By Brother Thomas Mary, M.I.C.M.
1. The Necessity of the Faith
a) Invincible Ignorance
2. The Necessity of Baptism
a) Baptism of Desire
b) Baptism of Blood
c) The Limbo of the Children
3) The Necessity of the Church
4) The Necessity of Submission to the Holy Father
The doctrine of extra ecclesiam nulla salus is now practically inseparable from the name of Father Feeney,
and after the polemical fireworks of Bread of Life I thought it appropriate to attempt to recapitulate his doctrinal position, and also that of Orestes Brownson, in a more low-keyed scholarly fashion. First then, let us examine the necessity of the Catholic Faith for salvation, and as a corollary, the problem of invincible ignorance. Second let us look at the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation, and the problem of Baptism of Desire, and as a corollary to that, the question of the Limbo of the Children, which by force of circumstances, the abortion issue, has now become a key part of the doctrinal big picture. Third we will examine the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation, and fourth and finally, the necessity of submission to the Holy Father for salvation.
1. The Necessity of the Faith
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting. For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by Him. He that believeth in Him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:14-18.)
"And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the doors of the prison open, drawing his sword, would have killed himself, supposing the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, do thyself no harm for we are all here. Then calling for a light, he went in and trembling, fell down at the feet of Paul and Silas. And bringing them out, he said: Masters, what must I do, that I may be saved? But they said: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house." (Acts 16:27-32.)
"But what saith the Scripture? 'The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.' This is the word of faith, which we preach. For if thou confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him up from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For, with the heart, we believe unto justice; but with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith: 'Whosoever believeth in Him, shall not be confounded.' For there is no distinction of the Jew and the Greek: for the same is Lord over all, rich unto all that call upon Him. 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved.' How then shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!'" (Romans 10:8-15.)
B. The Testimony of Tradition: "Whoever wishes to be saved must above all, keep the Catholic faith; for unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire he will undoubtedly be lost forever... "This is what he who wishes to be saved must believe about the Trinity...It is also necessary for eternal salvation that he believe steadfastly in the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ... "This is the Catholic faith. Everyone must believe it, firmly and steadfastly; otherwise he cannot be saved." (Athanasian Creed Denz. 39,40.) [FN #1] The Athanasian Creed used to be recited by priests and religious in the Divine Office for all the Sundays after Pentecost and at many other times during the year. This was first reduced to just once a year, Prime of Trinity Sunday, and then dropped altogether. The Athanasian Creed is a prayer the liberals don't like.
St. Thomas Aquinas, we saw, taught that belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation was necessary for salvation: "After grace had been revealed both the learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation" (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.2, a.7). And again: "Once grace had been revealed all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity" (Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.2, a.8).
We also saw that this doctrine of St. Thomas was upheld by the Holy Office itself in a response to a question from the Bishop of Quebec in 1703: "Question: Whether a missionary is bound before Baptism is conferred on an adult, to explain to him all the mysteries of our faith, especially if he is at the point of death, because this might disturb his mind. Or, whether, it is sufficient if one at the point of death will promise that when he recovers from the illness, he will take care to be instructed, so that he may put into practice what has been commanded him. "Response: A promise is not sufficient, but a missionary is bound to explain to an adult, even a dying one who is not entirely incapacitated, the mysteries of faith which are necessary by a necessity of means, as are especially themysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation." (Denz. 2380)
In response to a further question from the Bishop, the Holy Office replied: "Question; Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given to him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes, especially His justice in rewarding and punishing according to this remark of the Apostle: "He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder" (Heb. 11:6), from which it is inferred that a barbarian adult, in a certain case of urgent necessity can be baptized although he does not believe explicitly in Jesus Christ. "Response: A missionary should not baptize one who does not believe explicitly in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is bound to instruct him about all those matters which are necessary by a necessity of means, in accordance with the capacity of the one to be baptized." (Denz. 2381)
Solemn Magisterium: And here is the Creed of the Council of Trent. The phrases in parentheses were added by Pope Pius IX after the First Vatican Council: "I unhesitatingly accept and profess all the doctrines (especially those concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching authority) handed down, defined, and explained by the sacred canons and ecumenical councils and especially of this most holy Council of Trent (and by the ecumenical Vatican Council). And at the same time I condemn, reject,and anathematize everything that is contrary to those propositions, and all the heresies without exception that have been condemned, rejected, and anathematized by the Church. I N., promise, vow and swear that, with God's help, I shall most constantly hold and profess this true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved which I now freely profess and truly hold." (Denz. 1000)
Vatican Council I taught that God established the Church to enable us to fulfill our obligation of embracing the true faith: "Yet, since 'without faith it is impossible to please God' (Heb. 11:6) and to enter the company of His sons, no one has ever obtained justification without faith and no one will reach eternal life, unless 'he has persevered to the end' in faith (Matt. 10:22; 24:13). However, in order to enable us to fulfill our obligation of embracing the true faith and steadfastly persevering in it, God established the Church through His only-begotten Son and endowed it with unmistakable marks of its foundation, so that it could be recognized by all as the guardian and teacher of the revealed word." (Denz. 67)
Finally let me conclude this section on the necessity of the Catholic faith with an excerpt from an encyclical of Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum which was issued in 1914: "Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved" (Athanasian Creed). There is no adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic is my surname," only let him endeavor to be in reality what he calls himself." [FN #2]
a) Invincible Ignorance
Fr. George Haydock's footnotes to the old 1872 edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible are always excellent: "Ignorance. To be ignorant of what we are bound to know is sinful: and for such culpable ignorance, these sacrifices, prescribed in this and the following chapter, were appointed." "Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of Him, from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; His eternal power also, and divinity, so that they are inexcusable. Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified Him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Romans 1:19-21).
" And if our Gospel be also hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them." (2 Corinthians 4:3,4).
