Saturday, June 07, 2003

Points to Ponder:

[Update: This is now part of a series on obedience, the previous installment of which can be read HERE. -ISM (6/09/03)]

I do not have to generally set up a quote in this feature but this particular one requires it to some extent. Cardinal Rampolla for those who do not know was nearly elected pope in 1903 back in the days when certain secular authorities had a veto they could cast in conclave elections. In 1903 the Austrian government vetoed Cardinal Rampolla's eligibility and the conclave elected Cardinal Sarto afterwards - who upon approval took the name of Pope Pius X. In short, this quote is from a man who escaped election as pope by the conclave due to an accident of history. But there is much more to this puzzle than that.

Cardinal Rampolla was one of the most influential prelates of his time. He was Pope Leo XIII's Secretary of State, assisted the Holy Father in his liberalization of the papal administration. Cardinal Rampolla was also one of the primary assistants to Pope Leo XIII in the drafting of the landmark encyclical letter Rerum Novarum - from which this humble weblog took its name. Pope Pius X appointed Cardinal Rampolla as Prefect of the Holy Office in 1908. In layman's terms, his position and authority was the same then as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's is today as prefect of the CDF.

Pope Pius X's campaign against modernism is not unknown; however what is often unknown is the extremist reaction to the modernists which was referred to as "integralism." Many of us refer to certain self-styled "traditionalists" today as Integrists because of the pattern that they share with the aforementioned extremists. But getting back to Cardinal Rampolla and to summarize he was (i) Pope Leo XIII's Secretary of State (ii) highly influential in the changing attitude of the papacy in Pope Leo's pontificate (iii) the primary draftsman of Pope Leo's Rerum Novarum. Further still, he was (iv) Pope Pius X's choice to head the Holy Office. So this is a man whose opinion is deserving of respect on matters pertaining to the faith. What did he have to say about those who were "more anti-modernist than the pope and college of bishops"??? The following is from Cardinal Rampolla as quoted in The Life of Benedict XV written by Rev. Walter H. Peters. This is taken from the chapter titled Modernists and Integralists and is his criticism of the Integralists:

Words can not describe the sad impressions that have been made on me by the agitation continually growing among Catholics, by these intolerable polemics, by this confusion of ideas, and above all by this lack of respect and of obedience to the Holy Father. I regard this as the worst of all the damage, and I offer most earnest prayers for this to come to an end.For us Catholics the name of the Pope is sacred and untouchable. The confusion which dominates minds, the doubts which arise from it, the judgment of the press, sometimes so unjust,and finally, the outbursts of emotions constitute a state of affairs which is deplorable. It behooves all of us to pray to God that some remedy be found. [Cardinal Rampolla: As quoted in The Life of Benedict XV written by Rev. Walter H. Peters. (c. 1959)]

Those who wonder why web writings such as this, this, this, and this (among others) exist need to look no further than what His Eminence noted above. (The same is the case for weblogs such as The Lidless Eye Inquisition.)

Consider this a prologue of sorts for the upcoming series on obedience - the next installment of which can be read HERE.


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

The subject of obedience is at the heart of the discord between self-styled "traditionalists" and those they often deride with epithets such as "Neo-Catholic." Often have I thought that the best way to address the issue of obedience would be to try and peek into the mind of God on the issue. For many are the excuses used to jusify disobedience and the epithet of "blind obedience" is commonly sung as a refrain by the dissident - whomever they are.

Cardinal Newman dealt with it in his day when responding to the the Anglican Gladstone and there is no shortage today of those who furl the banner of "traditionalist" who are in reality nothing more than "neo-Gladstones" if you will. However, at the same time, it is pointless to simply tell people to read a bunch of books even if this would help to solve a lot of the problems that those who argue on these points tend to have.

These are presuppositional flaws if you will. And as long as they exist, the individual will err in the same manner on any subject they endeavour to discuss that pertains to this subject. It is not without reason that I have recently seized on the William Blake statement "an altered eye alters all."{1}

Rather than refute these errors myself -as I am nothing special- it seems appropriate to do so with the assistance of a Doctor of the Church who lived many centuries ago. In doing this, the points can be made that I would make - and arguably a lot better to boot - and they would carry an authority that nothing I say would to someone who would claim the banner of "traditionalist."{2}

As a ressourcement-minded individual, it seems appropriate to me to yet again go "back to the sources" on this one. So that is what We at Rerum Novarum will do in the coming days. We will cover the subject of obedience from the standpoint of a revered saint and doctor. The reader can then discern whom and whose weltanschauung either mirrors or comes closest to what will be covered. Stay tuned for more details...


