Saturday, February 19, 2011


I got into an argument with a priest once about the Church Triumphant, you know, the Church (saints) redeemed in heaven where they are gathered around the throne of the Most Holy Trinity along with the choirs of angels:
1. Seraphim
2. Cherubim
3. Thrones
4. Dominations
5. Virtues
6. Powers
7. Principalities
8. Archangels
9. Angels

and can only see God through the visible mediation of the risen and glorified Body of Jesus Christ.

The Church teaches that if through no fault of one's own, a person does not know Jesus Christ as the Son of God, incarnate of the Blessed Virgin Mary and does not know that the Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, when that person dies, in order to get into heaven, will they be purified and enlightened as to the truth of Jesus and His Church and will they experience purgatory where God makes them members of the Church by fully initiating them into her? In other words, does God then make them Catholic so they can join the Church Triumphant in heaven and see God face to face in the Risen Divine Person of Jesus Christ?

In other words, is the Church Triumphant in heaven Catholic, east, west, north and south? And do Protestants become true Catholics if they get to heaven by God's grace and their faith?


Robert Kumpel said...

Father, this is so difficult to answer without giving offense to anyone. If we truly embrace the ancient teaching that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, then we would have to say that no one else can be saved. However, maybe, just maybe there is an allowance for those of good intentions who do not know any better, including good Protestants.

To me, the question is, why would you want to take the chance? I recently read a column by Fr. Z and someone asked him how they could formally leave the Catholic Church after recently converting. He told them (not these exact words) that if they knew that the Catholic Church was the One True Church and they left it anyway, that they would be damning themselves.

R. E. Ality said...

This might merely be a cop out, but God wants us to be one. Wouldn't it be logical that those who have attained Heaven would by the grace and will of God, then be "one?" To my mind that would necessarily include all who have been baptized, whether by water, desire or blood.

Prof. Carlos Ramalhete said...

I think the most important part is missing from the paragraph that starts with "The Church teaches": the fact that such a person would have to have strictly followed Natural Law, which is inscribed in everyone's heart, and would have to have had a perfect contrition for all sins commited.

In other words: it is much, much harder to be saved outside the *visible* Church than inside it, because the ordinary means of acquiring, increasing, and retoring sanctifying grace (the Sacraments) would not be available. Such a person would certainly be a great saint if he had access to the Sacraments.

God would only make a person Catholic if that person was already a Catholic without knowing it, and without knowing that the possibility existed (a Pagan in Pagan lands, for instance).

I sincerely cannot see how it could possibly apply to a Protestant in modern society, who would have access both to Scripture and to the visible presence of the Church, and thus could not possibly have *invincible* ignorance. It is not a matter of being "a good guy", but of being an extraordinary saint who perseveres in sainthood despite all odds and without the ordinary aids that sustain us and sustained most saints in Heaven.

Even if it somehow happened, though, it is important to remember that such a person would be saved (would "get to Heaven") *in spite of*, not "by", his heretical "faith".

After all, in all aspects that his particular branch of Protestantism denied Natural Law, he would have to at least abstain from adhering to the tenets of his false religion and from all acts based on the heretical opinions.

A person who is saved in state of invincible ignorance is a person who is so open to the grace of God he would immediately become a member of the visible Church if he had the opportunity. It is certainly not a kind of universal salvation of pagans and heretics; quite the opposite, in fact. It is the recognition that sometimes the Church cannot arrive in the necessary space and time in which a saintly person is living, and only because of this absence, this person is saved in an extraordinary manner, having his heroic virtues and holiness extraordinarily recognised and aided by God.

Basically, anyone who was saved in invincible ignorance will have lived a very hard life, being led by his conscience and the grace of God against many socially important aspects of the society he lived in. Such a person will almost certainly have been an outcast in a non-Catholic society.

Mel Gibson's movie "Apocalypto" (sp?) tries to depict just such a case.

The Church Triumphant, thus, is certainly made only of Catholics, exactly like the Church Penitent and - in a way, if one talks about beliefs only, not grace - Hell itself, where the Truth is also visible and evident for all. But while most of those who arrive in Heaven went through the ordinary way, that is, having had access to the Sacraments and adhering, while living on Earth, to the revealed Truth, some will certainly have been in for a wonderful surprise when, after death, they could for the first time *see* the Mistery of Incarnation, *see* the royalty of Our Lady, and so on.

