c) Heretical and schismatic sects are means of salvation.
“The separated churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fulness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church.” (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 3)
This contradicts a doctrine which has been repeated perhaps more times than any other by the Church and is unquestionably Divinely revealed. Only a single example of the magisterial teaching of the true doctrine is necessary and we select the following from the Council of Florence held under Pope Eugene IV (1441):
“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 and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the Devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with her…“
We have heard it argued that the word “means”, occurring in the aberrant passage in this decree, was perhaps intended to signify something like “stepping-stone”; but of course the word is not capable of that meaning either in itself or in the Latin word of which it is the translation. A philosophical axiom states that “a means which cannot achieve its end is not a means.” Flying in an aeroplane is a means of getting from England to France, but riding on a bicycle is not, even if, on reaching the Channel, one tossed the bicycle aside and used some other form of transport instead.
Theological censure: HERETICAL.
(d) Communal public prayer with heretics and schismatics is useful and commendable.
“In certain circumstances, such as in prayer services ‘for unity’ and during oecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine expression of the ties which still bind Catholics to their separated brethren.” (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 8)
Into this short passage the Vatican II Fathers managed to squeeze two distinct doctrinal falsehoods:
- That it is desirable that Catholics should join in “prayer services” with their separated brethren. Far from being desirable, joint religious activities with non-Catholics (except in the case of known individuals who are already on the path to conversion) are forbidden.
- That such prayers in common are “a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity.”
The correct doctrine is set out clearly in Canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which the most enthusiastic proponent of Vatican II cannot deny was in force when Vatican II was taking place. This canon states that it is unlawful to assist at actively in any way, or to take part in, the devotional acts of non-Catholics; and this is simply a repetition and statement of what has always been the rule of the Church. Casuists were consulted on what exceptions could be allowed in sixteenth-century England, where and when it really mattered, and the only concessions that they found were very minor activities such as saying grace – and even that was permitted only to avoid serious danger.
Now admittedly if Canon 1258 be purely ecclesiastical law – in other words, a type of human law – Vatican II (if it was a true Council) could have overruled it and imposed a new law. But Canon 1258 was not a purely ecclesiastical law. It represents in part an application of the Divine Law; and not even a pope can abolish a Divine law (nor can he dispense from it). Fully sufficient evidence that a Divine law is at issue is to be found in the following instruction on the subject of “communicatio in sacris cum acatholicis” addressed to the Catholics of England by Cardinal Allen in his letter of 12th December 1592. 4
“…You [priests] and all my brethren must have great regard that you teach not, nor defend, that it is lawful to communicate with the Protestants in their prayers or services or in the conventicles where they meet to minister their untrue sacraments; for this is contrary to the practice of the Church and the Holy Doctors in all ages, who never communicated or allowed any Catholic person to pray together with Arians, Donatists or what other soever. Neither is it a positive law of the Church, for in that case it might be dispensed with upon some occasion; but it is forbidden by God’s own eternal law, as by many evident arguments I could convince… To make all sure, I have asked for the judgement of the pope currently reigning [Pope Clement VIII] and he expressly told me that to participate with the Protestants either by praying with them or by coming to their churches or services or such like was by no means lawful or dispensable.”
In response to a correspondent we wrote the following:
“(i) The letter by Cardinal Allen was written in circumstances which could not have been more exacting, and which must have made Cardinal Allen and the pope look for every opportunity of compromising on the issue if compromise were to be found. At that time in Elizabethan England, for Catholics to be allowed to pray with non-Catholics might literally have saved the lives of Catholics, and might also have prevented the reduction to total ruin of entire families (and, of course, saved many from the temptation to apostatise, sometimes unhappily consented to).
“(ii) There is no possibility that the prohibition could only have related to attendance at church services, because, no less than twice, the document makes it clear that this is not so, and that the prohibition embraces everything. ‘…that you teach not, nor defend, that it is lawful to communicate with Protestants in their prayers or services or in the conventicles where they meet to minister their untrue sacraments…’ And: ‘…the pope…expressly told me that to participate with the Protestants either by praying with them or by coming to their churches or services or such like was by no means lawful or dispensable…’
“(iii) The document makes it clear that this prohibition had always existed. ‘…Contrary to the practice of the Church and the Holy Doctors in all ages who never communicated or allowed any Catholic person to pray together with Arians, Donatists or what other soever…’
“(iv) Again and again the document makes it clear that what is at issue is not merely man-made ecclesiastical law, but Divine law. Thus: ‘Neither is it a positive law of the Church, for in that case it might be dispensed with upon some occasion’ – it is only Divine law that cannot be dispensed with. Thus too: ‘…it is forbidden by God’s own eternal law.’ What could be clearer than that? Or do you assert that there is a distinction between Divine law and _God’s own eternal law’? And thus yet again: _…the pope currently reigning…expressly told me that to participate with Protestants…by praying with them…was by no means lawful or dispensable.’
“(v) And how could Cardinal Allen‘s pronouncement possibly be more definitive? In the first place, he, a prince of the Church and possibly one of the most revered cardinals of the sixteenth century, made it perfectly clear that he had researched the matter with great care, that he was merely repeating what had always been the inviolable practice of the Church, and also that he was completely certain that it was a matter of Divine law and not dispensable. And in the second place, because of the importance of the issue he deemed it his duty, notwithstanding his own complete certainty, to check the matter with the ultimate authority, the man with the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and the power to bind and loose as though the binding and loosing were done by God Himself; and the pope, despite the fact that, as…already suggested, every human instinct must have screamed at him to find a way around the prohibition if a way round could be found, simply affirmed unequivocally that prayer with Protestants – not merely attendance at liturgical services – was both unlawful and not dispensable, i.e. was a matter of Divine law.”
We should make it clear that we by no means deny that there is scope for doubt with regard to a few exceptional cases; nor do we deny that the Divine law, which makes it per se unlawful to associate even in the orthodox private prayers of non-Catholics, does seem not to bind – in relation to the genuinely orthodox private prayers of non-Catholics – in cases of grave inconvenience where there is no danger of scandal. Naturally Cardinal Allen and Pope Clement VIII knew that there always would be scandal if Catholics prayed with Protestants in post-“Reformation” England, and they therefore had no need to mention this. What Cardinal Allen’s response makes clear without any shadow of doubt is that the concept of praying with non-Catholics is “per se” forbidden by the Divine law – a Divine law which Vatican II simply overruled as though it did not exist.
Theological censure: at least ERRONEOUS IN FAITH for the first proposition and HERETICAL5 for the second proposition.
Original source: http://www.holyromancatholicchurch.org/heresies.html
To be continued…