Part 1 of this series discussed scholastic dishonesty in a general manner to show how quotes from the authoritative sources can be made to sound as if they have stated unreasonable propositions which they themselves obviously wouldn't. Parts 2 through 4 of this series introduced Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," (hereinafter referred to as "the Treatise"), an attempt which gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"), and there, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose some significant instances of scholastic dishonesty employed to make it seem as if they did. Part 5 began a consideration of the "what-about" objections that the Church has raised to denials of BOB and/or BOD, beginning with the teachings of the Council of Trent and its Catechism. With Part 6 we continue with our consideration of the "what-about" objections that the Church has long raised against the denials of BOB and BOD.
In 1854, His Holiness Pope Pius IX was giving an allocution. Unlike my usual practice, I here simply give the relevant quote in full first, then discussing the portions quoted in the Treatise, for in this case, the selective quotes given do reasonably approximate the intention of the speaker, and as such does not qualify as yet another example of the sort of misquoting that runs through much of the remainder of the Treatise. This is not meant to imply that there isn't a problem with how this quote is treated in the Treatise, in that it is not commented on correctly. But the quote itself in this case is reasonably acceptable, albeit given in pieces. I give it here in sequence. In this allocution, the Pope said:
Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadem: "We have learned with grief that another error, not less melancholy, is introduced into certain parts of the Catholic world, and has taken possession of the souls of many Catholics. Carried away with a hope for the eternal salvation of those who are out of the true Church of Christ, they do not cease to inquire with solicitude what shall be the fate and the condition after death of men who are not submissive to the Catholic faith. Seduced by vain reasoning they make to these questions replies conformably to that perverse doctrine. Far from Us, Venerable Brothers, to lay claim to put limits to the Divine mercy, which is infinite! Far from Us to scrutinize the counsels and mysterious judgments of God, unfathomable depth where human thought cannot penetrate! But it belongs to the duty of Our Apostolic office to excite your Episcopal solicitude and vigilance to make all possible efforts to remove from the minds of men the opinion, as impious as it is fatal, according to which people can find in any religion the way of eternal salvation. Employ all the resources of your minds and of your learning to demonstrate to the people committed to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no respect contrary to the Divine mercy and justice. Faith orders Us to hold that out of the Apostolic Roman Church no person can be saved, that it is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever will not enter therein shall perish in the waters of the deluge.
On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before 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, lands, native talents, and so many other factors? Only when we have been released from the bonds of this body and see God just as He is (1 John 3:2) shall we really understand how close and beautiful a bond joins divine mercy with divine justice. But as long as we dwell on earth, encumbered with this soul-dulling, mortal body, let us tenaciously cling to the Catholic doctrine that there is one God, one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5); to seek to penetrate further is not permitted.
However, as charity demands, let us pour out before God incessant prayers, in order that, from all parts, all the nations may be converted to Christ; let us labor, as much as it is in us, for the common salvation of men. The arms of the Lord are not shortened, and the gifts of heavenly grace will assuredly not be denied to those who sincerely want and pray for refreshment by the divine light. These truths should be deeply engraved on the minds of the Faithful, that they may not suffer themselves to be corrupted by false doctrines, the object of which is to propagate indifference in matters of religion, an indifference that we see growing up, and spreading itself on all sides, to the loss of souls."
Later on, in 1863, this same Pope went on to teach thus in an encyclical:
Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore: "And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, We should mention again and censure a very grave error in which some Catholics are unhappily engaged, who believe that men living in error, and separated from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life.
Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching. It is known to us and to you that they who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion and who zealously keeping the natural law and its precepts engraved in the hearts of all by God, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, by the operating power of divine light and grace, attain eternal life since God, Who reads comprehensively in every detail the minds and souls, the thoughts and habits of all men, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin.
However, also well-known is the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who obstinately oppose the authority and definitions of the church, and who stubbornly remain separated form the unity of the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff (to whom the Savior has entrusted the care of His vineyard), cannot attain salvation."
In addition to both of these papal quotes, there is yet another Pope which the Treatise has carefully kept out of these sections regarding the objections, perhaps in the hope that what this pope infallibly taught might be not brought to mind in the reader, lest he come to feel that it was "one too many," and that is Pope Pius XII, when he wrote:
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis: "As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of Christ" and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their father's home."
All three of these quotes bring up the question of "invincible ignorance." In this case, rather than take up an utterly false position, the Treatise here instead takes the subtler tack of introducing little drops of poison to the mix. There is therefore much that is basically correct in this section, namely that invincible ignorance of itself has no salvific power, and also that there would be (and have been) countless liberals who have misquoted these popes in an equally deceptive attempt to "prove" that there is salvific power to invincible ignorance. So, apart from the complete removal of Pope Pius XII's statement to another section, at least the quotes from Pope Pius IX, though somewhat abridged, seem to be basically presented with sufficient completeness to ascertain their true intent (except that presenting them in full and in sequence here does seem to clarify better what the Pope is saying). And the Pope Pius XII quote does appear elsewhere, and is treated similarly. For simplicity above I have provided a slightly more complete form of the passages from which they come, so that nothing may be made from the pieces missing.
So, what does the Treatise do with these quotes? Its author could hardly be allowed to be called a Catholic while at the same time claiming that these holy popes to be heretics, yet they have implicitly affirmed Baptism of Desire. For with these declarations, the Pope has affirmed that invincible ignorance can exist without guilt, and can excuse certain things, and even more so in the particular example of those who are in need of being joined to the Church, i. e. those to whom BOB and BOD could apply. The Treatise employed the following three stratagems: 1) The claim is made that they are not infallible, 2) The claim is made that they were badly worded, and 3) The claim is made that this pope nevertheless also affirmed the traditional Catholic teaching (albeit in other places, whether in other documents or later in the same document). Let's look at each of these claims:
1) The claim is made that they are not infallible. The Treatise is quick to repeatedly stress that Singulari Quadem is only "an allocution (a speech to the cardinals)." While one might concede (I will, at least for the sake of argument) that this sort of papal statement would have carried the same theological weight (theological note) as any number of other papal allocutions given throughout the ages, which would have included the patently erroneous allocutions of John XXII, there still remains a significant difference between this allocution and those allocutions. When John XXII made his erroneous allocutions, his whole audience and even the Roman Curia were shocked at what he was teaching, such that they prevailed upon the man to relinquish his errors shortly before his death. Right away, the reaction was "Oh my God, look what the Pope just taught! How could he do this?" and it took further centuries for the Church to discover this exception to Papal infallibility, so as to explain how a true pope could teach error in this context, unusual as it has been over all history. When Pius IX mentioned ignorance in this allocution, everyone in the room already knew what he was talking about and were already on the same page. And if he "taught error" in this allocution, then why care how well or poorly it was worded, or whether he might have also affirmed the traditional Catholic teaching? And where are the criticisms to be leveled on him for teaching as he did from subsequent popes, as did those who were subsequent to John XXII? The second quote however comes from an encyclical, and this time, the excuse is given that "it is addressed only to the cardinals and bishops of Italy." As originally spoken it may well have been "addressed only to the cardinals and bishops of Italy," but once it was entered into the Acts of the Apostolic See and published all around the world, it ceased to be merely to some limited part of the Church, but now is therefore addressed to the entire Church, and so this argument falls flat. The third quote (that of Pope Pius XII) in any case has no avail to either of these excuses. In this case the denial is made that the Pope was teaching that non-Catholics could be united to the Church (which he patently was), and "if he had, he would have been teaching heresy."
2) The claim is made that they were badly worded. The bad move of impeaching the papal teachings is only compounded by faulting how His Holiness worded his statements. The Treatise states, "Though Singulari Quadem of Pius IX did not teach the HERESY that one can be saved without the Catholic Faith by invincible ignorance, it is weakly worded. Pope Pius IX should not have concerned himself with trying to satisfy the heretical minds of liberals and apostates who refuse to accept Church dogma."