Cornelius à Lapide, the great Scripture scholar, commenting on this passage writes: "If you, O Paul, manifest, as you say, in truth the word of God, commending it to every conscience, how is it that this your word of God be not manifest to all? Why do not all believe? He answers, that to the good and faithful it is manifest, but to the impious and unfaithful it is hidden and unknown, since they are lost and reprobate." [FN #3]
B. The Testimony of Tradition: When St. Francis Xavier was preaching in Japan, his listeners raised the problem of the invincible ignorance of their ancestors: "The principal trouble of those men of good will before they received the light of faith was inability to reconcile the infinite goodness and mercy of God with the fact that He had not made Himself known to them and to their ancestors before the coming of St. Francis. If it was true, as Francis taught, that all those who did not adore the true God went to Hell, then their ancestors must have gone there, even though they had been given no opportunity by God of realizing their duty to Him. "'Our Lord helped us to deliver them from this terrible misgiving [said Francis]. We gave them very good reasons for holding that the law of God was imprinted on men's hearts from the beginning. Before even the law of the Buddhists came from China to Japan, the Japanese, their ancestors, knew that it was wrong and wicked to commit murder, to steal, to bear false witness, or to break any other of the Ten Commandments, and their consciences smote them if they did so, proving that they knew the commandments of God without having been taught them except by the Creator of all peoples.'" [FN #4]
St. Francis de Sales also wrote about the fate of the Japanese who lived before the coming of St. Francis Xavier: "But concerning them that remain in the sleep of sin: Oh! what good reason they have to lament, groan, weep and say: woe the day! for they are in the most lamentable of cases; yet they have no reason to grieve or complain, save about themselves, who despised, yea rebelled against, the light; who were untractable to invitations, and obstinate against inspirations; so that it is their own malice alone they must ever curse and reproach, since they themselves are the sole authors of their ruin, the sole workers of their damnation. So the Japanese complaining to the Blessed Francis Xavier their Apostle, that God Who had had so much care of other nations, seemed to have forgotten their predecessors, not having given them the knowledge of Himself, for want of which they must have been lost: the man of God answered them that the divine natural law was engraven in the hearts of all mortals, and that if their forerunners had observed it, the light of heaven would without doubt have illuminated them, as on the contrary, having violated it, they deserved damnation. An apostolic answer of an apostolic man, and resembling the reason given by the great Apostle of the loss of the ancient Gentiles, whom he calls inexcusable, for that having known good they followed evil; for it is in a word that which he inculcates in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. Misery upon misery to those who do not acknowledge that their misery comes from their malice." [FN #5]
We have examined St. Thomas Aquinas' teaching on invincible ignorance, but let me repeat it here for this summary: "Now it is evident that whoever neglects to have or do what he ought to have or do, commits a sin of omission. Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to a man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called invincible, because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin. On the other hand vincible ignorance is a sin, if it be about things one is bound to know." [FN #6]
And again St. Thomas asks: "Whether Unbelief is a Sin? "...If, however, we take it by way of pure negation, as we find it in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character, not of sin, but of punishment, because such like ignorance of Divine things is a result of the sin of our first parent. If such like unbelievers are damned it is on account of other sins, which cannot be taken away without faith, but not on account of their sin of unbelief. Hence Our Lord said (Jo. 15:22): 'If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin&'; which Augustine expounds (Tract. 89 in Joan.) as 'referring to the sin whereby they believed not in Christ.'" [FN #7]
However, at the time of the discovery of the New World, where apparently vast numbers of souls had lived and died without ever having heard of Christ or His Church, some theologians, especially the Franciscan, Andreas De Vega, proposed that these souls since they lived in invincible ignorance of the true faith, could have been saved without an explicit belief in Christ. [FN #8]
But we saw that St. Thomas also wrote that it pertains to Divine Providence to furnish everyone with the means of salvation, provided there was no hindrance on their part, even though they lived in remote places. "Is It Necessary to Believe Explicitly? "Difficulties: It seems that it is not, for 1. We should not posit any proposition from which an untenable conclusion follows. But, if we claim that explicit faith is necessary for salvation, an untenable conclusion follows. For it is possible for someone to be brought up in the forest or among wolves, and such a one cannot have explicit knowledge of any matter of faith. Thus, there will be a man who will inevitably be damned. But this is untenable. Hence, explicit belief in something does not seem necessary... "Answer to Difficulties: 1. Granted that everyone is bound to believe something explicitly, no untenable conclusion follows if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to Divine Providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance. Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as He sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)." [FN #9]
St. Thomas' contemporary, the Franciscan Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), also taught the same doctrine, especially concerning baptized children brought up in captivity by the Moors. "If he does what is within his power, the Lord will enlighten him with a secret inspiration, by means of an angel or of a man." [FN #10]
The opinion of Andreas De Vega was not shared by the majority of the theologians of his day, for example, the great Jesuit theologian, Francisco Suarez (d. 1617), held fast to the teaching of St. Thomas and Alexander of Hales: "Whoever has not set up obstacles against it will receive the light or the call..., either externally by means of men...or by interior illumination by means of angels." [FN #11] Not only was the opinion of De Vega not shared by the majority of the theologians of his day, it was rejected by the Magisterium as well. In 1679 Pope Innocent XI condemned the proposition which implied that one could be saved without supernatural faith or revelation: "A faith amply indicated from the testimony of creation, or from a similar motive, suffices for justification." (Denz. 2380,2381.) [FN #12]
This teaching of St. Thomas is abundantly illustrated in the lives of the missionary saints. Let me read two brief stories from the life of St. Columba, the Apostle of Scotland, written by his disciple St. Adaman: "One day while laboring in his evangelical work in the principal island of the Hebrides, the one which lies nearest to the mainland, he cried out all at once, 'My sons, today you will see an ancient Pictish chief, who has kept faithfully all his life the precepts of the natural law, arrive in this island; he comes to be baptized and to die.' Immediately after, a boat was seen to approach the shore with a feeble old man seated in the prow, who was recognized as the chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two of his companions brought him before the missionary, to whose words, as repeated by the interpreter, he listened attentively. When the discourse was ended the old man asked to be baptized, and immediately breathed his last breath, and was buried in the very spot where he had just been brought to shore." "At a later date, in one of his last missions, when, himself an old man, he traveled along the banks of Loch Ness, always in the district north of the mountain range of the Dorsum Britanniae, he said to his disciples who accompanied him, 'Let us make haste and meet the angels who have come down from heaven, and who await for us beside a Pict who has done well according to the natural law during his whole life to extreme old age; we must baptize him before he dies.' Then hastening his steps outstripping his disciples, as much as was possible at his great age, he reached a retired valley, now called Glen Urquart, where he found the old man who awaited him. Here was no longer any need of an interpreter, which makes it probable that Columba in his old age had learned the Pictish dialect. The old Pict heard him preach, was baptized, and with joyful serenity gave up to God the soul who was awaited by those angels whom Columba saw." [FN #13]
We also saw that the liberals taking passages out of context, claimed that Pope Pius IX taught that a person involved in invincible ignorance of the true faith could be saved. Here again is the whole relevant section from the encyclical Quanto conficiamur of 1863: And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brethren, it is necessary once more to mention and censure the serious error into which some Catholics have unfortunately fallen. For they are of the opinion that men who live in errors, estranged from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life. This is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching. We all know that those who are afflicted with invincible ignorance with regard to our holy religion, if they carefully keep the precepts of the natural law that have been written by God in the hearts of all men, if they are prepared to obey God, and if they lead a virtuous and dutiful life, can attain eternal life by the power of divine light and grace. For God, Who reads comprehensively in every detail the minds and souls, the thoughts and habits of all men, will not permit, in accordance with his infinite goodness and mercy, anyone who is not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal torments (suppliciis). However, also well-known is the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who obstinately oppose the authority and definitions of the Church, and who stubbornly remain separated from the unity of the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff (to whom the Saviour has entrusted the care of His vineyard), cannot attain salvation." (Denz 1677)
Pope Pius IX nowhere in this passage says that a person involved in invincible ignorance will be saved if he remains in that state, but by God's grace, such a person will be led to the Catholic faith and to the Church, as St. Thomas teaches. Vatican Council II in the "Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity" is very clear on this point. We read in Ad Gentes: "So although in ways known to Himself God can lead those, who through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel to that faith without which it is impossible to please Him" (Ad Gentes, 1,7).
