Monday, October 9, 2017


How many rank and file clergy and laity believe that the sole/soul purpose of the Catholic Church is to be the Sacramental sign of the Risen Lord's ministry to save souls from the eternal fires of hell?

If they don't believe this, what then is the unique purpose of the Church that only she/it can offer in a dead hero's name?

Pope Benedict nails it as Maike Hickson points out:

The missionaries of the 16th century were convinced that the unbaptized person is lost forever. After the [Second Vatican] Council, this conviction was definitely abandoned. The result was a two-sided, deep crisis. Without this attentiveness to the salvation, the Faith loses its foundation. 
Pope Benedict adds that... “evolution of Dogma” ... has now manifestly led to a “loss of the missionary zeal” in the Catholic Church... “Why should you try to convince the people to accept the Christian faith when they can be saved even without it?” If people are able to save their souls without the Christian belief, “why should the Christian be bound to the necessity of the Christian Faith and its morality?” 


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...


A person asks for directions from Savannah to Atlanta. I suggest driving north on I-95 to Washington, DC, making a hard left onto I-66, another left on I-81 through the scenic Shenandoah Valley to I-77. Another left is required. I suggest that I-77 will intersect with I-85 in Charlotte, and this route will take that person to Atlanta.

Will that person arrive at his/her destination? Indeed.

Is this the sensible route? The surer route? The safer route? Hardly.

Yes, those who do not share the Christian faith CAN be saved - they CAN, by God's grace and mercy, enter into the eternal bliss of Heaven.

But isn't the route up I-16/I-75 to Atlanta the wiser, safer, and more sure course? It is.

As Dominus Iesus points out, anyone who does not share the Christian faith CAN be saved since God's gift of salvation is not limited by our abilities or disabilities in terms of evangelization. But they will be saved ONLY because, in some inscrutable manner, God works through the Church to effect their salvation.

Is visible membership in the Church a better route? Yes. Is it, though, the ONLY route...?

Gene said...

Most people, even Christians, live as if there is no God. Since the "existential theology" of Europe and the form criticism cabal swept into mainstream theology in the sixties, both protestant and Catholic theology and theological education have gobbled it down, hook, line, and sinker. Salvation is now self-realization, evangelism is taking a minority to lunch, repentance is "empowering" oneself to overcome "internal contradictions" and become "conflict free." After all, how could anyone believe that Jesus (who is love), would send anybody to Hell? And, I mean, who believes in Satan or a Devil that tempts people to sin...the fact that I want to strangle my neighbor and dream about it is just a psychological problem; that good looking woman over there in the tight red dress that isn't my wife is not tempting me, I am only admiring her from an aesthetic standpoint, etc., etc....

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

What you right is correct up to a certain point. Christ Jesus and His Sacrifice alone are the means to saving anyone, no matter who and no matter how ignorant of this truth, through no fault of their own, from the fires of hell. Hell is to be feared, that is, eternal damnation Brough a conscious free-will act unencumbered by ignorance, mental illness or by neurotic belligerence.

But for so many, perhaps FRMJK, the fact that those in invinceable ignorance can be saved (by Christ alone) means that we don't have to evangelize like the 16th Century missionaries who knew that Christ had called them to lift the invinceable ignorant out of their ignorance and to give the proper direction to heave and away from the eternal fires of hell. They were on-fire for saving souls.

What FRMJK promotes is an ambivalence toward a form of heretical ecumenism and interfaith compatibility. It is like a medical doctor refusing to offer the best aid for a serious illness or injury relying on nature alone to bring healing. It works in some cases but not all.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Brought on by (not Brough a)

Gene said...

Acts 4:12; John 14:6. What Kavanaugh is saying may be, in the strictest sense, correct...for we can place no limits upon the inscrutable will of God. However, are you willing to trust the salvation of your loved ones, children, and friends to a theological contingency? Trusting one's salvation to such a theological bare thread is tantamount to tempting God. Preach the Word; repent and believe the Gospel.

Victor said...

This was the issue that got Fr Leonard Feeney in trouble with his Jesuit order and eventually with the Church hierarchy because of his determined stance on the issue. After WW2, there was a growing "universalism" in the Church such as through an exaggerated view of baptism of desire. Its influence can be found in the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, which may even contradict the Church doctrine prior to Vatican II.

Dominus Jesus tries to tone down this neo-Modernist influence, but it is debatable whether it went far enough. Certainly, St Paul warns even the pagans that the existence of God can be seen from the things He hath made, but Jesus was more severe when He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me" (Jn 14:6), a verse part and parcel of the traditional Requiem gospel as a reminder of the importance of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in the salvation of all people.