Look what an accusation that makes of the Pope! The Pope is accused here in the Treatise of "trying to satisfy the heretical minds of liberals and apostates who refuse to accept Church dogma." As there were no such "heretical minds of liberals and apostates" in the room there, why try to "satisfy" them? By all valid evidences, the pope consistently gave such no quarter, and this statement too absolutely cannot be regarded as giving such any quarter either. He is simply stating the doctrine as it has always been and always shall be, and with extraordinary precision and clarity.
And then the Treatise again refers to the papal quote as "this fallible statement from Pope Pius IX." This language only gets all the harsher with Pope Pius XII, of whom he writes, "there is no doubt that Pius XII's statement in the above passage ... is still pathetically weak, and opens the door for liberal heretics to claim that he endorsed the heresy that non-Catholics can be saved by their unknowing desire for the Catholic faith. Its weakness displays the mindset of a man who allowed heresy against the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation to run rampant in the seminaries, theology texts and Catechisms during his reign,"
"What he allowed to happen was a crime so momentous that it cannot be measured. What he allowed to happen would turn out to be an incalculable scandal to the faithful and an impediment to the salvation of millions of souls in his day, and for a generation to come." It only seems "weakly worded" to the author of the Treatise for the simple reason that the Pope is not saying what the author would like him to say.
3) The claim is made that this pope nevertheless affirmed the traditional Catholic teaching. Well of course he is! And neither is there the least discrepancy between the authentic and traditional teaching and the papal quotes given above. For example, in one case the Pope, quoting Scripture, states that there is one baptism, and this is taken in the Treatise to be a repudiation of the three legitimate modes that one baptism can take, as though there were "three baptisms." But as there never was any claim to there being "three baptisms," only one Baptism which occurs in water as the Sacrament, or in exceptional cases of premature death, in blood or desire. The Pope then did mandate that it would be unlawful to speculate any further on what possibilities (beyond those known to the Church in his day) there might be for God to show mercy towards any others. And Pope Pius XII did go on to mention that only those who are water-baptized are to be numbered among those of the Church Militant, that Baptism (in whatever form - no need to specify that all forms are implied here since Baptism in general is mentioned, not specifically only as the Sacrament, or with water) is a distinctive mark that sets apart the Christian from the non-Christian, and finally that there would be those who reduce the necessity of belonging to the true Church to a nullity and that those who do so are in the wrong.
With the case of Pope Pius XII, a brief reference is made to Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton who wrote about these Papal encyclicals in his book, The Catholic Church and Salvation. With regards to Pope Pius XII's statement about the necessary obligation to withdraw oneself from a condition in "which they cannot be sure of their salvation," i. e. a condition of having not as yet been joined to the Church, the only recourse available to the author of the Treatise is to fault the translation. But the alternate translation provided changes precisely nothing. For the supposed faultiness of the translation however, he turns to Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, the same whom he denounced as a heretic (and does so here too quite gratuitously):
Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, 1958, p. 88: "Many of the published translations of the Mystici Corporis Christi employ the expression 'in which they cannot be sure of their salvation' in rendering this clause into English. This terminology is both inexact and seriously misleading."
Since the revised translation provided in the Treatise changes nothing as to the meaning, it is unclear what this is meant to buy. Perhaps he hopes to confuse the issue, making it unclear whether they merely "cannot be sure of their salvation" or "can be sure of their damnation." But what mistranslation is Msgr. Fenton actually referring to? A more extensive extract from where that quote comes from would clarify it considerably:
Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, 1958, p. 88: "The encyclical speaks of non-members of the Church who have a true and sincere, though merely implicit, desire of entering it as being in a situation 'in which they cannot be secure about their eternal salvation (in quo de sempiterna cuiusque salute securi esse non possunt)." Many of the published translations of the Mystici Corporis Christi employ the expression 'in which they cannot be sure of their salvation' in rendering this clause into English. This terminology is both inexact and seriously misleading. In our language "sure" is one of the synonyms of the word "certain." The Holy Father quite definitely did not mean to imply, in denying that people who are within the Church only by way of an explicit desire or intention are "securi" about their own salvation, that members of the true Church may be certain that they are predestined by God to the glory of heaven."
In other words, the only real complaint about the translation of the passage is that one might pick up from it an unfortunate implication that those who have entered the Church CAN now be certain of their ultimate salvation. And who is to say whether the time of visitation may find us in the midst of some sin, whatever the fine state of our soul may be as we read this now? To be inside the Church as a water-baptized member is to be in a state that we can know our present condition (by a simple and sincere examination of conscience), but not our future. But among the unbaptized, one cannot be even certain of one's present condition. That this manner of uncertainty is established for those who are unbaptized but "have a true and sincere, though merely implicit, desire of entering" the Church is beyond question, as brought out in Msgr. Fenton's book (and the Papal encyclical as well). But the author of the Treatise thinks he knows better than the Pope. For he thinks that one CAN be certain of their present condition while as yet unbaptized, namely that he would be damned unless he makes it to the baptismal font.
But now let us explore those possibilities as they were known in his day, and especially the understanding of invincible ignorance as mentioned by these popes. The Church has always understood and accepted that a martyr for Christ would be saved, even though he be not as yet baptized (BOB). The Church also had to understand that someone specifically seeking to join the Church (which would be by water baptism), would also be able to enter Heaven (at least eventually, after whatever Purgatorial stay may be required) even though his early and unexpected death was not the result of a martyrdom (BOD, or more specifically in this case, an "explicit" BOD). Invincible ignorance is what provides the basis for what is called an "implicit" BOD. And there don't seem to be any clear explanations (in lay terms) to show what an implicit Baptism of Desire would mean, and what basis it could possibly have in the established doctrine of an explicit Baptism of Desire and other doctrines.
Let's start with the anatomy of an explicit Baptism of Desire. This exists specifically in the catechumen, a person who has approached the Church for instruction in the Faith and Truth, and into the ways of God, with the express intention that he may be permitted to join the Church, something that would be done with water baptism once his instruction is complete and the Church has found him to be a worthy candidate. Though he may be jurisdictionally outside the "rule" of the Pope, he nevertheless accepts the Pope's leadership and submits to it, exactly as a baptized Catholic ought. He goes through the various areas of his life one by one, abandoning whatever sinful habits and practices he may have had, and replaces them with habits of prayer, sacrifice, humility, obedience, and the love of God. He learns the basics of the Faith, of Who God is, Who Jesus Christ is and what He did on the Cross for us, the nature of the Incarnation, the Holy Trinity, the Four Last Things, and in short what he is expected to know and accept before he can be actually received into the Church by means of water baptism. And as he learns these things he accepts them all in a meek spirit of humility, trying to understand what he can, and humbly submitting to the superior wisdom of the Church in the things he cannot understand, forsaking any cherished opinion he formerly had that is in conflict with what the Church is teaching him. In this he has already manifested the theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, and is, in the eyes of God and Man, a qualified candidate for water baptism.
At this point he has what would most properly and technically be called a "desire for Baptism" in that sense spoken of in the Council of Trent and other places. Some say (but I think this is rather loose and imprecise as a choice of words, but it is commonly used, even in the scholarly and theological works) that he now has a "Baptism of Desire." Clearly this state, whatever one calls it, is no Sacrament, or else the actual subsequent water baptism would not be necessary, in fact it would be wrong since Baptism is a sacrament that can never be repeated. For this reason the Church has always stated that a "Baptism of Desire" is not the Sacrament. For though the effects of the ultimate reality of the sacrament are manifested ("res sacramenti"), the intermediate reality ("sacramentum et re") of the Sacrament is not as yet present. For myself, and for clarity of language and to be as fully consistent as possible I prefer to speak of a "desire for Baptism," which must and will mature into either a Baptism in water, or (if cut off prematurely by martyrdom) a Baptism of Blood, or (if cut off prematurely by any other death) a Baptism of Desire. But I am aware that this detailed usage of mine isn't universally shared. Similarly, a person may survive an attempt made on their life which might be similarly counted as a "Baptism of Blood," but since they have survived, the obligation to be baptized in water still remains.
