"When I started this I had no idea just how deep and thorough the deception had been. At some points I had even been naïve enough to take certain statements of theirs regarding the teaching of the early Fathers more or less at face value, even writing into an early draft of my third installment that 'what few of the ancient Church Fathers who seem to have even considered the question nevertheless seem to have some differences among themselves, with some making blanket statements against there being any significant exceptions, others listing only one (typically BOB) as the one narrow exception, or in somewhat few cases allowing the almost-as-narrow exception of both BOB and BOD,' and 'one salient point that necessarily has to emerge from these facts is that there is no clear unanimity, from the quotes given, one way or the other, as it seemed to what few as mentioned it that these were questions of legitimate discussion.' But in fact there is no evidence that any of the early Fathers regarded BOB or BOD as legitimate areas of discussion or disagreement. And once I obtained the three Fr. Jurgens volumes and looked up the quote, and found it to be about how the early Fathers unanimously refused to apply BOB and BOD to the situation of unbaptized infants only, I then knew that I was ready to go public with this series."
By way of a quick review, 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 discussed Peter Dimond's treatise, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation," a treatise which attempts to gathers a great deal of material about the question of Baptism of Blood (hereinafter referred to as "BOB") and Baptism of Desire (hereinafter referred to as "BOD"). Over the course of these installments thus far, the standard dogmatic and doctrinal texts, Sacred Scripture, the Church Doctors, the theologians, and the Church Fathers were explored to see if their declarations and statements really showed any reason to doubt the Catholic doctrines of BOB and BOD, and to expose quite a number of significant instances of scholastic dishonesty that were employed there to make it seem as if they did. Before launching on the second major round of installments however, I feel it is time to clear the air on a number of other various points and issues that for the time being will probably exist somewhat "outside" the domain of the main series itself.
By now, anyone following this series on Feeneyism and The Art of Scholastic Dishonesty, must sense that I have been writing a whole book here, and in point of fact I do have plans towards publishing it. With a view towards this in mind, I have thus far restrained myself from commenting on any number of issues relating to the whole question of Fr. Leonard Feeney and his denials of BOB and BOD (explicit and implicit), but technically outside the rather narrow scope of that question. For one thing, this has resulted in something that some might call rather one-sided. I have not attempted to strike a balance between the strict and most decidedly illiberal Fr. Feeney side of the question versus the liberal "Sr. Sunshine" side which teaches that everyone who is "nice" and/or "sincere" will certainly make it, no matter what they believe or what god they serve. My series has almost entirely ignored that latter side, for to me that is a separate question.
For another thing, I have expressly restrained myself from criticizing the canonical or personal status or orthodoxy (apart from this one issue) or whatever of any clergy, religious, or laity, "Feeneyite," Traditionalist, or Novus Ordo alike. I have not distinguished between any helpful sources of information, be they sedevacantist, SSPX, or even conservative Novus Ordo. Likewise I have not concerned myself with the manner of how the Dimonds (or anyone else) lives, what kind of religious order they have (if any) or how regular it is, for I have no special inside information on any of that. By focusing on one narrow topic of what the Church has taught regarding how necessary Baptism is, and of what exceptions are made to water Baptism, and how each person or group has used the scholastic sources one has, I thereby keep all of these other considerations out of the picture. For it is my intention that such a book could equally be published and endorsed by any and all of: the CMRI, the SSPV, the SSPX, the other "independent" priests (what few remain), the various "Siri" groups, the Remnant, the Wanderer, the Fatima Crusader, the Latin Mass Society, Catholics United for the Faith, EWTN, Ignatius Press, or even This Rock. This is not merely a matter of providing for as broad base of readership as is possible for as narrow a topic. If I had tailored this series (and the book that would gather it under one cover) towards one particular group or subset of the above listing, then those who have some "problem" with what the Church teaches could merely flee to some other category where such a series (or book) would not be acceptable, and there continue to fester and grow, ready to spread their error (or is it heresy? I think it is!) once these writings of mine should be forgotten.
So what do I plan to put here that would not fit into such a book? All the stuff I cannot put in such a book. Most important, this is where I can put that "balance" against all the "Sr. Sunshines" of the world. For it is a relevant question as to whether BOB and/or BOD has anything to do with Vatican II and the mess that followed from that. As one who openly recognizes the sede vacante condition as a finding with regards to the actual state of the Church hierarchical today, and who is unabashedly in full support of all whose practice carries forth the living example of what true and authentic Catholicism is and always has been and always must be, be they cognizant of the sede vacante finding or not (for it is a tough and tricky question; I seem to be the only person who has answered it adequately), I do have much to say about this. I will also want to discuss the extraordinary agreement among Catholics (and Catholic-at-hearts), excepting only those who hold the erroneous positions that I am refuting, and who furthermore appear to be distributed among all sorts of Catholics (and Catholic-at-hearts). Before getting to all of that however, I think one other question bears bringing up here as something I do not desire to be in such a book of mine, though there would be little here to offend those who do not share my Catholic belief in being fully and traditionally Catholic, and that is to tell the account of how it is that I came to write this series.
From my first encounter with Fr. Feeney's doctrines I have found them abhorrent to right reason and valid theological principles, if only mostly on an instinctive level at the outset. By the time I was preparing the first full-length draft of my first book (back in 1996-1998), I wrote the following which remains in that book, The Resurrection of the Roman Catholic Church, to this day. The first is from Chapter 3:
The first point regards the Catholic Dogma that "There is no salvation outside the Church." However, salvation has never been identical to being Catholic. For one thing there exist Catholics, baptized, and knowing fully well what is right and wrong, yet choosing for whatever reason to live and die in a state of mortal sin. Not surprisingly, such Catholics go to Hell. Being Catholic is no guarantee of being saved, only persevering as a practicing Catholic clear to the end.
