Friday, June 24, 2011

The Feeneyite FAQ

For a number of reasons. The most obvious is simply that it is the foundational docrine of the Church. If there IS salvation outside the Church, than she becomes a rather pointless organisation, ultimately. Even if her doctrines ARE true, what does it matter if you don't need to believe them to be saved? You'll find out for yourself once you go to heaven. Beyond that, though, the witnesses to the literal truth of this doctrine---from Christ Himself in the Gospels, to the Father and doctors, Popes and Councils, at their most solemn---are such that if this doctrine is not true, the whole of the Church's teachings, indeed, of the Divinity of Christ, to which the Church is the only certain witness---lose their credibility. We see of course the concrete results of loss of belief in this doctrine to-day. Bereft of a real reason for both the Church they serve and their own vocations, priests and religious attempt to reorient both to other causes---political, social, cultural, or whatever. Some of these efforts do have a a value in themselves, but many are actually practical denials of the Faith. Since we no longer believe in the need to "save souls," missionary and evangelising efforts have decayed to the point of near-irrelevance. And all doctrines have been called into question, since none are better or more authoritatively attested than "Extra Ecclesiam nulla Salus." If that one is false, why not the others? It is the denial of this doctrine which is at the root of our problem as a Church (although there are very many other contributing factors). Beside this, there is the fact that we are required, individually, to believe Christ's revelation ourselves if we are to save our own souls. Since this doctrine is part of that revelation, we must spread it as well as hold it.

2. Aren't there better causes to fight for such as the restoration of the Tridentine Mass?

The restoration of the Tridentine Mass by itself, while a great help, would not solve our problems. Its greatness is not to be found primarily in its beauty or solemnity, but in its clear expression of the DOCTRINAL reality of the Mass---just as a failure to do so is the real problem with the Novus Ordo. But that doctrinal reality, as just mentioned, has come into question---and that is the real reason why the Traditional Mass had to go. "Speaking of how to pray, dogmas come first, not liturgies." Many of those who have caused the most damage, such as the late Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., happily said the Tridentine Mass for most of their careers. The Mass said by Fr. Martin Luther was so similar that the average layperson of to-day assisting him in 16th century Wittenberg would notice little difference from the Tridentine. But just as Luther's eventual abandonment of the Mass was a symptom rather than a cause of his heresy, so it is to-day. And fighting the liturgical symptoms without addressing the doctrinal roots of our problems is like putting a silk robe on a leper.

3. What if the person has never heard of the Catholic Church but lives a good life?

If such a person is truly of good will (that is, to a greater or lesser degree has a love of truth which is greater than their love of self), God will somehow get the Faith to him before he dies---we have seen this from the time of the Ethiopian eunuch in the Book of Acts down to the present day. But good will is a rare thing (those of us who go to confession know this). Further, we must beware of the phrase "good life." Since none of us can know (as the Council of Trent teaches infallibly) whether or not we ourselves are in a state of Grace---the only definition of a good life that has any meaning---we are not in a position to evaluate the spiritual position of anyone else. As Our Lord said, "none is good save he who does the will of my father in heaven."

4. But didn't certain Saints believe in Baptism of Desire including Ambrose, Augustine, and Aquinas?

St. Ambose certainly did not. Many people interpret one speech of his (the oration over Valentinian) to mean that he did. But it is known historically that his words at that time were meant to both comfort his audience and conceal what he knew about a certain political sias Christ commanded, and go forth to all nations, baptising and teaching them all things He taught us. It would be far kinder to leave them in their ignorance, which is so much easier to keep than our Catholic Faith with all its rules.

"The Church has never accepted even the most holy and most eminent Doctor,
and does not now accept even a single one of them, as the principal
source of truth. The Church certainly considers Thomas and Augustine
great Doctors, and she accords them the highest praise; but she
recognizes infallibility only in the inspired authors of the Sacred
Scriptures. By divine mandate, the interpreter and guardian of the Sacred
Scriptures, depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church
alone is the entrance to salvation; she alone, by herself, and under the
protection and guidance of the Holy Ghost, is the source of truth."

Pope Pius XII
Allocution to the Gregorian University, Oct. 17, 1953

"The custom of the Church has very great authority, and ought to be
jealously observed in all things, since the very doctrine of Catholic
doctors derives its authority from the Church. Hence, we ought to abide
by the authority of the Church rather than by that of an Augustine or a
Jerome or of any doctor whatsoever."

Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica, II-II, q.10, art.12

"It would be a serious abuse to replace the Word of God with the word of
man, no matter who the author might be."

Pope John Paul II
Dominicae Cenae, Feb. 24, 1980

"I hereby condemn as heretical the notion that when anyone finds a
doctrine clearly established in St. Augustine, he may absolutely hold and
teach it, disregarding any Bull of the Pope."

Pope Alexander VIII
Denzinger 1320

"None of the faithful should have extraordinary opinions proposed to them,not even from Catholic doctors; instead, they should listen to those opinions which have the most certain criteria of Catholic truth:
universality, antiquity, and unanimity."

Clement XIII
In Dominico Agro

5. And what about those Saints in the martyrology who were not baptized with water?

These are inevitably termed as "catechumens." Now we think of catechumen as always meaning unbaptised. But according to the testimony of St. Ambrose and others, many catechumens continued to learn the Faith after Baptism, and so continued to be called catechumens. Many of these were martyred. Others were arrested before baptism, and so are referred to as catechumens on that count. But we know that it was early Church practise to baptise immediately upon arrest---even in prison, and even infant children of prisoners (which, incidentally, is one of our proofs against the Baptists that the early Church did practise infant Baptism, even if it was not the general rule it later became). There are a few examples (St. Emerentiana, St. Alban) which mention the unbaptised dying as martyrs and going to heaven anyway, in a sort of baptism of blood. But these accounts are garbled, (the one involving St. Alban actually seeming to imply that a fountain of water sprang up miraculously for---it is not stated explicitly, but what else than baptism)? Moreover, "baptised in one's own blood" was a turn of phrase---like "baptised in Turk's blood," as was often written of the Crusaders. In any case, the Martyrology. from whence these stories come, is neither infallible nor a doctrinal text.

6. What if the person is "invincibly ignorant" and has no way of knowing that the Church is the sole means of Salvation?

As with the person of "good life," it is not up to us to judge on the supposed "invincibility" of someone's ignorance. If that person is of goodwill, God will get the Faith to him. But the implication here is that ignorance is salvific. Surely it exonerates one from the immediate sin of not joining the Church, as Pius IX taught. But that is a negative thing. Christ taught that Baptism is necessary for salvation "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." The Athanasian Creed, accepted as Infallible by the Church, begins with the warning: "Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith, except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly." Were ignorance capable of saving one, it would be the cruelest thing to do as Christ commanded, and go forth to all nations, baptising and teaching them all things He taught us. It would be far kinder to leave them in their ignorance, which is so much easier to keep than our Catholic Faith with all its rules.

7. But doesn't the Council of Trent teach Baptism of Desire?

Not at all. It declares that the "Votum" (vow, NOT mere desire) to baptised can justify one. But it does not say that one can be saved that way. Justification is the state of being pleasing to God, of having one's sins forgiven---such as you and I are when we step out of the confessional. But that is certainly not the same as being saved. The proof of this is that Trent anathematises anyone who would "make a metaphor" of Our Lord's words, "Unless a man be born again..." That means we must take that phrase----a phrase which does not permit exceptions---literally. Certainly, no one will claim that Baptism of Desire is anything more than a metaphor. What is forgotten here is that Baptism does not just forgive sins. It directly applies the merits of Christ's death to the individual soul; it makes of the baptised person a "new creature" (no longer a member of fallen humanity, which of its nature cannot enter into heaven, he becomes a member of redeemed humanity, which can); it places an indelible mark on the soul; it grafts him into the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ; and it infuses knowledge of the Truth in a sub- or superintellectual manner---and all of these are necessary to enter into Heaven. An individual who is in the state of justification but has not received these other effects, is like one of the just of the Old Testament. Their sins were forgiven them; but they could not ascend to Heaven precisely because they were sons of Adam. They had to be united to Christ, because "no one ascends to the Father except through me." This union was accomplished for them by Christ when He "descended into hell," as we say in the Apostle's Creed. For those of us in the New Law, that can only happen through Baptism. Of course, it is far easier for us than for the Old Law people, who had no sacramental graces.

