Long Overdue, Preliminary Thoughts on Traditionis Custodes

๐ต๐‘’๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘—๐‘’๐‘๐‘ก๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐ผ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘™๐‘‘ ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘”๐‘’๐‘ก ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” 2020-2022, ๐ผ ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘›๐‘œ๐‘ก ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘š๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก ๐‘ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘–๐‘“๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘‡๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘–๐‘  ๐ถ๐‘ข๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘ . ๐ผ โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘๐‘˜๐‘’๐‘ก๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘š๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฆ, ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘–๐‘š๐‘–๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘”โ„Ž๐‘ก๐‘  (๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘š๐‘ข๐‘โ„Ž ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘˜ ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ก ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘’๐‘›๐‘”๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘กโ„Ž) ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก ๐‘ ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐ฟ๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘€๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘ , ๐ผ ๐‘”๐‘–๐‘ฃ๐‘’ ๐‘ฆ๐‘œ๐‘ข ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘’๐‘™๐‘œ๐‘ค:

The bare fact of forcing the Roman Missal of 1962 (aka TLM in use prior to the Novus Ordo) practically out of use is not something that I’m happy about. I have no dogmatic attachment to it, and I’ve made it clear that I am in support of reforms to it (some of them were attempted in the Missal of Paul VI). With that said, I must add that the current context wherein the Missal of 1962 is being suppressed as a matter of Papal law for the Roman rite gives enough clarity with which to deem the act reprehensible and disgusting. There are many reasons why.

In the first place, the 1962 Missal has been confirmed as part of the wood of the Catholic faith and should be given the liberty to flourish especially where it serves the good of the faithful in their pursuit of salvation. Taking from this, the liturgical praxis of the Roman rite with the usage of the Missal of Paul VI has, together with a combination of other things, been for the greater harm of the Church by certain means which are alien to itself.

What “other things”? The loss of orthodoxy, reverence towards God, solemnity of worship, and passionate evangelization (ironically, given Vatican II). There was also concurrent the active feminization of Catholic discipline (it wasn’t anywhere near perfect pre-V2) together with the practical (untheoretical) religious pluralism and indifference that resulted from a disordered enthusiasm for “other religions.” Unfortunately, the Missal of Paul VI was sown together with these combinations, and it is terribly difficult to see the Novus Ordo in its beautiful isolation. Though, a liturgical discipline doesn’t exist in isolation. Its inception was also combined with other elements, as they always are. Perhaps the “reverent” Novus Ordo that exists in some places (very rare) could eventually achieve the status of universality, but there is no evidence of that.

Though alien to the Missal itself, the combination of these things sown together with the Novus Ordo has caused many Catholics, especially the young men with families and the world of converts (both old and young), to be starving and thirsty for some strong branch of Catholicism upon which to establish a foundation for their familial walk with Christ as they seek to achieve heavenly glory. They don’t want to be entertained and treated like children who, metaphorically speaking, show their honor for Christ with spiritual version of crayons and finger paint. They want ardor, devotion, sacrifice, voluntary pain, and a sober participation in the cross-carrying life that Jesus demanded from the greatest and the least of His disciples. Consequently, these thirsty and starving Catholics, like a deer panting in the wild for the lack of water, have all rushed to the active celebration of the Mass in the TLM. We are past the point of needing proof of this.

Therefore, the nixing of the TLM puzzles the rational mind more than anything. We are told, and I’ve said, that there has been a schismatic mentality developing in the TLM world which, even if they aren’t aware of the consequences of many of their ideas, breeds evil in the minds and hearts of traditional Catholics. I haven’t seen this as the norm, but even if it were, I find that taking just 30 minutes to educate a trad on some points here and there quickly fixes some of their misunderstandings and alters the bad trajectories. But even if the presence of such a trend were to be significant enough to warrant the attention of the spiritual watchtower of the Vatican, the proposed solution of nixing the TLM still puzzles the mind. Why?

If one has been following what I’ve been saying, there is a much bigger pink elephant in the room that is being ignored in this violent suppression of the TLM, and that is the combination of factors that were sown together with the promulgation of the Novus Ordo. Instead of building an army against the TLM, an army should have been made for dealing with that problem first and foremost.

