The Word of God, The Church and Salvation|
An Essay on the Dogma of Faith in response to a Parish Bulletin Statement and so much misinformation permeating every parish, chancery and the curia as well.
Stanford Gabriel Espedal
"Is there a single source that has caused all these woes? Yes, there is! The source of the whole breakdown in the Church is that our Pastors have “reduced to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the one, true Church in order to obtain salvation.”(Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis) The denial, or rather, undermining, of the thrice defined Dogma of the Faith, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church there is No Salvation) is the cause of every other evil in the Church today."
A Catholic parish bulletin can be a wonderful thing. It is more than just a source of church news, information, announcements of activities, etc. Above all, it provides the pastor with an ongoing opportunity to teach the Catholic Faith.
However, if a bulletin statement appears which promotes heresy, a Catholic has the duty to correct it. Protecting one’s own faith and charity toward one’s neighbor require this. One Sunday I found the following statement in my parish bulletin:
"THE WORD OF GOD
“Welcome the word [of God] that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21) This expression found in the scriptures was taken by early Christian writers, like Justin Martyr, to say that people who never heard the word of Christ could be saved. They did not know Jesus Christ, but because the word of God was revealed to Moses in the burning bush, they could be saved. “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired baptism explicitly if they had known of its necessity.” (CATECHISM 1260) Moses is found in our liturgical calendar and honored among the saints in heaven because he accepted the word of God that was revealed to him and lived according to it. He did not know the fullness of revelation, which would be found only later in Christ. Moses lived according to the word revealed to him and it was able to save his soul."
What are we to make of this? This paragraph fosters a serious confusion of two distinct strands within the teaching of the early Fathers of the Church on salvation, referring to the different requirements for salvation under the Old and New Testaments, respectively. The confusion results when one assumes, erroneously, that the possibility of salvation for Gentiles in Old Testament times can apply to persons outside the Church today. Further mention is made of Moses, which proves nothing about salvation outside the Church today. Then, in the middle of all this, an ambiguous passage is quoted from the new Catechism, which in turn was quoting from the non-defining documents of Vatican II. This passage contains, side by side, a half-truth and a gratuitous speculation. Hardly the stuff of binding dogmatic pronouncements!
The purpose of this essay is to distinguish the different strands of patristic teaching, clarify ambiguities, and demonstrate what our Holy Mother the Church has taught from the beginning about the necessity of union with her for salvation.
I. Answers to Fundamental Questions
The first question that arises upon reading the bulletin statement is, did St. Justin Martyr actually use this passage of Scripture, James 1:21, in the manner indicated, namely, that those who never heard the word of Christ can still be saved? The plain answer is, no. In fact, St. Justin never quoted at all from any passage of St. James! A Scripture Index check of his writings shows that while St. Justin quoted from almost every other book of the Bible from Genesis to the Apocalypse, he never quoted from the general epistle of St. James.
However, St. Irenaeus did make an interesting allusion to the passage in question. Let us first hear the passage from James, which will be reflected in the quote from Irenaeus. "Wherefore, casting aside all uncleanness and abundance of malice, with meekness receive the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls" James 1: 21. Now St. Irenaeus says: “And again, those persons who are not bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, and are, as it were, covered over and lost among brambles, if they use diligence, and receive the word of God as a graft, arrive at the pristine nature of man, that which was created after the image and likeness of God.” (Against Heresies, Book V, chapter X: 1) Notice the emphasis on actually receiving the word of God “as a graft,” “the engrafted word.” And how shall the word be received? How else, than by means of the one divinely appointed custodian of the word, the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church? And how shall it be engrafted? How else, than by the divinely appointed means: faith, and baptism into the Church? The teaching of St. Irenaeus is in full accord with the command of Christ: "Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16: 15-16). There is no question in any of this of people who never heard the word of Christ being saved! If I may offer the conclusion of this essay a bit in advance, such an idea is alien to the teaching of the Fathers, and as we shall see, they condemned it.
