, by the communication of the Beatific Vision.” pg 192 last paragraph; and there is a citation there for St. Thomas Aquinas, III (third part) question 52, article 5; and from the Roman Catechism I, 6, 6. Now, regarding St. Joseph, he may well have enjoyed special grace because of his cooperation, but I have found no such information.”

  159. danphunter1 says:

    “…some here are actually gleeful at the prospect of a hell filled with Protestants who were baptised and who lived according to the teachings of Christ.”
    Cheekypinkgirl,
    I am sorry that you came away with that impression, but I have reread the posts here and have not come across any hint of glee at the thought of anyone going to Hell.
    Almighty God Wills that all men come to the knowledge of Truth and are saved.
    So we cannot desire anything less.

  160. Brian Kelly says:

    After 157 comments I’m a bit late in adding to the discussion. I don’t want to contribute a theological argument about Saint Benedict Center’s defense of the literal meaning of the thrice-defined dogma, “No salvation outside the Church,” I do, however, wish to correct a misunderstanding that one blogger (certainly others, too) had, or may have, about the conditions surrounding the several SBC groups’ regularization with the visible hierarchic Catholic Church.

    Note: There was no requirement that the religious members of Saint Benedict Center (Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) disavow their commitment not only to hold but to teach the salvation doctrine as it was defined. Nor was there a requirement to accept the theological opinion pertaining to the possibility of a baptism in/of desire. Father Feeney had very defensible and discerning reasons why he felt that baptism of water, after the promulgation of the gospel, was absolutely necessary for salvation; however, he did not consider his position on this matter to be immutable, as of the Faith. He was very concerned that the visible and incarnational means that Jesus established for man’s salvation were being substituted in modern times by armchair theologians with speculative theories regarding the salvific efficacy of invisible and subjective “dispositions” of soul.

    I am well acquainted with all of the concerned groups at Saint Benedict Center, both those in Still River, MA, and the community in Richmond, NH. None of the four, including the group that became Benedictine in 1972, were required to abandon the doctrinal position to which they were always dedicated as religious. “No salvation outside the Church” is still taught and preached by each of these religious communities with Rome’s, at least permissive, approbation. This may seem hard for some to believe, but Rome’s paternal, and may I say perennial, wisdom on this issue is more comprehensive than the narrow-mindedness of many who do not speak for Church but only for themselves.

    In verification of what I have just written about the assumed “condition” (recantation of the doctrinal position) — that was not a condition — I refer the reader to two letters from the Worcester, MA, diocesan chancellor (and doctor of canon law), the late Father Lawrence Deery, in which he affirms the Center’s absolute “Catholicity” and the current, tolerant policy of the Vatican viz a viz the Center’s right to defend the exclusive understanding of the Church’s salvation dogma. In addition, there is a thorough and exact analysis (see below) written by Peter Vere, a highly reputable Catholic canon lawyer who is currently teaching at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, which affirms that Saint Benedict Center has the green light from Rome to teach the doctrine of salvation as Father Feeney himself defended it. These important documents and the impartial analysis of Mr. Vere can be found on the Center’s website here.

  161. robtbrown says:

    danphunter1,

    I spent four years teaching theology at Denton, commuting there to teach block courses. I had to stop because of a family situation.

    BTW, when I was on the faculty, I was the only one with a doctorate in theology.

  162. Thomist says:

    Dissenters reject the Magisterium by their selfism. Pride has always been the stumbling block.

    The definitions of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), Pope Boniface VIII in 1302 and the Council of Florence (1442) were associated with combating defections from Catholic unity and refuting heresies. The Council of Trent (16th century) solemnly defined the dogma of baptism by desire, recognizing “that actual membership of Christ’s Church is not required to reach one’s eternal destiny.” (Fr John A Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, 1975, p235).

    Pius IX, the Pope of Vatican I which declared the Dogma of Papal Infallibility, in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (1863), is of one mind with Clement I and Vatican II: “There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace.”

    “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. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, land, native talents, and so many other factors” (Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quidem, 1863 A.D.).

