"But the leader's jurisdiction has thereby gone from being that universal jurisdiction of a Roman Catholic pope (at the very least Paul VI absolutely had to be a material pope at the signing of Lumen Gentium, even though there is plenty of room to deny that he was in any way a formal pope), to something qualitatively and by definition less than universal. In short, in promulgating Lumen Gentium, Paul VI stepped out of even the material office of the Roman Catholic Papacy, and into a new office of his own creation. It is only to this new office that all succeeding leaders of the Vatican institution have all been elected (and I will even grant that their elections validly placed them in this new and different non-papal office), all subject to the same juridical condition Paul VI himself had with the promulgation of Lumen Gentium. Ergo, none of them have been popes. Not being popes, Infallibility does not apply to them, and therefore there has been nothing to stand in the way of them inflicting their whims, their errors and their heresies upon an unsuspecting church and world. Infallibility applies only to he who possesses universal jurisdiction over the whole Church. The scandalous and destructive things seen in them and in their "official" actions and teachings are but symptoms of this canonical fact. And no one can be Pope (in the truly authentic Catholic and Petrine sense) until Lumen Gentium is revoked, even should the man repent and become a Catholic."
Part 1 of this series, begun nearly a year ago, 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.
In the course of all this correspondence with my friend John Gregory, as I chronicled last week in part 1 of this interlude, and, who occasioned this series, there is one statement that I wish to address now: "I can see how this well-intentioned belief [in BOB/D] was the foundation for all the false ecumenism we find ourselves in today." This of course represents the one major source of sympathy that the Feeneyites have been able to draw from us traditional Catholics. As traditional Catholics, those who alone are truly concerned with the things of God and who have the welfare of His holy Church at heart, one of the three big bugaboos of the current crisis is the rampant ecumenism created by Vatican II, the other two being most criminally damaged, typically invalid, and irreverent liturgies, and the declaration of political rights for error and thereby the uncrowning of our Lord Who once ruled kings (That is what being "King of Kings" means!) now rules only private individuals scattered here and there.
So what does this most criminal ecumenism consist of? And what makes it so gravely criminal that we (and everyone, whether they choose to recognize that fact or not) are morally obliged to condemn, remove ourselves from, and regard as heretics those who practice it? It consists of teaching that the followers of other religions and "churches" can be saved thereby, that conversion to the Catholic Faith is not necessary, that conversion from the Catholic Faith is not necessarily sinful, that truth and error must be put on par and treated equally in some form of "dialog," that Catholic and non-Catholic can engage in joint "liturgies" together, syncretically fusing their respective "faiths" together, and so forth. It is nothing short of religious indifferentism, dressed up to seem like some kind of idealism, even as the envy the lazy have for the industrious (and their prosperity) can be dressed up as a kind of idealism, through a "democratic" redistribution of wealth, by the incantation of "I'm as good as you." It matters really little indeed that some of the Vatican II "fathers" may have allowed for the "Catholic" path to be in some subquantitative manner "superior" to the other paths to heaven. After all, would not even those who claim such have to believe that a zealous and saintly Protestant would fare better in the resurrection than some barely-squeaking-by Catholic?
There is no room to doubt that such liberality comes from a combination of the legitimate desire for as many as possible to be saved, with that peculiar form of spiritual sloth that contents itself to "save" as many as possible from the comfort of one's easy chair by speculating on ways that God's mercy and salvation could come to any sort of vaguely well-meaning soul in any amount of error or distance from the Kingdom of God. The Vatican II "fathers" have amply demonstrated just how the sin of presumption can as easily be committed on behalf of others as on behalf of oneself: "He'll be all right, since he is sincere; he doesn't need to become a Catholic."
And look at what a gravely irreverent practice it is to commit the crime of "communicatio in sacris"! 1 Corinthians 10:20-22 directly addresses this sin thus: "But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God. And I would not that you should be made partakers with devils. You cannot drink the chalice of the Lord, and the chalice of devils: you cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" What a horrific thing it is to attempt to worship God and Satan simultaneously! But what else can be said of the 1986 Assisi scandal, or any number of other such public and openly scandalous instances of communicatio in sacris?
However, the question that concerns us here is, do all these things have their basis in BOB and/or BOD? There are two classes of those who would want to claim that they do. One of these would be the Feeneyites themselves who wish, in attempting to appeal to us Catholics, that we would reject the Baby of BOB and BOD right along with the filthy bathwater of Vatican II ecumenism. The other class would be those Modernists who try to use BOB and/or BOD as some sort of "basis" to justify their wild excesses and debaucheries. The followers of Fr. Feeney interestingly enough have no arguments of their own, but base their claim solely on those arguments conjured up by the Modernists. It is therefore to the Modernists we shall now look.
Let us start with Fr. Francis A Sullivan, Society of Jesus (Jesuit). He taught ecclesiology at Gregorian University in Rome for 35 years until 1993. Since then, he has taught in the Theology Department at Boston College University. In the introduction of a book of his we will be looking into presently, he states, "My interest in the subject [of Fr. Feeney and the challenges to the Faith and Church which he introduced] was initially aroused during the late 1940's when I was studying theology in preparation for ordination to the priesthood at the Jesuit seminary in Weston Massachusetts. The tranquility of those years was dramatically shattered by the news that Fr. Leonard Feeney, S.J., who had taught courses in English literature to many of us at Weston, had publicly denounced the Catholic archbishop of Boston as a heretic for declaring that non-Catholics can be saved… When I was a student at Weston, I presumed that a satisfactory explanation could be given to show how the church was consistent in its faith…" So we are working here with a prominent figure in the Novus Ordo hierarchy, teaching in a Roman Vatican seminary for 35 years, and deeply interested in the question raised by the events in Boston of 1949 and the several years following.
