5 March 2018

Placuit Deo?

The CDF has, interestingly, clarified, what PF has been meaning over these last long five years when he has repeatedly condemned Neo-Pelagians and Gnostics. I am not a dogmatic theologian, but it seems to me that its recent document is full of good stuff. Not least in the opening section, teaching that Salvation is only through Christ in His Church, with its confirmatory reference to the document Dominus Iesus. That was the admirable piece of work which stimulated such over-wrought hysteria when Joseph Ratzinger's CDF issued it in the pontificate of S John Paul II. Do you think the Nasties will be consumed by the same hyperventilating paroxysms of rage today as they were when Cardinal Ratzinger issued Dominus Iesus? No? You don't? You naughty cynics! ... er ... somehow, neither do I ... tempora mutant ... ur ...

I am not sure that I have actually met any of the now-condemned heretics, but perhaps critical readers will respond to that admission by advising me that I should try to get out more and meet more people. When I do meet the neo-heretics, I promise that I will remonstrate angrily with them and report their names to Archbishop Ladaria so that he can reactivate the thumbscrews in his sound-proofed cellars. Apparently, at the News Conference, the Archbishop avoided like a hot whatsit an invitation to name names ... I bet he did ...

Also praiseworthy: Archbishop Ladaria's merry men do not include in their explanation of 'neo-Pelagian' the offensive and hurtful paranoid nonsense we have heard from some quarters, linking this term with 'rigid' faithfulness to Scripture and Tradition.

But ...

Just one weeny detail made me pause in my encomia of delight. "According to [the Neo-Pelagian] way of thinking, salvation depends on the strength of the individual or on purely human structures which are incapable of welcoming the newness of the Spirit of God." [My emphases.]

Fair enough. I'm not complaining. My fleeting nanno-second of anxiety simply arose from an apprehension that what I regard as the fundamental error of Bergoglian ecclesiology might be getting just the tiniest of toes in the door here: the idea, fittingly condemned at Vatican I, that the Holy Spirit so inspires the Roman Pontiff as to reveal to him new teaching.

The Holy Spirit does constantly renew us all by calling strongly to our minds what the Lord has said to us and what, in our Christian initiation, he has worked within us. Since the days of the Apostles, He does not guide either the whole Church or any member or members of it into new teaching, except in as far as the whole body of teaching and living already embodied in Sacred Scripture and Holy Tradition is itself, and always has been, and always will be, God's Great New Thing, His Glorious Surprise, His powerful gift of mighty renewal to all at every level in the Church who will open their stubborn hearts to Him.

(I wonder if this new document arises from a desire of PF to ... as it were ... to ... put his doctrinal house in order before ... )


Nicolas Bellord said...

When Pope Francis accused people of neo-Pelagianism I doubt whether he really thought it through. It was just a convenient insult.

Marc in Eugene said...

"Before..."? before what? new things? a long retreat at Papa Stronsay? suppression of the Society ('the Pope who settles scores')? death? such speculations you do prompt.

A Daughter of Mary said...

I know this poor head of the CDF has been ill but is this all he can come up with considering the chaos in the world/Church? Did we need clarity in just what a gnostic is or what a neo-Pelagian is? Who cares!

When I feel like sloughing off my housework I remind myself that God expects me to do my duty - this is a great spur to do what I wish I didn't have to do. Pope Francis' DUTY, his MANDATE, is to conserve the Faith in its entirety and to pass it on to new generations. The Head of the CDF's DUTY and MANDATE is to help clarity issues for the Pope, to advise him, and to bring clarification to the Faithful as well.

So someone is failing at the Vatican….simple duty first? then the novelties and boring, useless definitions?

Pulex said...

The passage you cited is ambiguous. Whether it means only those "human structures which are incapable of welcoming the newness", but not other human structures, or, alternatively, "human structures which are" - all of them - by definition "incapable of welcoming the newness"?

Joseph Wood said...

It is interesting that, while several of the pope's loyalists attempt to saturate Church institutions with Amoris Laetitia and see it as the center of this pontificate's teaching, that document is not mentioned in this letter, while other of Francis's documents are mentioned alongside the Council, Pope Benedict XVI, and St.Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Randolph Crane said...

