Prior to Vatican II, the popes consistently emphasized the unique role of the Catholic Church in propagating the truths and graces that Jesus wants all souls to accept. It has been so many decades since we have heard a pope proclaim these essential realities about the Church that it is worthwhile recalling a few examples among many:
“Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins, as the Spouse in the Canticles [Sgs 6:8] proclaims: ‘One is my dove, my perfect one. She is the only one, the chosen of her who bore her,‘ and she represents one sole mystical body whose Head is Christ and the head of Christ is God [1 Cor 11:3]. In her then is one Lord, one faith, one baptism [Eph 4:5].” (Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302)
“It is clear that contempt of the Church’s authority is opposed to the command of Christ and consequently opposes the apostles and their successors, the Church’s ministers who speak as their representatives. He who hears you, hears me; and he who despises you, despises me; and the Church is the pillar and firmament of truth, as the apostle Paul teaches. In reference to these words St. Augustine says: ‘Whoever is without the Church will not be reckoned among the sons, and whoever does not want to have the Church as mother will not have God as father.’” (Leo XII, Ubi Primum, 1824)
The crisis initiated by Vatican II is fueled by a monstrously misguided attempt to seek unity by: (i) diminishing the greatness of God’s gift to mankind (the Catholic Church), and (ii) passing over the evils of those false religions that draw souls away from the Church of Christ.
“With the admonition of the apostle that ‘there is one God, one faith, one baptism’ may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that 'those who are not with Christ are against Him,’ and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore ‘without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate.’” (Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 1832)
“For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that it is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.” (Pius IX, Singulari Quadem, 1854, Denzinger 1647)
“There is only one true and holy religion, founded and instituted by Christ, Our Lord. Mother and cultivator of virtue, destroyer of vice, liberator of souls, guide to true happiness; her name is: Catholic Apostolic, and Roman.” (Pius IX, Allocution to the Consistory, 18 July 1861)
“For, since Jesus Christ delivered Himself up for the salvation of the human race, and to this end directed all His teaching and commands, so He ordered the Church to strive, by the truth of its doctrine, to sanctify and to save mankind. But faith alone cannot compass so great, excellent, and important an end. There must needs be also the fitting and devout worship of God, which is to be found chiefly in the divine Sacrifice and in the dispensation of the Sacraments, as well as salutary laws and discipline. All these must be found in the Church, since it continues the mission of the Saviour for ever. The Church alone offers to the human race that religion — that state of absolute perfection — which He wished, as it were, to be incorporated in it. And it alone supplies those means of salvation which accord with the ordinary counsels of Providence.” (Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum, 1896)
“Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors. . . . Let them therefore return to their common Father, who, forgetting the insults previously heaped on the Apostolic See, will receive them in the most loving fashion. For if, as they continually state, they long to be united with Us and ours, why do they not hasten to enter the Church, ‘the Mother and mistress of all Christ's faithful?’ Let them hear Lactantius crying out: ‘The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind.’” (Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 1928)
Now, experts ignore the fact that statements that are technically accurate can nonetheless be tremendously misleading, such as: Jesus had above-average intelligence; the Virgin Mary was not especially sinful; the Church’s sacraments can be useful. These statements are obviously true, but there would be something grotesque and insulting to God if this is all we said about Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Church’s sacraments.
“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. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith. These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of Our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science. To them We are compelled with grief to repeat once again truths already well known, and to point out with solicitude clear errors and dangers of error.” (Pius XII, Humani Generis, 1950)
The popes spoke so clearly on these vital matters because the Church has a duty to faithfully instruct all souls. This should be self-evident, but in case any Catholic had doubts on this point the Congregation of the Holy Office made it perfectly clear in 1949:
“Catholic Doctrine must be proposed integrally and in its entirety; one must not pass over in silence or hide in ambiguous terms that which the Catholic truth teaches on the true nature and the stages of justification, on the constitution of the Church, on the primacy and jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff, on the true union by the return of separated Christians to the unique true Church of Christ.” (Congregation of the Holy Office, Decree of December 20, 1949)
So many theologians and other experts have completely abandoned this incredibly simple concept that shepherds must present the Catholic truth as well as possible, in clear terms that effectively communicate what we must know to honor God and save our souls. These experts ignore the fact that statements that are technically accurate can nonetheless be tremendously misleading, such as: Jesus had above-average intelligence; the Virgin Mary was not especially sinful; the Church’s sacraments can be useful. These statements are obviously true, but there would be something grotesque and insulting to God if this is all we said about Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Church’s sacraments.
And so when we consider the statements below from John Paul II (citing the documents of Vatican II), we must keep in mind that the Church has spoken clearly on the matters in question. The point of considering John Paul II’s statements, rather than those of so many other anti-Catholic reformers, is twofold: he undoubtedly had the expertise and authority to correctly interpret the Vatican II passages he cited; and his important encyclical on ecumenism was written over twenty-five years ago, several years before he made Jorge Bergoglio a Cardinal.
