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 12 of this series addressed Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," thus exposing the flagrant scholastic dishonesty which is required in order to deny the Catholic doctrines of Baptism of Blood, and of Desire (hereinafter called BOB and BOD), both explicit and implicit. But of course Peter Dimond's work is only the latest (and admittedly one of the most thorough) attempts at propping up what is at its base a patently false doctrine. In refuting and exposing that Treatise, Sacred Scripture, the ancient Fathers, the Doctors, the Popes, the Councils (especially Trent), the greatest Roman Theologians, the Catechisms, the Declaration of the Holy Office, Canon Law, known Church practices and canonized saints were all explored in depth in order to demonstrate that God can and does save even some of those who fail, through no fault of their own, to be baptized in water. In particular, all the prooftexts mustered within Peter Dimond's Treatise were examined in their original context to expose their true meanings and how they were being misquoted by those who deny BOB and/or BOD. But the necessity to prove this did not start with Peter Dimond. It began with a small group in the Boston area, of which Fr. Leonard Feeney was a kind of spiritual director at the time. We turn our attention now to this (reasonably) contemporary origin of this error.
Even just trying to nail down just what exactly some heretic or other erroneous person is actually claiming (as distinct from Catholic truth) can be at times a real chore. When, some several years ago I was part of a discussion group that had gotten to the topic of Fr. Feeney's teachings, I briefly entered the fray as one who could also see how they were distorting Scripture and the other ecclesial sources in support of their false claims. After a short time however it became clear to me that "Feeneyism" (what they called it in that discussion group, a term I have specifically avoided as much as possible during this series despite the unpleasant circumlocutions such a policy of avoidance has forced upon me) was itself very much a "moving target." As soon as one interpretation is refuted, another is invented, for which another refutation is needed, and so on. You can never really nail down just what exactly they believe.
I am not by any means the only person this has happened to. The SSPX, in an anonymous article in Verbum, number 24, wrote an exposé of Fr. Feeney's errors titled Fr. Feeney and Catholic Doctrine which described in quite accurate detail the errors of Fr. Feeney, particularly as presented in his book, Bread of Life. Soon after, Brother Michael, one of Fr.'s close followers, wrote a response (open, but addressed to His Excellency Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX, under whose auspices the Verbum article was published) accusing his anonymous writer of not having understood Fr. Feeney's position, saying such things as:
After having studied the Verbum article, "Father Feeney vs. Catholic Doctrine," I am astounded that, in spite of all the information we supplied to you, you could be so ignorant of the facts concerning the case of our Founder. This is not the method of the saints you allege to defend. If you were familiar with their principles, you would know that Saint Thomas and Saint Robert Bellarmine considered it of supreme importance, when combating real heresy, to acquaint themselves fully with the controverted teaching. They thought more harm would be done to the Catholic cause by misrepresenting an opponent's views than by keeping silent about them. And they were careful to read all that an accused heretic had to say. They did not like reactionary tactics of well meaning enthusiasts who confined their assaults to the contents of one dangerous book written by a doctrinal innovator, while they ignored a later book wherein that same author shed more light on his previous thought. And they, it must be stressed, were dealing with anti-Catholic, anti-papal heretics.
While I make no claim of having investigated every nook and cranny of Fr. Feeney's morbid imaginary "theology," at least the points I will make here are all based on citations given herein to show that I have not misrepresented Fr. Feeney. However, the bit about focusing on one dangerous book while ignoring some later work in which "that same author [would] shed more light on his previous thought" I here ignore on the basis that Fr. Feeney himself never wrote any follow-up volume. Instead, I deem it most proper and just to treat such a book as Bread of Life (and every other to follow in future installments) as what it really in fact is, a mere isolated artifact of scholastic dishonesty to be responded to and thereby summarily disposed of.
Fr. Feeney's presentations are far more slippery than Peter Dimond's plain declarations. One does not come away from Peter Dimond's writings with a false impression of what he claims (only a false impression of what the Church teaches!), but Fr. Feeney is ever saying something, if not directly, then at least by immediate and logical implication, and then denying that he said it. In so doing, he subtly redefines many theological concepts, such as original sin, sanctifying grace, justification, salvation, necessity of means and of precept, and so forth. Had he used these terms in exactly the sense that all real theologians use them, the implications he denies ever teaching would indeed follow most logically and directly. Let us visit one more example of how the SSPX writer was falsely accused of misrepresenting Fr. Feeney's teaching:
I have said that you misrepresent Father's teaching. Your article creates the impression from the start that Father Feeney held that a martyr who shed his blood for his Catholic Faith (or Catholic virtue), and died without baptism, would be lost. This is not true. Father Leonard never taught such a thing. You do not find his view put that way in Bread of Life. I explained this to you on my visit with you at Ridgefield and during your recent visit with us. Let me stress again. Father taught that God would have seen to it that those few martyrs who were reported to have died without baptism would not have left this life without baptism. Father never dreamed of teaching so absurd an idea that one could be lost who did everything in his power to be saved.
However, as will be shown below, Fr. Feeney really did teach in no uncertain terms that if the martyr dies without water baptism he is not saved. His (and Brother Michael's) attempt to squirm out of the logic of that fact by positing secret baptisms of the unbaptized holy martyrs is simply a chief example of the slippery manner in which one attempts to make an escape when cornered logically. One cannot help but hear the screech of tires as his "logic" attempts to steer around the plain fallacies of his position.
It is of some historical interest of course, due to its being generally the seminal publication upon which other writers have added to, either in supplying some details of Fr. Feeney's verbal presentations that were given behind the closed doors of the St. Benedict's Center and known to no one else, or else in making some small shift in one direction or another in order to redefine some detail that has been utterly discredited as previously presented, culminating in Peter Dimond's Treatise that I have already addressed. It is not however the first presentation of Fr. Feeney's errors, but the first that names him as author. Three particular articles are known to have preceded Bread of Life into the public forum, and each of these, in gradually decreasing subtlety initially put forth his errors. Of these, particularly Reply to a Liberal, more will be said in the next installment.
The first was Sentimental Theology by Fakhri Maluf, of which the relevant portions have been discussed in a previous installment. The second was Liberal Theology and Salvation by Raymond Karam of which I still have no text to evaluate. The third is Reply to a Liberal, also by Raymond Karam, in which he responds to Fr. Donnelly's response to Liberal Theology and Salvation. This text we do have, and as shown in a previous installment, Fr. Feeney's errors really do clearly begin to take form. As I have shown in that previous installment, the following accusation made by Brother Michael is false:
In the introductory paragraph of your article it is stated that the teaching for which Father Feeney was "condemned" by the Holy Office in 1949 was that he excluded these other baptisms as means of salvation. This is simply not true! The Holy Office in 1949 was totally unaware of Father Leonard's views concerning baptism of desire and justified catechumens. For these views were first expressed by him in Bread of Life, and this book was not published until 1952. Is it not obvious then that your conclusions about the entire matter are grossly superficial?