“Oh, but Erick. You don’t get it. The trads have now not just become reactionaries to the ‘liberal’ Novus Ordo’s. They have sought to prove that Church history, liturgical law, and a new sense of limiting the power of the magisterium grounds their opposition to the reforms of Paul VI!! Therefore, it has now become a internal battle over essential pillars of the Church itself! Thus, even a reverent Novus Ordo done in such a way that makes it nearly indistinguishable from the TLM (at least for novice eyes/ears) is still illegal!”

I get that. Such a phenomenon is unhelpful. However, I still don’t see this as the overwhelming majority of those who have wedded themselves to the TLM. It seems to be a smaller community within. But even so, let’s go ahead and grant this. Would it not have been better to attack the root of such misunderstandings, knowing that the root is the place that not only produced but keeps producing harm to the masses? I think this is obvious. Then, concurrent with this, you can then propose a way to confront those Catholics who have developed these robust “arguments” against the Church.

In fact, I think if Rome took 20 years, beginning full force at the get go, of cracking down on the psuedo orthodoxy, banality, irreverence, and feminization that has taken place and still takes place in the ordinary use of the Roman rite, such that immediate laws were instilled to prevent careless attacks against the faith (via practical lukewarmness), many of the TLM’ers would be able to salute the Pope and the hierarchy for making a due effort. Perhaps then the congregations and dicasteries of the Vatican would have some credibility in their forthright corrections to the radtrad myths on Church authority and whatever else (the recent statements of Bishop Athanasius Schneider are a case-in-point).

And here I don’t just mean general solutions being recommended. I mean enforced libelli which makes the commitment of every bishop, priest, and deacon a public vow to obey Christ and His Church, similar to the public subscription to the Syllabus of Errors, only this time with a long-lasting and keen monitor on implementation. If the Church has been at the inception of a mess (1960’s and following), or rather making a bigger mess from the already existing mess (1960’s and prior), it can afford the work at recuperating from it. I think this, while also giving a balanced support for the TLM to flourish where it is requested, would have gone a much longer way in gaining the hearts of the growing community of traditionalists (which aren’t very large anyway, and probably won’t be for a very long time).

But I am under no allusions. I know the latter won’t happen. And guess what? It is largely because the current administrations in Rome are still under the effects of the combinations that I described above in the first place! LOL. So, what we really have here is leadership that is formed and accepting of the problems that came with the breeze sent through the world in the 20th century by the prince of the powers of the air attempting to try and fix the problem that I have specifically outlined above. Aside from this, it is also just nearly impossible to instill worldwide reforms. But it is possible. Heck, it happens with the Novus Ordo and post-Vatican II Catholicism.

The crackdown on traditionalists from Rome also shows a curious method of parenting. There is this passionate desire to cleanse out from the Church the “schismatic” mentality of the trads as if the already existing structures (themselves alien to the Church’s official decrees) have not been combined with their own unhealthy doses of poison against the Catholic faith. And the solution is to outlaw and discipline the traditionalists. Maybe it is because I’m a Father and I have to deal with teen discipline, but harsh discipline that kills the life of your teen and leaves him without a wing is never a way to create an environment of reform. And if I were to do something like this while also giving mere “advice” to other teens in my house who were doing things equally worse as the one I punished, this would be something to be ashamed of as a Father.

Again, reprehensible and disgusting are the words that describe my feelings. And what comes close to this is seeing well-meaning Catholics trying to talk their fellow Catholics off the ledge towards leaving the Church by magnifying the “irrationality” of the traditionalists (of which I’ve commented on before), emphasizing the tiny good that can be, with a magnifying glass, seen coming from hierarchy, while then either ignoring or belittling the greater mistakes and destructive acts that come from Rome, ascertaining them as less harmful than schism/heresy in light of its being “mere imprudence.” This shows no respect for the sensitive nature of the human soul, and it attempts to use legal technicalities as a way to blind people from seeing a genuine problem that cannot be overlooked. If it was ever said that the “road to hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lampposts that light the path,” it can also be said that the road to hell is paved with imprudence.

