"It really is a strong and healthy sign of doctrinal strength that the Church, despite Her woefully divided condition today, nevertheless closes rank on this, which really is a doctrinal issue, unlike the things that divide. For myself, I see this as a sign of the indefectibility of the Church. On this one issue all factions are happily united. The unanimity is not merely a 'moral' one of 'all but some few over here who don't count for whatever reason' but a 'physical' one, a consensus universally held and accepted by ALL bishops of every stripe whatsoever. What could any living pope, if only there were one, possibly affirm as Bishop of Rome, except for that conclusion already held by all bishops, alive and dead? This constitutes a clear expression of the Living Magisterium of the Church, still very much alive and well, despite everything."
As a way of review on what has been covered thus far in this three-part interlude series, in part one I chronicled the events that prompted me to begin this massive project of tackling the grave error, yes, even heresy, of Feeneyism and provided the correspondence with John Gregory, which, out of concern for his own admitted confusion, motivated me to go to war against Feeneyism. In the second part last week, I demonstrated the replacement of implicit BOD with the extraordinary and absurd claim that all false religions (and even secular -isms) are now to be counted as salvific components of the one true Church, as Jesuit Fr. Sullivan so clearly explained within his book Salvation Outside the Church? - Tracing the History of the Catholic Response. I illustrated the four ways grace can be applied which are so clearly laid out, but which Vatican II has blurred and twisted to suit its agenda. Of the four sources of grace listed, only the last is gained from any religion other than the one Christ founded, and that can provide only the actual grace of, for example, the sacramental mark of Baptism, but no sanctifying grace, with one single anomalous exception. I will now address that one exception, before moving on to the real confusion created by none other than Karl Rahner, a man whom Joseph Ratzinger considers his mentor. No wonder there are such serious problems today.
Let's review 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.
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.
Now we come to the one anomalous exception that I mentioned for Category (4) above. What about the case of where a Protestant (or schismatic East Orthodox, for that matter), validly baptizes a baby, and the child dies before having a chance to abuse his or her use of reason mortally? This is the one known instance in standard Catholic theology, in which, what in all justice should belong to category (4), there is granted a special privilege to function as though it belonged to category (2). Let's explore just how this might be.
When any person who is not a hierarchical representative of the Church performs a valid baptism, there are only three kinds of persons, 1) Catholics (laity performing an emergency baptism), 2) non-Catholic "Christians" who have a valid water baptism among themselves (e. g. East Orthodox, "High Church" and many other Protestants), and 3) other non-Catholics who have no valid baptism among themselves (e. g. Quakers, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Atheists). Interestingly here, groups (1) and (3) here both function on the level of Category (2) above regarding those who fill in for the Church. For example, if a Buddhist agrees to baptize you into the Catholic Church, obviously in so doing he is momentarily stepping outside his Buddhist culture and religion to give you something that would be indisputably Catholic. And of course a Catholic layman performing an emergency baptism is obviously simply doing a Catholic thing, this time something entirely within his Catholic culture and religion.
But the more complex case would be that of the non-Catholic "Christian" who might perform a baptism with an eye to welcoming you into his heretical sect, or who could be performing that baptism exactly as a Buddhist would, functioning outside his Protestant or East Orthodox culture and religion. The action itself interestingly, could look quite similar, or even exactly the same in either case. And yet depending upon the purpose and context of such a baptism it could either be an example of Category (2) or of Category (4). So how would one distinguish?
What matters is the purpose of the one being baptized. If their purpose is to be baptized into the Catholic Church and not whatever other church the person who baptizes them belongs to, and the person doing the baptism is agreeable to this, then the one baptizing functions exactly as a Catholic layman inside his Catholic faith, or Buddhist outside his Buddhist cultural milieu, would, namely in Category (2). On the other hand, for a person joining a sect and being baptized by them in accordance with their own sectarian norms (but we are still talking about the case in which they have norms that would nevertheless result in a sacramentally valid baptism), they would be functioning on the level of Category (4). Though such a baptism would be valid in that the actual grace of the mark of the sacrament is etched on one's soul, the sanctifying grace of the sacrament is never theirs, at least not unless and until such time, if any, as they might subsequently convert to the Catholic faith.