We must "teach all nations" because most people are not as strong, are not as open to the grace of God, for us to even consider for a second the possibility of their perfect adherence to Natural Law and their perfect contrition for all their sins. Without the Sacraments, *I* would be lost, for instance. With them, I hope I will someday "get to Heaven", after a long and painful passage through Purgatory.

May God help us all.

Petit Chou said...

The "ancient teaching" is Extra ecclesiam nulla salus" - "Outside the Church there is no slavation."

To insert the word "Catholic" is to alter the ancient teaching and to impose on it a specificity that it does not, in its original form, contain.

Fr.Feeney was wrong: "What the disobedient Feeney said amounted to this: he insisted that all who did not formally enter the Church would go to hell. Hence he had to say, and he did say, that unbaptized babies go to hell. Further, all adults who did not formally enter the Church - get their names on a parish register - would also go to hell, even if they never had a chance to hear there was a Church. E.g., those in the western hemisphere during the long centuries before Columbus. Therefore Feeney consigned literally millions upon millions to hell, even though he gave them no chance. Not just the documents of the Church as interpreted by the Church should have kept him from this: merely common sense, and the realization that God is not only not a monster, but is infinitely good - that alone should have stopped him. We have, then, most ample reason for calling his error tragic. Even the sexually immoral do not deny that God is good. Feeney does worse than they." - Fr. William Most

There is no "maybe" that non-Catholics can be saved:

"The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation."

"It follows that the separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance 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 Church."
Unitatis Redintegratio

All who come to the banquet table in heaven come by grace, in Christ, and through the Catholic Church. cf "Dominus Iesus"

pinanv525 said...

The Pope accepts Protestant Churches (the mainline Trinitarian ones) as proper "ecclesial communities." The Church also recognizes these Baptisms. I agree with Chou (who is probably Ignotus) that "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus" does not say "Catholic."

Wasn't Feeney excommunicated or didn't he catch some flak from Rome for his extremism?

Anonymous said...

Isn't this question similar to the question Christ answered about the woman with seven husbands? It really isn't up to us nor can we fully comprehend how it might happen for some and not for others. But we can easily see how there would such and event, so we best not put ourselves in the position of portraying the solution lest we inadvertently create an additional barrier for the lost and truly ignorant.


Petit Chou said...

Pius XII – Decree Excommunicating Leonard Feeney, 13 February 1953

Prior to the excommunication, Feeney received the following summons to appear before the Holy Office from Cardinal Pizzardo on November 22, 1952.

The Holy Office has been obliged repeatedly to make your teaching and conduct in the Church the object of its special care and attention, and recently, after having again carefully examined and calmly weighed all the evidence collected in your cause, it has found it necessary to bring this question to a conclusion.



Since the priest Leonard Feeney, a resident of Boston (Saint Benedict Center), who for a long time has been suspended a divinis for grave disobedience toward church authority, has not, despite repeated warnings and threats of incurring excommunication ipso facto, come to his senses, the Most Eminent and Reverend Fathers, charged with safeguarding matters of faith and morals, have, in a Plenary Session held on Wednesday 4 February 1953, declared him excommunicated with all the effects of the law.

On Thursday, 12 February 1953, our Most Holy Lord Pius XII, by Divine Providence Pope, approved and confirmed the decree of the Most Eminent Fathers, and ordered that it be made a matter of public law.

Given at Rome, at the headquarters of the Holy Office, 13 February 1953.
Marius Crovini, Notary
AAS (February 16, 1953) Vol. XXXXV, Page 100

Pope Pius XII

SqueekerLamb said...

Wel... Who won the argument?

Paul Harvey said...

Whoa! And now the rest of the story...Father Leonard Feeney, S.J. was reconciled to the Holy Catholic Church in 1972 (Source: Time Magazine, October 14, 1974).