Lastly, since I am often criticized for not providing ready-made solutions with which people can be motivated to move forward from a set of paralyzing set of news, I recommend people to be very patient with any big decisions. If you work in the fields such as medicine, engineering, or finance (et. al.), you know that a crisis is not fixed by quick and easy reactions. Its the same in the spiritual life. It is important to keep the basics still in place. You have to continue to be holy, lest you be found unworthy when the Master returns at the hour you do not expect. That’s first. Though, people often need motivation even for this. One might gain a sense of stability by looking at alternatives to Catholicism. I encourage people to do that, depending on the stature of one’s faith. If one is confident in Catholicism, then being reassured that there is no place to go where one can evacuate having to give the same excuses for sticking around can often help in that it shows there is no need to be hasty with what you are to do. A decision that comes from a patient, calm, prayerful, educated, and anxiety-free disposition will always be better than one which comes from the opposites. Meanwhile, you can focus your time learning something deeply. For me, I benefit from Scripture studies and reading biographies of men and woman who lived through times that they thought were impossible to get through. Even if you must suffer in ways you can’t describe to others, you can find relief knowing that you have company in the vast history of the human family.

Can the Pope Teach Heresy in his Non-Infallible Magisterium? Some Preliminary Thoughts

In the first place, I would like to say that I am extremely sympathetic to any attempt to uphold a high view of the teaching ministry of St. Peter in the mystery of the Church. If the throne of St. Peter is the Cathedra Unitatis (Chair of Unity) and the foundation upon which the unity of the Church is built, it would only make perfect sense for that entity to be pristinely orthodox and divinely protected. To the degree that this Chair of Unity can become a “see of pestilence” (to quote Bishop Vincent Gasser), the very purpose and design of it begins to lose rational sense, if not all.

It is for this reason that I am slightly puzzled as to why the bishops at the 1st Vatican Council did not themselves harp on a stronger and more general set of conditions upon which there is a divinely applied protection to the teaching ministry of the Pope as the occupant of the supreme pontificate. One can speak about how the logical foundations of the Papacy, being expressed in Patristic citations such as the Formula of St. Hormisdas which says that the Apostolic See, on the basis of the Tu es Petrus promise, the Catholic religion is always preserved unsullied, preclude even the possibility of a Pope to promulgate, in his non-infallible mode of magisterial teaching, a direct denial of a dogmatic teaching (that which is de fide).

This makes a lot of sense to me, and I resonate. In fact, I’ve written quite a bit on how the 1st-millennium texts that describe the divine pedigree of the See of Peter seem to have a general infallibility to every official teaching of the Pope. That is, texts such as the utterance of Philip the legate @ Ephesus (431), the Formula of Hormisdas, the Tome of St. Agatho, and the Tome of Hadrian to Nicaea 787, all give a picture of a teaching ministry that is more generally under the protective arm of the Holy Spirit in light of the Petrine institution by Christ in the Apostolic College. Restricting it to simply ex-cathedra utterances, which many folks think only happened twice in Church history, and merely within the last 200 years at that (!), is simply not seemingly compatible with the Patristic descriptions of the Papacy.

Having said that, I reiterate my puzzlement at how the bishops at the 1st Vatican Council, having rehearsed all of this, and even going further in adorning the divine purpose of the establishment of the Papacy, felt it sufficient to show that this divine protection only expresses itself in a way that is protected from error in the ex-cathedra modality alone. In other words, when I read Pastor Aeternus, I see an argument that is being built from its start and culminating in its definition of infallible teaching. However, the argument I see being built up should have concluded with something much more strong, general, and applicable to the broader exercise of Papal teaching. But what we see is that they only reached the strict conditions of ex-cathedra. Rather disappointing, in my personal opinion, from a certain vantage point.

Because V1 only reached this very strict condition of infallibility, the Council has since then rendered it a logical implication that if the Pope is not teaching in his ex-cathedra modality, then he is not a recipient of the charism of infallibility in those teaching utterances. And if he is not infallible, then that means he can teach errors in a wide variety of magisterial modes. As my readers know, this has led to problematic discussions on just how erroneous a Pope can be in his official magisterium. Today, it is permissible for theologians to hold that a Pope can go so far in error (on faith and morals) so as to commit a heresy in his magisterial mode (non-infallible as it may be). Some others think, quite understandably, that is such a thing were to occur, it would be an effective turning over of the very logical purpose of the Papacy.