This distinction of course applies only to an adult who is consenting to be baptized. A non-consenting adult cannot be validly baptized. So whether the particular baptism qualifies as an instance of (2) or (4) depends upon the character of the consent to be baptized. An infant, or anyone not having as yet attained the use of reason, requires no such interior consent in order for the baptism to be valid, and furthermore imparting both the actual grace of the mark of the sacrament and the sanctifying grace normally associated with baptism. This is the one and only scenario in which any sectarian, operating under the auspices of their sect and in its interests, can nevertheless in so doing convey sanctifying grace. This is only and strictly because there is no way for the infant, from its own subjective point of view, to experience any particular interior consent (otherwise necessary for baptism to be valid), let alone any distinction between Categories (2) and (4).
So what did Lumen Gentium do to this? A single scenario which would be exceptional is converted into some sort of norm. A person baptizing as a Catholic layman, a non-Christian agreeing to perform a Catholic Rite of Baptism, or even a Protestant similarly agreeing to perform a specifically Catholic Baptism, in each case act in a most brief and momentary capacity. But when, for example, a Methodist minister baptizes someone as a member of his Methodist congregation, this is no isolated act bearing the characteristics of Category (2), but part of an ongoing spiritual relationship, properly belonging to Category (4), but now somehow "lifted" up to parity with Category (1) by Lumen Gentium. And the same is intended for all other non-Catholic ministers of any kind, though of course many of the others impart no actual graces of any sacrament nor (in reality) any sanctifying grace.
What is this obsession with there being a "physical mediation" needed in virtually every possible case in order to apply God's grace, with which Vatican II was so concerned? Clearly, the case of the explicit BOD catechumen, and also the case of the Penitent with perfect contrition but no access to the Confessional, do not fit at all within a "system" that seems to have suddenly made a new supposed necessity for such a "physical mediation" of any kind whatsoever. Perhaps it could be in one sense a reaction to the way Category (3) was and is so very much abused by the Protestants. And one can see at least some rationale for the Protestant approach, "Why settle for some intermediary when you can directly approach the Throne of Grace yourself and deal with God directly?" Indeed, if any defining characteristic could be ascribed to Protestants in general, it would be the way they have thus lifted Category (3) to the head of the list, and then also either relegated (1) and (2) to lower and lesser ranks, or else abolished them altogether (typically, (1) really is abolished in all but the very most "High Church" Protestants, though (2) is more widely tolerated, though only as something patently inferior to (3)).
And can such "mediation" other than the Church itself really provide a soul with any real access to God? How can it when that mediation itself is cut off from God, alienated from God, hostile to God and His holy Church, rivaling His Church for disciples, attempting to steal the disciples, and in short is itself lacking any "mediation" between itself and God? If the Methodist church has the power to impart God's own grace to the members of its congregation, where does the Methodist church itself obtain these graces in the first place? For there is no such mediation between the Methodist church and God's own Church (obviously). How can they give what they themselves do not have? Even Fr. Sullivan briefly hints at this problem when he writes on page 149:
Whatever 'elements of sanctification and of truth' are present and operative in other Christian churches historically are derived from the one church of Christ which 'subsists in' the Catholic Church. In some way, which the council does not further specify, their efficacy as means of salvation is also derived from that fullness which is found in the Catholic Church.
No, Vatican II does not in any way "further specify" how in the world God's grace can get to, for example, the Methodist church, such that the Methodists would have (as claimed by Vatican II) the power to convey and apply God's grace to the souls in its care. Instead, it merely attempts to allocate Roman Catholic jurisdiction to such Protestant ministers, and this purely disciplinary and juridical move is then simply accepted by them as having sacramental, moral, and legal force, and salvific power. Fr. Sullivan however does not explore this point, but simply moves on to his next point.