(As an aside, this is the second time I had to write this comment, as I lost the first when I pressed the "publish" button after I had forgotten to put my name in the text box and was led to Google login, and I could not go back. Also, do others have the same problem when using Firefox of having to keep clicking pictures on the Captcha sometimes over 40 of them before one can publish the comment? I noticed that those who use Google Chrome often do not even need to use Captcha. It seems Google is trying to force its products on everyone here.)

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"...we don't have to evangelize like the 16th Century missionaries..."

No, we don't, not because we don't have a better way to offer, but because it is not the 16th century.

I do not, as far as I can tell, promote, " ambivalence toward a form of heretical ecumenism and interfaith compatibility." I don't know what you mean by these terms. If, by "heretical ecumenism" you mean false irenicism, then you are wrong. I have not and will never promote such. Unitatis Redentigratio warns, "The way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded." (no 11)

Note, THE WAY in which the Catholic faith is expressed should not become an obstacle. This was, in large part, what happened in discussions between Thomas Cajetan and Martin Luther, but I digress. A missionary could walk into a Calvinist congregation on a Sunday morning and begin damning to hell those who reject the doctrines of Catholicism, but I would suggest that that missionary should have little or no expectation of making converts.

A doctor chooses the best aid for a serious illness or injury according to the needs of the patient. The doctor does this because he/she knows the possibilities of iatrogenic effects vary from patient to patient. One Size Doe Not Fit All.

Relying on Grace is a far, far cry from relying on "nature," wouldn't you say?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The issues that got Fr. Feeney into trouble were his disobedience and his Protestant approach to the interpretation of Scripture and Church Teaching. His stance was not "determined," it was individualistic. He believed that he, Feeney, was the authoritative interpreter of Scripture and Doctrine. He believed that he, Feeney, should not be judged by his ecclesiastical superiors.

It may have begun with his erroneous interpretation of Extra Ecclesiam, but it did not culminate there.

(I don't use Firefox and have never had to click on the picture of a car or street sign or apartment building more than 6 or 8 times.)

Victor said...

Fr Feeney finally was reconciled with the Church.
But there is some irony with the fact that Martin Luther himself strongly believed in "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus", (ie the catholic church with small "c") while the (Roman) Church today does not seem to, or at least is wishy-washy on this issue. It probably explains the great missionary zeal and fervour of Evangelical Protestantism which is gradually taking over the Christian world, while Catholics sit back and just wait for God's grace to do all the work. Catholics seem to have forgotten that grace perfects nature, not the other way around. But I suspect that following Jesus' word is just to much in this modern day and age for many Catholics.

Interestingly, adopting a more universalist stance similar to today's Catholic position would make no sense for a Muslim, since Muslims believe strongly in Islam as the only true religion, so much so for some that you are not even human if you are not Muslim (submitting to Allah), and deserve to be treated like an animal. What faith they must have!

Anonymous said...

So what do we say to Jews?

Anonymous said...

Among other things:

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I attended the National Jewish-Christian Dialogue that was held in Stamford, CT, in the fall of, I believe, 1996. Earlier that year the Southern Baptist Convention had adopted a resolution targeting the Jews for evangelization.

Although the program had been long established, the organizers thought it appropriate to ask if the SBC would send a representative to the Dialogue to speak about the resolution, to answer questions, and to hear comments. They agreed to do so.

The evening session was tension-filled, to say the least. The SBC representative was well spoken and did his job credibly, though most in the convention hall were not open to his and the SBC's thinking.

After his presentation and two or three official "responses," a line of those with questions/comments formed. The line was, as you can imagine, very long.

The last two in line were an older Jewish woman who, with her concentration camp number tattooed on her arm, had survived the Holocaust, and Msgr. Royale Vadikan (yes, folks, that really is his name) who was Vicar General of Los Angeles and their ecumenical and interreligious officer from 1971 to 1999.

The Jewish woman started off calmly, but as her comment continued she grew more and more angry. I recall her closing comments, offered in the form of a question: "We have heard your invitation to convert repeated and we have politely declined. When will you simply leave us alone? WHEN WILL YOU LEAVE US ALONE?"

The room was utterly silent, with a sob heard here and there.

Msgr. Vadikan steeped us to the microphone and began calmly: "I speak now as an elder brother to a much younger brother in Christ..." He went on to explain why he though the SBC's action was inappropriate and, in fact, harmful to the cause.

It was an exhausting evening and we did not break until well after midnight. I had made the acquaintance of two young rabbis - a woman from Long Island and a man from Manhattan - and we spent the next hour or so discussing the experience.

Dialogue said...