When one reads Pastor Aeternus saying, “This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successorsโ€ฆ so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, so the whole flock of Christ might be kept away from them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine,” one might infer thereafter that if Pastor Aeternus is right about this, then we should also say it is impossible for a Pope to directly and implicitly deny a clear dogma even in his non-infallible magisterium.

Of course, I sympathize with this. However, Pastor Aeternus never arrived at such a conclusion despite its building argument about the “gift of truth” and “never-failing faith”. Rather, the apex of the argument of Pastor Aeternus was rather restrictive towards ex cathedra modality alone. In other words, when Pastor Aeternus says “gift of truth” and “never failing faith”, they understood this to be actualized in the ex-cathedra modality and speak to nothing else. Now, as I said above, this is disappointingly so because the ex-cathedra modality is so fine, strict, and minimized. But the reality is that the Petrine argument in 1870 only reached the conclusion of such a strict condition.

Moreover, I would say that even if we could arrive at the conclusion that the Papal protection implies an impossibility of the Pope to directly and explicitly reverse a dogmatic truth, that is also still too restrictive, because it leaves the possibility of the Papal magisterium to indirectly and implicitly reverse a dogmatic truth as well as directly and explicitly reverse a widely upheld truth that is not dogmatic, and these two latter phenomena, if applied regularly, would equally turn the logic of the Papal function on its head. In other words, positing a divine protection against direct and explicit heresy against a universally known dogma in the Pope’s non-infallible magisterium seems still only a small addition to the already strict condition of ex-cathedra infallibility.

If the Pope were still open to indirectly and implicitly reverse a universally known dogma, and if he were still to be open to directly and explicitly reverse a widely known truth (that comes a hair less than dogma at the current magisterial consciousness), then we can potentially still be seeing high levels of damage from the throne of St. Peter which equally shakes the foundation of the Papacy. Our efforts to procure a protection against Papal heresy (canonically defined by the 21st century) in his non-infallible magisterium might end up being redundant in light of this. Now, one might say that souls are still safe under a Pope who seeks to go wild in promoting indirect and implicit denials of clear dogma or by promoting direct and explicit reversals of things which aren’t dogmatic (at least, yet), but that kind of safety is the 1st millennium’s damnation. We might have to wonder how manufactured “safety” really is in this whole scheme. If we determine the meaning of “safety” based upon a pre-engineered definition of what avoids harm, then such a safety is artificial.

Consequently, the logic of the Papacy only really makes a comfortable circle if we can extend the protection to everything in the Pope’s magisterium, whether ex-cathedra or in any form of magisterial promulgation. That would be very nice, wouldn’t it? That would make it so much easier to fit with it being a divine help to the Church without having to resort to private judgment at all. And it would make the whole project that Pastor Aeternus claimed with Christ & Peter vis-a-vis the universal Church make a whole lot more sense. The only reason we don’t do this is because we know, historically, that this simply has not been reality.

In other words, historical facts stand in the way. The situations of Pope Honorius, Vigilius, Liberius, Nicholas I, and the acceptation of Haec Sancta Synodus (Constance 1415), just to name a few, stand in the way of saying that the Pope is infallible in his entire magisterium. Haec Sancta is a rather brutal piece of history to discuss, and so I’ll leave that for another time. What is interesting about Vigilius and Honorius is that the contemporary bishops in both the Greek and Latin hierarchies understood the errors of Vigilius and Honorius to be “heresy” which injured those around them, including the whole church. For example, when the bishops at the 5th Ecumenical Council (Constantinople 553) excommunicated Vigilius, they did so because they believed he had become Nestorian, which would mean that they understood his constitutions (constitua 1 & 2) to the whole Church to be an explicit and direct denial of the Council of Ephesus (431) and Cyrillian Christology.