More difficult to understand is the fact of those who are not Catholic and yet go to Heaven. It has been defined as a Catholic doctrine that "there is no salvation outside the Church." If they are not Catholic they are outside the Church. That being the case, how is it that they can be saved? The Church, having wrestled with this problem for fully 1900+ years, has come to the following conclusions:
Water baptism is what ordinarily defines who is Catholic. All persons who are validly baptized belong to the Roman Catholic Church and are bound by its laws, even if they were baptized by Protestants and are Protestants themselves and as such are unaware of their membership in the Roman Catholic Church. Even though such Protestants have been made spiritual members of the Catholic Church they are still spoken of as "outside the Church" because they have rejected Catholic truths and disciplines which their baptism obliges them to accept, and therefore they are not members of the Catholic Church any longer. If, through invincible ignorance, their refusal to enter the Church does not spring from any culpability on their part, they are often spoken of as being united to the "soul" of the Church, but still outside the "body" of the Church.
Baptism comes in three basic forms, namely the normal way with water, by desire, or by blood (martyrdom). Baptism of Desire is the most difficult to define since there are many who think it is enough to wish to "do good" or even to "ask Jesus to be their Lord and Savior" but these things, fine as they may be in some sense, do not qualify as a valid Baptism of Desire any more than wishing to take a bath would. The absolute bare minimum is a commitment to keep the precepts of the natural law that have been written by God in the hearts of all men, be prepared to obey God, and lead a virtuous and dutiful life, avoiding all voluntary fault.
It is theoretically possible that some small number of especially virtuous unbaptized pagans might be graced with a vision God gives which enables them to know what a baptism is and to desire it, and thereby gain a valid and explicit Baptism of Desire. Alternatively, if a soul should be genuinely seeking the truth and at the time of death have true and perfect contrition for its sins, that soul would have an implicit Baptism of Desire which is also valid. While the Church admits the likelihood that some souls have done this, it has never been dogmatically defined as to whether or not any particular soul has done it. In other words, no non-Catholic but sincere and well-meaning "saint" has ever been canonized by the Church. There are however a small number of canonized saints whose baptism is in their own blood.
Only those who are baptized either by water, blood, or desire can ever enter Heaven and see God, but it is reasonable to hope that other virtuous persons might be at least spared the positive misery of Hell even though they can never enter heaven and see God, because they might go to a place the Church calls Limbo. Theological opinion is less than universal on this point since the Church has never formally defined dogmatically whether or not such a "Limbo" exists. In any case, this last option would only apply to those who don't have the use of reason (such as small children or those with severe mental handicaps).
When the Church teaches that there is no salvation outside the Church, by "salvation" it is talking about the power to save, to confer sanctifying grace unto salvation. This power resides exclusively within the Church. Those who are outside the Church in the normal understanding of that expression yet saved are saved by virtue of their spiritual union to the Catholic Church and not by whatever rival religion they mistakenly hold instead. The Grace of salvation flows to that soul from Christ through the Roman Catholic Church. Also, all saved persons go to the Catholic Heaven; if in some case a Moslem or a Buddhist were somehow to obtain a valid Baptism of Desire, the Moslem would find no houris in Heaven and the Buddhist would not go to Nirvana.
While I am on this point, I must mention the strange case of Father Leonard Feeney. One hears of him rather frequently in the traditional Catholic community, either for or against and so therefore some introduction to the man and the controversy which surrounds him bears mention. Fr. Feeney was a priest in the Boston area who was one of the first to see the doctrine of Baptism of Desire being increasingly abused by certain "Catholic educators" in his area, including even his own Archbishop Cardinal Cushing, to excuse all sorts of false religion.
Fr. Feeney heroically fought against that heresy but in doing so he went just a little bit too far by rejecting the Catholic doctrines of Baptism of Desire and of Blood. While he was correct that the dogma "no salvation outside the Church" was soon to be compromised, and with devastating effects, he mistook the doctrines of Baptism of Blood and Desire as being themselves exceptions to that dogma, and he was afraid that they might serve as precedents for many more such "exceptions." So he took the drastic step of removing the doctrines of Baptisms of Blood and Desire from his own theological outlook. While it is vital to continue to fight the evil which he fought, one does not help the situation any by denying the Catholic doctrines of Baptism of Desire and Blood, nor by denying any other Catholic teachings. Heresy is a poor weapon to use against heresy.
I bring up that first point in order to clarify an important detail: "The set of those who are going to Heaven" are not and never have been the same as "The Mystical Body of Christ," "The Roman Catholic Church," nor "The Vatican institution." Within the scope of this book I am not concerned with "who does and who doesn't go to Heaven," (apart from the conclusion where I give some practical advice about that) but rather with the nature of the Visible Church as She survives this current bizarre and difficult period.
Most importantly, I ask the reader to keep in mind that when I later mention Catholics operating as such outside the Vatican institution I am most emphatically NOT referring to those saved by a Baptism of Blood, or Desire, or a Baptism by Protestants coupled with invincible ignorance! All real Catholics, as such, are simply "in" the Catholic Church regardless of whether or not they are in the Vatican institution, and conversely many persons now in the Vatican institution are outside the Church, although many are almost certainly still united to the soul of the Church and not the body, in a status similar to that of many Protestants.
And this is from Chapter 5:
Dissent did not end with the rise of the Church of the People of God, but since the Church was so drastically reduced in size by the mass defection of Catholics to the People of God, the newer dissenting groups have been correspondingly smaller. The first of these dissenting groups came about while the Liturgical Movement was still a minority voice within the Vatican institution, but by which time real Catholic faith had also become a minority voice. A number of Fr. Leonard Feeney's followers, reacting against the increasing liberalism and erosion of the doctrine that outside the Church there is no salvation, began to fight that erosion (an erosion which really did need to be opposed) by denying the Catholic teachings of Baptism of Desire and of Blood. These particular religious errors would only be attractive to those whose Catholicism is still strong enough to see the value of the more basic truth that indeed, outside the Church there is no salvation. But by their overreaction of denying the Catholic teaching regarding Baptism of Desire and of Blood, they have distanced themselves from the authentic teaching of the Church, albeit only to that limited extent. They were also one of the last of the groups created before Vatican II granted a charter to all Catholics functioning outside the Vatican institution.