Now, since the bulletin statement accuses St. Justin of holding this idea, and many theological liberals and modernists similarly accuse him, let us turn to him and hear his testimony on the doctrine of salvation. The following is from the Dialogue of St. Justin Martyr with Trypho, the Jew:
"You deceive yourselves while you fancy that because you are the seed of Abraham after the flesh, therefore you shall fully inherit the good things announced to be bestowed by God through Christ. For no one, not even of them (i.e. of Abraham’s seed) has anything to look for, but only those who are assimilated to the faith of Abraham…So that it becomes you to eradicate this hope from your souls, and hasten to know in what way forgiveness of sins, and a hope of inheriting the promised good things shall be yours. But there is no other way than this; to become acquainted with this Christ, to be washed in the fountain spoken of by Isaiah for the remission of sins; and for the rest, to live sinless lives." (Dialogue, XLIV)
This, I think, suffices to show that for Justin, all who live since the coming of Christ must hear and believe the word of Christ and enter his Church through baptism, or they can never be saved. There is, as Justin says, “no other way!”
But what about the salvation of those who lived before Christ came into the world? Here we encounter a distinct strand of teaching, which nevertheless centers in Christ, insofar as both Israelites and Gentiles could know Him in Old Testament times. First I will summarize this teaching and then demonstrate it by quoting St. Justin.
Justin began with St. John’s statement that Christ, as the eternal Word (Logos) "enlightens every man who comes into the world" (John 1: 9). This was understood literally and held to be just as true before Christ came into the world as after. A Platonic philosopher, Justin thought of the Logos as a Platonic Universal: the creative Reason eternally existing in the mind of God. This Logos is not merely a divine attribute, but a distinct divine Person who is now incarnate in Jesus. (Note: Logos has a wide range of meaning in Greek, including “Reason”) All men are partakers of the Logos inasmuch as they possess reason. If men follow the guidance of reason in contemplating the created universe, they will be led to adore the one, eternal God. Furthermore, the knowledge of God’s special revelation, given to Israel through Moses, was not confined to Israel, but was known to the Gentiles as well.
It has always been the responsibility of every man to come to the knowledge of God and live according to His will, for the knowledge of God has been given to all from the beginning of creation. If they did this, by heeding the natural knowledge of God and the revelation given through Moses, then they were in reality heeding Christ, and would obtain their reward from Christ when He would descend into hell and lead them, on the day of his Ascension, to the happiness of Heaven. However, now that Christ has come and established the Church, all men must be led by grace to this one true Church and receive the washing of regeneration and partake of the Bread of Life within her- or else be lost forever. Thus we see two distinct strands of teaching, applying to the situation of men in the Old and New Testament eras respectively, but which both center in Christ.
Now let us hear St. Justin:
“But lest some should, without reason, and for the perversion of what we teach, maintain that we say that Christ was born one hundred fifty years ago under Cyrenius, and subsequently, in the time of Pontius Pilate, taught what we say he taught, and should cry out against us as though all men who were born before him were irresponsible- let us anticipate and solve the difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-born of God, and we have declared above that he is the Word (Logos), of whom every race of men are partakers, and those who lived with reason are Christians, even though they have been thought of as atheists; as among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus and men like them; and among the barbarians (i.e. non-Greek speakers), Abraham, and Ananias, and Azarias, and Misael, and Elias, and many others whose names and actions we now decline to recount because we know it would be tedious. So that even they who lived before Christ, and lived without reason, were wicked and hostile to Christ, and they slew those who lived with reason. But who, through the power of the Word, according to the will of God the Father and Lord of all, was born of a virgin as a man, and was named Jesus, and was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, an intelligent man will be able to comprehend from what has been already so largely said.”(First Apology of Justin Martyr, chapter XLVI)
As to the role of Moses in transmitting God’s revelation to the nations, Justin says,
"And that you may learn that it was from our teachers - we mean the account given through the prophets - That Plato borrowed his statement that God, having altered matter which was shapeless, made the world, hear the very words spoken through Moses, who as above shown, was the first prophet, and of greater antiquity than the Greek writers; and through whom the spirit of prophecy signifying how and from what materials God at first formed the world, spoke thus: ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was unseen and unfurnished, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God moved over the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and it was so.’ So that both Plato and those who agree with him, and we ourselves, have learned, and you also can be convinced, that by the word of God the whole world was made out of the substance spoken of before by Moses." (First Apology, chapter LIX)
According to Justin, then, Plato learned from the revelation given to Moses that there is one eternal God Who created all things and has revealed Himself to men. Nor was Plato alone. Justin declares that many heathen Greeks were indebted to Moses. This should not surprise us. Even in those days long before the marvels of modern communication and transportation, knowledge had a way of getting around. And those in every nation who were of good will heard the truth with faith. And in so doing, they were hearing the word of Christ, Lord of the Prophets and promised Seed of the Woman (cf. Gen. 3: 15).