  163. Brian Kelly says:

    Thomist,

    Trent did not define Baptism in Voto’s efficacy unto salvation, but unto justification (sanctification and removal of original sin) not for all, but for those catechumens who had perfect sorrow for sin. And who are they? Only God knows. But when one is baptized, that is visible, and unless the one being baptized is just pretending with no Faith, we can be certain that the baptized is justified. Hence, only the baptized could receive Holy Communion. I am surprised that Father Hardon would write that in his catechism. In all the theology books I’ve read, BOD (as sufficient for salvation) is given various statuses, but never de fide definita. Check Pohle-Preuss and Father Ott. When it comes to justification, it is most reasonable that a catechumen could be justified prior to baptism, otherwise his good works would not be done in grace, hence not meritorious as to storing up treasure in heaven. And, as you know, by catechumen I mean anyone who believes in Jesus Christ with an integral divine Faith, and desires Christ’s baptism. Actually Trent did not use the word “desire” but “in voto” (vowed intent); it’s more intense than a mere desiderium. And, again, who knows but God, who has this voto. It is in this sense that Saint Thomas wrote (in his Supplementum on the sacraments — of which he only covered two himself) that God’s grace is not tied to the sacrament. However, God is bound by His word. God can bind Himself. So, Father Feeney believed that He had in Jesus’ pronouncement on baptism in John 3:5. And, again, in Our Lord mandate to teach all nations, He tells the Church to teach all nations and baptize. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be condemned.

    Finally, concerning Baptism in desire, prior to Saint Augustine no saint taught it, not even Saint Ambrose as alleged. If Ambrose had done so then surely his disciple, Augustine, would have cited him as an authority when he first speculated about it. He did not. There was silence in the West on this issue of BOD until Saints Bernard and Thomas, both of whom cite Augustine and Ambrose (funeral oration for Valentinian), promoted it. Lo and behold in his later writings Saint Augustine recanted his opinion on BOD. (The fathers and doctors of the East never accepted it, by the way.)

    The fact that Karl Rahner was a liberal does not derogate from his scholarship. Here is what he wrote about Saint Augustine and BOD:

    “…we have to admit…that the testimony of the Fathers, with regard to the possibility of salvation for someone outside the Church, is very weak. Certainly even the ancient Church knew that the grace of God can be found also outside the Church and even before Faith. But the view that such divine grace can lead man to his final salvation without leading him first into the visible Church, is something, at any rate, which met with very little approval in the ancient Church. For, with reference to the optimistic views on the salvation of catechumens as found in many of the Fathers, it must be noted that such a candidate for baptism was regarded in some sense or other as already ‘Christianus’, and also that certain Fathers, such as Gregory Nazianzen 57 and Gregory of Nyssa 58 deny altogether the justifying power of love or of the desire for baptism. Hence it will be impossible to speak of a consensus dogmaticus in the early Church regarding the possibility of salvation for the non-baptized, and especially for someone who is not even a catechumen. In fact, even St. Augustine, in his last (anti-pelagian) period, no longer maintained the possibility of a baptism by desire. 59 ” (8)

    8. Rahner, Karl, Theological Investigations, Volume II, Man in the Church, Translated by Karl H. Kruger, pp.40,41, 57 Or. 40, 23 (PG 36, 3890), 58 ‘Sermo contra dilationem Baptismi’ (PG 46, 424), 59 Cf. Fr. Hoffmann, Der Kirchenbegriff des hl. Augustinus (Munich 1933), pp.221 sqq., 381 sqq., 464 sqq., New York, The Seabury Press, 1975.

    The teaching of Pope Pius IX is not contrary to what Father Feeney taught on No salvation outside the Church. “Divine light and grace” is nothing if it is not supernatural, which would mean that the justified must believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation, at least. Thus taught Saint Thomas also, very insistently n fact. Nor will God allow someone to “tormented” (in suppliciis, as in Quanta Conficiamur) for not believing (invincible ignorance) what they had never heard. The pope did not say that they would not be “punished” as it comes to us in false translation. If he had, he would have denied limbo. Saint Thomas insists that everlasting torments are reserved for those who offend against the natural law habitually, and thus placed obstacles to having the grace of a missionary. Of course this discussion could go on and on. It is important that one understand the real teaching of Father Feeney, not others’ impressions or exaggerations. I never met a priest who had more charity, more desire to populate heaven, than Father Feeney.

