Debate CA vs. SBC?


I have been wondering has there been any debates between Catholic Answers and the Saint Benedict Center?

The St. Benedict Center ( SBC) holds a stricter understanding of “No Salvation Outside the Church” than Catholic Answers (CA); has there been any debates between the two?

If not will there be?


I can’t understand the passion some people have for debates. What does a debate prove other than who is the better debater? It certainly says nothing about the intrinsic rightness or objective truthfulness of the topic under discussion.


Well the whole idea of forums ( like CAF) is what debates are. There are many different kinds views that are exchanged and it gives two camps the possibility to present their best arguments. Usually the side who has the weaker argument becomes clearer. From what you are saying, you seem closer to the Sophist argument that truth isn’t knowable but persuasion and manipulation is the real art.

Socrates and Plato were of the other opinion; they thought by asking questions and demanding answers in a logical fashion (debate) truth can be known and even more so after the debate.

If two positions challenge each other face to face then I believe all benefit.

I suspect that CA has the weaker argument since most of the discussions on the Forums are won by the Feeney position; that is one of the main reason for myself growing closer to the Feeney position. The opposition is just too weak.


But Fr. Feeney was excommunicated. Why would you go there?


As the previous poster said, Fr. Feeney’s opposition, the Church authorities, excommunicated him. His other opponents would include Augustine, Aquinas, all the bishops who wrote the Catechism…etc… Also God.


Originally Posted by duckbill
I suspect that CA has the weaker argument since most of the discussions on the Forums are won by the Feeney position; that is one of the main reason for myself growing closer to the Feeney position. The opposition is just too weak.

This confirms my point. The strength of the debater is no indicator of the truth of the matter being debated. Might doesn’t necessarily make right.

**Outside the Church there is no salvation" **
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches 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, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.337

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; De unit.:PL 4,509-536.
336 LG 14; cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5.
337 LG 16; cf. DS 3866-3872.
338 AG 7; cf. Heb 11:6; 1 Cor 9:16.

If I, a Catholic, became convinced that the Catholic Church was not truly founded by Christ and I left the Church to join the church which I believed, based on my research, was the true church I could still be saved (if I cooperated with God’s grace etc) but if I knew that the Catholic Church was the Church founded by Christ and left the Church I would be putting my salvation in peril.


I thought like you too but if you read his case it was problematic if he was really even excommunicated since his rights under canon law were violated and the excommunication wasn’t for heresy either. He was asked to go to Rome . He asked “For what reason?” Which under Canon Law he had a right to know. No reason was given and he didn’t go, so they said he was excommunicated for not coming to Rome. link:Fr. Feeney: A Fact Sheet

This is a mute point since he was eventually “reconciled” by only having to recite the link: Athanasius Creed One of the main Creeds of the Church like the Apostles Creed or Nicean.

Which begins : “Whosoever will be saved,
before all things it is is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith.
Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled,
without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”

and ends:
“This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully,
he cannot be saved.”

There are 2 (or 3?) groups that hold the Feeney position that have diocesan approval link:Worcester Diocese–Directory

1. OSB – Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines of Still River) =Benedictine Rule

2.MICM - Sisters of St. Benedict Center, Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saint Anne’s House)=Franciscan Rule

So, what does this mean?
Not only can a Catholic hold a stricter interpretation of EXTRA ECCLESIA NULLA SALUS and still be in good standing with the Church, but there is actually religious orders officially approved in the Diocese of Worcester that holds this view. ( Which is better than the SSPX even without their excommunications!)

(I have never heard Catholic Answers apologists such as Jimmy Akin, bring up these two facts,and that it is permissible to hold the Feeney position and be a Catholic in good standing, when speaking on the subject, so it is no surprise you are not informed. I wasn’t either and was surprised to find it.)

For the professional opinion of a competent canon lawyer on whether or not a loyal disciple of Father Leonard Feeney can be a Catholic in good standing, please see the link: PDF file of a letter from Mr. Peter Vere, J.C.L.( BTW, Peter Vere, who has written for Envoy mag., does not hold the Feeney position but is honest.) says:

"The answer is yes for a number of reasons:

  1. There is no question Fr. Feeney died in full communion with the Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI lifted Father’s excommunication while Father was still alive, and there is no evidence that Father recanted his understanding of EENS, BOB, or BOD."

  2. Most of Fr. Feeney’s spiritual descendants have been reconciled with the Church **without having to renounce or recant their interpretation of BOB, BOD, or EENS. **This was the case with those who reconciled in 1974 and would go on to found St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, as well as the sisters of St. Anne’s House in Still River who reconciled in 1988, and most recently with St. Benedict Centre in Still River who reconciled under Br. Thomas Augustine, MICM.(1997?)