As a dogmatic theologian, I would say the document is sound. It is not on the level of Dominus Iesus, but I appreciate the affirmation of the traditional teaching on salvation. I just have two points of criticism: 1) The document is vague, extremely vague. Yes, sure, extra Ecclesiam salus non est, but there is no deeper explanation of that. On the other hand, I should be thankful for that vagueness since this also means the document doesn't contradict anything it might otherwise, if elucidating some points more clearly... 2) The § about dialogue with other religions is difficult. It says something along the lines of "we need to have dialogue with other religions because all men with good intentions shall be saved". Of course, this is quoting the Council. However, when the Council says that there is a way for people to be saved, even if they are not members of the social body of the Church (by the 3 traditional vincula), it must be understood in the light of the previous magisterium which also talked about this possiblity, but with the big, tall, great caveat of: "in the case of ignorantia invincibilis". If someone really doesn't know the Church (for whatever reason; maybe he is part of an undiscovered Amazonas tribe), and has no chance to get to know her, but with his whole heart he seeks God and tries to fulfill his will, then there is a hypothetical possibility for him to get saved. Hypothetical, because we don't know that. Only God knows it. And not even a Pope could ever know who outside the Church gets saved. It must be noted that this possiblity of salvation of course does NOT provide for people who know the Church (like a Muslim, a Jew, a Buddhist etc.), but do not join her out of religious/ideological/personal reasons. Every person has the moral obligation to immediately join the Church. There is no excuse for not doing it. This means: dialogue is not "yeah, we sure have our differences!", but rather "if you want to be saved, become Catholic!". Extra Ecclesiam salus non est.

erick said...

Both Dominus Iesus and this new document say salvation is only through the Church. However, when it comes down to it, Vatican II has taught that anyone in the world, even Atheists, can have the grace of the Church work in their lives. So this is not so much excclusivism as it is just a way to bandage the new inclusivism with old language.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Dear Randolph

Your account of the factor 'invincible ignorance' does not coincide with what I remember being the assumptions in the happy years before the Council. It was accepted that those who knew of the existence of the Church but were kept from joing her because they were locked into ignorance about the fact that she is the Ark of Salvation, were in Invincible Ignorance.

You didn't have to be an Amazonian who had never heard of Christianity.

An example is given in Brideshead Book 2 Chapter 2, "If [Julia Flyte] apostasised now, having been brought up in the Church, she would go to Hell, while the Protestant girls of her acquaintance, schooled in happy ignorance, could marry eldest sons , live at peace with their world, and get to heaven ..."

This was written in 1945 and Waugh was not a liberal and it is precisely what I remember being believed and taught in those years.

erick said...

Fr Hunwicke here is correct. Consider:

Concerning this doctrine the Pope of Vatican I, Pius IX, spoke on two different occasions. In an allocution (address to an audience) on December 9th, 1854 he said:

We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge; we must also, on the other hand, recognize with certainty that those who are invincible in ignorance of the true religion are not guilty for this in the eyes of the Lord. And who would presume to mark out the limits of this ignorance according to the character and diversity of peoples, countries, minds and the rest?


Randolph Crane said...

Dear Father,

There was confusion regarding this point of doctrine even prior to the Council. However, the ignorantia invincibilis (as I have explained it) was included in the Magisterium before that point. Especially Pope Pius IX wrote about this issue in Singulari quadam, and in Singulari quidem.

I am also referencing S. Th. Ia-IIae q. 76 a. 2 co.

I recommend to you to read "The Catholic Church and Salvation" by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton (available for free in the WWW). Not to school you, but that you might find some other voices. I found his tractate very consoling. And, as a matter of fact, I am writing a book on this topic myself.

erick has quoted an important part of Singulari quadam. Maybe one doesn't have to be an Amazonas savage, but still today many people live on this earth without having ever heard of the Catholic Church.

Of course, a Protestant doesn't get saved, since Schisma and Heresy are grave sins which lead to eternal damnation. They are not excused by any kind of ignorance. Btw, ignorantia vincibilis is also a thing. This means, one has the duty to "find out" about the Church. Failing to do so, leads to punishment. There is no way to excuse ignorantia vincibilis (I am, of course, speaking with the words of Thomas).