In the ordinary course of things, the baptismal candidate, now that he has fully qualified for entry into the Church, will be scheduled for water baptism. Since this is not a case of an infant who absolutely must be baptized in order to escape Limbo, there is no rush, and commonly the Church might schedule a person's water baptism to take place with all due liturgical pomp and circumstance in the coming Easter. Alternatively his baptism may be scheduled to happen sooner, for example on some certain day of the month that the local parish allocates to perform such baptisms of those not wanting to wait until Easter. He has qualified for water baptism, he is on the schedule (set by the Church, though with some consideration for his own schedule) to be baptized in water, and in the ordinary course of things that is what happens and then once it does he is officially born into the visible Kingdom of God, the Church Militant, and as such becomes formally bound to the laws of the Church.
But before the appointed time, along come circumstances. Even here, water baptism is to be sought if at all possible. If our baptism-desiring catechumen gets hit by a chariot and lays dying in the street, his Christian companion is not supposed to say "Goodness! Easter is still nearly three weeks away! Can you hang on that long?" No, if that companion can locate nearby so much as a puddle of water, or a well, or someone willing to share some water, he is to use that water and baptize him on the spot, without all the pomp and circumstance. That is what is called an emergency baptism and it is no less valid for the lack of all of that liturgical pomp and circumstance. (But don't sell that liturgical pomp and circumstance short - it exists to emphasize just how important and solemn a step water baptism is.)
Now one last thing. If that companion (or anyone else for that matter) is unavailable, unable, or unwilling to find or use any water to baptize our catechumen, or if he dies immediately in the collision with the chariot, his final death in faith, hope, and love of God ushers him directly into either the Church Suffering (if there be sins to atone for), or the Church Triumphant (if his life has been whatever God should see as a sufficient sinless condition to be granted this grace). It is only starting with this point that he has entered the Ark of the Church, only this point that he is now saved, for he died justified, and at this point he now has what I would most accurately and specifically call a "Baptism of Desire," for his final death itself would certainly have to serve as much in that capacity as the water which merely symbolizes death. I use the phrase "final death" here for there always exists that possibility of a resuscitation (natural or medical), to say nothing of a resurrection (miraculous, as brought about by saints, prophets, and our Lord on occasion), and God, Who knows the beginning from the end, would know whether either of these is in store for the individual, and if so, that the final death has not happened as yet. So even with such a death, if one returns from the dead the obligation to be baptized also returns. But with a final death, the obligation to be baptized in water and to enter the Church Militant has ceased, and BOD is nothing but God's mercy and justice (both) that such a soul overtaken by circumstances shall not be punished for what was totally beyond his control.
That of course is the easy case, the one the Church has always accepted, for Emperor Valentinian was such a soul, specifically awaiting water baptism from Saint Ambrose. He was not tarrying needlessly, nor spurning the sacrament, nor treating it with contempt, but clearly, eagerly, seeking it, and had already proven himself with other acts favorable to Faith.
But what about the case where an early death takes place in an earlier point of this succession? Assuming a clear intent to be pleasing to God and to do whatever God directs and is progressing towards this goal (and God, Who knows the hearts of all, would know if he really is seeking Him), at what point could it be said that his death would (or at least could) usher him into the Church (either Suffering or Triumphant) instead of the fires of Hell? This of course brings one to one of the real "grey areas" of theology where there is little clear consensus and much will have to be found out in the Great White Throne Judgment. The "solution" prepared by the authors of the Treatise and other followers of Fr. Feeney, of simply damning all who have not been water baptized has already been rejected by the Church. BOB and explicit BOD are Catholic Doctrines, as is the theoretical possibility of implicit BOD, regardless of however few or many souls might actually have turned out to have benefitted from it over the course of all human history. The only room for doubt is the question of how many, actually.
Suppose our catechumen had learned "the basics" of the Faith as are sometimes spoken of as a "bare minimum" needed, but has not as yet been instructed on the necessity to abstain from meat on Fridays. So in ignorance he is still continuing to eat meat on Fridays while those baptized (and desiring to remain in good standing) do not. By violating that law he is committing the matter of a mortal sin, but as he is ignorant of that fact (and plainly would not eat meat on Fridays if only someone told him, and in fact would or will stop once that lesson is presented to him in the course of his training) he cheerfully munches away on his meat, as much on Fridays as on any other day. If he died at this point and could not be emergency-baptized, would he be damned? Or suppose his death comes even earlier, perhaps after learning of the Incarnation but before the Trinity. He has in no way rejected anything he is receiving from the Church, and God can certainly see his holy disposition to believe and obey whatever the Church teaches him. Must he be damned? If grace is just beginning to work in his life, a grace capable of bringing one with such a disposition as his all the way into the Church, but which at this point has only manifested itself as a dissatisfaction with the false religion of his upbringing - perhaps his native religion teaches that it is OK to violate certain parts of the Natural Law that God has written upon the hearts of all men, and his refusal to go along with his false religion's permission (or even mandating) for such sins is placing him at odds with it, and driving him to seek the truth elsewhere, must he be damned? Again I ask, at what point could it be said that his death would (or at least could) usher him into the Church (either Suffering or Triumphant) instead of the fires of Hell? Does any of us know?
That is what makes implicit baptism of desire something of a genuine "grey area" Baptism of Blood has never been challenged by anyone until Fr. Feeney came along, and Baptism of Desire (explicit) has only been challenged by Peter Abélard and his few immediate followers, and then not again until Fr. Feeney and his followers that continue to our day. But with implicit Baptism of Desire, the chances of salvation being given to souls in various states of progression towards the true Faith and Church can only shade off with dimmer and dimmer prospects the more far removed the particular soul may be. But just how far away would be that "furthest soul" God nevertheless ends up bestowing the mercy of salvation to? I think that is exactly the kind of speculation the Pope has expressly prohibited. For imagine if some "brilliant theologian" were actually able to set such a line with "yea verily" accuracy. How many would just barely cross that line and then stay there, since "after all, I am not as far as so-and-so was and you saved him, so save me too!"
The only thing I can say here would be that God can see into the heart, for He is the only One capable of knowing us even better than we know ourselves. He can see into a person's heart and soul, and see if their seeking for the Church is that which would (if only given the chance) mature into a full joining of the Church, or if it might be content with something less than the truth, or something that would balk at some point of the Truth, preferring its own opinions, or if that soul could be pulled aside by enslavement to any sin or other distraction. For one thing that is positive is that such an "implicit baptism of desire" could never apply to anyone who lacks such a pure and submissive and God-loving pursuit of the truth. And now this brings us to one real ambiguity.
Sometimes one hears about finding salvation "in" some false religion, as to whether it is possible or not. But the very phrase "find salvation in" a false religion is ambiguous. In one of its two possible senses, it would be categorically impossible to "find salvation in" any false religion, and it is without doubt this sense in which Pope Pius IX was able to condemn the proposition that "Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation." (Syllabus, condemned proposition #16). But there exists a different possible sense of the phrase "find salvation in" some false religion. For the first meaning, that which the Popes have always condemned, would be that the false religion itself provided something salvific, and that is something no false religion can ever do under any circumstances. The second meaning would merely refer to "where a person is at" when their seeking for the truth begins, or finds its lawful object.
