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Are You Waiting for the Church to Change Her Teachings?

April 28, AD2015

Frank - facade and statue

If there is one sentiment that baffles me more than any other, it’s this:

The Catholic Church will be changing her teachings, and I only need watch and wait. I am foolish for not seeing the “big picture” of how it’s all going to go down. It’s inevitable. The Church will come around, the Church will conform. It’s just a matter of time.

In response, I question how many millennia have to pass without the Church changing before they’ll concede the point?

Take a look at what a dissenting Catholic named James said to me just the other day, about the foolishness of faithful Catholics (emphases mine):

It’s just as frustrating to me to see an intelligent person walking a rigid black and white line that will waver and shift in the coming centuries. When I taught each of my girls to drive they all exhibited the same myopic habit of looking 6 feet over the hood. My first correction to them was to look waaaay down the road to get the big picture, to see what was coming so as to be aware, while using peripheral vision to sort out any immediate hazards. Their driving improved immediately.

James believes that he has vision far into the future; he sees what’s coming ahead. If only the Catholic Church could see what he sees or could know what he knows.

Well, I agree that somebody is missing the big picture here, but it’s not the Church. The Church isn’t looking “six feet over the hood”, not at all. In fact, she started her engine over two thousand long years ago, and she began her journey looking out toward all of eternity. She was full of confidence in her mission and destiny then (as now), and she knew exactly where she was going. Two millennia later, she sees in her rearview mirror the ruins of every empire she passed along the way, even as she steadily cruises along, undeterred. She has not “wavered and shifted” off of the road and into any ditches, nor is there any credible sign that she ever will.

There is just no sign of it.

Dissenters and heretics and naysayers and ex-Catholics have been predicting “inevitable changes” since the first century of the Church’s existence. Yet, they are the ones who took their eyes off the road. While looking sideways to gawk at shiny distractions, or while looking inward to contemplate the lint in their own navels, they lost the “big picture” and ran themselves into a ditch. Ouch.

But that’s not how the Church rolls.

Let’s walk through it:

The First Century — Enemies of the Church are smugly predicting her fall, brutally persecuting her, violently trying to force the change themselves.

The Second Century — Ditto

The Third Century — Ditto

The Fourth Century — Violence against the Church eases, but how ’bout them heretics! The Church is wrong, they say, and she must and will change. The heretics gain lots of followers but lose Christ. The Church keeps driving straight ahead.

The Fifth Century — The Church still hasn’t changed her teachings, still going strong. Dissenters, heretics, and apostates see only six feet over the hood, and they lose the big picture entirely.

The Sixth Century — The Church still had not changed her teachings. Eyes on the road, driving smoothly forth.

The Seventh Century — The Church continues to outlast her critics, i.e., the ones who confidently predict her inevitable assimilation to the ways of the world or to their own particular heresy. Same story in…

The Eighth Century

The Ninth Century

The Tenth Century

The Eleventh Century

The Twelfth Century

The Thirteenth Century

(Are you still with me?)

The Fourteenth Century

The Fifteenth Century

The Sixteenth Century — Special note here: A bunch of Catholics disillusioned with sinners in the Church decide to jettison the Church entirely and preach brand new (heretical) doctrines; Church teaching still does not change, even as internal corruption is cleaned up. The Church continues to drive on her divinely appointed path while the Protestant Reformers and their followers splinter endlessly off-course in all directions.

The Seventeenth Century

The Eighteenth Century

The Nineteenth Century

The Twentieth Century

The Twenty-first Century

Still no change. Yawn. Just checking my watch here. Nope, we’re good. Still taking the long view and not getting sidetracked.

The spirit and sins of the age in every culture have come and gone a thousand times over, and the Church has not bowed to any of them.
There is not a scintilla of evidence that the Church is about to reverse course.

But still I get, “Oh, it’s just a matter of time now. You’ll see. The house of cards will fall.” And yet, no one ever sees, and the “house of cards” never falls.

My question: How much time must elapse until the critics are convinced?

It’s a serious question, but it’s largely rhetorical, of course. The critics will never be convinced in our own time, even as they weren’t convinced in the First Century, or the Second, or the Fourth, or the Sixteenth, or the Twentieth.

There have been a million Jameses talking of the Church’s inevitable change for centuries on end with not a hint of vindication. Their blinders won’t allow them to see the Church that Christ established, the Church protected and charged with teaching the Truth both in season and out.

My advice to James and the others is to take James’ advice and apply it to themselves: Stop with the myopic habit of looking only six feet over the hood at the fads and fancies of the day. Look waaaay down the road to get the big picture, use the experience of two millennia to understand what is coming so as to be aware, and use your peripheral vision to sort out any immediate hazards and shiny trinkets that would take you off the steady, narrow road and into a ditch. Your driving will improve immediately.

Your path will be stable, reliable, and clear to eternity.

 

 

+++++++

PS: Before anyone challenges me by presenting supposed “changes” in Church teaching, be sure to know the difference between a discipline and a doctrine.

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Leila Miller is a wife and mother of eight children who has a penchant for writing and a passion for teaching the Catholic Faith in simple ways. This summa cum laude Boston College graduate also enjoys debating secularists, and in her spare time she fancies herself a bit of a Catholic matchmaker. She manages two blogs that accommodate those hobbies well: Little Catholic Bubble, and the invite-only Catholic Moms Matchmaking.

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  • CFitzRN

    Bravo! Well done.

  • Pingback: Tuesday, May 12, 2015 | Gus Lloyd's Reflections()

  • Betsy

    Oh, but I wish I could force everyone to read this! Beautifully said!

  • SnowRose

    We have the promise of Christ that the gates of hell will not prevail, the teachings Jesus gave can never be changed, they are as Eternal as God Himself is. I have faith that the Catholic Church will follow her God till the end of time.

  • SclrHmnst

    I oppose Catholicism for one main reason. That reason is the idea that there exists a “Truth” that the world rejects. To me, the Truth is actually a falsehood (I prefer to not call it a lie because I think it is more of a delusion to most and maybe a lie to some).

    However, the social cost of exposing this falsehood would be unbearable. This world is doomed without the Catholic Church. Every time I see things happening on the news, I wonder what would have happened if the people involved were devout Catholics. Other than the priest scandals, in just about every instance, having them be *devout* Catholics would make the situation better or at least more tolerable.

    First, I started watching the news stories and just felt priviledged to not have any part in them, whether they be terrorist attacks, riots, natural disasters, whatever. But that is a kind of empty self-satisfaction and contentment.

    Looking at the same and thinking of everyone asking themselves “what would Jesus do?” is just earthshaking (no pun intended). And this works whether I believe what these people would believe or not.

    We can’t do without Catholicism even if it were to be found to not be built on real solid facts. If everyone were to believe in the Incarnation, the problems of living in this world would practically solve themselves. We need the Church.

    • james

      See JoAnna, he has been reincarnated as a kinder, gentler atheist.

    • SclrHmnst

      If I returned to being a theist, I would have to be Catholic. No other religion would make sense given the state of the world today. Either there is no God or there is one and we have chosen to ignore him.

    • james

      Religion isn’t supposed to make sense – its purpose is to purport a belief.system.

    • SclrHmnst

      That’s an eastern idea. I would only follow a religion that makes sense. Catholicism would make sense if Jesus of Nazareth really were who Catholics say he is. The rest all falls in place. But it is only the Gospel of John, written near the end of the 1st century that in anyway implies that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life or that he is divine. Nowhere else does anyone make such a claim. Not Matthew, Mark, Luke, Paul, James, Jude or Peter. He is called Son of God, Son of Man, but not God himself.

