Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Sacrament of Order

The Sacrament of Order
by Rama P. Coomaraswamy, M.D., 201 Otter Rock Drive, Greenwich, Conn. - 06830. U.S.A.

Edited by Prakash Mascarenhas. From the book "The Post Conciliar Rite of Holy Orders."

Considerable perplexity arises from the fact that while the Sacrament of Order is one, it is conferred in stages. In the Western Church these are divided into seven - the "Minor Orders" of acolyte, exorcist, lector and doorkeeper; and the "Major Orders" of the subdeaconate, deaconate and priesthood.

Almost at once, confusion enters the picture, for some of the ancient texts list six, others eight and nine major and minor orders. In the Greek Church, the rites of which are considered unquestionably valid, subdeacons are listed in the "Minor" category.

In all the Churches that recognise Orders as a Sacrament (the Protestants - which category includes the Anglicans - do not) we find both Deacons and Priests are "ordained" and that the Episcopate or rank of Bishop is included under the heading of Priests; it is in fact called the "summum Sacerdotium" or the "fullness of the priesthood," and it is through the Bishop that the Apostolic Succession is passed on. Higher ranks in the Church such as Archbishop, Cardinal or Pope are considered administrative and not Sacramental. Thus once a Pope is elected he is installed with appropriate ceremonies, but not with a sacramental rite. (Sacramentally speaking, there is no higher rank than that of Bishop. Such a statement in no way denies the Primacy of Peter.)

For the sake of completeness, it should be noted that an Ordinand (an individual about to be ordained) to any order automatically is the recipient of all the graces pertaining to a lesser order. (This is technically called "per saltem" or "by jumping.") Thus an individual consecrated to the priesthood automatically receives - if he has not already received them - all the power and graces that relate to the lesser orders such as exorcist or deacon. The post-Conciliar Church has (as did the Protestants,) abolished many of the minor orders, but if this Church validly ordains priests, then these priests automatically receive the powers of exorcism, etc., which pertain to the lower and "abolished" orders.

However, when it comes to Bishops, almost all theologians hold that they must be already ordained priests, lacking which the episcopal rite conveys absolutely nothing. The Church has never infallibly pronounced on this issue and the contrary opinion - namely that the Episcopal rite automatically confers on the recipient the character of priestly orders - exists. Cardinal Gasparri in "De Sacra Ordinatione," and Lennertz in his "De Sacramento Ordinis" both hold that the recipient of Episcopal Orders automatically receives - if he does not already have it - the powers of the priesthood.

The issue is discussed in "Anglican Orders and Defect of Intentions," (Francis Clark, Longmans & Green, London, 1956.) So critical is the Apostolic Succession that it is the customary practice of the Church to ordain a bishop with three other bishops. The rule is not absolute, for validity only requires one, and innumerable examples of where this custom has been by-passed can be given.

It is of interest that many traditional theologians have questioned whether the elevation of a Priest to the rank of Bishop is a sacramental or juridical act. The point is important because

  1. It implies that an ordinary priest has the ability (not the right) to ordain (make other priests,) and because,
  2. If the Episcopal rite involves no "imprinting of a sacramental character," the question of validity can hardly arise.

However, in so far as the ordination of Bishops has a "form" and a "matter," the greater majority hold that it is in fact a Sacrament - or rather that it is the completion of the Sacrament of Orders and confers on the ordinand the fullness of priestly powers and functions.

Pope Leo XIII clearly taught that such is the case. To quote him directly: "the episcopate, by Christ's institution, belongs most truly to the Sacrament of Orders and is the priesthood in the highest degree; it is what the holy fathers and our own liturgical usage call the high priesthood, the summit of the sacred ministry." (Apostolicae Curae.)

Distinctions Between Priest and Bishop.

In the traditional ordination rite of the priest the Bishop instructs him that his function is "to offer sacrifice, to bless, to guide, to preach and to baptize." (In the post-Conciliar rite this instruction has been deleted, and he is consecrated to "celebrate" the liturgy which of course means the Novus Ordo Missae.)

Such an instruction is not all-inclusive, for it mentions nothing of the power of absolution - its intention being to specify the principal function of the priest. The power to absolve is however clearly specified in other parts of the traditional rite. (Again, the post-Conciliar rite has abolished the prayer that specifies this power).

Bishops however have certain powers over and beyond those of the priests. According to the Council of Trent, "Bishops, who have succeeded to the position of the Apostles, belong especially to the hierarchical order; they are set up, as the same Apostle (St. Paul) says, by the Holy Ghost to rule the Church of God; they are superior to priests, and confer the sacrament of Confirmation, ordain ministers of the Church, and do several other functions which the rest who are of an inferior order have no power to perform." (Denzinger 960) Again, the seventh canon on the Sacrament of Orders says: "if anyone says the bishops are not superior to priests, or have not the power of confirming and ordaining, or have that power but hold it in common with priests... let him be anathema!" (Denzinger 967)

However, as Father Bligh in his study on the history of Ordination states: "from the practice of the Church it is quite certain that a simple priest can in certain circumstances (now not at all rare) administer Confirmation validly, and it is almost certain that with Papal authorisation he can validly ordain even to the deaconate and priesthood.

"The Decree for the Armenians drawn up by the Council of Florence in 1439 says that a Bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation and the ordinary minister of Ordination - which would seem to imply that in extra-ordinary circumstances the minister of either sacrament can be a priest.

"Since the decree Spiritus Sancti Munera of 14th September 1946, it has been the common law of the Latin Church that all parish priests may confer the sacrament of Confirmation on their subjects in danger of death. And there exist four Papal Bulls of the fifteenth century which empowered Abbots, who were not Bishops, but simple priests, to ordain their subjects to Sacred Orders; two of them explicitly give power to ordain even to the priesthood." (John Bligh, S.J. "Ordination to the Priesthood," Sheed & Ward, New York, 1956.)

Some have held that such ordinations were invalid because the popes were acting "under duress," but the fact remains that, at least with regard to the Deaconate, these powers were exercised for centuries without papal objection.
In the Greek and other "Eastern" Churches, the priest is the ordinary minister of Confirmation and the Bishop is the Ordinary minister of Ordination. Canon Law (1917) states that "the ordinary minister of sacred ordination is a consecrated bishop; the extra-ordinary minister is one, who, though without episcopal character, has received either by law or by a special indult form the Holy See power to confer some orders." (CIC 782 & 951)

Now the term "extra-ordinary" minister is important, for it is commonly used with regard to the priest who administers the Sacrament of Confirmation; in the post-Conciliar Church it is used to describe lay-persons who distribute the bread and wine. And so it seems necessary to conclude that a simple priest can be given by Apostolic indult certain powers, or, since no additional ceremony is involved, the right to exercise certain powers that normally are not considered appropriate to his status. One could draw a parallel with the Sacrament of Baptism which any Catholic can administer, but which in fact is usually administered by a priest.

How can we resolve these seeming conflicts? One solution is to consider the right of conferring Orders as juridical. When Pope Pius XII gave permission for parish priests to become extraordinary ministers of Confirmation he did not confer this power by means of a sacramental rite, but through the media of a mandate. Thus, one could hold that by his ordination every priest receives the power to confirm and ordain, but cannot utilise this power without episcopal or papal authorisation.

As Father Bligh says, "by his ordination to the priesthood a man receives no power whatever to confirm or ordain..." He, however, is stamped with an indelible character so that "he is a fit person to whom episcopal or Papal authority can communicate power when it seems good."

On the assumption that the matter is jurisdictional, several questions can be raised. Did Christ our Lord Himself lay down the rule that in normal - or perhaps all - circumstances only bishops should confirm and ordain? Was this rule laid down by the Apostles in virtue of the authority received from Christ? Is the rule sub-Apostolic, which would make it part of ecclesiastical law rather than revelation?

Further the necessity for episcopal authorisation can be conceived of as arising either from an ecclesiastical law restricting the priest's valid use of his power, or from a Divine Law requiring that a priest who exercises these powers must receive a special authority or some kind of jurisdiction from a bishop or the Pope.

The Council of Trent deliberately left the answer to these questions open and undecided. In its sixth Canon on the Sacrament of Order it simply states: "If anyone says that in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy, instituted by divine ordination and consisting of bishops, priests and deacons, let him be anathema!"