Jesus Christ "targeted" the Jews for evangelization. He is first and foremost their messiah.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

After having knocked on your Jewish neighbor's door a dozen times and been politely turned down, what then?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

We shouldn't force ourselves on anyone but invite. I would never tell a Jew or non Christian that they are going to hell. That would be a crass form of proselytizing. However, if I was asked, I would tell them that those who have moved from invinceable ignorance to the truths of the Catholic Church and that outside the Church there is no salvation, they could be held liable and suffer the eternal fires of hell if they didn't convert---which in my mind is a good reason to convert when you come to believe in Christ and His Holy Church.

The edict from our Lord to kick the dust off your shoes and move on when you are not accepted is wise counsel.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McDonald, I have been Jewish all my life. I am active in my synagogue and very involved in many ways in our local community. I live by the Mosaic Laws, keep a kosher household, and give generously to those in need. My neighbor, who is Catholic, and I have had long discussions about Jesus, the Christian faith, and what is necessary to enter heaven. I have listened carefully and asked many questions. My Catholic neighbor says that I know more about what the Catholic Church teaches and believes than most Catholics!

My question is this: For a variety of reasons, I do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah long-promised by G-d. He was a good man and a teacher and exemplar of an ethical lifestyle, but he does not fulfill the prophecies given to us in the Bible. The Christian belief in an "incarnate" G-d is contrary to everything we Jews believe about the nature of G-d himself.

Because I cannot accept what Catholics and other Christians say is God's "revelation," is there no chance of my spending eternity in heaven?

Thank you for your patience and I look forward to your reply.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thanks for your inquiry. The catechism of the Catholic Church calls your situation "invincible ignorance" a term not very politically correct but used nonetheless. The salvation of your soul, if it happens for any of us, is through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ.

Invincible ignorance should not be viewed as lack of book knowledge but a lack of the gift of faith to believe all that the Catholic Church, believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.

If you were convinced by faith that the Catholic Church is the true Church and Jesus Christ alone the means to salvation through faith and good works and refused to become Catholic, then, yes, your soul would be in jeopardy. Only God though, makes that final judgment at the moment of your death.

I hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Dear Fr. McDonald, please consider giving this Jewish person the true Catholic answer to his or her question and not your incorrect personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

Fr. McDonald, I am not ignorant of the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church.

I have applied reasonable diligence in determining of Jesus is the Messiah promised by G-d. I conclude, fairly easily, he is not.

I have heard the message contained in the Gospels and the doctrine of the Catholic Church, so I am not ignorant of your beliefs.

I know many non-Catholics and non-Christians who are among the most moral people in my community. They live up to the requirements of Biblical ethical living in as exemplary a way as most Christians. They are, in fact, far more moral than some Christians I have known. From this I conclude that their behavior is as "holy" as that of anyone who class himself a Christian.

If the ability (or desire) to believe that Jesus is the Messiah is, as you say, a "gift" from G-d, and if believing he is the Messiah is superior to not believing, how does one explain G-d's failure to give that gift to all?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There you go again making invincible ignorance an academic pursuit. Salvation isn't about what you know but belief in the Crucified and Risen Lord. Adults who actual believe the truths, not just knowing them, are moved by God's to be baptized, Confirmed and worthily receiving our Risen Loed in Holy Communion. You don't believe what you know thus you are in invincible ignorance. The illerterate who believe are not in invincible ignorance about the true Faith.

Anonymous said...

The answer to your question, dear Jewish brother or sister, is that Fr. McDonald is, for whatever reason, not telling you what the Catholic Church actually teaches.

One must have faith to be saved, as you know. God gives everyone sufficient graces to allow them to be saved. Those who do not avail themselves of those graces by receiving the Sacraments, especially the justifying sacrament of baptism, are not saved.

You are on the right track. Pray to God to perfect the gift of faith in you. He has already given you the tremendous gift of putting Catholics in your life to teach you about the faith and the desire on your part to study the Catholic religion. He will lead you the rest of the way, if you sincerely ask him to do so.

Anonymous said...

"Salvation isn't about what you know but belief in the Crucified and Risen Lord."

If that is correct, I cannot hope to enter heaven since, as I have noted, I do not believe in the Crucified and Risen Lord as the Messiah.

Also, having listened carefully and considered what my Catholic neighbor has said, I do not have a desire to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.

I do not "know" that Jesus is the Messiah. In fact, I "know" from my study and reflection that he is not.

The covenant established by G-d with Moses is a salvific covenant. "I will be your God and you will be my people" did not come with exceptions of "small print" stating that it was incomplete or insufficient.

Anonymous said...

"One must have faith to be saved, as you know. God gives everyone sufficient graces to allow them to be saved. Those who do not avail themselves of those graces by receiving the Sacraments, especially the justifying sacrament of baptism, are not saved."

