December 10, 2008
vol 19, no. 345
What part of "Rome has spoken, the case is closed" didn't Fr. Feeney and his stubborn followers get? The Holy Office gave him every opportunity to state his case, but he cowardly refused, bunkering down with his cult followers at St. Benedict Center, fighting his battles through his tabloid. While he might have won some battles from the rooftops it all proved futile for he lost a war, one he started and was never necessary. Rather than honorable surrender, he went shamefully to the gallows outside the Church. A sad, tragic commentary on a man who ruined his life and the lives of many who even today continue to stubbornly cling to heresy. All Feeney had to do in order to become the good general, the noble soldier of Christ was to submit to the proper and highest authority in Rome when Rome was still the true Authority. Feeney had every opportunity and he shunned Christ and His Church out of pride.
"But in this case, the parties concerned were not ready to back down and get back into the boat. Two years passed during which, instead of deciding to give it a rest, they persistently continued to push their claims, publishing books and newsletters chronicling their grievances and only hardening into their position. Finally, in 1952, Rome gave orders to The Pilot to publish the Letter in full, which appeared in September, 1952. In October, the Holy Office wrote to Fr. Feeney to invite him to come to Rome to argue his case before them and be examined by them. As we know, Fr. Feeney did not go, and, after that came several follow up correspondence on both sides, with Rome granting short extensions to the deadline and also making it clear that this would be an 'expenses-paid' trip, and Fr. Feeney continuing to stand on ceremony, citing every possible (and some impossible) excuses not to go. In February of 1953 his excommunication was complete, and unlike the letter DID get published in the Acts of the Apostolic See."
Having clarified some of this historical and biographical detail pertaining to Fr. Feeney himself personally and his St. Benedict's Center, and its publication "From the Housetops" and some of its more prominent writers in Conspiracy of a Cult last week in the first part of the eleventh installment in this series, I have now provided the necessary context for reviewing in much loving detail that letter from the Holy Office dated August 8, 1949, titled Suprema haec sacra, and written against the St. Benedict's Center, Father Feeney, "From the Housetops," and most of all their unique interpretation of "No Salvation Outside the Church." Ever and anon they sought an official word from the Pope on their teaching, and this is it. Seldom has any error or heresy been so promptly responded to by the Church as this. And it is a rare publication sympathetic to Fr. Feeney and his cause that gives this document in full, though in fair balance one should also point out that much of it was also withheld from the public when originally mentioned in 1949. Only in 1952 did the full text become available. Now let's step through it in detail:
To: Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston.
LETTER OF THE HOLY OFFICE
From the Headquarters of the Holy Office, Aug. 8, 1949.
This Supreme Sacred Congregation has followed very attentively the rise and the course of the grave controversy stirred up by certain associates of "St. Benedict Center" and "Boston College" in regard to the interpretation of that axiom: "Outside the Church there is no salvation."
We can see from the above that this is a letter from the Holy Office to one Richard J. Cushing who was then the Archbishop of Boston. Here, this "Supreme Sacred Congregation" (the "Holy Office") specifically states that they have "followed very attentively the rise and course" of the St. Benedict's Center and their peculiar interpretation of "No Salvation Outside the Church." So this is no mere pat answer, no hasty opinion, no "shoot from the hip" response, but a carefully considered conclusion, for which the Holy Office here takes full and cognizant responsibility. There can be no "Oops, we didn't really think about it or consider it seriously," or "Oops, we made a mistake," and so therefore neither can there ever be a "Sorry, we take it all back," from them. This is a situation that the Holy Office had been monitoring for quite some time. Now, continuing:
After having examined all the documents that are necessary or useful in this matter, among them information from your Chancery, as well as appeals and reports in which the associates of "St. Benedict Center" explain their opinions and complaints, and also many other documents pertinent to the controversy, officially collected, the same Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate controversy arose from the fact that the axiom, "outside the Church there is no salvation," was not correctly understood and weighed, and that the same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the institutions mentioned above refused reverence and obedience to legitimate authorities.
Much of this paragraph above was quoted in The Pilot, and is not quoted in the Treatise, because this paragraph most succinctly and directly summarizes the whole problem. And it is "the fact that the axiom, 'outside the Church there is no salvation,' was not correctly understood and weighed." And there it is. The question was never one of whether "No Salvation Outside the Church" was true or not, because of course it's true! That is simply not the question, no matter how much some certain careless and irresponsible journalists made it so seem at the time. The real question is "what does it mean?" And it won't do here to merely respond, "It means simply what it says!" Far too much ink has been spilled, and sermons given, for anyone to approach such a statement objectively for itself. No one can read it today without all the various suppositions, assumptions, and subtexts with which everyone has been indoctrinated, either by one camp or the other. And, Oh by the way, "No Salvation Outside the Church" does not say anything about baptism. Getting from such a statement to "therefore everyone not actually baptized in water before they die is necessarily not saved" requires one to traverse a great many weak links in a chain of reasoning already discredited by the Church. Notice also how the "serious disturbance of discipline" also did much to demonstrate who was and who was not acting in a saintly manner. Now, continuing:
Accordingly, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals of this Supreme Congregation, in a plenary session held on Wednesday, July 27, 1949, decreed, and the august Pontiff in an audience on the following Thursday, July 28, 1949, deigned to give his approval, that the following explanations pertinent to the doctrine, and also that invitations and exhortations relevant to discipline be given:
We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office [Denzinger, n. 1792].
Why these two paragraphs were not quoted in The Pilot I have no idea, but they are quite incriminating of the claims of those who deny BOB/BOD. To hear the members of St. Benedict Center, Fr. Feeney himself, his present day successors, the Dimond brothers, and indeed all who deny BOB and BOD, one gets the idea that this letter is "nothing more than a letter from two heretical cardinals of the Holy Office, ... to one apostate archbishop in Boston," as the Treatise describes it. Never mind that one of those "cardinals" (actually not yet a cardinal at that time but then a lesser functionary) happened to be none other than Alfredo Ottaviani, a most staunchly traditional and conservative cardinal indeed, and hardly one to be so easily a party to rank error. Yet we find here in this quote the fact that it was discussed "in a plenary session" which means that all members of the Holy Office were present (and none of them objected? - No, none of them did!). When we claim that this letter was reviewed by the Pope and agreed to by him as to its contents, this is no mere apocryphal story, but what is claimed in the text of the document itself. It makes reference to the standard practice of the Holy Office (as it stood then) that their main meetings were held on Wednesdays and the results reviewed and approved with personal papal approval on the immediate following Thursdays, as this happened here on July 27 (Wednesday) and July 28 (Thursday), 1949. This is no mere formality, nor was it anything exceptional, but merely the Holy Office acting exactly as was par for the course.