Here's another source:

Karl Keating says in a newsletter:

Ordered to stop teaching his interpretation, Feeney refused and was excommunicated, not technically for teaching heresy but for disobedience. He was reconciled to the Church before his death, and the excommunication was lifted. Some of his followers have tried to construe the reconciliation as a Vatican affirmation of Feeney's theology, but, since the excommunication did not extend beyond a matter of obedience, the lifting of it did not extend any further.

And finally a link to an article in America Magazine written by Avery Cardinal Dulles:

It seems that Petit Chou (a.k.a. Pater Ignotus, is a firm believer in half-truths. Character asasination of someone who was reconciled to the Church and who has been dead since 1978 is a real cheap shot. Of course any time someone speaks up for the Truth of the Catholic Faith (e.g. Michael Voris of, Pater Ignotus/Petit Chou will label them a Feeneyite. (In my opinion, an attempt to demonize a person and a definite lack of Christian charity.)

Whatever happened to forgiveness and mercy? I guess in Pater Ignotus's eyes it doesn't apply to a pre-Vatican II Jesuit priest, but in the eyes of the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church it did.

I agree with Robert Kumpel, R.E. Ality, and Prof. Carlos in what Fr. McDonald was driving at in his post. As a believer in Jesus Christ and His Church, I want all souls to go to heaven, Catholic or not. Only He can judge those who will enter and those who will not.

Paul Harvey....Good day!

pinanv525 said...

Thanks for the update, Paul Harvey.

Petit Chou said...

Yes, Paul, Fr. Feeney was reconciled with the Church, which presumes he gave up the false teaching/belief for which he was excommunicated. I am glad that he gave up his errors and pleased that Holy Mother Church was able to welcome him to her bosom once again.

That same false teaching is propagated by those who alter the traditional teaching "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" by adding the word "Catholic" to the formula. Mr. Kumpel and Mr. Voris have both added the word "Catholic" to the formula.

That seems to me to put them in the unreconciled Feeneyite camp.

Page Two . . .

Templar said...

Who enters heaven is solely at the discretion of God Almighty, and while the surest path may lie through the Church Militant, and Church Suffering, salvation must be possible outside, to propose other wise is to suggest a limit to what is limitless, God's Grace and Mercy.

Just as surely, anyone who "gets to Heaven" is by default Catholic. Christ created only one Church, and the goal of that Church is the Church Triumphant. If you are worthy of salvation, in God's mercy, saved you shall be. What differentiates us is the amount of time we spend in the Church suffering, which in turn is determined by how we spent our time in the Church Militant.

For Protestants, that could be a very long time, but salvation must surely be possible.

Frajm said...

But Petit, the Church is the Catholic Church, is there some other? By Catholic I mean all the branches of Christianity under the Vicar of Christ, both East and West. Yet, the Second Vatican Council did expand the Church to include those Churches (of the East primarily) of those denominations of the West, to be a part of the "Church", meaning Catholic Church, but not in full communion. So our separated brethren are members of the Church.
The greater problem now exists for non-Christian religions. Again, if through no fault of their own, they don't recognize the Christ and His Church (Catholic), then Christ will save them through His death and resurrection and His presence in the Catholic Church. The questions remains, do these people become Catholic at their personal judgment and/or through the fires of purgatory, purifying, holy fires to be sure? This too would include Catholic in full communion who need purification as well as our separate brethren who need to fullness of truth too, since they were not in full communion with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Petit Chou said...

The question, "Is everyone on heaven Catholic?" presumes that the catholic Church exists in heaven. Is that your understanding?

Frajm said...

Yes, the Church Triumphant is in heaven, is there any other Church other than the Universal, I mean, Catholic Church, but in heaven with no need for a visibleVicar of Christ, Christ visible representative, since Christ is visible to the Church Triumphant?