Now, I sincerely doubt Vigilius truly made such an error directly or explicitly, but the simple fact is that the Ecumenical Council at the time did think the Pope directly and explicitly denied Cyrillian dogma of Christ’s unity. Very similar is the condemnation of Pope Honorius. In the official sentence contra Honorius, albeit posthumously, they state that his errors were harmful to souls. Granted, what “heresy” meant to the 1st millennium Episcopal College is not what developed in the Latin canonical tradition especially with the influence of scholastical doctorship. I myself think the contradiction existing in the 2 constituta of Vigilius deserves to be looked at once again because I don’t think English scholarship has really adequately dealt with the issue there. One notable scholar, Fr. Klaus Schatz SJ, has the following to say (see bold especially):

โ€œ๐˜๐˜ต [๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ญ] ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฎ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ. ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ข ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฒ๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ถ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ญ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜ง ๐˜ค๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜บ๐˜ฆ๐˜ต ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ง๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜Œ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ด ๐˜๐˜, ๐˜๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฅ, ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ค๐˜ฆ๐˜ฑ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฆ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜จ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ป๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ท๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ ๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฆ. ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ญ ๐˜จ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜”๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ธ 18:20 (โ€œ๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜จ๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฎ๐˜บ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆโ€ฆโ€): ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ถ๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ง ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด๐˜ข๐˜ญ ๐˜Š๐˜ฉ๐˜ถ๐˜ณ๐˜ค๐˜ฉโ€ (Papal Primacy, 53)โ€ฆ”๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฃ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜บ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ฏ๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ญ ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ด ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜บ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ฅ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ฅ๐˜ข๐˜บ..โ€ (ibid, 54).

Fr. Francis Sullivan likewise shared concern:

โ€œ๐‘‚๐‘“ ๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘’๐‘›๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™๐‘ , ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’ ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘โ„Ž ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘›๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘โ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘™๐‘’๐‘›๐‘”๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘Ž๐‘ข๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ฆ ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘› ๐‘’๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘’. ๐‘๐‘œ ๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘‘๐‘ข๐‘’ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘  ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘™๐‘ฆ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™ ๐‘–๐‘› ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘–๐‘โ„Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘Ž๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘› ๐‘๐‘–๐‘ โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘๐‘  ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘’ ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘Ž๐‘š๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘š๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘กโ„Ž ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘š๐‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘Ž๐‘”๐‘Ž๐‘–๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘๐‘’โ€ฆ ๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™, ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘–๐‘›๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘š๐‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ, ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘‰๐‘–๐‘”๐‘–๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ข๐‘  ๐‘’๐‘ฅ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘š๐‘š๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘“๐‘ฆ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘” ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘’๐‘๐‘ข๐‘š๐‘’๐‘›๐‘–๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™, ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘๐‘’๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘ค๐‘–๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘ก โ„Ž๐‘–๐‘š ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘š๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ โ€˜๐‘‡โ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘’ ๐ถโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘ โ€™. ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’„๐’Š๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’… ๐’‰๐’‚๐’“๐’…๐’๐’š ๐’‰๐’‚๐’—๐’† ๐’Ž๐’๐’“๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’“๐’๐’๐’ˆ๐’๐’š ๐’†๐’™๐’‘๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’†๐’… ๐’Š๐’•๐’” ๐’“๐’†๐’‹๐’†๐’„๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’‰๐’† ๐’‘๐’‚๐’‘๐’‚๐’ ๐’„๐’๐’‚๐’Š๐’Ž ๐’•๐’ ๐’…๐’†๐’‡๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’—๐’† ๐’•๐’†๐’‚๐’„๐’‰๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐’‚๐’–๐’•๐’‰๐’๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’š. โ€ฆ ๐‘‰๐‘–๐‘”๐‘–๐‘™๐‘–๐‘ข๐‘ โ€™๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘ข๐‘๐‘๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ ๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘› ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘’ ๐‘“๐‘’๐‘™๐‘ก ๐‘œ๐‘๐‘™๐‘–๐‘”๐‘’๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘ข๐‘โ„Ž๐‘œ๐‘™๐‘‘ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘๐‘–๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™, ๐‘๐‘ข๐‘ก ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’๐‘ฆ ๐‘‘๐‘–๐‘‘ ๐‘ ๐‘œ ๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘‘๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘”๐‘’ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘Ž๐‘๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘‘ ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘–๐‘ก๐‘ฆ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก๐‘’๐‘Ÿ๐‘› ๐‘โ„Ž๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘โ„Ž, ๐‘ ๐‘–๐‘›๐‘๐‘’ ๐‘–๐‘ก ๐‘ก๐‘œ๐‘œ๐‘˜ ๐‘ค๐‘’๐‘™๐‘™ ๐‘œ๐‘ฃ๐‘’๐‘Ÿ ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘’๐‘›๐‘ก๐‘ข๐‘Ÿ๐‘ฆ ๐‘“๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘๐‘’๐‘  ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘Ÿ๐‘’๐‘๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™๐‘’ ๐‘™๐‘Ž๐‘Ÿ๐‘”๐‘’ ๐‘๐‘œ๐‘Ÿ๐‘ก๐‘–๐‘œ๐‘›๐‘  ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐‘Š๐‘’๐‘ ๐‘ก ๐‘ก๐‘œ ๐‘คโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘ก ๐‘ค๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘ ๐‘’๐‘’๐‘› ๐‘๐‘ฆ ๐‘š๐‘Ž๐‘›๐‘ฆ ๐‘Ž๐‘  ๐‘Ž ๐‘๐‘’๐‘ก๐‘Ÿ๐‘Ž๐‘ฆ๐‘Ž๐‘™ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐‘กโ„Ž๐‘’ ๐ถ๐‘œ๐‘ข๐‘›๐‘๐‘–๐‘™ ๐‘œ๐‘“ ๐ถโ„Ž๐‘Ž๐‘™๐‘๐‘’๐‘‘๐‘œ๐‘›.โ€ (Magisterium: Teaching Authority in the Catholic Church, pages 68-69).