{1} For examples, see the links from Rerum Novarum located HERE,HERE, and HERE. It first hit me to use this metaphor when composing a response to CAIraqi leader Robert Sungenis which can be read HERE. I had in mind Blake's dictum when writing the line I was not inclined to want to challenge my sanity in responding to someone whose eye is so clearly altered. Granted this is not an insight that is exactly new but it is a very descriptive way of explaining the problem of trying to have a discussion with someone whose frame of reference is so diametrically different. By logical extension the metaphor "an altered mind alters all" could also be used and indeed in the example above, who could credibly argue that it is not applicable???

{2} This is not to diminish anything I have done mind you but simply to note that those who want to ignore my arguments can simply tag me with "Neo-Catholic", "liberal", "modernist", "reactionary", "fundamentalist", "traditionalist", "Satan's schill", etc. (Believe me, I have heard them all before.) These arguments cannot be applied by anyone claiming to be a "traditionalist" to someone who was canonized centuries ago and who is recognized as living a saintly life and also as possessing of fidelity to the Church.

To be Continued...

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Monday, June 02, 2003

Points to Ponder:

The Church is going through a terrible crisis. But crisis is its essential condition. God wishes it so. The Church was already in crisis when St. John wrote the Apocalypse...Look, ours is an age of decadence. It's like shooting an arrow. The arrow must be drawn backwards before it can be shot forwards. See, today we are being pressed backwards. But we are on the eve of many changes. The next century will be the age of new evangelization, and light will fill the Church once more. But my eyes will no longer be there to see it. [Jean Guitton: From his interview with La Stampa on the 30th anniversary of Vatican II (10/11/92)]


More From the "Altered Eye Alters All" Dept.

This comprised the postscript notes to the previous post in the discussion forum. Again my sources will be in darkblue.

In TGF we also point out that "Cardinal Ratzinger provided no proof that what 'seems' to be the complete identity between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Christ in the teaching of Pius XII is 'not the case.'"

If Mr. Ferrara knew how to read magisterial texts and avoided prooftexting, he might see the forest for the trees.

Moreover, there was no demonstration that Pius XII "shared" the view that the Orthodox churches are "authentic local churches," an assertion that also appears in DI 17, which calls the Orthodox Churches "true particular churches."

A true Church is one with valid episcopacy and valid sacraments. Are Mssrs. Ferrara and Woods claiming that Pius XII denied the validity of Orthodox orders and sacraments??? Because if he claims the pope affirmed their validity then he affirms that the Orthodox Churches are true particular churches. It is that simple really. In fact, if Mr. Ferrara actually READ Dominus Iesus (rather than simply hunt and peck it for prooftexts) he would see this very distinction made in section 17:

Therefore, there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches. Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church.

On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense...[Declaration Dominus Iesus §17}]

I hope it is becoming clear why it is a waste of time to involve oneself too much in refuting the kind of nonsense put forward by individuals such as Mr. Ferrara.

If Pius XII or the other preconciliar Popes had ever taught such a thing, one supposes their teaching would have been cited rather prominently in DI to show its continuity with the perennial Magisterium.

Not really. It is a given to anyone moderately versed in ecclesiology so there is no need to cite references for support of the assertion.

On the contrary, as we point out in TGF, Leo XIII taught the following about the ecclesial status of non-Catholic sees in his encyclical Satis Cognitum:

[I]t must be clearly understood that Bishops are deprived of the right and power of ruling, if they deliberately secede from Peter and his successors; because, by this secession, they are separated from the foundation on which the whole edifice must rest. They are therefore outside the edifice itself; and for this very reason they are separated from the fold, whose leader is the Chief Pastor; they are exiled from the Kingdom, the keys of which were given by Christ to Peter alone.