Before adopting the phrase "by divine ordination" the Council considered the phrases "by divine institution" and "by a special divine ordination," but rejected them because it did not wish to decide the question. Reference to the practice of the early Church suggests that normally the sacraments were administered either by the bishop or by priests explicitly delegated by the bishops. Bligh quotes De Puniet as saying that priests in Apostolic times administered the churches under the direction of the Apostles and almost certainly enjoyed the fullness of sacerdotal power which included the power of ordination.

St. Jerome (Hieronymus) taught that at his ordination, the priest received the power to ordain which was immediately restricted ecclesiastically. Even in mediaeval times, after the bishops ordained a priest, the other clergy present would place their hands on the head of the ordinands and repeat the consecratory prayer - thus acting as "concelebrants" in the rite. In current practise, the priests bless the ordinands by placing their hands on their heads, but no longer repeat the consecratory form. The point is important for under such circumstances, it is only the bishop who ordains. The post-Conciliar Church retains this practice.

Is the Bishop Ordained or Consecrated?

The question as posed is illegitimate, for Pope Pius XII uses both terms inter-changeably in his Sacramentum Ordinis (Acta Apostolicae Sedis, 28th January 1958.) The real issue is whether or not raising a Priest to the rank of Bishop involves a sacramental act.

According to the Catholic Encyclopaedia (1908) "most of the older scholastics were of the opinion that the episcopate is not a sacrament; this opinion finds able defenders even now (e.g., Billot, "De Sacramentis"), thought the majority of theologians hold it as certain that the Bishop's ordination is a sacrament." (The Catholic Encyclopaedia, Appleton, 1911, Vol. XI, section on "Orders.")

Whatever the answer, two points are made:

  1. The Council of Trent defines that Bishops belong to a divinely instituted hierarchy, that they are superior to priests, and that they have the power of Confirming and Ordaining which is proper to them." (Session XXIII, c. iv, can. 6, 7)
  2. Pope Leo XIII, as already noted, clearly teaches that the episcopate "belongs most truly to the Sacrament or Order," and Pope Pius XII in defining both the Matter and the Form to the used in the rite implicitly teaches that it is, indeed, a sacramental act.

The position taken in this paper is that while the issue as to whether a simple priest receives the power (not the right) to ordain remains open, the episcopate remains part of the Sacrament of Order. Despite the fact that the power to ordain is a lesser power than that of offering the propitiatory sacrifice of the living and the dead (i.e. the Mass), and despite the fact that the priest may indeed already have this power, one can certainly hold that special graces are required of a Bishop properly to perform his functions, and that these graces are transferred by means of a sacramental act.

It is thus that the Bishop receives within this sacramental what is called the "summum sacerdotium" or the "fullness of the priesthood." Again, it should be stressed that in the ordination of priests, regardless of earlier practise, both in the traditional and the post-Conciliar practise, it is only the Bishop who repeats both the matter and the form. Consequently, when a Bishop ordains, the "validity" of his own orders and of his sacramental act remain essential.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural

God the Author of Nature and the Supernatural
Part Two: Creation as a Divine Fact

Section Two: Supernatural Anthropology

Before the Fall, Adam Possessed Sanctifying Grace
and the Preternatural Gifts of Integrity, Immortality and Infused Knowledge.

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Having studied the nature of man according to his nature, his origin in soul by an immediate creation of God and in body by some special agency directed by God, we are now in a position to examine into the moral and religious phase of human kind. Our immediate concern will be with the first man, Adam, as the father of his race; and our scope of inquiry will be twofold: to establish the fact that he was possessed of original justice or sanctity, covered by the term "sanctifying grace," and of certain additional gifts that followed on this supernatural orientation, namely, in his mind, and body and relation to the external world.

The basis which we face in this matter is the naturalistic mentality, almost inbred in modern thought, which conceives of man as autonomous agent and self-sufficient "master of his own destiny." Yet faith requires us to say that man not only came from the hands of God primordially, in soul and body, but his destiny is beyond the capacities of nature and therefore a sheer gift of divine love. All that we ever say in theology about the supernatural order had its beginnings for the human race in Adam, in the possession he received from the Creator and the means he was given to retain the gift for himself and transmit the same to his progeny.

From the viewpoint of modern paleontology and ethnology, which posit man in ancient times as crude and undeveloped, we seem to face a contradiction to the present thesis. If primitive man was also "primitive," how square this with the dogma that the first man was superlatively gifted with powers of mind and body?


Adam in context means first of all the man, described in Genesis and St. Paul as distinct from Eve. This is the term also found in the documents of the Church. However we do not use the word of him alone but extend it to Eve, in fact apply it to human nature as represented in our first parents.

The expression "before the fall" simply states the fact that Adam possessed grace and the preternatural gifts, without committing ourselves as to when the infusion took place.

By sanctifying grace we understand that permanent gift, which is now given through Christ and by which a man becomes formally justified, a partaker of the divine nature, an adopted son of God and heir of eternal life. In the present order, sanctifying grace is associated with the uncreated gift of the Holy Spirit and such created gifts as the infused virtues of faith, hope and supernatural charity.

The three gifts of bodily immortality, integrity and infused knowledge are called preternatural because they are not strictly due to human nature but do not, of themselves, surpass the capacities and exigencies of created nature as such. In other words, they are not entitatively supernatural.

Bodily immortality is the converse of mortality, i.e., the possibility of separation of soul from body. Adam was therefore capable of not dying. Yet the gift was conditional, provided he did not sin; it was gratuitous, since Adam's nature by itself did not postulate this prerogative but came from the divine bounty; and it was participated, since only God enjoys essential immortality.

The gift of integrity is equivalent to exemption from concupiscence. It is called "integrity" because it effected a harmonious relation between flesh and spirit by completely subordinating man's lower passions to his reason.

This integrity, it should be noted, did not consist in lacking the natural power to desire for sensible or spiritual bona, nor was it a lack of activity of this power, since all of these belong to the perfection of human nature. Rather it was the absence of certain kinds of acts of the appetitive faculty, namely those which anticipate or go before (praevertunt) the operations of reason and will and tend to continue in opposition to the same.

Stated positively, integrity consisted in the perfect subjection of the concupiscible and irascible appetitive powers to the dictates of reason and free will. As a consequence the will had not only indirect (diplomatic) but also direct (despotic) dominion over the appetite.

Two kinds of concupiscence should be distinguished, the one dogmatic and the other moral. In a dogmatic sense, concupiscence is the appetite - primarily sensitive and actual, and secondarily spiritual and habitual - in so far as its movement precedes the deliberation and dictate of reason and tends to endure in spite of the command of the will. In a moral sense, concupiscence is the appetite - again primarily sensitive and actual, and secondarily spiritual and habitual - in so far as 1) its acts not only precede reason and perdure in spite of the will, but 2) they tend to moral evil. Another name for the latter is inordinate or prava concupiscence.

Our concern in the thesis is with concupiscence in the dogmatic sense, and integrity as immunity from this kind of appetitive drive.

In order, further to clarify Adam's gift of integrity, we may say that he was perfectly sound, entire and integral, in the sense that hedid not experience within himself that division which mankind now understands so well. Our own indeliberate tendencies, we know, often oppose themselves to what we decide or want to do. The life of a man who wants to do well and avoid evil is literally a conflict, more or less violent, between reason which sees and approves the good and wants fewer tendencies. This conflict is variously described as a tension between spirit and flesh, between the interior and exterior man, or simply between soul and body. But in our first parents there was no such internal discord. Their integrity was "the absence of any resistance from their spontaneous tendencies, notably the sense appetite, in the performance of good or avoidance of evil." In a word it was a perfect dominion of animal and spiritual passion.

Adam's infused knowledge was not acquired, in the sense of natural cognition derived from experience and the reasoning process; nor was it intrinsically supernatural as giving a knowledge of the mysteries, such as the souls enjoy in the beatific vision. It was infused because not naturally acquired, but yet entitatively not beyond the capacity of man's faculties in his statu viae. Theologians commonly refer to three areas of special knowledge possessed by Adam: regarding God and His attributes, the moral law or man's relations to God, and the physical universe both material and spiritual.


Since the main object of the thesis is the supernatural order, the principal adversaries would logically be the classic opponents of supernaturalism. Historically and chronologically they are Pelagianism and Rationalism.