  164. Thomist says:

    Brian Kelly
    “I am surprised that Father Hardon would write that in his catechism.”

    You shouldn’t be.
    Fr John Hardon can be relied upon for the truth, which you can find also here:
    http://outsidethechurchnosalvation.blogspot.com/search/label/Baptism%20of%20Desire
    (Ludovicus)
    On the Council of Trent, from the decree on Justification:

    “By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

    What possible reason could the council of Trent have for saying that justification cannot take place without “the laver of regeneration”, i.e., baptism by water, OR THE DESIRE THEREOF, if not to say that in fact in some cases the desire itself for baptism is sufficient for justification? There does not seem to be another reasonable interpretation.

    This is how St. Alphonsus Liguori interprets this text.
    Baptism, therefore, coming from a Greek word that means washing or immersion in water, is distinguished into Baptism of water, of spirit, and of blood. … But Baptism of spirit is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment. It is called ‘of spirit’ because it takes place by the impulse of the Holy Spirit. Now it is de fide that men are also saved by Baptism of spirit, by virtue of the Canon Apostolicam, ‘de presbytero non baptizato’ and of the Council of Trent, session 6, Chapter 4 where it is said that no one can be saved ‘without the laver of regeneration or the desire.

    This text, however, is not the only place where the council of Trent speaks concerning the desire for baptism. In the decree on the sacraments, which is introduced as being necessary “to complete the saving doctrine on justification,” the fourth general canon on the sacraments says the following:
    CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, OR WITHOUT THE DESIRE THEREOF, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.”

    The council of Trent is clearly saying two things: that the sacraments are necessary for salvation, and that the grace of justification is given only through the sacrament or the desire thereof. The clearest example of this given in the council is that of the sacrament of penance, where it is explicitly stated that one may receive the grace of justification before actually receiving the sacrament itself, through the desire for the sacrament.

    In the Catechism of the Council of Trent, we read:
    On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.

  165. NatumdeMaria says:

    I generally answer this question beginning with “no.”

    The Church explicitly teaches “extra ecclesiam nulla salus.” Therefore, the answer is first: no.

    However, we can have hope that those who hold to an invincible ignorance of the true faith may be given a sort-of spiritual Communion through Christ with Holy Mother Church. This would make these people members of Holy Church through an invisible Communion.

    If baptized validly, you are baptized into Holy Mother Church, for there is only one true Church to be baptized into.

    A strict warning we ought to give, however: any person who fools themselves in saying “I have invincible ignorance,” as an excuse to remain outside of this Holy Ark will perish. For, they know the truth, yet they run from it.

    No one can “not worry about” remaining ignorant about the Catholic Church by their own fault simply because they hope that they might just share in this sort-of spiritual Communion.

    Don’t let anyone use this hope as an excuse to remain ignorant. Not every ignorance is an invincible one.

    P.S., the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary would say that we may hold this hope at this time, for it is neither condemned nor defined.

  166. Thomist says:

    Extra ecclesiam, nulla salus (literally, “outside the Church, there is no salvation”).

    The Church has explicitly taught that “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of His Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 1990, 10).