Let me conclude this section on ignorance with a beautiful prayer of Pope Pius XII to Our lady of the Rosary of Pompeii: "O merciful Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, thou, the Seat of Wisdom, hast established a throne of fresh mercy in the land that was once pagan, in order to draw all nations to salvation by means of the chaplet of mystical roses: remember that thy divine Son hath left us this saying: 'Other sheep I have that are not of this fold; them also must I bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd.' Remember likewise that on Calvary thou didst become our Co-Redmptrix, by virtue of the crucifixion of Thy heart cooperating with Thy crucified Son in the salvation of the world; and from that day thou didst become the Restorer of the human race, the Refuge of sinners and the Mother of all mankind. Behold, dear Mother, how many souls are lost every hour! Behold how countless millions of those who dwell in India, in China, and in barbarous regions do not know Our Lord Jesus Christ! See, too, how many others are indeed Christians and are nevertheless far from the bosom of Mother Church which is Catholic, Apostolic and Roman! O Mary, powerful mediator, advocate of the human race, full of love for us who are mortal, the life of our hearts, blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii, graciously hear our prayers; let not the Precious Blood and the fruits of Redemption be lost for so many souls. From thy chosen shrine in Pompeii where thou dost nothing else save dispense heaven's favors upon the afflicted, grant that a ray of thy heavenly light may shine forth to enlighten those many blinded understandings and to enkindle so many cold hearts. Intercede with thy divine Son and obtain grace for all the pagans, Jews, heretics and schismatics in the whole world to receive supernatural light and to enter with joy into the bosom of the true Church. Hear the confident prayer of the Supreme Pontiff, that all nations may be joined in the one faith, may know and love Jesus Christ, the blessed fruit of thy womb, Who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit world without end. And then all men shall love thee also, thou who art the salvation of the world, arbiter and dispenser of the treasures of God, and Queen of mercy in the valley of Pompeii. And glorifying thee, the Queen of Victories, who by means of thy Rosary, dost trample upon all heresies, they shall acknowledge that thou givest life to all the nations, since there must be a fulfillment of the prophecy in the Gospel: 'All generations shall call me blessed.'" [FN #14]
2. The Necessity of Baptism
"And He said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be condemned." (Mark 16:15,16) "Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith to Him: How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born again? Jesus answered: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3-5)
"Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart, and said to Peter, and to the rest of the Apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren? But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord Our God shall call. And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them, saying: save yourselves from this perverse generation. They therefore that received the word, were baptized; and there were added in that day about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:37-41)
B. The Testimony of Tradition: St. Thomas Aquinas: "Whether All Are Bound to Receive Baptism? "...I answer that, Men are bound to that without which they cannot obtain salvation. Now it is manifest that no one can obtain salvation, but through Christ; wherefore the Apostle says (Rom. 5:18): 'As by the offense of one unto all men unto condemnation; so also by the justice of one, unto all men unto justification of life.' But for this end is Baptism conferred on a man, that being regenerated thereby, he may be incorporated in Christ, by becoming His member: wherefore it is written (Gal. 3:27): 'As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ.' Consequently it is manifest that all are bound to be baptized: and that without Baptism there is no salvation for men." [FN #15]
Solemn Magisterium: The Council of Vienne: "All the faithful must confess only one Baptism, which regenerates in Christ all the baptized, just as there is one God and one faith. We believe that this Sacrament, celebrated in water and in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is necessary for children and grown-up people alike for the perfect remedy of salvation." (Denz. 482) The Council of Trent, Session VII, Canon 5: "If anyone says that Baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation: let him be anathema." (Denz. 691)
a) Baptism of Desire
Father Feeney thought that St. Ambrose meant by "the grace which he prayed for," the grace of Baptism, and that someone most certainly baptized Valentinian when he was in danger of death. In his treatise On the Mysteries, St. Ambrose had written: "You have read that the three witnesses in Baptism - the water, the blood and the Spirit - are one. This means that if you take away one of these, the sacrament of Baptism is not conferred. What is the water without the cross of Christ? Only an ordinary element without sacramental effect. Again, without water there is no sacrament of rebirth: "Unless a man is born again of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." The catechumen believes in the cross of the Lord with which he too is signed, but unless he is baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit he cannot receive the forgiveness of sins or the gift of spiritual grace." [FN #17]
Just to give some idea of how catechumens in any emergency were immediately baptized, let me again give a few excerpts from an excellent book, Augustine the Bishop by F. Van Der Meer: "As in the sphere of morals, so also in that which pertains to the formal practice of religion, it is the weaker brethren that we hear about most. There are, for instance the permanent catechumens who are ready enough to listen to a fine sermon, who make the sign of the cross and call themselves Christians, but who, when Lent comes round, refuse to be inscribed as competentes and put off their Baptism till they happen to be gravely ill or have got into a panic in some emergency. If there was an earth quake or a pestilence, if the barbarian showed himself in the neighborhood threatening fire and the sword, then they came rushing to the priests for Baptism. That was quite the usual thing, and it was one of the reasons why the clergy were not allowed to leave if a town was threatened with siege. There was an earthquake in Sitifi,...and the inhabitants were forced to spend five days in the fields. On that occasion two thousand were baptized. It was the same in other parts of the Empire. When Alaric was nearing Rome in 410, there was a panic and crowds besieged the baptisteries, which went on baptizing uninterruptedly. When there were severe earth-tremors in Jerusalem, resulting in considerable damage to the buildings at the Holy Places, more was wrought in an instant by terror than had been achieved by a whole century of preaching. Everybody rushed to be baptized, catechumens, heathens, Jews - the latter wearing the cross upon their clothes - and the baptisms ultimately numbered seven thousand. Augustine said in one of his sermons that he frequently heard of such things from brothers who were entirely trustworthy. 'Everywhere God seeks to fill our hearts with terror so that He need condemn no man.'" "...When at the end of his life the Vandals flooded over Africa, and Hippo was cut off by land, Honoratus of Thiara asked him what he should do in the event of the barbarians' besieging him. Augustine replied that the bishop and his clergy must in no circumstances flee. For it was a worse thing that the living stonesshould go to ruin in their absence than they should witness the falling down of the stones that were lifeless. Also, at such a time people invariably rush into the church. Everyone wants something; one man wants to be baptized, another to be reconciled, a third to do penance, all need the comfort and the Holy Sacrifice. How can even one man be weak and "the bishop not burn?" What if any man should die in the ban of the Church, or die without being born again? Surely, no man should be allowed to go out of this world without the viaticum of the Body of Christ? When we are no longer there, he says, men do nothing but run around and curse." [FN #18]
Many of St. Ambrose's contemporaries did not think that a catechumen who was overtaken by death before the actual reception of the sacrament of Baptism could be saved. For instance St. Gregory Nazianzan writes: "If you are able to judge a man who intends to commit murder solely by his intention and without there having been any act of murder, then you can likewise reckon as baptized one who desired Baptism without having received Baptism. But if you cannot do the former, how the latter? I cannot see it. If you prefer, we will put it like this: if in your opinion desire has equal power with actual Baptism, then make the same judgment in regard to glory, as if that longing itself were glory. Do you suffer any damage by not attaining the actual glory, as long as you have a desire for it?" [FN #19]
St. John Chrysostom thought the same: "Now if thou still questionest that Christ is God, stand away from the Church; be not here, even as a hearer of the Divine Word, and as one of the catechumens: but if thou art sure of this, and knowest clearly this truth, why delay? Why shrink back and hesitate. For fear, you say, lest I should sin. But dost thou not fear what is worse, to depart for the next world with such a heavy burden? For it is not equally excusable, not to have gotten a grace set before you, and to have failed in attempting to live uprightly. If thou be called to account, why didst thou not come for it? what wilt thou answer? In the other case thou mayest allege the burden of thy passions, and the difficulty of a virtuous life: but nothing of the kind here. For here is grace, freely conveying liberty. But thou fearest lest thou shouldst sin? Let this be after Baptism: and then entertain this fear, in order to hold fast the liberty thou hast received; not now, to prevent thy receiving such a gift. Whereas now thou art wary before Baptism, and negligent after it...But thou art waiting for Lent... Let us not wait for a set time, lest by hesitating and putting off we depart empty, and destitute of so great gifts. What do you suppose is my anguish when I hear that any person has been taken away unbaptized, while I reflect upon the intolerable punishments of that life, the inexorable doom!" [FN #20]