R. E. Ality said...

Philosophical musings, to be of authentic value, must rise above pedantry such as how many pin (heads) can dance atop the pin stem. The “one” should be compassionate toward the “multis” et al by in some small way by giving our lesser intellects at least some respect. I’d wager my shirt (no small matter in this progressive economy) that no one in this blog or Michael Voris believes that only Catholics are redeemed and thus able to avoid Hellfire – with or without the word “Catholic.”
Has Michael Voris been inducted into the straw person category? All “Feeneyites” and “McCarthyites” beware, perhaps even Papists.
How about taking humanity out of the either/or trap and putting them into the both/and r e ality when considering the words of Jesus at the Consecration? When Jesus asked the Father to forgive “them” for they know not what they are doing, he no doubt was including all sinners, previous, present and to come.
You can always tell a liberal/progressive/Socialist, but you can’t tell them much. Example: Joseph McCarthy, even though exonerated by historical discoveries of KGB transmissions, remains a favorite piƱata.
Oh yes, back to the point about Heaven’s residents. Isn’t it a Church teaching that it is comprised of the Church Suffering, Church Militant and the Church Triumphant? At least my logic tells me that all in Heaven have become part of the “one” that Jesus wants – that would include those previously non-Catholic along with those Catholic wouldn’t it.

Though there are many mansions in Heaven, there are no divisions in heaven regardless of the magnitude of the intellect contemplaing the question and the word, "divisions."

Petit Chou said...

Are the Sacraments constitutive of the Catholic Church? Can the Catholic Church exist without the Sacraments?

pinanv525 said...

John tells us in Rev. that there is no temple in the City for God Himself and the Lamb are the temple. Without intending a too concrete interpretation of this, can we infer from this that there is no Catholic Church per se, but only the Redeemed as the ultimate Body of Christ? I say this because here on earth, although we believe the Church to be One Holy Catholic and Apostolic, there is still division among Christians of all denominations and, like it or not, within the Catholic Church herself. In the Resurrection, there will be none of this and, presumably, Ignotus and I, for instance, can sit down and have a beer without squabbling.

Robert Kumpel said...

Wow--I've never been called a Feeneyite before!

Actually, I hope and desire that everyone would make it to heaven, since I wouldn't wish hell on my worst enemy, however have to agree with Fr. McDonald: WHAT other Church is there really under the authority of the pope?

I was looking up the "Extra Ecclesia..." quote last night and the earliest person I could find it attributed to was St. Cyprian of Carthage, a 3rd Century bishop. It is true, he did not write "Catholic" in the phrase, but then again, why would anyone have needed to in the 3rd century?

Frajm said...

The sacraments are constitutive of the Church militant only, as sacraments point to the risen Christ who is invisible by using signs and symbols which veil the presence of Christ. Jesus is in heaven and quite visible and thus there is no need for a mediated presence in sacramental signs, although Jesus Christ is the Sacrament of the Father who cannot be seen even in heaven.

Petit Chou said...

Mr. Kumpel, our Tradition isn't based on WHY this or that Saint, Council, Theologian, Evangelist, or Pope wrote what he, she, or it wrote.

Our Tradition is based on WHAT is written and how the Church understands it. Fr. Feeney tried to "improve" Cyprian's and the Church's teaching and understanding of "extra ecclesiam" and, by adding "Catholic" to the formula, he strayed, dangerously, from revlealed Truth.

R. E. Ality said...

I’m not asking these questions tongue-in-cheek, but am sincerely seeking answers:
Would the atheists, nihilists, Buddhists, Shinto, Islamists, etc. be happy in Heaven if they were still members of said groups?
Will those in Heaven bowing to the Lamb and singing his praises cease doing so after the final judgment?
Would the groups mentioned above be happy doing so, unless at some point they had assented to Jesus' kingship and to the Church Jesus founded?

Petit Chou said...

Actually . . . Mr. K. may have led us into necessary discussion of the matter of the development of doctrine. We know that doctrine does develop or evolve as our understanding of God's immutable Truth deepens.

The question is what constitutes legitimate development. In the case of those who add "Catholic" to the dictum "extra ecclesiam nulla salus," the Church has declared this to be an illegitimate development. One need not be a member of the Catholic Church to be welcomed to the banquet table in heaven. Even those ecclesial communities who are separated from the Church, in which subsists the fullness of faith, have been used as means of salvation. Even those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ as saviour (non-Christians), can share in the banquet.

It certainly bears further consideration, n'est-ce pas?

FrAJM, I am sensing a rupture of the oneness of the Church when you suggest that that which constitutes the Church Militant is not that which constitutes the Church Triumphant. If the Church is ONE, and it is, how do we understand this difference?

pinanv525 said...

