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OBJECTION- In Session 6, Chapter 4 of its decree on Justification, the Council of Trent teaches that justification can take place by the water of baptism or the desire for it! So there!
ANSWER- [Preliminary Note: If Sess. 6, Chap. 4 of Trent were teaching what the baptism of desire advocates claim (which it isn’t), then it would mean that every man must receive baptism or at least have the actual desire/vow for baptism to be saved. It would mean that it would be heresy to say that any unbaptized person could be saved if he doesn’t have at least the desire/vow for water baptism. But 99% of the people who quote this passage in favor of baptism of desire don’t even believe that one must desire baptism to be saved! They believe that Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc. can be saved who don’t desire water baptism. Thus, 99% of those who quote this passage reject even what they claim it is teaching. Frankly, this fact just shows the dishonesty and the bad will of most baptism of desire advocates in attempting to quote this passage as if they were devoted to its teaching when, in fact, they don’t believe in it at all and are in heresy for teaching that non-Catholics can be saved who don’t even desire water baptism.]
That being noted, this passage of the Council of Trent does not teach that Justification can take place by the water of baptism or the desire for it. It says that justification in the impious CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT the water of baptism or the desire for it. This is totally different from the idea that justification can take place by the water of baptism or the desire for it.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Chap. 4: “In these words there is suggested a description of the justification of the impious, how there is a transition from that state in which a person is born as a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of adoption as sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ our savior; indeed, this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, AS IT IS WRITTEN: Unless a man is born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5).”
First off, the reader should note that this crucial passage from Trent has been horribly mistranslated in the popular English version of Denzinger, the Sources of Catholic Dogma, which is cited above.
The critical phrase, “this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place without the laver of regeneration or a desire for it” has been mistranslated to read: “this transition, once the gospel has been promulgated, cannot take place except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it…” This mistranslation of the Latin word “sine” (without) – which is found in the original Latin – to “except through” completely alters the meaning of the passage to favor the error of baptism of desire. This is important to keep in mind because this mistranslation is still being used all the time by baptism of desire apologists (often deliberately), including in recent publications of the SSPX and CMRI. That being mentioned, I will proceed to discuss what the council actually says here.
Looking at a correct translation, which is found in many books, the reader also should notice that, in this passage, the Council of Trent teaches that John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written (Latin: sicut scriptum est), which excludes any possibility of salvation without being born again of water in the Sacrament of Baptism. There is no way that baptism of desire can be true if John 3:5 is to be taken as it is written, because John 3:5 says that every man must be born again of water and the Spirit to be saved, which is what the theory of baptism of desire denies. The theory of baptism of desire and an interpretation of John 3:5 as it is written are mutually exclusive (they cannot both be true at the same time) – and every baptism of desire proponent will admit this. That is why all of them must – and do – opt for a non-literal interpretation of John 3:5.
But what does the passage in Trent that we just discussed say: It says infallibly, “AS IT IS WRITTEN, UNLESS A MAN IS BORN AGAIN OF WATER AND THE HOLY GHOST, HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”
But what about the claim of the baptism of desire people: that the use of the word “or” (Latin: aut) in the above passage means that justification can take place by the water of baptism or the desire for it. A careful look at the correct translation of this passage shows this claim to be false. Suppose I said, “This shower cannot take place without water or the desire to take one.” Does this mean that a shower can take place by the desire to take a shower? No it doesn’t. It means that both (water and desire) are necessary.
Or suppose I said, “There cannot be a wedding without a bride or a groom.” Does this mean that you can have a wedding with a groom and not a bride? Of course not. It means that both are necessary for the wedding. One could give hundreds of other examples. Likewise, the passage above in Trent says that Justification CANNOT TAKE PLACE WITHOUT water or desire; in other words, both are necessary. It does not say that Justification does take place by either water or desire!

OBJECTION- The Catechism of the Council of Trent taught that one’s determination to receive baptism could avail him to grace and righteousness if it is impossible for him to receive baptism.
