Monday, December 3, 2007

Last Call (for now) on Vatican II's Continuity (with Leo)

I think that the fundamental bone of contention might possibly be found in this nugget, mined from here:
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.

3 comments:

Leo said...

Hello again,

I wrote:

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.

Jesus founded His Church upon St. Peter, as we saw already, and declared that whoever does not hear the Church be considered as the heathen and publican (Matthew 18:17). He also commanded His followers to observe “all things whatsoever” He has commanded (Matthew 28:20). The Protestant sects are breakoff movements that
have separated from the Catholic Church. By separating themselves from the one Church of Christ, they leave the path of salvation and enter the path of perdition. These sects obstinately and pertinaciously reject one or more of the truths that Christ clearly instituted, such as the Papacy (Matthew 16; John 21; etc.), Confession (John 20:23), the Eucharist (John 6:54), and other dogmas of the Catholic Faith. In order to be saved one must assent to all the things which the Catholic Church, based on Scripture and Tradition, has infallibly defined as dogmas of the Faith in so far as they are provided and integrity maintained.

Pope St. Pius X, Acerbo Nimis (# 2), April 15, 1905: “And so Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: ‘We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.’”

Thus, a Protestant who obstinately rejects dogmatic teachings is anathematized and severed from the Church. It’s quite interesting that, in issuing these dogmatic canons, the Church says: “If anyone shall say…. let him be anathema” as opposed to “If anyone shall say… he is anathema.” This qualification of “let him be” allows room for those Catholics who may be unaware of a particular dogma and would conform to
the teaching of the canon as soon as it were presented to him. The person who is obstinate, however, and willfully contradicts the dogmatic teaching of the Church receives the full force of the automatic condemnation. The point here is that if one is able to reject these dogmas and still be saved, then these infallible definitions and their accompanying anathemas have no meaning, value or force. But they do have meaning, value and force – they are infallible teachings protected by Jesus Christ. Thus, all who reject these dogmas are anathematized and on the road to damnation[notice I said reject, not be ignorant of].

Pope Pius XI, Rerum omnium perturbationem (#4), Jan. 26, 1923: “The saint was no less a person that Francis de Sales… he seemed to have been sent especially by God to contend against the heresies begotten by the [Protestant] Reformation. It is in these heresies that we discover the beginnings of that apostasy of
mankind from the Church, the sad and disastrous effects of which are deplored, even to the present hour, by every fair mind.”

It is in the heresies, the heresies are the apostasy, those who willingly partake of them are willingly apostatizing from the true faith.


Regarding Baptized Protestants:

The Catholic Church has always taught that anyone (including a layman or a non‐Catholic) can validly baptize if he adheres to proper matter and form and if he has the intention of doing what the Church does.

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” 1439: “In case of necessity, however, not only a priest or a deacon, but even a layman or woman, yes even a pagan and a heretic can baptize, so long as he preserves the form of the Church and has the intention of doing what the Church does.”

The Church has always taught that infants baptized in heretical and schismatic churches are made Catholics, members of the Church and subjects of the Roman Pontiff, even if the people who baptized them are heretics who are outside the Catholic Church. This is because the infant, being below the age of reason, cannot be a heretic or schismatic. He cannot have an impediment which would prevent Baptism from making him a member of the Church.

Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 13 on the Sacrament of Baptism: “If anyone shall say that infants, because they have not actual faith, after having received baptism are not to be numbered among the faithful… let him be anathema.”

This means that all baptized infants wherever they are, even those baptized in heretical non‐Catholic churches by heretical ministers, are made members of the Catholic Church. They are also made subject to the Roman Pontiff, as we saw earlier in the teaching of Pope Leo XIII.

So, at what one point does this baptized Catholic infant become a non‐Catholic – severing his membership in the Church and subjection to the Roman Pontiff?

After the baptized infant reaches the age of reason, he or she becomes a heretic or a schismatic and severs his membership in the Church and severs subjection to the Roman Pontiff when he or she obstinately rejects any teaching of the Catholic Church or loses Faith in the essential mysteries thereof.

Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: “…We ask: In the first place whether you and the Church of the Armenians which is obedient to you, believe that all those who in baptism have received the same Catholic faith, and afterwards have withdrawn and will withdraw in the future from the communion of this same Roman Church, which one alone is Catholic, are schismatic and heretical, if they remain obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church. In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.”

Among those who are baptized as infants, they are made Catholics,
members of the Church and subjects of the Roman Pontiff by Baptism. They only sever that membership (which they already possess) when they obstinately reject any Catholic dogma or believe something contrary to the essential mysteries of the faith. In the teaching of Pope Clement VI above, we see this second point clearly taught: all who receive the Catholic Faith in Baptism lose that Faith and become schismatic and heretical if they become “obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church.” The fact is that all Protestants who reject the Catholic Church or its dogmas on the sacraments, the Papacy, etc. have obstinately separated from the Faith of the Roman Church and have therefore severed their membership in the Church of Christ. The same is true with the “Eastern Orthodox” who obstinately reject dogmas on the Papacy and Papal Infallibility. They need to be converted to the Catholic Faith for salvation, for the teachings of the Church are necessary to all.

You write:

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.

Would you care to elaborate on that a little more?

You write:

"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."

It seems you misunderstand me, being uninformed is one thing, while refusing to be informed is another, which is my point, most PRotestants are OBSTINATE in their false doctrines, and that is why they are heretics, outside the Church, and will subsequently be lost unless they make themselves open to God, and subsequently His truths, instead of simply themselves, which is what they do when they choose false doctrines over God's eternal truths.

You write:

We are not saved by by right belief per se, but by Christ.

But this entails believing all that He has commanded, as the scriptures record.

"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. "

I never said that there were not, please pay attention to what I did say, instead of inserting meanings to things which I never meant nor said, I made perfect provisions for such persons in my post.

"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!"

In making a distinction here, you fail to make one, between the one in good faith who acts in ignorance, and the one who in bad faith chooses to remain in either ignorance or denial, which is what I am trying to distinguish here.

You write:

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.

Hold your horses, I never said that, what I did say is that the honest Protestant of good will, would, by necessity, endeavor to find God's truth, and would inevitably, by God's grace, be led to the truth. Choosing to remain, however, in ignorance is what is inexusable. Please pay heed to what I do say, not what is thought that I have posted.

Again, you write:

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???

If they truly cared about their salvation, God, and the truth, they would endeavor to check what they believe, and seek the truth in it, and would be open to the truth about the Church, which they need by absolute necessity.

You object:

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?

If they are honestly of good will, then they would, again, endeavor to do what they can to learn the whole truth, to learn more about what the lousy Catholic said, to make sure of his own arguments in the least, and before one can counteract these things, they must first learn of them, in order to do so, so that the PRotestant would by necessity have to do some of their own seeking about it in order to do even the basic argument.

Again, you write:

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?

This is based on your misconception of what I said, please reread it.

You object:

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.

You do so much reading about Aquinas, yet even he agrees that somehow for the honest person of good will, that God would find a way to get His truth and faith to them, God is all powerful, and this is what Aquinas says in his summa, I'll see if I can get more on that in a little bit.

You state:

Material heresy does not ipso facto exclude them, and ignorance of their error does not ipso facto condemn them.

Please endeavor to respond to what I HAVE SAID, not this, this not what I said, this is not even remotely related to it, you misunderstand. Please research obstinacy and read what Aquinas said on the issue, read what I did write, and then we might continue this discussion.

What I have said
Again

Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello Leo,

I apologize if I have provoked you. That was not my intent.

No one would be happier than I if I have in fact misunderstood you.

I am not sure that I have, since you say that "most" Protestants are culpable for their errors, which is what I understood you to be saying and which is what I flatly deny.