As Msgr. Fenton in his book, The Catholic Church and Salvation describes as to the meaning of that paragraph, "We are dealing, then, with an authoritative document. It would be wrong for any teacher of Catholic doctrine to ignore or to contradict the teachings contained in this Holy Office letter."
We also see here that the Holy Office members all understood the real problem lying at the base of their doctrinal difficulties, exactly what Fr. Anthony Cekada was also speaking about when he wrote that "What kinds of teaching are we obliged to adhere to? Answering this question establishes the general principles, or the rules of evidence, for discussing any point of Catholic teaching. Only when all these principles are established can one then look at a particular issue." Denzinger 1792 reads almost verbatim as they quoted in full: "We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office."
The one slight adjustment to the content of the text is, as explained by Msgr, Fenton, is that "where the Dei Filius ["Vatican I document, Denzinger 1792"] uses the expression 'either by solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium,' the Suprema haec sacra says 'not only by solemn judgment but also by the ordinary and universal magisterium.'" This slight wording adjustment not only hints that the Catholic doctrines of BOB/BOD belong to the category of the "ordinary and universal magisterium" and not to "judgment" or anything else, and furthermore how those who deny BOB and BOD were refusing to accept the "ordinary and universal magisterium." Recall how those who deny BOB and/or BOD invariably pit one level of teaching against another, claiming that only the most supreme and extraordinary infallible statements need be believed, while everything else is fair game for doctrinal attacks, especially where their opinions, falsely claiming to be based on infallible statements, plainly run counter to the Ordinary Magisterium. Now continuing:
Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.
However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.
We now arrive at the first portions quoted in either the Treatise (the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second paragraph above) or in the original release of portions of this letter in The Pilot (the second paragraph in full). This states in no uncertain terms that "there is no salvation outside the Church," and that it is an infallible statement. But that of course was never the question.
The real question has been, "What exactly does "no salvation outside the Church" actually mean. The statement itself is simply not clear enough to stand on its own, given the wide variety of interpretations placed upon it, not only from the side of those who deny BOB and/or BOD, but also many on the other side of things who, as Pope Pius XII put it in Humani generis, "reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation," in addition to the correct interpretation. The one (and only) statement contained in both the Treatise and the original Pilot article says it all: "However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it." And there is the rub.
How, exactly, has the Church always understood this? Is there any evidence to show that anyone of the Church (other than Peter Abélard, and he only denied BOD and on the other hand promulgated quite a number of real whoppers, doctrinally speaking) ever believed "no salvation outside the Church" to mean only those who have been baptized with water before they died can be saved? Those who deny BOB and/or BOD have furnished any number of false quotes carefully edited to make it sound as if many have, in order to make it seem as if the meaning of this statement has long been open to debate and legitimate disagreement. But as I have shown in the preceding installments, the original and actual meaning of the quotes, as given in full, show no such disagreement but a morally (and almost physically) unanimous consensus that those who are saved by BOB or BOD are as much thereby "in the Church" as those who are saved by Baptism in water.
So who gets to say what it means, such that all are bound to follow it? All the Fathers and Doctors and theologians and Popes and Councils and bishops of the Church down through the ages, or some small coterie of laymen (and one priest) who claim to know better than all those, but who base their claim on false quotes? Now continuing:
Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly enjoined on His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20).
Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.
Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.
The necessity to belong to the Church is both one of precept and of means. The above three paragraphs pertain specifically to only that necessity of precept, which certainly is plenty of its own value, to say nothing of what the necessity of means will add to this. The Treatise, ignoring this distinction, claims that this is some "new" explanation of the dogma, when in fact any necessity of precept has always been of this kind, namely that if you know what the Church has commanded you are bound by it, but if you honestly do not know, then you cannot be bound by it. Having discussed the necessity of the Church by precept, Suprema haec sacra then turns its attention to the Church as a necessity of means:
Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.
In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the sacrament of regeneration and in reference to the sacrament of penance [Denzinger, nn. 797, 807].
The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.
As we see here, the Church is also necessary of means for salvation, but as we can also see, this is by Divine decree, and not intrinsically so. And therein one finds a most probable causative basis for the distinction between being of "absolute means" (based on some intrinsic necessity, such that no substitute can serve under any circumstances, and being of "relative means" (based on a Divine decree, by which God decrees a thing to be necessary of means, but its thus necessity is derived not intrinsically but only by decree which God, having imposed, is therefore also empowered and authorized to suspend, modify, or excuse for this or that particular case, as He so ever wills. There is of course no substitute for the Church Herself, but there are substitutes, subject to certain and specific conditions, for the usual process (Sacrament of Baptism) by which one enters that Church, or of how one avails salvation by means of the Church.
As Msgr. Fenton writes, "First, there is the fact that the Church is a means necessary for salvation only by divine institution and not by intrinsic necessity. Second is the fact that means necessary for salvation by divine institution can produce their effects, as the document says, 'in certain cases' when there is only a will or desire to possess these things. When the document classifies the Catholic Church as a means of salvation which is necessary only by divine institution and not by intrinsic necessity, it likewise mentions two other realities which are also requisite for the attainment of salvation in this particular way. These are the sacraments of baptism and penance. Both of these are necessary for salvation, and are necessary as means established by God for the attainment of this end."
