Catholic Church and non-Catholic Communities Question


#1

From what I understand the Catholic Church teaches that the various non-Catholic communities are Christian and that in some way people in those communities are not denied the beatific vision just because they are outside the earthly Catholic Church. The believers in these communities are part of the Catholic Church because there is no salvation apart from the Catholic Church. Is that about right?

Also from what I understand the Catholic Church teaches that if a person is baptized a Catholic and joins another Christian community that he is damned. Is that correct?

If I have the gist of this correct; how can that be?

Thanking you in advance.

-B.


#2

The first paragraph is correct.

The second paragraph is not.

If a person is baptized a Catholic and joins another Christian community, they remain Catholic and still are obligated as a Catholic. Since they have not formally left the Catholic faith they create a difficult situation for themselves.


#3

Thanks, Bro. Rich. On the creation of a difficult situation …

If a person is Catholic and begins to attend a different denominational Church and stops going to mass, stops going to confession, basically stops all outward appearances of his Catholicism, that “difficult situation” is condemnation, isn’t it? I am unsure what would constitute a formally leaving the Church besides making an official proclamation or writing a letter asking to be removed.

What I am getting at is the idea that the Church teaches that the various Christian communities are truly Christian but if a Catholic joins with them for some reason he is not. That doesn’t make sense to me. Or maybe I am not seeing it correctly.


#4

If you were on a desert island, had been born there, had abided alone there, with no recourse to scripture, magisterium, or tradition, and no direct revelation from God, how would you know Him? Would God likely punish you for not knowing Him in this circumstance? If you created an idol to worship, would God likely damn you for it in this case?

Conversely, if you were a confirmed Catholic with a full knowledge of scripture, magisterium and tradition, and were stranded on that desert island, but decided to create an idol to worship in God’s place, would God likely damn you for this?

The point turns on the notion of invincible ignorance, and God’s justice and mercy.


#5

Anyone saved is saved through Christ and the Catholic Church.

It is possible that God can save those who are outside the visible unity of the Church. It is possible through his infinite mercy, as only God judges our souls.

We know God’s plan for our Salvation includes the Church and the Sacraments.

A Catholic who walks away from the Truth of the Catholic Church commits apostacy. That places him/her in a state of mortal sin, objectively. As to their actual knowledge and free will-- only God judges that. If God judges them to have had full knowledge and free will in committing this mortal sin, then yes that would separate them from God eternally just like any other mortal sin. Of course, they have every chance to repent prior to death.

Everyone is responsible for what they know and for obeying God. If someone does not know the full truth through NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN then God will judge them based on what they do know.

If they know the Truth and reject it-- that is entirely different and they are responsible for that too.


#6

The Church teaches that by virtue of their valid Baptism they become united to the Catholic Church in some way, however an incomplete way. Since Full initiation into the Catholic Church is with the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion.

When a Catholic stops attending Mass and substitutes another form of worship they choose to commit a sin. For a Catholic to publically recognize an invalid Eucharist or participate is a sin. For a Catholic to act in other ways acceptable to the non-Catholic Christian community, but not acceptable to the Catholic Church is a sin. Now they have also cut themselves off from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do you see how the hole keeps getting deeper, and all they tend to do is to keep digging.


#7

[quote=Br. Rich SFO]When a Catholic stops attending Mass and substitutes another form of worship they choose to commit a sin. For a Catholic to publically recognize an invalid Eucharist or participate is a sin. For a Catholic to act in other ways acceptable to the non-Catholic Christian community, but not acceptable to the Catholic Church is a sin. Now they have also cut themselves off from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Do you see how the hole keeps getting deeper, and all they tend to do is to keep digging.
[/quote]

Br. Rich (and others reading and offering remarks), I want to thank you for taking the time to do so. I am not trying to be difficult or argue just for the sake of arguing (something I have been accused of many times on CAF, sometimes it has been a valid accusation but most times it is not. This is definitely a time when it is not that type of situation, OK? OK).