Pelagianism was named after the British lay monk, Pelagius, and now is practically synonymous for the denial of grace or of a higher order than nature in human existence.

Little is known about the personal career of Pelagius. Born in England about 354, he came to Rome in the time of Pope Anastasius (399-401), where he was so alarmed by the low morality of the day that he became convinced it could only be reformed by concentrating on the responsibility of men for their actions. Together with his disciple Celestius, he began teaching a doctrine of free will which left no room for grace.

Pelagius and Celestius went to Africa in 410, the latter staying to find himself charged with heresy by the Council of Carthage in 412, while Pelagius went on to Palestine and met the same treatment at the hands of St. Jerome. In 418 a plenary Council of Carthage protested to Pope Zozimus and Pelagius was formally condemned by Rome. Though Pelagius leaves the scene of controversy at this point, eighteen Italian bishops, led by Julian of Eclanum, refused to submit to the Pope. Condemned once more at the Council of Orange (529), Pelagianism disappeared as an organized system in the second half of the sixth century, but its influence in opposition to orthodox Christianity remains to the present day.

Two premises served as basis for Pelagius' theory. Arguing from the principle that “A person is free if he does what he wills and avoids what he wants to avoid," he said that heaven and the beatific vision are attainable by the use of our native powers alone, since nothing but free will isneeded to practice virtue and keep out of sin. From the axiom that "Adam neither injured nor deprived us of anything," Pelagius concluded that men require no special help to repair what Adam is supposed to have lost.

Historians of dogma distinguish four stages of development in the Pelagian system: 1) No grace is necessary for right living, but nature and free will are enough to keep the commandments and reach eternal life. 2) Nature itself and free will are grace, because they are free gifts of God. 3) Besides nature and freedom, external graces may be admitted, in the form of preaching, miracles, revelation, and the example of Jesus Christ. 4) If, for the sake of argument, real supernatural grace were needed, it would be only as light for the mind and never internal grace in the will. "You destroy the will," it was argued, "if you say it needs any help."

Pelagianism was therefore in conflict with orthodoxy by claiming that grace is not gratuitous on the part of God, but comes to everyone according to his natural merits and that, in the last analysis, grace is not absolutely necessary but only a help to facilitate the operations of nature.

St. Augustine was the most formidable adversary of Pelagian speculation. At least five of his major treatises were directed against the innovation, which he accused of corrupting the Scriptures and denying man's elevation to the supernatural order.

Directly pertinent to our thesis, the Pelagians denied that Adam was possessed of sanctifying grace as a supernatural gift of God. Regarding Adam's integrity, the principal adversary among the Pelagians was Julianus, who identified concupiscence with the sense faculty. Immortality in the Pelagian theory was not a special gift, nor was infused knowledge in Adam.

Rationalism has been variously defined in different fields. But in theology it is that system of thought which postulates the absolute rights of natural reason as the only source of religious truth. Common to all rationalists is a dogmatic confidence in the powers of human inquiry and a conviction that man alone, without revelation, may comprehend whatever he needs to reach his final destiny.

As a trend in religious culture, rationalism is as old as Judaeo-Christianity. Among the ancient Jews, the Sadducees denied the resurrection and questioned bodily immortality. The very name Gnostics in the first century of the Christian era meant "knowers" who professed to have a special understanding that was not shared by other believers. Arius was condemned by the Council of Nicea because he insisted on a complete explanation of the hypostatic union. Pelagius "settled" the problem of original sin, grace and freedom by denying the supernatural order. The Reformers did the same by liquidating free will. In fact, the rationalist tendency has been active in every major heresy since apostolic times, challenging the Church's right to teach the mysteries of faith on the word of God and not on the strength of human speculation.

The same critical attitude was adopted by those who questioned the foundations of the Christian religion in England, France and Germany. Tindal, Collins and Hume, Voltaire and Rousseau, Kant, Hegel and Strauss were all rationalists in the generic meaning of the term. They found Christianity unreasonable by their own standards of rationality.

Since the turn of the present century, rationalism has entered a new stage that was partly the creature and partly creator of a new concept of history as an empirical science. The area of conflict has shifted from the mainly philosophical grounds that featured the rise of English and French Deism, and especially the idealism of Kant and Schleiermacher. Now the onus probandi was placed on the faithful, and those who would believe in Christianity had to defend themselves against the charge of being unhistorical.

In the context of our thesis, modern Rationalism does not speculatively agitate against the special gifts of nature and grace which orthodoxy claims Adam received from God. It rather centers attention on the objective historicity of the facts, and under guise of sublimating dogma by “rising above the anthropomorphisms and metaphors of Scripture,” reduces the most fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion to mere symbolism. Among such symbolic truisms, original justice and sin, bodily immortality and freedom from concupiscence in the first man - and intended for the human race - are prominent in today's rationalists.

Paul Tillich isa good example. By Christian standards, original sin is a contingent fact, the result of Adam's loss of original justice through a wilful transgression of God's law. For Tillich, on the other hand, "The difficult concept of ‘original sin’ denotes an original self-contradiction in human existence, coincident with human history itself" Protestant Era, pg. 165. Accordingly the Judaeo-Christian notion of a prior state of justice and holiness, from which the first man fell, by Tillichian norms is to be taken as a symbol of the built-in tension within the human frame. Man was always as he is now, and the "fall" is only an imaginative way of expressing a conflict that is descriptive of man's inevitable existence.

Dogmatic Value

It is defined doctrine, at least implicitly in Trent, that Adam possessed sanctifying grace before the fall.

Regarding Adam's integrity, theologians distinguish between immunity from carnal and spiritual concupiscence. They say it is implicitly defined in Trent (DB 792) that Adam was free from sense concupiscence; or according to others it is proxima fidei. Immunity from spiritual concupiscence is said to be at least theologically certain; or the composite of integrity as such may be called proxima fidei.

Adam's immortality of body has been defined by the Church, and is found in a series of documents: DB 101, 174, 788.

The possession of infused knowledge is held to be common and certain doctrine, though some assign a higher dogmatic note.

Theological Proof

Part One: “Adam Possessed Sanctifying Grace."

  1. Ecclesiastical Documents
    Besides the Council of Orange against the Pelagians (DB 192), the most explicit documentation is in Trent which declared, “If anyone does not profess that the first man Adam immediately lost the justice and holiness in which he was constituted when he disobeyed the command of God in the Garden of Paradise…let him be anathema" DB 788.
    The only question is the meaning of sanctitas and justitia in the definition. But these terms either singly or at least together certainly equivalate sanctifying grace, as appears from general conciliar language and specifically in Trent, “Justification…and sanctification" are defined as taking place through the voluntary acceptance of "grace and the gifts" DB 799. And again in a canon, it issaid that "grace…justifies us" DB 821.
  2. Sacred Scripture
    Briefly the probative argument from Scripture goes to St. Paul, not only to individual passages but to the whole tenor of his economy of salvation. The work of Christ, in Pauline terminology, was to restore what Adam had lost for the human race, since what Adam originally possessed was regained for us by the cross. Christ restored us to divine friendship through grace; therefore Adam must first have had what he later was dispossessed of through sin.
    Paul simply describes Christ as the "new Adam" (I Corinthians 15:21), whose work of restoration is to repair what the first Adam had inflicted by his disobedience. So that if through one man sin came into the world, and through sin death, and thus death has passed into all men because in him all have sinned, from the justice of the one (Christ) the result is unto justification of life to all men (Romans 5:12, 18).
    Summarily the work of Christ, according to Paul, was one of reconciliation and redemption - in both cases repairing the damage done by Adam. Either concept singly or in combination means the restoration of sanctifying grace and of those supernatural gifts that man needs to attain the vision of God.
  3. Patristic Evidence
    While the precise theological language of today was not yet current, the Fathers explicitly teach that the first man possessed sanctifying grace, which they called "deification" and which Adam lost by the fall. "How can we be said to be renewed," St. Augustine asked, "if we do not receive what the first man lost, in whom all of us die? Plainly we receive the one in some way, and just as plainly we do not receive the other. For we do not receive the immortality of a spiritual body (as did Adam); yet we do obtain justice, from which man had fallen by his sin” (RJ 1698).
    Some of the Greek Fathers, like Basil and Cyril of Alexandria, believed that the supernatural sanctification of Adam is indicated in Genesis 2:7. They took spiraculum vitae to mean the grace of the Holy Spirit as a supernatural vital principle. Others, notably Ireneus, Gregory of Nyssa and Augustine, held that imago Dei referred to Adam's nature, while similitudo Dei described him as being in the state of sanctifying grace. Apart from their interpretation of the texts, the Fathers’ common belief that Adam received both natural and supernatural life is a witness to Christian tradition.