8. But the last few Popes believe that non-Catholics can be saved? Are you smarter or holier than the Pope?

Regardless of what Popes believe as private individuals, Catholics must believe what has been solemnly defined in the past. There have been a few Popes who have taught or held varous heresies---but as they did not attempt to pronounce them ex cathedra, infallibility is not threatened. When faced with such situations, the Catholics is obliged to stick with defined dogma, even if the Pope does not appear to. We may not judge the Pope; but we are responsible before God for our own beliefs and actions. It does not matter in this case if the Pope is holier and smarter than I am. His holiness and intelligence will not follow me to the Judgment---only my decisions will. 9. But what about the Baltimore Catechism and Vatican II? The Baltimore Catechism is not infallible. It was the creation of James Cardinal Gibbons, 19th century Archbishop of Baltimore and a notorious Americanist (a heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1893). His Eminence intended it to replace more orthodox catechisms---like St. John Neumann's---which did not menton desire. Vatican II was not a doctrinal council. It neither defined dogma nor anathematised those who disagreed. Such men as Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., who were experts there, admittedly lobbied to change Church teaching, and planted "time bombs" in the documents. These were open-ended statements, vague enough to mollify the orthodox, but also able to be seized upon by the radicals after the Council as mandates to do whatever they chose. At Vatican II's end, Paul VI, aware that there was contradiction between the Council and prior teaching, declared that if such contradictions were perceived, the given document must be interpreted by prior tradition. Neither the Baltimore Catechism nor Vatican II could reverse prior dogmatic definitions.

9. But what about the Baltimore Catechism and Vatican II?

The Baltimore Catechism is not infallible. It was the creation of James Cardinal Gibbons, 19th century Archbishop of Baltimore and a notorious Americanist (a heresy condemned by Pope Leo XIII in 1893). His Eminence intended it to replace more orthodox catechisms---like St. John Neumann's---which did not menton desire. Vatican II was not a doctrinal council. It neither defined dogma nor anathematised those who disagreed. Such men as Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., who were experts there, admittedly lobbied to change Church teaching, and planted "time bombs" in the documents. These were open-ended statements, vague enough to mollify the orthodox, but also able to be seized upon by the radicals after the Council as mandates to do whatever they chose. At Vatican II's end, Paul VI, aware that there was contradiction between the Council and prior teaching, declared that if such contradictions were perceived, the given document must be interpreted by prior tradition. Neither the Baltimore Catechism nor Vatican II could reverse prior dogmatic definitions.

10. Protestants can have valid Baptism. How do you know that they are not simply "material heretics", therefore still be part of the Catholic Church?

Because they themselves would reject any such identification. There are three marks of a Catholic: subjection to the Pope, sacramental Communion withe Church, and adherence to the dogmas of the Faith. No one outside the Church has these three, and most would be insulted if you told them they were somehow members. They know they are not Catholics and do not pretend to be. On the other hand, validly baptised "Protestant" babies, until they reach the age of reason and begin to think of themselves as Protestants, are Catholics. Should they die before they reach that point, they go straight to heaven.

11. But isn't it wrong to judge others?

This is often quoted, apropos of very little. We are certainly supposed to discern --- that is a gift of the Holy Ghost! The actual quote from Our Lord is : "Judge not, lest ye be judged! Now, obviously this is not a warning against discerning right from wrong, good from evil, heresy from orthodoxy. Our Lord asked "What part have the children of light with the children of darkness?" This obviously requires some kind of evaluation on the part of the supposed child of light.

Even people who warn against judging do it themselves all the time. You would not have a convicted child molester baby-sit your children would you, nor hire a felon as your accountant? Yet are you not judging?

What Our Lord is warning us against is harsh judgements in areas where we ourselves may be guilty (a common human deed). You may certainly, if you study what the Churchës teaches, judge the heresy of another individual --- if you donët mind not being judged yourself, by God. Where we need to be careful is in judging the morals of others, and above all their intrinsic worth. The Council of Trent teaches that we cannot know absolutely if we are in the State of Grace or not. That being so, we are in a poor way to judge the moral standing of any but the most open of evil-livers.

And yet, how many people when faced with heresy will piously intone, "judge not" --- and then immediately attack the supposed moral foibles of others? The Inquisition was always far more just than the tribunal of gossip.

2 comments:

  1. Excellent FAQ!!!

    I did notice a couple of editorial gliches: 1. The answer to question 4, about the third line down somehow got displaced by the last part of the answer to question 6, leaving the thought on answer 4 incomplete.
    2. Question 9 and it's answer appears twice. At the end of answer 8 and then as Question 9.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Some of the things you said here are false.

    The sedevacantist position is the only true one right now.

    ReplyDelete