    • james

      Stay away from theology, Bill, you’re way over your head. Peace..

    • SnowRose

      james, Jesus made perfect sense, at least to me 🙂

    • SnowRose

      Many have chosen to ignore God, but He is unchanged. That people have been deluded by Satan and the world is not a good reason for you to play roulette with your immortal soul, is it?

    • SclrHmnst

      The scare of losing one’s soul by not believing is not a concern to me. It shouldn’t be to anyone.

    • SnowRose

      I wasn’t talking about fear, I was talking about choices that have eternal consequences. God won’t cross your freewill, it really is up to you. What exactly do you want, anyway?

    • SclrHmnst

      SnowRose,

      What I want I want for this life only. It has been a few years since I believed in anything beyond this life. What I would like most is some way to get along with all the great Catholic people in my life while maintaining my secular humanist views. Ideally, I would like to be able to tell them I don’t believe what they believe without putting them on the defensive or having them think there is something wrong with me or that I am going to hell.

      In a way, I am rehearsing on the Internet the conversations I might have with them someday. I have already found a lot of things NOT to say. I don’t want to ruin any friendships.

    • SnowRose

      I can’t speak for anyone else but I already like you. You seem to me to be a very decent person and I take Jesus at His word that we are not to judge others, that’s His place. I can still speak what I know and believe to be the Truth and stand by this myself, but you do not have to agree with me. That’s, in my opinion, what free will is all about. In the end we all choose what we want.

    • SclrHmnst

      “I take Jesus at His word that we are not to judge others”

      You take this seriously. Many do not. They have this thing about not “tolerating evil” and they see that as the exception to not judging others. It’s a fine line to them.

    • SnowRose

      I don’t tolerate evil… Love the sinner, not the sin, that’s where not judging a person comes in. if I were tell someone their evil acts were OK, that would not be right.

  • Patti Maguire Armstrong

    Thanks for putting everything into perspective so beautifully.

  • james

    Eastern deism has been around at least 500 years longer than Christianity and not once did they change the central dogmatic concept called the transmigration of souls. It’s twin brother, Purgatory, born of medieval theology based on divisive councils that swept rivals under the rug, doesn’t even come close in holy brilliance. Because the CC will always lead the world to God it will eventually advance the end game objective of all becoming one by rejecting “nothing that is true”- which means it will clarify doctrine by revisiting : Douay Matt 10:39 and 16:28, Mk: 8:39, 9:45 and 13:30, Lk 9:27, 12:59, 17:33 and 20:36, Jn 8:23-24, 8:51, the all important 9:1-5 and 21:21. The Buddha, placed on St JP II’s altar before the start of the interfaith service at Assisi and recent drop in by Francis to greet the Buddhist community ARE the subtle changes you want to track over the course of the next millennium. Your pitiful timeline encompassing mankind’s darkest ages is of no consequence to a species poised to explore the stars – and just because you can’t think in terms of star dates doesn’t mean the church is so limited. End of thread, dear Leila. Thanks for the rebirth of my blog comments.

    • Leila Miller

      Aaaaannnd, you’ve rebutted nothing and referred to none of my points in the thread. 🙂

    • james

      It must be great to be able to copy and paste the past on to the unwritten pages of the future 🙂

    • Leila Miller

      I think my original post may have been lost on you….

    • james

      That’s, ok, two, three rounds in the ring with you is enough 🙂

  • fredx2

    After hanging out at the disaster that is NCR comment section, I am convinced of a couple of things – most of these dissidents love to portray themselves as being far in advance of their time, because their ideas are universally rejected by normal people.

    Therefore, psychologically, they need to invent the idea that “someday” their ideas will become accepted. They have a bit of a messiah complex, a bit of a love for playing the victim, and an unshakeable sureness that they are right and no one in authority can tell them anything. I am also shocked at the state of their factual knowledge, which is often incredibly deficient.

    The other thing I learned is that many of them have had traumatic events in their lives, whether it be some sort of abuse, disease, accident or whatever, that has caused them to be basically so filled with emotion that it keeps them from calmly, rationally evaluating things. The emotional side overwhelms their rational side, and they need their opposition to the church to make some sense of their lives. So their wait for the church to change its doctrine is driven by deep psychological need rather than prudent expectation. For many of them, they need to feel the healing warmth of acceptance before their rational side can kick in. The wounds are just too deep.

    • SclrHmnst

      “The other thing I learned is that many of them have had traumatic events in their lives, whether it be some sort of abuse, disease, accident or whatever, that has caused them to be basically so filled with emotion that it keeps them from calmly, rationally evaluating things.”

      I believe that there are many ways in which atheists like myself reach their conclusion and some of those ways can involve life changing events in their lives. Some can be traumatic, some can be by doing research, some can be just seeing what works and what doesn’t.

      Once you find out how little authority the Catholic Church has over anything but the lives of its most ardent followers, whether it sticks to its original dogma and doctrines or changes them really becomes irrelevant.

    • Leila Miller

      Then why are you so obsessed with the Church, Bill? And I do mean obsessed. After all, it has “so little authority” and is “irrelevant”, but you cannot stop obsessing and thinking about it.

    • SclrHmnst

      Because, even though I no longer believe and should therefore not care what the Church has to say about anything, the truth remains that many are being misled by it and I am compelled to point out that not only can the Church be wrong but it many times is wrong. It is has billions of people convinced that it represents the Creator of the universe, which is absolutely wrong. It bears pointing out how wrong it can be.

    • Leila Miller

      Well, even the secularists on my own blog have asked you to stop. You are not “compelled”, you are obsessed in an unhealthy way. You need to stop. None of us are going to leave the Truth of Christ because you feel “compelled” to keep saying “it’s wrong”. You are obsessed, honestly.

    • SclrHmnst

      The “Truth of Christ”. But is there anything true about it. Really. I think not. Bye.

  • james

    Sigh. It’s james, Leila. At least get the spelling right.

    • Leila Miller

      Sorry, you spell your name with a lowercase “j”? Is that what you mean?

    • Leila Miller

      Or are you confused by the use of the plural, “Jameses”?

    • james

      yes, lower case as there is
      another contributor on this
      site named James – and I want all the credit, good , bad and deserved.

    • SclrHmnst

      The other James and I correspond from time to time. He is more devout than you, james. (Ya think?)

    • james

      ” With devotion’s visage And pious action we do sugar o’er The
      devil himself.” from Hamlet

  • Everything created must change, evolve, adapt consistent with its nature or become extinct. Things of significance do change within the Church which are/were considered dogmatic.

    Let me give one example which jumps out at me:extra Ecclesiam nulla salus…outside the Church there is no salvation!

    Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra:
    “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

    Today, the Church does not condemn Jews and others to hell unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives. The last three popes have joined in prayer with members of the First Nations, the Jews, Muslims, Orthodox, Buddhists without ever telling them that ecclesiam nulla salus. We no longer condemn to hell other believers of good faith. The dogma and belief has changed, evolved etc.

    Several other examples are cited in the work of John Noonan

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/22/books/review/22STEINFE.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&sq

    • Leila Miller

      Sorry, Phil, you can’t misrepresent the Church. You are the one who does not understand. I will link some things here, but I will come back later when I can and give more info. For now (I’m out the door), there is this:

      https://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/outside_the_church.htm

      http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/what-no-salvation-outside-the-church-means

    • Ok. so specifically how did I misread the words of Pope Eugene, IV, 1441, Council of Florence…..The articles you cite, which I did read, cite misunderstood, re-formulated, etc. Eugene’s words are pretty clear to the regular person…now they are modified or clarified? I really don;t understand…..