Part Two: "Adam Possessed the Gift of Integrity"

  1. Ecclesiastical Documents
    1. The primary text is in Trent, which says, "Concupiscence, which the Apostle sometimes calls sin, this council declares that the Catholic Church has never understood that it is called sin because there is, inthe regenerated, sin in the true and proper sense but only because it is from sin and inclines to sin. If anyone thinks the contrary: let him be anathema” DB 792. Since the council defined that concupiscence comes from sin and leads or inclines to sin, it implicitly declared that concupiscence had not been present before sin, which in context means before the sinof Adam.
      We may further note that Trent speaks directly about concupiscence in the moral sense, namely as the appetite (mainly sense) which tends before the dictate of reason to an object which is morally sinful. However by implication the dogmatic type of concupiscence (defended in the thesis) is also understood; necessarily because the council is talking about the concupiscence which is now in us, namely the kind which may also tend to objects that are morally good or indifferent, yet antecedent to the dictates of reason and continuing in the same direction even against the dictamen rationis.
    2. Among papal documents treating of the subject, the Encyclical of Pius XI Christian Education is specially pertinent. He states the principles of faith that should guide the training of youth.
      "It must never be forgotten that the subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body inunity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural such as right reason and revelation show him to be; man, therefore, fallen from his original estate, but redeemed by Christ and restored to the supernatural condition of adopted sons of God, though without the preternatural privileges of bodily immortality or perfect control of appetite. There remain therefore in human nature the effects of Adam's sin, the chief of which are weakness of will and unrestrained desires of soul" DB 2212.
  2. Sacred Scripture
    In the Book of Genesis, the sexual life of our first parents is described as radically different before and after the fall.
    Before the fall, their sex life appears as perfectly under control. God willed the difference between the sexes (Genesis I:27), since man cannot find a helpmate like to himself among the animal kingdom. The Lord therefore created woman to be man's companion and cooperator in the procreation of children (Genesis 2:20-24). Man and woman have no reason to be ashamed of their mutual relation. (Genesis 2:25).
    After the fall, things are quite different. Adam and Eve become conscious of their nakedness, which the author of Genesis has coincide with their sense of need for clothing (Genesis 3:7), and with their desire to hide (Genesis 3:10-11). Conjugal life also begins to be a burden and source of sorrow for the woman (Genesis3:16).
    The mode of narrative implies that the inspired text wants to show that deordination in the sexual life began only after the fall. It may further be said that the author meant to refer beyond mere sexuality, which he used to illustrate the loss of man's dominion over all his lower powers. Consequently before they sinned, Adam and Eve had perfect command of their passions, which is synonymous with integrity.
    In the New Testament, when the Pharisees pose the question of divorce, this gives Christ the opportunity to emphasize what was the original state of things, when matrimony was more strict than under the Mosaic law, because there had not been the obstacle of "hardness of heart" (Matthew 19:3-12, Mark 10:1-8). This hardness of heart can be identified with concupiscence, and the relaxation of the law makes us see what was the original condition of things, when perfect equilibrium existed in the sexual life, which mankind later evidently lacked.
    St. Paul in Romans 6 and 7 speaks of "sin" which cannot mean sin formally, because it is found also in the just. Rather it is an inclination to sin, or concupiscence. If we further see that this concupiscence is later called sin in that context of the epistle where Paul is speaking of the corruption introduced into the world by Adam's disobedience, we can only conclude that it had its origin in the sin of Adam. Before his disobedience, therefore, Adam was exempt from this defect, which meant that he possessed integrity.
  3. Patristic Evidence
    From the time of Pelagianism, there is no lack of clarity and insistence among the Fathers that the special privileges of our first parents are a matter of faith. However even before Pelagius, there is evidence of a Patristic tradition on the subject.
    In fact some of the Fathers were so firmly persuaded of the natural integrity of our first parents that they derived marriage from original sin. Thus it seems Athanasius and John Damascene. No doubt this was going too far. Sexual propagation does not exclude natural integrity, and we may safely say that marriage would have been instituted even if Adam and Eve had remained in their first innocence. It was this attitude which later caused Augustine to retract his earlier statement that if the human race had preserved its primal innocence and grace, propagation might have been asexual.
    But with Pelagianism to combat, the original tradition on integrity became clearer than ever. Pelagians maintained that concupiscence was not a defect of nature but a positive vigor, which anticipated the Freudian theory of modern times. Augustine fought against this view in his De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia; and in Contra Julianum he expressly says that freedom from concupiscence was a gift of grace.

Part Three: "Adam Possessed the Gift of Bodily Immortality"

  1. Ecclesiastical Documents
    Besides the Councils of XVI Carthage (DB 101) and orange (DB 174), the Council of Trent defined that "If anyone does not profess that the first man Adam… when he disobeyed the command of God in the Garden of Paradise…incurred the death with which God had previously threatened him…let him be anathema" (DB 788).
    Later on, when Baianism was condemned by the Church, among the rejected propositions was, the claim that "The immortality of the first man was not a gift of grace, but his natural condition" (DB 1078). This corresponds to another condemned proposition of Baius, to the effect that "The integrity found in first creation was not a gratuitous elevation of human nature, but its natural condition" (DB 1026).
  2. Sacred Scripture
    The immortality of our first parents is seen from the sanction which God imposed on them in forbidding them to eat of the tree of knowledge, and His application of this sanction (Genesis 2:16-17, 3:3, 19, 22-24).
    The Lord foretold that man would die in whatsoever day he ate of the forbidden fruit. This threat did not literally mean death on the same day as the sin, since the Old Testament often refers to time in broader terms, e.g., III Kings 2:42. Rather it meant that the moment man disobeyed the precept, he would become subject to mortality. Consequently in Genesis and elsewhere (Wisdom 2:24, Ecclesiasticus 25:33) the sacred authors wished to teach that physical death was not man's original lot, but came into the world because of sin. In other words, except for sin, man would have been immortal in body.
    In the New Testament, St. John calls the devil “a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44). And according to St. Paul, death entered the world as a result of Adam's fall (Romans 5:12, I Corinthians 15:21-22). The death in question is not merely spiritual death, since it is contrasted with bodily resurrection, which came to us through Christ. Logically, therefore, if Adam had not sinned by following the suggestion of the devil, he would have preserved himself in bodily immortality.
  3. Patristic Evidence
    The Fathers unanimously taught as a matter of faith that man in his primeval condition was gifted with immortality of body and soul. Thus Theophilus of Antioch explained that God made man neither mortal nor immortal, but capable of either, depending on whether Adam would sin or not (RJ 184). Tatian describes the Word of God “making man a sharer in His own divine immortality" (RJ 156). According to St. Cyprian, with the advent of the first sin there disappeared both man's integrity of body and immortality, which were a special grace of God (RJ 566). St. Athanasius taught that men who are by nature mortal would have been immortal, had they not sinned, thus rising superior to the powers of nature by the power of the Word of God (RJ 750). St. Ambrose says that God did not make death, but imposed it upon man as a penalty for sin, so that now he must return to the earth from which he came (RJ 1325). And St. Augustine held that man was mortal because he was able to die, immortal because he was able not to die, so that he was mortal conditione naturae and immortal beneficio Dei (RJ 1699).