It is like saying that you "found a lost marble in the closet." By that do you mean that the marble was somewhere inside the closet, on some shelf or on the floor for example, such that you had to enter (or at least reach into) the closet in order to obtain it? Or do you mean that you just happened to be standing inside the closet at the moment you discovered the marble in the cuff of your pants (the ones you are wearing, not any hanging up in the closet), such that you could have made that same discovery anywhere, and "inside the closet" is simply where you happened to be at the time? In this illustration, the teaching of the Church would be that the "marble" of salvation which was never stored in the closet of any false religion for any time, but is always with a person at all times, for God sees us no matter where we go, and His angel is ever at our elbow.
It is only in this second sense that the traditional luminaries such as Archbishop Lefebvre have ever spoken of "finding salvation in" any other religion, and they often make the distinction clear and explicit by emphasizing that it is not "by" or "by means of" the false religion that any of them could ever find salvation, hence precluding that sense of "find salvation in" a false religion that has been condemned, and thereby limiting their meaning to that sense in which it might just be possible that some extraordinary few might make it. For if such a thing could ever happen, what would it look like? Let's start with what it wouldn't look like. It would not be a matter of a Muslim becoming a "better" Muslim, or a Protestant becoming a "better" Protestant, or the same for Buddhist, Jew, Hindu, etc., and then merely being content to remain thus. And it certainly wouldn't be that "well, gee, he was always such a nice person!" so therefore God has to bring him to Heaven.
But picture this scenario: A person is born into some false religion, say Hinduism. His parents who love him teach him this because they don't know better. As a child who has not attained the use of reason he has no role in this choice of a religion made on his behalf. Then he comes of age, and begins to ask questions. Certain things about the Hinduism he has been brought up in don't fit well with the Natural Law written upon his heart (for God has written His Law upon all hearts), and rather than kill a piece of his conscience he seeks to reconcile the difficulty. This seeking may even first manifest itself with a deeper study of Hinduism, but whatever particular difficulties this further research may clear up for him, there still remains a clear dissatisfaction with Hinduism which overall can only deepen as he comes to know it in more detail and only all the more how different it is from the Natural Law written on his heart.
Some kind of enlightenment clearly has to come. Perhaps a missionary is in town, or perhaps he comes across distant and defective rumors about something called Christianity and/or some person named Jesus Christ, or perhaps even some interior revelation to the effect that there is a Creator God Who gave His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of us all, and though not knowing the name of this God or of His Son, he nevertheless prays to this Unknown God Who is the real God. Anyone who can tell him anything about this God will be interesting to him precisely because of this seeking the face of the Unknown God Who is the real God.
Understand this: At such a point as this, in his heart he has already departed from the Hindu religion, but exteriorly he might well still be counted as a Hindu by his family and community, whatever complaints any might have as to how he does not conform to that religion, or even with what they might think of his complaints against Hinduism. In a visible and exterior way, he is still "in" Hinduism (and probably continuing to observe much of the cultural aspects of that religion as is expected of him by his parents and others), and may even borrow his "vocabulary" for his religious thinking from that only one that he knows, but interiorly he is no Hindu. In fact, he is such that when the Catholic missionary shows up he is the first to welcome him, being nothing but totally glad of the knowledge of Christ. "Yes, I knew of Him already, though I did not know His name." It seems to have been the common experience of missionaries that some pagan or savage who is generally well-disposed and abiding by the Natural Law might have received some enlightenment from God (that spoken of by St. Thomas Aquinas and others), such that he at once recognizes the missionary, but it always seems to be left to the missionary to inform the pagan or savage of the name of the Savior, and also of water baptism.
In the case of water baptism, the reason this should be so would have to be rather obvious. Suppose some ignorant savage living on an island is told all about Christ through some special Divine revelation, and even about being baptized in water. So then he goes to his neighbor savage and says, "Please baptize me." Even if this neighbor were to be willing to pour the water correctly and to say the right words, how could he possibly have the intention "to do what the Church does" or even to say the words with the meanings that the Church intends? Whatever such a thing could mean to the one who is enlightened, to the one being asked to the baptizing, the whole thing is only a meaningless ritual, unless he also be similarly enlightened. In other words, there would be real issues about validity, however pious and virtuous the attempt.
The normal progression from here is that eventually the missionary does show up, is well received by the pagan or savage who has thus been enlightened, and the missionary instructs the pagan or savage into the ways of Christ and baptized him, and then hopefully is now able to bring the Faith to his whole family and community. Somewhere along the way it must also become visibly clear that the person is no longer a Hindu, or at least no longer one "in good standing" with that religion (for there are some false religions that treat you as always being of that religion no matter how much you may repudiate it, even as a baptized Catholic who departs from faith remains a "Catholic," albeit a "fallen away" one). Again, the question is to be asked, if a premature death were to cut off this sequence at some point, would the person therefore be damned? At what point could it be said that his death would (or at least could) usher him into the Church (either Suffering or Triumphant) instead of the fires of Hell?
If (and one can only say "if") this point of passing from death to life were to come early enough in that progression to be commonly still thought of as a "Hindu," would this be an example of "salvation outside" the Church? Categorically not! For one thing, the man was not actually "saved" until he actually entered either the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant upon his final death. And of course once he has entered either one, he is fully "inside" the Church, for there alone can anyone be saved. For another, his state of being justified (in a state of sanctifying grace), such that his dying thus unexpectedly while in that state would, in this example, have ushered him into the Church, must be without fail the result of being attached to the Church (though not yet inside it) much as a catechumen is. The only difference here would be that his attachement to the Church, and this must be absolutely through no fault of his own, as God sees the heart, is more distant and invisible than that of the catechumen. In this case he would have to be a "catechumen" learning faithfully of the Natural Law written upon his heart, and of whatever interior enlightenment God has directly graced him with. He must be cooperating with this actual grace, which the Church teaches that God can bestow anywhere. It is precisely and strictly solely in this sense which would be what is spoken of when those accused of heresy in the Treatise say such things as:
Against the Heresies, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: Page 216: "Evidently, certain distinctions must be made. Souls can be saved in a religion other than the Catholic religion (Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism, etc.), but not by this religion. There may be souls who, not knowing Our Lord, have by the grace of the good Lord, good interior dispositions, who submit to God...But some of these persons make an act of love which implicitly is equivalent to baptism of desire. It is uniquely by this means that they are able to be saved."
Against the Heresies, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: Page 217: "One cannot say, then, that no one is saved in these religions…"
Against the Heresies, by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre: Pages 217-218: "This is then what Pius IX said and what he condemned. It is necessary to understand the formulation that was so often employed by the Fathers of the Church: 'Outside the Church there is no salvation.' When we say that, it is incorrectly believed that we think that all the Protestants, all the Moslems, all the Buddhists, all those who do not publicly belong to the Catholic Church go to hell. Now, I repeat, it is possible for someone to be saved in these religions, but they are saved by the Church, and so the formulation is true: Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. This must be preached."
Bishop Lefebvre, Sermon at first Mass of a newly ordained priest (Geneva: 1976): "We are Catholics; we affirm our faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ; we affirm our faith in the divinity of the Holy Catholic Church; we think that Jesus Christ is the sole way, the sole truth, the sole life, and that one cannot be saved outside Our Lord Jesus Christ and consequently outside His Mystical Spouse, the Holy Catholic Church. No doubt, the graces of God are distributed outside the Catholic Church, but those who are saved, even outside the Catholic Church, are saved by the Catholic Church, by Our Lord Jesus Christ, even if they do not know it, even if they are unaware of it..."
Fr. Schmidberger (SSPX), Time Bombs of the Second Vatican Council, 2005, p. 10: "Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that the followers of other religions can be saved under certain conditions, that is to say, if they are in invincible error."
Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of SSPX, Conference in Denver, Co., Feb. 18, 2006: "We know that there are two other baptisms, that of desire and that of blood. These produce an invisible but real link with Christ but do not produce all of the effects which are received in the baptism of water… And the Church has always taught that you have people who will be in heaven, who are in the state of grace, who have been saved without knowing the Catholic Church. We know this. And yet, how is it possible if you cannot be saved outside the Church? It is absolutely true that they will be saved through the Catholic Church because they will be united to Christ, to the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. It will, however, remain invisible, because this visible link is impossible for them. Consider a Hindu in Tibet who has no knowledge of the Catholic Church. He lives according to his conscience and to the laws which God has put into his heart. He can be in the state of grace, and if he dies in this state of grace, he will go to Heaven."
The SSPV, The Roman Catholic, Fenton Article, Fall, 2003, p. 1: "It is a doctrine of our faith that 'outside the Church there is no salvation.' This does not mean, however, either that an individual is assured eternal salvation simply because he is a member of the Roman Catholic Church or that he cannot be saved because he is not an actual member of the body of the Church."
The SSPV, The Roman Catholic, Fenton Article, Fall 2003, p. 5: "A non-Catholic, then, who, through no grave fault of his own, is not a formal member of the Church at the moment of death, is certainly not going to lose his soul on that score."
The SSPV, The Roman Catholic, Fenton Article, Fall 2003, p. 6: "So, is it true and an article of faith that 'outside the Church there is no salvation'? Yes, it is. Does this mean that a person, no matter how praiseworthy a life he may have led, will be eternally lost who, through no grave fault of his own, is not an actual member of the Church at the moment of death? No, it does not."
The SSPV, The Roman Catholic, Fenton Article, Fall 2003, p. 7: "With the strict, literal interpretation of this doctrine, however, I must take issue, for if I read and understand the strict interpreters correctly, nowhere is allowance made for invincible ignorance, conscience, or good faith on the part of those who are not actual or formal members of the Church at the moment of death. It is inconceivable to me that, of all the billions of non-Catholics who have died in the past nineteen and one-half centuries, none of them were in good faith in this matter and, if they were, I simply refuse to believe that hell is their eternal destiny."
Bishop Robert McKenna, O.P., "The Boston Snare," printed in the CMRI's Magazine The Reign of Mary, Vol. XXVI, No. 83: "The doctrine, then, of no salvation outside the Church is to be understood in the sense of knowingly outside the Church… But, they may object, if such be the sense of the dogma in question, why is the word 'knowingly' not part of the formula, 'Outside the Church no salvation'? For the simple reason that the addition is unnecessary. How could anyone know of the dogma and not be knowingly outside the Church? The 'dogma' is not so much a doctrine intended for the instruction of Catholics, since it is but a logical consequence of the Church's claim to be the true Church, but rather a solemn and material warning or declaration for the benefit of those outside the one ark of salvation."
Bishop Donald Sanborn, Sacerdotium V, p. 24: "Vatican II's idea of the Church is heretical, since it identifies organized religions of pagans and idolaters with the Mystical Body of Christ. The truth is that in no way are pagans and idolaters, as pagans and idolaters, united to the Mystical Body of Christ. If, by some mystery of Providence and Predestination, they [pagans and idolaters] are united to the soul of the Church, and by desire to its body, it is in spite of their paganism and idolatry. It is due to an invincible ignorance of their error."
Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt, I Baptize With Water, p. 18, quoting from Fr. Tanquery with approval: "Necessity of means, however, is not an absolute necessity, but a hypothetical one. In certain particular circumstances, for example, in the case of the invincible ignorance or of incapability, actual membership in the Church can be supplied by the desire for this membership. It is not necessary that this be explicitly present; it can be included in a willingness and readiness to fulfill the will of God. In this way those who are outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation." (Catholic Research Institute)
Fr. Kevin Vaillancourt, I Baptize With Water, p. 17: "Are there any more 'good faith' pagans in existence? Is it possible for the Communists of China or the faithful adherents of Buddhism and Mohammedism of the Near and Far East to either have never heard the Gospel, or else had the Gospel presented to them in an erroneous light?... Can the Chinese Communist, or the Indian Buddhist or the Pakistani Muslim be included in such a consideration [of invincible ignorance]? Only God knows, and it is not up to me to decide for Him. I write here merely to uphold the dogmatic principle of the possibility of such cases today, without admitting that all, or even a significant number of those who are in such circumstances will achieve salvation through justification."
So how much can ignorance excuse? I can even think of a case where invincible ignorance could even excuse what would otherwise be a mortal sin against the Natural Law, as well as against Divine Law. While such exceptions as waging battle in a just war or executing a lawfully tried and condemned criminal would exist with regards to the Law against taking human life, these kinds of exceptions would not apply to cheating on one's spouse. But picture the following scenario (and this sort of thing has happened on occasion): A woman is married to a man and their family is started. But then the man is called away to battle and off he goes. He does not return. His "dog tags" are found, along with some unidentifiable remains that seem to be his, and nothing further is heard of him. After some time, the man is legally (by the laws of God and Man, that is to say, of Church and State) declared dead, for no trace of the man alive anywhere can be found despite a most diligent search by the due authorities. The woman is now considered a widow and remarries and begins having more children by this second man. But in actual fact the first man was not dead but taken prisoner by the opposing side in the war and never released nor permitted any communication. Materially, that woman is cheating on her husband (by taking on the new man), but her invincible ignorance of the survival of the first man renders her guiltless, at least until such time if any that she learns of the survival of the first man. But if she goes all the rest of her natural life without ever once learning of her first husband's continued life, she need not repent of her relationship with the second man.
In one of the above examples provided, ignorance of the fasts of the Church excused the catechumen who thereby failed to observe them. And while Catholics are all bound under strict and solemn obedience to know the truths contained in the Athanasian Creed, those who have not as yet entered are only bound to know what of that Creed they have come across, whether through missionaries, imperfect rumors, or direct revelation of some sort. Can ignorance therefore excuse everything? One thing ignorance absolutely cannot excuse would be any knowing violation of the Natural Law written upon the hearts of all men. The woman in the above example escapes only because her violation was not a knowing one. Some saintly writers have indicated an obligation to at least "know Christ," (which some translators sloppily render "know about Christ"). This would have to be either through the visible action of the Church, or possibly by some indirect and even imperfect rumor (in which case it would then still have to lead to a desire for something "Christlike"), even if the person may be unable to articulate that or else by some interior revelation direct from Heaven of some sort. A person who violates Natural Law without also having contrition for that would be incapable of any such contact with Christ and as such this would not apply to any such person. The Hindu in my above illustration may possibly have "known Christ" to a sufficient degree even prior to the coming of the missionary, though this is admittedly more speculative than the other examples.
Or here is another example: Repeat the above scenario with the Hindu converting to Faith, but regrettably the missionary who reaches him is not a Catholic missionary but someone else from a false sect (say, for example, the Anglican communion). He mistakes this person for a Catholic priest, sincerely ignorant of the distinction, and accepts sacraments from this false missionary (which in this case would include a valid water baptism). His intention is clearly to join the Catholic Church, and the fact that the minister who putatively represents himself as such a minister (whether he be lying, or else gravely mistaken himself) is obviously not our convert's fault.
Obviously, in these cases the convert would not be guilty of what he is ignorant of; he would not be "subject to any guilt in this matter," to quote Pope Pius IX. But if his knowledge of Christ is real, then his dissatisfaction with the false ministers must one day assert itself (if given a chance), at least as a desire and seeking for a true minister of the Church. Furthermore, as a false minister is bound to teach at least some heresy or error, this interior knowledge of Christ would balk at these heresies or errors, or at least question them, and if any of these heresies or errors should lead him into wrong conduct, even by merely being "obedient," his salvation is imperiled. Any valid desire for baptism, whether explicit or implicit, categorically must have with it an interior love of and fellowship with Christ, and as such be capable of discerning those details in which the false minister deviates from the true Gospel.