And finally here is St. Augustine: "And now there will be no one to say: 'Why does he come to the aid of this one and not that one? Why has this one been led by Divine Providence that he might be baptized, but when that catechumen was living well, he died by a sudden fall, and did not reach Baptism? On the other hand a luxury loving man, an adulterer, an actor, a hunter, grew sick, was baptized and died, although sin was clearly obvious in him, it was blotted out in him!' Seek rewards, you find only punishment. Seek grace. 'O the depths of the riches!' Peter denies, a thief believes. 'O the depths of the riches!' [FN #21]
Father Feeney loved the numerous stories in the lives of the saints where a person was raised from the dead just to be baptized. Here is one such story from the life of St. Peter Claver, the "Saint of the Slaves": "The affair of the slave Augustina, who served in the house of Captain Vincente de Villalobos, was one of the strangest in the life of Claver...When Augustina was in her last agony Villalobos went in search of Claver. When the latter arrived the body was already being prepared for the shroud and he found it cold to the touch. His expresion suddenly changed and he amazed everyone by crying aloud, "Augustina, Augustina." He sprinkled her with holy water, he knelt by her, and prayed for an hour. Suddenly the supposedly dead woman began to move...All fell on their knees. Augustina stared at Claver, and as if awakening from a deep sleep said, "Jesus, Jesus, how tired I am!" Claver told her to pray with all her heart and repent her sins, but those standing by, moved by curiosity, begged him to ask her where she came from. He did so, and she said these words: "I am come from journeying along a long road. It was a beautiful road, and after I had gone a long way down it I met a white man of great beauty who stood before me and said, 'Stop, you cannot go further.' I asked him what I should do, and he replied, 'Go back the way you have come, to the house you have left.' This I have done, but I cannot tell how." On hearing this Claver told them all to leave the room and leave him alone with her because he wished to hear her confession. He prepared her and told her that complete confession of her sins was of immense importance if she wanted to enter that paradise of which she had had a glimpse. She obeyed him, and as he heard her confession it became clear to Claver that she was not baptized. He straightway ordered water to be brought, and a candle and a crucifix. Her owners answered that they had had Augustina in their house for twenty years and that she behaved in all things like themselves. She had gone to confession, to Mass, and performed all her Christian duties, and therefore she did not need Baptism, nor could she receive it. But Claver was certain that they were wrong and insisted, baptizing her in the presence of all, to the great delight of her soul and his, for a few minutess after she had received the sacraments she died in the presence of the whole family." [FN #22]
And hear again is the beautiful story of St. Martin of Tours and the catechumen, as told by his disciple Suplicius Severus: "Near Poitiers he installed himself in an anchorite's cell and was at once joined by a catechumen who was anxious to improve himself by the teaching of such a holy man. A few days later this catechumen fell sick of a violent attack of fever. It fell out that Martin was then absent. On his return at the end of three days he found a corpse. Death had come so suddenly that the unhappy man had not been able to receive Baptism before departing out of this world. Around the dead body the brethren were sadly employed in celebrating the funeral rites, when Martin hurriedly approached weping and lamenting. Inspired by the Holy Ghost, he causes all present to leave the cell in which the body lies. As soon as the door is close, he stretches himself upon the lifeless body of his dead brother. Absorbed for a long time in prayer, he feels the mercy of God is active by the intervention of the Holy Ghost. He raises himself slightly, his eyes fixed on the face of the dead man, awaiting with confidence the results of his prayer and of the mercy of the Lord. Hardly two hours have passed, when he sees the dead man slightly stir in all his limbs and with half-opened eyes blink at the light. Then, with a loud voice did Martin render thanks to the Lord; the sound of his thanksgiving filled the cell. On hearing him, those who were waiting outside the door rushed in to behold a wonderful sight, for they saw alive the one whom they had left a corpse." "Thus restored to life the catechumen at once received Baptism and lived several years longer. He was the first among us to experience the might of Martin's virtue, and to bear witness to the same. Above all he loved to relate how, when free of the body, he had been led before the tribunal of the Judge. There he heard pronounced over him the dismal sentence relegating him to the infernal regions with the unredeemed; at which two angels interceded for him with the Judge, saying that this was the man for whom Martin was praying. "As a consequence, these same angels were commanded to conduct him back to earth; they therefore restored him to Martin and re-established him in his former existence. From thenceforth glory shone round the name of the Blessed One, who indeed was already holy the the sight of all, but was now seen to be also powerful and truly apostolic. [FN #23]
b) Baptism of Blood
This is not a condemnation of Baptism of Blood, because such was not the intention of the Council Fathers when defining, but it certainly is saying that even martyrdom for Christ cannot save outside the Church. Since there is nothing from the Magisterium concerning Baptism of Blood, one has to turn again to the Fathers and Doctors. Father criticized the using of the Good Thief and the Holy Innocents (although some of the Fathers do so) as examples of Baptism of Blood, because they died before the foundation of the Catholic Church at Pentecost, and therefore before the sacrament of Baptism became obligatory. St. Augustine at one time used the Good Thief as an example of Baptism of Blood, but "in his Retractiones (Bk. 2, Ch. 44) Augustine finds the example of the thief inappropriate because 'it is uncertain whether he had been baptized'." [FN #24]
Father Feeney would have said, the example of the Good Thief was inappropriate, not because we were uncertain whether he had been baptized, which was extremely unlikely, but simply because the Church was not yet founded, and Baptism was not yet necessary for salvation. It is apparent that many of the Fathers do not use the expression "Baptism of Blood," as a substitute for Baptism of Water, but simply as a synonym for martyrdom, the martyrdom of someone who had already been baptized with water. St. John Damascene in his Barlaam and Joasaph (R.M. November 27), tells a story which incidently, is a wonderful illustration of Alexander of Hales' point about Divine Providence sending a preacher or an angel to a person of good will who, had been brought in captivity by the Moors. Joasaph was brought up a prisoner by his pagan father in his palace, to frustrate a prophecy made at the time of his birth that he would one day become a Christian. Yet because Joasaph was of good will, Divine Providence overcame his father's schemes, and miraculously and secretly brought the priest Barlaam into the palace to preach to Joasaph. In the story, Barlaam has just explained to Joasaph the necesssity of Baptism of Water for salvation. He continues: These things were well understood by our holy and inspired fathers; and mindful of the Apostle's word that we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, they strove after holy Baptism, to keep their garment of immortality spotless and undefiled. Whence some of them also thought fit to receive yet another baptism; I mean that which is by blood and martyrdom. For this too is called baptism, the most honorable of all, inasmuch as its waters are not polluted by fresh sin; which also Our Lord underwent for our sakes, and rightly called it baptism. So as imitators and followers of Him, first His eyewitnesses, disciples, and Apostles, and then the whole band of holy martyrs yielded themselves, for the name of Christ, to kings and tyrants that worshipped idols, and endured every form of torment, being exposed to wild beasts, fire and sword, confessing the good confession, running the course and keeping the faith. [FN #25]