Part Four: “Adam Possessed the Gift of Infused Knowledge,”

  1. Ecclesiastical Documents
    It is difficult to cite authoritative documents which treat professedly of the infused knowledge of our first parents. Generally there are only oblique references to man's superior mental and moral condition before the fall, implying some special privileges of mind. Thus Pius XII in the Allocution to the Academy of Sciences previously quoted, said "On the day when God formed man and crowned his brow with His own image and likeness…He taught him agriculture, how to care and cultivate the garden in which He had placed him; led him to all the beasts of the fields and all the birds of the air so that man might name them. And he gave to each of them its true and fitting name…Man is great, and he was greater when created…If he fell from his original greatness…if the remnants of the command once given him over the animal world are nothing more than a fading recollection of his former power…even in his ruin he looms great because of that divine image and likeness he carries in his spirit" (November 30, 1941).
  2. Theological Reason
    Christian tradition reasoned on the datum in Scripture to conclude that if Adam was given complete dominion over the lower organisms and ability to name the animals, i.e., understand their properties enough to describe their nature; if moreover the Lord placed the first parents in a place which they were to cultivate - Adam and Eve must have been given adequate knowledge for these purposes, and the knowledge would have been infused since ex hypothesi this was the beginning of human history.
    Also in Ecclesiasticus (17:1-9), we are told that "Man, too, God created out of the earth, fashioning him after His own likeness…To him and to that partner of his, created like to himself and out of himself, God gave will and speech and sight and hearing. He gave them a heart to reason with, and filled them with power of discernment. Spirit itself should be within their ken, their hearts should be all sagacity. What evil was, what good, He made plain to them. He gave them His own eyes to see with, so that they should keep His marvelous acts in view, praise His holy name, boast of His wonders and tell the story of His renowned deeds." Given all these, the Fathers and theologians reasonably conclude that the first man and woman were specially gifted with knowledge infused into them by the Creator.
    However any attempt to describe the extent of Adam's infused knowledge would be hazardous. On the supernatural level, opinion differs from Suarez' position that Adam probably had a belief in the Trinity and the future Incarnation of the Word of God, to a minimist school which credits the first man only with the essentials necessary for salvation.
    St. Thomas restricted the limits of Adam's infused knowledge by setting down two rules: 1) Adam depended on phantasms for his intellectual concepts. Consequently unlike the human soul of Christ, he did not enjoy the beatific vision before the fall; he could have no intuitive but only an abstractive knowledge of the angels; and he even did not have intuitive knowledge of his own soul. 2) In the domain of nature, Adam had a perfect infused knowledge only regarding those things which were indispensable to him and his descendants to live in conformity with the laws of reason. This did not mean that he would not have had to learn and inquire, or that he was unable to progress in matters of science and culture. There is no reason to suppose that Adam knew about the Copernican system, or electronics, or nuclear fission. Yet, in its own way, Adam's knowledge was extensive; it was specially given him by God; and, according to St. Thomas, it was infallible - though subject to obscurity.
    A safe norm to follow with regard to Adam's infused knowledge is to attribute to the first man quite extraordinary insight in the moral and religious order, while limiting his understanding of things material and technical to the needs of his condition before the fall.

Kerygmatic Development

  1. Original justice and Prehistory. Until recent times, theologians were only mildly concerned with the problems posed by scientific discoveries, notably anthropology and paleontology. Among the Catholic pioneers, Wilhelm Schmidt ranks as outstanding. Since then the field has become quite thoroughly explored.
    Specifically the problems revolve around the apparent contradiction between a highly endowed first man and the primitive, in the sense of crude, state of civilization so far unearthed from times past. A number of careful distinctions have to be made.
    The condition of man in paradise is known to us from revelation and accepted on faith. It was not a state of culture which man acquired by his native power, but the result of a special action of God at the dawn of human history. Small wonder, then, that we have no exploratory evidence of this from ethnology or one of the natural sciences.
    This primeval condition was not what we would call a "civilization," that existed for centuries and therefore could leave monuments or other historical vestiges for investigation. It may be described as a brief episode in the story of mankind, which science therefore can neither prove nor disprove from a study of human remains.
    There is no need to expand on the perfection of our first parents in the Garden of Paradise. It was certainly considerable as regards things of the spirit and their relations with God; but could also have been quite modest in everything else. And even their religious ideas were capable of development, from the instinctive to a more reflexive and demonstrative knowledge.
    But most important, we must keep in mind the radical change which took place after the fall. Although scientists speak of the most ancient peoples as "primitive" this is a relative term. Even the oldest civilizations, known or yet to be discovered, are really decadent from their primordial state. Bereft of the special privileges it once enjoyed, the human race had to face and try to surmount the grave difficulties that stood in its way - personally, socially, morally and religiously. So true is this, that the very necessity for a special revelation from God of naturally knowable truths is a logical corollary to man's fallen condition.
  2. Basic principles and Secondary Elements. While holding no brief for the rationalism of Bultmann and the radical Form Critics, we should recognize the prejudice they seek to meet in the modern mind. In large measure this is the result of four centuries of biblicism in Protestant thought, which has affected Western thought to a degree we are slow to admit.
    The biblical account of Adam and Eve too often concentrates on secondary elements, which strike the fancy and have been further elaborated by imaginative literature: the picture of the Garden, the rivers which spontaneously flow water and irrigate the land, the Lord walking in the stillness of the night, rows of animals brought before Adam to be named. All the while, the essentials maybe overlooked, namely, the elevation of man to supernatural friendship with God, his disobedience and consequent loss for himself and posterity of grace, integrity and twofold immortality.

Study Questions

  1. Of whom do we predicate the possession of sanctifying grace and the preternatural gifts? And when were these received?

  2. Briefly distinguish natural, preternatural and supernatural.

  3. What kind of immortality did Adam receive as a special gift of God? Explain.

  4. Distinguish the following: concupiscence in the moral sense and in the dogmatic sense; sensitive appetite and spiritual appetite; diplomatic and despotic dominion of the appetitive faculties.

  5. What exactly was Adam's gift of integrity, and why was it preternatural?

  6. What was the nature and scope of Adam's infused knowledge?

  7. Outline the basic tenets of Pelagianism, and how were the Pelagians against our thesis?

  8. What is Rationalism in theology, and how does it oppose our position that the first man was elevated to the supernatural order and received preternatural powers?

  9. Give the dogmatic value for the various parts of the thesis.

  10. Prove from the documents, Scripture and especially St. Paul that Adam possessed sanctifying grace. What was the Patristic teaching on the subject?

  11. Show from Trent, Scripture and the Fathers that Adam had the gift of integrity.

  12. Using Trent, Genesis and St. Paul, prove that Adam was originally destined to be immortal in body. Briefly state the doctrine of. two of the Fathers on this fact.

  13. How do we argue from theological reason, using Scripture as basis, that Adam had special infused knowledge?

  14. How do we reconcile our thesis with the current idea of the “primitive man”?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Q & A on Salvation by Fr. Muller, C.SS. R.

Questions and Answers
on Salvation

by Father Michael Muller, C.SS.R.

Editor’s Note: Father Michael Muller was one of the most widely read theologians of the 19th Century. He ranks as one of the greatest defenders of the dogma “Outside the Church there is no salvation” in modern times. Father Muller always submitted his works to two Redemptorist theologians and to his religious superiors before publication, thus we are sure of the doctrinal soundness of his teachings. This article, first published in 1875, is one of the finest treatments of the doctrinal truth that Our Lord founded one true Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation. Father Muller’s firm writings are desperately needed in our time when this doctrine is denied by those who are the most influential members of our Holy Church. We publish Father Muller’s excellent little Catechism as an antidote to the prevalent religious indifferentism — an indifferentism that is the direct result of what Blessed Pius IX denounced as “Liberal Catholicism”.

1. Do all admit that the Catholic Church is the first and the oldest Church, and, consequently the Church established by Jesus Christ?

That the Catholic Church is the first and oldest and consequently the Church established by Jesus Christ, is and must be admitted by all, because it is a fact clearly proven by Scripture and by history.

2. Who bear witness to this fact?

The Jews and the Gentiles bear witness to it, and even Protestants themselves acknowledge it, because, if asked why they call themselves Protestants, they answer: “Because we protest against the Catholic Church.”

3. What follows from this answer?

That the Catholic Church is older than Protestantism; otherwise they could not have protested against her.

4. If we go still further back and ask the Greek Church how they came into existence, what will be their answer?

The Greek Church must answer: “We began by separating from the Catholic Church in the 9th Century.”

5. What follows from this?

That the Catholic Church existed for eight hundred years before the Greek Church began, and consequently, it is older than the Greek Church.

6. If we thus go back to the very days of the Apostles, what do we find everywhere in regard to the manner in which religious sects arose?