One can see here of course that my description of the problem with Fr. Feeney's theology is a rather superficial and cursory one, and an issue that I simply lacked the time or space to get into to any great extent. I simply noted it as an error (and I don't doubt that some could fault my presentation of the error as being slightly oversimplified, for such was what I had gathered about it at the time), and as an example of dissent, and went on. As I was preparing my book to go to press in 2002, some further questions and answers I had received for either the online version of it posted in 1999, or any of the few hardcopy printings I had made of the book before then, were gathered up into a third Appendix, including one more question about this:
Why don't you count the followers of Fr. Leonard Feeney as traditional Catholics?
When Fr. Feeney broke off from the Church by refusing to obey (or even go on an all-expenses-paid journey to Rome, complete with an audience with the Pope (Pius XII) so as to plead his case), the establishment he stepped out of was still identical to the Roman Catholic Church. When he left the Vatican institution, he left the Church. Like all others who left the Church, he subsequently veered into error, namely the claim that a soul cannot be "saved" unless literally baptized with water. The Church had already explicitly taught otherwise, namely that a soul can be not only justified, but saved, by a Baptism of Blood or Desire.
Indeed, Feeneyites are the perfect test case, since they were in the beginning reacting against another heresy, namely that any vaguely well-intentioned soul automatically thus obtains a valid Baptism of Desire, their motives differ little from the motives of traditional Catholics. The reason they have wandered off into error and traditional Catholics have not is not that traditionalist Catholics are "better people," but simply because the organization they left was still identical to the Catholic Church, so that in leaving it they left the Church. Once Vatican II was on the books, the Vatican institution ceased to be identical to the Roman Catholic Church, so departing from it (as necessary for most traditional Catholics) no longer meant departing from the Church, thus the characteristics of the Church also continue to be with the traditional Catholics.
In 1999, I also had joined an Internet List group run by laity attached to the SSPX, and in particular by a moderator named Jim Vogel at the time. There were many discussions on many topics, including this one. There were several listmembers who were ardent followers of Fr. Feeney, and unlike more recent times when all discussion of such interesting topics was curtailed or at least forcibly limited to one side (the SSPX side, more or less), they were allowed to express their ideas, arguments, and responses, and the rest of the listmembers, including the Moderator (and also myself) responded. Even then it was quite obvious to me which side reflected the true teaching of the Church and which was not, and I do recall being quite impressed with much of the information that Jim Vogel brought to it all (much of it simply based on Fr. Laisney's book, its first edition then current being titled, Baptism of Desire). Of course, one other thing which I had long been familiar with (from my Jehovah's Witness days, and as explained in the first Installment), was the techniques used in misquoting sources to make them seem to support something they do not in fact support, so this too helped to enable me to see the difference between truth and error. Since that time, there had been a trickle of other comments from those who supported Fr. Feeney's opinions, most notably from an "Ecclesia Militans," whose comment I responded to online in some detail, but I had made my position clear and at the time expressed no further interest in debating them.
While actively involved with the John Birch Society, I recall being quite pleased to learn that one of their most key members, John F. McManus, was a "traditional Catholic" who attended the Latin Mass exclusively, only to have that joy very shortly dashed to learn that he was a card-carrying follower of Fr. Feeney. That went a long way to explain why it seemed that so many of that persuasion seemed to have an unusually good handle on political and economic affairs. And to this day I have no trouble giving these people credit for their grip on secular world affairs. But such a thing has no bearing on the theological divide that comes between them and the Church. And whatever respect I feel I must grant to anyone who has preserved and remained faithful to the Catholic Mass, the fact remains that they have done a good thing on the basis of a false principle, and while one may hope that many of their followers may be sincere in their error, that does not make their error right.
While I knew their "doctrine" was erroneous, I also knew that most of their following was sincere in their error and in many ways quite commendably sympathetic to the current struggle the Church is going through today. And while it was wrong, I had to admit that there had been no expressions of the supreme and extraordinary magisterium against their error, and so my wish had long been to try to treat of it as a forgivable error. So long as their error remained only among their long-established members and drew few, if any, converts, I was willing to "live and let die" with them.
As a writer for The DailyCatholic, which I started in 2004, I had begun to wish to treat of the case of Fr. Feeney in some more depth, as part of a prelude to a book I wanted to write explaining the current status of the Church, but also showing the difference between his interpretation of events from mine. I was thinking to grant him some respect for his early writings (all before this "doctrine" of his surfaced), or any other writings that had nothing to do with this question, and most importantly for his realization that there would come to be a grave abuse regarding the notion of salvation outside the Church, and at least as to that one general fact he was correct. I wanted to give him what respect and credit that I could, though of course not buying into his unique theories about salvation. Having done that, I would then have cleared the air and would now be in a position to explain how the whole problem with Vatican II does begin with salvation outside the Church (not BOB or BOD).
For long, I had put off this project in the face of more current and urgent needs, topics others have requested me to address, or topics that just needed some clarification or bringing up to date. Finally however, it had to do with a friend of mine getting (thankfully only temporarily) sucked into their error. Once this happened, I realized that this could not be allowed to go along any further. As I just indicated, I could overlook an error in someone that they have always grown up with, or else believed for a long time, etc., but when I see this error spreading to others whom I knew not to have previously held it, that right there is what pulled the trigger.