Atheists, nihilists, Buddhists, Islamists, Shinto will not be there unless they not only assent to Christ's kingship, but worship Him as their Saviour. So, the question of them being happy in heaven in their said groups is moot. C'mon, Ality, harden up. LOL!

R. E. Ality said...

Ouch! Thanks for keeping my feet warm, maybe even a bit singed.

I failed in my hasty attempt to portray a complete salvivic point in time - a point perhaps too short for our comprehension but not too short for completion with God.

pinanv525 said...

Well, Chou/Ignotus, I guess we rely upon the Church for judgement regarding what is a legit development of doctrine. Not much wiggle room there. Now, if you want to talk about the development of "theology," well, we will all run from the room, as it were, screaming and tearing our hair. LOL!

PS Whatever the Church militant may be, it isn't nearly militant enough!

pinanv525 said...

I have always loved this quote from one of the sermons from an old Calvinist country preacher I grew up listening to:
"And, there you will be, who call yourself agnostic, writhing in the flames of torment. You will look around you and see men and women from every religion...Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, Mormons, cultists of every kind, and will see their blistered and pus-ridden skin and hear the wails of their suffering. Then, you will look up to Heaven and see Christ looking at you from over the precipice of Glory and you will cry to Him, "But, Lord, we didn't know!" Then, you will hear the closing of the great forged door of Eternity, the rattle of the chain, and the snap of the lock...and Christ's last words to you, "Well, ya' know now!" Amen. Thus endeth the lesson...

Anonymous said...

"Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Goad"


R. E. Ality said...

pinanv525. Given our disunity, the Militant orthodox are not militant enough. Even when they speak out, the “Catholic” press, with too few exceptions, ignores or censors them.

To see some militancy on the other side, visit

R. E. Ality said...

Petit Chou said: “We know that doctrine does develop or evolve as our understanding of God's immutable Truth deepens.”
Isn’t “development of doctrine” limited to acquiring a better understanding of doctrine rather than an “evolution” or change of doctrine? Petit Chou, please furnish an example of any doctrine that has evolved or changed.

Petit Chou said...

"Sinners in the hand of an angry God" became, in about a century, "What a friend we have in Jesus."

Good Book: American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon, by Stephen Prothero.

pinanv525 said...

Of course, if you read Edwards famous sermon (it was only one of very many)through, all of this fire and brimstone, spider-over- the-pit stuff was simply to illustrate and highlight the magnitude of the triumph of Christ's grace...yes, it was a "grace" sermon. Of course, Edwards came from the Total Depravity school of thought, probably the most difficult Protestant theological tenet for Catholics to swallow.
Chou/Ignotus is correct in pointing out the seeming contrast between the wrath of God stuff and "What A Friend" (an awful song), however, 19th century Protestant Pietism led to this emphasis upon "feeling" in popular theology. It is not really so contradictory. If Jesus can save so totally depraved a sinner, then He is indeed quite a "friend." I just don't prefer that analogy. I prefer the Prot songs that emphasize Christ's sovreignty and power, saving us through His triumph over sin and evil. Here's one, although it alludes to the Calvinist view of Atonement, about which Fr. Macdonald changed my thinking:
"When he shall come with trumpet sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the Throne."

pinanv525 said...

But, let me ask you, is what Prothero laments in his book (which is nothing new)any worse than the Jesus of the academics and neo-Protestant Divinity schools? There is a certain intellectual snobbery in lampooning "What A Friend" and "Lily of the Valley," the Charlton Heston Jesus of my Mama and Grandma, or the cleaned up beckoning Jesus of Billy Graham that comforts the blue collar or middle class, while giving a pass to the academic favorites...Christ as: the Positive Paradox, the Encounter of Kerygma and Crisis, the Existential Question, Word-Event, or Ground of Being. Give me a break! No redneck sweet Jesus out of Bugeye, Georgia is any more ridiculous than such academic nonsense.
And, then, there is Christ Our Saviour as He is in Scripture, the Church, and the Creed, but who can be to any one of us who we need at the time. Flannery O'Connor has Him sacramentally present as a bull, a tattoo, a watermark, a cloud, and a pen full of hogs!