I trust that this is sufficient to clarify for the reader that in the teaching of St. Justin, and other early Fathers, the requirements for salvation differ under the Old and New Testaments. Yet both require hearing the word of Christ: under the Old Testament through His pre-incarnate revelation in creation and the Prophets; and under the New Testament through His incarnational and sacramental Church.
Furthermore, it must be remembered that the Church has always taught that those who awaited Christ before His coming, upon their death did not enter Heaven. Rather, they descended into a region of hell, which we call the “Limbo of the Fathers.” This place was known by the Jews of Jesus’ time as “Abraham’s bosom” (Cf. Luke 16: 22). But it was not Heaven. It was a region of hell! After his victorious death on the cross, Christ descended into hell to proclaim His victory and lead those who were in Abraham’s bosom into Heaven. Their actual liberation from their prison took place on the day of His Ascension into Heaven, when He “led captivity captive” (Psalm 67: 19; Eph. 4: 8). This descent of our Lord into hell to free the souls of the just who awaited Him was a once-for-all event, never to be repeated. Now, as all the holy Fathers agree, the only way to salvation is by entering the Church, through holding the true faith and being marked with the sign of baptism.
II. The Agreement of the Fathers: Outside the Church, No One Is Saved
Our Lord Jesus Christ imparted to His Bride, the Church, the whole teaching he had received from His Father. We call this the Deposit of the Faith. He commanded His disciples to teach all nations and promised to be with them all days (Matt. 28: 19, 20). He also promised that the Spirit of Truth would be with them forever (John 14: 16, 17). This is why, when the Fathers of the Church in the East and the West, from the beginning, agree in teaching a particular point of doctrine, we know with certainty that this is divine revelation. The Fathers of the Church teach with absolute agreement that salvation is found only in the Catholic Church and that outside her, no one is saved. The following quotes demonstrate this beautiful, Spirit-wrought harmony of teaching among the Fathers. Pope John Paul II called it a “fundamental and revealed truth, set forth in the words consecrated by tradition, ‘there is no salvation outside the Church.’” (Address to the Franciscans, 3 October, 1981)
Note: The dates in brackets refer to the estimated date of writing, if known, otherwise to the death of the author.
St. Ignatius of Antioch [ca. A.D. 110]
“Those, indeed, who belong to God and to Jesus Christ – they are with the bishop. And those who repent and come to the unity of the Church – they too shall be of God, and will be living according to Jesus Christ. Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the kingdom of God. If any man walk about with strange doctrine, he cannot lie down with the passion. (i.e. die in union with Christ) Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: for there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his Blood; one altar, as there is one bishop with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons.” (Letter to the Philadelphians)
St. Irenaeus of Lyon [c.a. A.D. 140]
“In the Church, God has placed apostles, prophets and doctors, and all the other means through which the Spirit works; in all of which none have any part who do not conform to the Church. On the contrary, they defraud themselves of life by their wicked opinion and most wretched behavior. For where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God, there the Church and every grace. The Spirit, however, is the Truth.” (Against Heresies, book III, chapter XXIV)
Origen [c.a. A.D. 250]
“If anyone from this people wants to be saved, let him come to this house, that he might attain salvation; let him come to this house, in which is the Blood of Christ in sign of redemption…Let no one therefore persuade himself, let no one deceive himself: outside of this house, that is, outside of the Church, no one is saved; for, if anyone should go out of it, he is guilty of his own death.” (Homilies on Joshua)
St. Cyprian [A.D.251]
“The Bride of Christ cannot be defiled. She is inviolate and chaste. She knows but one home, and with a chaste modesty she guards the sanctity of one bedchamber. It is she that keeps us for God, she that seals for the kingdom the sons whom she bore. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress is separated from the promises of the Church; nor will he that forsakes the Church attain to the rewards of Christ. He is an alien, a worldling, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who does not have the Church for his Mother. If anyone outside the ark of Noah was able to escape, then perhaps someone outside the pale of the Church may escape.” (On the Unity of the Catholic Church)