    • Leila Miller

      Dear Phil,

      Context is everything. I’m sure you’ve read the whole document? 😉

      From Fr. Christopher Buckner on claims like yours, regarding that exact passage:

      “The key to this passage is the four categories mentioned, pagans being listed first. They have received none of the message of salvation. The Jews have received only part of the message, that of the Old Testament. Third are the heretics who, although having received the complete message of salvation, seem to have lost some of it by way of a conscious separation from the Church. The fourth group is the one to whom the document is primarily directed, the schismatics. They have deliberately cut themselves off from the Church by a complete break from its head, the Pope. The reason for the strength of this statement was that it was hoped that it would bring the separated Eastern Churches back into unity with Rome. Such a strong statement was issued against the schismatics because of the relation between unity and charity. St. Thomas holds that unity is made by charity and therefore the schismatics are separating themselves from the unity and therefore the charity of the Church. The concern of the Council of Florence was pastoral; it was trying to bring back lost sheep.”

      As Dr. Carroll says: “The Church has always taught that no soul is lost except by its own fault, its rejection of truth and charity.”

      Context, dear Phil.

    • thanks..

    • Leila Miller

      You’re welcome. Thanks for the chance to clarify.

    • Andre B

      If Phil Dzialo ‘s point is that the Church’s position on ‘No Salvation Outside the Church’ has shifted over time, I’m not sure you’ve made a great case.

      Your first of two links (EWTN), seems to make it’s argument entirely by referring to statements or understandings in the 1800s (and later), and does nothing to show why the statements in the “Cantate Domino” (1441) would have been understood differently – at the time.

      The same Pius IX the article quotes also had the following to say re: salvation outside the Church:

      Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and “judgements of God” which are “a great abyss” (Ps. 35.7) and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic Duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive form the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever.

      This appears to be much more of an admission that, since there is no way for humans to know the mind of God, that we can’t say for sure whether those who are outside the Church can or cannot find salvation – but it sure seems like he’s cautioning against any “good hope” of such a thing.

      As to your second link (Catholic Answers), there’s a great deal of appealing to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and talk of “reformulated teaching” (which, if you’re arguing against the position that the teaching has changed, isn’t what you want to hear), but I see nothing to help give context to how the ‘Cantate Domino’ should have been interpreted in 1441, or how a plain reading of the text would conflict which a properly contextualized reading of it.

      Onto the above from Fr. Buckner.

      He seems to argue that, despite the four categories being the “key to this message”, that since the fourth group (schismatics) were the primary audience, we should…pretend like passage doesn’t also list pagans, Jews, and heretics?

      Again, nothing in this helps give context to the passage in such a way that shows that the plain reading of the text – that there is no salvation outside the Church – is misleading. Especially when taken with several other statements from earlier Popes which appear to say the same thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra_Ecclesiam_nulla_salus#Catholic_statements_of_this_teaching

      PS. You may still be right that Catholic teaching has not evolved on this issue, I just don’t think that anything you’ve presented here makes the case you think it does.

    • Leila Miller

      Then go back further and look at all of it. There are many documents and Fathers to consider. Here is a link with a whole lot of thoughtful analysis and citations, if you want to dive in:

      https://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/OUTSID.TXT

      In part:

      Broad texts [those that admit the possibility of salvation for non-card-carrying Catholics] are found in: First Clement, St. Justin, Hermas, Second
      Clement, St. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hegemonius,
      Arnobius, Eusebius of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. John
      Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Prosper, St. Nilus, St. Cyril
      of Alexandria, Theodoret, St. Leo the Great, St. Gregory the Great,
      Primasius, and St. John Damascene. We added two samples of later writers
      with broad texts: Haymo and Oecumenius.

      We find many of the Fathers specifically answering the charge of Celsus
      (why did Christ come so late)–St. Justin, St. Irenaeus, Origen,
      Hegemonius, Arnobius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine (though not all
      explicitly mention Celsus).

      Very many speak of the Church as always existing: Hermas, Second Clement,
      Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, St. Augustine, St. Leo, St.
      Gregory, St. John Damascene.

      The idea that theophanies in the Old Testament times were really by the
      Logos is very common among the Fathers. So it is not strange that we find
      many of the Fathers speak of the Logos as present to men to save them: St.
      Justin, St. Irenaeus, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine.

      Closely related is the idea that pagans can be saved if they follow the
      law written on hearts by the Spirit of Christ, or the Logos, as in Romans
      2:15:[98] Origen, Hegemonius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of
      Alexandria, Theodoret, Primasius.

    • Andre B

      Then go back further and look at all of it. There are many documents and Fathers to consider.

      All of what? Do I need to go back and read all the documents from all the Church Fathers?

      Let’s step back and remember the context of my initial comment. 1) You claim in the OP that the Church doesn’t change her teachings. 2) Phil proposes an example of something he believes illustrates a shift in Church teaching re: extra ecclesiam nulla salus, and cites a 1441 Papal pronouncement who’s plain reading seems to differ from more modern views on salvation outside the church. 3) You then accuse Phil of misrepresenting the Church and failing to understand, and give two links which would presumably demonstrate his misunderstanding, as well as an additional comment citing what were told is the missing context. I mean, you also imply that, if Phil had simply read all of ‘Cantate Domino’, the missing context would be apparent (though, oddly, you don’t cite any such contextualizing passages, leaving one to wonder whether or not you have read all of it).

      Now, in response to my comment – that the links and excerpts you gave did not make a good case against Phil’s example – you seem to imply that I now need to read all the writings of the Church Fathers. On the one hand, fair enough, more knowledge is more knowledge (though some acknowledgement that what you previously cited did little, if anything, to support your claim that Phil was in error would have been nice)…on the other, you’re the one making the claims here, so maybe you might do more showing why Phil is mistaken, instead of merely telling us to read XYZ.

      Here is a link with a whole lot of thoughtful analysis and citations, if you want to dive in: https://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/OUTSID.TXT

      The piece you cite begins with the following:

      A recent study by Gustave Thils, “Pour une theologie de structure planetaire,” has pointed out some new possibilities for the solution of
      the vexing and long-standing problem, the salvation of those who are or
      seem to be outside the Church.

      New possibilities? How exciting! Sounds a bit like “reformulated teachings”, eh? Also seems to indicate that Phil is not alone in thinking that many passages seem to be problematic.

      Yet, the Fathers of the first centuries, on closer study, reveal the start of a way out of this impasse. They did not, it seems, reach the complete solution, but they pointed in the right direction.

      You know, again, not sure you want to try to defend claims of unchanging teachings with examples that seem to rely on the Church evolving from earlier, incomplete solutions.

      To understand their thought we need to notice that so many of them were remarkably faithful to an essential facet of theological method. They knew that in divine revelation it is not strange if one meets two conclusions which, even on rechecking, turn out to be both true, so that we must hold on in the dark, as it were, until somehow the day may dawn that will show the way to reconciliation. A striking example of this appears in the way the Fathers wrestled with two most difficult Scriptural texts:[3] Lk 2:52, which asserts that Jesus grew even in wisdom as well as in age, and Mk 13:32, in which Jesus Himself is quoted as saying He did not know the day of the end.

      The result was that in a very large number of major Fathers, we find two
      groups of statements on the question of the human knowledge of Jesus. One
      group seems to admit ignorance in Him, so He could literally grow in
      wisdom, and have a lack of knowledge of the day of the end. The other
      group of texts firmly asserts there was no ignorance in Him on either of
      these points.