When did any of the Orthodox bishops "deliberately secede" from the Roman Church in the past five hundred years??? Since this did not happen, Mr. Ferrara's quote is irrelevant. Further still, to argue on the basis of second millennium developments is anachronistic to the core. It suffices to say that the Orthodox churches have valid episcopate and valid sacraments but according to Catholic understanding they exercise them illicitly. But at least unlike some "trad" groups which lack validity to certain sacraments (penance and matrimony) and liceity to the others, the Orthodox have all valid sacraments.

Likewise, in his letter on reunion with the Eastern churches, St. Pius X declared as follows:

Let, then, all those who strive to defend the cause of unity go forth; let them go forth wearing the helmet of faith, holding to the anchor of hope, and inflamed with the fire of charity, to work unceasingly in this most heavenly enterprise; and God, the author and lover of peace, will hasten the day when the nations of the East shall return to Catholic unity, and, united to the Apostolic See, after casting away their errors, shall enter the port of everlasting salvation.

Two points:

1) The "ecumenism of return" approach is ecclesiologically and methodologically faulty. St. Pius X had good intentions but was promoting a faulty method functionally speaking.

2) I have yet to see *ANY* authentic charity from Mr. Ferrara or the Remnant crowd. The very manner whereby they attribute the worst motives to the popes and the Council, to those who strive to implement properly the teaching of the Council, and other factors (such as their serial suspicion of anything that is not Counter-reformational in attitude or approach) is not the benchmark of a true and charitable outlook.

St. Pius X would have lowered the boot on people like Mr. Ferrara and company and would not have looked kindly on those who profess to love the Church, to follow the Church, and yet who showed clear and unmistakably that they despised the bishops of the church and the pope. He would have blasted these sophists as the hypocrites that they are for claiming to "withhold obedience" to the post Pius XII magisterium. In fact, let the Holy Father himself from a speech given in 1909 express his mind about such people:

Do not allow yourselves to be deceived by the cunning statements of those who persistently claim to wish to be with the Church, to love the Church, to fight so that people do not leave Her...But judge them by their works. If they despise the shepherds of the Church and even the Pope, if they attempt all means of evading their authority in order to elude their directives and judgments..., then about which Church do these men mean to speak? Certainly not about that established on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). [Pope St. Pius X (c. May 10, 1909)]

Here are two terms that apply to the Integrist bunch:

Suspicion - St. Thomas distinguishes three degrees of suspicion: when one begins to question anothers goodness on slight grounds, usually a venial fault; when one thinks on slight ground that another is certainly wicked, and this is a mortal sin in the case of grave matter; and when one condemns another outright merely on suspicion, and this is a sin against justice. "If we cannot avoid suspicion, because we are men, we should at least avoid judgments, that is, definite and positive opinions" (St. Augustine)". [Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pg. 510 (c. 1941)]

Pride, a capital vice opposed to humility (q.v.) consisting in excessive love of one's own excellence, exhibited in three ways: (a) Contempt for lawful authority - a mortal sin; (b) Contempt for equals or inferiors - mortal or venial according to the depth of contempt; (c) Desire to surpass one's equals - a venial sin. St. Thomas and many other spiritual writers put pride in a class by itself as the most deadly and devastating of all vices, which has its part in every sin, of whatever sort that is committed; for every sin is in its degree a contempt of God and often our superior and our neighbour as well. Pride feeds and thrives itself, continually stirring up the mind and will of man to rebellion against the moral law and against his lawful and qualified teachers, whether religious or civil. Ambition, presumption, and vainglory (qqv) are among the most immediate handmaids of pride".{Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary: Donald Attwater General Editor, tenth edition, pg. 422 (c. 1941)]

Both of these apply in spades to Mr. Ferrara and his cohorts.

In TGF we state our view that there is an urgent need for the Magisterium to clarify how churches that lack all jurisdiction, are separated from the very foundation of the Church, are outside the edifice of the Church, not within the fold, exiled from the Kingdom, and not yet in the port of everlasting salvation, can be "true particular churches" or "authentic local churches" in any sense that matters.

Already dealt with in this response.

YT completely ignores these astonishing statements in his defense of Ratzinger and his attack on TGF. But Cardinal Ratzinger has never retracted this opinion. Perhaps this explains why DI, of which Ratzinger was the principal author, contains not a single reference to the Catholic doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ.