So at least some of the Fathers do not use the expression "Baptism of Blood" as a substitute for Baptism of Water, but as a synonym for martyrdom. Let us turn to history to see if there is actually a Catholic martyr who died without being baptized with water. There are many historical examples of Divine Providence miraculously supplying water for baptism before the martyrdom of some of His saints. Probably the most famous example is the miraculous well which sprang up in the Mammertime Prison allowing Saints Peter and Paul to baptize two captains of their guard, Saints Processus and Martinian (R.M. July 2), and their 47 companions. It did not bother Father Feeney that skeptics, like the Bollandists, debunked these Acts of the Martyrs. He felt that even if the stories were embellished a little, they still reflected the thought of the early Church on the absolute necessity of Baptism of Water. In the early days of St.Benedict Center when we were still welcome in the various parishes around Boston, we would go in a group to Mission Church in Roxbury to see the famous Passion play, Pilate's Daughter, which was performed every Lent. In this fictional story, a miraculous fountain springs up in prison allowing Pilate's daughter, who had been converted, to baptize one of her companions before their martyrdom. This wonderful little play is no longer produced. In the Roman Martyrology the phrase "Baptism of Blood," or variations of it, occurs about a dozen times. For example on June 21 we read: "At Verulam in England, in the time of Diocletian, St. Alban, martyr, who gave himself up in order to save a cleric whom he had harbored. After being scourged and subjected to bitter torments, he was sentenced to capital punishment. With him also suffered one of the soldiers who led him to execution, for he was converted to Christ on the way and merited to be baptized in his own blood. St. Bede the Venerable has left an account of the noble combat of St. Alban and his companions." This seems to be a clear-cut case of "Baptism of Blood" taking the place of "Baptism of Water," but we read in St. Bede: "On the top of the hill, St. Alban prayed that God would give him water, and immediately a living spring broke out beneath his feet." 26 It seemed obvious to Father Feeney that the purpose of the water was to baptize the soldier. In the Roman Martyrology for the 3rd day of January, we read: "At Rome, the holy virgin and martyr, St. Emerentiana. Being yet a catechumen, she was stoned to death while praying at the tomb of St. Agnes, her foster sister." St. Agnes had been martyred two days previously, and Father Feeney thaought it inconceivable that St. Emerentiana was not baptized in the interval. She might still have been called technically a "catechumen," that is, her instruction in the faith was not yet completed, but catechumens were immediately baptized when in danger of death during a persecution. We have seen St. Augustine urging Honoratus of Thiara not to flee at the approach of the Vandals: "What if any man should die in the ban of the Church, or die without having been born again?" This practice is especially well illustrated in the stories of the North American Martyrs since a catechumenate, similar to that of the early Church had been re-established. We read in the Relation of Fr. Paul Rageneau, S.J., the superior of the Huron Mission: ...Inspired by a hostile army, that was reported to be but a half league from the village...the women thought only of flight and the men of resisting the attack; fear and dread reigned everywhere. Amid all those alarms the Christians, the catechumens, and even many infidels, hastened to the church, some to receive absolution, others to hasten their baptism; all feared hell more than death. The Father [probably Daniel] did not know whom to hear, for while he wished to satisfy some, the others pressed him and cried to him for pity. It was a combat of the Faith, which lived in their hearts and gave them a legitimate right to what they desired. Thus the Father found himself, fortunately, compelled to grant their requests. Many were armed from head to foot and received baptism in that state. After all, it turned out to be a false alarm; but the Faith and holy promises of those persons who were baptized in haste, were, nevertheless, earnest. The Holy Spirit is an excellent teacher; and when he calls anyone to the Faith, he abundantly supplies whatever may be deficient in our instructions. [FN #27]
Father Feeney's favorite story from the North American Martyrs was that of the heroic death of St. Anthony Daniel: Hardly had the Father ended Mass, and the Christians -- who according to their custom, had filled the church after the rising of the sun -- were still continuing their devotions there, when the cry arose, "To arms, and repel the enemy!" -- who, having come unexpectedly, had made his approaches by night. Some hasten to the combat, others to flight: there is naught but alarm and terror everywhere. The Father, among the first to rush where he sees the danger greatest, encourages his people to a brave defense; and -- as if he had seen paradise open for the Christians, and hell on the point of swallowing up all the infidels -- he speaks to them in a tone so animated with the spirit which was possessing him, that having made a breach in the hearts which till then had been most rebellious, he gave them a Christian heart. The number of those proved to be so great, that unable to cope with it by baptizing them one after the other, he was constrained to dip his handkerchief in the water (which was all that necessity then offered him), in order to shed abroad as quickly as possible this grace on those poor savages, who cried mercy to him, using the manner of baptizing which is called 'by aspersion.'" [FN #28]
"...Meanwhile, the enemy continued his attacks more furiously than ever; and, without a doubt, it was a great blessing for the salvation of some that at the moment of their death, Baptism had given them the life of the soul, and put them in possession of an immortal life. When the Father saw that the Iroquois were becoming masters of the place, he, -- instead of taking flight with those who were inviting him to escape in their company, -- forgetting himself, remembered some old men and sick people, whom he had long ago prepared for Baptism. He goes through the cabins, and proceeds to fill them with his zeal, -- the infidels themselves presenting their children in crowds, in order to make Christians of them. Meanwhile the enemy, already victorious, had set everything on fire, and the blood of even the women and children irritated their fury. The Father wishing to die in his church, finds it full of Christians, and catechumens who ask for Baptism. It was indeed at that time that their faith animated their prayers, and that their hearts could not belie their tongues. He baptizes some, gives absolution to others, and consoles them all with the sweetest hope of the saints, -- having hardly other words on his lips than these: 'My brothers, today we shall be in heaven.' "The enemy was warned that the Christians had betaken themselves, in very large numbers, into the church, and that it was the easiest and richest prey that he could hope for; he hastens thither, with barbarous howls and stunning yells. At the noise of these approaches, 'Flee my brothers,' said the Father to his new Christians, 'and bear with you your Faith even to the last sigh. As for me' (he added), 'I must face death here as long as I shall see here any soul to be gained for Heaven; and, dying here to save you, my life is no longer anything to me; we shall see one another again in heaven.' At the same time, he goes out in the direction whence comes the enemy, who stop in astonishment to see one man alone come to meet them, and even recoil backward, as if he bore upon his face the terrible and frightful appearance of a whole company. Finally, -- having come to their senses a little, and being astonished at themselves, -- they incite one another; they surround him on all sides, and cover him with arrows, until, having inflicted on him a mortal wound from an arquebus shot, -- which pierced him through and through, in the very middle of his breast, -- he fell. Pronouncing the name of Jesus, he blessedly yielded up his soul to God, - truly as a good pastor, who exposes his soul and his life for the salvation of his flock." [FN #29]
In summary and conclusion Father Feeney thought that if, as St. Thomas, Alexander of Hales and Suarez taught, Divine Providence would supply a person of good will involved in invincible ignorance with a preacher, it would seem strange if in an emergency, He would not also supply the water for Baptism. Father Feeney probably did not include these opinions on Baptism of Blood in his formal appeal to the Holy See because they are necessarily so speculative. He preferred to argue from authority, especially from the authority of the Magisterium, rather than mainly from reason as has been done here. It is de fide definita from the Council of Trent (Denz. 691) that Baptism is necessary for salvation, but unfortunately there is what Father Feeney considered a "loophole" in this definition, namely Baptism of Desire, about which the opinions of the Fathers differ. If someone said there is salvation outside the Church, Father Feeney said, such a person was a heretic, because it is de fide definita that there is no salvation outside the Church. But if someone said, there is no salvation outside the Church, but a man can be saved by Baptism of Desire, he felt hampered in his defense of the Church. His predicament was very similar to that of Orestes Brownson a hundred years earlier who was trying to defend the prerogatives of the Holy Father, before the condemnation of the first three Gallican articles by Vatican Council I.
The Precious Blood Father, Thomas Ryan, in his excellent biography of Brownson says: "What he considered of the most vital importance as bearing on the controversies of the day was the Council's utter condemnation of the first three Gallican articles, which controverted the supremacy of the vicar of Christ, both in relation to the civil power and in relation to a general council, and the assertion of the primacy of jurisdiction of the successor of Peter in relation to both. The Vatican proclamation of the papal preogatives leveled, he said, 'a death-blow at the wretched Gallicanism and political atheism which enfeebles and kills the life of every nation.' He felt free now for the first time in his life to defend the Catholic Church unhampered by a mutilated orthodoxy. He could now bring out and insist on the very truths needed to combat the dominant heresies of the age. And with renewed energy and assurance he returned once more to a promulgation of his high-toned ultramontanism as the only medicament that could heal the wounds of a well-nigh moribund society." [FN #30]
Father Feeney felt that only an authoritative pronouncement from the Holy See condemning the abuses of the concept of "Baptism of Desire," could halt the spread of liberalism that had brought the Church to the crisis it faces today.