Here, when you finish Prothero, try these: "Jesus of Nazareth," by Pope Benedict XVI; "The Real Jesus," by Timothy Luke Johnson.

Petit Chou said...

Pin, Prothero isn't writing about Jesus, per se, but about how Jesus has been perceived in the USA over the centuries. How we image God has evolved/changed/developed.

And watch what you say about Cousin Flannery!

R.E. - The Compendium of the Social Doctrine is a prime example of the development of doctrine. It was Leo XIII's assessment the impact of the industrial revolution on the relationship of labor to capital, on families, on workers, etc., that led him to reapply the Truth to the then contemporary situation.

This was an evolution in the organic sense. (Actually, true evolution is always organic.) The truth did not change (the dignity of the human person, the family, the worker)but the doctrine of how the Truth was to be understood and applied did develop. And our doctrine always has and always will develop, thanks be to God.

R. E. Ality said...

Petit Chou, being so far beneath your inellectual level, I didn't discern your comment - i.e. Prothero, as an answer to my question.

If you have an example of a doctrine that has changed, vouchasfe to squat low enough on the intellectual level for me to comprehend your reply.

Thank you in advance.

SqueekerLamb said...

a long thread to get to the answer...

R. E. Ality said...

Petit Chou,

Help me undestand this comment from you by specifically telling me what "doctrine" changed. A simple statement that it was "X" prior to "Leo XIII" and he changed it to "Y." Your comment was: "This was an evolution in the organic sense. (Actually, true evolution is always organic.) The truth did not change (the dignity of the human person, the family, the worker)but the doctrine of how the Truth was to be understood and applied did develop. And our doctrine always has and always will develop, thanks be to God."

I might be slow, but I am teachable.

pinanv525 said...

Ignotus, I know what Prothero is writing about. You seem to have missed my point about the varying Jesus stereotypes.
I said nothing negative about Flannery...she's marvelous. I wrote a Master's thesis on her.

pinanv525 said...

Ignotus, your use of the term Truth is suspect, It sounds a lot like the Hegelian (later Marxist) concept of "the Idea." What is wrong with the simple word 'God' or 'Christ?'
Also, to define people as "worker" is typical socialist/Marxist casting of everything in terms of labor/capital, which is dehumanizing. And, please explain how this "evolution" of doctrine was organic. Did cells divide? Was there a new strand of DNA? The "Truth,"as you call it, in its relation to capital and labor does not sound organic to me, it sounds like "dialectic." I'll bet you are one of those who like to say that the Bible and the US Constitution are "living documents," too.

Petit Chou said...

Pin. Truth is Divinely Revealed Truth. I use Truth in the way the Church uses it.

The Vatican website labels Rerum Novarum "ENCYCLICAL OF POPE LEO XIII ON CAPITAL AND LABOR." I did not cast it in these terms, Pope Leo did.

"Doctrine" is the manner in which Truth is taught by the Church. Doctrine develops, Truth does not.

R.E. Prior to Leo XIII there was no doctrine concerning the relationship between Capitol and Labor. This is change in that it is an expansion of how the Truth is understood in relationship to the then "new" questions Leo recognized in the western world. It is an organic development of the Church's understanding of Truth as applied to a new situation.

pinanv525 said...

Squeeker, I know it seems that way, but this is the exegesis of "yes." LOL!

pinanv525 said...

Ignotus, Thanks for the clarification...I'm still suspicious that underneath your clerical collar hangs a hammer and sickle. Tell me it ain't so...

R. E. Ality said...

Petit Chou, thanks for your efforts to enlighten me. From your answer I presume you agree that Revelation was completed with the death of the last Apostle to die. Accordingly, the Truth(s) applicable to all situations and questions have neither expanded nor changed. Even with what you say about Rerum Novarum, I do not see any change in any doctrine or belief but only an application of universal truths to modern problems.
I really have trouble with your definition that “’Doctrine’ is the manner in which truth is taught.” Are you saying that a “Doctrine” is merely a pedagogical method instead of a “belief” or a “dogma?” Can you give me an example to illustrate your statement?
First of all I know that “Truth” does not change, but have I been wrong all these many years in also believing that “Doctrine” does not change, but only that our understanding of it, via development of doctrine, becomes deeper?
Anyone, please feel free to jump in and help clarify for me what PC is saying.