I have to admit, in my wrestling with the data, the 5th Council’s explicit denial of Papal supremacy has been the biggest puzzle for me, and I’ve not seen this resolved by any thus far in English. I have my own theories, included in my book, but more so in my Academia articles. There might be works in French or German that seek to tackle the issue that I don’t know about. I think Ignaz Von Dรถllinger’s criticism remains standing, from a historical standpoint, especially since it strikes at the heart of Newman’s concession that if he were to ever find a proven instance of a Pope seeking to teach the universal Church erringly (ex cathedra), that he would admit that his entire argument for Catholicism would be ground to powder.

In conclusion, I really would like to go as far as asserting further guaranteed protections to the non-infallible Papal magisterium, and I would like to go even further, since any kind of damage done from the throne of St. Peter is unwanted, but I think the 1st Vatican Council did not see to it that this further implication outside of ex cathedra teaching was in store. Bishop Fessler (secretary general of V1) response to a known German critic in True and False Infallibility seems to restrict infallibility to very tight and minimized conditions. Secondly, asserting that the Pope is only further protected from explicit and direct heresy in his magisterium still leaves open wide enough potential damage that would equally shake the divine purpose of the Papacy. And lastly, the consciousness of the 1st millennium Episcopate on the damage that was done by Honorius and Vigilius, not to mention Haec Sancta, seem to leave it as historical facts (unless we ignore them as mere appearances) that prove the Papacy went to the brink of universal error in a matter that deserved public anathemas.

The Eclipsing of Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus? Or Paving the Way for a New Norm? (Forewarning: Mildly Controversial)

If I had to describe the question that comes up most frequently in my various mailboxes by inquirers, it would be the following: how do you explain the historic position of the Catholic Church on extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church there is no salvation), eens for short, ever since the 2nd Vatican Council changed this?

There are many ways to go about answering this question and if the inquirer is hungry enough, he won’t be satisfied until he has read at least a book or two on the matter. Since I don’t have the time and space to cook something for that purpose, I’d just like to make two points that many people who ask this question, given my personal experience, might not be aware of.

First, there exist authoritative sources from nearly 100 years before the convocation of the 2nd Vatican Council (4-5 generations of the pre-Vatican 2 episcopal college) that speak about the exceptional possibility of salvation for people who are neither united to the visible Catholic Church on earth (assembled under the Pope) nor even explicitly Christian by the confession of faith in Jesus Christ. Already in the 1860s, Pope Pius IX talks about this. More interestingly, the 1st draft for the constitution of the church that was due to be voted upon at the 1st Vatican Council (1870), c.f. Collectio Lacensis, VII, 567 ff., but which the Council never got to because of the abrupt halt to the Council due to the Franco-Prussian war, includes a rather robust statement on this matter (see linked article for citations).