In January of 2008, a friend and fellow writer for The DailyCatholic pointed to an article he had just written, showing that he had (at the time) succumbed to a sincere belief in favor of the error, or at least of considering it a valid and legitimate opinion. This friend, John Gregory, has given me permission to use his name and share our correspondence. Interestingly enough, his sojourn with those in this error triggered not only my own series, but even an article from the noted sedevacantist priest, Fr. Martin Stepanich. This priest, back in the 1970's, had written for the Remnant a series on this same error, which they then published, and which Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey has formatted for display on his own site, and now on account of my friend, has finally written after all these years yet another article on this topic. Anyway, having written an article rather favorable to this error, my friend asked my honest opinion about it, and here was my immediate response:
My honest opinion (you did ask for it):
I can understand cutting those of the Feeney persuasion some slack in view of much practical good that some have done, and the relatively contained nature of their error. But the "yea verily all who are not baptized in water go burn in Hell" position is flagrantly heretical, and stands already condemned by the Church. As far back as the 11th century St. Bernard of Clairvaux had encountered the same teaching in his own day and he refuted it, and the Church endorsed his response to it, recognizing him as one of their great saints and a doctor of the Church and did not give any of this manner of recognition the one he refuted.
Then again, shortly after the rise of Fr. Feeney's organization, and shortly before Pope Pius XII passed away depriving the Church of her last "for sure" pope, the Holy Office ([with what is] commonly called the Marchetti-Selvaggiani letter) condemned his notion.
I see the denouement of the whole Feeneyite issue following something more akin to the denouement of the Donatist heresy. The Donatist heresy taught that those clergy who were not living up to the Gospel could not give valid sacraments, and the Church responded with the teaching that what is done, if it is the right thing and with the right conditions, is valid, regardless of the moral character of the one doing it. Because of the Donatist heresy, many bishops were being given "assistant bishops" approved by the Donatists to go "cleaning up" after the main bishop whose sacraments were seen as invalid by the Donatists. When the heresy was formally and most forcefully denounced, the Donatist clergy desisted and accepted the judgment of the Holy See, and in many cases went on to be many of the most exemplary clergy due to the high moral standards they had long insisted upon.
Though Feeneyism is clearly a heresy, I suppose there might be some room for a more clear and emphatic denouncement, e. g. an invocation of "ex Cathedra" on the part of the pope, which would be enough to bring nearly all of that persuasion back to the truth. [And as in the case with the Donatists, one can reasonably expect that many of their members will then progress to be among the Church's most exemplary members.] One would do well to observe how the Church treated the Donatists in her midst way back when.
Obviously they were accepted as clergy (where they were ordained) and permitted to function, but the Church did not endorse their error, and eventually got around to putting an end to it.
Obviously, I believe it to be outright heresy, even if I must concede that not all segments of the Church are up to speed on that finding. In a later correspondence (included below) I discuss this question in more detail. A few days later, he forwarded a comment sent to him from the Dimond brothers that read, "You need to read our book on this topic. It covers all the objections. It's the most in-depth book that has been written on this issue by far." I replied that "Fr. Cekada has some truly excellent articles on the Feeneyite question, you should take a look at his site." By March however, he wrote to me, "I read the Brothers Dimond book on BOB/BOD and have become convinced they are correct. I will provide you with the link in case you have not read it. [link to the Treatise provided] I am looking for any sound SV to read and (if possible) systematically refute their book or show where their claims could be up for debate or admit, that they could be right. Evidently you are the man, if anyone will, to do so." I knew then that it was time to respond to this in a truly systematic fashion, as it has never really been responded to before. By now it should also be obvious the two main reasons why it was I happened to choose to start my refutation of this error with addressing specifically the "Brothers Dimond" book on BOB/BOD, "Outside the Catholic Church There is Absolutely No Salvation". One is that it is in fact a most thorough and systematic presentation of that erroneous position, and thereby in responding to it I will have answered nearly all of the "arguments" put forward in advance of the error. The other was that this was what had (for the time being) so utterly cemented my friend's belief in that error. So the decision was made, and I wrote to him:
Do you still go to the SSPV priest for Mass? If so, have you mentioned any of this to him? I guess I am going to have to take a look at this sometime and it will take some time to be able to get back to you about this.
In the meantime, I suggest you consult some priests, be they CMRI, SSPV, or even SSPX on this, and also that you may read "Baptism of Desire" by Fr. Laisney, and also "Baptism of Desire - a Patristic Commentary" both available from Angelus Press. Fr. Cekada also has some good stuff about it. Finally St. Bernard of Clairvaux also met up against that same contention in his day and he refuted it then, and he (and not his opponent in that discussion) is the one of them who was recognized by the Church as a Church Doctor. I have not yet found the document with which he makes this refutation, but it too would be of interest if it could be found. Fr. Feeney was wrong, and his erroneous claims only escape the formal charge of heresy on the grounds that declarations against it have been rather indirect and muted (though the mind of the Church is clearly against him).
At that time I had not yet learned of the fact that Fr. Laisney had revised and updated his book, retitling it to be "Is Feeneyism Catholic?" My friend responded, to which I gave a paragraph-by-paragraph response to him, and which he then gave a paragraph-by-paragraph response back to me. Therefore I provide here the paragraphs in sets of three at a time, being his reply, then my response, then his, and finally (optionally, as needed) a current comment from me:
John: I do go to the SSPV for Mass though I would not want to bring that up with them any more than I would want to bring up the topic of CMRI as they would probably just say the Dimond's are bad and uncharitable and take quotes out of context and so forth. To me that would be a waste of time.
Me: Father might have more to say about it than you think (and he might not, who knows? But at least ask.) And for all of how much the SSPV may be down on the CMRI I have never heard of them disagreeing with the CMRI about the Fr. Feeney question.
John: If we cannot trust them in big things why trust them in regards to anything?
Comment: Later on, I wrote back to him thus: That is actually a false comparison. Matters of "who is in" and "who is out" of the Church (e. g. excommunications, etc.) is planted firmly in the realm of discipline, wherein the Church has always been fallible, for example by excommunicating Saint Joan of Arc but not excommunicating Montini (such mistakes therefore obviously go both ways). The SSPV's "issue" with the CMRI is not a doctrinal one at all, for they have never accused the CMRI of any heresy, but only of availing themselves of an episcopal line of succession which they (the SSPV) choose not to recognize. The BOB/BOD issue on the other hand is a matter of doctrine, and as such the infallibility of the Church (CMRI, SSPV, SSPX, and others equally) does apply.