"In other words, there is no reason apart from the positive will of God why a washing with water performed while the person administering the sacrament is uttering a definite formula should be necessary for the attainment of the Beatific Vision. There is no reason apart from the positive will of God why a man who is guilty of mortal sin committed after baptism cannot have this sin forgiven except by means of a judicial absolution pronounced by an authorized priest. Neither the baptism nor the sacrament of penance is by its nature part of the supernatural life itself in the way that sanctifying grace and charity are." Denzinger 797 and 807 are also worth taking a look at, for they show yet further parts of the Council of Trent that support the ability of grace and forgiveness to arrive to a soul desirous of baptism or penance, but unable to access them:
Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter 5 (Denzinger 797): It [the Synod] furthermore declares that in adults the beginning of that justification must be derived from the predisposing grace [can. 3] of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby without any existing merits on their part they are called, so that they who by sin were turned away from God, through His stimulating and assisting grace are disposed to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and cooperating with the same grace [can. 4 and 5], in such wise that, while God touches the heart of man through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself receiving that inspiration does nothing at all inasmuch as he can indeed reject it, nor on the other hand can he [can. 3] of his own free will without the grace of God move himself to justice before Him. Hence, when it is said in the Sacred Writings: "Turn ye to me, and I will turn to you" [Zach. 1:3], we are reminded of our liberty; when we reply: "Convert us, O Lord, to thee, and we shall be converted" [Lam. 5:21], we confess that we are anticipated by the grace of God.
Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter 14 (Denzinger 807): Those who by sin have fallen away from the received grace of justification, will again be able to be justified [can. 29] when, roused by God through the sacrament of penance, they by the merit of Christ shall have attended to the recovery of the grace lost. For this manner of justification is the reparation of one fallen, which the holy Fathers have aptly called a second plank after the shipwreck of lost grace. For on behalf of those who after baptism fall into sin, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of penance, when He said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained" [I John 20:22, 23]. Hence it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a cessation from sins, and a detestation of them, or "a contrite and humble heart" [Ps. 50:19], but also the sacramental confession of same, at least in desire and to be made in its season, and sacerdotal confession of the same, as well as satisfaction by fasting, almsgiving, prayers, and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment, which is remitted together with the guilt either by the sacrament or the desire for the sacrament, but for the temporal punishment [can. 30], which (as the Sacred Writings teach) is not always wholly remitted, as is done in baptism, to those who ungrateful to the grace of God which they have received, "have grieved the Holy Spirit" [cf. Eph. 4:30], and have not feared to "violate the temple of God" [I Cor. 3:17]. Of this repentance it is written: "Be mindful, whence thou art fallen, do penance, and do the first works" [Apoc. 2:5], and again: "The sorrow which is according to God, worketh penance steadfast unto salvation" [II Cor. 7:10], and again: "Do penance" [Matt. 3:2; 4:17], and, "Bring forth fruits worthy of penance" [Matt. 3:8].
Now continuing with Suprema haec sacra:
However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.
So here is a very clear and succinct presentation of how invincible ignorance, coupled with the implicit desire, as part of that good disposition by which a soul wishes to do the will of God, can also bring the fruit of salvation in some cases. About this paragraph and those preceding the Treatise can only shout, "Here one detects another denial of the dogma as it was defined, and a departure from the understanding of the dogma that Holy Mother Church has once declared," and "Here the heresy comes out quite bluntly." Attempts to bring in at this point the various papal quotes addressed way back in the second installment all fall flat on their face as one finds in them no contradiction of Suprema haec sacra. And again, something gets left out showing the statements of Suprema haec sacra to have their basis in the dogmatic Papal teachings of Popes Pius IX and XII. First, that of Pope Pius XII is cited:
These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, Mystici Corporis - On the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.
Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is composed here on earth, the same august Pontiff says: "Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed."
Toward the end of this same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church" (AAS, 1. c., p. 243).
Of these three paragraphs, only the last is given, of which the Treatise baldly and without basis accuses Suprema haec sacra of containing a "false analysis of Pope Pius XII's encyclical Mystici Corporis." The Treatise of course quotes no more of Suprema haec sacra, not wanting to remind the reader that Pope Pius IX has also explicitly weighed in on this same issue, as discussed in detail in the sixth installment of this series on "The Art of Scholastic Dishonesty":
With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution, Singulari quadam, [in Denzinger, n. 1646 ff.]; also Pope Pius IX in the encyclical letter, Quanto conficiamur moerore, [in Denzinger, n. 1677].
Rather than try to reconcile this Holy Office letter with their denials of BOB and BOD, the approach taken in the Treatise has been to emphasize its differences from their position, and then accuse it of being just some heretical document of no valid force, or even as a basis for further doctrinal erosion to come. Hence the innuendo that the Pope never even saw it, let alone approved of it, or that it was nothing more than a private letter "from two heretical cardinals ... to one apostate archbishop." So for example a whole paragraph from Mystici Corporis regarding the fact that only those who are water baptized (and not departed therefrom through schism, heresy, apostasy, or excommunication) are actually to be considered members of the Church is omitted. For the same reason the next paragraph is also not mentioned in the Treatise:
But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): "Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" [Denzinger, n. 801].
Similarly, also omitted is the fact that Msgr. Fenton also wrote, in pages 110-111 of The Catholic Church and Salvation, "The Suprema haec sacra then brings out the fact that, in the merciful designs of God's providence, such realities as the Church itself and the sacraments of baptism and penance can, under certain circumstances, bring about the effects which they are meant to produce as means necessary for the attainment of eternal salvation when a man possesses them only in the sense that he desires or intends or wills to have or to use them. Obviously the text cannot be understood unless we realize what the "certain circumstances" mentioned in the text really are."
"Basic among these circumstances is the genuine impossibility of receiving the sacraments of baptism or of penance or of entering the Church as a member. It is quite clear that if it is possible for a man to be baptized, to go to confession and to receive sacramental absolution, or really to become a member of the true Church, the man for whom this is possible will not attain to eternal salvation unless he actually avails himself of these means. But, on the other hand, should actual employment of these means be genuinely impossible, then the man can attain to eternal life by a will or desire to employ them."