      With remarkable fidelity, the Fathers went on for a long time in making
      both kinds of assertions. On the one hand, they did not wish to flatly
      contradict what Scripture seemed to say; on the other hand, they knew that
      there could not be ignorance in His human intellect. This situation went
      on until finally a way was found to reconcile the seeming contradiction.

      St. Athanasius first discovered that we could distinguish between actual growth in knowledge, and growth in the manifestation of what was always there–showing it “before God and men.” Much more time had to pass before Eulogius and St. Gregory the Great found the solution to the knowledge of the last day, in saying that He knew it in His humanity but not from His humanity.

      A diligent search in the Fathers shows a similar situation in regard to “no salvation outside the Church.” We find again two sets of assertions, very often by the same writers. One group of statements speaks very strongly, and almost stringently, about the need of membership; the other group softens this position by taking a remarkably broad view of what membership consists in.

      As we said, in the problems of the human knowledge of Jesus, the Fathers
      eventually did find out how to reconcile the two kinds of assertions. On
      our present question of membership in the Church, they seem to have found
      only part of the answer. But, with their help, we will, at the end of this
      appendix, propose a new Scripturally-based solution.

      Sorry for the wall-o-text, but figured I wouldn’t want to be accused of taking things out of context. Here I think we see an argument that, from the beginning, there has been a tension between strict vs. broad interpretations concerning ‘salvation outside the Church’. It’s far too simplistic to say that the Church has *always* taught the broader interpretation – that no soul is lost except through its own fault. It seems much more accurate to say there were always voices in the Church who held that position, but also that there were others who held the stricter position.

      I hate to keep beating this horse, but so far I’m not seeing anything that supports your charge that Phil is mistaken about the meaning of ‘Cantate Domino’, or how to reconcile the plain meaning of this text (strict interpretation) with the more modern (broad interpretation), other than to say that the Church started with two conflicting interpretations and, over time, dropped the stricter of the two, keeping the broader.

      EDIT: formatting

    • Leila Miller

      But Andre, there is always tension in things like this, and in things like “how do we love the sinner but hate the sin” (for an example). That there is tension does not mean that teachings have reversed or contradicted. Here’s the obvious example: St. Paul. He holds the broad view when he speaks of pagans and gentiles (and that would admit to the Church *always* holding it) and he also holds the strict view that one is only saved through Jesus Christ, and through His Church (but not in the sense of Feenyism, which is a heretical position).

      So, I’m not getting what you are concerned about? Are you claiming that there has been a reversal of this (ongoing/constant) tension? It seems clear it’s always been there. Nothing new.

    • Andre B

      That there is tension does not mean that teachings have reversed or contradicted.

      First, let’s remember that your claim is that Church teachings never change, so there’s no need to show wholesale reversal, just change. As for contradiction, well in this case, I think that was the starting position, if you will, and the eventual change seems to be that the Church has abandoned the strictest interpretation in favor of the broader (as you mention, Feeneyism is a heresy – though ironically Feeney himself, after first being excommunicated, was apparently allowed back into the Church without having to recant his position).

      St. Paul. He holds the broad view when he speaks of pagans and gentiles (and that would admit to the Church *always* holding it) and he also holds the strict view that one is only saved through Jesus Christ, and through His Church (but not in the sense of Feenyism, which is a heretical position).

      On the one hand, I’m not sure what your point is. We’ve already established that both views were well represented in the early Church Fathers, sometimes both positions by the same individual. On the other hand, in what way is Paul’s strict position different from Feeneyism? Merely saying “there is always tension in things like this” doesn’t make for a good argument, imo.

      I’m not getting what you are concerned about?

      I mean, for the third time now, what *concerns* me is that – in response to his suggestion that Church teaching re: extra ecclesiam nulla salus represents the sort of change in teaching you deny – you’ve accused Phil of misrepresenting the Church and misunderstanding the ‘Cantate Domino’ without doing a good job of showing either that he misunderstood the text itself and/or how exactly this passage can be reconciled with more modern understandings.

      Are you claiming that there has been a reversal of this (ongoing/constant) tension?

      I’m claiming that sources you’ve cited so far are rife with terms like ‘new possibilities for solving long-standing problems’, ‘reformulated teachings’, ‘ways out of impasses’, ‘pointed in the right direction’, etc. Maybe you’d prefer a term like ‘evolution’ or ‘growing understanding’, but a lot of it seems like change, to me.

      Sorry to repeat myself, but again, from the same source you’ve appealed to (https://www.ewtn.com/library/SCRIPTUR/OUTSID.TXT ):

      A diligent search in the Fathers shows a similar situation in regard to “no salvation outside the Church.” We find again two sets of assertions, very often by the same writers. One group of statements speaks very strongly, and almost stringently, about the need of membership; the other group softens this position by taking a remarkably broad view of what membership consists in.

      As we said, in the problems of the human knowledge of Jesus, the Fathers eventually did find out how to reconcile the two kinds of assertions. On our present question of membership in the Church, they seem to have found only part of the answer. But, with their help, we will, at the end of this appendix, propose a new Scripturally-based solution.

      I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong – I’m no theologian – but it seems to me that the modern understanding of ‘no salvation outside the Church’ is noticeably different from what we see in many earlier, stricter, pronouncements on the issue. You can point out that there were also many broad pronouncements, but I think it’s telling that the plain reading of the ‘Cantate Domino’ is essentially considered heresy according to the modern understanding. To me, it looks like change.

      PS. At this point I’m probably approaching, if not well past, the point of coming across as Phil’s white knight, so I’ll probably let this be my last response…other than to say that, given nothing you’ve presented here has shown how Phil misread Eugene, IV’s statement, I think that perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to accuse others of not understanding things. Humility is a virtue, and in the future, hopefully, you’ll instead say something like: “I’m not sure that’s the correct understanding of this passage, I’ll look into it and get back to you.”

    • Leila Miller

      “First, let’s remember that your claim is that Church teachings never change, so there’s no need to show wholesale reversal, just change.”

      Sorry I missed this the first time around. When I say “change”, I mean “reverse, or contradict what came before”. I do not mean “development of doctrine”, which you might be thinking of.

    • Andre B

      You missed the very first part of my last reply? In what order do you read things?

      Kidding aside, I think if you re-read my last reply, I make it clear that – whether you want to call it an ‘evolution’, a ‘growing understanding’, or (as you say) a ‘development of doctrine’ – there appears to be a significant difference between the Church’s teachings on this subject.

      Now, as I’ve said before, I’m no theologian. Maybe you just aren’t producing good sources for your argument, but according to what you’ve presented I don’t see how anyone can look at what the ‘Cantate Domino’ seems to present (strict interpretation) and then look at, say Feeneyism (strict interpretation alone = heresy), and not think that something has changed.

      The Church seems to have gone from two interpretations at odds with each other, to just the one. That there is no longer any apparent contradiction seems down to a reversal on their stance re: the strict interpretation of salvation outside the Church. To characterize that as a mere ‘development’ of doctrine, seems…unsatisfying, at best.

    • Leila Miller

      And yet, the Church has always held the same nuance that it did from the beginning (again, did you miss the stuff St. Paul said, or Augustine, and all those from the beginning of the Church till now?). The Church STILL says there is no salvation outside of the Church. And the Church STILL says that those outside of the Church can be saved (and only because of Christ and the Church). Look, my mind works logically. I hate to pull to the “logic card”, but in times like these I have to. I took the GMAT years ago and scored in the 99th percentile with no study or preparation or knowledge of formal logic. My mind just works that way. And there is no logical contradiction or problem with the Church’s position, as it has ALWAYS been nuanced to hold the tension of both ideas: That the only way to salvation is through the Catholic Church (true) and that those who are seeking Truth with a heart of good will can be saved (again, through the merits of Christ and His Church). All true. It makes sense. There is no contradiction there, and no reversal of anything at all.