Lactantius [died A.D. 310]
“It is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth; this is the abode of the faith; this is the temple of God; into which if anyone shall not enter, or from which if anyone shall go out, he is a stranger to the hope of life and eternal salvation.” (The Divine Institutes)
St. Jerome [A.D. 374]
“I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but Your Blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the Ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails.” (Letter to Pope Damasus)
St. Ambrose [died A.D. 397]
“The Lord Jesus goes up only into the Ark of the Church. This ship preserves safe from harm all whom it carries within it. We have a true figure of this in the Old Testament; for as all whom Noah took with him in the Ark were saved, so when the world shall be destroyed by fire the Chair of Peter will keep safe within her everyone she cherishes as her own.” (Sermon 37)
St. John Chrysostom [died A.D. 407]
“We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.” (De Capto Eutropia, Homily 6)
St. Augustine [died A.D. 430]
“No one can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Church you can find everything except salvation. You can have dignities, you can have sacraments, you can sing ‘Alleluia,’ answer ‘Amen,’ have the Gospels, have faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and preach it, too: but never can you find salvation except in the Catholic Church.” (Sermon to the People of Caesarea)
St. Peter Chrysologus [died A.D. 450]
“Suppose a man seeks life outside the Church? He loses the divine gifts, he spoils the outpouring of divine grace, and he cheats himself out of the benefits of charity. Life is had only in the Church.” (Sermons)
St. Fulgentius of Ruspe [died A.D. 533]
“Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Enchiridion Patristicum)
Pope St. Gregory the Great [died A.D. 604]
“Now the holy Church universal proclaims that God cannot be truly worshipped saving within herself, asserting that all they that are without her shall never be saved.” (Moralia)
III. The Supreme Magisterium of the Church
We turn now from the Fathers of the Church to the Church herself. Holy Mother Church invokes her highest teaching authority when she makes a doctrine the subject of a solemn dogmatic definition, either by Ecumenical Council or the Pope speaking ex cathedra. Such definitions are infallible in themselves. They must be understood literally. As Pope St. Pius X insisted, “This absolute and unchangeable truth…is to be understood in no other way than by the words.”(Priest’s Oath Against Modernism) Furthermore, since they are definitions, they require no secondary magisterium of “experts” to interpret them, but are the means by which all statements of a lower authority must be interpreted. The following are the solemn definitions of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church:
“One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Lateran Council IV, Pope Innocent III, A.D. 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, ex cathedra pronouncement in the Bull, Unam Sanctam, 1302)
“The most holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. 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 he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” ( Council of Florence, Blessed Pope Eugene IV, A.D. 1441)
Thus has Holy Mother Church proclaimed and defined! The Immaculate Spouse of Christ has spoken her mind! If we wish to be her children, we must be like-minded! We must receive her words with absolute faith, and never entertain any doubt. Nor may we permit any contradiction of her words to stand. If we do not receive her words, we are not her children; and if anyone does not have the Church for his Mother, he does not have God for his Father!
IV. The Relative Authority of Vatican II
Today, however, we hear an apparently different message from what seems to be the official Magisterium of the Church. “Outside the Church there is No Salvation” is affirmed as a statement on the one hand, yet on the other hand we are told that it must be “understood correctly,” and that the way it is understood today is “inclusively,” i.e. we are to believe that many non-Catholics and non-Christians are invisibly joined to the Church by a mysterious bond of implicit desire. Thus we arrive at the exact opposite of the originally defined doctrine. This is claimed to be the authoritative teaching of the Second Vatican Council. It is reflected also in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which Pope John Paul II has called “the Catechism of Vatican II.” Is this what we are now bound to believe? Did Vatican II change the understanding of this doctrine?