"Here, of course, we must distinguish sedulously between the order of intention and the order of mere velleity ["idle wish"]. What is required here is an effective desire, and effective act of the will, as distinct from a mere complacency or approval. A non-member of the Church can be saved if he genuinely wants or desires to enter the Church. With that genuine and active desire or intention, he will really become a member of the Church if this is at all possible. If it is not possible, then the force of his intention or desire will bring him 'within' the Church in such a way that he can attain eternal salvation in this company. An inherently ineffective act of the will, a mere velleity, will definitely not suffice for the attainment of eternal salvation."
And taking a look at Denzinger 801, it shows faith as something one must have in order to be saved, but also something one has before justification, even before baptism:
Council of Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter 8 (Denzinger 801): But when the Apostle says that man is justified "by faith" [can. 9] and "freely" [Rom. 3:22, 24], these words must be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted consent of the Catholic Church has held and expressed, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because "faith is the beginning of human salvation," the foundation and root of all justification, "without which it is impossible to please God" [Heb. 11:6] and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and are, therefore, said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things which precede justification, whether faith, or works merit the grace itself of justification; for, "if it is a grace, it is not now by reason of works; otherwise (as the Apostle says) grace is no more grace" [Rom. 11:6].
Though the Treatise quoted no further portions of this Holy Office letter, the first next paragraph is the second of five paragraphs quoted (or closely paraphrased) in the original Pilot article in 1949:
From what has been said it is evident that those things which are proposed in the periodical "From the Housetops", fascicle 3, as the genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without.
From these declarations which pertain to doctrine, certain conclusions follow which regard discipline and conduct, and which cannot be unknown to those who vigorously defend the necessity by which all are bound of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops "whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church" (Acts 20:28).
In this latter part of the Holy Office letter, our attention now turns from the doctrinal issues to the disciplinary problem presented by Fr. Feeney and his refusal to depart from the St. Benedict's Center to go to Holy Cross. The next three paragraphs, also quoted mostly in full in The Pilot back in 1949, express astonishment at the presumption of the St. Benedict's Center, in their demands for recognition, an audience, and to be treated according to Law when they themselves persistently refused to show respect or submission to the local authorities and acted outside the Law. Recall how Fr. Feeney would soon be citing all manner of Canons to justify his refusal to go to Rome, and yet he himself was already disobedient to the Canons of Church Law:
Hence, one cannot understand how the St. Benedict Center can consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of canons 1381 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source of the disturbance of many consciences.
Furthermore, it is beyond understanding how a member of a religious Institute, namely Father Feeney, presents himself as a "Defender of the Faith," and at the same time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his duties as a religious, a priest, and an ordinary member of the Church.
Finally, it is in no wise to be tolerated that certain Catholics shall claim for themselves the right to publish a periodical, for the purpose of spreading theological doctrines, without the permission of competent Church authority, called the "imprimatur," which is prescribed by the sacred canons.
Canons 1381 and 1382 read, "Canon 1381:
§ 1. The religious instruction of youth in any schools whatsoever is subject to the authority of and inspection by the Church.
§ 2. Local Ordinaries have the right and duty of being vigilant about any schools in their territory lest in them something be found or done against faith or good morals.
§ 3. In a similar way they have the right of approving teachers and books of religion; likewise, for the sake of religion or morals, they can require that either teachers or books be removed. Canon 1382: Local Ordinaries either personally or through others can visit any schools, oratories, recreation areas, patronage, and so forth, that are concerned with religious or moral instruction; from such visitation no schools or any religious are exempt, unless it concerns an internal school for professed exempt religious."
Prior to Vatican II, extremely few publications were permitted to discuss theology without bearing the imprimatur, and while From the Housetops had briefly qualified as one of these, even publishing a couple articles by Archbishop Cushing, when they went outside what was universally accepted theologically speaking, this legal fact was also used against them. One does see here however the fact that as long as one does not stray outside what is clearly established and commonly taught, theologically, the lack of an imprimatur on theological publications was tolerated, and at times even participated in by ranking Church authorities. Notice too, however, that Rome was standing behind the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities (i. e. the Baltimore Catechism), refusing to accept the very idea that an official and long-approved Catechism would be heretical.
This letter closes with a clear declaration that "Rome has spoken," thus invoking the classic formula by which Catholics are obliged to recognize that "the cause is finished." And there can be no room to doubt that the errors or heresies of Fr. Feeney have been thus denounced by Rome itself in no uncertain terms:
Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the Church seriously bear in mind that after "Rome has spoken" they cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church "only by an unconscious desire." Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them apply without any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation.
In sending this letter, I declare my profound esteem, and remain,
Your Excellency's most devoted,
F. Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani.
Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, Assessor.
Holy Office, 8 Aug., 1949.
It is also mentioned that those continuing to go against what "Rome has spoken" are "in grave peril," or "at the peril of their souls," as the original Pilot story put it. These two facts, being brought out in The Pilot back in 1949, made it already then clear that Rome had spoken against the St. Benedict's Center and against Fr. Feeney and against his unique take on "no salvation outside the Church." For a long time they had clamored for Rome to speak on the question of what "no salvation outside the Church" means and this is it.
Needless to say, Fr. Feeney and his followers at St. Benedict's Center never did accept this official declaration from Rome for what it was. They have their own claims for what they think Rome would have to say once infallibility is invoked. It is only for this reason that when Rome infallibly contradicted them, rather than accept it and submit to Rome's teaching authority in this case, they have sought every possible excuse to reject it. So how does one go about doing this?
There are two alternatives: One is to claim that the Vatican had already ceased to be the Church hierarchical, that the pope (so-called) is really no pope, and as such neither he nor his Holy Office authorized to speak for the Roman Catholic Church. The other is to explore every possible technicality, to seek any weakness or fault in the delivery of this letter. For reasons now lost to history, Fr. Feeney and the members of the St. Benedict's Center decided to take the latter course. Even more interestingly, in following their lead, even the Dimond brothers have also taken this course instead of merely adding His Holiness Pope Pius XII to the list of "pseudo-popes," which would have been far easier and more consistent. Having taken the course of seeking technical defects in this letter of the Holy Office, what did they actually come up with?