To begin with, the one statement in John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, that arguably comes closest to properly stating the unique nature of the Church is found near the end, and can scarcely be deemed adequate compared to what the pre-Vatican II popes wrote on the topic:
“The Constitution Lumen Gentium, in a fundamental affirmation echoed by the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, states that the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. The Decree on Ecumenism emphasizes the presence in her of the fullness (plenitudo) of the means of salvation. Full unity will come about when all share in the fullness of the means of salvation entrusted by Christ to his Church.”
John Paul II cited Vatican II to suggest that souls can please God and attain salvation by practicing non-Catholic religions. He did not bother to explain that non-Catholics are at far greater risk of losing their souls by following their false religions.
So, according to John Paul II and the Vatican II documents he cited, there is some distinction between the “Church of Christ” and the “Catholic Church,” and the Catholic Church has the “fullness of the means of salvation.” If one foolishly wanted to argue that Ut Unum Sint is “completely orthodox,” this murky passage from the end of the encyclical would be the best possible defense — and it is disgracefully deficient in light of what the Church has always taught and the gravity of the subject matter.
Even if one managed to make it that far into the encyclical, though, the ambiguous suggestion that the Catholic Church has some “fullness of the means of salvation” that false religions may not have would be dwarfed by two dominant themes in Ut Unum Sint: that a new orientation toward ecumenism shaped Vatican II, and non-Catholic churches are means of salvation.
Vatican II’s Renewal Was Intertwined with Ecumensim. “At the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church committed herself irrevocably to following the path of the ecumenical venture, thus heeding the Spirit of the Lord, who teaches people to interpret carefully the ‘signs of the times.’”
“The faithful of the Catholic Church cannot forget that the ecumenical thrust of the Second Vatican Council is one consequence of all that the Church at that time committed herself to doing in order to re-examine herself in the light of the Gospel and the great Tradition. My Predecessor, Pope John XXIII, understood this clearly: in calling the Council, he refused to separate renewal from ecumenical openness.”
“It is worth recalling that the establishment of a special body for ecumenical matters coincided with the launching of preparations for the Second Vatican Council and that through this body the opinions and judgments of the other Christian Communities played a part in the great debates about Revelation, the Church, the nature of ecumenism and religious freedom.”
Non-Catholic Churches are Means of Salvation. “‘It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe that they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and value in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.’”
“Indeed, the elements of sanctification and truth present in the other Christian Communities, in a degree which varies from one to the other, constitute the objective basis of the communion, albeit imperfect, which exists between them and the Catholic Church. To the extent that these elements are found in other Christian Communities, the one Church of Christ is effectively present in them. For this reason the Second Vatican Council speaks of a certain, though imperfect communion. The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium stresses that the Catholic Church ‘recognizes that in many ways she is linked’ with these Communities by a true union in the Holy Spirit.’”
“[T]he Decree adds: ‘ . . . The separated brethren also carry out many of the sacred actions of the Christian religion. Undoubtedly, in many ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community, these actions can truly engender a life of grace, and can be rightly described as capable of providing access to the community of salvation.’”
Whereas the pre-Vatican II popes made it clear that all souls who wanted to please God and go to Heaven should be Catholic, John Paul II cited Vatican II to suggest that souls can please God and attain salvation by practicing non-Catholic religions. He did not bother to explain that non-Catholics are at far greater risk of losing their souls by following their false religions. And, even worse, he did not explain that these false religions constitute an offense against Our Lord because they deceitfully ensnare souls in churches that deprive them of the truths and graces that God wanted all people to have.
Yes, Francis is a destroyer, and his synod is from hell and leads to hell. But those who want to solve the crisis, rather than simply bemoan its growing menace, must address the blasphemous false ecumenism that fuels Francis, his Synod, and every bit of the crisis that has almost destroyed the Church.
Many of us generally think about the crisis in the Church in terms of how difficult it makes it for us to find the true sacraments and unadulterated Catholic teaching we want, and these are obviously sufficient reasons to fight against those who seek to destroy the Church. More importantly, though, the crisis initiated by Vatican II is fueled by a monstrously misguided attempt to seek unity by: (i) diminishing the greatness of God’s gift to mankind (the Catholic Church), and (ii) passing over the evils of those false religions that draw souls away from the Church of Christ.
Far too many theologians and clerics who rightly criticize Francis act as though the false ecumenism promoted by Vatican II and John Paul II is somehow tolerable. For decades they have attacked men like Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who saw that false ecumenism offended God and sent souls to hell — no, they told us, Vatican II was infallible and John Paul II was a great saint, so there cannot be anything wrong with false ecumenism.
So, instead of taking a critical look at the true roots of the post-Conciliar crisis, these “experts” have padded their reputations by denouncing anyone who questioned the lies of the reformers. Meanwhile, the offense against God caused by false ecumenism continues, largely unopposed, with all the disastrous fruits so evident to the entire world.
Yes, Francis is a destroyer, and his synod is from hell and leads to hell. But those who want to solve the crisis, rather than simply bemoan its growing menace, must address the blasphemous false ecumenism that fuels Francis, his Synod, and every bit of the crisis that has almost destroyed the Church. It is not difficult — we must simply believe and proclaim what the pre-Vatican II popes taught. We have no legitimate reason to expect God to deliver us from this crisis until we repudiate the false ecumenism that has done so much to cause it. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
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