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Ordinarily They Are Not Baptized At Once, p. 179: “On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.”
ANSWER- The Catechism of the Council of Trent is not infallible. Fathers John A. McHugh, O.P. and Charles J. Callan, O.P. wrote the introduction for a common English translation of the Catechism of the Council of Trent. Their introduction contains the following interesting quote from Dr. John Hagan, Rector of the Irish College in Rome, about the Catechism’s authority.
Catechism of the Council of Trent- Fifteenth printing, TAN Books, Introduction XXXVI: “Official documents have occasionally been issued by Popes to explain certain points of Catholic teaching to individuals, or to local Christian communities; whereas the Roman Catechism comprises practically the whole body of Christian doctrine, and is addressed to the whole Church. Its teaching is not infallible; but it holds a place between approved catechisms and what is de fide.”

The Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X repeats for us the same de fide teaching of the Catholic Church on the absolute necessity of water baptism for salvation.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Sacraments, “Baptism,” Q. 16: “Q. Is Baptism necessary to salvation? A. Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, for Our Lord has expressly said: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.’”
So, contrary to popular belief, those who reject “baptism of desire” actually follow the teaching of the Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X on the absolute necessity of water baptism. They don’t follow, however, the teaching of this fallible Catechism when it proceeds to contradict this truth on the absolute necessity of water baptism for salvation.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Sacraments, “Baptism,” Q. 17: “Q. Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way? A. The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.”
This again is a total contradiction to what is stated in Question 16. It should be noted that this catechism, while attributed to Pope St. Pius X, did not come from his pen and was not solemnly promulgated by him. There is no Papal Bull from him promulgating the catechism, so it is just a fallible catechism that went out during his reign and was given his name. But, even if St. Pius X had himself authored the above words (which he didn’t), it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to the points I’ve made. This is because a pope is only infallible when speaking magisterially. This catechism is not infallible because it wasn’t promulgated solemnly from the Chair of Peter or even specifically by the pope. Further, this catechism is proven not to be infallible by the fact that it teaches the abominable heresy that there is salvation “outside” the Church (as I will show)!
But I will first quote where the catechism affirms the dogma.
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Apostles’ Creed, “The Church in Particular,” Q. 27: “Q. Can one be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church? A. No, no one can be saved outside the Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church, just as no one could be saved from the flood outside the Ark of Noah, which was a figure of the Church.”
Here the Catechism attributed to Pope St. Pius X reaffirms the defined dogma. But it proceeds to deny this dogma just two questions later!
The Catechism of Pope St. Pius X, The Apostles’ Creed, “The Church in Particular,” Q. 29: “Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved? A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best as he can, such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.”
Here we see this fallible Catechism word for word denying the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation! It teaches that there can be salvation “outside” the Church, which directly denies the truth it taught to the people in Question 27. This statement is so heretical, in fact, that it would be repudiated even by most of the crafty heretics of our day, who know that they cannot say that people are saved “outside,” so they argue that non-Catholics are not “outside” but are “inside” somehow. So even those crafty heretics who reject the true meaning of Outside the Church There is No Salvation would have to admit that the above statement is heretical!
Further, notice that the catechism attributed to St. Pius X teaches the heresy that persons can be united to the “Soul” of the Church, but not the Body. As proven already, the Catholic Church is a Mystical Body. Those who are not part of the Body are no part at all.
Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 10), Jan. 6, 1928: “For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head.”
This discussion on the catechisms should demonstrate to the reader how the rampant denial of Outside the Church There is No Salvation and the necessity of Water Baptism has been perpetuated through fallible texts with imprimaturs and why it has been imbibed today by almost all who profess to be Catholic. It has been perpetuated by fallible documents and texts which contradict themselves, which contradict defined dogma, and which teach heresy, and which – all the while – elsewhere affirm the immutable truths of the absolute necessity of the Catholic Church and water baptism for salvation. And this is why Catholics are bound to adhere to infallibly defined dogma, not fallible catechisms or theologians.
Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadem: “For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains, ‘we shall see God as He is’ (1 John 3:2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is ‘one God, one faith, one baptism’ [Eph. 4:5]; it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.
Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
How many infallible statements from Popes have we not seen, which absolutely proves that a real psychical water-baptism is necessary for salvation? Anyone denying this fact is simply a liar and a heretic who obstinately adhere to fallible sources instead of infallible ones, and imagines himself (or some other man, or some other fallible source) to be the source of truth, thus putting man in the place of God (the infallible Popes, through whom God's truth is revealed). When such a person above described prays the "Our Father" he is a hypocrite, because he himself has no intention of doing the will of God!

John 3:36- “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting; but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
The Catholic Church also teaches that it is absolutely necessary for everyone above reason to positively know about the most holy mysteries of our great religion in order to be saved. These mysteries are the Trinity and the Incarnation. Those who speak about invincible ignorance and that ignorance about the Catholic faith can somehow save a person are thoroughly refuted by these words below. They are also refuted by Our Lord’s words in the Gospel!
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.– But the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit, their glory is equal, their majesty coeternal...and in this Trinity there is nothing first or later, nothing greater or less, but all three persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that in every respect, as has already been said above, both unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity must be worshipped. Therefore let him who wishes to be saved, think thus concerning the Trinity.

But it is necessary for eternal salvation that he faithfully believe also in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ...the Son of God is God and man... This is the Catholic faith; unless each one believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

Some will state that dogmas of the Catholic Church that true non heretical Popes have pronounced are somehow their own interpretation of how things work and that the Popes are not inspired by God when they speak infallibly from the chair of Peter. Such nonsense would mean that no foundation of truth could ever exist since there would be no infallible declarations by the Popes to rely on to explain Scripture to us. These woeful wretches are also condemned by our saintly Pope St. Pius X!
Pope St. Pius X, Lamentabile, The Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907, #22: “The dogmas which the Church professes as revealed are not truths fallen from heaven, but they are a kind of interpretation of religious facts, which the human mind by a laborious effort prepared for itself.”- Condemned
Dogmas are truths fallen from heaven which cannot possibly contain error. They are not merely human statements, written to warn non-Catholics, which are subject to correction and qualification. Dogmas are infallible definitions of the truth which can never be changed or corrected, and have no need to be changed or corrected since they cannot possibly contain error. Dogmas are defined so that Catholics must know what they must believe as true from divine revelation without any possibility of error.
Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum (# 14), May 5, 1824: “It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their membersby divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptismThis is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.”
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302:“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin.”

2 Corinthians 4:3: “And if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.”
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6 on Justification, Chap. 15: “…it must be maintained that the grace of justification, although received, is lost not only by infidelity, whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin, although faith be not lost, thereby defending the doctrine of the divine law which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelievers, but also the faithful who are ‘fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners’ [1 Cor. 6:9], and all others who commit deadly sins…”
The dogma Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation has been solemnly defined at least seven times by popes speaking from the Chair of St. Peter. Never once were any exceptions mentioned about “invincible ignorance.” In fact, it is just the opposite: all exceptions were always excluded.
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”
Thus, the idea that a non-Catholic who is ignorant of the Faith can be saved is heretical; it is contrary to the dogma that “no one,” (Pope Pius IV; Benedict XIV; Pius IX) “nobody at all,” (Innocent III) “nobody, even if he shed his blood in the name of Christ” (Eugene IV) can be saved as a non-Catholic. It is a denial of the dogma that “every human creature” (Boniface VIII) must be a Catholic, and that “only those” (Eugene IV) inside the bosom and unity of the Church can achieve salvation.
Those who insist that “invincible ignorance” can possibly save a person who dies as a non-Catholic simply depart from and deny the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Francisco de Vitoria, O.P., a famous 16th century Dominican theologian, summed up the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church on this topic very well. Here is how he put it: “When we postulate invincible ignorance on the subject of baptism or of the Christian faith, it does not follow that a person can be saved without baptism or the Christian faith. For the aborigines to whom no preaching of the faith or Christian religion has come will be damned for mortal sins or for idolatry, but not for the sin of unbelief. As St. Thomas says, however, if they do what in them lies [in their power], accompanied by a good life according to the law of nature, it is consistent with God’s providence that he will illuminate them regarding the name of Christ.”