This Modernist Jesuit wrote a book titled Salvation Outside the Church? - Tracing the History of the Catholic Response, a book with much early material regarding the early Fathers which has undeniably proven helpful in finding many helpful quotes for my sections on the Church Fathers. Of course, being a Modernist, he believes in the Vatican II errors, and seems to promise in his book some way to get from these ancient beliefs in BOB and BOD, and even in God's ability to have demonstrated mercy to the ancients geographically far removed from the Jewish nation (and the early Church), to the liberalism of today. The blurb on the back cover of his book (all quotes and page numbers taken from the 2002 Wipf and Stock Publishers edition) promises, "Many in the Catholic Church have felt that while Feeney must surely have been wrong, the questions he raised were never satisfactorily answered. Is it really a dogma of the Catholic faith that there is no salvation outside the church? Can the optimism of Vatican II about the universal possibility of salvation be defended as an example of homogeneous development of doctrine? Or would it be more honest to say that the Catholic Church has recognized that its previous teaching was mistaken?"
So here we have a Modernist taking the tack of claiming a series of changes in the teaching of the Church. To summarize his model of events, things were "more liberal" in the earliest days (especially where Christians encountered pagan persons and cultures that had known no light from the Nation of Israel), got more strict in the mid-to-late era of the Fathers, and reached its peak of strictness in the high Middle ages, namely that era in which the whole world (as the Church knew it, no one knowing of the American continents) was Catholic, was fully evangelized, and in which practically no one but someone raised in the woods, by wolves (for example) could possibly have not heard of Christ or His Church, and in which virtually no one could possibly be "invincibly ignorant," but then with the discovery of the Americas that had gone totally unevangelized for more than 1,450 years since Pentecost, the question of those truly ignorant of the Church became again quite germane, thus leading to the "generous" liberality that culminates in Vatican II.
In all the chapters covering the ages prior to Vatican II, there really is only a little criticism to make, and that would be regarding his willingness to take the claims of Fr. Feeney at least somewhat at face value regarding the "pessimism" of the mid-to-late Fathers (beginning with St. Augustine) clear through to the medieval popes whom Fr. Feeney was always so fond of quoting. As I have shown in my series, such "pessimism" is really not the least bit warranted. Fr. Sullivan mistakenly takes such claims about their "pessimism" by Fr. Feeney at face value either out of not taking the bother to look up the actual sources in context, or else out of a typical Modernist desire to exaggerate the "changes" that have occurred in the Pre-Vatican II history of the Church.
When he arrives at the chapter addressing what Vatican II actually did to this question however, a most interesting thing happens. A most astonishing and unprecedented change is made, but instead of attempting to explain or justify this astonishing change, he simply accepts it unconditionally as some sort of "fait accompli," and doesn't even bother to suggest that other works might actually explain it. How such a thing could happen is not only outside the scope of his book, but even altogether unaddressed. Let us see some actual quotes from the relevant chapter (page 145):
During the 1964 period the council voted on its final approval of the revised text, with the result that on November 21, Pope Paul VI was able to promulgate the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church known as Lumen Gentium. On the same date, Paul VI also promulgated the conciliar Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis redintegratio. With the promulgation of those two conciliar texts, an extraordinary change took place in official Catholic doctrine about the salvation of non-Catholic Christians. Up until the 1963 draft, as we have seen, the official doctrine was that since there is only one church of Christ, which is exclusively identified with the Roman Catholic Church, it follows that the Catholic Church is the only ecclesial means of salvation, and that, therefore salvation for other Christians must also come through the Catholic Church, by virtue of their implicit desire to belong to it. The recognition, both in Lumen Gentium and in the Decree on Ecumenism, of the ecclesial value of the other Christian churches and communities introduced a profound change in our understanding of the way that other Christians reach salvation
Isn't that exactly what I have been saying over and over again, in my Resurrection book, throughout my "What Is Your Picture" series, my "Grace" series, and in just about every article in which I have addressed the current situation in the Church?! The only difference here is that Fr. Sullivan here thinks this represents some great and profound theological advance whereas I know it to have been a juridical nightmare responsible for the loss of the papacy, the loss of Catholic order and doctrine and worship, and the creation of a doppelganger "church" that has hijacked practically all of the resources, human and material, of the Church and misdirected much of their energies to the destruction of the Kingdom of Christ. The quote continues:
This change is so significant that in my opinion "No salvation outside the church" is no longer a problem for Catholic theology as far as the members of the other Christian churches are concerned. In the light of Vatican II, we can now recognize their own churches as the ecclesial means by which non-Catholic Christians are being saved.
Need, or even can, it possibly get any more explicit than that? As a direct result of Lumen Gentium and its companion Decree on Ecumenism, Roman Catholic jurisdiction was awarded carte blanche to anyone and everyone hanging out their spiritual shingle as any sort of religious minister. So now, if a Lutheran minister hears a member of his flock's confession and expresses "God's" forgiveness (in the manner approved among Lutherans), then by virtue of Vatican II that man now has the juridical faculties to absolve the sinner of his sins! He, who does not and de jure need not in any way answer to the Vatican hierarchy is here explicitly granted the authority to teach, sanctify, and rule in the Name of Christ's own Church (which by doctrine IS the Roman Catholic Church).
