If a MAN is validly baptized AND accepts the Catholic Faith, then he is a Catholic, and thus a Christian, but only Catholics are Christians as already explained, so that only those adults who both have baptism and hold the Christian faith can be rightly called Christian.Leo says this in response to my point 4 here. His argument (as he elucidates more fully in the comment; and if I misrepresent him here, I trust that he will chime in and correct me!) is that a baptized non-Catholic either becomes a Catholic by seeking out a true knowledge of the Faith and converting, or else he ceases to be a Christian.
I deny this.
This subject is intrinsically related to the question of invincible ignorance. It seems to me that Leo's comments (not just the snippet above, but generally on this subject) make no allowance for the subjective reality of where people find themselves. In the first place, the Catholic faith does not oblige anyone to be an expert in doctrine. This is the whole point of implicit faith. How can an uninformed Catholic remain a Catholic in good standing if he remains uninformed? It would seem that Leo allows for them to be saved despite their material ignorance, but he does not extend this same charity to the non-Catholic Christian. I submit that this is a distinction without a difference when it comes to ignorant believers, and consequently it is an invalid distinction. Hence, if Catholics may be saved while ignorant of Catholic doctrine, so may Protestants. We are not saved by by right belief per se, but by Christ. And just as there are ignorant Catholics who nevertheless would believe the truth if they knew it, there are Protestants who are zealously and singlemindedly devoted to the pursuit of truth - who just happen to be badly mistaken. And it is an error to suppose that true devotion to the truth absolutely, positively results in acquisition of the truth always and every time. Witness: St. Thomas, who got the Immaculate Conception wrong just because he considered only the theories of grace before conception and after conception, but not at the moment of conception.
[EDIT: I am not saying above that what we believe does not matter. If I believed that I would not be Catholic! But there is a valid distinction to be made between the efficient cause of our salvation - which is Christ - and the material causes, like our holding to the Faith and living a holy life. If material right belief is a prerequisite, then implicit faith is destroyed and even St. Thomas is doomed since he denied the Immaculate Conception!]
But if St. Thomas of all people can get it wrong on something, despite being fully qualified in both theology and philosophy and the doctrine of the Church...then I think it is a certainty that the far less educated Protestant of today can likewise have a zealous devotion to the truth while at the same time coming to wrong conclusions.
In the second place, the average Protestant today is entirely and completely ignorant of what the Catholic Church teaches. Leo suggests that this ignorance is inexcusable (ibid., point seven), but that is so only if they know that they should not be. Two subpoints here. A: They have been taught an entirely different concept of salvation, and that concept does not in any way include the Catholic Church. So how are they supposed to get the idea that they are obliged to learn about the Church in order to be saved??? B: They have been taught, negatively, that the Catholic Church teaches a false gospel. So how are they supposed to get the idea that this isn't true?
One answer to that is that some Catholic or other must tell them. But what if these Protestants don't have contact with Catholics? And what if the Catholics they meet do a lousy job of trying to persuade them? Or what if the Catholics do a reasonably good job, but the Protestant can't understand because he is incapable of grasping the Catholic's arguments? What if the Protestant has counter-arguments ready to hand that he sincerely thinks entirely refute the Catholic's view? None of these circumstances mean in any way that the Protestant is insincere, or that he would hate the truth if he knew it. It simply means that he doesn't know it.
Even the brightest minds can miss the truth (again: witness St. Thomas and the Immaculate Conception). But if sincere and gifted people can miss the truth without condemnation, then how much more those who are less gifted? How much more those who simply don't have time to seek out the truth because they work two jobs, or are single parents, and who only barely manage to make it to their congregation on Sundays for worship? It's not credible to say that such people are guilty in their circumstances of failing to seek out the truth. They do the best that they can...or at any rate, that is how we ought charitably to assess their situations, it seems to me, until we have definite evidence to the contrary.
But Vatican II demands no more than this: the presumption that Protestants are fellow Christians until proven otherwise. Material heresy does not ipso facto exclude them, and ignorance of their error does not ipso facto condemn them.
And this is precisely why I say that Vatican II is consistent and continuous with the prior Magisterium: it affirms the distinction of material vs. formal heresy; it affirms the validity of heretical baptism; it affirms that people may be invincibly ignorant. None of these are "new" ideas.
And that is all I've got to say about this subject for the time being, other than to thank Leo for his gracious bearing (outstripping my own, for which I apologize) during our conversation.