Well, let's see, the Pope didn't sign it himself personally. But I don't know of any instance where any decision of the Holy Office was ever signed by a pope, personally. They claim that the Pope never saw it or approved of it. That is patently false, given the way the Holy Office functions, both as normally known, and as described in the Letter itself which makes explicit references to certain procedures being followed which are their normal procedures, including the fact that the Holy Office's results and recommendations from any Wednesday's meeting are submitted to the Pope himself the following Thursday for his review and approval.
They claim the Letter was only written "from two heretical cardinals ... to one apostate archbishop," or even that it was some sort of forgery, but if that were the case how is it that both the Pope and the Holy Office have remained silent about so serious abuse or misuse or misappropriation of their reputation and standing in the Church? Can a Pope or his Holy Office be unaware of how they have been quoted as saying what neither of them ever said or approved of having said on their behalf, and with the Pope's authority in the Church? Maybe, if it had been challenged only secretly or privately. But this was in the papers, and many of those involved continued to write to the Holy Office and to the Holy Father himself, and how easy (and in fact necessary and required) that it would have been for him or them to have written back, "This Letter did not come from Us; we have no idea where it came from, and you are quite free to ignore it."
They claim that it wasn't published in the "Acts of the Apostolic See." The fact is that extremely few decisions of the Holy Office are ever so collected, as a matter of course. A great many heresies can be simply nipped in the bud with a simple, private, response from the Holy Office to those concerned, and that normally is the end of the matter. How was anyone then to know that this one case would be different? How was anyone to know back then that the affected parties, instead of accepting this decision for what it was, would instead go into some mode in which they seem to flicker between claiming that the Holy Office never had anything to do with the Letter, or that the Holy Office is staffed with heretics, or that standard procedures had not been followed, or the Pope did not officially invoke his infallible Supreme and Extraordinary powers, and so on ad nauseum?
But in this case, the parties concerned were not ready to back down and get back into the boat. Two years passed during which, instead of deciding to give it a rest, they persistently continued to push their claims, publishing books and newsletters chronicling their grievances and only hardening into their position. Finally, in 1952, Rome gave orders to The Pilot to publish the Letter in full, which appeared in September, 1952. In October, the Holy Office wrote to Fr. Feeney to invite him to come to Rome to argue his case before them and be examined by them. As we know, Fr. Feeney did not go, and, after that came several follow up correspondence on both sides, with Rome granting short extensions to the deadline and also making it clear that this would be an "expenses-paid" trip, and Fr. Feeney continuing to stand on ceremony, citing every possible (and some impossible) excuses not to go. In February of 1953 his excommunication was complete, and unlike the letter DID get published in the Acts of the Apostolic See.
And, as I stated above, I think we have a pretty good idea the real reason he did not go. He was afraid that the Pope might have gotten wind of his doctrinal novelties and might say to his face "You MUST give up these novelties!" And if he were determined not to, then he would be excommunicated vitandus for heresy by the Holy Father himself, instead of merely by some relatively minor Vatican functionary for the disobedience of not coming when called. Rather than face that risk, he chose to be merely "disobedient" and remain doctrinally a cipher to the Vatican. An excommunication for disobedience is, after all, far less serious than an excommunication for teaching heresy. One may well therefore call his refusal to go to Rome a "strategic" action, a skillful and deft motion that a lawyer might recommend in helping his client to skate through with as little collateral damage as possible, but it is not the action of an honorable man, and most especially not the action of a man who honestly believes in his cause. This refusal to forward his claims in an important forum when he had such a ready opportunity reeks of one who prefers things to be gray and ambiguous and unresolved, one who is afraid to face the truth.
So, Fr. Feeney was finally excommunicated on February 13, 1953, and that was it. And here is something else, something he would have been wise to take note of: If a person were "outside the Church" and therefore "impossible to save" for no reason other than not having made it yet to the baptismal font, through no fault of their own, though they be burning with perfect charity and desire to join the Church through water baptism, then by that same token, anyone excommunicated from the Church, even unjustly, would also be ipso facto barred from the Beatific Vision. By that token, Joan of Arc cannot be a saint, for she died while in a state of being excommunicated from the Church. By Father's mode of "reasoning," even the fact and subsequent finding that the excommunication had been altogether unjust would provide no relief for the eternal condition of her soul. She was, though admittedly through no fault of her own, "outside the Church." And so was Fr. Feeney himself, and nowhere near so innocently.
In the meantime however, Humani Generis was published by His Holiness in 1950, in which the Pope did state that "Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." The presence of this document did nothing to slow the continued steps being taken against Fr. Feeney and the St. Benedict's Center. Though this encyclical did reflect what valid concern lay at the root of the trouble they caused, this in no way denies that they still nevertheless had been causing grave trouble though sustained disobedience and public scandal, to say nothing of wild and gratuitous accusations of heresy flung in all directions.
Yes, they had a point that there might have been some who really were reducing the necessity of belonging to the Church to a meaningless formula, some perhaps even in a reaction to the extreme and faulty position taken by Fr. Feeney and those of the St. Benedict's Center. But before we start hailing them as having got something right, one really should compare this to the validity of Martin Luther's initial complaint about how the sale of indulgences was being abused. Yes indeed, there was a grave and scandalous abuse that had spread far and wide and which was posing a stumbling block to the Faith, but the solution to that problem was not Lutheranism but Trent. Likewise the solution to the growing abuse of excuses of any and every kind to obviate the need to belong to the Church in any way did not need Fr. Feeney's extreme and invalid overreaction (to say nothing of the even more extreme reaction of the Dimond brothers) but rather the Pope's teaching as contained in Humani Generis.
This Letter, Suprema haec sacra, also sometimes called the "Marchetti-Selvaggiani letter," can only be yet another major punch in the stomach to those who would deny BOB and/or BOD, for it is undeniably the Pope speaking directly to the issue at hand, and even condemning by name those involved, a most rare and significant step. With this document Rome has spoken, and Fr. Feeney's cause was dogmatically finished.
So, what in the world spin could the Treatise possibly put on that one fact alone that should have thereby shut the whole thing down? In the Treatise, Msgr. Fenton is quoted as saying:
Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, 1958, p. 103: "This letter, known as Suprema haec sacra [Protocol 122/49]… is an authoritative [sic], though obviously not infallible, document. That is to say, the teachings contained in Suprema haec sacra are not to be accepted as infallibly true on the authority of this particular document."