Furthermore, since that Lutheran minister is clearly not bound to any obedience to the Vatican hierarchy (while still yet possessing this jurisdiction), neither can he be bound by the diocesan boundaries set for those members of the Vatican hierarchy. By that token, if even any member of that hierarchy should choose to function outside the territory assigned to him, there is nothing to stop him. Even should they expulse him from the Vatican hierarchy, he in no way loses even the tiniest shred of his authority and jurisdiction and Apostolic mission to function anywhere in the Church he chooses. This therefore effectively dissolves all diocesan boundaries, making the entire Church all around the world reduced to one single Diocese, namely that of the Eternal Diocese, Rome.
Even more serious, since our Lutheran minister is in no way answerable to the Vatican leader, even while yet possessing this canonical authority to teach, sanctify, and rule within the Catholic Church, that Vatican leader's authority comes way short of that universal jurisdiction that a Pope (actual successor of Peter) by definition necessarily has. A bishop, though his exclusive claim to his diocese has been lost through the dissolving of all diocesan boundaries, and who must now share his jurisdiction with others, nevertheless retains his legality and canonical mission and so forth. His jurisdiction was not universal before (in that it was limited to his diocese) and it is still not universal now (in that it must be shared with all other bishops as canonical equals), and as such his canonical ability to function as a Roman Catholic bishop has only been slightly adjusted; his legitimacy and authority to teach, sanctify, and rule within the Church nevertheless still stands.
But the leader's jurisdiction has thereby gone from being that universal jurisdiction of a Roman Catholic pope (at the very least Paul VI absolutely had to be a material pope at the signing of Lumen Gentium, even though there is plenty of room to deny that he was in any way a formal pope), to something qualitatively and by definition less than universal. In short, in promulgating Lumen Gentium, Paul VI stepped out of even the material office of the Roman Catholic Papacy, and into a new office of his own creation. It is only to this new office that all succeeding leaders of the Vatican institution have all been elected (and I will even grant that their elections validly placed them in this new and different non-papal office), all subject to the same juridical condition Paul VI himself had with the promulgation of Lumen Gentium. Ergo, none of them have been popes. Not being popes, Infallibility does not apply to them, and therefore there has been nothing to stand in the way of them inflicting their whims, their errors and their heresies upon an unsuspecting church and world. Infallibility applies only to he who possesses universal jurisdiction over the whole Church. The scandalous and destructive things seen in them and in their "official" actions and teachings are but symptoms of this canonical fact. And no one can be Pope (in the truly authentic Catholic and Petrine sense) until Lumen Gentium is revoked, even should the man repent and become a Catholic.
But do you also see yet another point in all this: "In my opinion 'No salvation outside the church' is no longer a problem for Catholic theology," so Vatican II did not in fact change or extend BOB or BOD, it outright replaced them with something else, something new. More is said of this as Fr. Sullivan continues (pages 146-147):
The first momentous change was the dropping of the claim of exclusive identity between the church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church. The 1963 text had said: "The Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church." The final text, in L[umen] G[entium] 8, says: "The Church of Christ subsists in the Roman Catholic Church." There would have been no point in making this change if "subsists in" had the same exclusive sense as the flat assertion that the one is the other. Now what is affirmed is that the church which Christ founded and entrusted to St. Peter and the other apostles continues to exist, under the leadership of the successors of Peter and the apostles, in the Catholic Church. This is a positive statement about the Catholic Church, but it does not say or imply that the church of Christ exists nowhere else than in the Catholic Church. It leaves that question open, in a way that official Catholic doctrine had never done before. Hence, practically all commentators have seen in this change of wording a significant opening toward the recognition of ecclesial reality in the other Christian churches and communities.
The second momentous change was the dropping of the statement that only Roman Catholics are really (reapse) members of Christ's church. Now, instead of saying that only Catholics are really members of the church, the text of L[umen] G[entium] 14 now says that only those Catholics are fully incorporated in the church who are living in the state of grace. This change signifies a break with the idea that belonging to the church is an "either-or," "all-or-nothing" proposition. It introduces the idea of different degrees of fullness of incorporation in the church, applying this in the first instance to Catholics themselves. But if some Catholics are more fully incorporated than others, it would seem logical to acknowledge degrees of incorporation in the church on the part of other Christians as well, since baptism has always been seen as the sacrament by which one becomes a member of the church.
This line of reasoning led to another important change in the text. We have seen that the 1963 draft still maintained that non-Catholics could be saved by virtue of an implicit desire of belonging to the Catholic Church. We have seen how long a history lay behind this in voto solution to the problem of the salvation of those outside the Catholic Church. In the final revision of Lumen Gentium the only persons who are said to belong to the church "by desire" are catechumens. The idea that in order for non-Catholics to be saved, they must have an implicit desire to belong to the Catholic Church, disappeared from the text of Lumen Gentium and is found nowhere else in the documents of Vatican II.
As seen in that last paragraph, Fr. Sullivan states that implicit BOD goes unmentioned in all the documents of Vatican II, having been altogether replaced with a new method of "armchair evangelization," namely that of assigning salvific power to anyone and everyone there is out there. Nevertheless, implicit BOD is here affirmed (and as I have shown) to have had "how long a history" that lay behind it. And yet, having traced its history so well, implicit BOD just now gets all swept away by this new plan of virtually universal salvation.
Finally, Fr. Sullivan's book (pages 147-148) goes on to say that "If other Christian bodies are rightly called 'churches and ecclesial communities,' they also must participate, in varying degrees, in the reality of Christ's church. Furthermore, they participate in the saving function of Christ's church inasmuch as it is in these churches and communities that people are brought to Christian faith and receive the sacraments of salvation. Christians are not saved in spite of, or independently of, the churches to which they belong, but rather through the ministry of word and sacrament which their own churches provide for them."