Petit Chou said...

R. E. Rerum Novarum is part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church. This doctrine, specifically related to the relationship between capitol and labor, did not exist until Leo XIII developed it. It is, therefore, a change. To go from not existing to existing is change.

Petit Chou said...

R.E. For a fuller treatment of the Development of Doctrine, read "An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" by Cardinal John Henry Newman.

Or, take up Jaroslav Pelikan's most excellent 5 volume "The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine."

Or, for more specificity, you might try Pelikan's "The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism." Does doctrine change? The "encounter" with Greek thought changed . . . everything.

Frajm said...

That's not correct, there is a development of teaching concerning concrete situations in which Catholic doctrine is applied. Doctrine can be believed too before it is defined in a dogmatic way. For example one can called the belief that some have in "limbo" as a doctrine. It has never been defined as a dogma, there is no clear "doctrinal" formulation for it, but some Catholics over the ages have taught it and believed it. As far as I know, no one even today is forbidden to believe in Limbo, but because it is not clearly defined as a coherent doctrine or dogma, no one must believe it as a Catholic.

pinanv525 said...

Fr. is correct in his distinction between dogma and doctrine. Ignotus, be more specific. Dogma is doctrine formally affirmed and authoritatively passed on. It does not "develop." The Trinity, for instance, is dogma...for all Christians, but particularly for the Catholic Church. Such doctrines as "predestination," "free will," or "justification by faith" may be and still are argued over.

Jaroslav Pelikan was a Lutheran church historian and pastor (professorn at Yale Divinity) who later became Eastern Orthodox. I have and use all of his history of doctrine, but I hardly think he is authoritative for the Catholic Church.

R. E. Ality said...

Frajm and Petit Chou, thank you for responding. Now, would each of you please tell me whether or not this previous statement of mine is true or false: “Accordingly, the Truth(s) applicable to all situations and questions have neither expanded nor changed. Even with what you say about Rerum Novarum, I do not see any change in any doctrine or belief but only an application of universal truths to modern problems.”
Also, would each of you comment on whether or not Humanae Vitae constituted a change in doctrine. I have great difficulty in looking at the word doctrine without regarding it as a “belief” and not a “process.” In answering, please imagine that your comments are included in a sermon to a congregation made up of young and old of widely differing educational backgrounds.
Am I the only person in this discussion who is confused?

pinanv525 said...

No, Ality, I need a bit of clarification, as well, but not from Fr. Once again, Ignotus/Chou is one of these who believes that things like the Bible, the US Constitution and, apparently, dogma are "living" documents...and you know what that means..."LET'S MESS WITH IT!"

Petit Chou said...

R.E. Yesterday there were two pears on the kitchen table. Today, there has been a change; there are now three.

The doctrine given in Rerum Novarum is the "third pear" on the kitchen table. The doctrine, which is the manner of expressing revealed Truth, has changed, in that a new application for the Truth has been developed by Leo XIII.

Doctrine is a "body of teachings." If these teachings did not develop, there would be no need for new Catechisms to be written. But the Church writes new catechisms, so . . .

The Truth remains the same. The doctrine has evolved. All evolution involves change.

Dan said...

This from "Lumen Gentium"

But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*)

It seems to me to mean that "good intentions count for something" with regards to salvation.

Frajm said...

Dan, very good points and yes good intentions do count for something as these are signs of God's grace at work in a person and good intentions merit actual grace as we Catholics believe.

pinanv525 said...

But, "good intentions" only go so far. My dad used to say, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." So, what is the Christology here? I suppose there is less excuse for those who have full access to Christ through the Church and Catechesis, who already know that salvation is through Christ alone and not good works or intentions. I guess for non-Christian religions intention counts for more. I'm a little out of my comfort zone a recovering Calvinist, without the grace of Christ, good intentions don't mean squat.

Dan said...

Given the fighting even amongst Catholics as to who, and what constitutes the "true" Catholic, I figure it best to leave the who gets into heaven to God.