Fr. Feeney himself finally joined the list of those whose writings to advocate his position finally made print with the publication of his book, Bread of Life, in 1952. This book reads much like some sort of Devotional, with beautiful and pious thoughts carefully blended together with the gravest errors and blasphemies, all expressed in that poetic turn of phrase for which Fr. Feeney was justly famous. He manages to sound almost like some ancient Father of the Church, but teaching ideas that no such Father ever even heard of let alone advocated. His work is, of course, little more than propaganda for his error/heresy, but it is considered the first and most clear and seminal work in this group, the earlier articles having only haltingly and with hesitation hinted at what this book would make explicit. In the first chapter of this book, on page 25 (all page numbers are taken from the 1974 reprint of Bread of Life), one finds one of the shortest and most direct statements of what he teaches, and from the man himself. He writes:
In the New Testament, you cannot be justified unless you want the water Jesus bequeathed us on the Mount of Olives; and you cannot be saved until that water is poured on your head!...
It is now: Baptism of Water, or damnation! If you do not desire that Water, you cannot be justified. And if you do not get it, you cannot be saved.
I don't know what religion he belongs to, but that is most patently and obviously not the religion of the Bible, and not of the Catholic Church! His book however begins with taking things the backwards way around. There is no room to doubt that Fr. sought, a priori, to abolish Baptism of Blood and Desire. True, anyone even back then could easily have identified some Saint or Doctor who "mentioned" them, but as everyone knows, any Saint or even Doctor can be mistaken about some thing or another. So long as the list of those teaching BOB and BOD did not seem long (especially when those who were then opposing Fr. Feeney could only think of the barest handful), he thought it easy to dismiss their teachings as mere isolated opinions. But there was one thing that got in his way, and that one thing was Trent. The Council of Trent is an infallible source of Catholic doctrine and dogma, and as such need not be buttressed up with other "official" declarations or "wide consensus" of any kind. And it stated in no uncertain terms that the translation from death to life, from damnation to salvation, from the kingdom of evil to the kingdom of God (which is what salvation is all about), was effected "by the laver of regeneration or the desire thereof."
Though it could have been at any time, my own suspicion is that in those two years from 1947 to 1949 in which he sat in his dark study, supposedly in search of "the missing doctrine," much of his thoughts were having to do with "Trent. What am I going to do about Trent?" Unlike Peter Dimond, he knew enough Latin to know that you could not read it as saying that this translation was to be effected "by the laver of regeneration AND the desire thereof" (Oh, that would have made things so easy!). So, what was he to do, since abandoning his error or heresy was not an option for him? How to get Trent out of the way? Then, at some point, he found something. The relevant passage actually used the word "justification" and not "salvation." Now, in all real and serious theology, that really doesn't buy one anything. The Church's theologians, from all the earliest Fathers and Doctors and Popes, clear to the latest are all not merely morally unanimous, but even physically unanimous, in believing (almost more of an assumption than of a fact necessary to declare) that the soul that dies justified is ipso facto saved.
In all standard theology texts ever written, the only difference between justification and salvation is the potential for the former to be lost through subsequent sin. Once a person is past that potential (i. e. when their life is completed and no further acts to be committed by them), then, unless that soul be damned, that soul is invariably spoken of as being "saved." Trent affirms that even the desire for the laver of regeneration justifies, exactly as the actual reception does (though only the latter provides the "mark" of the Sacrament which opens the way to all other sacraments and to the remainder of a life of Grace and service to God). And of course, any "desire" that did not seriously pursue its desired object, and thereby in the normal course of events attain it in due time, or at least be found clearly on its way to such at the moment of one's being cut off prematurely by death, would be useless and of no value at all. So the soul in question has approached the Church, requesting to be joined to the Church (which is done by water Baptism), and the Church for Her part has told this soul, "Very well. Take these lessons, learn these teachings and our way of life. Prove yourself worthy and we shall baptize you this coming Easter." So the soul in question takes the lessons, learns the teachings, lives the way of life, and strives to be worthy, all with a view towards being baptized this coming Easter. According to the Council of Trent, this soul is justified, right now, even before the event of his scheduled baptism. There is not a single Catholic source that denies that if he were to die while thus justified, he would be saved. And if his death be caused by a Martyrdom, he could even be honored as a Holy Martyr. Such is the standard theology of the Church.
But not everyone knows that, and especially not every layman. If BOB and BOD be false, then (because of Trent) justification would have to be insufficient for salvation, even where one dies justified. It becomes necessary to claim that to die justified is no guarantee of being saved. Do you see how the one logically follows from the other, and more importantly which is the premise and which is the conclusion? Fr. Feeney and his followers do not deny BOB and BOD because of some supposed insufficiency for justification to bring salvation if one dies thus, but rather deny the sufficiency of justification (even where one dies justified) for salvation because the truth of Trent necessarily must imply either the truth of BOB and BOD (which Fr. Feeney and company were bent on denying, come what may), or else that justification, and even to die justified would have to be inadequate for salvation.
Yet Bread of Life begins with a discussion of justification and how it supposedly differs from salvation, before moving on to what he really wants to teach. The first chapter, or "talk," is all about anticipating this obvious Trentian objection to his unique teachings. On page 22 he writes, "Either believe what I have said, or else tell me where I have falsified the Christian message. Tell me one Council I have denied, or one Doctor I have misquoted. Do not read me some hardly known theological writer of this century, or last century." I have already outlined out the clever ruse by which he tap-danced around Trent, as his only means of sweeping it out of the way. Now, let us look at a Doctor he flouts. On page 16 he writes (after discussion the state of those who were in the Limbo of the Fathers):
They had justification and sanctification. Why was salvation being kept from them?
The answer is, because the souls in the Limbo of the Just could not go into Heaven until the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ in visibility led them in! Until Jesus went into Heaven in His flesh, they could not go in with their souls.
The souls in Limbo could have reminded Jesus: "Dear Jesus, You know we have not any bodies. We are not going to get our bodies again until the last day."
And Jesus could have replied: "I am sorry, but until I am in Heaven in body you cannot be there in soul, no matter how pure and unsullied and sinless your souls may be."
If that does not wipe out the "soul of the Church" theory, I do not know what does! How do you like that for a challenge in terms of the controversy we are now going through here in Saint Benedict Center?
The "soul of the Church" teaching is the product of no less than our great Doctor of the Church Saint Robert Bellarmine. And it was never about souls and bodies and Limbo and our Lord supposedly having to say to His Own "Sorry, I can't help you just yet" (how blasphemous!). While it is true that in subsequent years some writers really did abuse St. Bellarmine's concept, twisting it into the "soul of the Church" being some kind of "alternate church" one could join and be saved, as an alternative to joining the real physical and visible Church, the initial teaching as presented by the Sainted Doctor and by those who interpreted him appropriately never regarded this "soul of the Church" as some sort of "club" one can join as a member, but merely something one can be "joined to" in the sense of "attached to" (like something on the outside) through one's holy dispositions, choice for God, and choice to be baptized once one learns of the obligation to be baptized into the Church. So here, Fr. Feeney has managed not only to misquote St. Bellarmine, but also to mock him as well, with all flippancy.