And throughout this entire book, is any explanation put forth for such a radical change? Certainly not directly. But indirectly the book does mention the idea of a kind of role of "physical contact" in salvation. This has a very real place in Catholic theology, for the graces of the Church are, in all but the most extraordinary and exceptional circumstances, invariably applied "in person," and not over distances or merely in some spiritual sense. To be baptized, a person must baptize with real water. One cannot be baptized by remote control. Likewise, Penance is valid only in person, with nothing but plain air to carry the sound waves of the confessed sins from the vocal chords of the penitent to the eardrum of the priest, and likewise the absolution in the reverse direction. One cannot validly confess and absolve over the phone, or over email, for example. And so it is with all the sacraments and blessings of the Church. This is all part and parcel with the Incarnate nature of God as Christ, and as the Mystical Body of Christ which the Church is.
So the rationale seems to be, "Let's allow the various other ministers serve in that role of the Church in providing actual human contact necessary for the administration of grace." So now, under Vatican II, a Protestant does not gain God's grace directly and invisibly through some desire to serve and seek God and to know God, a seeking which if genuine must one day bring him to the Catholic Church, and could be counted by God as having done so though death should overtake him at any point before being able to complete his entry into the Church Militant through water Baptism, but rather by being united and faithful to his Protestant minister and church, or "ecclesial community."
All of this is supposedly on the "strength" that some Protestant groups can and do baptize validly. Never mind the fact that the ancient Fathers such as Cyprian and Augustine have discussed at length the very idea of heretical groups performing baptisms, even disputing over whether such baptisms can even be valid or not, and finally concluding that, though such baptisms are sacramentally "valid" in the sense that the "mark" of the sacrament is placed upon the recipient, the actual Grace of that sacrament is not accompanied with sanctifying Grace that would save a person.
And yet this later on gets extended to the false ministers of other religions altogether, and even (in the case of atheists) to whatever "community of service" they might devote their energies to, e. g. Elks or Rotarians (or Odd Fellows or Free Masons?). Here are some excerpts from this book by Fr. Sullivan (page 166):
Finally, we come to the conciliar document which treats explicitly of the non-Christian religions: Nostra aetate. Here we must begin by making a distinction between the two religions which, in different degrees, are based on biblical revelation, namely Judaism and Islam, and all the other religions. At this point we are asking to what extent Vatican II has recognized the presence of elements of divine origin in other religions. It is obvious that it recognized such elements in Judaism and Islam. Hence we shall focus our attention on what it says about the other non-Christian religions.
One small comment on here: While there most certainly could be something said for Judaism, particularly the Judaism of history (since the more contemporary form of "Judaism" suffers much from the lack of a Temple, of offerings, of a Theocratic State of Israel, and of any Temple High Priest), Islam is nothing more than another breakaway from the Church, in its own way roughly as different as Protestantism, and for that matter, if Islam can be so included, then why not Baha'ism or Mormonism or "Reverend Moon"? They too make claims of being rooted in divine revelation; they too make claims of being at least in some spiritual sense the "children of Abraham." The book continues (pages 166, 168-169):
Nostra aetate contains the most fully elaborated statement which Vatican II has made with regard to the positive elements to be found in the non-biblical religions. It singles out Hinduism and Buddhism for special mention, as religions which have instilled the lives of people with a profound religious sense…
Now if the church's universal mediation as priestly people does not exclude other ways in which the church mediates salvation, neither does it a priori exclude the possibility that the Holy Spirit might make use of other, non-ecclesial realities as mediations of salvation. In other words, to ascribe to the church a universal role of mediation does not necessarily mean ascribing to it an exclusive role of mediation. The question is left open whether it would be consistent with Christian faith to recognize non-Christian religious as also having a role of mediation in the salvation of those who belong to them.
Still later on, the same progression (if you can believe that, why not believe this, and why not a side order of Lunar real estate as well?) even leads to a way for atheists to be saved, again through such "mediations." Consider the following (pages 172, 180-181):
The essentially social nature of human existence calls for some kind of communal expression of people's response to God. Normally, this will take the form of the religion which is part of their culture. Rahner concludes that, when Christianity is not a viable option, it must be within the providential design of God that people express their worship of God in the religion which is available to them. In other words, even though the non-Christian religions are objectively abrogated by the advent of Christianity, they continue to be legitimate religions for people who are inculpably ignorant of any obligation on their part to abandon the religion of their culture and to embrace Christianity...
Other Catholic theologians have described, more explicitly than Rahner has done here, the things that can serve as secular mediations of grace and salvation for people who profess no religion, and consider themselves atheists. Yves Congar, for instance, has observed that among such people one finds those who unselfishly devote their lives to such transcendent values as Duty, Peace, Justice, Fraternity, Humanity. He describes such absolute values, which are worthy of unconditional love, as capable of serving as incognitos of God for those inculpably lacking any explicit religion. But of all such mediations of grace, he insists that the preeminent one is the "mystery of the neighbor." It is the other person who is most worthy of self-sacrificing love, and through whom the atheist who offers such love reaches out to God whom he does not know.
Gustave Thils has developed the thesis that some kind of mediation of grace is available to everyone, describing various examples of "individual" and "collective" mediations, through which, with or without any practice of religion, people can arrive at the attitudes of faith and love which are essential for their salvation. As examples of individual mediations he mentions the law written in hearts, the "seeds of the Word," interior illumination, and conscience; as collective mediations he names the covenants of God with humanity, the divine "dispositions," general revelation, and non-biblical wisdom and prophetism. His thesis is that there is no one for whom God does not provide some such mediation, whether of a religious or a secular nature, whereby the person can respond to God in such a way as to reach salvation.