The Declaration Dominus Iesus was subtitled On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. The subject was not on the juridical concept of "mystical body". Likewise, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, which this text draws heavily from, was concerned with sketching out in detail the nature of the Church and its universal mission. As the nature of the Church transcends by far the mere visible parameters, the subject matter goes beyond the expositions of previous magisterial texts.{1} Maybe if Mr. Ferrara paid attention to the purpose of certain texts he might be able to answer some of his own questions. As my good friend Dr. Art Sippo noted once "a burro can ask more questions than a wise man can answer."

DI 16 does refer to "a single body of Christ," but makes no mention of the Mystical Body of preconciliar teaching, identified so precisely with the Roman Catholic Church by Pius XII and Leo XIII.

This oversimplification was dealt with in the previous installment of this series.

In TGF we ask: "Are we witnessing the "shedding" of more "terminological armor" for the sake of ecumenism?

No, we are witnessing two burros (Ferrara and Woods) asking more questions than this present semi-informed writer has time to answer.


{1} Though Mystici Corporis was a source heavily drawn on in Lumen Gentium, the particular subject matter dealt with in Dominus Iesus did not pertain to the subject of the mystical body except by ancillary extension at best.

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"An Altered Eye Alters All" Dept.

This is a sequel in some respects to the thread located HERE. Apparently Mr. Ferrara was not too keen on a recent review from The Wanderer on his book. Nor was he too keen on a review from Michelle of the And Then? weblog either.

After musing on the matter for a bit, I decided not to link to either Omar Gutierrez' review or Mr. Ferrara's response to it. In the case of the former, I have only read parts of it in detail and have scanned the rest. As for the latter, the problem is one I pointed out that is common with Integrist screeds in my previous entry. The essence of the point was [how] easy it must be for Mr. Ferrara to make such wide sweeping indictments which he knows his opponent would have to take some time and energy to unpack in order to refute properly. Indeed one would have to write a book to respond to it all. I do not have that time nor do I plan to set aside time to do so. However, as a friend of mine indicated an intention to do a more complete response of one of Mr. Ferrara's articles, these notes of mine from a May discussion list on this subject (taken from the article my friend plans to respond to) are posted for his assistance and also for the musing of the readers of this humble weblog.

As in the last response, Mr. Ferrara's parts will be in black font with his sources italicized. My sources will be in darkblue font. "TGF" is a reference to Mr. Ferrara's book The Great Facade. "YT" is shorthand for "young theologian". This is Mr. Ferrara's snide deriding of Mr. Gutierrez - presumably because of the latter's age.

In order to expose YT's error and its relation to his critique of TGF, some preliminaries are necessary. I begin by noting that in his monumental encyclical Mystici corporis, Pope Pius XII, citing the teaching of his great predecessor Leo XIII in Satis cognitum, expounded with great force and clarity the Church’s traditional ecclesiology, according to which the Roman Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ are held to be one and the same thing.

Satis Cognitum is an encyclical letter on the unity of the Church. Besides, for one who wants to reference SC, there is a passage that Ferrara and the Remnant sorts do not seem to want to focus on:

The unity of the Church is manifested in the mutual connection or communication of its members, and likewise in the relation of all the members of the Church to one head" (St. Thomas, 2a 2ae, 9, xxxix., a. I). From this it is easy to see that men can fall away from the unity of the Church by schism, as well as by heresy. "We think that this difference exists between heresy and schism" (writes St. Jerome): "heresy has no perfect dogmatic teaching, whereas schism, through some Episcopal dissent, also separates from the Church" (S. Hieronymus, Comment. in Epist. ad Titum, cap. iii., v. 1011). In which judgment St. John Chrysostom concurs: "I say and protest (he writes) that it is as wrong to divide the Church as to fall into heresy" (Hom. xi., in Epist. ad Ephes., n. 5). Wherefore as no heresy can ever be justifiable, so in like manner there can be no justification for schism. "There is nothing more grievous than the sacrilege of schism....there can be no just necessity for destroying the unity of the Church" (S. Augustinus, Contra Epistolam Parmeniani, lib. ii., cap. ii., n. 25). [Satis Cognitum §10}]

I go over this in more detail HERE. In brief though, Satis Cognitum is concerned with pointing out the doctrine of the Church pertaining to the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with him, and the entire hierarchial structure of the Church and how it safeguards the unity of the Church. The intention to deal with those who had long been separated from the Apostolic See was not the intention of the encyclical. Nor was the subject of salvation for those not in visible communion with the Church a subject covered in that encyclical. But much as prooftexters do, Mr. Ferrara will cite whatever he thinks can make his case - proper context of the statements themselves be damned.