R. E. Ality said...

Petit Chou, hopefully, it’s not just stubbornness on my part, but I think we have to agree to disagree. Rerum Novarum still strikes me as a discussion of and application of immutable truths to new or emergent conditions. No “third pear” was produced, and no doctrine, truth, dogma, belief or tenet of the Church was changed but only an expression of their application to those conditions.
The word “evolved” is unfortunate. If you mean that a doctrine has become something other than what it was before or that a new doctrine emerged, I have to maintain my disagreement. If we were discussing disciplines like Friday abstinence or the Eucharistic fast, I could accept your analysis.

pinanv525 said...

Ality, you've heard of "situation ethics?" Well, Ignotus likes "situation doctrine." LOL!

Anonymous said...

Situational ethics is an interesting phrase. I lost a really good job because of the the aphorism, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." I don't regret it bit.


Petit Chou said...

Biological evolution results when, due to changed environmental factors and the natural variability in genetic recombinations, a new "form" appears that is better able to survive/reproduce in new environment. The organism, while retaining much of the genotype (genetic patterns) and much of the phenotype (the appearance), is, nonetheless, a new organism - a different species.

Leo XIII, in a new environment (post-industrial revolution Europe), took the older Truth (dignity of the human person) and, responding to the changed environment, gave us doctrine that had not previously existed.

There was no doctrine on the relationship between Capitol and Labor prior to Leo. The Truth that underpins his teaching certainly was known, but the doctrine he formulated based on that Truth was novel.

"Situation Doctrine" is exactly the right phrase. It was the a situation - the denial of the equality of the Father and the Son - that led the Council of Nices to declare them to be Homoousios. It was the situation -the denial of the eternal divinity of the Incarnate Second Person of the Trinity - that led Ephesus to declare Mary to the Theotokos. Etc.

pinanv525 said...

Ignotus, the Council of Nicea did not change doctrine. They merely elaborated and defined what was already implicit in the doctrine of the Trinity. You are splitting hairs. Let me put it another way, your views of doctrine appear to be rather fluid.

Petit Chou said...

The definition of Jesus and the Father as "homoousios" was not an elaboration. It was a new doctrine explaining a Truth that always existed.

If doctrine does not change, what need is there for new catechisms? Why does the Church not just state "No doctrine has changed, read what we wrote 600 years ago"?

R. E. Ality said...

Mr. Chou, on what do you base your definition of the word "doctrine" as being someting that is new?

Frajm, would you please help Mr. Chou, me and others to settle upon the correct meaning for the word, "doctrine?"

Petit Chou said...

No, doctrine is not equivalent to "new."

Doctrine is the manner in which Truth is taught.

Doctrine evolves - that's why we write new catechisms. If doctrine did not evolve/develop/change, no new Catechisms would be needed.

pinanv525 said...

Alright, Chou, how would you differentiate between dogma and doctrine? Does Dogma change or evolve, as well?

MHT Dissenter said...

Just give me that good, old-time religion (or better yet the Eternal Truth of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church)!

I'll take the truth of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium any day.

The Truth found in the Baltimore Catechism is still valid and still the same in A.D. 2011 as it was when it was first published in A.D. 1885.

It is a tragedy that the Baltimore Catechism is banned in my parish's religious education program, even though it was a great aid to the First Communion Class in learning the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith.

Oh well, let's put their souls in Jeopardy, let them make a few banners, and listen to multiple lectures about Vatican II and its proper implementation.

Pax vobiscum.

Petit Chou said...

Pin - we've done this. Dogma is eternal truth - Doctrine is the manner in which that eternal truth is expressed, and, yes, it develops.

If doctrine did not develop no new Catechism would be needed. Or, if a new Catechism was written there would be no new topics, no new applications of Truths, no changes in pedagogical style or intent.

Anonymous said...

Does a bishop have the right to choose which catechetical texts will be used in his diocese?

Frajm said...

Yes, a bishop can do so as it is a part of his mandate or commission to "teach, rule and sanctify." So a pastor would have to defer to the desires of the bishop. Normally though bishops have a range of catechetical programs to choose.