These reflections of Congar and Thils should make it obvious that Karl Rahner is not the only Catholic theologian who recognizes that both non-Christian religions and secular realities can serve as mediations of grace and salvation for people who do not share Christian faith. It occurs to me that, by presenting only Rahner's thought in this chapter, and mentioning the criticisms which some Catholic theologians have made of his theories, I may have left the reader with the impression that Rahner represents an isolated, or at least minority, position on these questions among Catholic theologians. The fact is that, apart from questions of terminology such as "anonymous Christianity," and with differences of emphasis and detail, Rahner's position that both non-Christian religions and secular realities must be recognized as serving as mediations of salvation for non-Christians is undoubtedly the position of "mainstream" Catholic theology today. In its favor one can cite such representative Catholic theologians as Wolfgang Beinert, Yves Congar, Jacques Dupius, Johannes Feiner, Piet Fransen, Heinrich Fries, Walter Kasper, Hans Küng, Joseph Ratzinger, Otto Semmerlroth, Bernard Sesboüé, Gustave Thils, and Hans Waldenfels.
I don't know about you, but seeing all of these rank and grotesque heretics being named or listed as "Catholic theologians" is enough to make my stomach turn. In any former age they would have been condemned as heretics, as indeed some of these actually did receive censure for their works in the Pre-Vatican II days. It should however be abundantly clear that Fr. Sullivan believes that there is a clear "consensus" among these diabologians (to coin another word) that any "mediation," whether the Catholic Church, or some other church, or "ecclesial community," or other breakaway or offshoot, or pagan religion, or practically anything whatsoever, can be the means of salvation of souls. One other interesting but subtle error to note here is the claim that all ancient religions (Jewish and Pagan alike) were "abrogated" by the coming of Christianity. While that certainly IS true in the case of Judaism (though Karl Rahner's more contemporary disciples now have begun to claim that Judaism is still objectively valid and current as a Divine Covenant), it cannot be said that the Pagan religions ever had anything of a Divine approval or approbation. One can only "abrogate" that which lawfully exists, not that which doesn't. It should not be hard to see the "progression" and where it's going. In the beginning (from the New Testament era clear until Vatican II), the Jewish Mosaic Law (the one and only Law in existence with Divine approbation prior to the founding of the Christian Church) was seen as abrogated by the Gospel of Christ. Then all ancient religions, Jewish and Pagan equally, are spoken of as "abrogated." Then it is decided that the Jewish Mosaic Law was never actually fully quite abrogated at all but still in force. All of which leads to the position that therefore the Pagan religions are neither abrogated but "still" valid and lawful and salvific expressions of Man's worshipful feelings.
All of that ability for such "mediation" of Divine Grace to be performed by any sort of religious or even secular "minister" is what would account for all the "joint prayers" and "ecumenical liturgies" that take place between the new "Catholics" (Novus Ordinarians) and Protestants, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, Animists, Voodoo and Snake Worshippers, and so forth. Now that they all have "Catholic jurisdiction" it is no longer any crime or sin of "communicatio in sacris" to engage in any sort of public worship or liturgy with any or all of them.
It won't do here for anyone (say, the Dimonds) to claim that, "Well, if that is what the consensus of theologians teach today, why do you not follow it?" since this "consensus" is flat-out rejected by the unanimous consensus of all theologians acknowledged (and not censured) in the Pre-Vatican II days. There can be no "consensus" between the two differing groups, representing two different religions, one stable and Catholic and the other a "Novus Ordo" of continuous flux from one thing to another and then another. But obviously, if one's "service" (as an atheist) to Duty or to Patriotism or whatever to their local Elks club can provide the means of salvation (truth, sanctification, and grace), then even that club must be regarded as possessing Roman Catholic jurisdiction, together with Her full prerogative to guide, sanctify, and rule in the Church.
Can it really be denied that Lumen Gentium really has thrown jurisdiction to the four winds? And what all for? With such "mediations" there really is no need for the Catholic Church at all. At most, it can merely serve as just one more such "mediation," at most a "slightly better" mediation than some others might be, like being in the First Class compartment instead of Coach or Steerage, but all on the same plane or boat going to the same place. What a joke!
In all real and authentic Catholic theology, could such "mediations" really serve to apply God's grace to souls in a manner at least similar or analogical to that of how the Church applies God's grace to souls through the sacraments? Going back to the very beginning, "But the things which the heathens sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God" 1 Corinthians 10:20, so the gods of the nations are demons. In all of Christian history (apart from the Post-Vatican II era) there is no record of any value being recognized in any pagan or heretical minister or priest or other "mediation" representative of any kind.
Instead one finds only that our God is a jealous God Who exacts exclusive devotion and will not share His worship with any other. One finds St. Paul, as a prominent member and representative of the Mystical body of Christ, echoing that jealousy in guarding the Church, desiring to be able to present that Church as a chaste virgin to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2). Origen stated that "Since God wants grace to abound, He sees fit to be present... He is present not to the sacrifices of pagans, but to the one who comes to meet Him, and there He gives His word." (Homily on Numbers 16:1) So God is not present to the sacrifices of pagans, which is to say, God is not using such things as pagan religions or ministers or "priests" as mediations of grace at all, even while God is nevertheless present to the rare virtuous pagan who earnestly seeks Him. Obviously such seeking is at best independent of any seeking of a pagan minister, and at worst altogether contrary to it.