So what is the right balance? Obviously we don't want to throw in with the Protestants in exalting (3) as some first and best means of applying God's grace to souls, but obviously too, the Vatican II approach of all-but-eliminating (3) from any role whatsoever is likewise patently out of step with classical Catholic theology. For (3) stands not only for BOB and BOD, and perfect contrition (and spiritual communions), but also all manner of any private prayers and devotions to God. For it is true and must be acknowledged that prayer can provide direct access to God to anyone at any time or place or state. That too is a source of grace. For myself, I think this denigration of (3) stems from a lack of any devotion or prayer life on the part of those who concocted this virtually absolute "necessity of some physical mediation" as a way to "reach" God without ever having to talk to Him or face Him directly.
How do proponents of the Vatican II religion attempt to justify this capacity of other religions (and many other such things) to serve as this "mediation"? In Fr. Sullivan's book, the only historical claim is one made on the basis of Justin Martyr. Fr. Sullivan writes thus (page 165):
Thus, "whatever elements of truth and grace are to be found among the nations" are described as "a sort of secret presence of God (A[d] G[entes] 9). Again, missionaries are exhorted to make themselves "familiar with the national and religious traditions" of those to whom they are sent, "and gladly and respectfully to uncover the seeds of the Word which lie hidden in those traditions" (AG 11). The term "seeds of the Word" is drawn from the writings of St. Justin Martyr, whose ideas about the presence of the Logos or Word of God among the Gentiles have been mentioned earlier in this book.
And what quote of St. Justin Martyr is being referred to here? Only that given earlier in that book (and also cited in my installment regarding BOD as taught by the ancient Fathers), namely this:
Justin Martyr, First Apology (1:46, 2:10): If some should accuse us as if we held that people born before the time of Christ were not accountable to God for their actions, we shall anticipate and answer such a difficulty. We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason (logos) were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus and other like them... So also, those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason. Whereas those who lived then, or who live now, according to reason are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid.
But looking closely one sees in this no mention of the Logos expressing Himself in the false religions and idols of the Gentiles. In fact, it shows the very reverse. Notice that mention about how those of right "reason" (implicit BOD) "were thought to be atheists" by the pagans. This here is not a mention of atheists as we know of such today, that is, in the sense defended by these Vatican II advocates as being possibly saved by their civic involvements and sense of Duty or Self-sacrifice. Historically, even real Christians were often seen as "atheists" despite their plain and profound piety and attachment to the real God, merely on account of the fact that they had nothing to do with any of the pagan idols of their surrounding nation and culture.
Those of right "reason," as praised by the saint, obviously had behaved similarly in their own limited way, though not knowing the name of the true God for Whom they resisted or ignored the debauched idols of their pagan nations. Once again, there is no support for the claim that any of the pagan priests and priestesses and rites and sacrifices were of any merit whatsoever towards applying grace or salvation towards any in that ancient pagan milieu, but instead support for the separation of true worship from the false. And obviously those with right "reason" gained their graces to be such from God directly, in accordance with Category (3), and most pointedly not though any "mediation" available to them from within their pagan culture, religions, and traditions.
What we have here, therefore, is an instance of Scholastic Dishonesty on the part of a Modernist, who has attempted to insert into the thought of an ancient Church Father, a concept utterly foreign to the belief system of said Father, and in no way obtainable from any of his writings. The Logos does not work through any mediation save that which He Himself instituted, namely His holy Church itself, and before that, the Nation of Israel. Fr. Sullivan bases much of his writing on the writings of Karl Rahner, who he seems to treat as a kind of supertheologian. At least I can give Fr. Sullivan credit for explaining Karl Rahner's ideas far better than Rahner has ever explained them himself. I turn now to a prominent piece written by this Karl Rahner. If you think some of my sentences can be somewhat long and convoluted, you haven't seen anything yet. This Karl Rahner can drag out a sentence over pages, and just finding the verb can take a few readings.