Fr. Michael Muller, C.SS.R., The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888: “Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Savior, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. ‘Invincible ignorance,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is a punishment for sin.’ (De, Infid. Q. x., art. 1).
All the people who die in cultures which have never been penetrated by the Gospel go to Hell for sins against the natural law and the other grave sins which they commit – which bad will and failure to cooperate with God’s grace is the reason He does not reveal the Gospel to them. The First Vatican Council defined infallibly, based on Romans 1, that the one true God can be known with certitude by the things which have been made, and by the natural light of human reason.
St. Paul, Romans 1:18-20: “For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice: Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it to them. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.”
Everyone can know with certainty that there is a supreme spiritual being, Who is the One True God and the Creator of the world and all that it contains. Everyone knows that God is not something that they have carved out of wood or jade or stone. They know that God is not the tree that they worship or the river they worship or the rock or the snake or the sacred tree frog. They know that these things aren’t the Creator of the universe. Every such person knows that he is worshipping a creature rather than the Creator. They are, as St. Paul says in verse 20, without excuse. St. Augustine explains this well in reference to persons who died ignorant of the Faith and without baptism.
St. Augustine (+428): “… God foreknew that if they had lived and the gospel had been preached to them, they would have heard it without belief.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, De Veritate, 14, A. 11, ad 1: Objection- “It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith. St. Thomas replies- It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. II, 28, Q. 1, A. 4, ad 4: “If a man born among barbarian nations, does what he can, God Himself will show him what is necessary for salvation, either by inspiration or sending a teacher to him.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solute. 2: “If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is.”
In his Encyclical Letters, dated Dec. 8, 1849; Dec.. 8, 1864; and Aug. 10, 1863, and in his Allocution on Dec. 9, 1854: Pope Pius IX. says:

"It is not without sorrow that we have learned another not less pernicious error, which has been spread in several parts of Catholic countries, and has been imbibed by many Catholics, who are of opinion that all those who are not at all members of the true Church of Christ, can be saved: Hence they often discuss the question concerning the future fate and condition of those who die without having professed the Catholic faith, and give the most frivolous reasons in support of their wicked opinion . . . ."

"We must mention and condemn again that most pernicious error, which has been imbibed by certain Catholics, who are of the opinion that those people who live in error and have not the true faith, and are separated from Catholic unity, may obtain life everlasting. Now this opinion is most contrary to Catholic faith, as is evident from the plain words of our Lord, (Matt. xviii. 17 ; Mark xvi. 16; Luke x. 16; John iii. 18) as also from the words of St. Paul, (II. Tim. Iii. 11) and of St. Peter (II. Peter. ii. 1). To entertain opinions contrary to this Catholic faith is to be an impious wretch."
"We therefore again reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all and every one of these perverse opinions and doctrines, and it is our absolute will and command that all sons of the Catholic Church shall hold them as reprobated, proscribed, and condemned. It belongs to our Apostolic office to rouse your Episcopal zeal and watchfulness to do all in your power to banish from the minds of the people such impious and pernicious opinions, which lead to indifference of religion, which we behold spreading more and more, to the ruin of souls. Oppose all your energy and zeal to these errors and employ zealous priests to impugn and annihilate them, and to impress very deeply upon the minds and hearts of the faithful the great dogma of our most holy religion, that salvation can be had only in the Catholic faith. Often exhort the clergy and the faithful to give thanks to God for the great gift of the Catholic faith."