And again, as with so many other quotes, something has been left out that truly explains what was really being said at that point, and the true meaning is not so clear from the smaller portions thereof given in the Treatise:
Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The Catholic Church and Salvation, 1958, p. 103: "This letter, known as Suprema haec sacra, from the first three words of the Latin text, is of unique importance for the study of this section of sacred theology. It is an instruction of the Holy Office, sent out with the approval and at the bidding of the Sovereign Pontiff himself. As such, it is an authoritative, though obviously not an infallible, document. That is to say, the teachings contained in the Suprema haec sacra are not to be accepted as infallibly true on the authority of this particular document. Nevertheless, the fact remains that much of its teaching - indeed, what we may call the substance of its teaching - is material which has appeared in previous documents emanating from the Sovereign Pontiff himself and from Oecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church."
As Msgr. Fenton goes on to explain, the Letter only summarized quite succinctly what the Church has long already taught on the subject of BOB and BOD, both explicit and implicit. On page 106 of The Catholic Church and Salvation, Msgr. Fenton states, "An examination of the text of the Suprema haec sacra will show us from the very outset that the Holy Office did not intend to set fourth anything like an exhaustive explanation of the dogma in its letter. Thus, for example, the document does not go into the nature of the Church or the nature of salvation itself. All the Cardinals of the Congregation wished to do was to present a correct resolution of the particular point at issue in the controversy which occasioned the writing of Suprema haec sacra."
As with the Catechism of the Council of Trent, this Letter was merely an abridgement of what was dogmatically known specifically about the narrow topic of BOB and BOD. The very nature of such an abridgement means that much information has to be left out, such as the nature of the Church or of salvation. More importantly, this Letter states nothing new. It resolves no new questions that were in any way in need of resolution, for the doctrines of BOB and BOD (explicit and implicit) were already long held and infallibly taught by the Church down through the ages. So, when Msgr. Fenton stated that this Letter was not an infallible document, it was not due to any lack of correctness or reliability of it as a source of understanding the exact teaching of the Church, but only that these doctrines do not owe their infallible stature with the Church to this document. So important and clearly written this document is however, that it has been added to Denzinger's Enchiridion (as of the 1963 edition) and is now considered part of the Magisterium of the Church. It also summarizes exactly my stand on the question.
Unlike most other "What-abouts" that the Treatise attempts to minimize, but at least recognize as being from saintly sources, this Letter is instead treated as though it were some sort of forgery. Ergo, the "quotes" given in response to it are given, not to try to tone it down, or make its contents not sound quite so much in favor of BOB and/or BOD as they in fact are, but instead to exaggerate and highlight a seeming "difference" between Suprema haec sacra and the other papal statements, as if pope has contradicted pope. For this, many of the usual quotes are reiterated for the umpteenth time, and the proper understanding and response to all of them should be quite obvious by now. This first batch speaks to the necessity of there being a Catholic Faith and Church in the world, and that their presence is the means of all salvation:
Pope Pius IX, Nostis et Nobiscum (# 10), Dec. 8, 1849: "In particular, ensure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation. (This doctrine, received from Christ and emphasized by the Fathers and Councils, is also contained in the formulae of the profession of faith used by Latin, Greek and Oriental Catholics)."
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Session 8, Nov. 22, 1439, "The Athanasian Creed", ex cathedra: "Whoever wishes to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he holds the Catholic faith. Unless a person keeps this faith whole and undefiled, without a doubt he shall perish eternally."
These do not mention baptism, nor discuss the details as to who is to be counted as "inside" or "outside" or a "member" or act versus volition, and so forth. In addition they do not specify just how much of the Catholic faith it is necessary to have, only that he holds to whatever of it he has. They don't even specify what that Faith consists of, and whether (for example) it includes BOB and BOD or not. This next batch speaks of salvation itself, i. e., of who it is that is saved:
Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent,"Iniunctum nobis," Nov. 13, 1565, ex cathedra: "This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved… I now profess and truly hold…"
Pope Benedict XIV, Nuper ad nos, March 16, 1743, Profession of Faith: "This faith of the Catholic Church, without which no one can be saved, and which of my own accord I now profess and truly hold…"
Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Session 2, Profession of Faith: "This true Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold…"
Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, Decree # 30, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: "… one universal Church, outside of which there is no salvation, for all of whom there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism…"
Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 11, Dec. 19, 1516, ex cathedra: "For, regulars and seculars, prelates and subjects, exempt and non-exempt, belong to the one universal Church, outside of which no one at all is saved, and they all have one Lord and one faith. That is why it is fitting that, belonging to the one same body, they also have the one same will…"
And of course, all these refer to is the fact that all saved persons are in either the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant, that all saved persons will have been saved by their entering the Church, either in life (by water baptism) or at the very end of their life by God's grace and mercy (BOB and/or BOD). The next quote pertains to those who would deliberately seek salvation by some means other than the Church:
Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi futura prospicientibus(# 7), Nov. 1, 1900: "Hence all who would find salvation apart from the Church, are led astray and strive in vain."
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 13), Aug. 15, 1832: "This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. …"
Both of these of course imply a knowledge of the Church and a refusal to join Her, but instead to seek salvation elsewhere, and of course nothing could be more futile or hopeless, and Popes Gregory and Leo were correct to condemn it. Another extract from the same paragraph of the same encyclical of Pope Gregory XVI is also misused in the Treatise:
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 13), Aug. 15, 1832: "With the admonition of the apostle that 'there is one God, one faith, one baptism' (Eph. 4:5) may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that 'those who are not with Christ are against Him,' (Lk. 11:23) and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore, 'without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate" (Athanasian Creed).
Let's take a look at what both of these quotes from Pope Gregory omits (I have underlined the portions omitted from the quote as presented in the Treatise):
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (#13), Aug. 15, 1832: "Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that 'there is one God, one faith, one baptism' may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that 'those who are not with Christ are against Him,' and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore 'without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.'"