On pages 19-20 he writes:
When Jesus, on the top of the Mount of Olives, ascended into Heaven, the souls of the just ascended with Him. That is of the Faith. The entrance fee of salvation for the souls in the Limbo of the Just was the Flesh and Blood of Jesus, leading them in! That was the requirement for the Old Testament.
Wrong, Father! The entrance fee of salvation for all souls, whether in the Limbo of the Fathers or otherwise, was the pouring out of His Flesh and Blood unto death upon the Cross of Calvary for their sins and ours. That is of the Faith, and to say otherwise it to introduce "another Jesus" and "another gospel" as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11:4.
Over the course of his attempt to enlarge and exaggerate the supposed differences between justification and salvation, it gradually and only indirectly emerges that he equates "salvation" with "entrance into Heaven." By such a standard (if he is to be truly consistent) souls in Purgatory are therefore not "saved," even though their eventual entrance into Heaven is absolutely assured. But that is not how the Church speaks of salvation. The suffering souls in Purgatory are invariably spoken of as being "saved," though their entrance into Heaven is plainly future, and even the time for said entrance to come is uncertain. Ergo, the Old Testament Worthies, though admittedly justified, and even sanctified, were, for lack of action on God's part, not "saved." It is generally taught by the Church that during that time spanning from His death to the time of His resurrection, Jesus Christ delivered the souls from Limbo, and also condemned the wicked. This is what is referred to by His descent into Hell, as mentioned in the Apostle's Creed.
Now, unless there might have been some way for any of these Worthies to have decided, "Well, you know I was just listening to the screams of agony through this wall here, and I decided that I would rather be with them (burning in Hell) than with You, God, Whom I so faithfully served in life," it is safe to say that all of those who lived justly (as recognized by the Old Testament standards, whether for Jew or for Gentile) were also "saved" in the sense of being positively assured of their eventual entrance into Heaven. Salvation itself is obtained when that assurance becomes absolute, though the fruit of that salvation, namely one's entrance into Heavenly glory itself, may be delayed due to some Purgatorial sentence, or else the time spent by the Worthies in the Limbo of the Fathers. And in Limbo they could hardly have been merely "huddled" (page 15), for when Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Jesus during the Transfiguration, they shone with a glory and brightness painful for the human eyes of Peter, James, and John to behold. And if the Thief on the Cross went to "paradise" that day, that could be (and generally is) accepted as a reference to the Limbo of the Fathers to being a "paradise." So this Limbo of the Fathers (also spoken of in Scripture as the Bosom of Abraham (Luke 16)) was hardly punitive.
But again, these are things the average layman may not be aware of, and when "Fr." speaks otherwise one naturally wants to assume that "well, Father knows best." But here "Fr." is actually planting false assumptions into the minds of his audience. There are other, lesser, problems with the first chapter. On page 18 he seems to claim that the "Easter duty" to receive Communion and go to Confession is some sort of moral absolute, where in fact they are but necessary "of precept," such that, if a Catholic is stranded on a desert island and cannot reach the Church, not only do these duties not oblige, but neither is any other thing required to take their place. On pages 18 and 19 he falsely claims that the Jews were spread all over the earth through their persecutions and migrations and what not, when in fact most parts of the earth (that ever had any Jews visit them in the first place) were only visited in the preceding couple centuries prior to the coming of Christ, in the age when the Septuagint was prepared to provide the Jewish Scriptures to a mostly Greek-speaking world. And even then, the Americas were wholly missed. No, in the eras of the Judges, and again of the great Israelite Kings, of David and of Solomon, those seeking the Truth came to Israel (such as Ruth, and the Queen of Sheba), not the other way around. On page 19 he asks why the justified are judged, as if to suggest that this means that a justified person could be unfavorably judged and therefore not saved, when in fact the justified are judged because all are judged, and to be justified is to be judged and not found wanting (though the judgment may often assign some purgatorial sentence). The justified are told in the judgment "Well done, good and faithful servant," while the rest are told "Depart from Me..." On page 20 he blasphemously suggests that Jesus would ever say "I am giving you the water I well earned by My Redemption. If that does not touch you, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." (Unless of course one would suggest that "touch" here were merely meant in the sense that one says, "I was quite touched by what you just said." - a deliberate and poetic ambiguity on Fr.'s part, perhaps?)
The next chapter also shows Fr. Feeney arguing quite deceptively. In pretending to defend the visibility of the Church (a doctrine), it actually sneaks in a new "doctrine" one might as well call the "tangibility" of the Church. Now there is something to be said for that, for the Church directly intervenes and assists those who have a "tangible" contact with the Church, and of course it is all based on actual events that took place in an actual, tangible location, with actual tangible persons, and so forth. Yet the classical doctrine focuses on the visibility of the Church because the Church is the City on the Hill which cannot be hid (or at least, not ever quite completely, even these days!), and is there like a signpost to provide guidance, and even those who are too far away to touch it (experience its tangibility) can still see it.
He pokes fun at Baptism of Desire, claiming that since it has no tangibility it therefore must have no reality - for him, only the indisputably tangible baptism of water has reality to him. He even labels "desire" in this context a "diabolical" word! He claims on page 39, "Up until recent times, even the most ambitious of the theologians of the Church never dared to use it in connection with Baptism except in a study of the nature of justification, which still left the problem of salvation unsolved - salvation by 'Baptism of Desire.'" But as we must now know, Pope Innocent III spoke of the Jew who (invalidly) attempted to baptize himself as being saved, and all other ancient Fathers, and the Doctors, all spoke of salvation by means of Baptism of Desire (and of Blood), and indeed it is only Trent that conveniently (for Fr. Feeney) used the word "justification." There is no evidence that the Church would ever leave something so important and central as any "problem" of salvation "unsolved."
On the same page, he states straight out the fundamental error that he has generated as his attempt to separate salvation from justification: "Salvation is our entrance into the Beatific Vision." No, Father, Salvation is the state of being past the point of being subject to evil or of losing one's state of being justified. For example, the Church always speaks of the souls in Purgatory as being "saved" though they obviously have not entered into their reward of the Beatific Vision. But of course, it is in support of this distorted concept of "salvation" that he wrote of those in the Limbo of the Fathers as not being "saved" (though they were, and though some do speak of their salvation being from the time of Christ's death on the Cross, but they were already "saved" in the sense of not being liable to damnation). Nowhere of course can he ever defend his actual claim that one can die justified, but then somehow not be saved. All he can do is make that "seem" less unreasonable by distancing justification from salvation as much as possible (and actually far more than possible), as though they were almost as opposite as salvation and damnation.