It is one thing to say that the pagan, stranded from all contacts with the Church, is nevertheless bound by the Natural Law written upon his heart to serve his Creator (even Whose Name he does not know), and things done out of that motive can be forgiven even if false, provided that no Natural Law is violated, but quite another to say that the Church could ever grant any sanctifying grace giving credit whatsoever to the false minister that he might, in his ignorance, nevertheless approach out of that good motive.
Let us take the example of such a pagan, who in seeking God turns instead to the pagan mumbo jumbo "priest" of his tribe for guidance, for in all sincerity he knows of nothing else. For anyone of his tribe that he could ask would tell him to go to this "priest" if he is feeling a religious inclination. So he does, and this "priest" tells him that he must eat the brains of his enemy. If that man is truly seeking to serve God, and to obey conscience as written on his heart, he will not actually carry such a thing out. He will either reject such guidance (and possibly his "priest" as well), or else at least attempt to "interpret" such guidance in some manner that does not violate Natural Law, such as by interpreting "eat his brains" to mean "sit down and smoke a peace pipe or two with him, hear him out as he airs his complaints and grievances, and learn of his viewpoint; perhaps even win him over as a friend and ally if at all possible." But if instead he simply follows the advice given and commits the grave crime of cannibalism, he has no life of God in him. And either way, the pagan "priest" was, of himself, only a representative of some demon and not of God, and certainly not capable of serving as any sort of such "mediation" of God's grace.
Going back to this Scriptural illustration of the Church being faithful to Christ as a bride to her husband, how could any other man stand in for her husband such that her affections towards that other man should be interpreted by her husband as a proper expression of affection for him? Would that not in fact be adultery? A woman can love her husband even when geographical distance must separate them (besides she can write a letter or the like), but one significant expression of that affection would be that she does not cheat on him with another man nor engage in any other unchastity. And if you treat that ignorant savage as being like a woman who has not found or identified her husband-to-be, is not the duty of absolute chastity incumbent upon her until such time as she can find and marry him? Even as premarital unchastity is no valid preparation for marital fidelity and love, likewise no demonic worship could ever be valid preparation for true worship of the true God. There is only one Church, and one obtains God's grace only by application to that one Church. Faithfulness to that one Church must also imply that one does not use any other "church" or "ecclesial community" or other "mediation" as a surrogate of the Church, even accidently.
Let's look at the four ways that grace can be applied to souls:
1) The first is that the Church teaches, guides, rules (in the spiritual domain), and blesses that soul in question, through all Her official teachings, acts, and sacraments. No question here.
2) In certain very limited and narrow constraints, others CAN stand in for the Church, such as (for example) anyone at all performing an emergency baptism, or the instance of a valid (but illicit or what-have-you) priest administering the Last Rites to a dying soul. Any sacrament given under the terms of Canon 2261 (1917 Code) would count for this category, as would any action done under the "auspices" of the principles of Ecclesia Supplet and/or Epikeia.
3) The soul, physically separated from the Church through no fault of his own, may apply for God's grace directly, though invisibly (through no "mediation" whatsoever). BOB and BOD, explicit and implicit, function at this level, as do also making an Act of perfect Contrition if one has no access to the Confessional, and making a Spiritual Communion where one does not have access to the Mass. Private prayers and devotions belong to this category as well.
4) Actual graces only, but not sanctifying grace (with one anomalous exception), can be applied through valid sacraments given in the name of, and under the auspices of, heretical or schismatic sects or groups.
Vatican II has actually done practically everything it can to lump category (4) with categories (1) and (2), even significantly at the expense of category (3). BOB, explicit BOD, and perfect Contrition in lieu of the Sacrament of Penance appear to be the only clear examples of category (3) acknowledged in Vatican II, though the other things (implicit BOD, Spiritual Communion in lieu of assisting at Mass, etc.) are still in no way actually ruled out or condemned, and in fact their new Catechism actually upholds implicit BOD.
Griff L. Ruby
First of all, what distinction can be made between categories (1) and (2)? The only difference between then is explicit Divine appointment and the permanency of assignment. Category (1) speaks of specifically approved ministers of the Church acting in their normal capacity, an ongoing jurisdiction granted to them by the Church, and which can only be terminated by their reassignment to another similarly valid office, their expulsion, their resignation, or their death. Category (2) speaks of those "standing in the gap" for category (1) whose sacramental actions have been requested by the Faithful (or by someone wishing to join "the Faithful" by an emergency water baptism), and who, when functioning in accordance with certain principles and consonant with the wish and will of the Church, are therefore granted a kind of "momentary jurisdiction" as needed, for example, to absolve sins, and licitly provide any sacrament as legitimately needed and requested of them. Vatican II has effectively erased this distinction by attempting to lift category (4) to be, at least roughly, on par with category (1). It does this in that the "communal attachment" to some false sect is permitted to function as a source of "grace" to a soul on an ongoing basis, at least until such time, if any, as the soul in question should decide to become a Catholic (which they have no particular requirement to do in order to be "saved"), and their "graces" are not limited to mere moments within which sacraments (such as baptism or Penance or the Eucharist) are given.
Many of the truly authentic Catholic hierarchical members (i. e. the traditional bishops and priests) have been functioning under the mistaken supposition (altogether unwarranted) that they have been functioning under the auspices of category (2). But as category (2) is effectively absorbed into category (1), even were they total outsiders (and the principal lines of traditional succession from Archbishop Thuc and Lefebvre, and Bishops de Castro-Meyer and Mendez are not outsiders at all), they have been granted jurisdiction by Vatican II, and now in fact (whether any of them choose to recognize the fact or not) reside quite solidly in category (1).