John: The book pretty much says it all so I won't go into anything I have read.
Me: I hope that means that when the whole book is refuted in detail the idea will just die away.
John: Unless someone can show me otherwise, in my opinion I have not seen this clearly defined in a solemn declaration either pro or con BOB/BOD. I have not even seen this taught with an ordinary infallibility. I have seen opinions of fallible men; the strongest of which is from one who erred on the Immaculate Conception [St. Thomas Aquinas]. The minority (as you rightly claim for now - opinion) is those who have spoken to the issue compared to those who have not.
Comment: By now, I would hope that I have demonstrated why it is that any supreme and extraordinary ("ex cathedra") solemn definition regarding the existence of BOB and BOD would absolutely have to be in favor these them and against Fr. Feeney's teachings.
John: I believe I am correct that there is no infallible declaration for BOD/BOB and quite possible there are infallible declarations against it supposing "No Salvation Outside the Church" simply means what it says.
Me: The Church has had a clear mind on this matter, though admittedly its formal declarations have been somewhat weak regarding this. The denial of BOD/BOB is what would have to be called an "extreme minority" opinion, held by no one but Peter Abélard prior to Fr. Feeney.
John: [No reply to this point]
John: For instance in the time of the flood, someone outside the ark could not be saved merely by saying I desire to be in the ark. That would not work.
Me: Everyone who wanted to be on the ark was, so this does nothing. And if anyone truly did want to get to the ark and were impeded through no fault of their own, yes they would have died in the flood, but at least they wouldn't have to go to Hell afterwards.
John: The Old Testament points to a deeper reality in the new. In the old we are shown how one is to be saved with the ark representing the Church and the water representing baptism. Those who would have "died in the flood" are those who would not have been saved.
Comment: Actually, as shown in this series, St. Augustine actually used the illustration of the Ark to show how baptism would be a blessing to those who abide in Him and His holy Church with all charity, versus how it would be a curse to those baptized by heretics (if they culpably remain thus to their death) or in bad faith. And as also pointed out, the Ark of salvation (like the literal ark) does have three levels, the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant.
John: I can see how this well-intentioned belief was the foundation for all the false ecumenism we find ourselves in today where all religions are basically good and no "well-intentioned" or "invincibly" "ignorant" person has to worry about being damned.
Me: It is not the foundation of ecumenism. The foundation of ecumenism (in the false sense as advocated by Vatican II) is the claim that other religions can be the means of salvation, what the V-2 "Fathers" really intended with that crucial language in Lumen Gentium I have written so much about. The possibility of some few obtaining everlasting life in God though not managing to quite cross the threshold of water baptism never provided the slightest support for any claim that they got saved while seeking anything other than God and His Church.
John: The bottom line, if you accept BOD/BOB as de fide is that people in any religion or no religion at all can be saved. If this is de fide we have less motivation to try to convert others as they would all be where they are supposed to be if they just knew better. If we must "err" on one side or another regarding something that has not been defined would it not be safer to err on the side of safety where there is no debate on the matter? Does not debating on whether a non baptized person goes to Heaven or not fall under the description of impious inquiry? Should we rather, teach infallibly with the Church that there is No Salvation Outside the Church?
John: There are very few fathers who taught this, one of which was Augustine who went both ways on it. Saint Thomas Aquinas, in my opinion, is the strongest argument for, however, we all know that even he was not infallible.
Me: No, Augustine only spoke in favor of them when mentioning them at all.
John: Read the book and tell me if the brothers misquote the Doctor or not. They may have fooled me but I doubt they can fool you.
John: Read the book unbiasedly as I know you are capable of doing but others may not be and tell me what you think. God, who sees all, would not leave one of good-will in invincible ignorance. People have risen from the dead to be baptized. To be a member of the Church, as far as I know means you must be baptized, even babies, who certainly are legitimately invincibly ignorant do not go to Heaven unless they are baptized. Why would those who have less of an excuse?
Me: The question of unbaptized infants and that they go to Limbo was never in doubt, and it is disingenuous of the Dimond "brothers" to suggest otherwise.
John: The brothers do not suggest otherwise. This was my point as I state the obvious fact that even those who have committed no sin (babies) are not saved unless they are baptized so why would adults who have sinned and not been baptized be saved?
Comment: As John would later go on to write, "One of the things that convinced me that they were right was that unbaptized babies are not saved so why would unbaptized adults be saved?" Of course I must clarify that when I stated above here that the question of the Limbo of the Infants was "never in doubt," I referred only to during the current times of living memory in which the question of BOB and BOD has been fought over. In the age of the ancient Fathers it evidently was something of a real question.
John: Regarding Father Cekeda - on this topic his response is not so good compared to his other wonderful writings and certainly not convincing. Again, he cannot point to an infallible decree. And what he presents is not overwhelming in any sense, just fallible highly regarded theologians who agree with some theologians and disagree with other Saints, Fathers, Doctors and other highly regarded theologians on the issue.
Me: Fr. Cekada addresses one specific point, but in doing so manages to bring in a great deal of other helpful information.
John: He shows the fallible opinion of some but does not show where this has been infallibly declared.
Comment: And as I have since shown, the "Saints, Fathers, Doctors and other highly regarded theologians" are actually in perfect agreement with Fr. Cekada and his "highly regarded theologians." It was only the instrumentality of scholastic dishonesty that had created any different impression. The "great deal of other helpful information" of course is by far primarily the writings of his "25 theologians" who point out a great many true sources for belief in BOB and BOD among the Saints, Fathers, and Doctors.
John: I will be very curious to what you say about the book. It is an easy read and in big print.
Me: The quotes given only show that their claim about them is false. I have seen this kind of scholastic dishonesty before, in the publications of the Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), whose writings are replete with all manner of scriptural and scholastic "proofs" to the effect that the doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical and only some compromise with Paganism. Such things can look convincing to those not trained in recognizing false scholastic methods, even as a stage magician can fool a psychic investigator into thinking that he has special powers (James Randi did this on many occasions).