If we go back to the days of the Apostles, we find that every sect separated from the Catholic Church, and therefore we see Calvinists, Kilhamites, Quakers, Shakers, Panters, Seekers, Jumpers, Reformed Methodists, German Methodists, Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, Particular Baptists, Hardshell Baptists, Softshell Baptists, Forty- Gallon Baptists, Sixty- Gallon Baptists, Mennonites, Millerites, Universalists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Mormons, Christian Perfectionists, etc., etc., etc.

7. Is it not all the same to God whatever religion a person professes?

If it were all the same to God whatever religion a person professes, God would not have forbidden, in the First Commandment, to worship Him in any other than in the true religion. Nor would Christ have solemnly declared: “He who will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” (Matt. 18:17)

Ex Cathedra: "The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." - Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Feb. 4, 1442.

8. Who, then, will be saved?

Christ has solemnly declared that only those will be saved who have done God’s will on earth as explained, not by private interpretation, but by the infallible teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. “Not everyone,” says Christ, “who saith to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he that doth the will of My Father Who is in Heaven, he shall enter the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 7:21) The will of the heavenly Father is that all men hear and believe His Son, Jesus Christ. “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.” (Luke 9:35)

Now Jesus Christ said to His Apostles and to all their lawful successors: “He that heareth you heareth Me, and he that despiseth you despiseth Me, and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him, the heavenly Father, that sent Me.” Hence all those who do not listen to Jesus Christ speaking to them through Saint Peter and the Apostles in their lawful successors, despise God the Father. They do not do His will, and therefore Heaven will never be theirs.

9. Must, then, all who wish to be saved, die united to the Catholic Church?

All those who wish to be saved, must die united to the Catholic Church. For out of her there is no salvation, because only she teaches what Jesus Christ requires of everyone to be saved, and because only to her did Christ leave the means to obtain all the graces necessary for salvation. Hence Jesus said to His Apostles and to all their lawful successors: “Go and teach all nations: teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. He that believeth not all these things shall be condemned.”

Our Divine Savior says: “No one can come to the Father, except through Me.” If we then wish to enter Heaven, we must be united to Christ — to His [Mystical] Body, which is the Church, as Saint Paul says. Therefore, outside the Church there is no salvation.

Again, Jesus Christ says: “Whoever will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a publican,” a great sinner. Therefore outside the Church there is no salvation.

Holy Scripture says: “The Lord added daily to the Church such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) Therefore the Apostles believed and the Holy Scriptures teach that there is no salvation out of the Church.

10. What did Saint Augustine and the other bishops of Africa, at the Council of Zirta, in 412, say about the salvation of those who die outside the Roman Catholic Church?

“Whosoever,” they said, “is separated from the Catholic Church, however commendable in his own opinion his life may be, he shall for the very reason that he is separated from the union of Christ not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

11. What does Saint Cyprian say about the salvation of those who die outside of the Roman Catholic Church?

Saint Cyprian says: “He who has not the Church for his mother cannot have God for his Father.” And with him the Fathers of the Church in general say that, “as all those who were not in the ark of Noah perished in the waters of the deluge, so shall perish all who are out of the true Church.”

12. Who are out of the pale of the Roman Catholic Church?

Out of the pale of the Roman Catholic Church are all unbaptized and all excommunicated persons, all apostates, unbelievers, and heretics.

Infidels and Apostates

13. How do we know that unbaptized persons are not saved?

That unbaptized persons are not saved, we know from Christ, Who said: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.) For God cannot unite Himself to such souls in Heaven on account of Original Sin, with which they are defiled.

14. How do we know that persons justly excommunicated, who are unwilling to do what is required of them before they are absolved, are not saved?

Persons justly excommunicated, who are not willing to do what is required of them before they are absolved, are not saved, because the sin of great scandal, for which they were as dead members expelled from the communion of the Church, excludes them from the kingdom of Heaven.

15. Which Catholics are excommunicated?

All those Catholics are excommunicated, who are members of secret societies, which have been excommunicated [condemned] by the Church, such as Freemasonry, and other societies affiliated with it under various names.

16. Why have several Popes solemnly excommunicated all Freemasonry?

All Freemasons have been solemnly excommunicated by several Popes on account of the main object and spirit of Freemasonry, to establish heathenism or the Church of Satan all over the world:

a) By upsetting governments to obtain for themselves the power of governing and making impious laws for their subjects; b) By trying to overthrow the Catholic Church, which teaches and maintains the rights and laws of God and civil society; c) By spreading immoral and impious principles through the infidel press and other satanic means; d) By establishing public schools for the infidel education of youth.

17. Is this main object and spirit known to all Freemasons?

This satanic object and spirit is known only to the members of the highest grades of Freemasonry. But it is sufficiently known to all from the works and speeches of Freemasons, and therefore every member, even of the lowest grade, is guilty of the foul deeds of this satanic society.

18. How do we know that apostates are not saved?

Apostates from the Catholic Faith are not saved, because to fall away from the Faith is a great sin, which makes one lose the kingdom of Heaven.1

19. How many kinds of infidels or unbelievers are there?

There are three kinds of infidels or unbelievers: (a) Those who are guilty of the sin of infidelity; (b) those who are not guilty of the sin of infidelity, but commit other great sins; and (c) those who are not guilty of the sin of infidelity, and live up to the dictates of their conscience.

20. What kind of infidels are guilty of the sin of infidelity?

All those unbaptized persons are guilty, who do not embrace the true religion, although the truths thereof have been sufficiently made known to them — like many of the Jews of whom our Lord said that they had no excuse for their sins, because He had spoken to them.

All those unbaptized persons are guilty, who have received sufficient light to know the truth, or at least to understand the danger of their position, and the obligation of making diligent inquiries to ascertain and embrace the truth, but neglect to do so.

And all those are guilty of the sin of infidelity, who willfully deny the truth and obstinately resist it.

"We must mention and condemn again that most pernicious error which has been imbibed by certain Catholics who are of the opinion that those people who live in error and have not the true faith and are separated from Catholic unity, may obtain life everlasting. Now this opinion is most contrary to the Catholic faith, as is evident from the plain words of Our Lord, (Matt 18:17; Mark 16:16; Luke 10:16; John 3:18) as also from the words of Saint Paul (2 Tit. 52:11) and of Saint Peter (2 Peter 2:1) To entertain opinions contrary to this Catholic faith is to be an impious wretch." - Blessed Pope Pius IX

21. Why is it that positive infidels are not saved?

Positive infidels are not saved because, “positive infidelity, being willful obstinacy, palpable contradiction, and public contempt of divine revelation and of the precepts of the Gospel, is one of the most grievous sins in the sight of God and of His Holy Church,” says Saint Thomas Aquinas.

22. Explain the grievousness of the sin of infidelity.

Mortal sin is a deviation from virtue and divine law. The most heinous sin, therefore, is that which separates man from God more than any other. Now, no sin causes a greater separation from God than that of positive infidelity. When the intellect is in error and abandons the knowledge of God, the will follows it and increases in malice in proportion as the intellect turns away from the path of truth, justice, and charity. Each step that such a man takes in the darkness of infidelity, increases the distance that separates him from God. A return from that dangerous course is very difficult, for when the intellect is in error and the will is filled with malice and depravity, all the bonds capable of uniting man to God are torn asunder.

If such men die in this disposition of mind they are infallibly lost, says Saint Thomas. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6)

23. Which kind of infidels are not guilty of the sin of infidelity, but commit other grievous sins?

Those who are not guilty of the sin of infidelity, but commit other grievous sins, are all those unbaptized persons who never had an opportunity of knowing the true religion, or of becoming aware of the obligation of seeking and embracing it, but who do not live up to the dictates of their conscience.

24. Will this class of infidels be lost?

This class of infidels will be lost, not on account of their infidelity, which was no sin for them, but on account of other grievous sins which they committed against their conscience. “For whosoever have sinned without the law,” says Saint Paul, “shall perish without the law.” (Romans 2:12)

25. Will those infidels be lost, who are not guilty of the sin of infidelity and live up to their conscience?

Of those infidels who are not guilty of the sin of infidelity and are faithful in obeying the voice of their conscience, Saint Thomas Aquinas says: “If anyone was brought up in the wilderness or among brute beasts, and if he followed the law of nature to desire what is good, and to avoid what is wicked, we should certainly believe that God, by an inward inspiration, would reveal to him what he should believe, or would send someone to preach the Faith to him, as He sent Peter to Cornelius.”