So, this is not about what few mercies God may display to those ignorant of the Church through no fault of their own, nor of the outcome of those who through no fault of their own have not been baptized prior to their sudden death, but about the grave sin and heresy of indifferentism. The second omitted part shows that this is all about how to deal with those already belonging to the Church ("the people committed to your [the clergy's] care") who, already belonging to the Church as baptized members, patently have no excuse for seeking salvation or the Grace of God elsewhere. As I have indicated, the above quotes are merely those we have seen before, or others just like them. The next two quotes however appear in only this section of the Treatise. The first has a rather interesting origin which would help one understand it:
Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: "In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience to the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved."
The Armenians had claimed that all would eventually be forgiven, even clear to the Devil himself. In effect, this was a denial of Hell (while affirming Purgatory), a rather unusual and early form of Universalism. So the issue here being asked by the Pope of prospective converts from among the Armenians was "Are you willing to believe with Us the Church that those who die outside God's Grace will never be saved (as opposed to the Armenian doctrine that all, including the Devil, will ultimately be saved)?" So again, this quote really has nothing to do with the question of either ignorance, or of baptism.
Then there is the other new quote that appears only in this section of the Treatise, in addressing Suprema haec sacra, and that has its own points of interest. Let us see how this quote is provided within the pages of the Treatise:
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, May 27, 1832, on no salvation outside the Church: "Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life… You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation… Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise St. Gregory the Great who expressly testifies that this is indeed the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: 'The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.' Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of Lateran IV, these things are written: 'There is one universal Church of all the faithful outside of which no one is saved.' Finally the same dogma is also expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use, but also that which… other Eastern Catholics use. We did not mention these selected testimonies because We thought you were ignorant of that article of faith and in need of Our instruction. Far be it from Us to have such an absurd and insulting suspicion about you. But We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies."
On seeing such a quote as this, one has to wonder why it has not been given more attention, used more times in the Treatise, for as presented, it would sound rather persuasive. This actually quotes from portions of paragraphs 2 and 5 of Summo lugiter Studio, an encyclical which is not "on no salvation outside the Church," as the Treatise suggests, but rather "on mixed marriages." Let us see now, what is revealed when more of the source is seen for what it was (I underline that which was not included in the Treatise):
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, May 27, 1832, on mixed marriages, 2, 5: Therefore, guided by the example of Our predecessors, We are grieved to hear reports from your dioceses which indicate that some of the people committed to your care freely encourage mixed marriages. Furthermore, they are promoting opinions contrary to the Catholic faith: namely, they dare to affirm that a Catholic may freely and legally contract marriage with a heterodox party, not only without asking for a dispensation (which must be obtained from the Apostolic See in each individual case), but also without agreeing to the necessary obligations, especially the duty to educate all the offspring in the Catholic religion. Indeed it has even come to the point that these same persons insist that mixed marriages ought to be approved when the heretical partner is a divorced person whose former spouse is still alive. To this end they issue serious threats of punishments in order to induce priests to announce mixed marriages in the churches and, afterwards, to defend the act by which these marriages were contracted or, at least, to grant the contracting parties what they call dismissory letters. Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life.
Next let Us start with the things which concern the faith which, as We mentioned above, some are endangering in order to introduce greater freedom for mixed marriages. You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that very article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation. The words of that celebrated disciple of the apostles, martyred St. Ignatius, in his letter to the Philadelphians are relevant to this matter: "Be not deceived, my brother; if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not attain the inheritance of the kingdom of God." Moreover, St. Augustine and the other African bishops who met in the Council of Cirta in the year 412 explained the same thing at greater length: "Whoever has separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how laudably he lives, will not have eternal life, but has earned the anger of God because of this one crime: that he abandoned his union with Christ." Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise St. Gregory the Great who expressly testifies that this indeed is the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: "The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved." Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of Lateran IV, these things are written: "There is one universal Church of all the faithful outside of which no one is saved." Finally the same dogma is also expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use, but also that which the Greek Orthodox Church uses and that which other Eastern Catholics use. We did not mention these selected testimonies because We thought you were ignorant of that article of faith and in need of Our instruction. Far be it from Us to have such an absurd and insulting suspicion about you. But We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies.
The most important thing here is that this is talking about mixed marriages, and how some progress from desiring to be able to do them without the necessary dispensations, without accepting or holding to any agreements regarding how the children would be raised, to insisting that even those already married (but now invalidly divorced) should have their divorces honored, to finally stating that the heretic can be saved as such. It is one thing to allow for the possibility of some heretic or pagan or heathen, born and raised in such a background and in total ignorance of the Church, to be granted God's mercy despite not having survived long enough to find and join the Church, but quite another to speak of such mercy applying to someone who must know what the Church is really all about, as learned and observed from living in close quarters and intimacy with a Catholic, and furthermore as even having been drawn to it in their choice of a Catholic as a marriage partner. Invincible ignorance simply cannot apply to any such, but explicit BOD (and BOB) could still apply to them since in order for BOD (or BOB) to occur the non-Catholic spouse will have to have decided to enter the Church (also therefore deciding together with that to renounce their heretical affiliation). In such a case of course, they would have already thereby ceased to be separating themselves from the Church in that they have made such a choice to join the Church, a real choice that will in fact bring them all the way into the Church Militant unless interrupted by a premature death.
There is one other omission of particular interest, and that is that concerning the (schismatic) Greek Orthodox Church, which though schismatic, nevertheless understands the same standards against mixed marriage. By this, the Pope acknowledges that the Greek Orthodox have thus placed themselves (in this, anyway) on the same side as the Catholics on a Great Divide between Catholic (who insist upon Truth) and Protestant (who tolerate or even encourage disagreement regarding even certain established truths). Obviously, by their schismatic refusal to submit to the Roman Pontiff, the Greek Orthodox nevertheless remain as much outside the pale as the Protestants. The key fact to realize from this is that this encyclical is not about who does or does not get ultimately saved, in every possible case or situation, but regarding the grave inadvisability of mixed marriages, something the Orthodox (despite their schismatic condition) understand, but which many Protestants (and Rationalists, also then current and also attempting mixed marriages) do not. How horrible it is to be closely intimate (on all levels) with someone who willfully rejects the Kingdom of God though God's love would be present in their life on all levels. How horrible to know that while you have chosen the Heavenly path, this person whom you love and are closely connected with in every way has freely chosen Hell, desiring the assets of Heaven (the love and virtue that you, the Catholic partner, show which was taught by the Church, and thereby provided by God), while at the same time refusing to have anything to do with the source of those Heavenly assets (God and His holy Church).