Category (3) would be the one that most seems under attack, both by Feeneyites who want to eliminate BOB and BOD, and even to minimize (would really like to eliminate it altogether if only that pesky Council of Trent weren't in the way) grace and justification to those with no direct "physical" access to the mediation of the Church, or in particular the sacrament of Baptism, and by Modernists who have superseded BOB and BOD as means of universal salvation. Yet the ability of an act of perfect contrition to substitute for the sacrament of Penance, where Penance is not available, is itself a "yea verily" example, accepted by all, however grudgingly in some cases, that proves that this category nevertheless has reality as a means of God's grace. While we all know well the manner in which most Protestants have abused this, the bare fact of this category's existence and validity, for at least some limited and carefully defined cases, is beyond doubt.
So now we get to category (4). Let us explore the domain and range of what is really possible for the Church to do here. One has to admit that, within certain limits (to be explored presently), the Church has the right and power to allocate jurisdiction to any cleric She desires to. She can grant or withhold approval, or assign or suspend or transfer, any cleric or group of clerics She wishes, and even to create or take away any interim ranks of clergy subcategorizing those basic ranks Divinely established. It is in the Divine constitution of the Church that there should be bishops (and that the leader from among them be the pope, with papal prerogatives), and subject to them priests, and subject to them the religious and lay faithful. It is the Church that has created (and can destroy) such offices as Cardinal, Nuncio, Monsignor, and countless other such offices all of which arrived centuries after the founding of the Church. By that same token if a priest is installed legally to a parish, then he is the priest of that parish. This applies even if that priest obtained that parish by bribing his bishop. So long as the installation is recognized as legal, that priest has jurisdiction (faculties) and his absolutions really do forgive the sins of his penitents in accordance with the ordinary principles of category (1).
Is there any real or intrinsic limitation to all this? Absolutely! It is intrinsically impossible for the Church to allocate jurisdiction to a heretic or non-Catholic. Now note here that by "heretic" we mean specifically one who is known to be a heretic, either by their own profession ("Hello, my name is Wesley and I am a Methodist…"), or by lawful sentence and determination by some authorized tribunal ("Then this Tribunal finds you guilty of heresy…"). Obviously, such a person absolutely cannot be granted Category (1) faculties in any Catholic capacity whatsoever, even if the Church should attempt to will it with all of Her might. One might as well try to ordain a woman to the sacramental Priesthood or accuse an infant of committing a mortal sin. It is impossible.
But what about material heretics? One thing to consider here is that every one of us is, by virtue of not being God and not knowing all that God does, materially a "heretic" about something or other. Even the most very learned and devout of Catholic theologians, doctors, or popes would, by virtue of their human limitedness, know less than God knows, and in that knowing less than God knows, any attempt they could make to guess about some stratospheric doctrine, they can be as likely to make a mistake as any of us less educated souls. So clearly, the bare fact of material heresy cannot disqualify any cleric, or else the Church would again have to be run at least by Angels (or maybe only God alone personally) and certainly not by men. For example, recall how in St. Thomas Aquinas' time the question of the Immaculate Conception belonged quite solidly to that category of speculative theology that many could venture many different and conflicting opinions, and doubtless many of the opinions expressed at the time would later on prove out to have been wrong, even some expressed by the Angelic Doctor himself, and that is what it is to be materially in error as I mean here. This of course in no way reflects badly on those whose opinions and speculations failed to pan out, once theology had advanced far enough to replace such opinions and speculations with hard theological facts and defined truths.
But at the opposite extreme, a person could be fantastically ignorant, uncouth, barbarous, out of step even with basic truths well and generally established, and yet still imagining himself to be a Catholic in good standing. So long as they actually seem to believe themselves to be Catholics in good standing, and no lawful trial has yea verily found them to be otherwise, we are morally bound to go no further than to declare them to be materially heretical. Of formal heresy we can only suspect them privately, interiorly within ourselves, and such conclusions we may make along this line can be binding on no one but ourselves. And yet obviously, it would be gravely wrong to be able to assign such any jurisdiction in the Church, so it does seem to me reasonable (to my limited human opinion, anyway) that there could also be here some bare minimum threshold below which even a mere material heretic would have to be Divinely barred from being capable of receiving Category (1) jurisdiction. But as to where any such limit might be drawn, or even if it actually exists at all, is a question quite beyond my capacity to speak to at this time. At the very least, and normally, Church prudence and discipline would prevent this sort from gaining any official position of rank within the Church. Lumen Gentium, of course, has abrogated this disciplinary distinction and only any intrinsic Divine limitation could possibly apply today. And finally, there is a Canon that establishes that jurisdiction could never be allocated to anyone who has not at least been tonsured as a cleric.
We do however have one interesting historical precedent from the time that Bishop Nestorius of Constantinople decided to teach heresy in the year 427, and how the people, both cleric and lay, revolted against him saying, "An Emperor we have, but no Bishop!" It took until the year 431 for the Council of Ephesus (and the Pope) to formally depose that "New Judas," as he came to be called at the time. Now, obviously during that time, you had some number of clerics and lay who refused communion with their duly assigned bishop, owing to his heresy (and no way to conclude canonically that it was formal, but in those days the subtle distinction between formal and material heresy were still rather fuzzy as concepts in the minds of Catholics back then), and they who withdrew from him were obviously in no way separating themselves from the Church.
But do we know that each and every last cleric, religious, and lay person to a man ALL kept their distance from him during those four entire years? Not even counting anyone who might have been actually sympathetic to his heresy or alternatively simply willing to follow their bishop into no matter what he teaches, it seems quite possible that at least some cleric or few, and quite probable that at least some laity might possibly have kept their heads down, avoiding persecution, not embracing the heresy but neither denouncing the bishop, leaving that to others. Would anyone who did this be considered as being out of the Church? I see no record of that. Bp. Nestorius was, until his removal in 431, the Bishop of Constantinople in at least some legal and juridical sense, else another could have come in immediately to take his place without having to wait all those four years.