John: This comparison between the brothers and the Watchtower Society seems dishonest to me. The Jehovah's do not fool me and I can show where they are wrong by infallible decrees. You suggest that the brothers have fooled me but you have not shown me why.
Comment: But of course, that was for the series itself to provide.
In about this time period, I gave The DailyCatholic Editor Michael Cain a call in which I asked him, "Do you feel ready to go to war?" He answered, "With who? Michael Matt [of The Remnant]?" At the time he had become disappointed with The Remnant since it has editorially taken quite a soft stance, almost akin to that of the closely related (by blood) publication, The Wanderer, in view of the recent Motu Proprio regarding the Latin Mass. I answered him, "No, Feeneyism!" Well, that was OK with him too, since he was afraid that he had lost one of his new writers to this error, and the error did need to be refuted. At some point he wrote to John, "Usually I am quick to not broach the subject of Baptism by Desire, or blood, but in a recent article, as you noted, he [Fr. Wathen, another whose writings appeared on the pages of The DailyCatholic] slipped it in and I didn't catch it. Also, I could not make a correction without his permission since it was his work and he has been quite sick as I mentioned. Ergo, I'm more vigilant for the future, though Griff Ruby has expressed interest in treating this subject in much more detail in upholding Baptism of Blood and Baptism of Desire as valid."
As to Michael Matt, my feeling then and now is that we should go easy on him. There is nothing constructive to be gained by alienating him while he wears the rose-colored glasses of the false hope that the struggle to restore all things in Christ is at last almost finished. I say, give him time to be disillusioned, and once that happens (as it inevitably must) we will all be there to welcome him back to the fold with open arms. John Gregory concludes in his March correspondence:
I take you for one of the most humble and sincere public traditionalists that I know. You do not come to definitive conclusions without looking at all the facts first, or if new facts come to your attention that would alter your conclusion you would come to a new conclusion based upon additional information. I do not see you as a willfully blind person as was that person who I had debate you on SV from all exterior appearances. So if you will, read the book and systematically refute it for the sake of souls if you can or admit that you cannot for the sake of your own soul.
I'm trying to garner all the information pro BOD/BOB that I can to see if it can undermine their book. I have been unsuccessful so far.
After that follows several months near silence from me while I produce only one article for The DailyCatholic and no correspondence passes between me and John. This was principally a time for me to relax a bit and then brace myself for the coming battle, a battle I see as being one not of my own choosing but of Catholic duty. He was right. This is something that has needed to be done since (at least) 1949. Sixty years after stepping into a doctrinal scandal, Fr. Feeney can at last be truly answered as was desired by many from the beginning instead of merely being slapped down with disciplinary measures, or given short rebuttals that can barely scratch the surface. It was time. When I was able to inform John that I already had two installments prepared and a third well underway, he wrote to me thus:
I wanted to add one more thing about the issue. One thing that distinguishes you from others who point out errors, especially in regards to the brothers is that you are charitable. You are able to fight the errors without engaging in personal attacks against the propagators.
If the brothers were irrefutably proven wrong on the issue it would be my wish that they would have the humility to admit it. My human emotions doubt they will but the existence of God shows me it could happen. They would be a great asset to have on our side.
To that I responded:
I am charitable, but in this case charity requires me to be quite firm. What Michael [sic - as I explained in my previous installment, it was Peter, and not Michael as I had mistakenly assumed, who wrote the Treatise] Dimond has written is frankly dishonest and I know of no kind way to say to someone "Frankly, you are a liar." It is why my series is taking the name of "Scholastic Dishonesty" for such indeed has been the only way to fool people into denying BOB and BOD. The first installment (due to be posted on the The DailyCatholic this Monday I hope! [it was - Monday, June 30, 2008]) only deals with scholastic dishonesty in a general way, citing the manner in which I learned of it from my Watchtower days and how they misquote the Bible to "prove" all of their unusual doctrines. With the second part (already fully drafted and also already in Michael Cain's hands) I introduce the work of Michael [sic] Dimond which I take on directly, point by point, and continue to do so in a good many further installments (in various states of development).
I must admit that as I first rolled up my sleeves and set to work on this series, I had as yet relatively few of the relevant sources on hand that I would subsequently be quoting. I knew that any false doctrinal claim would require at least some degree of scholastic dishonesty, and that such dishonesty would therefore have to be discoverable, but it was reassuring as I investigated the St. John Chrysostom quote I discussed in the second installment (this particular one could be easily investigated online at the time) that such deceptions would be easy to find and demonstrate. Probably the scariest quote would be that of Fr. Jurgens. I had seen the three volume set by Fr. Jurgens but I did not possess it, and I knew that Fr. Jurgens was of a decidedly Modernist bent, as I had been able to discern even from the selectivity of the sorts of quotes he included. Without seeing the source of his quote (used not only in the Treatise but also by Brother Robert Mary and others), I had to wonder whether this would be so out of context (as I actually found it to be, once I looked it up), or some sort of Modernist invention.
For you see, to be a Modernist is by its very nature to be alienated from the Church of any age prior to that of the post-Vatican II era, and therefore to be altogether uncomfortable with the Doctors, the Fathers, Sacred Scripture, and all Popes previous to John XXIII. For a Modernist, there can only be three possible ways of dealing with all of that irrefutable past. The simplest and by far the most legitimate would be to ignore it all outright. For such, the past simply never existed. For such "enlightened" (endarkened) individuals, everyone in the past were all just a bunch of ignorant obscurantists unworthy of any attention whatsoever. However, such a way of dealing is not open to anyone purporting to address and provide access to the early Fathers of the Church. A Modernist attempting that is therefore constrained to take either of the other two courses, or else to attempt some combination of the two. So what are these other two ways? One is to try to dress up the ancients in as Modernist of garb as possible, to misquote them in ways to make them seem at least almost like the Modernists themselves. For example, were liturgies, and even the Canon of the Mass still somewhat in some state of flux in those earliest days? After all, the Canon names saints that come as late as the fourth century. Then pretend that is no different from the experimentation that goes on routinely in the Novus Ordo today. This tends to be easier with the ancients since most of their writings tend to be rather brief, terse, direct, and which depend heavily upon common outside assumptions known to the ancients but easily replaced by the Modernists with their own different assumptions and way of looking at things written. The other path open to the Modernists is to stress the point of "change," to exaggerate what few changes can be identified (or even some outright invented), so as to make the teaching of the Church itself to seem as something subject to great and vast overall changes, thus attempting to make the recent "changes" seem more possible or acceptable, or even legitimate.