As Pius XII declared: If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ—which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church—we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression 'the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ'—an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.

I am surprised that so-called "traditionalists" make this error continually. I mean Pius XII's magisterium is supposed to be so "perspicuous" according to them. Notice thought where these guys go astray.

Mr. Ferrara quotes Cardinal Ratzinger saying that Pius XII "seemed" to say that the Mystical Body of Christ was identified solely with the Catholic Church in complete identity. This is the core of the very error that snared Fr. Leonard Feeney after Mystici Corporis Christi was published. Meanwhile, Mr. Ferrara prooftexts Pius XII a few times to claim there is a contradiction. As usual, Mr. Ferrara failed to do his homework. Here is what Pius XII's encyclical actually says. I will highlight the key points and add the word implied by the text in brackets.

As He hung upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. it was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure.

If we would define and describe this true [visible] Church of Jesus Christ -- which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church -- we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression "the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ" - an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.

The visible church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Roman Church. This is not the complete identity that pundits such as Mr. Ferrara seem to want to make. The distinction between body and soul of this period resulted in the mystical body metaphor often being applied to the visible church in a predominantly juridical manner. This was the manner in which it was applied in the encyclical Humani Generis:

Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. [Humani Generis §27]

If one notes the footnote at the end of this statement in the text, it is Cfr. Litt. Enc. Mystici Corporis Christi, A.A.S., vol. XXXV, p. 193 sq. In reference-speak "Cf" and "Cfr" mean "paraphrase" or "approximation." If not for the fact that the encyclical footnote specifically denotes a paraphrase, one could possibly impute some error to the encyclical Humani Generis (HG) since Mystici Corporis does not say exactly what HG §27 is asserting it does. It is also important to pay attention to context. The error that those who were being corrected was addressed in Mystici Corporis Christi(MCC) and reference to the encyclical duly footnoted would reveal the following:

[T]hey err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely "pneumatological" as they say, by which many Christian communities, though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are united by an invisible bond.

In short, the proscribed error in HG §27 is the one condemned in MCC about the Church being something solely invisible (or "merely peumatological") as if there is not a visible structure also to the Mystical Body. Those who used the term "Mystical Body" in this context were committing an error.

In one simple, elegant sentence Pius XII made it perfectly clear that the Church of Jesus Christ is the Roman Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. In other words: Church of Christ = Roman Catholic Church = Mystical Body of Christ.

The VISIBLE Church of Christ is indeed the Catholic Church. And the Mystical Body is the Catholic Church. But to refer to it as the "Roman Catholic Church" is to limit it to the west since the Eastern Catholics are not "Roman Catholics" as that term is generally understood. The problem for Mr. Ferrara is that he does not seem to recognize the shift in emphasis in Lumen Gentium to the Church as predominantly mystery with the visible elements understood as integrated into the whole. It is in essence an inversion of MCC where the emphasis was primarily on the visible Church with a secondary thread devoted to the Church's mystery.

However, the exposition as such in MCC had one weakness to it and that was how to explain those of good will who were not part of the visible church who were nonetheless of good will were saved. The dichotomistic concept of "body" and "soul" was a common analogy at this time. Before concluding the encyclical, here is how Pius XII sought to bridge the chasm:

As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of Christ," and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic God of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their father's home.

Though We desire this unceasing prayer to rise to God from the whole Mystical Body in common, that all the straying sheep may hasten to enter the one fold of Jesus Christ, yet We recognize that this must be done of their own free will; for no one believes unless he wills to believe. Hence they are most certainly not genuine Christians who against their belief are forced to go into a church, to approach the altar and to receive the Sacraments; for the "faith without which it is impossible to please God" is an entirely free "submission of intellect and will." Therefore whenever it happens, despite the constant teaching of this Apostolic See, that anyone is compelled to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, Our sense of duty demands that We condemn the act. For men must be effectively drawn to the truth by the Father of light through the Spirit of His beloved Son, because, endowed as they are with free will, they can misuse their freedom under the impulse of mental agitation and base desires. Unfortunately many are still wandering far from Catholic truth, being unwilling to follow the inspirations of divine grace, because neither they nor the faithful pray to God with sufficient fervor for this intention. Again and again we beg all who ardently love the Church to follow the example of the Divine Redeemer and to give themselves constantly to such prayer. [Mystici Corporis §103-104}]

In short, Pius XII by admitting that "they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer" had set the stage for Paul VI's musings on the matter in Ecclesiam Suam and Lumen Gentium's further explanation of how this relationship was to be properly understood.