c) The Limbo of the Children
Surprisingly these liberals have been joined in this crusade by many well-meaning but misguided conservatives, who see in the abolition of the Limbo of the Children a means of getting the souls of aborted babies into heaven by means of Baptism of Desire, the desire being on the part of their parents or of the Church. It seems to me that this "sentimental theology" can only encourage abortion, and calls for an urgent response from the Magisterium to uphold the traditional belief in the Limbo of the Children and to call a halt to the continuing abuse of the concept of Baptism of Desire. Let us review again briefly the teaching of the Church on the Limbo of the Children. From the earliest times the Fathers both of the East and the West taught this doctrine. For example, St. Gregory Nazianzan said: "...It will happen, I believe, that those last mentioned [i.e. infants dying without baptism] will neither be admitted by the just judge to the glory of heaven, nor condemned to suffer punishment, since though unsealed [by baptism], they are not wicked...For from the fact that one does not merit punishment it does not follow that he is worthy of being honored, any more than it follows that one who is not worthy of a certain honor deserves punishment on that account." [FN #31]
While it is true that St. Augustine, apparently over-reacting to the teaching of the Pelagians, condemned infants to the fires of hell, by the time of the Middle Ages the earlier doctrine had been completely re-established. For example St. Bonaventure writes: "...Finally to these punishments are added the punishment of...being deprived of the sight of God and the loss of heavenly glory, affecting both adults and children who are unbaptized. The children are punished along with the others but by the mildest punishment because they deserve only the punishment of those who are lost not the punishment of the senses." [FN #32]
The Magisterium of the Church is in complete agreement with this teaching of St. Bonaventure. In 1206 Pope Innocent III wrote to the Archbishop of Lyons in response to his question concerning the fate of unbaptized babies:
"Original sin, therefore, which is committed without consent, is remitted without consent through the power of the sacrament of Baptism; but actual sin which is contracted with consent, is not mitigated in the slightest without consent...The punishment of original sin is deprivation of the vision of God, but the punishment of actual sin is the torments of everlasting hell." (Denz. 410)
In 1274 the Council of Lyons taught:
"The souls of those who die in mortal sin or in original sin only, however, immediately descend to hell, yet to be punished with different punishments." (Denz. 464)
In 1321 Pope John XXII wrote in a letter to the Armenians:
"[The Roman Catholic Church] teaches...that the souls...of those who die in mortal sin, or with original sin only, descend immediately into hell; however to be punished with different penalties and in different places." (Denz. 493a)
In 1438 the Council of Florence said that the Church's teaching on the Limbo of the Children had been "defined." While this of course is not strictly true, it perhaps indicates the high theological note which this teaching enjoys:
"It has likewise been defined...moreover the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but undergo punishments of a different kind." (Denz. 693)
The rigorist Jansenists taught that unbaptized children were punished in the fires of hell, and rejected as a "Pelagian fable" the Church's teaching on the Limbo of the Children. This error was condemned by Pope Pius VI in 1794:
"The doctrine which rejects as a Pelagian fable that place of the lower regions (which the faithful generally designate by the name of the Limbo of Children) in which the souls of those departing with the sole guilt of original sin are punished with the punishment of the condemned, exclusive of fire, just as if, by this very fact, that those who remove the punishment of fire introduced that middle place and state, free of guilt and punishment between the kingdom of God and eternal damnation, such as that about which the Pelagians idly talk: [This proposition is] false, rash, injurious to Catholic schools." (Denz. 1526)
The sentimentalists are now saying that aborted babies can be saved by Baptism of Desire, by the faith and desire of their parents, or by the faith and desire of the Church. Unfortunately the opinion that they can be saved by the faith and desire of the Church has not yet been condemned, but that infants do not need to be baptized, is a Calvinist proposition that was condemned by the Council of Trent:
"'If anyone denies that infants newly born from their mothers' wombs are able to be baptized,' even though they be born of baptized parents, 'or says they are baptized indeed for the remission of sins, but that they derive nothing of original sin from Adam, which must be expiated by the laver of regeneration' for the attainment of life everlasting, whence it follows, that in them the form of Baptism for the remission of sins is understood to be not true, but false: let them be anathema. For what the Apostle has said: 'By one man sin entered into the world, and by the sin death, and so death passed upon all men, in whom all sinned' (Rom. 5:12), is not to be understood otherwise than as the Catholic Church spread everywhere has always understood it. For by reason of this rule of faith from a tradition of the Apostles even infants, who could not as yet commit any sins of themselves, are for this reason truly baptized for the remission of sins, so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation. 'For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'" (John 3:15). [FN #33]
3) The Necessity of the Church
Fr. Thomas R. Ryan, C.S.S.P., the author of the definitive biography of Orestes Brownson, sums up this excellent Pastoral Letter in this way: "The American bishops in their Collective Pastoral Letter of 1969 said: 'Outside of Christ there is no salvation...Outside the Church no salvation.'" [FN #35]
And Pope John Paul I in a General Audience on September 13, 1978 said: "It is difficult to accept some truths, because the truths of faith are of two kinds: some pleasant, others unpalatable to our spirit. For example, it is pleasant to hear that God has so much tenderness for us, even more tenderness than a mother for her children. Other truths, on the contrary, are hard to accept. God must punish if I resist. That is not agreeable, but it is clear that Jesus and the Church are the same thing: indissoluble, inseparable. Christ and the Church are only one thing. It is not possible to say: 'I believe in Jesus, I accept Jesus, but I do not accept the Church.' When the poor Pope, when the bishops, the priests, propose the doctrine, they are merely helping Christ. It is not our doctrine; it is Christ's: we must merely guard it and present it." [FN #36]
A. The Testimony of Holy Scripture: "I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pasture." (John 10:9) "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them, Ye princes of the people, and ancients hear: if we this day are examined concerning the good deed done to the infirm man, by what means he has been made whole: Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Whom you crucified, Whom God hath raised from the dead, even by Him this man standeth before you whole: This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved." (Acts 4:8-12)
B. The Testimony of Tradition: Let me give just two of the Doctors of the Church on the necessity of the Church for salvation, first St. Augustine and then St. Thomas Aquinas: "A man cannot have salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church he can have everything except salvation. He can have honor, he can have Sacraments, he can sing Allelulia, he can answer Amen, he can possess the Gospel, he can preach faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: but never except in the Catholic Church will he be able to find salvation." [FN #37] "But the unity of the Church exists primarily because of the unity of faith; for the Church is nothing else than the aggregate of the faithful. And because without faith it is impossible to please God, for this reason there is no room for salvation outside the Church. Now the salvation of the faithful is consummated through the sacraments of the Church, in which [sacraments] the power of the Passion of Christ is effective." [FN #38] Let me again cite some of the recent Popes from Leo XIII to John Paul II insisting on the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation: Leo XIII: "By the ministry of this Church so gloriously founded by Him, He willed to perpetuate the mission which He had Himself received from the Father; and on the one hand, having put within her all the means necessary for man's salvation, on the other hand, He formally enjoined upon men the duty of obeying His Church as Himself, and religiously taking her as a guide of their whole lives. "He that heareth you, heareth Me; he that despiseth you, despiseth me." (Luke 10:16) Therefore, it is from the Church alone that the law of Christ must be asked: and, consequently, if for man Christ is the way, the Church, too, is the way, the former of Himself and by His nature, the latter by delegation and communication of power. Consequently, all who wish to reach salvation outside the Church, are mistaken as to the way and are engaged in a vain effort." [FN #39] Leo XIII: "This is our last lesson to you: receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God's commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church; the strong and effective instrument of salvation is none other than the Roman Pontificate." [FN #40] Pope St. Pius X: "Strong in this faith, unshakably established on this Peter, We turn the eyes of Our soul both to the heavy obligations of this holy primacy and at the same time to the strength divinely imparted to Our heart. In peace We wait for those to be silent who are loudly proclaiming that the Catholic Church has had her day, that her teaching is hopelessly reactionary, that she will soon be reduced either to conformity with the data of science and a civilization without God, or to withdrawal from the society of men. And while We wait, it is Our duty to recall to everyone, great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation, to obtain peace, and even prosperity in our life here below. "That is why, to use the words of the Holy Pontiff, we say: "Make firm the progress of your souls, as you have begun to do, with the firmness of this rock: on it, as you know, Our Redeemer founded the Church throughout the world, so that sincere hearts, guiding their steps by her, would not stray on to the wrong road." [FN #41] Pope Pius XI: "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. Did not the ancestors of those who are now entangled in the errors of Photius and the reformers, obey the Bishop of Rome, the chief shepherd of souls? Alas their children left the home of their fathers, but it did not fall to the ground and perish for ever, for it was supported by God. 