Heresy Explained

26. What is the meaning of the word “heretic”?

The word “heretic” is derived from the Greek, and means “a chooser.”

27. What is a heretic?

A heretic is any baptized person, professing Christianity, and choosing for himself what to believe and what not to believe as he pleases, in obstinate opposition to any particular truth which he knows is taught by the Catholic Church as a truth revealed by God.

28. How many things, then, are required to make a person guilty of the sin of heresy?

To make a person guilty of the sin of heresy, three things are required:

a) He must be baptized and profess Christianity. This distinguishes him from a Jew and idolater; b) He must refuse to believe a truth revealed by God, and taught by the Church as so revealed;c) He must obstinately adhere to error, preferring his own private judgment in matters of faith and morals to the infallible teaching of the Catholic Church.

29. How many kinds of heretics (Protestants) are there?

There are three kinds of heretics:

a) Those who are guilty of the sin of heresy; b) Those who are not guilty of the sin of heresy, but commit other grievous sins;c) Those who are not guilty of the sin of heresy and live up to the dictates of their conscience.

30. Who are guilty of the sin of heresy?

Of the sin of heresy are guilty:

a) All those baptized persons, who profess Christianity and obstinately reject a truth revealed by God and taught by the Church as so revealed; b) Those who embrace an opinion contrary to Faith, maintain it obstinately, and refuse to submit to the authority of the Catholic Church;c) Those who willfully doubt the truth of an article of Faith, for by such willful doubt they actually question God’s knowledge and truth, and to do this is to be guilty of heresy; d) Those who know the Catholic Church to be the only true Church, but do not embrace her faith; e) Those who could know the Church, if they would candidly search, but who, through indifference and other culpable motives, neglect to do so; f) Those who, like the Anglicans, think that they approach very near the Catholic Church, because their prayers and ceremonies are like many prayers and ceremonies of the Catholic Church, and because their Creed is the Apostles’ Creed. These are heretics in principle, for, “The real character of rank heresy,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “consists in want of submission to the divine teaching authority in the Head of the Church.”

31. Why are true heretics lost?

True heretics are lost because by rejecting the divine teacher — the Catholic Church — they reject all divine teaching, to do which is one of the greatest sins. Hence Pope Pius IX spoke of Protestantism in all its forms as “the great revolt against God,” it being an attempt to substitute a human for a divine authority, and a declaration of the creature’s independence from the Creator. For this reason Holy Scripture condemns heresy in the strongest terms. “A man,” says St. Paul, “that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid; knowing that he who is such a one is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment.” (Tit. 3:10-11) And again he says: “Though we, or an angel from Heaven, preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema,” that is, “accursed”. (Gal. 1:8)

Heretics are lost because they have no divine Faith. “To reject but one article of Faith taught by the Church,” says St. Thomas Aquinas, “is enough to destroy Faith, as one mortal sin is enough to destroy Charity. For the virtue of Faith does not consist merely in adhering to the Holy Scriptures, and in revering them as the Word of God; it consists principally in submitting our intellect and will to the divine authority of the true Church charged by Jesus Christ to expound them. “I would not believe the Holy Scriptures,” says St. Augustine, “were it not for the divine authority of the Church.” He, therefore, who despises and rejects this authority, cannot have true Faith. If he admits some supernatural truths, they are but simple opinions, as he makes those truths depend on his private judgment.

And as divine Faith is the beginning of salvation, the foundation and source of justification, and is found only in the true Church, it is clear that there is no salvation for one as long as he is a heretic.

Heresy Denies All Faith

32. Have heretics faith in Jesus Christ?

Saint Thomas Aquinas says: “It is absurd for a heretic to say that he believes in Jesus Christ. To believe in a person is to give our full consent to His word and to all He teaches. True Faith, therefore, is absolute belief in Jesus Christ and in all He taught. Hence, he who does not adhere to all that Jesus Christ has prescribed for our salvation, has no more the doctrine of Jesus Christ and of His Church, than the pagans, Jews, and Turks have.” “He is,” says Jesus Christ, “but a heathen and a publican”; and therefore he will be condemned to hell.

33. Show how Protestants have no absolute faith in Christ.

Jesus Christ says: “Hear the Church.” “No,” say Luther and all Protestants, “do not hear the Church; protest against her with all your might.”

Jesus Christ says: “If anyone will not hear the Church, look upon him as a heathen and a publican.” “No,” says Protestantism, “if anyone does not hear the Church, look upon him as an apostle, an ambassador of God.”

Jesus Christ says: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against My Church.” “No,” says Protestantism. “ ’Tis false, the gates of hell have prevailed against the Church for a thousand years and more.”

Jesus Christ has declared Saint Peter and every successor to Saint Peter — the Pope — to be His Vicar on earth. “No,” says Protestantism, “the Pope is anti- Christ”.

Jesus Christ says: “My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.” (Matt. 11:30) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “it is impossible to keep the Commandments.”

Jesus Christ says: “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matt. 19:17) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “faith alone, without good works, is sufficient to enter into life everlasting.”

Jesus Christ says: “Unless you do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (cf. Luke 13:3) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “fasting and other works of penance are not necessary in satisfaction for sin.”

Jesus Christ says: “This is My Body.” “No,” said Calvin, “this is only the figure of Christ’s Body; it will become His Body as soon as you receive It.”

Jesus Christ says: “I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.” (Matt. 19:9) “No,” say Luther and all Protestants, to a married man, “you may put away your wife, get a divorce, and marry another.”

Jesus Christ says to every man: “Thou shalt not steal.” “No,” said Luther to secular princes, “I give you the right to appropriate to yourselves the property of the Roman Catholic Church.”

34. Do heretics speak in this manner also of the Holy Ghost and the Apostles?

They do. The Holy Ghost says in Holy Scripture: “Man knoweth not whether he be worthy of love or hatred.” (Eccles. 9:1) “Who can say: My heart is clean, I am pure from sin?” (Prov. 20:9) And, “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philip. 2:12) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “but whosoever believes in Jesus Christ, is in the state of grace.”

Saint Paul says: “If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor. 13:2) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “faith alone is sufficient to save us.”

Saint Peter says that in the Epistles of Saint Paul there are many things “hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as also the other Scriptures, to their own perdition.” (2 Pet. 3:16) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “the Scriptures are very plain, and easy to be understood.”

Saint James says: “Is anyone sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil, in the name of the Lord.” (Chapter 5, verse 14) “No,” said Luther and Calvin, “that is a vain and useless ceremony.”

35. Now, do you think God the Father will admit into Heaven those who thus contradict His Son Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and the Apostles?

No, He will let them have their portion with Lucifer in hell, who first rebelled against Christ, and who is the father of liars.

36. Can a Christian be saved, who has left the true Church of Christ, the Holy Catholic Church?

No, because the Church of Christ is the kingdom of God on earth, and he who leaves that kingdom, shuts himself out from the kingdom of Christ in Heaven.

37. Have Protestants left the true Church of Christ?

Protestants left the true Church of Christ in their founders, who left the Catholic Church either through pride or through the passion of lust and covetousness.

38. What will be the punishment of those who willfully rebel against the Holy Catholic Church?

Those who willfully rebel against the Holy Catholic Church, will, like Lucifer and the other rebellious angels, be cast into the everlasting flames of hell. “He who will not hear the Church,” says Christ, “let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.” (Matt. 18:17)

39. But if a Protestant should say: “I have nothing to do with Luther or Calvin or Henry VIII or John Knox, I go by the Bible,” what would you answer him?

In that case, you adopt, and go by, the principles and spirit of the authors of heresies, and you change the written Word of God into the word of man, because you interpret Holy Scripture in your own private manner, giving it that meaning which you choose to give it, and thus, instead of believing the Word of God, you believe rather your own private interpretation of it, which is but the word of man. Hence, Saint Augustine says: “You who believe what you please, and reject what you please, believe yourselves or your own fancy rather than the Gospel.”

Inculpable Ignorance

40. Which Protestants are not guilty of the sin of heresy, but commit other great sins?

Those who are Protestants without their fault and who never had an opportunity of knowing better, are not guilty of the sin of heresy; but if they do not live up to the dictates of their conscience, they will be lost, not on account of their heresy, which for them was no sin, but on account of other grievous sins which they committed.