It seems Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S.(Professor at a PONTIFICAL University) who has written for THIS ROCK, recently said Fr Feeney was


I understand your confusion with me but it is similar to the time of the Immaculate Conception. One camp the Dominicans were against it and the Franciscans were for it. The Dominican opinion seemed to be the most popular at one time. But it was slowly worn away by the argument of Don Scotus (who, BTW, was wrong on almost every other point in his theology but he came up with the best argument for the Immaculate Conception- LOL ironic huh?)

( St. Catherine of Sienna, on the other hand, said the BVMary appeared to her and said the Dominicans were right:**"There is much room for error in private revelations, even when they are given to Saints…St. Catherine of Siena seems to have claimed Our Lady appeared to her and denied the Immaculate Conception."** link: EWTN LOL- Even Saint can be fooled.)

Catechisms are not infallible documents they are the Norms–a mixture of dogma and theological opinion-- or other wise Limbo for Infants would already be proclaimed a Dogma.

In addition the above CCC is written in such a way that some would think there is salvation outside the Church. If you were on Noah’s Ark and I said “well if you jump off your a gonner-- you’ll die!” This is true. But does that mean that those who have failed to get on the Ark before it shut its doors won’t die too? No. It is only half the truth or as some say a truism. By only telling half – knowing that staying on the Ark ( in the Church) is necessary to be saved, it doesn’t follow that those who have not gotten on the Ark (not joined) will be saved by their ignorance.

( BTW ignorance of the necessity of joining the Church is excused-i.e. infidelity to God-- but that does not supply Sanctifying Grace. People always get confused on this issue. They are not guilty of sin for not joining the Church but they probably have other sins that will condemn them or even Original Sin)

The Ark has always been used as an image of the Church.


Dear brother Duckbill,

I think you are mistaken to think that the Athanasian Creed recited by Fr. Feeney can be reconciled to his previous beliefs. From what little I admittedly know, Fr. Feeney claimed that one must be a MEMBER of the Catholic Church in order to be saved. This is different from his confession upon reconciling himself to the Church which states that the condition of salvation is not membership, but rather holding the Catholic FAITH. The Catholic Church recognizes that there are many who are Catholic in Faith (internally speaking), but not necessarily be members (externally speaking) of the Church - for whatever reason that may be.

Invincible ignorance plays a large role in this patristic, ancient, and Catholic teaching. Not only St. Augustine, but a whole host of ancient Fathers believed in the mitigating principle of invincible ignorance.

No, I do not believe that Fr. Feeney’s former heretical beliefs are compatible with Catholicism. There is certainly a more strict view of EENS permissible within the Catholic Church, but it is not identical to what Fr. Feeney formerly believed.

BTW, I think it’s pretty unrealistic to think that Fr. Feeney did not know on what account he was being called to Rome. Supporters of his former heresy are just being legalistic over the matter. The argument is basically - since the authorities did not put it down in writing, even though Fr. Feeney actually knew the reason for being called to Rome, then his rights were “violated.” That’s like those criminals who try to get out of their just sentences because of a technicality or loophole in the legal system. They might have a legal argument, but not a moral one. Neither do supporters of Fr. Feeney’s former heresy have a moral argument.



Right. “If I want to drive to the store, it is necessary to get in my car” cannot be reconciled with things like “If I want to drive to the store, it is necessary to start my car”, and “If I want to drive to the store, it is necessary to put my car in drive”, etc., etc.


Did you even read my posts?:confused:

-2 groups are approved by the Church that hold his position.

Are you saying I should not be approving of what the Church allows?
Are Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ Cults?

Didn’t you read in my post that Fr. Feeney died a good Catholic and NEVER renounced his stance on EENS( Maybe you didn’t understand this is the Latin abbreviation for No Salvation Outside the Church) this was established by a neutral third part too= Canon Lawyer Peter Vere.

2 points on Canon Law

  1. We have canon law so procedure is followed just like in secular courts so members of the Church will not be abused by powers that be.
    ( I think Feeney wanted to be accused then under Canon Law he would be allowed to defend himself. But since it was never addressed those who opposed his position got the spin that he was a heretic.)

  2. As I said in the post above it is a mute point.SincProxy-Connection: keep-alive
    Cache-Control: max-age=0

he was “regularized” WITHOUT renouncing his views.


The Church still teaches this today, just like Augustine, Aquinas, etc… Fr. Feeney’s theology remains limited however, because it fails to recognize the informal methods by which a person is united to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. Fr. Feeney uses a lesser theology which demands formal profession in the Church, whereas the Church teaches that those innocently ignorant of the Church in a formal way still profess the faith by following the law of God written on their hearts. It is Christ they follow, although they know it not. And the Church, being Christ perpetuated on earth, is that in which the person professes their faith, unknowingly, and informally.