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 is the house of Faith, this is 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.'" [FN #42] Pope Pius XII: "O Mary Mother of Mercy and Refuge of Sinners! We beseech thee to look with pitying eyes on poor heretics and schismatics. Do thou, who art the Seat of Wisdom, enlighten the minds wretchedly enfolded in the darkness of ignorance and sin, that they may clearly recognize the Holy, Catholic, Roman Church to be the only true Church of Jesus Christ, outside of which neither sanctity nor salvation can be found. Call them to the unity of the one fold, granting them the grace to believe every truth of our holy faith and to submit themselves to the Supreme Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, that, thus being united with us by the sweet chains of charity, there may soon be but one fold under one and the same Shepherd; and may we all thus, O Glorious Virgin, exultantly sing forever: 'Rejoice, O Virgin Mary! Thou alone hast destroyed all heresies in the whole world!' Amen." [FN #43] Pope John XXIII: "And you, venerable brothers, will not fail, in your teaching, to recall to the flocks entrusted to you these grand and salutary truths; we cannot render to God the devotion that is due Him and that is pleasing to Him nor is it possible to be united to Him except through Jesus Christ; and it is not possible to be united to Jesus Christ except in the Church and through the Church, His Mystical Body, and, finally, it is not possible to belong to the Church except through the bishops, successors of the Apostles, united to the Supreme Pastor, the successor of Peter." [FN #44] Pope John Paul I: "According to the words of St. Augustine, who takes up an image dear to the ancient Fathers, the ship of the Church must not fear, because it is guided by Christ and by His Vicar. 'Although the ship is tossed about, it is still a ship. It alone carries the disciples and receives Christ. Yes, it is tossed on the sea, but, without it, one would immediately perish." (Sermon, 75,3; PL 28, 475) Only in the Church is salvation. 'Without it one perishes.' [FN #45] Pope John Paul II: "The mystery of salvation is revealed to us and is continued and accomplished in the Church...and from this genuine and single source, like 'humble, useful, precious and chaste' water, it reaches the whole world. Dear young people and members of the faithful, like Brother Francis we have to be conscious and absorb this fundamental and revealed truth, consecrated by tradition: 'There is no salvation outside the Church.' From her alone there flows surely and fully the life-giving force destined in Christ and in His Spirit, to renew the whole of humanity, and therefore directing every human being to become a part of the Mystical Body of Christ." [FN #46]
Solemn Magisterium Father Feeney's case for the necessity of the Church from the Solemn Magisterium is unanswerable. It is de fide from both the Fourth Lateran Council, and from the Council of Florence that there is no salvation outside the Church: "Indeed, there is but one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all is saved." [FN #47] "The holy Roman Church believes, professes, and preaches that no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will go to the 'everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church. For the union with the body of the Church is of such importance that the sacraments of the Church are helpful to salvation only for those remaining in it; and fasts, almsgiving, other works of piety, and the exercise of Christian warfare bear eternal rewards for them alone. And no one can be saved, no matter how much alms he has given, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." [FN #48]
4. The Necessity of Submission to the Holy Father.
B. The Testimony of Tradition: Again let me quote from just two of the Doctors of the Church on the necessity of submission to the Holy Father for salvation. St. Bede the Venerable and St. Thomas Aquinas. Here is St. Bede's account of the Easter Controversy with the Irish monks: "But as for you and your companions, you certainly sin, if, having heard the decrees of the Apostolic See, and of the universal Church, and the same is confirmed by Holy Writ, you refuse to follow them; for, though your fathers were holy, do you think that their small number, in a corner of the remotest island, is to be preferred before the universal Church of Christ throughout the world? And if that Columba of yours (and, I may say, ours also, if he was Christ's servant), was a holy man and powerful in miracles, yet could he be preferred before the most blessed prince of the Apostles to whom Our Lord said 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven'?" When Wilfrid had spoken thus, the king said, "Is it true Colman, that these words were spoken to Peter by Our Lord?" He answered, "It is true, O king!" Then says he, "Can you show any such power given to your Columba?" Colman answered, "None." Then added the king, "Do you both agree that these words were principally directed to Peter, and that the keys of heaven were given to him by Our Lord?" They both answered. "We do." Then the king concluded, "And I also say unto you, that he is the door-keeper, whom I will not contradict, but will, as far as I know and am able, in all things obey his decrees, lest, when I come to the gates of the kingdom of heaven, there should be none to open them, he being my adversary who is proved to have the keys." [FN #49] And St. Thomas Aquinas in his Against the Errors of the Greeks: "It is shown also that it is necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." [FN #50]
Solemn Magisterium: From the Solemn Magisterium we have the strongest and clearest pronouncement by Pope Boniface VIII in his Bull Unam Sanctam issued in 1302: "We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Denz. 469) This definition (de fide definita) seems unanswerable, but the liberals boldly claim that this is not a definition intended for the universal Church, but only a pronouncement meant to deal with the local problem of Philip the Fair. But when Philip demanded of Pope Clement V, the first Avignon Pope, that he withdraw Unam Sanctam, Pope Clement did not do so, but issued the Brief Meruit February 1, 1306, which despite its extremely conciliatory tone, clearly states that Unam Sanctam contains a "definition": "That is why we do not wish or intend that any prejudice be engendered for that king and kingdom by the definition and declaration of our predecessor Pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, which began by the words Unam Sanctam." [FN #51] At the Fifth Lateran Council (1512-1517) Pope Leo X reaffirmed the teaching of Boniface VIII: "Where the necessity of salvation is concerned all the faithful of Christ must be subject to the Roman Pontiff, as we are taught by Holy Scripture, the testimony of the holy fathers, and by that constitution of our predecessor of happy memory, Boniface VIII, which begins Unam Sanctam." [FN #52] Let me conclude then by citing two recent popes on the necessity of submission to the Holy Father for salvation. Here is Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mystici Corporis which appeared in 1943: "Nor against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in virtue of his primacy is only Christ's Vicar; so that there is only one chief Head of this Body, namely Christ, Who never ceases Himself to guide the Church invisible, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through him who is His representative on earth, after His glorious Ascension into heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same. "They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous errors who believe that they can accept Christ as the head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it." [FN #53] And finally here is Pope John XXIII in his homily to the Bishops and faithful assisting at his coronation on November 4, 1958: "The Saviour Himself is the door of the sheepfold: 'I am the door of the sheep.' Into this fold of Jesus Christ, no man may enter unless he be led by the Sovereign Pontiff; and only if they be united to him can men be saved, for the Roman Pontiff is the Vicar of Christ and His personal representative on earth." [FN #54]
2 Ad Beatissimi, November 1, 1914, The Papal Encyclicals (1903-1939), Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., McGrath Publishing Company, 1981, pp. 148,149.
3 Commentaria in Scripturam Sacram, Paris, 1876 edition, p.438.
4 Fr. James Broderick, S.J., Saint Francis Xavier, The Wicklow Press, New York, 1952, pp. 437, 438; n. 1, Schurhammer, Epistolae S. Francisi Xaverii, 2:262-267.
5 Treatise on the Love of God, translated by Fr. Henry Benedict Mackey, O.S.B., The Newman Book Shop, Wesminster, MD, 1942, p. 178.
6 Summa Theologica, I-II, Q. 76, a. 2.
7 Summa Theologica, II-II, Q. 10, a. 3.
8 Cf. Address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, Third National Colloquium, November 1977, by Fr. Peter Finnegan, O.P., "The Priest, the Word of God, and the Magisterium," Cardinal Communications, New London, CN.