It is possible that something of this kind of discerning of error may have been manifested by those who said to the many missionaries of the various sects and groups that attempted to "evangelize" them, "You have sent us missionaries, who have taught us to know Jesus Christ, and we thank you. But you have also brought us your distinctions and divisions: some preach Methodism, others Lutheranism, Congregationalism, or Episcopalianism. We ask you to preach the Gospel and to let Jesus Christ Himself create, among our peoples and with the help of the Holy Spirit, the Church that answers His requirements and responds to the Spirit of our race. This will be the Church of Christ … freed from all the 'isms' from which your teaching of the Gospel among us suffers."
I can even give an example from my own Protestant days. In that time I was engaged to marry a very sweet and precious Protestant girl. But in the course of going through some of the various Protestant books for those who are preparing for marriage (those kinds of workbooks in which you fill out your priorities, your interests, good and bad habits, things you need to work on, things you think your partner needs to work on, etc.), it came up that she wanted to use a "diaphragm" (contraceptive), and I was having none of it because I interiorly just knew that such an intervention would be wrong and sinful. We never saw eye to eye on this issue and it was one of the key things that led to our eventual breakup. Her Protestant ministers all told her that it would be OK, but if we had married and followed that advice we would both have been damned, not for the heresies of Protestantism (for we were not aware of them, sincere in our ignorance), but for the sin itself against the Natural Law, and against which Protestantism failed to warn us. My own desire to abide by the Natural Law here turned out to be one of the things that later on (and not all that much later on) would bring me to the Catholic Faith.
While ignorance can excuse (which would bless), it really is of itself a damnable thing, for how is a person to be molded into the image of Christ if they don't know of Him, or else just as bad, have been misled and brainwashed into all manner of false information about Him? Such a person molds himself not into the image of Christ but rather the image of the heretic he has followed, or else remains as he is, unregenerate.
On pages 112-113, the Treatise gives a quote from Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R. regarding ignorance. As is usual for the practice in the Treatise, the quote given omits portions of the actual quote that might bring more balance to how the quote is to be understood. It appears thus in the Treatise:
Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R., The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888: "Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Savior, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. 'Invincible ignorance,' says St. Thomas, 'is a punishment for sin.' (De, Infid. Q. x., art. 1).
"It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation… Hence Pius IX said 'that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord, who knows the heart and the thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer anyone to be lost forever without his own fault.' Almighty God, who is just condemns no one without his fault, puts, therefore, such souls as are in invincible ignorance of the truths of salvation, in the way of salvation, either by natural or supernatural means."
Now, let's see the full quote, with additional parts in bold:
Fr. Michael Müller, C.SS.R., The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888: "The Rev. N. Russo and S. O. seem not to see the difference between saying: Inculpable ignorance will not save a man, and inculpable ignorance will not damn a man. Each assertion is correct, and yet there is a great difference between the two. It will be an act of charity to enlighten them on the point in question.
Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of sanctifying grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Saviour, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. 'Invincible ignorance,' says St. Thomas Aquinas, 'is a punishment for sin.' (De Infid. q. x., art. 1.) It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation.
But if we say that inculpable ignorance cannot save a man, we thereby do not say that invincible ignorance damns a man. Far from it. To say, invincible ignorance is no means of salvation, is one thing; and to say, invincible ignorance is the cause of damnation is another. To maintain the latter, would be wrong, for inculpable ignorance of the fundamental principles of faith excuses a heathen from the sin of infidelity, and a Protestant from the sin of heresy; because such invincible ignorance, being only a simple involuntary privation, is no sin.
Hence Pius IX. said 'that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord, who knows the heart and thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer any one to be lost forever without his own fault.'
Almighty God, who is just and condemns no one without his fault, puts, therefore, such souls as are in invincible ignorance of the truths of salvation, in the way of salvation, either by natural or supernatural means.
Fr. Müller then goes on to give some examples of what this might look like. What they amount to is the following: Can a Protestant be saved? Yes. How? By becoming a Catholic. Can a Buddhist be saved? Yes. How? By becoming a Catholic. Can a Muslim be saved? Yes. How? By becoming a Catholic, and so on. But note the interesting things in the portions left out of the quote as it was given in the Treatise. Even the heresy of a Protestant might be excused due to invincible ignorance, as well as the infidelity of the heathen. But the Protestant (or heathen) would not be excused for sins against the Natural Law, and in any case would still have to have a real love of and fellowship with Jesus Christ. This is one thing that makes heresy so pernicious. Even where a heresy itself might be excused in a case of ignorance, it may still of itself lead to sinful behavior against the Natural Law which would not be excusable. And any true "baptism of desire," even if only implicit, would bring a person to the Catholic Church, given only the time and circumstance for that grace to manifest itself, as it did in my case, and in the cases of those whom Fr. Müller cites.
There is, therefore, the concept of "invincible ignorance" as an established concept of value or interest to Catholic theology, and that includes the case of an implicit Baptism of Desire. In bringing up this concept, in even so much as using that phrase with reference to those in need of being joined to the Church, the popes have thereby brought in and endorsed all of this whole lesson regarding implicit BOD (and with it explicit BOD and BOB). But of course Popes Pius IX and XII aren't the only popes who have spoken and pronounced against the erroneous denials of BOB and/or BOD. I have already mentioned where Pope Innocent II endorsed the findings of the Council of Sens in which the teachings of Peter Abélard were condemned, but here I present the words by which he thus condemned it:
Pope Innocent II, COUNCIL OF SENS 1140 or 1141, The Errors of Peter Abelard: 1. That the Father is complete power, the Son a certain power, the Holy Spirit no power. 2. That the Holy Spirit is not of the substance [another version: power] of the Father or of the Son. 3. That the Holy Spirit is the soul of the world. 4. That Christ did not assume flesh to free us from the yoke of the devil. 5. That neither God and man, nor this Person which is Christ, is the third Person in the Trinity. 6. That free will is sufficient in itself for any good. 7. That God is only able to do or to omit those things, either in that manner only or at that time in which He does (them), and in no other. 8. That God neither ought nor is He able to prevent evil. 9. That we have not contracted sin from Adam, but only punishment. 10. That they have not sinned who being ignorant have crucified Christ, and that whatever is done through ignorance must not be considered as sin. 11. That the spirit of the fear of the Lord was not in Christ. 12. That the power of binding and loosing was given to the Apostles only, not to their successors. 13. That through work man becomes neither better nor worse. 14. That to the Father, who is not from another, properly or especially belongs power, not also wisdom and kindness. 15. That even chaste fear is excluded from future life. 16. That the devil sends forth evil suggestion through the operation of stones and herbs. 17. That the coming at the end of the world can be attributed to the Father. 18. That the soul of Christ did not descend to hell by itself but only by power. 19. That neither action nor will, neither concupiscence nor delight, when it moves it [the soul] is a sin, nor ought we to wish to extinguish (it).
[From the letter of Innocent II "Testante Apostolo" to Henry the Bishop of Sens, July 16, 1140] And so we who though unworthily are observed to reside in the chair of St. Peter, to whom it has been said by the Lord: "And thou being once converted, convert thy brethren" (Luke 22:33), after having taken counsel with our brethren the principle bishops, have condemned by the authority of the sacred canons the chapters sent to us by your discretion and all the teachings of this Peter (Abelard) with their author, and we have imposed upon him as a heretic perpetual silence. We declare also that all the followers and defenders of his error must be separated from the companionship of the faithful and must be bound by the chain of excommunication.
Perhaps the author of the Treatise thinks he can gain solace in his error from item 10 ("That they have not sinned who being ignorant have crucified Christ, and that whatever is done through ignorance must not be considered as sin"), but all this shows is that ignorance would not excuse any sin against the Natural Law. It is true that Jesus did pray for the Father to forgive those who crucified Him personally on Golgotha, "for they know not what they do," and the graces conveyed through this forgiveness may be why one of them was able to confess shortly thereafter, "Indeed this was the Son of God!" But this forgiveness was clearly not meant to extend to those who are "crucifying again to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery," (Hebrews 6:6) by violating Natural Law, or rejecting the Heavenly entreaty, whether given by missionary or by Divine messenger, even if done in ignorance.
