The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection. For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church.It seems to me that what I've previously written on the subject of formal vs. material heresy is entirely consistent both with this quotation and with what has been held throughout the Church's history. UR 3 here is really not saying anything different about the children of formal heretics than was said by St. Augustine. The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1917 says essentially the same thing about material heretics, as I pointed out in that post.
Leo objected again - apparently rather strongly, though I meant no offense by it at all - when I pointed out that his opinion seemed to be contrary to what VII says in UR 3 and asked whether he agreed with the latter. I deliberately used the word "seemed" because I have no certain idea whether he agrees with VII on this or not. There are at least two ways that confusion could be generated here: either I could have misunderstood him, or he might have - quite unintentionally - either presented his view in a confusing or incomplete manner, so that it might seem to suggest that he believes something that he really doesn't. Hence my question.
Leo's response was to unload a large batch of quotations from various popes and theologians and to try and turn my question back upon me, suggesting that I was at variance with them.
Unfortunately this wasn't really an answer to my question, although perhaps one may infer an answer from it (and in the absence of a further clarification from him, I have inferred that he disagrees with UR 3; I would be happy to be mistaken about that).
But the issue that arises from Leo's comments has to do with the continuity of Vatican II with the teaching of the Catholic Church throughout history. It appears (and I will say no more than that it is an appearance, absent a clear statement from him about it) that Leo thinks that Vatican II has broken with the past, so that its doctrine (on this point at least) runs contrary to what the Church has always taught.
I disagree with that idea. In the first place, I think that my heresy post and my comments attached to it adequately show the continuity of Vatican II with the past. Secondly, I think that the whole subject raises the question: who is the authentic interpreter of the Magisterium's declarations? The answer must be that the Magisterium is its own authentic interpreter: it must tell us what it means by what it has said, and that goes not only for modern or recent times but for anything it has ever said. This should be entirely non-controversial for the Catholic.
The consequence of this in the present context is that if it seems to me that some past statement of the Magisterium is in conflict with a new one, either I have failed to properly understand things, or I'm missing some facts, or I am simply wrong. I do not possess either the competence or the authority to dictate for myself whether the Magisterium has been consistent with itself. Indeed, the very question is absurd: the Church as the living voice of Jesus Christ, with Christ her Head forming the totus Christus, cannot possibly err on matters of faith and morals. So I am forced inevitably to conclude that of course Vatican II is continuous with the Church's past, and if it seems otherwise to me, then of course I am mistaken, either through inadequate or erroneous understanding of the facts, or through fallacious reasoning.
I do not offer this post in the hope of influencing Leo's outlook on things (in fact, since I'm not even sure what his view is on the matter of Vatican II's continuity apart from some explicit statement by him, it might be totally unnecessary even to try to influence him). I'm not going to try and work through the quote-dump contained in his comments. He seems to think that they contradict Vatican II, and apparently he prefers to conclude that Vatican II is somehow wrong on the matter. I deny both of these ideas (whether they represent his position or not). I refer the reader to Dr. Michael Liccione's article "Development and Negation", perhaps especially the section "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus", for more on this subject.