On page 40 he states outright, "It is sinful to call men to salvation by offering them 'Baptism of Desire,'" as if there was anyone who ever did (apart from outright Protestants). It is disingenuous of him to suggest that there was anyone out there actually "offering" Baptism of Desire as though that were something a person could choose for themselves. One can only choose in favor of God, and then it is up to God to provide either the opportunity to be baptized in water or else the applicable baptism of blood or desire. Note the deceptive mixture of truth and error in the following paragraph:
I have said that a Baptism-of-Desire Catholic is not a member of the Church. He cannot be prayed for after death as one of "the faithful departed." Were he to be revivified immediately after death - were he to come to life again - he would not be allowed to receive Holy Eucharist or any of the other Sacraments until he was baptized by water. Now, if he can get into the Church Triumphant without Baptism of Water, it is strange that he cannot get into the Church Militant without it. It is an odd procedure for priests of the Church Militant to be shunting people off to the Church Triumphant before these people have enrolled in the Church Militant, which fights the good fight and preserves the Faith.
The first sentence is flat wrong. A Catholic who dies some non-martyr's death with sufficient charity and contrition and desire to join the Church most certainly IS a member of the Church, either Suffering or Triumphant, though he was never a member of the Church Militant. And he most certainly CAN be prayed for (and privately, ANYONE can be prayed for), which is why the Church allows the deceased unbaptized catechumen to be buried in consecrated ground (Canon 1239, 1917 Code; Canon 1183, 1983 Code). The one exception here would only be the Baptism of Blood martyr, for whom it would be an insult to pray; rather it is we who should request their prayers. However, it is quite true that a person thus dying who comes back to life resumes his duty to be baptized in water, and must be so baptized before receiving any other sacrament, though if he should die again before any opportunity to be baptized occurs, he once again relies on BOB or BOD as he did the first time. It is not at all strange, but in fact standard Church teaching that one can (though BOB and BOD) pass directly into either the Church Suffering or Triumphant, though direct entry into the latter would be extremely rare outside the obvious case of the BOB martyrs.
The worst of it however is the innuendo or subtle implication that there would happen to be any priests who are "shunting people off to the Church Triumphant before these people have enrolled in the Church Militant." As Fr. Feeney (and his followers) had to have been aware, there were and are no such clerics of any kind who do this, not even the admittedly ultra-liberal Cardinal Cushing. The very suggestion that any such might exist is patently disingenuous. The worst however is yet to come, in the very next paragraph (page 41):
What the Baptism-of-Desire teachers make of Our Lord's great text, "Unless a man eat My Flesh and drink My Blood he shall not have life in him," I am very much puzzled to know. Perhaps there is a Eucharist of Desire, as well as a "Baptism of Desire"? And why could there not be Holy Orders of Desire, as the Anglicans would like to have it, or Matrimony of Desire, which would so please the Mormons? And what becomes of the Mystical Body of Christ, made up of invisible members and a visible head - invisible branches on a visible vine? I would very much like to know!
If he can mock such authentic Catholic doctrines as Baptism of Blood and Desire, then I see no reason why he also would not have also (at least eventually, had he lived long enough) similarly mocked other Catholic doctrines, such as the Holy Trinity, or Transubstantiation! This is the height of impiety, an unmistakable demonstration of the fact that the man has no fear of God whatsoever. It is a frightful and horrific example to put before the public, and especially scandalous for a supposed priest of Holy Mother Church to be doing this. And look at what he is suggesting therein as directions for future heresies. He had already decided that water baptism is without exception absolutely essential for salvation; now one sees here in the first sentence a hint that one day he may also declare reception of Holy Communion (at least once in a baptized Catholic's life) to be without exception absolutely essential for salvation as well.
The funny thing is that despite such hints of this in this volume he never quite takes that step, and having not taken it he had to have understood that his own position on the necessity of reception of Holy Communion (and where exceptions would have to be allowed for, even as water Baptism admits the exceptions of BOB and BOD that he rejected) would therefore have to be no different from that he had been taught at seminary, and that held by all other priests. So what in the world would there have been to be "puzzled to know" about? I have already commented on how all sacraments do admit their interior aspects as Baptism does, e. g. his mocking mention of a "Eucharist of Desire" finding its literal and actual counterpart in real Catholic theology as what any traditional Missal would refer to as a "Spiritual Communion," i. e. what to do when one cannot receive Holy Communion when one otherwise should, for example if one has just eaten when entering for Mass (Eucharistic fast is required), or if one is presently excommunicated, or has unconfessed mortal sins, or if one has no access to the Mass. And this "Spiritual Communion" would also be appropriate for those in attendance at Mass who have not been baptized yet. Though the discipline of dismissing the catechumens from the Mass at the Offertory has long been rescinded, the catechumens continue to be separated from the baptized Faithful in that they are forbidden to receive Holy Communion.
He hints at that heresy again later on page when he writes "And it is only when we have received both the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist that Christ can be said to be shedding His Blood in one of us. This last is the real martyr, and the one who has preserved the Faith.." So, according to him, even the martyr who is baptized in water, cannot be a "real" martyr unless he also has received Holy Eucharist at some point since. I guess those martyrs who died before receiving Communion, whether before also their baptism or after, must all just be fake martyrs, and the Church has been wrong all these centuries to have honored any such or requested their prayers.
Nor is this about visibility or invisibility. In Heaven, and from Heaven's standpoint, all members are quite visible. Though we on earth have no visible means of being sure of any particular soul's condition upon their death, as to whether they actually received the grace of the Sacrament upon their death as promised to those who love God in their final and defining moment, within the realm of Purgatory or Heaven (or even Hell, if they didn't make it), that is quite visible to God, and (presumably) to other souls in the afterlife as well. And on earth, the corpse they leave behind is as visible, and even tangible, as that of any live Catholic. So it is sheerest nonsense on Fr.'s part to be mentioning "invisible branches on a visible vine." No one believes that; no one is known to have even pretended to believe any such thing. In this life you show yourself to Man to be a visible branch on the visible vine by being a member of the Church Militant; in the next life you show yourself to God to be a visible branch of the visible vine by being a member of the Church Suffering or the Church Triumphant.
In the next paragraph, the innuendo of a couple paragraphs back is now transformed into an outright accusation, and an altogether unjust one at that:
Our priests in America now go around preaching this dry substitute of "Baptism of Desire" for the waters of regeneration. Their "Baptism of Desire" is no longer an antecedent to the Baptism of Water to come. They make it a substitute for Baptism of Water, or rather an excuse for not having it.
Even in his "Fish on Fridays" days when he himself actually attempted to offer Baptism of Desire to a boy he met on the train, he never offered it that way ("Here boy, how would you like to have a nice Baptism of Desire?" like someone on the street opening a trench coat full of stolen watches for sale) but instead pointed the boy to the Faith (and thereby the Church) that would eventually baptize him if he persists in his love of God. And neither has any other priest so "offered" such an alternative, for that is only for God alone to offer to those who He knows to be about to die without an opportunity for the Sacrament. But now he says (in the next paragraph):
Neither "Baptism of Desire" nor "Baptism of Blood" should truly be called Baptism. Neither is a Sacrament of the Church, and neither was instituted by Jesus Christ.