Pope Innocent II also had more to say about this. In a rather unusual situation regarding an unbaptized priest (more about that situation presently), the Pope here has expressly endorsed the views expressed by the Fathers Saints Ambrose and Augustine, and it would be quite salutary to step through the words in detail:
Pope Innocent II, Baptism of Desire (an unbaptized priest) [From the letter "Apostolicam Sedem" to the Bishop of Cremona, of uncertain time]: "To your inquiry we respond thus: We assert without hesitation (on the authority of the holy fathers Augustine and Ambrose) that the priest whom you indicated (in your letter) had died without the water of baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother Church and in the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly fatherland. Read (brother) in the eighth book of Augustine's City of God where, among other things it is written, 'Baptism is ministered invisibly to one whom not contempt of religion but death excludes.' Read again in the book of the blessed Ambrose concerning the death of Valentinian where he says the same thing. Therefore, to questions concerning the dead, you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers, and in your church you should join in prayers and you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned (Apostolicam Sedem)."
What could be more clear? The Pope has stated in no uncertain terms that "you should hold the opinions of the learned Fathers," which are quite unanimously in favor of BOB and BOD. Not only Ambrose and Augustine (whom the Pope cites by name, and even points to where within their works they have made the case), but now so many more learned Fathers, Doctors, Theologians have had their names added to this list. This is simply an example of the extraordinary magisterium pointing us to the ordinary magisterium, which is the arena in which these questions of BOB and BOD have been doctrinally addressed.
So what can the writers of the Treatise do about this quite damning quote? They can't just dismiss the Pope speaking in his Papal capacity the way they would brush aside the teachings of the ancient Fathers who disagree with them, the Church Doctors who disagree with them, the Roman Theologians who disagree with them, and yet that is exactly what is attempted. First, much is made from the fact that Pope Innocent II did not date this document, so it is undated. Second, much more is made from the fact that one authoritative source for such documents incorrectly attributes this quote to Pope Innocent III (obviously nothing more than a typo). The real big-ticket objection however (the only real question a Catholic should have regarding this quote) has to do with the seeming strangeness of the situation itself: How can a priest be unbaptized? Someone who is not baptized cannot receive the other sacraments validly (including Holy Orders) unless one is baptized, so what gives here?
But this admits of a perfectly straightforward, and rather mundane and unremarkable answer. The man in question was not a Roman Catholic priest, but some other kind of priest in some other religion, and who had no other trade but was known for that job, and who evidently had left behind that role to come to the Church, but died before being baptized. No matter how strange the situation might sound today, the particulars appear to have been common knowledge at the time, for they have been left out. So there is no real objection to be made from the situation of an unbaptized priest, yet on the basis of this the Treatise actually goes so far as to accuse this document of being a forgery!
That will never do. Finally, the hint is dropped that perhaps it crept into Denzinger by mistake, perhaps through the allegedly sinister machinations of Karl Rahner, a known Vatican II villain! But all one need do is to discover that this quote is equally contained in those editions of Denzinger published previous to Mr. Rahner's presence. The claim that the Church would allow something that is supposedly so patently fabricated to be used in Her Dogmatic and Doctrinal sources is unworthy of refutation. This teaching of the Pope is no less official than anything else that has been entered into the Acts of the Apostolic See.
But the Popes have not even yet finished speaking of this. Pope Innocent III (the same to whom some source mistakenly attributes the letter about the unbaptized priest) himself also had something to say about this question as well:
Pope Innocent III, from the letter "Debitum pastoralis officii" to Berthold, the Bishop of Metz, Aug. 28, 1206: "You have, to be sure, intimated that a certain Jew, when at the point of death, since he lived only among Jews, immersed himself in water while saying: 'I baptize myself in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.'
We respond that, since there should be a distinction between the one baptizing and the one baptized, as is clearly gathered from the words of the Lord, when He says to the Apostles: 'Go, baptize all nations in the name etc.," the Jew mentioned must be baptized again by another, that it may be shown that he who is baptized is one person, and he who baptizes another...If, however, such a one had died immediately, he would have rushed to his heavenly home without delay because of the faith of the sacrament, although not because of the sacrament of faith."
With this papal announcement, there is no question as to its date, source, writer, recipient, its presence in Denzinger, and the Acts of the Apostolic See. A different excuse has to be found. The excuse found basically amounts to this: "So we have Innocent III teaching blatant error." As if to try to make this extraordinary declaration more palatable, the claim is first made that Pope Innocent III taught some other error. The Treatise layers heresy upon heresy by claiming (quite gratuitously) that Pope Innocent III erred when he taught:
Pope Innocent III, Ex Parte tua, to Andrew, the Archbishop of Lyons, Jan. 12, 1206: "Although original sin was remitted by the mystery of circumcision, and the danger of damnation was avoided, nevertheless there was no arrival at the kingdom of heaven, which up to the death of Christ was barred to all."
Needless to say, the Pope did not err, and I for one would prefer to side with the Pope and against the Treatise. And how does the Treatise purport to "prove" the Pope wrong? By citing an unrelated statement from the Council of Trent, to wit:
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chap. 1 on Justification: "… whereas all men [*except the Blessed Virgin - as Trent says in Sess. V*] had lost their innocence in the prevarication of Adam, 'having become unclean', and (as the Apostle says), 'by nature children of wrath… but not even the Jews by the very letter of the law of Moses were able to be liberated or to rise therefrom…"
As even the simplest Catholic student must know, the Jews who kept faithful to their circumcision, though they went to "hell," nevertheless went to that painless portion thereof known as the "Limbo of the Fathers," in which they were already to be counted among the saved, and from which they would be brought by our Lord into Heaven after His Passion. So there is obviously no conflict between the two dogmatic statements and the author of the Treatise is merely compounding his own sin.
The only other thing the author of the Treatise can do is cite some saintly account in which the soul of Pope Innocent III is seen suffering in purgatory. Even if we take this account at face value, all this means is that he personally lived a sinful life (albeit not quite mortally sinful, or at least repentant for all mortal sins committed, else he would have been in Hell and not Purgatory). Such private and personal things as the sins of a pope that could merit such punishment have no bearing upon what the Pope taught and declared as pope, for in that he could not err. And of course we have the Council of Trent which was endorsed and promulgated by several popes, and in which explicit mention is made of the desire for the laver of regeneration and for the Sacraments of the New Law. In summary, one finds the popes of the Catholic Church to be the leaders among those who have infallibly taught BOB and BOD, and therefore just as infallibly condemned the denial of same.
There is one more objection recognized in the Treatise as being a "major objection," and that is the fact that the author of the Treatise is behaving exactly like a Protestant, except that instead of doing his own interpretation of Scripture he is doing his own interpretation of the magisterial statements and declarations of the Church. This is the so-called "private judgment" objection. Actually, what is done in the Treatise is something far worse. It is a fair point (and I have made it myself that) "a slightly interesting question is introduced in these notes: who interprets the magisterium? The answer is rather surprising, yet once seen it becomes obvious: The magisterium itself IS the Church's interpretation of Divine Revelation as given in Tradition and Scripture. There is no need for any further interpretation of that interpretation. Otherwise one would then need someone to interpret the interpretation of the interpretation, and then another someone beyond that... and so on." It is one thing to misread such an official declaration, especially if it is not clearly written, or even to detect some (possibly unintended) ambiguity in such a declaration and see in it an opportunity to read it in a sense other than that which was intended, or even in a sense that admits to a heresy. But what the authors of the Treatise (and all such writers against BOB and BOD following the lead of Fr. Feeney, and Father himself) is doing is something quite else.