There is one other thing to say of Suprema haec sacra, and that has to do with something the Dimond brothers came up with after completing the Treatise. They discovered that Gallileo was (roughly) similarly condemned by the Holy Office of his day for his heliocentric theories, and of course we all know how much validity that proved to have. Their intention of course was to parallel this Letter with that condemning Gallileo, such that if one can be false, then so can the other. For example, Peter Dimond, in his article "Examining the Theological Status of Geocentrism and Heliocentrism and the Devastating Problems this creates for Baptism of Desire Arguments" quoted the following from John Daly's article, "The Theological Status of Heliocentrism":
24th February 1616: The eleven theologian-qualifiers of the Holy Office meet to consider the theological qualifications proper to be attached to the following propositions:
(i) The sun is the centre of the universe ("mundi") and absolutely immobile in local motion.
(ii) The earth is not the centre of the universe ("mundi"); it is not immobile but turns on itself with a diurnal movement.
All unanimously censure the first proposition as "foolish, absurd in philosophy [i.e. scientifically untenable] and formally heretical on the grounds of expressly contradicting the statements of Holy Scripture in many places according to the proper meaning of the words, the common exposition and the understanding of the Holy Fathers and learned theologians"; the second proposition they unanimously censured as likewise "absurd in philosophy" and theologically "at least erroneous in faith".
25th February 1616: Pope Paul V is officially apprised of this theological qualification and confirms it, ordering Cardinal Bellarmine to summon Galileo and (i) warn him to abandon the said opinions; should he refuse to obey, (ii) order him to abstain from teaching, defending or treating of this doctrine and opinion in any way; and, should he not acquiesce even in this, (iii) to imprison him.
26th February 1616: Cardinal Bellarmine summons Galileo to his home and before witnesses transmits the Pope's orders, commanding him in the name of the Pope and of the whole Congregation of the Holy Office to abandon the position in question and no more to hold, teach or defend it on pain of being proceeded against by the Holy Office. Galileo promises to obey.
But before we start accepting the idea that Suprema haec sacra is merely on the level of the action of some eleven "theologian-qualifiers," recall two facts that alone are enough to make all the difference:
1) Suprema haec sacra refers to doctrines taught, or at least referenced, in Sacred Scripture, and by Tertullian, Origen, and Saints Cyprian, Ambrose, Ursinius, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianz, Bernard, Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure, Robert Bellarmine, and Alphonse Ligouri, explicitly ruled upon in favor by Popes Innocent II, Innocent III, Pius IX, Pius XII, and by both the Council and Catechism of Trent. By contrast, the "teaching" of the eleven "theologican-qualifiers" has no basis in any of Sacred Scripture, the Fathers, the Popes, any Council or Synod of the Church, and no Doctors. While it is true that St. Robert Bellarmine accepted the decision of these "theologian-qualifiers" since they officially spoke for the Holy Office, and the Pope did agree to their declaration the next day (in accordance to standard Holy Office procedure), his acceptance of this clearly came "after the fact" as he no doubt felt honor-bound to submit to the decision of the Holy Office (and thereby, the Pope) and even to do his level best at trying to defend their conclusion, no matter how patently nonsensical he may have even then suspected that it was.
For example he declared it to be as true as the claim that "Abraham had two sons," but anyone familiar with Sacred Scripture (as he would have to have been) would know that Abraham did not have two sons; he had eight sons: Ismael and Isaac as are commonly known of, but also Zamran, Jescan, Madan, Madian, Jesboc, and Sue (Genesis 25:2).
2) The conclusion of the eleven "theologian-qualifiers" was an attempt to rule on a question belonging purely to the domain of the physical sciences, and as such quite outside the domains of either Faith or Morals. In doing so they attempted to rule on something which was patently outside their area of academic expertise. For that matter however, they even managed to display an appalling ignorance of Sacred Scripture, the Ancient Fathers, and the learned theologians as well, by actually claiming that their decision had any basis in these things. Nothing of any of these was quoted, or even cited (as, for example, how Suprema haec sacra cited several papal encyclicals and allocutions in the course of its text), for there is (and was) nothing out there of the sort that could be.
While I grant that Peter Dimond has commendably brought out some interesting and worthwhile information regarding the whole Gallileo event, I must point out that, given the above two points alone (and there may be further reasons I have not thought of), there is no parallel here and that information has absolutely no bearing on the question of BOB and BOD, explicit or implicit.
And note here that only one doctor (St. Robert Bellarmine) ever got roped into that controversy and made to teach things not claimed or taught by any other Doctor of the Church. As with Cyprian with his belief that all heretical baptisms were intrinsically invalid, Augustine who suspected that unbaptized infants who die thus could be subject to the pain of sense, and Thomas Aquinas who had expressed some doubts about our Lady's Immaculate Conception, Robert Bellarmine stands alone in his condemnation of Gallileo's scientific findings. Against a single Doctor or Father one may stand, if the consensus of the rest is already against that Doctor or Father, but against that consensus no one may stand.
Griff L. Ruby
For the first installment of this series, see Part 1
For the second installment of this series, see Part 2
For the third installment of this series, see Part 3
For the fourth installment of this series, see Part 4
For the fifth installment of this series, see Part 5
For the sixth installment of this series, see Part 6
For the seventh installment of this series, see Part 7
For the eighth installment of this series, see Part 8
For the ninth installment of this series, see Part 9
For the first part of the tenth installment, see Part 10a
For the second part of the tenth installment, see Part 10b
For the first part of the eleventh installment, see Part 11a
Griff's book is available from iUniverse.com Books for $26.95 or can be read on-line at www.the-pope.com We at The Daily Catholic strongly urge you to share it with all you can for that could be the gentle shove that moves your friends back to where the True Faith resides forever, rooted in the Truths and Traditions of Holy Mother Church as Christ intended and promised.