And yet virtually every Father, Doctor, Pope, and Theologian who have mentioned them have called them "Baptism." This is on account of the fact that at the point of final death they convey the grace of the Sacrament, almost exactly as if they gained the Sacrament itself. While it is true that neither BOB or BOD are, technically, actual Sacraments of the Church per se, it is an outright lie to claim that they were not instituted by Jesus Christ. Baptism of Blood was instituted by Jesus Christ when He said "Whosoever will lose his life for My sake, shall find it." (Matthew 16:25) Baptism of Desire was instituted by Jesus Christ when He said "Whosoever shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in Heaven." (Mathew 10:32)
Here is yet another offense to pious ears: "Suppose a non-baptized person had his choice between Baptism of Water on the one hand, and what is called "Baptism of Blood" on the other. Were he not to choose Baptism of Water, the shedding of his blood would be useless and he would lose his soul." Now how could that happen? Could it happen? I admit that I believe that it can. Let us picture the scenario. Someone persecuting the Church finds he has a Christian catechumen on his hands. He offers exactly this choice to said catechumen, "I give you this choice. You may either renounce Jesus Christ, after which I will release you and you can have that sin forgiven in the waters of baptism, or else if you do not renounce Jesus Christ I will kill you immediately where you stand, and you will enter the afterlife unbaptized. So which shall it be?" Obviously, Fr. Feeney thinks the catechumen should renounce Christ, for that is what he just said here, even though St. Augustine said that "For those who have been baptized when they could no longer escape death, and have departed this life with all their sins blotted out, have not equal merit with those who did not defer death, though it was in their power to do so, but preferred to end their life by confessing Christ, rather than by denying Him to secure an opportunity of baptism." In other words, Fr. Feeney claims that St. Augustine is wrong, and that those who the Sainted Doctor and Father describe as being of superior merit for preferring to end their life by confessing Christ rather than hope for a chance to be baptized by denying Him would in fact now be damned and burning in Hell.
There is one more damnable passage within this most foul chapter on page 42. It is here that Fr. Feeney states:
When the Vatican Council reconvenes, I humbly plead with our Holy Father the Pope, that he will immediately gather his plenipotentiary powers of infallible pronouncement to clear up the wild confusion of visible orating (on the part of his priests and bishops) about an invisible Church - or else the gates of Hell will have all but prevailed against us. The most visible ruler in the world, our Holy Father, in his white robe and white zucchetto, may as well take off his triple tiara and get down from his golden throne, and leave Christianity to the kind of committee arrangements to which it is committed in the present-day America, if we keep on preaching "Baptism of Desire."
To those not familiar to "reading between the lines," that is a threat. To put his threat into direct English, it would read something like this: "Dear Holy Father Pope Pius, if you should ever declare, whether alone or in Council, and with all the infallibility of the Supreme and Extraordinary Magisterium of the Church, that Baptism of Blood and Desire are to be believed in as Catholic doctrines, then I here announce that I would in that case withdraw all communion with Yourself, declare the Papal Chair empty, and endeavor to do all that is in my power to encourage my followers and any others as may listen to me to do the same."
In the third chapter, he backs off considerably. It does however have one passing mention of the idea that "without that little trickle which is literally falling from the fountain of Jesus, you are lost," and a dig at what Pope Pius IX wrote as discussed in a previous installment, saying:
And this false reasoning is built up from an interpretation of a couple sentences of Pope Pius IX, when he was not defining!
Just imagine, my dear listeners, the whole secret of salvation being missed in the Gospels, in the teachings of the Apostles, in the protestations of the Saints, in the defined teachings of the Popes, in all the prayers and the liturgies of the Church - and imagine it suddenly coming clear in one or two carelessly worded sentences in an encyclical of Pope Pius IX, on which Liberals base their teaching that there is salvation outside the Church!
Imagine the visible Church preserving its most central truth - that of its foundational necessity - in a casual phrase in a letter written nineteen hundred years after the Church's founding! Imagine an incidental sentence in a letter of Pope Pius IX being the foundation stone of a Catholic dogma! Imagine the visible body of believers for hundreds and hundreds of years having been left uninformed on the truth of the dogma concerning the essential whereabouts of salvation!
Martyrs have shed their blood for the preservation of this doctrine in its strictest sense.
As I have shown in previous installments, those sentences are much more than "one or two" sentences but quite a bit more, and not at all carelessly worded but carefully stated with all nuance, and clearly intended with the fullest force of Papal authority. And furthermore, these words were spoken by the Pope to all the bishops, and not merely those of Italy, since they were all gathered from all over the world to hear this address. No Father, as I have documented in the first round, the Gospels, the Apostles, the Saints, the Popes, and so forth have all universally known of BOB and BOD, and never once thinking of them as "salvation outside the Church" nor as mere speculations. No matter how much you would wish to isolate these words of Pope Pius IX, as though they stood in rank opposition to everything else that has occurred, they stand instead as part and parcel of the same teaching for which all the martyrs gave their lives and that known to Catholics of all ages.
The next few chapters (4-6) appear to be based on talks given in the 1942-1945 era before this error overtook him, and seem to have been included merely as pious padding to bury his impious words above and to follow, within. In chapter 5 however, I do note that he proposes a teaching not known from any approved theologian to the effect that one must receive the Holy Eucharist at least once to be a "child of Mary." This seems to be an antecedent error to that which has made him most famous. The standard theology of course is that when you are a child of the Church in Baptism, you are thereby also a child of Mary.
With chapter 7 he attempts his most direct defense of his error, using arguments that differ little from those already refuted in the first round. He starts out by complaining about the Baltimore Catechism as though its inclusion of BOB and BOD were unusual and only the result of a supposed liberalism or Americanism of Cardinal Gibbons. He makes it sound as though no other Catechism has ever mentioned BOB and BOD, when in fact virtually all of them do, apart from those simplified editions for very small children (Baltimore Catechism #1 is an example of this) which do omit them. In as many paragraphs as "points" he outright accuses the Catechism of heresy, invokes the "one baptism" declaration of the Council of Vienne, cites the canon of Trent that states that the sacrament of Baptism requires water, and falsely accused the teachings of BOB and BOD of being attempts at the Sacrament using "metaphorical water."
These "points" are stated so briefly and hastily that one gets the distinct impression that he is not arguing them here but referring to some mysterious other place where they presumably would have been argued in detail. That "other place" would of course be his private talks to the members of the St. Benedict's Center and not any actual published articles or books. In other words, the case is not actually made here, but merely taken as though it were already made elsewhere (though in fact it never was, at least in print), and suggesting that said "case" would exist somewhere else. It is a clever method of psychological manipulation. The reader, seeing that the case is not made here but merely treated as though it is made elsewhere, merely accepts them provisionally, with the assumption that they will be addressed in more detail later on. However, these things are often never brought up again and not being consciously addressed, gradually morph in the reader's mind from "provisionally accepted propositions" to "implicit assumptions" which he takes for granted, not even realizing where they came from.