Vatican Council II (1962-1965) did not, and could not change this or any other doctrine of the Church. The impossibility of the Church changing the way she understands her doctrine was defined at Vatican Council I (1870): “For the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly declared. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a change of that meaning under the specious pretext of a deeper understanding. Therefore, let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.”
Furthermore, it must be understood that Vatican II differed from the previous twenty Ecumenical Councils of the Church, in that its purpose was not to issue any solemn definitions of doctrine or corresponding condemnations of error. It was to be a primarily pastoral Council, which would explain Catholic teaching to modern men and women in a manner accessible to their understanding. Pope John XXIII, who convoked the Council, called on the assembled bishops to “transmit the Catholic doctrine pure and integral.” “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this, that the sacred Deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.” Pope Paul VI, who reconvened the Council, said at the opening of the second session that it was the Council’s own decision to make its character pastoral and practical rather than dogmatic. The Theological Commission of the Council declared on March 6, 1964, “In view of the conciliar practice and pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of Faith and Morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.” And Paul VI acknowledged the fact that the Council never openly declared any statement of the Council documents binding. At his weekly general audience in December 1965, immediately after the close of the Council, he said that nothing was infallibly defined in any of the documents of Vatican II.
Now since the Second Vatican Council could not change the understanding of sacred Dogmas and since its own doctrinal statements are not infallible definitions of the Faith, it follows that the ambiguous doctrinal statements found in the Council documents are subject to interpretation in the light of the infallible definitions of the past. And if any statement is found to be irreconcilable with prior teaching, it must be disregarded. The same must be said for the statements in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
By way of example, let’s look at the quote from the Catechism in the bulletin statement:
“Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired baptism explicitly if they had known of its necessity.” (Catechism, 1260)
So. Is baptism, after all, really only of relative necessity? Are the words of our Lord, "Unless a man be born again of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God, conditional upon the knowledge and awareness of the individual? Not at all! First, because the words of Christ are clear. They admit no exceptions. Then also, the first sentence in the above quote is a half-truth; a truth incompletely and inconclusively stated. It is true enough that any pagan, who seeks the truth and wishes to do God’s will, will be saved. But how will they obtain salvation? Is it by being left in their ignorance and “their own understanding” of God, or by being led to the knowledge of the truth proclaimed by the Church and added to the flock of Christ by baptism? Obviously, if we are not to make the Church guilty of speaking absurd contradictions, we must complete the above statement in the following manner:
Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of His Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it can be saved because their good will cooperating with God’s enlightening grace will lead them to accept the truth of Christ and his Church when it is presented to them. And God, Who wills that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, (cf. 1 Tim. 2: 4) and knows the heart of all, will most certainly get the necessary knowledge, and baptism, to each such soul, no matter when or where they live.
As to the second sentence, “It may be supposed,” etc. this is a gratuitous speculation. It has no authority. We must hold that receiving the word of Christ and being baptized into the Church is necessary for everyone for salvation. Therefore if any pagan in a remote location has a true implicit desire for baptism, God will see to it that such a desire is fulfilled in actual reception of the sacrament. This interpretation upholds the clear command of Christ: "Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16: 15-16). Any other interpretation, which leaves the poor pagan “in his own understanding” and a vague “implicit desire” for baptism, and says he can be saved in that condition, undermines both the clear command of Christ and the dogmatic definitions of the Church! Furthermore, it leaves the poor pagan unregenerate and incapable of being saved! Such an interpretation is the result of a diabolical disorientation in the minds of liberal, modernist churchmen. But we must seek above all else to preserve our priceless treasure, our Catholic Faith! And this leads to our final consideration.
V. Our Catholic Responsibility
Some readers may be wondering why I have gone to such length in replying to a short bulletin statement. The reason is that this statement embodies the primary heresy of our age. You will encounter everywhere in the Church today the heretical opinion that you do not necessarily have to be Catholic to save your soul.