  167. Brian Kelly says:

    Thomist writes that I should not be surprised that Father Hardon places Baptism of/in desire on a de fide level. I knew that Saint Alphonsus did, but no other theologian (Hardon excepted) did so. They are simply both wrong. That is not a judgment on the holiness or brilliance. God forbid. Who am I? All I am saying is that baptism of desire is not defined IN TERMS OF SALVATION. I thought I made that clear when I wrote: “When it comes to justification, it is most reasonable that a catechumen could be justified prior to baptism, otherwise his good works would not be done in grace, hence not meritorious as to storing up treasure in heaven.” I cannot disagree with Trent definition of justification. It is de fide. Thomist is equating justification with salvation. It has never been defined that baptism of desire is sufficient for salvation. But, of course, it is also a dogma, that all who die in the state of grace are saved. Question remains: Who knows who is justified and who isn’t, prior to baptism? Question remains: Will God’s providence allow that anyone He justifies die (accidentally?) without the character of His Son as a member of His Body, the Church? Father Feeney answered “No.” God will provide. Jesus’ word to Nicodemus must always hold true. God is bound by His word. This was Father Feeney’s opinion. And, he was a member of the Church in good standing while he held and taught this doctrine, after 1972. Such is also the situation today for the regularized groups of Saint Benedict Center.

  168. Thomist says:

    Brian Kelly
    “Father Hardon places Baptism of/in desire on a de fide level. I knew that Saint Alphonsus did, but no other theologian (Hardon excepted) did so. They are simply both wrong….baptism of desire is not defined IN TERMS OF SALVATION.”

    False. Neither are “wrong”, but rather all of those who deny Vatican II and all the Popes before who do not teach that one has to be a Catholic to be saved. In the three decrees the dissenters cite there was no mention of those who have not heard the message.

    Those who, through no fault of their own, have never known Christ or his Church can still be saved. But their salvation, too, is the effect of Jesus working through his Church. In a positive sense, this theological principle “means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body” (CCC 846).

    Pope St. Pius X Catechism, Question 132 – Will a person outside the Church be saved? It is a most serious loss to be outside the Church, because outside one does not have either the means which have been established or the secure guidance which has been set up for eternal salvation, which is the one thing truly necessary for man. A person outside the Church by his own fault, and who dies without perfect contrition, will not be saved. but he who finds himself outside without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the love called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the Church, that is, to the soul of the Church.

    Pope St. Pius X Catechism, Question 280 – If Baptism is necessary for all men, is no one saved without Baptism? – Without Baptism no one can be saved. However, when it is impossible to receive baptism of water, the baptism of blood suffices, that is, martyrdom suffered for Jesus Christ; and also the baptism of desire suffices, which is the love of God by charity, desiring to make use of the means of salvation instituted by God.

    None of the Popes for the last 140 years say that one who is truly outside the Church, can be saved. If one is linked to this Church by desire, and responds to the grace that God gives them, then one can be saved. This is from not only Popes St. Pius, IX, St. Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II, but a declaration from the valid Ecumenical Council, Vatican II — binding on all Catholics.

  169. dspecht says:

    Thomist:

    Your answers are not to the point (or not exactly tho the point I made resp. do not beat and invalidate this point).

    I do not deny that category1 and category2 – teachings are infallible and therefore you must stick to them with Divine and/or Ecclesiastical faith and can not reject them.

    But as youselfe say there are cat.3-teachings that are “NON-INFALLIBLE” but “REQUIRE INTELLECTUAL ASSENT”. To those I was referring when speaking of “authentic teachings … that you have to observe religiously…but are not infallible and therefore … you can critizise – – and even reject them … if the reasons are very grave.” (cf. above).

    The Vatican II- teaching that you cited (Lumen Gentium # 25: “This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given…”) referred exactly to that category (and does not exclude the rejection if the reasons are grave enough).

    Although you have to follow this teachings via/by “loyal submission of the will” and “intellectual assent” in principle, there can be cases where a competent observer comes to the conclusion that they are wrong and are to be rejected (cf. f.e. OTT — Ludwig Ott, handbook of dogmatics, introduction).

    Such a rejection would not be a dissent from something that is to be believed fide Divina vel Catholica/Eccl.
    Yes, Donum Veritatis # 36 – as quoted by you – dealt with such a dissent, because of speaking of “the act of faith” the “moral obligation to accept the truth” – so it deals with category1 and 2 – teachings.

    But because I dealt with cat.3 – teachings it is not to my point (that still stands).