What they are doing is maliciously misrepresenting the actual content of the magisterial declarations. Even where the quotes are correctly given (but as I have shown in each of my installments, quite a number of quotes have in fact been selectively mutilated), they are surrounded with various "spin" put on them with the clear and express intent to inject into them meanings they plainly do not themselves contain. For example, it is not hard to find declarations to the effect that baptism is necessary for salvation. But no amount of any such declarations will ever amount to the altogether different and larger claim that the Sacrament of Baptism is always necessary for salvation in every individual case, no matter how unusual or exceptional. In doing this, the words (duly bracketed, so at least if the reader looks them up he won't expect the words to be in the original document itself since they are not) "[the Sacrament]" are inserted into the Treatise's quote of the Council of Trent, Session 7, Canon 5, no less that 13 times! ("If anyone says that baptism [the Sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema.") Only 4 times is this particular canon of the Council of Trent allowed to speak for itself without that openly deceptive insertion: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (John. 3:5): let him be anathema."
This is not to say that there has not also been a certain element of private judgment at work. The problem with private judgment is not that people read something and try to understand it for themselves (for that in itself is a good thing), but that they come up with some unusual interpretation not in accord with how anyone else, or the Church at large, interprets the statement at hand, and persist in this abberrational interpretation even when this fact is pointed out to them. Over the course of the Treatise, one pattern that has emerged is the overuse of the words fallible and infallible, and particularly the selective manner in which the two opposite terms are used. One finds the word "fallible" used again and again, often without justification, to describe everything any pope or other writer says that shows the denials of BOB and/or BOD to be erroneous (or even heresy). Correspondingly one finds the word "infallible" used again and again, to describe those particular quotes that, taken from context, misquoted, or presented in a sea of legerdemain that inserts into them implications that are plainly not intended, can be made to seem to support his claims.
Can it not be clear that within the Treatise, the fallibility or infallibility attributed to any quote is gauged directly to the ability of its writers to spin the quote into supporting his denials of BOB and BOD? The algorithm actually used simply goes like this: Encounter some quote in which some saint, theologian, ancient father, Doctor, or Pope is stating that an unbaptized person would be saved in any certain circumstances, "Oh, that's fallible!" Encounter some quote in which baptism is stated as being necessary, or that remaining inside the Church is necessary, or that the sacrament of Baptism requires real water, etc., and "That's infallible!"
The biggest irony to all this in the Treatise is that, while choosing between those magisterial documents that can be made to seem to support its claims, versus those other magisterial documents that clearly do not support its claims, it then (on page 292) calls Fr. Rulleau (the writer of the SSPX book, "Baptism of Desire: A Patristic Commentary") a heretic for stating that "it is an error to attribute infallibility to every document of the Magisterium." Yet how many magisterial documents have been declared "fallible" within the Treatise simply because they show the Church's teaching to be plainly in favor of BOB and BOD?
Even worse, there is presented a whole methodology of reading magisterial documents (but this same could be said of reading saints, fathers, Sacred Scripture, or in fact anything ever written of any kind for that matter) which is gravely unsound and highly destructive, and in fact precisely what the heretics do. For the word "heretic" derives its meaning from the Greek word αίρεσις (hairesis) which means to choose. One picks and chooses what to believe and what not to believe. Picture for a moment, how absurd it would be if Sacred Scripture were to be "interpreted" as the Treatise attempts to "interpret" the magisterial documents. If, in one's small-minded way of understanding things, one felt that one passage of Scripture was in conflict with another passage of Scripture, this kind of "choice" is about basically saying, "Well, I like what this passage says better than what that passage says, so therefore the first one is true and the second is false." Imagine all the bits of Sacred Scripture one ends up practically cutting out of one's Bible just to exalt other passages to some sort of absolutes.
Going back to our illustration with Sacred Scripture, recall that of Luke 1:34 in which our Lady protests to the angel, "How can this be, for I do not know man?" But Luke 8:19 states that "Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd." Since this latter passage, at least if read in a superficial and cursory manner, and using an incautious translation, would seem to indicate that Jesus had brothers, doesn't this mean that Mary must have abandoned or even renounced her pledge of perpetual virginity? In a seeming attempt to "resolve" this conflict between Scripture and Scripture, all the Protestants can do is to delete Luke 1:34 from their Bible by mistranslating it by any of the various means I illustrated (or simply ignoring it in the handful of cases where they didn't mistranslate it). But it really would not have been any more Catholic (though at least more favorable to the true understanding of the character of our Lady) to instead delete Luke 8:19 from one's Bible, whether by simply removing it, or else claiming that it is "fallible," or else claiming that it is not found in certain ancient manuscripts, etc.
No, the Catholic thing to do with such a seeming conflict between revelation and revelation is to find out what both passages really mean, for example in this case that the Biblical word for "brothers" (Greek: αδελφοι) refers equally to more distantly related male kinsmen, so these "brothers," (evidently older, since younger brothers would not have approached Jesus in such a capacity) would be something else, for example cousins, or even sons of Joseph from a previous marriage, so in this way the second Scripture does not have to be deleted by any means but can be accepted as also part of the Truth.
But this Protestant approach is the exactly what is taken throughout the Treatise. Since some of the statements useful for their misquoting happen to come from popes, these particular statements are exalted above all else as being alone "infallible." When other statements, whether said by ancient Fathers, Doctors, Roman Theologians, Saints, Councils, or Popes happen to express a belief in BOB and/or BOD, not only are all of these to be taken as "fallible," but since they are supposedly "fallible" they are all simply to be womped by the "infallible" quotes (and presumably the "equally infallible" spin being put on them as well). So instead of integrating all of the Church's teachings into one single cohesive whole, certain teachings get pitted against certain other teachings, with the clear intention that the one will simply nullify the other.
One sees this bizarre approach being taken by the correspondent with whom Fr. Anthony Cekada was addressing in his excellent piece, "Baptism of Desire: An Exchange." In this exchange, Father had just made clear that Vatican I and Pius IX laid down these general principles by establishing all the following as the types of teaching that a Catholic must believe and adhere to: 1) Solemn pronouncements of the extraordinary Magisterium, 2) Teachings of the universal ordinary Magisterium, 3) Teachings of the universal ordinary Magisterium held by the universal and common consent of theologians to belong to the faith, 4) Doctrinal decisions of the Vatican congregations, and 5) Theological truths and conclusions so certain that opposition to them merits some theological censure short of "heresy."
His correspondent, committed to misusing texts from the Council of Trent as I have illustrated in my previous installment, began trying to get this wise priest to consider only the first two levels in isolation, in which one would find Trent. It was quite clear that the debating tactic being used was to try to get Father to deal with Trent first, with the hope that this would provide some way of saying "But Father, you said..." so that the later items 3 through 5 would be ignored, even contradicted, or at least simply never gotten to. It is not clear whether Father Cekada specifically identified and recognized this tactic for what it was, but in any case he was having none of it, for he replied that "You ask me a series of questions, for instance, aimed at demonstrating that (1) belief in baptism of desire or blood contradicts Trent's canons 2 and 5 on the sacrament of baptism, and that (2) this supposed contradiction nullifies the obligations that Vatican I and Pius IX imposed upon Catholics to submit to teachings of the universal ordinary magisterium."
So again, one sees this same horrific methodology being pushed by those who deny BOB and BOD. Catholic theology is all of a piece. You cannot validly go throwing this or that portion out as "fallible" (and therefore wrong and to be ignored). That is invariably the fast lane to heresy. And that is precisely what the denial of BOB and/or BOD must always depend upon. For there is much to Catholic theology that teaches BOB and BOD, much in the way of "exceptions" to the extraordinary claims of the Treatise, of which I have only addressed a few so far. In further installments in September I will continue to address further such what-about "exceptions."