The more I look at this the more illogical it becomes.

If forgiveness of sin is a result of Sacramental confession and penance then the vast majority of non-Catholics do not receive that forgiveness. I now completely see the Protestant, predominately a Calvinistic, complaint against the Catholic Church. It isn’t by man’s design or wish that God’s grace is dispensed; it is by the will of God that His grace is dispensed. To think otherwise puts God in a man made box.

As Catholics we see the Confessor working in persona Christi as he absolves the penitent of his sins, but is that the only method, the only way in which God’s grace is dispensed? Clearly it is not. As Catholics we see the cleric who presides at the Mass as working in persona Christi as he dispenses the Body and Blood of our Lord, and we call this the height of worship and point to the graces that are poured out on the faithful as a result of their participation in the Divine Nature. But then what do we see as a result in those recipients? Are the receivers changed? Are they progressing in holiness? Is there desire to be in the will of God increased? Clearly the answer there is no. Look at our own parishes, and all those people receiving the Eucharist, if just half of them were changed what a HUGE difference that would make in our local communities. Where is that change? Where is the fruit?

Can we see the fruits of the Spirit in our Protestant brothers? Yes we can. If so, we cannot deny the Spirit of God is working in their lives. But if a Catholic, in good standing and understanding of the Church’s teaching, decides to associate himself with an ecclesial community that is exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, he then chooses to sin? A person who moves to associate with people who are on fire for God sins in that decision. That’s what I am getting.

That just makes no sense to me.


#8

I’m going to split this into parts:

Take your premise to its logical conclusion, though. Can we see the fruits of the Spirit in our Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Wicca, and Atheist brothers? Yes, we certainly can. All good comes from God. When a secular humanist cares for the sick, feeds the hungry, etc. he is doing God’s will, whether he knows it or not. The concept of Natural Law goes hand in hand with this. It certainly doesn’t mean we should all become syncretists or pantheists and abandon the unique salvific gift from Jesus, just as seeing the fruits of the spirit in our separated bretheren doesn’t mean we ought to follow them into their heresies.

If a Catholic truly understands what the Church teaches, then he’s not going to leave the Church for any other community of believers no matter how much he likes their “style” or how “on fire” they are. If he did so, he certainly would be sinning by causing scandal and abandoning full communion with the body of Christ.

This is another idea entirely. Catholics are not forbidden to associate with non Catholics, or even to pray with them. However, the goal of such ecumenism should be to bring those separated from the Catholic Church into further understanding of her teachings and closer to full communion.


#9

So the box you seek to place God in is to be limited by your ability to comprehend?

Your previous post is self-refuting.


#10

So you see no progression towards holiness in Catholics but you see plenty in non-Catholics?

How did you manage measure this?

Chuck


#11

Sure sounds like the infamous “Grass is always greener on the other side” testing methodology was employed here.


#12

[quote=clmowry]So you see no progression towards holiness in Catholics but you see plenty in non-Catholics?

How did you manage measure this?

Chuck
[/quote]

By their lives. How people act and speak and think and progress in their walk with God. How that walk affects each aspect of their behavior.

I did not say, nor do I mean to imply, that there is no holiness in Catholics.


#13

[quote=Teflon93;]So the box you seek to place God in is to be limited by your ability to comprehend?

Your previous post is self-refuting.
[/quote]

I don’t seek to place God into any box. However I see Him is restricted to my own limitation.

I am unsure how my questions and seeking to understand a position of Church teachings is self-refuting.


#14

You accuse us of putting God in a box (and compare us unfavorably with Calvinists!) and then justify your arguments with “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

Guess what?

God doesn’t have to justify Himself to any of us, nor even make sense to any of us. That’s why Job’s in the Bible, isn’t it?

When you accuse us of putting God in a box all the while fashioning a smaller box in which to put Him, you refute yourself.

Ergo, ipso facto, the self-refuting post.

“Asking questions” is a tendentious dodge.

If you have an agenda, why not just state it boldly, argue it forcefully, and provide evidence to back up your claims?