A Prime example of one of Karl Rahner's most pivotal writings comes under the title of Observations On the Problem of the 'Anonymous Christian'. Much of this essay is taken up with discussing and defending the use of the term itself, "Anonymous Christian," although some discussion of an "Anonymous Christianity" (both the term and the concept) also occurs here. "Anonymous Christian" is the term Karl Rahner applies to any person who somehow attains salvific Grace where they are through no fault of their own unaware of the Christian gospel or Church. It is conspicuously imprecise to call such a person any sort of Christian, since all knowledge of Christianity would have to be something they learn of after this life. And yet, Rahner himself here actually challenges anyone to come up with a better expression with which to refer to such persons (one such actually occurs once in passing within this very article itself, namely "justified pagan"), when he states (with his characteristic verbosity):
But anyone who holds that the reality signified by the above phrases, or the material content they point to are of such great importance that they must be condensed within a precisely formulated terminology of this kind in order to be used in other theological considerations must, if he merely rejects the above terminology, suggest some other terminology which according to his opinion is less misleading. Now this will probably prove very difficult. I know of no convincing suggestions which have been put forward in this respect.
Many portions of the Vatican II documents were plainly penned prior to the "big change" that "subsists in" brought, while other portions were written, or at least modified, after that big change. This is what gives its documents their schizoid nature, since parts were written in a Catholic context while others were plainly written within the new Novus Ordo context, and the two really represent two substantially different world views, especially on the nature of God, Man, the Church and Salvation. This is not to say that the portions written before this big change are all rock-solid orthodox, since no real Council or Pope ever vetted them, but at least those portions would be more or less reconcilable with classical Catholic theology, allowing for the kind of imprecision that might be permitted in the writings of a layman, but clearly could never be permitted to carry the day coming from a cleric. The material coming after the big change of course is of an altogether different character, for it cannot even lay claim to any sort of even vaguely Catholic sympathy.
In an echo of this former more or less "Catholic" viewpoint, both Ad gentes and Gaudium et spes which state:
(AG 7): Though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the gospel to that faith without which it is impossible to please Him, yet a necessity lies upon the Church and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the gospel.
(G[audium et] S[pes] 22): All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we must believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.
As can be seen, both these passages stem from a period in which such justified pagans obtained whatever graces they needed and received and accepted by means of Category (3), namely by direct contact between the soul and God, without any mediation whatsoever. Perhaps the bare fact of the Church being present in some other part of the earth may have somehow helped (by bringing down graces to the earth, in general), but whatever benefits this would have provided would all have to be by "invisible" means, and this is how classical theology has always understood the possible salvation of any ignorant pagan, whether before or after the coming of the Gospel to some other part of the world from where they were at. The key phrases in the Vatican II documents quoted above however are those pertaining to how their salvation is performed "in ways known to Himself," and "in a manner known only to God." Which individual pagans have somehow "made it" and why is something only to be known at the Great White Throne Judgment of God when all is revealed. Quite possibly the nature of the actual graces acted upon and sanctifying graces ultimately received by any such could quite possibly vary markedly from one such soul to the next, in ways unknown, or at least unacknowledged, by their own culture and peoples, and therefore going unreported to the Church once even some missionaries should finally arrive at said tribe or culture.
But for Karl Rahner, this is not enough. He wants to know just exactly "how" each and every soul gets saved, and if he can't find that information he is going to invent it. He poses this challenge initially thus:
This then is concerned with finding the answer to the question of how it is possible apart from the preaching of the gospel for a true and supernatural faith to be present in a 'pagan' of this kind, i.e. an assent to God as he imparts himself in freedom any in a way which transcends any certainty which the world can offer. But the fact that we cannot find the answer to this question should not prevent the theologian from pondering it more deeply. For if he simply renounces any attempt to find an answer at all however formal, then either the universality of God's will to save towards non-Christian humanity or the necessity of personal faith for this becomes incredible.