The distinction was in short between body and soul in Pius' exposition. Lumen Gentium went about expounding on this subject in a different and more complete matter - and was prefigured on this by Pope Paul's first encyclical letter Ecclesiam Suam. In Lumen Gentium, the use of subsistare was making a distinction between the visible church and salvific efficacy. To quote from my treatise on the subject of subsistare:

Subsistence is a specific kind of existence. The Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary defines it as "that perfection whereby a being is capable of existing in itself" (Catholic Encyclopaedic Dictionary pg. 507). Subsistence (Lat. subsistare) is an old Scholastic term used to explain the manner whereby God exists. Unlike all other entities, God does not depend on another source for His existence. Instead, He is fully subsistent. Likewise the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church in such wise as she does not depend on any other Church or ecclesial community for she possesses the fullness of grace and truth. The same cannot be said of other Churches or ecclesial communities which depend on the Catholic Church for what degrees of truth that they possess.

So the Church of Christ can be properly said to subsist in the Catholic Church as this denotes existence to the fullest possible extent. Of course since the Church had never fully specified her boundaries explicitly prior to VC II, there was no way of knowing what the exact boundaries of the Church were. This is why the Fathers, Saints, and Doctors of the Church would insist on the necessity of belonging to the Church for one to be saved but they never at the same time declared anyone individually not in the visible Catholic Church to be damned. Think about that for a moment: not one Father said that it was not necessary to belong to the Church for one to be saved. At the same time no one who died outside the Church was ever declared to be damned by the Church in all of history (not even Judas). What this says about the necessity of belonging to the Church for salvation is that while it is a necessity surely that nevertheless God in the end is the final judge of who is inside the Church (be they implicitly or explicitly so) because only He knows the inner person. Here is the context of the term subsistare from Lumen Gentium (LG) §8.

The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth his holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as a visible organization through which he communicates truth and grace to all men. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the mystical body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complete reality which comes together from a human and a divine element. For this reason the Church is compared, not without significance, to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature, inseparably united to him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a somewhat similar way, does the social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ who vivifies it, in the building up of the body (cf. Eph. 4:15).

This is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, which our Savior, after his resurrection, entrusted to Peter's pastoral care (Jn. 21:17), commissioning him and the other apostles to extend and rule it (cf. Matt. 28:18, etc.), and which he raised up for all ages as "the pillar and mainstay of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity." [Lumen Gentium §8]

For an example of an "element of sanctification" that can be found outside the visible confines of the Church, consider the sacrament of baptism. When Pope St. Stephen in the mid third century decreed (against the protestations of St. Cyprian) that heretics were not to be re-baptized and the baptisms of heretics even by heretics were valid (as long as they baptized by water in a Trinitarian fashion), consider what he was saying about the Church as the custodian of the sacraments. The Church has always taught that only she was the custodian of the sacraments but heretics can validly baptize as long as they use the proper formula (Trinitarian formula). What this says is that the Fathers and Doctors of the Church always recognized implicitly that God's grace flowed through the Church and that God did not punish those outside the Church who (through no culpable fault of their own) were ignorant. In short, if they were good people who did as best as they knew how the will of God, then they would be justified in God's eyes (Acts 10:34). God only holds us accountable for what we know and only actual unrepented sins bring about our condemnation.

God is infinitely merciful; therefore He cannot judge someone without taking all aspects into account including that they may have been born in a disadvantaged situation. (Being a cradle Catholic is a blessing that far too many people do not realize.) The knowledge of the truth may through situations beyond their control be limited. As long as they are not knowingly resisting the truth then they can in some cases perhaps be saved in spite of the beliefs they hold and not because of them. The rationale here being that a person who knew the necessity of explicit membership in the Catholic Church if they were of good will and desirous of doing as God wills, they would join the Church. This was the rationale behind the concept of baptism of desire and also an implicit witness to the bounds of the Church which for the first time was explicitly set forth in Lumen Gentium, a Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church.