One finds this deceptive method used throughout many works of this kind, and one thing that made Peter Dimond's Treatise such a good place to start with my refutation is that it is one of the rare few exceptions. Unlike Bread of Life, Peter Dimond's Treatise actually attempts to make the arguments right there, in line, and in doing so enables me to expose and refute it. For example, Fr. Feeney states any number of times and ways that the unbaptized catechumen who dies justified is even so not saved, and yet in all this book he never directly attempts to prove this extraordinary claim, either by some chain of logic, or (more importantly) by being able to cite any other theologians or writers who hold such an absurd position. He merely takes it as "proved" and then assumes that the reader will assume that the proof can and will be supplied elsewhere, which it never was. Of course, on my own part, in this second round I take as proven those things already shown during the first round, but at least here I point to things actually already written and published by me.
Getting to the specifics of the above quote, as we must now know, the Council of Vienne simply reaffirmed the Scriptural declaration about there being "one faith, one baptism..." (Ephesians 4:5) which is why the Baltimore Catechism (and all more advanced theology) speak of BOB and BOD as not alternate "baptisms" but as alternate "kinds" of the one baptism. The Council of Trent affirms that in order to perform the Sacrament, literal water is required, which many Protestants were coming to deny in that time (and many still do today). It occurs to me that one might object, "Well, as I recall, you wrote not that long ago that the word 'Baptism' without such qualifiers as saying in the text 'the Sacrament of' would normally imply not only the Sacrament itself but also the graces of the sacrament as obtained under the kinds of BOB and BOD, and yet here you assume that this unqualified reference to Baptism is specifically about the Sacrament itself alone." My response to that would be when Baptism is spoken of in general as being absolutely necessary under all circumstances for salvation, it is all forms of Baptism, the Sacrament as well as the alternate kinds of Baptism, and when mention is made of the absolute necessity of literal water, then it is (by this context) clearly the Sacrament itself which alone is being spoken of. BOB and BOD are obviously and categorically not about performing the Sacrament of Baptism using "metaphorical water" nor are BOB and BOD themselves metaphors, but established theological truths. And they certainly do belong in the Catechism right next to discussion of Baptism of water as that is the context in which virtually every ecclesial writer mentions them.
He complains that the Baltimore Catechism was revised some number of times (he makes it sound like it was revised dozens of times when actually the number of revisions from 1885 until now is in total less than half a dozen times, and that even includes the Post-Vatican II era), as if to challenge to it's authors, "What's the matter? Couldn't you get it right the first time?" But this ignores the real purpose of those revisions, which was to correct for minor typographical errors, update the language used to that more contemporary (all those "thees" and "thous" commonly understood by Nineteenth Century children are often quite incomprehensible to Twentieth Century children), and to introduce (and occasionally update, for example by showing more contemporary clothing, etc.) the drawings used to illustrate the points made in the Catechism. Even more significant is the fact that if BOB and BOD as kinds of Baptism, as it teaches, were some sort of a "heresy" as Fr. claims it is, then you have the Church having taught heresy from 1885 until now! And not any of these revisions seems to have "corrected" the problem, nor can any of them be "blamed" for it since it was included from the very beginning.
But this whole thing of treating it as though it were merely some sort of "American problem" is nothing more than a ruse. BOB and BOD are found in catechisms from all parts of the world and from every era that produced such catechisms, omitting only, as I said, those written for very immature and simple audiences. Indeed, this might explain the occasional reference one comes across to where someone, say one of the policemen sent to get Fr. Feeney's followers off Archbishop Cushing's lawn, mentions that he was not taught BOB or BOD in his schooling. If he as a child sat attentively through Baltimore #1, but slept as a teenager through Baltimore #2, then right there you have your explanation for that phenomenon. And recall that that policeman was educated in America, too. Next, jumping back to the Bible, he produces his own "theological reasons" for the baptism of Christ by John (page 118):
As John the Baptist was baptizing Jesus, John said to Him, "I ought to be baptized by thee, and comest thou to me?" Then Jesus said, "Suffer it to be so now. For it becometh us to fulfill all justice." (Matt. 3:14,15)
Unfulfilled justice is the state of justification. Fulfilled justice is the state of salvation. What Jesus is saying to us, at His own baptism by John in the River Jordan, is that justification is now being turned into salvation with the aid of water.
No, what Jesus is saying to us there is that He Himself must set the example by fulfilling the command that He gives to us, for God asks of us no price (in all justice) that He has not already paid Himself personally. He does not send us to our suffering and death while Himself lounging about in a place of comfort and ease, but comes and dies on the Cross in order that we, who are not greater than our Master, may do the same. He is conforming to His own Law, even as Joseph and Mary conformed to His Own prior Law by sacrificing a turtledove at the Temple shortly after Christ was born, and Mary herself would have also conformed to His New Law in being baptized. It is these followings of the external law, no matter how superficial they may be, or how easily they might be hypocritically imitated, that "fulfill all justice." For who would dare to suggest that our Lord Himself could not be saved (but only "justified" in some non-salvific sense) unless He were baptized?
At this point it is worth mentioning that Fr. Feeney does not quite do away with BOB and BOD, but rather that he redefines them. After all, there is far too much talk about them in the classical theologians to pretend that all of them were merely engaging in some sort of idle speculation. So he allows that they exist, that they do entail one's entrance into a life of grace, and that they can exist before water baptism, but then simply denies that they can be salvific even where the soul in question clearly would have been baptized in water and served God and the Church loyally were he to have lived. This therefore really is a denial of BOB and BOD, though he continues to employ the terms (as little as possible, but he cannot avoid them altogether) for other concepts. Just as it would be a denial of the Trinity even if the person said they believe in the Trinity, in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, if upon explaining what they mean, they really turn out to mean the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three separate "gods" instead of three Persons of the One God.
It has been claimed that Fr. Feeney never quite claimed that an unbaptized person who dies with perfect love of God goes to Hell. Perhaps in those very words he never does. But he sure seems to come awfully close in the following on pages 120-121:
Q. What does "Baptism of Desire" mean?
A. It means the belief in the necessity of Baptism of Water for salvation, and a full intent to receive it.
Q. Can "Baptism of Desire" save you?
Q. Could "Baptism of Desire" save you if you really believed it could?
A. It could not.
Q. Could it possibly suffice for you to pass into a state of justification?
A. It could.
Q If you got into the state of justification with the aid of "Baptism of Desire," and then failed to receive Baptism of Water, could you be saved?
Actually, no one who has not been baptized can stay in the state of Christian justification very long, because he does not have the sacramental helps to keep justification alive. So, if he were in the state of justification, it would be only for a day or two, maybe three.
So there it is! A person gets into the state of justification with the aid of "Baptism of Desire" (he always seems to put the phrase in quotes, even when discussing it in the limited and defective understanding of the term he pretends to preach), but fails to obtain the Baptism of Water, and according to him, could "Never" be saved. Obviously, that rules out Heaven, and Purgatory as well, so what does that leave? I have yet to come across him or any of his followers speculating on any supposed "Limbo of the Catechumens," let alone finding anything in the Fathers or Doctors (let alone Popes and Councils) mentioning any such concept! One also sees here precisely how he redefines BOB and BOD, namely as the "justification" that Trent explicitly spoke of as being the result of the laver of regeneration "or the desire thereof," and yet, despite the clear intention of Trent, somehow not sufficient for salvation under any circumstances short of actual subsequent reception of the Sacrament of Baptism. One also sees here how he introduces the next several paragraphs which attempt to make the necessary "perfect act of charity" so stratospherically unattainable as to practically define it right out of existance.