Secondly, there is a way to speak about exceptions to the obvious necessity of being united visibly to the Catholic Church via baptism and profession of faith that does not effectively undo the original law of membership that came forth from the lips of Christ, i.e. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16). Today, you might hear it said by some folks that the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus is perfectly held intact when non-Catholics and non-Christians are treated as if they are fine as they are because, unbeknownst to them, they achieve unity with the Catholic Church through invisible means. Oh, I hardly see people (though I have and do) explicitly presuming this, but they can practically treat the matter this way.

In fact, this seems to have become the new norm. When was the last time you ever spoke with a person who told you their experience talking with their local Catholic priesthood about their joining the Catholic Church? 90% of the time they tell you that they were treated as if they were doing something ultimately unnecessary. In fact, we don’t even need to have this kind of firsthand account. It is the standard treatment between the chief Catholic hierarchy and the non-Catholic world that is recorded in countless video records only a google search away. Case in point, see the interaction between Pope Francis and Lutherans at the Vatican in the video linked in the comments. I need not remind those who were keeping tabs on the doings and goings about of Francis back when the Evangelical-Anglican bishop Tony Palmer, a personal friend of the Pope’s, was sharing his sincere interpretation of how the Jorge Bergoglio (they were friends far before his election to the supreme Pontificate) thought about the Protestant communities in ecumenical dialogue (also linked in the comments).

Now, persons such as Tony Palmer, Pope Francis, the Lutheran committees, and others who form these gatherings where everyone is at ease and feels equally accepted without any pressure to change one’s views, not least for the survival of their soul, are not unaware of the almost hidden, though explicit, statements in conciliar texts (Lumen Gentium 14-16) that state that Jesus Christ demands all men to formally join the Catholic Church, now assembled under the Cathedra of Unity occupied by Francis himself. They’ve done their homework, and those paragraphs don’t come as any surprise. Perhaps they see it as a happy inconsistency (I have no doubt some of them do), but they know enough to know it is there at a certain magnification of a microscope.

And yet, with this knowledge, they manage to act and dwell with one another as if there is no pressing need to change from any side, while also knowing the technicalities of Catholic doctrine. It is quite remarkable. Since when have Catholics, Orthodox, and Anglicans ever got together on the Vatican-level and ever felt the atmosphere get dense from a reminder that one among them is true and a binding necessity exists upon the conscience of all to fulfill the law of membership? Heck, one need only read Pope Francis’s recent “Diverse yet United: Communicating Truth in Charity”, which also has a foreword from Justin Welby, Archbishop of the Church of England, to see what kind of unity is prioritized by the Vatican these days. And lest my Orthodox readers think they have here an opportunity to get entertained by another Ybarra-editorial conceding problems within the RC, this same thing has been characteristic for more decades within Orthodoxy.

For decades now, we have even seen attempts to show that events such as the Assisi Prayer meetings (1896 & forward) or the joint-prayer meetings with Jews and Muslims, not to mention the recent “Smudging” ceremony hosted by Canadian officials in a meeting with the Pope (as participant), were all legitimate activities. And this despite the undeniable fact that the need to repetitively construct abstract and elaborated explanations over and over again to defend them as legitimate often contain enough proof in itself that there is a practical failure to shine forth the truth of the Church’s age-old law of membership, claimed to have been delivered by Christ Himself. At the end of the day, the nuanced distinctions that esoterically defend these actions are akin to having to magnify the scope 500x before you can even hope to see the faint existences of the dots and crosses that complete all the i’s and t’s.

This is also why proponents that defend these activities as legitimate, however much conceding imprudence, often see their skeptical interlocutors as unintelligent. They are so caught up and occupied with being 1000 feet deep in the weeds of all the “theology” that defends this kind of thing that they quite naturally look upon those not willing to embark upon such risky adventures as people who simply can’t intellectualize as well as they can.

Returning to the 2nd point, the mid-19th century all the way up to the Feeney controversy (1940s) showed how the Catholic Church did at one time express herself open to the availability, via extraordinary means, for extra ecclesia nulla salus to include non-Catholics, and even non-Christians (!), while also not falling into the practical eclipsing of the EENS law that I’ve described above in current times.

Lastly, I’m not here trying to pull everyone back to old times. I simply wanted to highlight 2 points that often get overlooked when people are pointing to the 2nd Vatican Council as the place where everything tanked on this question of eens.