Monday, August 31, 2009

"Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all."

In his Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, Pope John Paul II explained that, "The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

For this reason the Council, after affirming the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, went on to declare that 'this applies not only to Christians but to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God.'"

Those who insist that only baptized Roman Catholics may be saved are simply in error. Such people forget that the Church is necessary for salvation only by divine institution and not by intrinsic necessity. Therefore, membership in the Church is not required of all men under all circumstances. This is the authoritative teaching of the Magisterium as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1257: "The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are 'reborn of water and the Spirit.' God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments."

And 1260 teaches us that, "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity."

Those who insist that it is their role to "correct" the Church are merely puffed up with pride. As the Holy Office explained to Archbishop Cushing in a letter dated August 8, 1949, "The infallible dictum which teaches us that outside the Church there is no salvation, is among the truths that the Church has always taught and will always teach. But this dogma is to be understood as the Church itself understands it. For Our Savior did not leave it to private judgment to explain what is contained in the deposit of faith, but to the doctrinal authority of the Church."

The doctrinal authority of the Church. Not followers of a priest who was excommunicated for disobedience or a priest in Fitchburg who offers the Traditional Latin Mass.

The Holy Office explained to Archbishop Cushing that, "Of those helps to salvation that are ordered to the last end only by divine decree, not by intrinsic necessity, God, in his infinite mercy, willed that such effects of those helps as are necessary to salvation can, in certain circumstances, be obtained when the helps are used only in desire or longing. We see this clearly stated in the Council of Trent about the sacrament of regeneration and about the sacrament of penance.."

We have a Deposit of Faith which has been revealed by God and entrusted to a Custodian established by God Himself and endowed with infallible protection against change or error. As Dei Verbum, No. 10 of Vatican II states:

"..the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls."

If we believe it is our role to "correct" the Lord Jesus Who teaches us through His Church, through the Custodian of the Deposit of Faith - the Magisterium of the Church - then we have succumbed to a level of pride which can only be described as satanic.

"In the late 1940s Leonard Feeney, S. J. began to teach that there is no salvation outside the Church. He was correct in saying that there were official teachings, even definitions, on that score. But his tragic error came when he adopted Protestant method, thinking that in that way he would be one of the only true Catholics! We spoke of his protestant method with good reason. First, he was excommunicated for disobedience, refusing to go to Rome to explain his position. Then the Holy Office, under Pius XII, sent a letter to the Archbishop of Boston, condemning Feeney's error. (It is known that Pius XII personally checked the English text of that letter). In the very first paragraph pointed out what is obvious: we must avoid private interpretation of Scripture - for that is strictly Protestant. But then the letter said we must also avoid private interpretation of the official texts of the Church. To insist on our own private interpretation, especially when the Church contradicts that, is pure Protestant attitude. What the disobedient Feeney said amounted to this: he insisted that all who did not formally enter the Church would go to hell. Hence he had to say, and he did say, that unbaptized babies go to hell. Further, all adults who did not formally enter the Church - get their names on a parish register - would also go to hell, even if they never had a chance to hear there was a Church, e.g., those in the western hemisphere during the long centuries before Columbus. Therefore Feeney consigned literally millions upon millions to hell, even though He gave them no chance.

Not just the documents of the Church as interpreted by the Church should have kept him from this: merely common sense, and the realization that God is not only not a monster, but is infinitely good - that alone should have stopped him. We have, then, most ample reason for calling his error tragic. Even the sexually immoral do not deny that God is good. Feeney does worse than they." (Fr. William Most, The Tragic Errors of Leonard Feeney, full article at the EWTN website - here).

Related reading here and here.


  1. Meredith7:26 AM

    It's really a shame that some insist on rejecting the teaching of the Church for their own subjective opinions. It is also tragic that the Traditional Latin Mass in Fitchburg has now been used to advance the idea that non-Catholics cannot be saved. The celebrant said that Father Feeney would be "rolling around in his grave" if he knew people were suggesting that non-Catholics can be saved.

    Bishop McManus needs to address this grave matter. If he doesn't, more Catholics will be confused and led astray from Church teaching.

  2. 2034 of the Catechism says: "The Roman Pontiff and the bishops are 'authentic teachers, that is, teachers endowed with the authority of Christ, who preach the faith to the people entrusted to them, the faith to be believed and put into practice.' The ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Pope and the bishops in communion with him teach the faithful the truth to believe, the charity to practice, the beatitude to hope for."

    Catholics are called to believe this. The Pastors of the Church have the authority of Christ. To reject their authority is to reject HIS authority.

  3. John Paul II has said that, "Dissent, in the form of carefully orchestrated protests and polemics carried on in the media, is opposed to ecclesial communion and to a correct understanding of the hierarchical constitution of the People of God. Opposition to the teaching of the Church's Pastors cannot be seen as a legitimate expression either of Christian freedom or of the diversity of the Spirit's gifts." (Veritatis Splendor, No. 113).

    If we criticize others for promoting the ordination of women and yet we promote dissent from the Church's understanding of the dogma "Outside the Church no salvation," then we are being hypocritical.

    Dissent is always inadmissible, whether it comes from the liberal wing of the Church or the so-called traditional or conservative. I say so-called because traditionalists who argue against the Magisterium's teaching are not really traditionalists. They are dissidents just as surely as are those who promote abortion, women's ordination, same-sex 'marriage" etc.

  4. Donald W.11:57 AM

    I first learned of this weblog through the Chronicle page at WCVB:

    You are to be commended for informing others about the errors being propagated by the SBC. I have discovered much through the Provost's weblog as well.

  5. MaryinFitchburg3:04 PM

    I heard about this from my sister who also lives in Fitchburg.

    This isn't going to help the newly-started Latin Mass movement in Fitchburg. Not if it's going to be associated with hateful Feeneyism. Let's hope we hear from the priest who celebrates this Mass and that he will distance himself from Feeney's errors.

  6. Elizabeth6:08 AM

    Meredith...amen to that! People will only be turned off of the Latin Mass by this dissent. There is a letter to the editor in the CFP against the Latin Mass. If word gets out that Feeneyism is being preached at Immaculate Conception, it will not exactly convince them to give it a try.

  7. Ad Tuendam Fidem added this paragraph to Canon 750 of the Code of Canon Law:

    "Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church."

    The Church's interpretation of EENS is set forth definitively. Therefore, those who reject this interpretation set themselves against the teaching of the Catholic Church and are not properly disposed to receive Holy Eucharist anywhere. 1395 of the Catechism makes this fact clear: "The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church."

    Anyone who does not accept the Church's understanding of EENS should not receive Eucharist.