And yet despite his admission that "we cannot find the answer to this question" is a "fact," he attempts to do just that. In a subsection of this essay subtitled How Could It Be Possible For There To Be an 'Anonymous Christian'?, he attempts to "get from here to there," to find some way in which the worldly knowledge that surrounds the pagan somehow becomes the means for a supernatural saving faith on the part of the pagan himself trapped within that world. I am not even sure just what in the world to do with this. It is no easy read, in fact I cannot even be sure what exactly he is talking about. If I simply present the section in full however, let anyone who thinks he can attempt to make any sense of it do so:
Now how can we conceive of this possibility of faith in the 'pagan'? In attempting - nothing more than an attempt is intended - to answer the question some anthropological insights may surely be taken as given which should be explained and established more fully elsewhere: the difference and the unity between objective knowledge and that which is known on the one hand, and a non-objective, non-thematic awareness and the reality thus known on the other - in other words between 'this worldly' knowledge and transcendental knowledge, between that which is expressed in conceptual form and the further levels of significance not consciously adverted to of a given statement, between the material object and an a priori formal object concomitantly present with the capacity to know, between the object of knowledge and the further perspectives of knowledge - or whatever name we may choose to apply to the distinction we are seeking to draw, though in this it remains unimportant for our present purposes whether the concepts we have adduced historically speaking, and in the application of them here intended, mean precisely the same, or whether further and more precise distinctions should be introduced into them in their turn. For our present purposes what we are chiefly concerned with is of course the distinction between the pairs of concepts we have mentioned. Yet it is not disputed that between them there always remains also a certain unity (not identity!). That which is capable of being expressed in 'this worldly' categories mediates the transcendental and e converso, although this mutually conditioning relationship is itself to be thought of not as a fixed entity, but rather as having a history of its own so that this relationship and its history are quite incapable of being expressed thematically in any full sense. If we take these concepts of formal anthropology as read the theory of the possibility of personal faith in a 'pagan' makes two assumptions: (1) The supernatural grace of faith and justification offered by God to men does not need to be conceived of as an isolated intervention on God's part at a particular point in the world which is itself profane. On the contrary it can perfectly well be interpreted on the basis of God's universal will to save as a grace which, as offered (!), is a constantly present existential of the creature endowed with spiritual faculties and of the world in general, which orientates these to the immediacy of God as their final end, though of course in saying this the question still remains wholly open of whether an individual freely gives himself to, or alternatively rejects, this existential which constitutes the innermost dynamism of his being and its history, an existential which is and remains continually present. God's universal will to save objectifies itself in that communication of himself which we call grace. It does this effectively at all times and in all places in the form of the offering and the enabling power of acting in a way that leads to salvation. And even though it is unmerited and 'supernatural' in character, it constitutes the innermost entelecheia and dynamism of the world considered as the historical dimension of the creature endowed with spiritual faculties. It does not need to be consciously and objectively known as a dynamism of this kind, and even without such knowledge it is still present. (2) This grace constantly implanted in the nature of the creature and the historical dimension belonging to it as the dynamism and finalization of the history of man is, however, something of which man is aware in the manner in which such a reality does impinge upon human awareness. This awareness does not ipso facto or necessarily imply an objective awareness; it is present in the a priori formal objects, in the further levels of significance in the spiritual and intentional capacities of knowledge and freedom. Whether man explicitly recognizes it or not, whether he can or cannot reflect upon it in itself and in isolation, man is, in virtue of the grace offered to him and implanted in him as his freedom in the mode of a formal object and of a spiritual perspective of an a priori kind, orientated towards the immediacy of God as his final end. He brings his spiritual life to its fullness in knowledge and freedom in such a way that God in himself constitutes the ultimate point of orientation of his whole historical development in knowledge and freedom, and that too not as the God of metaphysical knowledge, as the God of infinite remoteness, but as the God who in himself and of himself, in his own unique reality and sovereignty, constitutes the goal, as the God of eternal life.