      Interesting that we have really focussed on this singular issue (of non-change) and ignored the point of the OP.

    • Andre B

      I took the GMAT years ago and scored in the 99th percentile with no study or preparation or knowledge of formal logic.

      I took one of those Buzzfeed quizzes one time – I think it was ‘Which Mad Men Character Are You?’ – and it turns out I’m Joan, weird huh?

    • Leila Miller

      Actually, not surprising at all. I would have pegged you for Joan, too. 😉

    • Paul B. Lot

      I hate to pull to the “logic card”, but in times like these I have to. I took the GMAT years ago and scored in the 99th percentile with no study or preparation or knowledge of formal logic … And there is no logical contradiction or problem with the Church’s position

      Maybe if you’d taken, I don’t know, a smidgen of formal logic study or preparation you’d have learned that making the argument “Look, I didn’t want to have to be the one to say this, but I’m suuuper logical, and I say that there’s no logic problems here, so y’all can stop worrying.” is not *entirely* logically sound.

      It…it miiight be a little….unsound….logically.

      Maybe.

      But unfortunately I “studied” and “prepared” and “learned” “formal logic”, and I also have not scored in the 99th percentile, nor passed, nor even taken, the GMAT; so I defer to you!

    • Leila Miller

      I was just being anecdotal, not making a case based on formal logic, Paul. The point being, if something were so obviously illogical, I might be someone who could sniff it out. Just perhaps. I’m sure you got that. 😉

    • Paul B. Lot

      I was… not making a case based on formal logic, Paul.

      Few people would have been as non-confused as I on this subject.

      The point being, if something were so obviouslyillogical, I might be someone who could sniff it out. Just perhaps.

      Whatever your point was, making it by saying “trust me, I’m super logical” is not a logical way of going about it.

      How do we know the church is logical? Because, were it not, you would know. Why should we trust you? Because you’re logical. How do we know you’re logical? Because you took a test. What if we point out that none of the above follows in a logical manner from point a to b? You weren’t making a formal logic case. So if you weren’t making a formal logic case, how do we know the church is logical?

      It’s like an M.C. Escher drawing of bad thinking.

      😉

      http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/ba/DrawingHands.jpg

    • Leila Miller

      Paul, the Church is logical because it has not contradicted itself in its teachings. If you are following the comments between Andre and myself, you will see that he admits the teaching on “no salvation outside the Church” was both broad and strict at the beginning. What he won’t admit for some reason (even though I quoted JPII’s encyclical) is that the teaching today is broad and strict as well. Andre claims it’s somehow “not”, even though it’s explicit in the text of JPII. Weird that he won’t admit it.

      So, whether or not you agree with the idea of a “broad and strict” interpretation is irrelevant to the point that the Church has not reversed or contradicted its “broad and strict” understanding, from the beginning up until now.

      And logically, that should not be hard to grasp. Hope that is clear. 😉

    • Paul B. Lot

      You keep mistaking me, and I don’t know how to better correct you.

      Paul, the Church is logical because it has not contradicted itself in its teachings. If you are following the comments between Andre and myself, you will see that he admits the teaching on “no salvation outside the Church” was both broad and strict at the beginning. What he won’t admit for some reason (even though I quoted JPII’s encyclical) is that the teaching today is broad and strict as well. Andre claims it’s somehow “not”, even though it’s explicit in the text of JPII. Weird that he won’t admit it.
      So, whether or not you agree with the idea of a “broad and strict” interpretation is irrelevant to the point that the Church has not reversed or contradicted its “broad and strict” understanding, from the beginning up until now.

      None of that is the subject of my comments here.

      My comments here are limited in scope to an observation of the hilarity of pleading for your readers to trust your logicality in a manner devoid of logicality.

      That’s all. Shouldn’t be too hard to grasp 😉

    • Leila Miller

      “My comments here are limited in scope to an observation of the hilarity of pleading for your readers to trust your logicality in a manner devoid of logicality.”

      Ah! I see now. Yes, I’m sure we all understand your very thoughtful point and are deeply edified by it. 🙂

    • Paul B. Lot

      I mean, sure.

      You had two three options (broadly speaking) once you understood my comment:
      a) accept my criticism of your logical misstep, acknowledging the inherent contradiction and hilarity of asserting your logicality in wholly illogical ways
      or
      b) go on the offensive; redirect by accusing me of making an unedifying addition to the discussion
      or
      c) ignore it.

      Look, edification is in the eye of the beholder; I can’t force you to learn from your mistake. But I think I learned something from you not choosing a) *or c)*.

      😉

      *Editted to add 3rd option*

    • Leila Miller

      Ha ha, well Paul, here was my point (lost on you): Atheist Andre says, in essence, Leila is believing something obviously illogical. Leila answers by saying, “Gosh, my mind works logically (with some empirical evidence for that assertion), and I don’t see any logical contradiction in my thesis”. Paul pipes in saying Leila can’t say stuff like that, apparently, because it’s…. not logical for Leila, anecdotally, to say that her mind works logically (backed by empirical evidence)? Okey-doke. I acknowledge that that happened. 😉

    • Andre B

      And yet, the Church has always held the same nuance that it did from the beginning (again, did you miss the stuff St. Paul said, or Augustine, and all those from the beginning of the Church till now?).

      First of all, we’re now almost 10 comments into a thread that began well over a week ago, so if you feel that I’ve missed something, please quote what you’re talking about so that I don’t have to guess.

      Second, I have a pretty good idea of what your mean by “stuff St. Paul said”, correct me if I’m wrong:

      St. Paul. He holds the broad view when he speaks of pagans and gentiles (and that would admit to the Church *always* holding it) and he also holds the strict view that one is only saved through Jesus Christ, and through His Church (but not in the sense of Feenyism, which is a heretical position).

      https://disqus.com/home/discussion/catholicstand/are_you_waiting_for_the_church_to_change_her_teachings/#comment-1995423855

      I’m not sure how you can say I missed this, when I very specifically addressed it previously (and posed a question you’ve yet to engage with):

      On the one hand, I’m not sure what your point is. We’ve already established that both views were well represented in the early Church Fathers, sometimes both positions by the same individual. On the other hand, in what way is Paul’s strict position different from Feeneyism? Merely saying “there is always tension in things like this” doesn’t make for a good argument, imo.

      https://disqus.com/home/discussion/catholicstand/are_you_waiting_for_the_church_to_change_her_teachings/#comment-1996116135

      Third, I don’t recall you specifically referencing anything from Augustine.

      Fourth, yes – I have missed some stuff from ‘all those from the beginning of the Church till now’, as I am almost certain that you have. What is your point?

      The Church STILL says there is no salvation outside of the Church.

      Though, crucially, not in the same way as some earlier Church Fathers seemed to mean, and not in the same way as many of the stricter interpretations like the ‘Cantate Domino’ seem to suggest, which we’ve still yet to see you explain how exactly Phil misrepresented or misunderstood.

      And there is no logical contradiction or problem with the Church’s position, as it has ALWAYS been nuanced to hold the tension of both ideas

      You keep repeatedly appealing to ‘nuance’ while demonstrating nothing. The same materials you sourced acknowledge a very real and troublesome dichotomy between strict and broad interpretations. These questions that the Church Fathers struggled with – and the work of reconciling the two is apparently still ongoing – aren’t, imo, so easily dealt with by these sorts of vague appeals to nuance.

      Interesting that we have really focussed on this singular issue (of non-change) and ignored the point of the OP.