Is there any evidence that the Church censured either those clergy who named him as their bishop in the Mass, or those clergy who refused to name him in the Mass, or their respective flocks? I know of none, and indeed, John Daly, in his work Heresy in History states:
"His ordinary, Eulalius, while refusing the heresy of Nestorius, rebuked the holy monk Hypathius for withdrawing from communion with their Nestorius, who was their patriarch, before the judgment of a council. Hypathius replied: "...I cannot insert his name in the Canon of the Mass because a heresiarch is not worthy of the title of pastor in the Church; do what you will with me, I am ready to suffer anything, and nothing will make me change my behaviour." (Petits Bollandistes, 17th June)...
"...But when some sedevacantists withdraw from communion with other sedevacantists on the grounds that the latter remain in communion not with Karol Wojtyla [or Joseph Ratzinger] but with certain traditional clergy or laity that the first group consider heretics...they are quite mistaken to quote the case of St Hypathius in their favour. For Hypathius, though he withdrew from communion with Nestorius, clearly did not withdraw from communion with Eulalius, who, though orthodox, mistakenly thought it right to remain provisionally in communion with Nestorius until the Church should have formally pronounced him a heretic."
So it also seems possible that even he may have still at least partially and legally possessed some sort of jurisdiction over the Church in Constantinople until his deposition in 431. If for example he were to assign some new priest to some particular parish assignment, making his choice for reasons unrelated to his heresy, then that would indeed be the parish assignment of that priest. But even if he were to have somehow retained some portion of the jurisdiction originally assigned to him, clearly that jurisdiction would not extend to any authority to enforce error, heresy, or blasphemy, even while still retaining force in lesser and neutral objects. And of course it stands to reason that a person also can only receive jurisdiction appropriate to the level of the priesthood that they possess, e. g. a valid priest could be the recipient of jurisdiction over a parish, but not over a diocese, or at least not over a diocese, as a diocese, or for any exclusively episcopal function. (A former diocese's territory could be demoted to the status of a mere parish under some other diocese, and a mere priest then assigned to that parish, of course.)
Now, what has this got to do with today? Lumen Gentium threw jurisdiction to the four winds, assigning ecclesiastical jurisdiction to everyone who hangs out their shingle as any sort of religious (or even secular) minister of any kind whatsoever. But the only possible recipients of any authentic Catholic and Divine jurisdiction would be Catholic clerics, or at least any clerics who believe themselves to be Catholic, even if gravely mistaken and wrong about some unspecified number of teachings. But it would be literally any and every Catholic cleric there is to find, regardless of how poor his training may be, or how "self-appointed" and unsent he may well be as a bishop, and regardless of any censure or sentence the Church may have imposed upon him, short of heresy or apostasy. Be he vagrant, be he child molester, be he convicted felon, be he schismatic, be he excommunicated vitandus, or even Novus Ordo (so long as he has a valid ordination or consecration, and is willing to do something actually Catholic once in a while), by the "Law" defined by Lumen Gentium it all makes no difference; he has Category (1) jurisdiction.
Now in practice, there needs to be a sort of prioritization among the Catholic clerics around today. Bishops obviously must have authority over priests. Today, a priest submits to episcopal authority by either attaching himself to one particular bishop, or group of bishops working closely together, or else by being submissive to the "consensus of the whole" set of living bishops. Among bishops, clear priority must be given to those who are full-time Catholic, not mere Novus Ordo dilettantes who occasionally dabble in doing something "Catholic" once in a blue moon (assuming any valid bishops can be found remaining in the Novus Ordo after all this time, and who actually do any of this Catholic "dabbling" at all). And again, clear priority must be given to those who were chosen and "sent" by other such "sent" bishops over anyone who simply paid or maneuvered some (usually schismatic) "bishop" to consecrate them. Those bishops who are full-time and "sent" belong rightly to category (1), the rest to category (2), since these two categories are and always must be recognized as distinct entities by the Catholic Church, though this distinction is plainly not recognized by the Vatican apparatus.
What all this amounts to is the fact that there is no valid reason to challenge the lawfulness or jurisdiction of any Traditional Catholic Bishop, or even any genuinely Traditional Catholic action any other Bishop may see fit to perform on occasion. However, obviously this does not extend to any sort of non-Catholics. Further documents of Vatican II after Lumen Gentium would go on to "interpret" this juridical free-for-all to apply to the ability of any sort of religious or secular "minister" of any kind to be authorized to serve as God's own Mediation of Divine Grace to souls, thus making practically everyone "saved," and that without any need to repent of anything, join the Church, nor to be conformed to the image of Christ. But as these documents are issued not by the Church, but by this new body created out of stolen resources, within only some portion of which some portion of the Church can "subsist," (other portions of the Church "subsisting" elsewhere with equal authority), and of which the leader has jurisdiction only over some limited portion of the Church (and is therefore not infallible, not being a pope), these documents have no legal or moral force for any Catholics, even those functioning within that organization of stolen resources. They really don't matter, beyond the minimal role of helping illustrate just what was intended by Lumen Gentium.
Next week, in the third and final installment of this interlude feature, I will finish up with Fr. Sullivan and then address one of the chief architects of Vatican II, one of the leading diabologians, who, in many ways was a mentor to Joseph Ratzinger. This diabologian I'm referring to is none other than Karl Rahner, a clever and devious master of the art of scholastic and ecclesiastic dishonesty.