41. Will those heretics be saved, who are not guilty of the sin of heresy, and are faithful in living up to the dictates of their conscience?

Inculpable ignorance of the true religion excuses a heathen from the sin of infidelity, and a Protestant from the sin of heresy. But such ignorance has never been the means of salvation. From the fact that a person who lives up to the dictates of his conscience, and who cannot sin against the true religion on account of being ignorant of it, many have drawn the false conclusion that such a person is saved, or, in other words, is in the state of sanctifying grace, thus making ignorance a means of salvation or justification.

If we sincerely wish not to make great mistakes in explaining the great revealed truth, “Out of the Church there is no salvation,” we must remember:

a) That there are four great truths2 of salvation, which everyone must know and believe in order to be saved;

b) That no one can go to Heaven unless he is in the state of sanctifying grace;

c) That, in order to receive sanctifying grace, the soul must be prepared for it by divine Faith, Hope, Charity, true sorrow for sin with the firm purpose of doing all that God requires the soul to believe and to do, in order to be saved;

d) That this preparation of the soul cannot be brought by inculpable ignorance. And if such ignorance cannot even dispose the soul for receiving the grace of justification, it can much less give this grace to the soul. Inculpable ignorance has never been a means of grace or salvation, not even for the inculpably ignorant people that live up to their conscience. But of this class of ignorant persons we say, with Saint Thomas Aquinas, that God in His mercy will lead these souls to the knowledge of the necessary truths of salvation, even send them an angel, if necessary, to instruct them, rather than let them perish without their fault. If they accept this grace, they will be saved as Catholics.

Other Questions

42. But is it not a very uncharitable doctrine to say that no one can be saved out of the Church?

On the contrary, it is a very great act of charity to assert most emphatically, that out of the Catholic Church there is no salvation possible; for Jesus Christ and His Apostles have taught this doctrine in very plain language. He who sincerely seeks the truth is glad to hear it, and embrace it, in order to be saved.

43. But is it not said in Holy Scripture: “He that feareth God, and worketh justice, is acceptable to Him?”

This is true. But we must remember that he who fears God, will also believe all the truths that God has revealed, as Cornelius did. (Acts, Chapter 10) He believes Jesus Christ when He speaks to us through the pastors of His Church. But he who does not believe all the truths that God has revealed, but instead believes and rejects whatever he chooses, does not fear God, and cannot work justice. “He that believeth not the Son of God” — Jesus Christ — “maketh Him a liar,” says Saint John (1 John 5:10); and will, on this account, be condemned to hell.

44. But are there not many who would lose the affections of their friends, their comfortable homes, their temporal goods, and prospects in business, were they to become Catholics? Would not Jesus Christ excuse them, under such circumstances, from becoming Catholics?

As to the affection of friends, Jesus Christ has solemnly declared: “He who loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me.” (Matt. 10:37) And as to the loss of temporal gain He has answered: “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

45. But would it not be enough for such a one to be a Catholic in heart only, without professing his religion publicly?

No, for Jesus Christ has solemnly declared that, “He who shall be ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man shall be ashamed when He shall come in His majesty, and that of His Father, and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:26)

46. But might not such a one safely put off being received into the Church till the hour of death?

To put off being received into the Church till the hour of death is to abuse the mercy of God, and to expose oneself to the danger of losing the light and grace of Faith, and die a reprobate.

47. What else keeps many from becoming Catholics?

Many know very well that, if they become Catholics, they must lead honest and sober lives, be pure, and check their sinful passions, and this they are unwilling to do. “Men love darkness rather than light,” says Jesus Christ, “because their deeds are evil.” There are none so deaf as those that will not hear.

48. What follows from the fact that salvation can be found only in the Roman Catholic Church?

It follows that it is very impious for anyone to think and to say that it matters little what a man believes provided he be an honest man.

49. What answer can you give to a man who speaks thus?

A man who says, “it matters little what a man believes, provided he be an honest man,” I would ask whether or not he believed that his honesty and justice were so great as that of the Scribes and Pharisees in the Gospel. They were constant in prayer; they paid tithes according to the law, gave great alms, fasted twice a week, and compassed the sea and land to make a convert and bring him to the knowledge of the true God.

50. What did Jesus Christ say of this justice of the Pharisees?

He says: “Unless your justice shall exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 5:20)

51. Was, then, the righteousness of the Pharisees very defective in the sight of God?

The righteousness of the Pharisees was most undoubtedly very defective. Their righteousness was all outward show and ostentation. They did good only to be praised and admired by men; but within their souls they were full of impurity and malice. They were lewd hypocrites, who concealed great vices under the beautiful appearance of love for God, charity to the poor, and severity to themselves. Their devotion consisted in exterior acts, and they despised all who did not live as they did. They were strict in the religious observances of human traditions, but scrupled not to violate the Commandments of God.

52. What are we then to think of those who say: “It matters little what a man believes, provided he be honest?”

Of those who say this, we think that their exterior honesty, like that of the Pharisees, may be sufficient to keep them out of prison, but not out of hell.

Pius IX Answers

53. But did not Pope Pius IX say that all men, however alienated from Catholic union they remain, are alike in the way of salvation and may obtain life everlasting?

To this calumnious report of certain newspapers, Pope Pius IX replied: “in our times, many of the enemies of the Catholic Faith direct their efforts towards placing every monstrous opinion on the same level with the doctrine of Christ, or confounding it therewith; and so they try more and more to propagate that impious system of the indifference of religions. But quite recently — we shudder to say — certain men have not hesitated to slander us by saying that we share in their folly, favor that most wicked system, and think so benevolently of every class of mankind as to suppose that not only the sons of the Church, but that the rest also, however alienated from Catholic unity they may remain, are alike in the way of salvation, and may arrive at everlasting life. We are at a loss, from horror, to find words to express our detestation of this new and atrocious injustice that is done us.

“We love, indeed, all mankind with the inmost affection of our heart, yet not otherwise than in the love of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, Who came to seek and to save that which had perished, Who died for all, Who wills all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; Who, therefore, sent His disciples into the whole world to preach the Gospel to every creature, proclaiming that those who should believe and be baptized should be saved, but that those who should not believe should be condemned.

“Let those, therefore, who wish to be saved, come to the pillar and the ground of Faith, which is the Church; let them come to the true Church of Christ, which, in her bishops and in the Roman Pontiff, the chief head of all, has the succession of apostolical authority which has never been interrupted, which has never counted anything of greater importance than to preach, and by all means to keep and defend the doctrine proclaimed by the Apostles at Christ’s command.” (Allocution to the Cardinals held on December 17, 1847)

54. What conclusion, therefore, should every non-Catholic draw from this conviction?

From this conviction, every non-Catholic should draw the practical conclusion to become a Catholic. For when there is a question about eternal salvation and eternal damnation, a sensible man will take the surest way to Heaven.


1) Apostasy, or the falling away from the true Faith, is a kind of infidelity. As the virtue of true faith unites us with God, so the sin of apostasy separates us from Him. As the real loss of faith is a total separation from God and His Holy Church, it is called apostasy of perfidy. Whoever is guilty of this kind of apostasy, is deprived of grace and of all other means of salvation, for, “Faith is the life of the soul: the just man lives by faith.” (Rom. 1: 17) “When the soul, the life of the body,” says Saint Thomas Aquinas, “has left the body, all its natural powers and physical organization begin to be dissolved. In like manner, when true faith, the life of the soul is totally destroyed, a mortal disorder, a spiritual contagion, pervades all the members and faculties of the body, which are the instruments of the soul.” Hence it is, that the apostate uses every faculty of his soul and body to pervert others, by inducing them to renounce the Faith which he himself has renounced to his own perdition. “It had been better for them (heretics and apostates) not to have known the way of justice than, after having known it, to turn away from it.” (2 Peter 2: 21) “Woe to you ungodly men,” says Holy Writ, “woe to you who have forsaken the law of the Most High Lord! If you be born, you shall be born in rnalediction, and if you die, in malediction shall be your position. The ungodly shall pass from malediction to destruction; the name of the ungodly shall be blotted out.” (Eccles. 61:11-14 )

2) Editor’s Note: Father Muller is most likely referring to these four truths: 1) that God is, 2) that He is Remunerator (Rewarder), 3) the Blessed Trinity, 4) the Incarnation.