      Yeah, weird that we managed to stay on topic, right? How, exactly, is discussing whether or not the Church changed its position on the question of salvation outside the Church amount to ignoring the OP (re: whether or not the Church changes its teachings)?

    • Leila Miller

      Because…. show me the reversal? How bout we do this: Show me where there was never a nuance and tension between the two views? Show me the beginning, where it was only one way, and now, when it’s completely the opposite. Thanks!

    • Andre B

      Honestly, this is pathetic. I thought you were an expert logician, that your mind “just works that way”.

      Show me where there was never a nuance and tension between the two views?

      Let’s leave aside that you’ve yet to produce anything, at all, that helps resolve the apparent contradiction. I have never argued this. As I have previously stated, and have repeated several times now – hopefully you can follow this super tricky logic – we began with two (2) interpretations (strict & broad) and wound up with one (1) interpretation (broad). I think that 2 != 1. Somewhere, a changed happened. At some point, we went from Popes and ‘Cantate Domino’ to Feeneyism and heresy, and you don’t seem to be able to tell us what the difference is (not that your lack of understanding keeps you from telling others they are wrong).

    • Leila Miller

      Whoa, Nellie.

      So, you are claiming that we are now at one (1) interpretation (broad)? I think you really should rethink that, in light of this written in Dominus Iesus (that you don’t have time to read, so I will excerpt). It’s from Pope St. John Paul II (emphasis his):

      Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”.77 This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.78

      Will you take it back? Or are you still going to assert that there is no “strict” left, and only a “broad”? Cuz, the first half of the above is “strict” and the second half of the above is “broad”. 2=2

      At this point, you should probably just admit that we started with strict and broad and we are still at strict and broad today.

      Hope that’s not too much “super tricky logic” for you. 😉

    • Andre B

      So, you are claiming that we are now at one (1) interpretation (broad)?

      Effectively, yes. Let’s change the quote from JPII slightly, and maybe you’ll understand what I mean.

      Above all else, it must be firmly believed that a college degree is necessary for employment: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is a college degree. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of passing grades and completing pre-requisites, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the college degree which men enter through undergraduate enrollment as through a door”. This doctrine must not be set against the universal employing will of God ; “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of employment in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the college degree for this employment.

      If I say that a firm requirement for employment is a 4-yr degree, that this is a necessity, and then I also say that it is possible to be hired without a 4-yr degree, in what sense is the degree a firm requirement? How is a degree necessary? I get that it seems super nuanced to you, but to me it not only seems like the broad interpretation trumps the strict one, but we seem to have gone from a time where holding just the strict was ok, to it now being heresy.

      To date you have failed to explain how Phil initially misrepresented the Church, failed to provide the correct context for
      the ‘Cantate Domino’ , failed to explain the difference between strict and Feeneyism, and accused me of not addressing issues that I clearly have. But I’m the one that needs to take things back? Sorry, you’ve yet to give me good reason to.

      PS. At any point, you are free to go back and address the above. Or you could just keep handing out reading assignments instead of demonstrating your understanding of the subject.

      Edit: for consistency

    • Leila Miller

      Don’t get ahead of yourself, Andre. We are not discussion the “hows” of the teaching. We are asking whether the teaching has reversed.

      The teaching “in the beginning” was broad and strict (see St. Paul) and the teaching now is broad and strict (JPII says the same things as St. Paul). So, just because you personally don’t see the logic in the actual teaching (thus your “college degree” analogy), that doesn’t touch the fact that the teaching itself has not reversed itself.

      Broad and strict then, broad and strict now.

      Still confused?

    • Andre B

      Don’t get ahead of yourself, Andre. We are not discussion the “hows” of the teaching. We are asking whether the teaching has reversed.

      I mean, yeah…when trying to understand whether or not a teaching changed, why bother to first understand the teaching? I mean, unless understanding the teaching is key, in which case I understand your reluctance to discuss this. What a stupid thing to say.

      So, just because you personally don’t see the logic in the actual teaching (thus your “college degree” analogy)

      Do you think the analogy fails? Do you think that you can still call the college degree a requirement for employment if you can be hired without one? Come on, logic wiz. Do you think the analogy just doesn’t fit the passage? Wait, why am I asking you questions as if they’ll be answered?

    • Leila Miller

      Let me go really slowly for you. 😉

      Let’s pretend that Religion Crazy says that “dogs are cats”. And let’s say that I don’t believe for a minute that “dogs are cats”. I don’t need to “understand the teaching” to know that the teaching by Religion Crazy has not changed from the year One to the Year 2,000.

      I can think that the teaching by Religion Crazy is totally illogical (gosh, dogs can’t be cats, right?), while still affirming that Religion Crazy has taught the same teaching (“dogs are cats”) from the beginning till now. See?

      It’s not hard, Andre. 😉

      You don’t have to agree or even understand a teaching to know or admit that it has not changed or reversed itself.

    • Leila Miller

      In other words, “understanding the teaching” is not “key” (as you say). Only understanding that the teaching has not reversed itself is key. Get it?

    • Andre B

      Honestly. I’m impressed. The amount of condescension you exude while having no idea what you’re talking about, it’s staggering.

      I. Will. Try. To. Also. Go. Slowly. For. You.

      If you don’t understand what Religion Crazy means when it says either “dogs” or “cats” at Time A

      and what it means by either “dogs” or “cats” at Time B

      then you are in no position to judge whether or not Religion Crazy has changed it’s teaching on “dogs are cats” from Time A to Time B.

    • Leila Miller

      Strangely, Andre, you already admitted that the Church “began” with a strict and broad understanding (correct?). Then, you claim that today she has switched to a “broad” understanding only (despite explicit evidence from JPII, in document form; oh, and check the Catechism, too).

      How about we start (slowly, please) with what you mean by “strict” and “broad” (since you must believe that they mean different things now than they did at the beginning). If you can define those for me, that would be great, thanks! Then we can see if we are on the same page (and if you are on the same page with what the Church means by those ideas), and then we can see if we have changed from “strict AND broad” at the beginning to simply “broad” today.

      Please also explain why JPII’s words do not mean what they say.

      Thanks!

    • Andre B

      No, I’m done until you start answering questions long ago asked that would demonstrate that you – the one who originally accused somebody of not understanding and misrepresenting – yourself understand what it is you’re talking about.

    • Leila Miller

      Way to weasel out of the truth that is obvious: There was a strict/broad interpretation before and there is a strict/broad interpretation now.

      Feeneyism: One must be a baptized, confirmed, card-carrying Catholic to have any hope of getting into Heaven, period. Never has that been the teaching of the Catholic Church. It’s heretical.

      Boom.

      Now, go ahead or concede the point. Or make an actual argument for how the belief at the beginning is different now. Thanks so much.

    • Andre B

      Boom? You are presumable a grown woman, so I can only assume that a child wrote this last response.

      My initial comment to you – 11 days ago now – was with regards to you having done nothing to show how exactly Phil had misrepresented Church teaching. Despite my consistent appeals to get such answers from you on that specifically, and other subsequent points, you have to date only managed to finally give a definition of Feeneyism. I mean, on the one hand I’m thrilled that you actually almost engaged with a point I made. On the other hand, and please bear with me, because I think this is important, so I’ll go slow, see if you can follow me. I didn’t ask for a definition of Feeneyism. I asked you to articulate what sets Feeneyism apart from a strict interpretation. What’s the difference between Feeneyism and the Cantate Domino’?