When I first confronted the Fr. Jurgens quote, besides wondering if it might have been misquoted, I had to wonder if the early fathers might really have been more pessimistic (or else simply less willing to go into such a detail at all, which from the perspective of those who deny BOB and BOD might seem to amount to almost the same thing), or why a Modernist might want to stress the early quotes against BOB and BOD. After all, it is psychologically rather easy to picture those austere ancient Fathers, those most venerable saints, as being somehow "more strict" than Catholics of later ages. Had that been the case I would then have only been able to see that as a setup for claiming that things had changed since (by admitting BOB and BOD at all as all later ages plainly do), and so therefore "justifying" the yet bigger changes as a result of Vatican II. In a way I am glad that the early Fathers were nowhere near as varied in their opinions on this as some would plainly wish, nor the least bit pessimistic about BOB and BOD. Instead of any changes taking place at all, a rather startling stability has prevailed throughout all the ages. As it has turned out, the case I have for BOB and BOD has turned out to be even a great deal stronger than I had expected going in. As I showed in installments 9 and 10, the ancient Fathers actually had quite a bit to say about BOB and BOD, and all of it consistent with what the Church was teaching when Fr. Feeney began making news over his objection to the Church's teaching on this topic. Still, one has to be conscious of these issues when addressing Modernism, to which I will get to later on this essay.
So, when I started this I had no idea just how deep and thorough the deception had been. At some points I had even been naïve enough to take certain statements of theirs regarding the teaching of the early Fathers more or less at face value, even writing into an early draft of my third installment that "what few of the ancient Church Fathers who seem to have even considered the question nevertheless seem to have some differences among themselves, with some making blanket statements against there being any significant exceptions, others listing only one (typically BOB) as the one narrow exception, or in somewhat few cases allowing the almost-as-narrow exception of both BOB and BOD," and "one salient point that necessarily has to emerge from these facts is that there is no clear unanimity, from the quotes given, one way or the other, as it seemed to what few as mentioned it that these were questions of legitimate discussion." But in fact there is no evidence that any of the early Fathers regarded BOB or BOD as legitimate areas of discussion or disagreement. And once I obtained the three Fr. Jurgens volumes and looked up the quote, and found it to be about how the early Fathers unanimously refused to apply BOB and BOD to the situation of unbaptized infants only, I then knew that I was ready to go public with this series.
Since that time, John Gregory has written many kind things about this series:
I believe it will be good to get those they have fooled back into the boat. I have read your first article and can't wait for the rest. Tom Droleskey posted something from Father Stepanich on his site as well. The brother's case appears solid at first reading.
You don't know how pleased I am that you are doing this series! It is spectacular so far!!!
It needed to be addressed and quite frankly I knew you were the one to do it. The letter by Father Stepanich on this issue that can be found on Christ or Chaos was addressed to me as well. Tom [Droleskey] put me in touch with him because I shared my leanings with Tom as well. Believe it or not Father did not convince me as I was so entrenched in the thought at the time though I read what he wrote very carefully a couple of times. One of the things that convinced me that they were right was that unbaptized babies are not saved so why would unbaptized adults be saved? But I understand now. I found it very interesting how they left out part of a quote [from when I presented the first of these in my second installment]. That alone speaks volumes!
Thank you very much for this insight [from when I updated the third installment with detailed information regarding the Council of Sens, and informed him that I had done this]. I hope it is not wrong for me to say this but your work I believe is more comprehensive than what Father Stepanich (whom I believe to be the greatest authority alive regarding Sacred Theology) has written on it. Of course I am not saying you are more competent than he but you answer the objections even more satisfactorily in my opinion.
Your articles are absolutely splendid and I thank you for putting them together and Mike for posting this much needed response. I had told you not long ago that your responses are even better than those of Father Stepanich and he has a degree in Sacred Theology and is probably the greatest authority out there today. You are outdoing yourself with this one. And I cannot wait to read the rest. I am quite honored to have a part in this desperately needed work and I actually was partially responsible for Father Stepanich's responses posted on Tom Droleskey's site as that letter was written to me.
Your latest in the series is spectacular! It answers those questions on what happens to whom in regards to salvation from the beginning. I am sorry to hear that I have to wait until September to read the continuation.
[To the Dimonds:] I had never seen anyone refute you to my full satisfaction until I saw Griff Ruby's article though I did see one article written [by someone else] that started to get me to see that you could be wrong. If you read my latest column you will see that I am convinced that the Church teaches BOB/D under her ordinary infallibility. I believe Griff Ruby's articles are thoroughly convincing and I wish so much you were with us. You could help the Church greatly with your resources.
I just wanted to compliment you on your latest article. One would think it impossible, but you continue to outdo yourself! Do you mind if I ask what type of theological training you have had. I know many self-proclaimed lay-theologians, including yours truly, have blabbered endlessly as some expert on a purported truth only to be proven false, but I believe there are lay-people out there who have something to say and are in fact quite knowledgeable and trust-worthy, people like you, Tom Droleskey, Michael Cain and so forth.
Your latest article is outstanding once again! Nobody in the BOB/D camp will have the invincible ignorance excuse that they do not believe in on this issue whether they know about your articles and don't read them or if they do read them but do not want to be convinced.
He also had some questions, the principle ones that I could answer (others being answered in the course of the installments themselves) are these:
John: BTW - I want to make sure it is safe to call the denial of BOB/D "heresy". Or is this "just" a grave error?
