Saturday, September 12, 2009

Clarifications on Plurality in Catholic Dogma, Judging Others, and Refusing Christ's Church

Here are some clarifications I wanted to make because of the comments I received on the last post. I don't know who the anonymous commenter was, but I'll have to respond to them as well.

Is There A Plurality In Catholic Dogma?
An FSSP (orthodox Traditional) priest once told me that I shouldn't listen to what priests or for that matter Catholics say on something, I should just go to the Catechism and the Creeds. As I noted in the last blog, there are Cardinals who have heterodox views (universalism is a tricky situation because I don't know if Hell has ever been ecumenically defined as having people in it, but I assume there is and that he didn't voice these views till AFTER he became a Cardinal). Hans Kung is a classic example of someone who is a modernist protestant Catholic priest. He has openly written a book against the infallibility of the Papacy, denies almost every Marian doctrine, grossly misrepresents the Council of Trent as being somehow Protestant/Reformed, and criticizes all of the Churches sexual ethics, and much more. His status as a Catholic professor has been removed, but has he been excommunicated? No. Has the Pope openly denounced him as a heretic? No (Ratzinger kindly did in nicer words while he was still an Archbishop).

So the problem people seem to have is that the Roman Catholic Church only officially teaches from Rome, and many others around the world, even those within her walls, deny the Dogmas. The Church couldn't keep up with all the heretical claims if it tried. This is why always going from the Catechism is necessary. There really isn't alot of plurality in Catholicism officially, just practically.

Am I Condemning You?
Rev. Jay Bennett asked a really good question since I always get tired of him condemning me: "are you condemning me?". To answer this I will say: the Church is condemning you, I am merely restating what the Church says. I think there IS a difference here. For example, when I asked Rev. Bennett about the Presbyterian view on the status of the Catholic Church he kindly showed me the Westminster Confession which teaches that the Pope is the Anti-Christ. If I asked an Anglican what he thought of my Church, he could go to the 39 Articles and say that it has most certainly erred in matters of faith. So lets not act as if Catholicism is the only religion claiming exclusivity, Christianity is inherently exclusive.

But all of this is greatly different from saying "You personally are condemned by God and out of his grace". I can't know that, but I'm not going to pull the relativistic Catholic response of "God isn't limitted to the sacraments" and then NOT tell you about what the Roman Church teaches on those who wilfully reject the sacraments.

Canonically I've heard that Protestants are considered Material Heretics (there's Aristotle again) and if they are invincibly ignorant, not necessarily considered outside of a state of grace. But if they learn about Catholicism and wilfully reject it, they become Formal Heretics. I need to learn what the Orthodox are considered to help shed light on the full meaning of this.

Refusing Christ's Church Wilfully:

Jesus when he sends the 70 in St. Luke's Gospel (10:16) says to the missionaries:

"‘Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.’"

Catholics as well as Orthodox Christian understand this to be a part of the phrase of St. Cyprian "Outside the Church There Is No Salvation". If you reject the Church you are rejecting Christ, as St. Joan of Arc said famously, they are one and the same thing.

Invincible Ignorance:

Here's the definition which I cannot seem to understand:

"So far as fixing human responsibility, the most important division of ignorance is that designated by the terms invincible and vincible. Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of "moral diligence"." - Catholic Encyclopedia on "Ignorance"

I'm not a good judge of this, as I've been Catholic all of 6 months or so, but I would assume theology students like Matt and Jay are not invincibly ignorant.


So terrible as it is, I believe the gospel forces me to affirm with Christ that anyone who rejects his true representatives rejects him. It is a matter of Christ's authority, from which the Church derives her authority, and the Church is visible, for otherwise how could Christ command us to "If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church" (Matt. 18:17 - Thank you Pelikan for that handy prooftext).

Thus I hope everyone comes to penitance and is saved, but that is up to Christ, I can only obey his word, which teaches me to obey his Church.

And I'm hoping to be a Jesuit, so having everyone pissed off at me, is probably good training.

Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam.

1 comment:

  1. "So terrible as it is, I believe the gospel forces me to affirm with Christ that anyone who rejects his true representatives rejects him."

    This is why Presbyterians reject the truth of the claim that the Pope is the vicar of Christ on earth. If we didn't believe this we'd be condemning ourselves. ;-)