The exposition of the Church in LG is a true development of doctrinal terminology and not an innovation as 'traditionalists' claim it is. However, such an exposition in no way implies that our separated brethren are not to be evangelized of course. Far from it, the Council actually urges Catholics to be more zealous in actively evangelizing our separated brethren as our predecessors in the Faith did. However, the reader needs to ask themselves if they actually see 'traditionalist' groups doing this. Evangelization does not mean (i) getting in people's faces and shouting at them (ii) insulting them by lying about their beliefs or (iii) using coercive means of persuasion. How often do the SSPX or other so-called 'traditionalist' groups engage in true evangelical outreaches??? For those who claim to hold the faith, they are not exactly generous in sharing it with others. And if they deny the rigorous interpretation of Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus - which they claim to (Archbishop Lefebvre was a defender of baptism of desire), then they by default profess that the Church of Christ can exist outside the visible boundaries. And to do this is to accept the notion of subsistare.

Traditional terminology of "body" and "soul" sought to explain this mystery but the analogy was flawed in some aspects. By contrast the term subsistare explains the traditional teaching in a manner that fully takes into account the maxim of St. Thomas that God is not bound by the sacraments. (By logical extension, He is not bound to the visible boundaries of the Church in order to save people either.) To accept this principle is to be in accordance with Tradition and also by default to accept subsistare. To reject subsistare is to reject by default Tradition and implicitly accept Feeneyism. [A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' Part X (c. 2003, 2000)}]

The biggest problem Mr. Ferrara has is one which is common to those of a more rationalistic mindset. Like all obnoxious Integrists, Mr. Ferrara has no apparent understanding that the mystery of the Church and the relationship of people to her transcends mere theological cogitations. Paul VI noted this in his first Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam Suam where many of the pointers were put down which would be developed by the Council in its Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium:

The mystery of the Church is not a mere object of theological knowledge; it is something to be lived, something that the faithful soul can have a kind of connatural experience of, even before arriving at a clear notion of it. Moreover, the community of the faithful can be profoundly certain of its participation in the Mystical Body of Christ when it realizes that by divine institution, the ministry of the Hierarchy of the Church is there to give it a beginning, to give it birth, to teach and sanctify and direct it. It is by means of this divine instrumentality that Christ communicates to His mystical members the marvels of His truth and of His grace, and confers to His Mystical Body as it travels its pilgrim's way through time its visible structure, its sublime unity, its ability to function organically, its harmonious complexity, its spiritual beauty.

Images do not suffice to translate into meaningful language the full reality and depth of this mystery. [Ecclesiam Suam §37}]

The inability to understand traditional ecclesiology by Mr. Ferrara continues.

Yet, as we show in TGF, it was none other than Fr. Ratzinger who lauded the "shedding" of the term "membership" at Vatican II, calling that term "terminological armor." It was necessary to shed this "terminological armor," wrote Fr. Ratzinger, because "The Catholic has to recognize that his own Church is not yet prepared to accept the phenomenon of multiplicity in unity; he must orient himself toward this reality...Meantime the Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other Churches…" —meaning, Protestant sects.

What idiocy!!! Fr. Ratzinger as a good ressourcement theologian was not referring to Protestants as Churches because they are properly speaking not Churches. To be a Church there has to be episcopacy and valid sacraments. The argument by Fr. Ratzinger was that the Catholic needed to understand that the Church is more than just the Latin rite. This was a problem before the Second Vatican Council and even today it still is - albeit not nearly as much as it was previously.

The theology of communio (communion) recognizes a collection of Churches diverse in expression but professing one faith and united with the See of Peter - the source of communion of the universal church. Protestant groups could not be included in this vision without first the establishment of an episcopate and then unity in doctrine. With the Orthodox Churches, the degree of unity is over 95% in doctrine even if theological expositions on that unity of doctrine differ in some respects. As the Orthodox are already Churches properly speaking, all that is needed is unity in profession, not absorption of them into the Latin rite as Indian Reservations called "rites."{1}

Fr. Ratzinger even went so far as to say that "A basic unity—of Churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church—must replace the idea of conversion, even though conversion retains its meaningfulness for those in conscience motivated to seek it.