Me: As different Roman theologians have rated BOB and BOD various degrees of theological notes, at this juncture it could be either one. I have every expectation that some day in the future there will be a true pope again who will yea verily condemn Feeneyism as heresy (for in my opinion, it really is), but until such a official action takes place it either has to be legally recognized as being either a "grave error" (still a mortal sin to embrace) or "heresy" (also a mortal sin).
Me, continued: Depending upon whether BOB/BOD are "dogma" or "Doctrine of ecclesiastical faith" or "de fide" or "proximate to faith" or "Theologically certain" or "Catholic doctrine" or "Certain" it would be either "heresy," or "error" or "temerarious." It cannot possibly be any further down the food chain of theological notes and in each of these cases [the denial of BOB or BOD] is the matter of a mortal sin. In view of my studies on this topic I feel quite safe in ruling it [this denial] to be at the very least a "very grave error" and I do consider "heresy" to be a legitimate and probable finding for some future pope to make.
John: Can you elaborate on the difference and imperfect faith, hope, charity & contrition? And how a person who imperfectly desires baptism be saved without the sacrament? Is it a fact that the Holy Ghost can dwell in one, in some way, who is in the state of mortal sin, thus enabling him to have Perfect faith, hope, charity & contrition and is this perfect faith, hope, charity the same as the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity?
Me: Generally it is usually contrition (but on rare occasions charity) for which the distinction is made between "perfect" and "imperfect." And the distinction is precisely that spoken of in your ordinary catechism regarding contrition with regards to Penance. Imperfect contrition is motivated by a fear of losing heaven, or a fear of the fires of hell (and I think I can imagine yet other modes of imperfect contrition, for example embarrassment before God and the holy angels and the whole of creation on the White Throne Day of Judgment), but perfect contrition is that which regrets or has remorse for the bad thing (or the necessary good undone) because it offends God, because it is bad and wrong and so forth. That is to say, perfect contrition hates the sin because of the inherent badness and offensiveness of the sin before God of itself, without reference of what would happen to one on account of it. With imperfect contrition one is only concerned about what will happen to oneself (oh no! I might lose heaven, or even, gulp, go to hell!)
Me, continued: Imperfect contrition is sufficient if it can be combined with the sacrament (be it baptism or penance), and (I believe) even with a holy martyrdom (for in that one's contrition is perfected even if only in one's ability to fear an invisible and seemingly theoretical hell more than a clear and present danger or torment), but will not otherwise prove salvific. There is no Baptism of Desire for those who have only imperfect contrition, even as those with mortal sins on their soul but who die without getting to Confession and who have only imperfect contrition are similarly damned.
Me, continued: But neither is that perfect contrition needed for salvation some rarified and stratospheric goal that only the merest handful of extraordinary individuals might maybe just barely muster. Think of the Act of Contrition, especially the part about "....but most of all because they [my sins] offend Thee Oh God Who art all good and deserving of all my love." If one can simply say those words and truly mean them with all their heart their contrition is perfect.
Me, continued: The Holy Ghost does not dwell in one who is in a state of mortal sin, but in even such a sinner, if his contrition is perfect, the Holy Ghost can and does indeed dwell, even while waiting for the sacrament towards which the Holy Ghost nevertheless impels him. A person, whether unbaptized, or even baptized but in a state of mortal sin, can nevertheless make an interior decision (resolve) to have such perfect contrition, and upon that decision the Holy Ghost enters in and enables him to follow through with it and to exhibit all of true Faith, Hope, and Charity.
Me, continued: There are three ways a catechumen can be damned if he dies while in that state:
1) He can fall back into sin.
Me, continued: Where an implicit Baptism of Desire could ever apply to someone with some forgivable degree or mode of ignorance he has in addition to the above three risks the following:
2) His contrition for any of his sins may be only imperfect [and his death be not that of a holy martyr].
3) He may prefer to linger as a mere catechumen instead of progressing onward towards baptism out of fear of persecution or unwillingness to make the sacrifices that baptism will require of him.
4) He might decide he has found all he needs where he is (in his ignorant condition) and be content with it.
Me, continued: Finally, even if the catechumen, or ignorant person of sufficiently good will, were to qualify for salvation upon the moment of his death, he will have (in virtually all cases) at least some degree of Purgatory to go through, and the sins of all his life will be counted towards it (at least if you are baptized it is only your sins dating from after the point of your baptism that would count). The martyr has the advantage here in that, like water baptism, all the sins of his past life [up to the point of the martyrdom itself] will have no Purgatorial consequences, only whatever sins one does after one's martyrdom. It may sound strange speaking of sins after a martyrdom, but a true and valid martyrdom need not and does not always result in one's death. One faced death, believing that he would die, and only Providence intervened, for example someone agreeing to be fed to the lions instead of renouncing Christ and he gets thrown in, but the lion, instead of eating him all up, merely chomps off an arm and walks away satiated, and the martyr, instead of dying, lives. This sort of thing also counts as a martyrdom, complete with the abolishment of all Purgatorial penalty for sins done up to that point, though if they endure this before water baptism, and living afterwards fail to continue towards water baptism (and presumably get baptized if occasion permits), then that would be itself a damning sin. Upon their water baptism any sins between the time of their survived martyrdom and the time of their water baptism would again have all Purgatorial penalty for them abolished.
5) His ignorance may be culpable to at least some degree.
6) His false ministers may lead him into a violation of the Natural Law and dampen his natural contrition for having done that.
7) He may, even accidently, resist some actual Grace bestowed upon him in all of God's Providence.
Next week I will continue this three part interlude by delving into the conflict of the dogma Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus and how many sided with Feeneyism in the face of the false ecumenism perpetrated by proponents of Vatican II and how the Modernists cleverly and insidiously hoisted their petard on the arguments of BOB/BOD to manipulate through the art of scholastic and ecclesiastic dishonesty.
Griff L. Ruby