I simply deny that most Protestants "refuse" to be informed. After 20+ years as a Protestant, I think I have a reasonably good insight into how the average Protestant thinks, and they just are not opposed to learning the truth, no matter what you may think about it.

You say: what I did say is that the honest Protestant of good will, would, by necessity, endeavor to find God's truth, and would inevitably, by God's grace, be led to the truth.

But they already believe that they have found God's truth! That's the whole issue :-)

You say: If they truly cared about their salvation, God, and the truth, they would endeavor to check what they believe, and seek the truth in it, and would be open to the truth about the Church, which they need by absolute necessity.

But they do this already. But because of their errors, they do not believe that the Catholic Church has something to say to them about their salvation. And from their perspective, based in sola scriptura, there is no reason for them even to suspect that the Church has something to say to them that they need to hear. If they argue with you on the Internet and refuse to listen to what you say, it's not because they are not interested in the truth. It's because they think that they already have it, and that you are going to be contradicting it, and consequently they see no reason to listen to you. I think that they are mistaken of course, but that's not the point. They don't.

Again, I apologize for provoking you - which is really the primary purpose of this comment.

Peace,

RdP

Leo said...

Hi Reggie,

Thanks, though I would appreciate it if you would at least consider my point before responding, so that you do not misrepresent me or my contention.

What I do contend is this:

Most Protestants are culpable for their obstinate continued ignorance or denial of the Catholic Church.

Everynow and then I find one that is willing to listen and be informed, or to research the issue, but for the most part they believe only what they want to believe, it is the fruit of their religion, they believe themselves, and thus, they presist obstinately in their blind errors because it conforms to what they want to believe, and not God or the truth, I know this as I've seen it personally, I've argued them.

I believe that I have found God's truth, but I am always open to more, for I cannot know completely the whole truth, so that I am always learning, and willing to do so, and am open to being wrong, if it should be undeniably demonstrated, unlike most Protestants, they are arrogant, and the fact that they do not continue seeking God's truth in their religion further proves their obstinacy in their error, for one of good will is open to God's truth.

"But they do this already. But because of their errors, they do not believe that the Catholic Church has something to say to them about their salvation."

Most of them do not, because they refuse to be open to the truth concerning it, this is my point, they flat out refuse to even consider the Catholic Church, they refuse to care enough to even consider it, this should be enough right here to show that they do not do this already.

"And from their perspective, based in sola scriptura, there is no reason for them even to suspect that the Church has something to say to them that they need to hear."

Which means that they are obstinate in their error, you disprove your own point, you show that they are of bad will so that they don't consider that any truth can be outside their own misconceived errors, which are basically of their own doing, for they believe according to their own will, for the most part, you realize, of course that there are exceptions to this, so don't get me wrong.

If they argue with you on the Internet and refuse to listen to what you say, it's not because they are not interested in the truth.

That makes no sense, for if their refusal to assent to the truth does not, then what does? You are saying that no matter what, no one who believes that they are right can be truly called a heretic, which means that there is no such thing, for we are all excused of it if we believe that we are right, which is error, for all heretics think they are right, that's why there are heretics, yet who does not know that those heretics in the past have been condemned as such, and excommunicated, and expelled from the Church either by solemn declaration or by process of Divine or ecclesiastical law? It is that they trust not God and His truth, but themselves.

It's because they think that they already have it, and that you are going to be contradicting it, and consequently they see no reason to listen to you.


Know you not what obstinacy in sin or error or heresy is? It is this very thing, you demonstrate my point regarding obstinacy, you make my point that most are obstinate in their error, and thus can truly be called formal heretics, and outside the Church.

I think that they are mistaken of course, but that's not the point. They don't.


Still, that does not exclude them from the sentence of obstinate heresy, according to you, there is no such thing as a formal heretic, you make meaningless the dogma of the Church regarding heresy.
I don't mean to seem condescending or the like, or to offend you, just that you are wrong on this issue, which I've shown from the teaching of the Church both ordinary and extraordinary on the issue, and my explaination regarding heresy.

Thank you,

Leo