In that vein, he claims on page 122, "You are calling it perfect love, and at the same time you are refusing that which poured out of the heart of Jesus: Blood and water. You are refusing the Blood of the Eucharist and the water of Baptism." But of course, that is exactly what an obedient catechumen is expected to do. In Mass he must "refuse" to receive Holy Communion, not out of rejection but out of respect, and again, short of some circumstance where an emergency baptism would be rightly called for, he similarly "refuses" to be baptised before the appointed time set by the Church, out of that same respect. But no one who seriously teaches BOB and BOD claims that these things can apply to anyone who knows God's Church and their duty to join it (by water baptism) and to thereafter serve God, and yet have no intention of that joining and that service. It is again disingenuous of Fr. to suggest (let alone state) otherwise. Now, consider his next statements (pages 122-123):
This is the way the situation is now discussed in American seminaries:
"A man makes a perfect act of love. He is in the state of justification."
"How soon does he have to be baptized?"
"Within a reasonable period."
"What is a reasonable period?"
"Whatever the priest appoints."
"What should be a reasonable period to appoint?"
"Well, the candidate would have to be well instructed. In some countries, like Africa, for instance, an catechumen is instructed for three or four years. Poor, simple, untutored people have to be taught."
"Suppose one of these catechumens dies before being baptized?"...
That is where the seminary professor runs out of answers, and has to make up confused ones, with the assistance of the Baltimore Catechism, The Catholic Encyclopedia, and a few articles by some hitherto brilliant unknowns in the American Ecclesiastical Review.
From this, the reader is expected to conjure up a picture of the seminary professor suddenly having to say, "Well, gee, I dunno. You bring up a question the Church has never thought about. Uh, well, I guess..., and I suppose..." And again, notice how it all seems to be "American." Well, what about St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Robert Bellarmine, and St. Alphonse Ligouri? What about Tertullian's lucid description of BOB? What about Ursinius' description of BOD? What about St. Bernard's refutation of Peter Abélard and the Council of Sens and Pope Innocent's affirmation of same? What about all the countless others discussed and quoted at length throughout the first round of this series? The Baltimore Catechism, The Catholic Encyclopedia, the American Ecclesiastical Review make no new "teachings" about BOB and BOD not found universally elsewhere throughout all the Church's infallible doctrines and teaching, and furthermore, no professor would ever have been put out by such a question as any standard textbook used in the seminary would have addressed this very question, as the theologians I quoted (from their books, which are seminary textbooks) also all explore in at least enough detail to know that the Church teaches BOB and BOD. What's worse, Fr. Feeney himself attended seminary, and would have to recall that he learned of BOB and BOD not from some hesitating and unsure seminary professor having to hastily invent them on the spot, but rather having authoritatively taught them right in line with everything else he taught. Right here he kills his own memory of his own education.
Having introduced The Catholic Encyclopedia he uses it as a means to introduce all the same quotes from St. Ambrose that I have already discussed. He explains away Ambrose's funeral oration for Emperor Valentinian with the usual "Any simple and loving Catholic would understand Saint Ambrose to have meant by this comfort, that he hoped Valentinian had been baptized by somebody, even though he (Saint Ambrose) did not know who it was, and even though there was no official record of it Because if the grace Valentinian desired was something other than Baptism of Water, why call him a catechumen?" as his way to explain away the holy Saint's declaration, "Did he not obtain the grace which he desired? Did he not obtain what he asked for?" Yet right there in St. Ambrose's words, there lies the answer to that. It is the grace that was desired, not the Sacrament. Oh yes, the Sacrament itself was also wanted and sought by him, but only as a means to obtaining the grace of joining the Church and of being enabled to serve God and accomplish things for the Kingdom of God. One gets the idea that Fr. here is advocating that a person should desire only the Sacrament itself, for its own sake.
He does however introduce on page 124 one small detail not previously addressed, and that is the claim that:
Father Migne, one of the greatest authorities on patrology in the Catholic Church, positively denies that Saint Ambrose ever held the opinion attributed to him concerning the salvation without Baptism of Water of the Emperor Valentinian. (Patrologia Latina, Vol. XVI, p. 412, n. 19.)
As I write this, I have not procured the relevant volume and so cannot comment in detail on what Fr. Migne might really have said as distinct from what Fr. would have us believe that he said. It is notably suspicious that Fr. provides no actual quote from Fr. Migne (even while having just provided the usual St. Ambrose quotes), so there is plenty of room to suspect that Fr. Migne's comments are nowhere near so useful to Fr. Feeney's cause as Fr. would have us believe. It is quite unlikely that Fr. Migne would be willing to accuse St. Ambrose of being so obviously out of step with the sum total of all other ancient Fathers and Sacred Scripture, but without the actual quotes (and especially in context) I have no way of knowing what, if anything, might have actually been originally meant by Fr. Migne. In any case however, Fr. Migne is famous for his preparation of an exhaustive printed edition of all the works of the ancient Fathers, both Latin and Greek (two separate series of Patrology volumes), not for any great learning regarding the academic subject of Patrology in general. It is worth noting that Georges Darboy, archbishop of Paris, forbade Fr. Migne to continue publishing, and also suspended Fr. Migne, and also that Pope Pius IX condemned the use of Mass stipends for the purchase of books, and in that condemnation especially named Fr. Migne's works. So while there is no denying that he is a most useful source for actual texts of the ancient Fathers (still useful today despite its mistakes and failure to conform with modern standards of scholarship), Fr. Migne is clearly no "great theologian" let alone "Doctor of the Church" to whom we can turn for reliable Church-endorsed theology.
On pages 126-128 he presents a gravely defective explanation of what "necessity of means" and "necessity of precept" are, simplifying the standard and approved theological comments on these things to the point of a most serious distortion:
Perhaps, before I go on, I should explain what necessity of means and necessity of precept are, in simple terms. That I will do.
And now let me go back to what is called necessity of means in a sacramental requirement. Necessity of means means, if you have not got the requirement, it is just too bad for you, whether you are to blame or whether you are not to blame. If you are not to blame, it is just too bad. And if you are to blame, so much the worse!
Necessity of precept means, that if you have not fulfilled a requirement, and you are not to blame for not fulfilling it, then it is all right, provided you have taken care of it in another way, and provided there is another way to take care of it.
If you have fulfilled a Divine precept in another way, you are still required to fulfill it literally in the way Christ prescribed, when you can. In case you cannot, there is no need to worry.