St. Augustine, Tractate 89, on John 15:22-23- “What, then, does He [Jesus] mean by the words, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin? [John 15:22] Was it that the Jews were without sin before Christ came to them in the flesh? Who, though he were the greatest fool, would say so?... But when He went on to say, But now they have no excuse for their sin, some may be moved to inquire whether those to whom Christ neither came nor spoke, have an excuse for their sin. For if they have not, why is it said here that these had none, on the very ground that He did come and speak to them? And if they have, have they it to the extent of thereby being barred from punishment, or of receiving it in a milder degree? To these inquiries, with the Lord's help and to the best of my capacity, I reply, that such have an excuse, not for every one of their sins, but for this sin of not believing on Christ, inasmuch as He came not and spoke not to them.”
Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, May 27, 1832, on no salvation outside the Church: “Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life… You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation… Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise St. Gregory the Great who expressly testifies that THIS IS INDEED THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. He says: ‘The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.’

OBJECTION- What about Pope Pius IX? Isn’t it true that he taught that the invincibly ignorant could be saved in two documents? What about Singulari Quadem and Quanto Conficiamur Moerore?
ANSWER- Confusion on this topic has increased as a result of a few misunderstood statements from Pope Pius IX. As we analyze these statements, it is imperative to keep in mind that, even if Pope Pius IX had taught that the invincibly ignorant could be saved on these two occasions, it wouldn’t mean that such a position is true, because they were fallible documents which could have contained error. No pope can change or contradict dogma. Pope Honorius, who reigned in the 7th century, was, in fact, later condemned for propagating heresy, though not in his solemn capacity teaching to the universal Church, further proving how even a pope can err or teach heresy in his fallible capicity. Thus, no one, not even a pope, can change the dogma that no one who dies outside the Catholic Church, ignorant or not, can be saved. Here are some more quotes on ignorance.
Pope Benedict XV, Humani Generis Redemptionem (# 14), June 15, 1917: “…‘Ignorance is the mother of all errors,’ as the Fourth Lateran Council so truthfully observes.”
The Errors of Peter Abelard, Condemned by Innocent II, July 16, 1140, #10: “That they have not sinned who being ignorant have crucified Christ, and that whatever is done through ignorance must not be considered sin.” - Condemned
The first of the documents from Pope Pius IX, frequently quoted by those who believe in salvation outside the Church, is Singulari Quadem, an allocution (a speech to the cardinals) given December 9, 1854:
....those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord.”
First of all, this is a speech of Pope Pius IX to the cardinals. It is not a dogmatic pronouncement, not even an encyclical, nor even an encyclical addressed to the entire Church.
But is Pope Pius IX saying that the invincibly ignorant can be justified and saved in their condition? No. Rather, he is stating that the “invincibly ignorant” will not be held accountable for the sin of infidelity, but they will still go to Hell. Read carefully the last part of the sentence, “are not subject to any guilt IN THIS MATTER,” that is, in the matter of infidelity. St. Thomas Aquinas explains that unbelievers who have never heard of the Gospel are damned for their other sins, which cannot be remitted without Faith, not because of the sin of infidelity (or disbelief in the Gospel). These other sins of the unbelievers serve as the reason why God does not reveal the Gospel to them and which ultimately excludes them from salvation. If one among them, however, were truly sincere and of good will, and cooperating with the natural law, then God would send a preacher (even miraculously, if necessary) to bring the Catholic Faith and baptism to him. Pope Pius IX goes on to say in the same allocution concerning a person of good will who is invincibly ignorant:
the gifts of heavenly grace will assuredly not be denied to those who sincerely want and pray for refreshment by the divine light…”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Sent. III, 25, Q. 2, A. 2, solute. 2: “If a man should have no one to instruct him, God will show him, unless he culpably wishes to remain where he is.”
St. Augustine, Tractate 89, on John 15:22-23- “What, then, does He [Jesus] mean by the words, If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin? [John 15:22] Was it that the Jews were without sin before Christ came to them in the flesh? Who, though he were the greatest fool, would say so?...To these inquiries, with the Lord's help and to the best of my capacity, I reply, that such have an excuse, not for every one of their sins, but for this sin of not believing on Christ, inasmuch as He came not and spoke not to them.”