This orientation of the spiritual dynamism of man towards the immediacy of God, which is known and unknown, is, it is true, in order to be known at all (which does not mean reflected upon as an object or capable of being adequately reflected upon by the individual) mediated through the realities of his world assignable to 'this worldly' categories. But this mediation does not necessarily need to be an explicit object of revelation. All those forms of mediation belonging to the dimension of 'this worldly' categories are sufficient for this which confront the individual in himself as a subject endowed with intellect and freedom. We are suggesting that grace brings about a change of awareness through a new a priori formal object, even though this change of awareness cannot be reflected upon directly or certainly by the individual as such. Now this is not a thesis discovered ad hoc, but a view which has always been upheld in Thomist theology even though hitherto it has probably hardly been applied to our present question - simply because we have regarded the prevenient and elevating grace too much as an isolated event taking place at a particular point, and only under specific circumstances. But if we regard the self-communication of God (considered as that which is offered to man in his freedom) as an abiding existential of the creature endowed with spiritual faculties, and thereby as the innermost dynamism of the world in general, then, assuming the validity of the above-mentioned Thomist thesis, it is clear from the outset that the total process by which man brings his intellectual nature to its fullness, in which he comes to be in act as spiritual and in his totality, is orientated by grace towards the immediacy of God in a dimension of a priori awareness. On any right understanding of the relationship between the relationship between the dimension of transcendental a priori and that of categorical historicity in man it is clear that this supernaturally elevated transcendentality of man, of which he is aware but which is not ipso facto known in itself as an object, does not have a special history apart, or does not persist in any sense in a non-historical state of fixity, but rather has a history of its own within the concrete history of the individual as its innermost form and dynamism in a manner similar to that of logic, which has its initial history not in the history of the logic that is the subject of conscious philosophical reflection, but in the history of the active spirit of man himself as he shapes his world.
In the light of this we can then go one to say that the total history of mankind is nothing else than the historical mediation, in terms of historical and 'this worldly' categories, of the supernaturally elevated spirituality of man to man himself. And at that stage at which this history comes explicitly to exhibit this supernatural dynamism, so that its presence is consciously recognized within the history - at that state it is revelation history and the history of faith. But this is a point which cannot be entered into in any more precise detail here. What can on any showing be said, however, is this: this grace-given elevation of the transcendentality of man, i.e. the orientation of this to the immediacy of God as its final end, gives reality to the concept of revelation already at the stage of an a priori awareness. And it does this even though this awareness (the supernatural formal object, as the Thomist would say) has not yet been objectively apprehended at the level of conscious thought or expressed in words. And when man of his freedom accepts himself together with this a priori awareness which is already revelation, then that is present which can in the true and proper sense be called faith, even though this faith has not yet been objectively explicated or conceptualized as the absolute openness of man to the immediacy of God in his act of self-imparting. Yet this a priori awareness of man (called revelation) is always accepted in faith wherever and whenever an individual in unreserved faithfulness to his own moral conscious accepts himself in freedom as he is, and so too in the as yet unrecognizable implications of the dynamism underlying the movement of his own spirit. It is only in the light of this that we can achieve a full theological understanding of what the Second Vatican Council says in 'Lumen Gentium' No. 16: 'Those also can attain to everlasting salvation who, through no fault of their own, do not know the gospel of Christ of his Church, yet sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, strive by their deeds to do his will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.' A point expressly to be noticed here is that in the following sentence this doctrine is declared to apply also to those who are inculpable atheists. And the same point is likewise made in 'Gaudium et Spes'.
Egad! Did you get all that? I include it in full since any attempt on my part to describe or paraphrase it would run a significant risk of misrepresenting it. It is of course his way of "getting from here to there," to get from the bare fact that some pagan(s) somewhere physically separated from the Church might well have attained Heaven through implicit Baptism of Desire to the claim that said pagans would have derived some supernatural component of their saving faith from their surrounding culture and "ooga-booga" religions, now serving as "mediations" of the "immediacy of God." The attempt to invoke Thomistic theology of course can only be described as positively disingenuous, as the Angelic Doctor provided in no way the least basis for such a pile of rubbish, and would not be able to be but be positively aghast at such a grave perversion and abuse of some few basic concepts of his that Rahner may well have alluded to here.