We live in dark times. The reign of Christ the King over the nations, never yet perfectly realized, has been completely eclipsed, and the world has become the province of the devil. Within the Church, the “smoke of Satan” has penetrated into the sanctuary, as Pope Paul VI noted. The evidence is all around us: We witness doctrinal innovation and liturgical buffoonery. There are ever fewer conversions, and massive loss of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We have a horrible scandal disgracing our priests, bishops, and seminaries, and among many lay Catholics worldly values are honored above God’s Word.
Is there a single source that has caused all these woes? Yes, there is! The source of the whole breakdown in the Church is that our Pastors have “reduced to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the one, true Church in order to obtain salvation.”(Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis) The denial, or rather, undermining, of the thrice defined Dogma of the Faith, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church there is No Salvation) is the cause of every other evil in the Church today.
Bear in mind that when we say that outside the Church there is no salvation, we are telling the world that the Church, and all it contains, is necessary for salvation. This includes the whole Deposit of the Faith, baptism into Christ, receiving His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion, the Pope as our chief Shepherd, the Immaculate Mother of God as our Mother, and everything else found only in the Catholic Church. The Church is "Catholic" (Greek katolica: universal) because it contains everything necessary for salvation.
On the other hand, if actual union with the Catholic Church is not really necessary in order to be saved, then nothing that the Church contains is really necessary, either. Why should we believe any of its doctrines? Why should we care about the Eucharist? Why should we obey the Pope? Why should we have devotion to Mary? Why should the Church send missionaries to people who have their own religion? Why should the Martyrs have shed their blood? And why did the Church ever bother defining that there is no salvation outside itself? The whole thing is really stupid! Young people see this intuitively, and leave the Church in droves.
Meanwhile, those who remain are divided among themselves: Some see the Catholic Faith as just another great world religion, with matters of doctrine and morals up for grabs. Many others blindly follow whatever the magisterium of today says, even if it plainly contradicts prior solemn teaching. This is hypocritically called “obedience,” but it is in fact, apostasy. This state of desolation is exactly what the enemies of the Church desire. Nevertheless, some still hold and defend the unchangeable Dogma of the Faith.
Here we see our Catholic responsibility in the midst of this spiritual war: If we wish to save our own soul, aid the salvation of others, and help bring about the triumph of the Church, we must firmly believe, hold fast, and defend the Catholic Faith whole and undefiled. Especially we must defend this foundational doctrine; that salvation can be found only in the Catholic Church. Once we take to heart the reality that salvation belongs to the Catholic Church alone, we will burn with zeal to spread the Faith. And we will be equipped to confront and defeat the primary heresy of our age: that salvation can be found on terms that man sets for himself, outside the Church of the living God.
Ultimately, however, it is up to the Pope to save the Church from its present desolation. Christ has made him alone the visible head of the Church. He alone has the authority to issue an ex cathedra reaffirmation of the defined dogma: Outside the Church there is No Salvation. This is the greatest need of our times! Until this is done, the deterioration in the Church will continue. We can be assured that, since the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, in the end the Pope will fulfill this duty. Then thunder will resound from the Throne of Peter. Then he will “strengthen his brethren.” (Luke 22: 32) Then the Holy Hearts of Jesus and Mary will triumph. Therefore let us, like Blessed Jacinta of Fatima, pray very hard for the Holy Father.
Pray also for our priests. Those who make pronouncements such as the bulletin statement have lost the Catholic Faith, whether they realize it or not. Worse still, by such statements they spread the loss of Faith to many others.
1. The Holy Bible, Douay-Rheims and Confraternity Versions
2. Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1, Hendrickson Publishers, 1994
3. The Sources of Catholic Dogma (Denzinger) 30th Edition, B. Herder Book Co. 1957
4. The Faith of the Early Fathers, Fr. William Jurgens, Collegeville, 1979
5. The Church of Salvation, Br. Leonard Mary, M.I.C.M., Charlemagne Press, 1997
6. The Documents of Vatican II, Austin Flannery, O.P., Editor, Costello Publishing, 1996
7. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liguori Publications, 1994
For past articles in Deprogramming Diabolical Disorientation, see 2004ddd.htm Archives