9 The Disputed Questions on Truth, Vol. II, Q. 14, a. 2; translated by Fr. James V. McGlynn, S.J., Henry Regnery Company, Chicago, 1952, pp. 158, 262.
10 Summa Theologica, II (2) 1* libri, ing. 3, tr. 2, sect. 1, tit. 1, c. 8 (n.325); quoted in Fr. Ricardo Lombardi, S.J., The Salvation of the Unbeliever, translated by Dorothy M. White, The Newman Press, Wesminster, MD., 1956, p. 232.
11 De Praedestinatione et Reprobatione, 1, IV, c. 3, n. 19; quoted in Lombardi, Op. cit., p. 232.
12 Cf. Finnegan, Op. cit.
13 Count de Montalambert, The Monks of the West, Vol. III, London, 1846, pp. 63, 64.
14 The Raccolta, no. 628, Benzinger Brothers, New York, 1957.
15 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, Q. 68, a. 1.
16 Summa Theologica: III, Q. 68, a. 2.
17 De Mysteriis, Ch. IV, no. 20.
18 F. Van Der Meer, Augustine the Bishop, Sheed and Ward, London, 1961, p. 148, 149; n. 90 Epistolae, 228, 8; n. 91 Sermones, 196; n. 92 Sermones, 19, 6 (probably circa 419, cf. vol. 5, p.105, n.a in the Maurist edition); pp. 268, 269; n.151 Epistolae, 228, cf. Possideus, Vita Augustini, 30; cf. 2 Cor. xi, 29.
19 "Oration on the Holy Lights," Patrologiae Graece, 36, 40:23; cf. W.A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. III, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1970, par. 1012.
20 "Homily on the Acts of the Apostles," Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume XI, edited by Philip Schaff, the Christian Literature Co., New York, 1889, pp. 9, 10. Abbot Jerome Theisen writes: In any event there is no salvation outside the church, for outside the boundaries of the church there is no baptism. Chrysostom advocates a literal reading of the axiom, outside the church no salvation, " and he surely means: outside the visible church." 34 The mass of the unbaptized pagans persists in sin. Chrysostom does not allow them a baptism of desire as a substitute for actual baptism. Even the catechumenate is not sufficient for salvation. And while he does not explicitly deny blood baptism, neither does he manifestly teach it. Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B., The Ultimate Church and the Promise of Salvation, St. John's University Press, Collegeville, MN, 1976, p. 12; n. 34, C.J. Korbacher, Ausserhalb der Kirche Kein Heil? Eine dogmengeschichtliche Untersuchung áer Kirche und Kirchensugeháigkeit bei Johannes Chrysostomus, Munich, M. Hueber, 1963; n. 34, p. 127; n. 35, In surveying the writings of the Cappadocian fathers Korbacher concludes that, while they witness to the value of blood baptism, they do not teach a baptism of desire (ibid., pp. 191-216).
21 Sermo, XVII, 6, Aureli Augustini Opera, Pars XI, Cyrillus Lambot, O.S.B., Turnholti, 1961, p. 365.
22 Peter Claver: Saint of the Slaves, Fr. Angel Valltiera, S.J., Burns and Oates, London, 1960, pp. 221,222.
23 St. Martin of Tours. The Chronicles of Suplicius Severus, done into English from the French of Paul Monceaux by Mary Caroline Watt, Benziger Brothers, New York, pp. 105, 106.
24 Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B., The Ultimate Church and the Promise of Salvation, St. John's University Press, Collegeville, MN, 1976, p. 15, n. 46.
25 St. John Damascene, Barlaam and Joasaph, translated by Rev. G.R. Wodward and H. Mattingly, The Macmillan Co., New York, 1914, pp. 169, 171.
26 Ecclesiastical History of the English People, edited by James Campbell, Washington Square Press, New York, 1968, p. 16.
27 Quoted in Fr. John P. Donnelly, S.J., Jean de Bráeuf 1539-1649, Loyola University Press, 1975, pp. 258, 259.
28 Father Rageneau's Relation; quoted in Fr. John Wynne, S.J., The Jesuit Martyrs of North America, The Universal Knowledge Foundation, New York, 1925, pp.197,198.
29 Father Rageneau's Relation; quoted in Wynn, Op. cit., pp.198-200.
30 Fr. Thomas R. Ryan, C.S.S.P., Orestes A. Brownson: A Definitive Biography, Our Sunday Visitor Inc., Huntington, IN, 1976, pp. 452, 453.
31 Orat., xi, 23, PG XXXVI, 389.
32 Breviloquium, Part III, Chap. 5, 2.
33 Session V, Decree on Original Sin, 4, Denz. 791.
34 "The Church in Our Day," January 11, 1968, 1969 Catholic Almanac.
35 Fr. Thomas R. Ryan, C.S.S.P., Orestes A.Brownson: A Definitive Biography, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington, IN, 1978, p. 798, n. 31.
36 General Audience, September 13, 1978; Quoted in The Message of John Paul I, Daughters of St. Paul, Boston, 1978, pp. 106,107.
37 St. Augustine, Discourse to the People of the Church at Caesarea, Migne, PL, 43, 689, 698; cf. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. III, p. 130.
38 St. Thomas Aquinas, Exposition Primae Decretalis ad Archdiaconum Tudertinum, edited by Fr. Raymond A. Verardo, O.P., Opusculum Theologica, Vol. I, Marietta, Turin, 1954, p. 425.
39 Pope Leo XIII, Encyclical, Tametsi, November 1, 1900; Papal Teachings: The Church, Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1962, par. 647.
40 Pope Leo XIII, Allocution for the 25th anniversary of his election, February 20, 1903; Papal Teachings: The Church, Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1962, par. 653.
41 Pope St. Pius X, Encyclical, Jucunda sane, March 12, 1904, Papal Teachings: The Church, Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, St. Paul Editions, Boston, 1962, par. 668.
42 Pope Pius XI, Encyclical, Mortalium animos, January 6, 1928, The Papal Encyclicals, Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., McGrath Publishing Co., 1981, pp. 317, 318.
43 Pope Pius XII, The Raccolta, Benzinger Brothers, Boston, 1957, No. 626.
44 Pope John XXIII, Address on the creation of three new dioceses on Taiwan, L'Osseratore Romano, June 29, 1961.
45 Pope John Paul I, First Allocution, August 27, 1978, L'Osservatore Romano, August 28,29, 1978.
46 Pope John Paul II, Radio Message for Franciscan Vigil in St. Peter's and Assisi, October 3, 1981, L'Osservatore Romano, October 12, 1981.
47 Fourth Lateran Council, 1215; Denz. 151.
48 Council of Florence, 1438-45, Decree for the Jacobites, Denz. 165.
49 St. Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, quoted in Readings from Church History, Volume I, edited by Fr. Colman Barry, O.S.B., The Newman Press, Westminster, MD, 1966, p. 273.
50 Opuscula Theologica, Vol. I, Part 2, Chap. 36, Edited by Fr. Raymond A. Verardo, O.P., Marietta, Turin, 1954, p. 344.
51 Corpus Juris Canonici, (Extravag. commun., lib. V, tit. VII, cap. 2) ed. Freiburg, Vol. II, p. 1300.
52 Conciliorum Oecumenicorum Decreta, Edidit Centro di Documentazione, Instituto per Science Religiose, Herder, Bologna, 1962, no. 40, pp. 619, 620.
53 The Papal Encyclicals 1939-1958, Claudia Carlen, I.H.M., McGrath Publishing Co., 1981, p. 45.
54 Papal Teachings: The Church, Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, Boston, St. Paul Editions, 1962, par. 1556.
55 The Leonard Feeney Omnibus, Sheed and Ward, New York, 1943, pp. 164, 165.