I have to wonder if even those sympathetic to this "chain of not-quite-logic" can make any sense of what he said here. To me it sounds like "the pagan needs to be saved; and since abiding by the Natural Law written upon his heart and seeking, though unsuccessfully, to find and serve his Creator, and being sorry for all his sins is not sufficient, we must and therefore can look to the elements of his pagan culture for the supernatural means of his salvation." To me, it looks like one of those cartoons where you have some big equation on the chalkboard and somewhere in it is written "then a miracle occurs" as a necessary link for getting from some established premises to some desired conclusion.
That is exactly the juncture at which any attempt at claiming any "hermeneutics of continuity" can only be described as being at best delusional and at worst outright fraudulent. That, right there, is exactly where the "rupture" comes in, upon which the "hermeneutics of rupture" is actually based. All else that is wrong with Vatican II flows from this. Why Protestantize the Mass, unless Protestants now enjoy a canonical status as "fellow Catholics" with whom joint worship is permissible, and now made much more easy and practical with a "liturgy" freshly modified to be in sync with theirs? Why grant all religions some civil right to exist, and with no civil preference for the true Faith, unless all such are equally valid as the means of salvation, and therefore meritorious? Why communize the Vatican apparatus (mistaking it for the Church), unless Communism itself were a legitimate mediation of God's grace to Atheists? Why send "missionaries" not to convert the world but instead only to learn "pearls of Divine wisdom" from the pagans, unless paganism was itself a valid and lawful and salvific mediation of God's grace to souls?
It all started right here, folks, with Lumen Gentium and Unitatis Redintegratio. This is exactly the demarcation between what was and what is. Whatever defective declarations may have recently preceded this point must all be no worse than Pope Honorius I's infamous letter to Sergius, tolerating Monothelitism, though some several of these recent papal acts might potentially have equaled that in seriousness. What comes after the rupture bears an altogether different character, one which is patently non-Catholic at its foundation but fully in line with this new Vatican II declaration.
In Rahner's concluding thoughts he then discusses the concept of an "Anonymous Christianity," which for some reason he rejects (at least at that time), though in fact he has just put forth his "strongest" argument for declaring that all religions, non-religions, and "isms" in the world are but anonymous portions of the Church hierarchical. He does not explain why he stops short of taking this "reasoning" of his to its full and logical and necessary conclusion, and its ultimate reductio ad absurdum.
And once again, he puts forth the challenge, "Anyone who rejects this theory of a possible faith in God as revealing himself and communicating himself, on whatever grounds, then incurs the task as a Catholic theologian of explaining in other ways how true supernatural faith in revelation can be present in an individual without any contact with the explicit preaching of the gospel." First of all, I perceive no obligation on the part of anyone (but God, and the Great White Throne Judgment) to explain how He saved anyone. Not even the greatest theologians have attempted more than a rudimentary explanation, typically invoking some sort of revelation given directly to the noble soul in question.
Finally, there is one other point only hinted at in the series itself, but which here I can expand upon and clarify. Back in the Second Installment I mentioned in passing that "the Roman Catholic bishops all reject this error, and for that matter so do all known schismatic and/or heretical bishops." Since the main series is meant for a book acceptable to all of any even vaguely Catholic sentiment, I deliberately kept that mention brief and ambiguous. The true Catholic bishops are of course the Traditional Bishops, whereas the others include the Novus Ordo, along with East Orthodox and Old Catholic.
It is interesting to see here how literally every category of bishop is opposed to Fr. Feeney's doctrine (and presumably any variant of it taught by his various followers), no matter what. Let's start with the Traditional bishops, since they are the ones with the real authority in the Church. For all the "bad blood" that has passed between the CMRI and the SSPV, there is no evidence that either has ever faulted the other for their "position" on the "Feeney" question. Both the Reign of Mary and The Roman Catholic have taken turns at publishing refutations of his peculiar doctrines. Other sedevacantist clergy also all seem to agree, certainly at the episcopal level. It doesn't matter who you name, Bishops Pivarunas, Dolan, Sanborn, Kelly, Davila, McKenna, Vezeliz, Giles, Santay, or any others of the sedevacantist and Traditional bishops of the Church.