  170. dspecht says:

    Thomist:

    Donum Veritatis deals not only with cat.1 and 2 -teachings, but also with cat.3 -teachings, so not only with dissent re faith, but also with dissent or rejection re/of non-infallible teachings.

    Re this cat.3 -teachings it does not exclude the contradiction and rejection of theologians totally and absolutely, but in contrast, it says quite the contrary, although beeing very cautiouse and seserved (as I admit — so f.e. normally a theolgian should not do so publically, at least not untimely etc. – “untimely public expression”, as DV # 27 reads).

    Cf. esp. ## 24-31 of DV
    Let´s quote some passages:

    24. […] The willingness to submit loyally to the teaching of the Magisterium on matters per se not irreformable must be the rule. It can happen, however, that a theologian may, according to the case, raise questions regarding […] even the contents of magisterial interventions. Here the theologian will need, first of all, to assess accurately the authoritativeness of the interventions which becomes clear from the nature of the documents, the insistence with which a teaching is repeated, and the very way in which it is expressed.(24)
    […]
    25. Even when collaboration takes place under the best conditions, the possibility cannot be excluded that tensions may arise between the theologian and the Magisterium. […] If tensions do not spring from hostile and contrary feelings, they can become a dynamic factor, a stimulus to both the Magisterium and theologians to fulfill their respective roles while practicing dialogue.

    26. […] When it is a question of differences which do not jeopardize this communion, the “unity of charity” (unitas caritatis) should be safeguarded.

    27. Even if the doctrine of the faith is not in question, the theologian will not present his own opinions or divergent hypotheses as though they were non-arguable conclusions. […]

    28. The preceding considerations have a particular application to the case of the theologian who might have serious difficulties, for reasons which appear to him wellfounded, in accepting a non-irreformable magisterial teaching.
    […]
    30. If, despite a loyal effort on the theologian’s part, the difficulties persist, the theologian has the duty to make known to the Magisterial authorities the problems raised by the teaching in itself, in the arguments proposed to justify it, or even in the manner in which it is presented. He should do this in an evangelical spirit and with a profound desire to resolve the difficulties. His objections could then contribute to real progress and provide a stimulus to the Magisterium to propose the teaching of the Church in greater depth and with a clearer presentation of the arguments.
    […]
    31. It can also happen that at the conclusion of a serious study, undertaken with the desire to heed the Magisterium’s teaching without hesitation, the theologian’s difficulty remains because the arguments to the contrary seem more persuasive to him. Faced with a proposition to which he feels he cannot give his intellectual assent, the theologian nevertheless has the duty to remain open to a deeper examination of the question.

  171. Thomist says:

    dspecht
    “The Vatican II- teaching that you cited (Lumen Gentium # 25: “This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given…”) referred exactly to that category (and does not exclude the rejection if the reasons are grave enough).

    “Although you have to follow this teachings via/by “loyal submission of the will” and “intellectual assent” in principle, there can be cases where a competent observer comes to the conclusion that they are wrong and are to be rejected (cf. f.e. OTT — Ludwig Ott, handbook of dogmatics, introduction).”

    Frighteningly naïve. Of course Vatican II does not need to “exclude the rejection” — for any reason. The teaching is doctrine not dogma, and no anathema need be declared. Ott cannot trump either Vatican II, which developed doctrine after Ott wrote, nor Donum Veritatis (DV), CDF 1990. So no “competent observer”, nor theologian, can choose to conclude that such doctrine is “wrong” and worse, “to be rejected”.

    The assent required of category 3 is “religious submission of will and intellect” which “must be understood within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience of faith.” (DV 23).

    It is worthy of note that “In any case there should never be a diminishment of that fundamental openness loyally to accept the teaching of the Magisterium as is fitting for every believer by reason of the obedience of faith….” (DV 29)….”with the certainty, that if the truth really is at stake, it will ultimately prevail.” (DV 31).