#15

That’s true. This is why, although it is theoretically possible for non-Catholic Christians to be saved, it is not something that we should consider to be likely. We still need to evangelize them and do everything we can to bring them into the fulness of the Catholic faith.

I now completely see the Protestant, predominately a Calvinistic, complaint against the Catholic Church. It isn’t by man’s design or wish that God’s grace is dispensed; it is by the will of God that His grace is dispensed. To think otherwise puts God in a man made box.

Certainly it is God who dispenses grace. It is God’s will that we make use of the Sacraments of the Church - that’s exactly why He gave them to us, in the first place.

As Catholics we see the Confessor working in persona Christi as he absolves the penitent of his sins, but is that the only method, the only way in which God’s grace is dispensed? Clearly it is not. As Catholics we see the cleric who presides at the Mass as working in persona Christi as he dispenses the Body and Blood of our Lord, and we call this the height of worship and point to the graces that are poured out on the faithful as a result of their participation in the Divine Nature. But then what do we see as a result in those recipients? Are the receivers changed? Are they progressing in holiness? Is there desire to be in the will of God increased?

Of course it is. Catholics who make use of the Sacraments on a regular basis do not suffer from mental illnesses or depression at nearly the rate of the rest of the population, including Protestants.


#16

[quote=chris molter]Take your premise to its logical conclusion, though. Can we see the fruits of the Spirit in our Muslim, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Wicca, and Atheist brothers? Yes, we certainly can. All good comes from God. When a secular humanist cares for the sick, feeds the hungry, etc. he is doing God’s will, whether he knows it or not. The concept of Natural Law goes hand in hand with this. It certainly doesn’t mean we should all become syncretists or pantheists and abandon the unique salvific gift from Jesus, just as seeing the fruits of the spirit in our separated bretheren doesn’t mean we ought to follow them into their heresies.
[/quote]

I can see this completely. I don’t seek to follow heresy, what I am seeking are people that are in tune with their walk with Christ. If worship is to be communal and worship is part of every aspect of our lives then our lives cannot be spent in compartmentalizing. Now I am at work. Now I go to church. There should be a holistic approach to our lives. It has been my experience that Catholic’s in general do not do this. We go down our check list and smile. I went to Mass, I went to confession, another week in the green. Instead of the Mass and prayer and Sacramental graces effecting a change to the way we think or act. A common Catholic dig at Protestantism is that there are 10,000 to 33,000 different denominations all saying different things, as if that’s some sort of hint at disunity. My parish has 7,000 families in it and I can get as many different ideas from all of them too. What’s the difference? Because we fall under the umbrella of Catholic that’s OK but Protestants don’t so it’s not OK? Pantheists and pagans don’t profess the One God revealed to mankind in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, every Protestant Christian does. Comparing the two isn’t a fair comparison.

[quote=chris molter]If a Catholic truly understands what the Church teaches, then he’s not going to leave the Church for any other community of believers no matter how much he likes their “style” or how “on fire” they are. If he did so, he certainly would be sinning by causing scandal and abandoning full communion with the body of Christ.
[/quote]

I don’t know if this is true or not. This is similar to the OSAS argument that says that if a person after being saved falls away he wasn’t really saved anyway.

[quote=chris molter]This is another idea entirely. Catholics are not forbidden to associate with non Catholics, or even to pray with them. However, the goal of such ecumenism should be to bring those separated from the Catholic Church into further understanding of her teachings and closer to full communion.
[/quote]

I think I am really seeing for the first time in my life “Catholic Guilt.” I have always heard about it in jest. I had always thought how incredibly unhealthy.

Chris, Thank you for your time and serious efforts to get your points across. I do appreciate it.


#17

My agenda is seeking input from CAF posters to the idea I put forth in the original post. I said I saw and understood the complaints of Calvin, not that I neither agreed with them nor endorsed them. I have not accused anyone of anything. If you have taken my posts as a personal attack then I apologize for that impression because that is not what I am doing here.