The same position is also held by the "Resist and Recognize" community as well, in that the SSPX (including all four of its bishops) also oppose Fr. Feeney's doctrines, giving their blessing to the publications of Frs. Rulleau and Laisney along with other occasional articles in The Angelus, and do recall that Fr. Martin StÚpanich's original seven-part series was published on the pages of The Remnant back in the early-mid 1970's, before he became a sedevacantist.
The Novus Ordo "bishops" of course also oppose Fr. Feeney's doctrine, albeit for their own reasons, namely that they really do believe in "Salvation Outside the Church," so while they also fall off the horse, at least even they fall off the other side of the horse. Not a one of them accepts Fr. Feeney's doctrine, not even the one who, in liberal broadmindedness, has admitted some followers of Fr. Feeney to be "regularized." The East Orthodox and Old Catholic of course have had no interest in this issue at all, having obviously left this entire question to be sorted out by "Boston Catholics." For that is one other thing: Fr. Feeney's doctrine has had extremely little success outside the United States where Fr. Feeney's original wit and charm were never known of in the first place.
Throughout all of Church history, not a single bishop, whether of Rome or elsewhere, has ever believed Fr. Feeney's doctrines. If anyone is still inclined to claim that Fr. Feeney's doctrines are the true one, let such ones meditate upon this most central and crucial question: Since bishops all represent the Church Teaching and Hierarchal in a way that no one else can, and since no bishops, legitimate or illegitimate, have ever signed on to Fr. Feeney's denials of BOB and BOD in all of Church history, then all the bishops that the Church has ever had must have been heretics, outside the Church, damned, and where has the Church ever been all these millennia?
It really is a strong and healthy sign of doctrinal strength that the Church, despite Her woefully divided condition today, nevertheless closes rank on this, which really is a doctrinal issue, unlike the things that divide. For myself, I see this as a sign of the indefectibility of the Church. On this one issue all factions are happily united. The unanimity is not merely a "moral" one of "all but some few over here who don't count for whatever reason" but a "physical" one, a consensus universally held and accepted by ALL bishops of every stripe whatsoever. What could any living pope, if only there were one, possibly affirm as Bishop of Rome, except for that conclusion already held by all bishops, alive and dead? This constitutes a clear expression of the Living Magisterium of the Church, still very much alive and well, despite everything.
So let's look at the real concern here. The original (and current) followers of Fr. Feeney were concerned about a spreading liberalism that taught that one need not become a Catholic to be saved. I believe that H. H. Pope Pius XII gave a polite and respectful nod to this concern when he wrote in Humani Generis that "Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." The basic concern is therefore without a doubt a valid one. If just anyone, or "practically everyone" can be saved without having to be joined to the Church, then why send missionaries? Why labor or pray to convert even a single soul?
But interestingly enough, the "liberal" era which Fr. Feeney was so critical of was one that produced an unparalleled stream of converts into the Church worldwide. And by contrast, once Vatican II began to show its effects there occurred an equally unparalleled stream of people leaving the Church. The era of only BOB and BOD as exceptions to being baptized in water boomed with every sign of spiritual health and prosperity. The era of Lumen Gentium, "subsists in," and every minister of every kind, religious or secular alike, being a divinely appointed "mediation" of God's grace to souls waned and reduced the whole Church of nearly a billion to a small remnant between two and three orders of magnitude smaller. How obvious does it have to get? So please, let us stop pummeling valid Catholic doctrines, and instead begin attacking the error at its true juncture, which is Vatican II itself. Until that Council is legally revoked, repealed, condemned, abjured, or any other way done away with so as to get it officially off the books, the Crisis is not over and cannot ever be despite the best of intentions of all concerned.
Griff L. Ruby