I suspect that he misunderstands one or both of these issues because of things he has said recently on his blog.
Is the official position of Rome (as Dave asserts) that heretics condemned by Rome and subject to the death penalty at the hands of the state for their heresy can still properly be considered Christians? Can anyone claim that they have read any history of the Spanish Inquisition and conclude that Rome's position was that heretics were Christians that just seriously disagreed?The error here is in supposing that the condition of Protestants today is the same as that of heretics 500 years ago. That this is the error he is making seems to be even more clear from the fact that he seems to want to apply the words of the following from the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia to Protestants today:
Distinguishing between formal and material heretics, she applies to the former the canon, "Most firmly hold and in no way doubt that every heretic or schismatic is to have part with the Devil and his angels in the flames of eternal fire, unless before the end of his life he be incorporated with, and restored to the Catholic Church."In the first place it is not possible for a Protestant to be a formal heretic (unless he is a Catholic who left the Church, and even then it would not apply to 100% of such people). Unfortunately, Turretinfan stopped quoting a little too soon, because the paragraph in the Catholic Encyclopedia article above continues:
No one is forced to enter the Church, but having once entered it through baptism, he is bound to keep the promises he freely made (ibid.)So: since the average Protestant today was never formally a part of the Catholic Church, that which applies to formal heretics simply does not apply to him.
This is not to say that they are not in error on some things. They certainly are. But theirs can only be a material heresy, since they were never formally Catholics. Material heresy is a matter of error that is not culpably held: it is to hold to an error without knowing better, or without realizing that it is an error. And concerning this the same Catholic Encyclopedia article - and the same paragraph Turretinfan already quoted - continues thusly:
Towards material heretics her conduct is ruled by the saying of St. Augustine: "Those are by no means to be accounted heretics who do not defend their false and perverse opinions with pertinacious zeal (animositas), especially when their error is not the fruit of audacious presumption but has been communicated to them by seduced and lapsed parents, and when they are seeking the truth with cautious solicitude and ready to be corrected" (P. L., XXXIII, ep. xliii, 160). Pius IX, in a letter to the bishops of Italy (10 Aug., 1863), restates this Catholic doctrine: "It is known to Us and to You that they who are in invincible ignorance concerning our religion but observe the natural law . . . and are ready to obey God and lead an honest and righteous life, can, with the help of Divine light and grace, attain to eternal life . . . for God . . . will not allow any one to be eternally punished who is not wilfully guilty" (Denzinger, "Enchir.", n. 1529). X (ibid.; emphasis added).So: the fact that one is a Protestant today does not imply ipso facto that one is a formal heretic. Consequently, as material heretics only, they simply are not subject to condemnation for their theological errors.
A further part of the usual canard about this is not merely that the Church thinks they "deserve" to go to hell (which is false), but also that the Church thinks it is a competent court for them as well. Once again, the same Catholic Encyclopedia article clears the matter up in the very next paragraph:
The fact of having received valid baptism places material heretics under the jurisdiction of the Church, and if they are in good faith, they belong to the soul of the Church. Their material severance, however, precludes them from the use of ecclesiastical rights, except the right of being judged according to ecclesiastical law if, by any chance, they are brought before an ecclesiastical court. They are not bound by ecclesiastical laws enacted for the spiritual well-being of its members, e.g. by the Six Commandments of the Church (ibid.; emphasis added).So we see that because they are not a part of the Catholic Church, Protestants are not formally subject to the ecclesiastical laws and courts of the Catholic Church, although because of their baptism they are (to borrow from the words of Vatican II and the Catechism) in a certain "imperfect communion with the Church because they are baptized. This is in keeping with current canon law, which says:
By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way (Canon 96; emphasis added).Protestants are not in ecclesiastical communion; consequently they are not subject to the duties that belong to Catholics, even though they are part of the Church of Christ.
Can this be any clearer? Goodness! So we are perfectly within our rights to refer to Protestants as our brothers in Christ, by virtue of their baptism.
Now the case would be different for those who - as Catholics back in the 16th century - abandoned the Catholic faith for Protestantism. As Catholics, their heresy would have been both formal and material, and so far as I can tell they would have been subject to the condemnations of Trent (as would, presumably, any modern Catholic who abandons the Church for Protestantism). More information on "anathemas" may be profitably discovered here.
Now Turretinfan would have us believe that he knows what Catholics believe. Unfortunately, this is the second occasion recently where he has resorted to ripping quotations from Catholic sources out of context - a context that would have amply demonstrated the error of his conclusions about what we believe (See here for the other example I have in mind). I certainly believe that Turretinfan is a very intelligent person, and I respect him both for that and for his typical sense of decorum and his sincerity, but if he continues to take bits and pieces out of Catholic documents, he is going to make more mistakes.
[Update, just a few minutes later...] It seems peculiar for Turretinfan and others to just flatly insist, despite Catholic protestations and doctrine to the contrary, that the Catholic Church condemns them. Why would one want to believe that others think badly of him, even when they deny it?? It seems very bizarre to me, even setting aside the silliness of them supposing that they know better than we do what Catholics believe (when they obviously don't). I don't get it.