    Dissent is totally untenable.
    There has never been, and is no, “licit dissent” as Pope John Paul II has confirmed: “It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a ‘good Catholic’ and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops of the United States and elsewhere.” [Meeting with US Bishops at Our Lady Queen of Angels Minor Seminary, Los Angeles, Sept 16, 1987].

  172. dspecht says:

    Thomist,

    Again: Lumen Gentium 25 deals with cat.3-teachings, that are not infallible.

    I quote youselfe [see above, 27. Oct. 5:31]: “THE CATEGORY 3 TRUTHS ARE NON-DEFINITIVE (NON-INFALLIBLE) AND REQUIRE INTELLECTUAL ASSENT, Lumen Gentium, 25, not an assent of faith. (Canon 752).”

    So if not infallible, why do you exclude the possibility that they could be wrong?? — If you can exclude this possibility 100% then you declare them as infallible!!

    So what should that be, an non-infallible teaching that on the other hand can not be wrong?!? – If not infallible, then you can not exclude the possibility of error absolutely, with absolute (100%) certainty – and so not the possibility of rejection and correction.

    If you can exclude the possibility of error with absolute certainty – and so the possibility of rejection and correction – than you make the (allegedly non-infallible) teaching an infallible one.

    Why this confusion of the categories??! [Btw., if you had not left out the beginning of DV 31 you and all could see that DV31 is not an argument against my position but rather favours it (granted that DV 31 speaks of suffering in silence, ok.)! So why also this??!]

  173. Thomist says:

    dspecht
    “So if not infallible, why do you exclude the possibility that they could be wrong??
    Why this confusion of the categories??!”
    You equate the remote possibility that a category 3 doctrine MIGHT be wrong with your emphatic assertion that “there can be cases where a competent observer comes to the conclusion that they are wrong and are to be rejected” (cf. f.e. OTT — Ludwig Ott, handbook of dogmatics, introduction). [ 4 November 2010 at 10:48 am ]

    Donum Veritatis (The Instruction On The Ecclesial Vocation Of The Theologian) [DV] emphatically rejects such rejection.
    “…even if he “FEELS he cannot give his intellectual assent, the theologian nevertheless has the DUTY to remain open to a deeper examination of the question.” [DV 31].

    Notice the “feels” which indicates something less than real reason, and “duty” which indicates a responsibility and obligation, hardly concomitant with approval of “rejection” because of being “wrong”, and this for a theologian.

    There is absolutely no reason to assume from the Magisterium that any “competent observer” can reject or declare wrong a doctrine which requires loyal submission of the will and intellect. (Vatican II). That’s the crux of the matter.

    When it is public opposition to the Magisterium, it is dissent, which is never licit. This has caused much confusion and loss of fidelity within the Church since Vatican II.

  174. Maltese says:

    I of all am most sympathetic to this issue. I was an atheist, and came from a Masonic-generational father and non-church going Protestant mother.

    Maybe that was the die that cast me into the Traditionalist I am today. But I hater I am not; I have Jewish, black, Protestant, atheistic, etc. friends. I only say that to shed light on what I am about to say. I don’t think it’s hateful to express to others that the surest path to salvation is Catholicism. In fact, to gently nudge one’s friends into the Church is the greatest act of Charity. Of course, being a jerk about it will have the opposite of the desired result. You can draw a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. We are endowed by Almighty God with a fierce free-will.

    God set-up the Church and the Seven Sacraments for a specific reason. The “universal-salvation” crowd within the Church is oblivious, sometimes, to that fact. If it were so easy to be saved, why the bother of the Sacrifice?

    Here the Divine Armor, at page 654, explains the Seven Sacraments. These were instituted for our Salvation.

    “…The disciples therefore were glad, when they saw the Lord. He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.” John 20:20-23

    Confession is God’s blessing to us. Why relegate it as it is part of our Tradition, and part of the Bible? Yet, relegate it we do.

    My point is, whether extra ecclesiam allows for exceptions based on a “baptism of desire” or “baptism by blood” or not, the truth remains that Christ, who founded a very specifically ordered Church, instituted that Church and its Sacraments for a very specific reason: our Salvation.