      Sorry, Leila, I’m not the one weaseling out of anything. 11 days now and you’ve yet to answer the initial questions put to you. Come to think of it, I can’t think of a single question that you’ve come close to giving a straight answer to. So, before I waste anymore time on you, please demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about – take some time, re-read the thread, and see if you can start answering some questions.

      edit: too much presumption

    • Leila Miller

      Dearest Andre:

      I said “boom” to try to catch your attention and focus your mind. Now, as to the difference between Feeneyism and a strict interpretation:

      1. Feeneyism: Must be technically, literally, fully, baptized, confirmed, Card-Carrying Catholic to be saved. (This is heresy)

      2. Strict: One cannot get to Heaven but for Christ and His Church (Truth), i.e., even non-Catholics who get to Heaven do so only through and because of Christ’s sacrifice for His Bride, the Church (Truth).

      And dear Andre, the point is that there is and has always been a “tension” and a “nuance” between strict and broad interpretation, but they are not at odds. That’s the point: The teaching on issue (which includes the nuance) has never changed. I hope you can apprehend that with your mind free of any biases or desire to be right.

      Now, if you could please (because I have been patient) answer my questions? Make your case for how there was strict/broad interpretation at the beginning, but now (despite the very words of JPII and the Catechism), there is now only a broad interpretation. Thanks so much in advance! I await eagerly.

    • Andre B

      Here’s the thing, what you are presenting as the ‘strict’ view doesn’t seem to match up with what I think are the earlier ‘strict’ views of the Church, and is far closer to what I would consider the ‘broad’ view.

      Here are the examples that your EWTN link offers for ‘strict’ (note the lack of mentions of non-Catholics being saved, and the often explicit statements that they cannot be):

      Pope Innocent III in 1208 A.D. for the
      Waldensians says: “We believe in our heart and confess in our mouth that
      there is one Church, not of heretics, but the holy Roman Catholic
      apostolic Church, outside of which we believe no one is saved.”

      Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 A.D. defined, against the
      Albigensians and Cathari: “There is one universal Church of the faithful,
      outside of which no one at all is saved.”

      Pope Boniface VIII in his famous “Unam sanctam” of Nov. 18, 1302 spoke strongly: “Outside of which (the Church) there is neither salvation nor remission of sins. . . . But we declare, state and define that to be subject to the Roman Pontiff is altogether necessary for salvation.”

      [And of course, the passage which kicked this all off (which you’ve yet to explain how it differs from Feeneyism)]

      Decree for the Jacobites from the Council of Florence in 1442 – It firmly believes, professes and preaches, that none who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can partake of eternal life, but they will go into eternal
      fire . . . unless before the end of life they will have been joined to it
      (the Church); and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body has such force
      that only for those who remain in it are the sacraments of the Church
      profitable for salvation, and fastings, alms and other works of piety and
      exercises of the Christian soldiery bring forth eternal rewards (only)
      for them. “No one, howsoever much almsgiving he has done, even if he sheds his blood for Christ, can be saved, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

      I don’t think we get to such inclusive pronouncements that would conform to your idea of the ‘strict’ interpretation until ones such as:

      Pope Pius IX (1846–1878), Allocution Singulari quadam, December 9, 1854: “Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ

      I’ve mentioned this one before, and it’s telling that, even here, one should not have good hope of salvation outside the Church. It’s also telling that Pius IX appears to be the earliest of the examples your EWTN piece gives for broad magisterial teachings.

      And dear Andre, the point is that there is and has always been a “tension” and a “nuance” between strict and broad interpretation, but they are not at odds.

      I guess your super-logical brain doesn’t bat an eye at the idea that you can say ‘X is required for Y’ & that ‘Y is possible without X’. Whatever helps you sleep at night, but I’m not the one describing it as a “vexing and long-standing problem.”

      Now, if you could please (because I have been patient) answer my questions?

      Again the irony given that you’ve failed in answering the first question posed to you on this topic (by Phil):

      Ok. so specifically how did I misread the words of Pope Eugene, IV, 1441, Council of Florence…..The articles you cite, which I did read, cite misunderstood, re-formulated, etc. Eugene’s words are pretty clear to the regular person…now they are modified or clarified? I really don;t understand…..

      So, please, remember that you are having to be ‘patient’ because of your failure to understand both the questions being asked of you, and your inability to clearly articulate the teachings being discussed.

      Make your case for how there was strict/broad interpretation at the beginning

      I think I’ve already made numerous cases for the strict interpretation, as for the broad, it seems a mix of Augustine’s reflections on trying to reconcile a ‘strict’ view (which had him believing that most people to date had been damned, including un-baptized infants, apparently) with the ‘broad’ view that a just god would entail:

      In view of his pessimistic belief in his “massa damnata” theory, we might expect St. Augustine to give us many stringent statements. Actually, he does the opposite, as we shall see presently. His restrictive texts are fewer and less clear. In “De natura et gratia” he wrote: “If Christ did not die for no purpose, therefore all human nature can in no way be
      justified and redeemed from the most just anger of God . . . except by
      faith and the sacrament of the blood of Christ.”[13] Yet even this
      statement is softened by his words a few lines earlier: “God is not
      unjust, so as to deprive the just of the reward of justice, if the
      sacrament of the divinity and humanity of Christ was not announced to
      them.”[14] He thought only a few places by his day had not heard the
      preaching–not dreaming of a whole added hemisphere, and of so many other places in his own hemisphere.

      and a definition of the Church as all those who have ever held to the Logos/Divine Word/Natural Law:

      The most suggestive texts come from St. Justin the Martyr, who also wrote before Celsus, but anticipated the objection of Celsus. In his “First Apology” he says he will answer in advance the claim that those who lived before Christ were not answerable: “Christ is the Logos (Divine Word) of whom the whole race of men partake. Those who lived according to Logos are Christians, even if they were considered atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates and Heraclitus.”[33] Light on what Justin means by this comes in his “Second Apology” 10:8: “Christ . . . was and is the Logos who is in everyone, and foretold through the prophets the things that were to come, and taught these things in person after becoming like to us in feeling.” Similarly in “Second Apology” 13.3, after speaking of Plato, the Stoics and others: “For each of them, through part of the Divine Logos,
      seeing what was cognate to it (syngenes) to it, spoke well.”

      Again, it’s quite interesting that in spite of the many broad interpretations from Church Fathers, the earliest magisterial pronouncement from your link that comes close to a broad interpretation is from the 1800s (unless I missed something).

      but now (despite the very words of JPII and the Catechism), there is now only a broad interpretation.

      I’ll repeat, not that it will do much good, that when you say that ‘X is required for Y’ [in this case the strict], but that nevertheless ‘Y can be achieved without X’ [in this case the broad], that you are, in effect, nullifying the strict requirement. Now, I know that you brush this away as ‘nuance’ and/or ‘tension’, but in order for it to maintain any logical sense, it requires a change in the meaning of ‘Church’ from what was clearly understood to be ‘baptized and professing members of the Catholic Church’ to a much broader sense of ‘anyone who lived a moral life without explicitly knowing of and rejecting the Catholic Church.’

    • Leila Miller

      Andre, you are quite interested in the details of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal pronouncements through the ages! I am always amazed (and happy) that so many atheists are so engrossed by the Catholic Church.

      Okay, this is so interesting to me. First…. You don’t seem to understand that one can be saved through the Church (the Mystical Body of Christ) and through the merits of Christ without being a strict member of the Church. That is not my logic failing, it’s yours. St. Paul said it from the beginning, and heck, even the good thief on the cross next to Jesus was saved without having been Confirmed, no? (Who told us about that if not members of the Church?) And yet, he was not saved outside of the merits of Christ’s sacrifice (which is the same sacrifice as the Mass, by the way… another topic for another day?). He was saved because of it.