So, what he calls "necessity of means" he limits to what the theologians and Church call a "necessity of absolute means," and what he calls "necessity of precept" is actually a crude approximation of what real theologians all call "necessity of relative (or hypothetical) means" in which something else can and must serve as a substitute for the required item under some certain circumstances, i. e. Baptism of Blood or of Desire must be present if the Sacrament of Baptism (by water) is unobtainable, in order for the person to be saved. In a true case of "necessity of precept," there is no obligation to substitute for the otherwise required action. Attendance at Mass is necessary of precept, and if one is genuinely unable to attend, no other obligation takes its place. While it certainly is quite praiseworthy to substitute at least something, such as a rosary, when one cannot attend Mass, there is no absolute duty to do so, and this covers most especially the case where a person, perhaps unconscious in a coma, really is unable to attend, or even to substitute any other pious action.
I think I have addressed enough detailed points in Bread of Life to show its gravely impious nature and why no Catholic (or anyone) should ever read that book, unless they want to risk warping their mind. I will conclude the discussion of excepts from Bread of Life with one last summarizing quote from pages 136-137:
Here is a brief catechism line-up, in case you would like to brush up on what I have been saying:
Q. Can anyone now be saved without Baptism of Water?
A. No one can be saved without Baptism of Water.
Q. Are the souls of those who die in the state of justification saved, if they have not received Baptism of Water?
A. No, they are not saved.
Q. Where do these souls go if they die in the state of justification but have not received Baptism of Water?
A. I do not know.
Q. Do they go to Hell?
Q. Do they go to Heaven?
Q. Are there any such souls?
A. I do not know! Neither do you!
Q. What are we to say to those who believe there are such souls?
A. We must say to them that they are making reason prevail over Faith, and the laws of probability over the Providence of God.
Can you imagine any serious "Catechism" (for he calls it such, "a brief catechism line-up ") in which the pupil attempting to learn the faith would be taught such a flippant answer to any question as "I do not know; neither do you!"? See how it looks:
Q. Who made us?
A. I do not know! Neither do you!
Q. Why did God create us?
A. I do not know! Neither do you!
Q. What are the Seven Sacraments?
A. I do not know! Neither do you!
Even where the Church really wouldn't know the answer to a question the handling of such a case would be quite different. For such a case the question would either not be asked at all in the Catechism, or else if asked at least treated with more respect. For example:
Q. When will the world end?
A. When Jesus was asked this question, His response was that no man, nor the angels nor even the Son of Man (i. e. Himself, in his human nature) knew, but only the Father knows. (Mark 13:32, also see Matthew 24:36)
Do you see the difference? Do you not also see the inconsistency contained in it? Only a few questions earlier he states as his answer that "they are not saved" so obviously there must indeed be (by his own confession in that response) at least some such souls. And only a few pages earlier (page 125) he states that "a catechumen who dies before Baptism, is punished." If not in Hell, then where? If in Purgatory, then would they not eventually end up in Heaven?
Even more basic than that, Saint Ambrose truly believed that he had positively identified one such soul, namely that of Emperor Valentinian. And every unbaptized martyr of the Church is another example of such. Given such a mindset, how can Fr. Feeney have believed that any such souls are saved? Has he not in fact condemned them all to Hell? By all reasonable logic he has. However, Fr. and his group are far more slippery than that. Their solution to this can only be described as quite fanciful.
He claims that they all somehow (secretly) got a baptism of water! And no one ever even knew or suspected clear until Fr. Feeney and his followers somehow managed to squeeze this hitherto unknown "fact" out of a limited amount of historical documentation that provides absolutely no reason to think any such thing ever occurred. Far more reasonable to believe that the Church was wrong to call them saints, and that St. Ambrose was wrong to think that Valentinian got anything at all from God. For how hard is it to know whether a person has been baptized or not, today? Certainly, a person would know himself if he was baptized, would he not? And if asked would he not tell the truth? Or else if he did not tell the truth, then would he not be a liar and the life of God plainly not be in him?
The book goes on in a similar vein for several more chapters, with no new claims worthy of detailed comment. One chapter is devoted to expounding upon saintly opinions expressed about the "fewness of the saved" but of course such opinions are just that, and every saint expressing such an opinion makes it quite clear that an opinion is all that sort of claim could ever be, for no one knows the mind of God, nor can mere mortal humanity guess at the judgments of God. When one looks about at just how fallen our fellow man happens to be, so many all just wrapped up in their own little concerns and hobbies and not finding enough time to do the basics that pertain to the Kingdom, one has to admit that such saintly opinions are quite understandable, regardless of what the truth will eventually be revealed to be.
Brother Michael wrote, "Nor is this some form of deus ex machina solution that we have created." Needless to say, this expression quite accurately describes such fanciful attempts to "baptize" retroactively those who plainly were not baptized in water and yet believed by the Church to have been saved, in the most direct and perfect sense. It really is "some form of deus ex machina solution" that Fr. Feeney and his group have indeed created whole cloth out of thin air.
In closing, regarding their claim about justification not being sufficient for salvation, even where one dies thus justified, in a state of sanctifying grace, and as a friend of God, is nevertheless somehow not "saved" unless a baptism of water somehow got snuck in there, the Council of Trent devoted much space to discussing justification in quite some detail. In Chapter 16 of the Sixth Session, the fruits of justification are discussed in some detail, and quite noticeably, there is no distinction made between those who justification has preceded water baptism versus those whose justification is found after water baptism:
Therefore, to men justified in this manner, whether they have preserved uninterruptedly the grace received or recovered it when lost, are to be pointed out the words of the Apostle: Abound in every good work, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58) For God is not unjust, that he should forget your work, and the love which you have shown in his name; (Hebrews 6:10) and, Do not lose your confidence, which hath a great reward. (Hebrews 10:35) Hence, to those who work well unto the end and trust in God, eternal life is to be offered, both as a grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus, and as a reward promised by God himself, to be faithfully given to their good works and merits. For this is the crown of justice which after his fight and course the Apostle declared was laid up for him, to be rendered up to him by the just judge, and not only to him, but also to all that love his coming. For since Christ Jesus Himself, as the head into the members and the vine into the branches, continuously infuses strength into those justified, which strength always precedes, accompanies, and follows their good works, and without which they could not in any manner be pleasing and meritorious before God, we must believe that nothing further is wanting to those justified to prevent them from being considered to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life, to be obtained in its [due] time, provided they depart [this life] in grace, since Christ our Savior says: If anyone shall drink of the water that I will give him, he shall not thirst forever; but it shall become in him a fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting. (John 4:13)
So there it is, the theological "yea verily" declaration of the infallible Council of Trent to the effect that he who dies justified is granted eternal life (which is Heaven), without regard to whether this justification commenced with one's baptism, resumed after being lost with one's absolution in the confessional, or preceded the time of baptism on the basis of one's desire for that laver of regeneration. What Fr. Feeney and those who follow his peculiar denial of the fact (here shown) that he who dies justified is saved would say to that I cannot imagine.
Perhaps they would have to posit that gaining eternal life might not necessarily imply going to Heaven, or even that going to Heaven does not necessarily imply salvation. Alternatively I can see them claiming that the Council Fathers took a little time out from their infallible teachings in order to engage in some idle speculation that ("unhappily") somehow found its way into the Council text. The inherent absurdity of either of these approaches (or any other) has to mark the very end such a claim.