This is correct. In dealing with the Churches, the emphasis must be towards the individual Churches retaining their own liturgies and devotions and other traditions as far as this is possible. "Conversion" is a term that applies as much to Catholics as to anyone else. Hence the idea that others have to convert and Catholics do not is implied and this is erroneous because all of us are in need of repentence and turning back from sin. What is conversion but "turning back" after all right??? The types of sins may differ but we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (cf. Rom iii,23). A theology that recognizes this is indespensible when it comes to the subject of Christian reunion.

Based on these considerations, TGF expressed the concern that Cardinal Ratzinger's opinions appear to be irreconcilable with the teaching of Pius XII and his predecessors that the Church of Christ is the Roman Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ. And this is no mere academic dispute. The doctrine of the Mystical Body affirmed by Pius XII (and even Vatican II!) is essential to preserving the vital distinction between the inside and the outside of the Church (for purposes of the dogma "no salvation outside the Church"), and membership and non-membership in her.

Aah but Mr. Ferrara supports schismatics. By the doctrine of Pius XII, he is therefore not to be accounted as a member of the Church. (See MC §22). At least our separated breathren have a ton of potentially inculpable ignorance they have to plow through to see the Church as she really is. What is Mr. Ferrara's excuse???

If these distinctions are lost, Pius warned, the necessity of membership in the Church for salvation will be reduced to "a meaningless formula"—one of the signal errors of neo-modernism.

What is so meaningless about "those who are ignorant of Christ and his Church and are incapable of removing their obstacles through the use of ordinary diligence are not held as liable for it"??? This is not a declaration of anyone in particular being invincibly ignorant. Nor is it an excuse for people to remain where they are using this as a "loophole" if you will. There is no "meaningless formula" being espoused as per the serial suspicions of Mr. Ferrara.

As we have seen over the past forty years, this error leads inevitably to a drastic waning of the Church's missionary zeal.

In the past ten plus years there has been a resurgence in conversions. In 1997 for example there were over 150,000 Catholics brought into the Church including baptisms, reversions, and conversions in America alone. And half of that total was converts.{2} Throughout the 1990's this was the trend. It may not be as quantitative as in a few of the years preceding the Council but it is comperable to that period. And as far as the qualitative nature of converts today, it is on the whole arguably of greater import than in the nineteenth century through early twentieth centuries - to say nothing about the mid twentieth century period.{3}

For why should anyone be terribly concerned about making converts if formal membership in the Church—being inside the Church as a visible Mystical Body—is no longer viewed as crucial to anyone’s prospect of salvation?

And who has claimed that there is "no concern" on the matter??? To again quote myself:

[T]he Council actually urges Catholics to be more zealous in actively evangelizing our separated brethren as our predecessors in the Faith did. However, the reader needs to ask themselves if they actually see 'traditionalist' groups doing this. Evangelization does not mean (i) getting in people's faces and shouting at them (ii) insulting them by lying about their beliefs or (iii) using coercive means of persuasion. How often do the SSPX or other so-called 'traditionalist' groups engage in true evangelical outreaches??? For those who claim to hold the faith, they are not exactly generous in sharing it with others. [A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' Part X (c. 2003,2000)]

Mr. Ferrara can continue to whine, disingenuously misrepresent magisterial teaching, promote factionalist uncharitable behaviours, and undermine the credibility of the Church if he wants to. (For his pride continually feeds on itself and spurs him to rebellion against the magisterium and thus against the Church he claims to defend.) The rest of us will carry the weight of bringing the Gospel to others each according to their abilities. Hopefully in time Mr. Ferrara can "spiritually become a man and put away the things of a child" (cf. Cor.xiii). Until then prayer is probably our best recourse in his case.

If interested in reading more on the follies of Mr. Ferrara, see the thread located here to read a postscript to the above materials.


{1} Or functionally speaking as as defacto "Satellites" of the Western Patriarch.

{2} Sometimes entire parishes have been received into the communion of the Catholic Church.

{3} If the converts of the past were properly taught certain key distinctions, the "traditionalist" movement would not have arisen as it did sapping the Mystical Body of needed energy in the immediate period after the Council.

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Sunday, June 01, 2003

The Lidless Eye Inquisition weblog has been rather active in the past couple of weeks. I posted a new entry to it today on the subject of "sola fide trads." Here is the link if you are interested:

The Lidless Eye Inquisition