I am trying to figure something out that I have a personal stake in. This is not an intellectual exercise or a debate for debates sake.

For clarification I am a Catholic in full communion with the See of Rome in as good a standing as I can be as a confused sinner. My questions and comments are for seeking input to use in making a serious decision in my life. The remarks I gather here will not be the only influence but I felt like getting peoples ideas from a source where I considered the people to be more conscientious about their faith than most.


#18

I do not take your posts as any sort of personal attack. If you have an agenda in that “I believe this and I want to know how many others do”, then laying that out is helpful.

There are many who ask questions but do not care to hear the answers. It would be simpler if they simply made an argument rather than posing as honest inquisitor.

A key indicator is terminology like, “How can this be correct?” This implies a judgment on your part that these are mutually-exclusive propositions.

As the discussion wears on, I begin to wonder what the point precisely is. You have asked a question, and received answers. Now what?


#19

I agree with you 100%. The difference between what the Church teaches and what happens when the rubber hits the road are two different (sometimes FRIGHTENINGLY different!) things. This used to be something that constantly bothered me. Then I thought about history a bit. Y’know, there’s ALWAYS been a disconnect between teaching and reality. Why? Sin! The Church’s teachings are indefectable, but her members are not. We can only TRY harder for ourselves and try to help lift each other up.

Mark Shea, Amy Welborn and other notable Catholic bloggers have pondered how to go about rejuvinating the laity so they see their Catholicity as indivisible from everything they do in their day to day lives. Some have put programs into place to further this goal and I think that lay movements are one of the best ways to go about connecting Catholics’ lives and faith. The Church is constantly renewing itself. The answer is there, not in abandoning the body!

Well, the unity is in the teachings of the Church, not the holiness of her membership. Trying to make a “pure” church membership is a one way road to the “Church of One”. Remember that we’re a hospital for sinners, so of course we’ll have an infinite variety of people with an infinite variety of problems and sins. The dig at the multiplicity of Protestant denominations is that they all say the answers are in scripture but they have no method of determining with certainty what those answers are!

Since it seemed to me your original point was that it ought to be ok to leave the Catholic Church to join a Protestant denomination if its membership is more suitable to your particular feelings… style of worship, or what have you, I don’t necessarily see a reason why you couldn’t abandon Christianity altogether for a non-Christian religion if the “fruits of the spirit” are found there also.

Just take a gander at all the threads about “Saint Gandhi”. The guy explicitly rejected Christianity, but folks are ready to baptize him after death just to put him in their membership roll because he produced “fruit”.

Not really. We’re talking about someone having full knowledge of the Church’s teachings, which is something we can know and measure here and now, not the state of someone’s salvation, which we cannot know with certainty.

Guilt isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think of guilt as a good thing. It’s an indicator of a well formed conscience. If you do something against God’s will, you ought to feel guilty. That guilt should lead you to repentance, confession, and amendment of life. Only when guilt becomes an obstacle to your repentance (thinking you’re TOO guilty to be forgiven, IE despair; or feelings of guilt over things you shouldn’t feel guilty about IE scrupulosity) is it a bad thing.

You’re quite welcome, you’ll be in my prayers.


#20

I’d try and be careful what you type then (it’s a problem I know I have :slight_smile: )cause it was very strongly implicitly what you said.

So how many “good Catholics” do you know and spend a considerable amount of time with?

What percentage of your close personal friends (those people about whom you “might” have some indication of their progress of their walk with God) are “good Catholics”?

This might have some influnce on your perception I think.

I know some non-Catholics that are holy God fearing men and women. I also know some Protestants that use “once saved always saved” as a license to cheat on their wives.

I know some Catholics that are holy God fearing men and women. I also know some “Catholics” that do what they want to and with whomever they want.

I know hundreds of truely Holy God fearing Catholic men (no I don’t count myself one of them). I only know a few truely Holy God Fearing non-Catholics.

So what can I conclude about the Catholic and non-Catholic faiths from this?

Not a thing.

Chuck


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