      It’s not my logic failing that you don’t understand the audiences that the popes of every era were addressing. In the 1400s there was no Protestantism; there were no other groups of churches, groups of Christians. There was only the universal Church and then there were the heretics. The heretics were the focus and audience of the Councils (the Councils convened to address the heresies of the day. Thus the words “heretics” in the proclamations). When someone is a heretic, that means that they have left the Truth for false doctrines, for untruth. If someone knew the Truth and then leaves it for heresy, then yes… they are in grave spiritual trouble. The Church’s job is to teach the truth clearly and put down heresy. You can’t seem to understand that the audience of Paul (who was converting pagans) is different from the audience and purpose of Pope Eugene IV (who was putting down heresy) and that that is different from the audience and purpose of JPII (addressing the issues for the whole world), etc. That is not my logic failing, it’s your failure to understand. I’m terribly sorry about that, but I can’t help you there.

      I will ask the question again that I have asked so many times. You (I repeat, YOU) said that the Church has gone from a “broad and strict” interpretation in the beginning to only a “broad” interpretation today (again, despite the very clear words of JPII and the Catechism).

      I hold (and the words before our eyes confirm) that there was a broad and strict understanding at the beginning, and a broad and strict understanding now.

      It’s right there, in black and white. Again, I am sorry if you don’t accept it. That doesn’t change the fact that the teaching about salvation outside the Church has not changed.

      Would you care to address how your opinion, which differs from the actual written word and the teaching of the Church, should trump the Church’s teaching on this? If you don’t wish to go there, I completely understand.

    • Andre B

      Andre, you are quite interested in the details of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal pronouncements through the ages! I am always amazed (and happy) that so many atheists are so engrossed by the Catholic Church.

      I mean, even if you hadn’t specifically asked me to try to parse out the Church’s position on salvation, we live in a society where members of your Church often try to coerce based on these same teachings concerning salvation. So don’t now passive aggressively claim surprise at my interest. Not after accusing me of trying to weasel out of answering questions.

      You don’t seem to understand that one can be saved through the Church (the Mystical Body of Christ) and through the merits of Christ without being a strict member of the Church.

      This just isn’t true, and frankly is proof that this dialogue is going nowhere. I literally ended my last reply to you by saying that the broad interpretation involves including as part of the Church “‘anyone who lived a moral life without explicitly knowing of and rejecting the Catholic Church.'”

      The heretics were the focus and audience of the Councils (the Councils convened to address the heresies of the day. Thus the words “heretics” in the proclamations).

      Oh, now the heretics were the focus of the Council in question? But your earlier attempt at explaining quoted the following:

      “The key to this passage is the four categories mentioned, pagans being listed first. They have received none of the message of salvation. The Jews have received only part of the message, that of the Old Testament. Third are the heretics who, although having received the complete message of salvation, seem to have lost some of it by way of a conscious separation from the Church. The fourth group is the one to whom the document is primarily directed, the schismatics.

      Oh course, we’re still left wondering why we should only pay attention to the mention of schismatics heretics, and not to the also mentioned pagans and Jews.

      I will ask the question again that I have asked so many times. You (I repeat, YOU) said that the Church has gone from a “broad and strict” interpretation in the beginning to only a “broad” interpretation today (again, despite the very clear words of JPII and the Catechism).

      I mean, there’s no question posed here.

      Would you care to address how your opinion, which differs from the actual written word and the teaching of the Church, should trump the Church’s teaching on this? If you don’t wish to go there, I completely understand.

      Look, I’ve said from the beginning that I’m no expert on this. I’ve done my best to respond to your questions and engage with the many varied reading assignments you’ve doled out – not a single one of which has helped shed light on the initial reason I commented (ie. you haven’t shown how Phil misunderstands the pronouncements in the ‘Cantate Domino’). I’ve given you my reasons for thinking that the teaching has changed, have cited sources you gave to show what I think is a far more restrictive understanding of what was meant by membership in the Church. When you’re not making illogical appeals to your ability to reason logically, you’re relying on a statement by JPII which is either contradictory on plain reading, or seems to define membership in the Church far more broadly that what we find in the ‘Cantate Domino’ and many other places.

      I’m happy to admit that I might still be mistaken, but I’m also confident that you haven’t given what anyone would think of as satisfying answers to my initial response to you, as well as many other points I’ve made along the way. Either way, it seems clear that we are past the point of useful dialogue. I’ll leave you with the last word.

    • Leila Miller

      “I’m happy to admit that I might still be mistaken”

      Thanks, I appreciate that. The Church defines her teachings (not me and not you), and the Church has always held a broad and strict understanding. It was true at the beginning, and it’s true now (in black and white, explicit). You want to claim that things changed “in the middle” (and then changed back again?), but the same Church that read St. Paul from the pulpit daily in the 1400s existed in the first century and the 21st. There was never a time when the Church said or taught, “Everyone who is not a confirmed and card-carrying Catholic is going to hell.” That’s not us. That’s fundamentalist Protestantism and Feeneyism. The Church gave us the Scripture in which the angels say upon the birth of Christ: “Peace on earth to men of good will.” And the Scriptures which say that “… God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth….” And the Scripture which says that the good thief (non-Confirmed!) went to Paradise. And the Scripture which says all that St. Paul says about good gentiles and pagans who can see God all around them. It’s not likely (like, not even slightly likely) that the pope in the 1400s was ignorant of the Scriptures and Church teachings. (And schismatics are not so very different in their sins from heretics, by the way, so I’m not sure why you stressed that.)

      As for “coercion” … what coercion? If you mean the standard accusation that the Church is “imposing” her views on society, then I have addressed that thoroughly on my personal blog. The only imposition is coming from the side of those who want to fight the universal moral law and change the status quo. Those who are on the defense, defending the status quo (i.e., the Church and the orthodox of other religions), are not “imposing”. That’s the complete opposite of what the word means; defending the status quo cannot be an imposition of anything. And if you are talking about persuasion, then yes, we all (you and me and John Q. Public) try to persuade folks to our ideas of what we think is best for people and society, no? Religious folks get a voice just as secular folks do (especially, we would hope, in a nation which was founded by those who were fleeing government persecution of religious people and desiring religious expression in the public square).

      Blessings to you, Andre.

      And for anyone interested in further exploring these topics, here are two things I’ve written that address them:

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/12/can-non-catholics-be-saved.html

      http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2013/06/is-church-imposing-or-is-it-someone-else.html

    • fredx2

      Read Dominus Iesus

    • Andre B

      fred,

      If you care to cite what you think are the relevant bits and how they relate, I’m all ears (eyes), but I’m interested in discussion, not reading assignments.

    • fredx2

      Phil – all you need to do is read Dominus Iesus – it lays out the whole thing. Nothing has changed. You just need a deeper understanding of the subject.

    • fredx2…I have, a time ago..I do have a deep understanding but it is quite different from yours,,,the context of “outside the Church, No salvation” has taken varying nuances over time since the 1400’s. As Leila reminded me it’s all about context…as a Rabbi writer recently stated: a text without a context is a pretext to have it say what YOU want…..

    • Leila Miller

      A nuance is in no way a reversal. See my latest comment to Andre, above.

  • Howard

    We might as well call it what it is: a superstition. Of course, a closely related one is the superstition of “the next pope”, who, unlike whatever baddy may be in office today, will be much too cool and with it to push any outdated morality; he (or more likely, of course, she) will basically be all four Beatles and Hugh Hefner rolled into one.

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  • well said, Leila!

  • Bert_1

    Thanks, Leila. While all of this should be self-evident, we do need to be reminded from time to time.