There's a significant theological problem in this statement, it seems to me.

It is asserted that everyone is offered by G-d the grace to be saved. ("God gives everyone sufficient graces to allow them to be saved.")

It is then asserted that the person to whom saving grace is offered by G-d may choose to avail him or herself of this saving grace. ("Those who do not avail themselves of those graces by receiving the Sacraments, especially the justifying sacrament of baptism, are not saved.")

These assertions seem to me to make salvation contingent on the HUMAN act of availing or not availing oneself of saving grace. The HUMAN must act to "accept" salvation.

But Catholic theology teaches that salvation is not (and cannot be) based on a human act.

It leaves me wondering...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Wonder no more! Because your wondering is heretical! God proposes but does not impose. Grace is given, but as any gift, God and His grace must be received by the person to whom it is given.

Therefore, the gift of free-will (since we are not created by God to be robots to his designs (Satan is the only one who attempts to take over free-will by the way) must be used by the person created in the image and likeness of God to receive His Gifts. Yet the grace imbued in us as we are created in God's image and likeness shouldn't be too difficult for anyone who understands this.

Thus God's grace has enabled you to know what the Catholic Church teaches. The only thing standing in the way of your assured salvation is you.

Gene said...

Anonymous @ 6:32...then what the hell are you doing on a Catholic blog? You should be out being fitted for your asbestos overalls. You do not get to Heaven by "being a good person." In fact, many bad people have confessed Christ late in life and made a true act of contrition. There is, of course, the example of the thief on the Cross. In Christian theology, protestant and Catholic, God's will and his justice are not trapped by human action or intelligence. Things are both as simple as "repent and believe the Gospel" and as complex as the predestination/election debacle. You have Billy Graham and you have St. Augustine...

Anonymous said...

"Therefore, the gift of free-will (since we are not created by G-d to be robots to his designs (Satan is the only one who attempts to take over free-will by the way) must be used by the person created in the image and likeness of G-d to receive His Gifts."

The gift of free-will...must be used by the person created in the image and likeness of G-d to recieve His Gifts.

Is this not making the reception of G-d's gift of salvation dependent on the human action of receiving?

If so, salvation seems, again, to depend on a human act - that of receiving or choosing to receive G-d's gift...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Unless one's free will is corrupted by Satan and that person is in invincible ignorance about the God's gift and our ability to receive by a conscious act of the will once we have reached the age of reason.

I don't know for sure, because I think you are FRMJK and thus jerking people around with nonsensical questions, but either way you are in INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE. Your questions prove it. Therefore you many not be culpable.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jewish brother or sister,

Lacking faith is not invincible ignorance. As you recognize, you are not invincibly ignorant. It appears from your comments so far that you understand the Catholic faith better than many Catholics. That being said, Fr. McDonald's response at 8:39 is a good one.

Salvation is not dependent on any human act. God wills all men to be saved, so he gives sufficient graces for salvation to all men. But, as you say, not all are saved. Those who are saved are saved because God has saved them. Those who are not saved are damned because they have damned themselves. This is the great mystery of God's predilection and predestination.

The details of this are not important for you. You should pray for illumination so that you can believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Anonymous said...

"Unless one's free will is corrupted by Satan..."

What do you mean "unless"?

Isn't everyone's free will corrupted by Satan? Isn't that exactly what happened to Adam and Eve? They had free will, and The Serpent convinced them (corrupted them) to use that free will in direct violation of G-d's command.

Anonymous, I cannot agree that the details are not important. In fact, they are very important. Fr. McDonald seems unable to answer my questions, so he reverts to making accusations that are, at least, disedifying.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jewish anonymous, of course, I agree that the details are important. The specific questions you are asking, though, are quite complex and have a long history of disputation within the Catholic Church. This is not the appropriate forum to discuss such questions since volumes have been written about the subject of predestination.

Moreover, I would suggest to you that details about Church teaching on predestination (or on soteriology generally) are not likely to be especially helpful to you in your quest for faith in the God-Man Jesus Christ.

In the fall, Adam and Eve lost original justice and sanctifying grace. The passions are, as a result, subject to concupiscence, meaning we are prone to be led astray. Our free will isn't corrupted, properly speaking. But our ability to choose the good is corrupted because we have a tendency toward the lower passions. We are able to overcome that tendency, however, only through the grace of God.

Anonymous said...

CCC 1739 Freedom and sin. Man's freedom is limited and fallible. In fact, man failed. He freely sinned. By refusing God's plan of love, he deceived himself and became a slave to sin. This first alienation engendered a multitude of others. From its outset, human history attests the wretchedness and oppression born of the human heart in consequence of the abuse of freedom.