Thus, Pope Pius IX was not teaching that people who are ignorant of the Catholic Faith can be saved; he was, rather, stating that such unbelievers are not damned for the matter of infidelity. The fact that all who die as ignorant non-Catholics are not saved is the affirmation of all of Catholic Tradition and all the saints, besides being the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church.
Pope Pius IX proceeded to speak about the invincibly ignorant again seven years later in his encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, August 10, 1863. Quanto Conficiamur Moerore does not meet the requirements for infallibility; it is addressed only to the cardinals and bishops of Italy.
Pope Pius IX, Quanto Conficiamur Moerore: “And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, We should mention again and censure a very grave error in which some Catholics are unhappily engaged, who believe that men living in error, and separated from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life. Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching. It is known to us and to you that they who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion AND WHO ZEALOUSLY KEEPING THE NATURAL LAW AND ITS PRECEPTS ENGRAVED IN THE HEARTS OF ALL BY GOD, AND BEING READY TO OBEY GOD, LIVE AN HONEST AND UPRIGHT LIFE, can, by the OPERATING POWER OF DIVINE LIGHT AND GRACE, attain eternal life since God...will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin.”
First, notice that Pope Pius IX specifically condemns the idea that a man “living in error and separated from the true Faith” can be saved. What, may I ask, is the idea of salvation for the “invincibly ignorant”? Why, of course, it is the idea that a man living in error and separated from the true Faith can be saved. So, the very concept of salvation for the “invincibly ignorant” is condemned as QUITE CONTRARY TO CATHOLIC TEACHING in this very document of Pope Pius IX.
Second, notice again that Pope Pius IX does not say anywhere that the invincibly ignorant can be saved where they are. Rather, he is reiterating that the ignorant, if they cooperate with God’s grace, keep the natural law and respond to God’s call, they can by God’s “operating power of divine light and grace” [being enlightened by the truth of the Gospel] attain eternal life, since God will certainly bring all of his elect to the knowledge of the truth and into the Church by baptism. According to the specific definition of Sacred Scripture, “divine light” is the Gospel truth of Jesus Christ (the Catholic Faith) which removes the ignorant from darkness.
Ephesians 5:8 “For you were heretofore darkness, but now light in the Lord. Walk then as children of the light.”
1 Thess. 5:4-5 “But you, brethren [believers], are not in darkness… For all you are the children of the light.”
So, we must not interpret Pius IX’s words in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore about the good-willed ignorant being saved by receiving “divine light and grace” contrary to their clear scriptural and Traditional meaning, which is that divine light and grace is received by hearing of the Gospel, believing it and being baptized. Thus, in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, Pius IX is saying that the good-willed, sincere person who is ignorant of the Faith will be “illuminated” by receiving the “divine light” (hearing the Gospel) and will enter the Catholic Church so that he can be saved.
I realize that Pope Pius IX was not nearly as clear as he could have been in the second half of Quanto Conficiamur Moerore. The heretics have had a field day with it, because they think that they can exploit its wording to favor their heresy that there is salvation outside the Church. If Pope Pius IX had repeated in a strong way the previous definitions of the popes, without any ambiguous language, he would have avoided the danger of modernists misinterpreting his words. This is a shame because almost all of his statements on this topic do very clearly affirm Church dogma without any ambiguity that heretics can jump on.
Pope Pius IX, Nostis et Nobiscum (# 10), Dec. 8, 1849: “In particular, ensure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation. (This doctrine, received from Christ and emphasized by the Fathers and Councils, is also contained in the formulae of the profession of faith used by Latin, Greek and Oriental Catholics).”
Pope Pius IX, Ubi primum (# 10), June 17, 1847: “For ‘there is one universal Church outside of which no one at all is saved; it contains regular and secular prelates along with those under their jurisdiction, who all profess one Lord, one faith and one baptism.”
Pope Pius IX- Syllabus of Modern Errors- Proposition 16, Dec. 8, 1854: “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.” – Condemned
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