My point is that Catholic Answers and others in the orthodox/radio/ communications/media Catholic movement are not expressing the FULL mind of the Church in this matter. Of course there is confusion but there is no heresy to be lobbed at an APPROVED Church group. “What the Church does not condemn neither do I”. These Catholic Media elites should clarify that the Feeney position though not popular is not heresy since there are Church approved groups. Does the Church approve heresy?

If anything it is what the Church has always required for salvation:

** Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum #14. May 5, 1824:**
“It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, **to approve all sects who profess false teachings **which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members… by divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptism… This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.”

** Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos #13. Aug. 15, 1832:**
“With the admonition of the apostle, that ‘there is one God, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. 4:5), may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that ‘those who are not with Christ are against Him,’ (Lk. 11:23) and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore, ‘without a doubt, they will perish forever, **unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate **(Athanasian Creed).

** Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio, 1832**:
#5.You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that very article of faith which** these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation.** The words of that celebrated disciple of the apostles, martyred St. Ignatius, in his letter to the Philadelphians are relevant to this matter: **“Be not deceived, my brother; if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not attain the inheritance of the kingdom of God.” **Moreover, St. Augustine and the other African bishops who met in the Council of Cirta in the year 412 explained the same thing at greater length: “Whoever has separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how laudably he lives, will not have eternal life, but has earned the anger of God because of this one crime: that he abandoned his union with Christ.”

Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise St. Gregory the Great who expressly testifies that this indeed is the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: “The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.” Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of Lateran IV, these things are written: “**There is one universal Church of all the faithful outside of which no one is saved.” **Finally the same dogma is also expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use, but also that which the Greek Orthodox Church uses and that which other Eastern Catholics use. We did not mention these selected testimonies because We thought you were ignorant of that article of faith and in need of Our instruction. Far be it from Us to have such an absurd and insulting suspicion about you. But We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies.

** Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943:**

22,: “Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith.”

#9…If then it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine Faith: for what the Apostle St. James judges to be the effect of a moral delinquency, the same is to be said of an erroneous opinion in the matter of faith. “Whosoever shall offend in one point, is become guilty of all” (Ep. James ii., 10). Nay, it applies with greater force to an erroneous opinion.For it can be said with less truth that every law is violated by one who commits a single sin, since it may be that he only virtually despises the majesty of God the Legislator. But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. *“In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me the many things in which they are will not profit them” *(S. Augustinus in Psal. liv., n. 19).

** Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Modern Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 - Proposition 16:**
“Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”= condemned


I would respond to this post the same way as my last post. There are extenuating means by which someone of ignorance can be united to the Catholic Church—the only Church through which salvation is possible. None of your recent quotes contradict that.

But I’m curious, who in Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ holds to Fr. Feeney’s position?


Sorry manybe I didn’t make my point well. Opus Dei and Legionaries of Christ are often accused of being cults and those that defend them say that the Church has approved them so even if one doesn’t like them or their methods one has to tolerate them until the Church condemns them. (There maybe “Feeneyites” in these groups but I don’t know them;))

You’re saying that there is salvation outside the Church but not in so clear terms.
Because you are asserting that :
1 “True whole faith is not necessary"
2.” true Worship exists outside the Church"
therefore there is salvation outside the Church.

Which contradicts the clear meaning of the above quotes. Now if we were debating one text and its translation then I could see your point but there are statements upon statements that says that one needs to be a member of the Church to be saved and to be a member one needs the True Faith and true worship only exist with in Her.


Again are there any debates between Catholic Answers and SBC? Or a Radio show on CAL dedicated to this topic with free exchange from both sides?


No, I’m saying that someone formally ignorant of the Catholic Church but who follows the will of God in his heart as best he can IS following the Catholic Church…IS following Jesus Christ…IS following the one faith…and therefore IS united to the One Catholic Church by extenuating means. That’s why I referred to it as a high theology, because one must recognize the extension of the Church. This is extenuating means is only to those who are unable to formally unite to the Church by the knowledge and grace he has received.

In fact, whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, this is efficacious for all souls God will unite with Him. From the mass:Eucharistic Prayer II
Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world. Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth; your servant, Pope Benedict, our Bishop, and all the bishops, with the clergy and the entire people your son has gathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be. Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship.


Not a debate, but Karl Keating (founder of this website) wrote about Fr. Feeney in 2004 and was careful to note that the excommunication was due to disobedience and not what he was teaching per se. Link here.


Sorry brother duckbill…forgive me for my picking of nits but this is a pet peeve of mine. The correct phrase is “moot point”, not “mute point”. A moot point (in common use) is a point that is of little or no relevance or importance whereas a mute point…well, frankly I don’t know…a point made by someone who cannot speak? :slight_smile:

peace in Christ.



If you have the time, read this article especially those sections under the titles “Epithets on Boston Common” and “Dueling Pontiffs?”…


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