Did John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger contradict each other?


#1

Hi all,

I’m involved in a Catholic apologetic debate on a Protestant Web site. My opponent had made the following argument. Can you help me with this?

“Let’s go closer to Rome. In Sep 2000, Rome published the Dominus Iesus encyclical. The document, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope), the Pope’s chief of doctrine, said that the way of salvation was ‘only in the unique and universal Catholic Apostolic Church’. Then in Dec 2000, the Pope amended the Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the ‘only way to salvation’, saying that Heaven is open to all as long as they are good. He said at an audience that ‘all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church’ were ‘called upon to build the kingdom of God’. His words repeated what was pronounced at the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, but were clearly intended to repair harm to religious dialogue caused by a document issued in September. The amendment follows criticism of the pronouncement, which called other faiths ‘gravely deficient’ as a means to salvation. Ratzinger, in a letter following the publication, forbidded Roman Catholic bishops from using the term ‘sister churches’ to refer to Protestant faiths. The letter said such ‘sloppy terminology’ diminished the Roman Catholic Church’s position of pre-eminence as ‘the mother of all churches’”.

“So, Gene, wouldn’t you consider this matter in Dominus Iesus a cardinal doctrine on our salvation? And if so, how has the magisterium handled it? It would seem to me that either Ratzinger was wrong - and now as the Pope he could make it right if he wanted to - or Pope John Paul II was wrong, but certainly both can’t be right. So, the longing for that ‘infallible fuzzy’ that comes from turning your responsibilities over to an ‘infallible guide’ remains as unfulfilled as ever.”

I was trying to tackle this myself but I realized what a great resource is available from my brothers and sisters on this Web site.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Grace and peace,
Gene


#2

Briefly, this seems like the typical argument made against the Church’s current self-understanding of the “Outside the Church, No Salvation” issue. On one side of the coin, there is no salvation outside the Church. On the other side, those who are invincibly ignorant of the Church still have the possibility (not necessarily probability) of salvation. This is probably the most disputed issue on these forums, and you will find much information by doing a search.


#3

[quote=Gene C.]Hi all,

I’m involved in a Catholic apologetic debate on a Protestant Web site. My opponent had made the following argument. Can you help me with this?

“Let’s go closer to Rome. In Sep 2000, Rome published the Dominus Iesus encyclical. The document, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope), the Pope’s chief of doctrine, said that the way of salvation was ‘only in the unique and universal CatholicApostolicChurch’. Then in Dec 2000, the Pope amended the Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the ‘only way to salvation’, saying that Heaven is open to all as long as they are good. He said at an audience that ‘all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church’ were ‘called upon to build the kingdom of God’. His words repeated what was pronounced at the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, but were clearly intended to repair harm to religious dialogue caused by a document issued in September. The amendment follows criticism of the pronouncement, which called other faiths ‘gravely deficient’ as a means to salvation. Ratzinger, in a letter following the publication, forbidded Roman Catholic bishops from using the term ‘sister churches’ to refer to Protestant faiths. The letter said such ‘sloppy terminology’ diminished the Roman Catholic Church’s position of pre-eminence as ‘the mother of all churches’”.

“So, Gene, wouldn’t you consider this matter in Dominus Iesus a cardinal doctrine on our salvation? And if so, how has the magisterium handled it? It would seem to me that either Ratzinger was wrong - and now as the Pope he could make it right if he wanted to - or Pope John Paul II was wrong, but certainly both can’t be right. So, the longing for that ‘infallible fuzzy’ that comes from turning your responsibilities over to an ‘infallible guide’ remains as unfulfilled as ever.”

I was trying to tackle this myself but I realized what a great resource is available from my brothers and sisters on this Web site.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Grace and peace,
Gene

[/quote]

Read what the Catechism says about these things. Domine Jesus does not contradict it nor it Domine Jesus. Both of them were issued with the consent of HHJPII. Any who are saved, whether they are formally joined to the Church or not, are saved through the mediation of God’s Grace given to the Church. The Catechism states that what other “ecclesial communities” have as “centers of salvation” for their members (I think that phrase is correct, but I haven’t got my catechism in front of me) they have from the Catholic Church, to whom those things belong. Your friend needs to read things in context, papal remarks included. If one looks at the CCC, and Domine Jesus, I don’t think HHJPII and HHPBXVI contradict each other.


#4

Hmmm :hmmm:

You might also ask the person you are conversing with whether or not he forgot to cite his quotation of Bruce Johnston, Electronic Telegraph (basically the british paper The Telegraph, online) Issue 2023, Friday the 8th, Dec 2000, where Mr. Johnston states:


[font=arial][size=2]THE Pope has amended a Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the “only way to salvation”, saying that Heaven is open to all as long as they are good. [/font]
[font=arial][size=2][/size][/font]
[font=arial][size=2]He said at an audience that “all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church” were “called upon to build the kingdom of God”. His words repeated what was pronounced at the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, but were clearly intended to repair harm to religious dialogue caused by a document issued in September. The document, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Pope’s chief of doctrine, said that the way of salvation was “only in the unique and universal Catholic Apostolic Church”. The amendment follows criticism of the pronouncement, which called other faiths “gravely deficient” as a means to salvation
.
[/size]
***** [/size][/font]
That seems very similar to your opponent’s post! :slight_smile:


#5

For crying out loud, I wish they would stop interpruting Catholic doctirne at home. If they insist they should at least read the dang document. This paragraph in particular:

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html

The Church is the “universal sacrament of salvation”,79 since, united always in a mysterious way to the Saviour Jesus Christ, her Head, and subordinated to him, she has, in God’s plan, an indispensable relationship with the salvation of every human being.80 For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”;81 it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.82


#6

Verbom Caro, and Thessolonian…You all are investigative, and have proven, once again that some folks will stretch and bend to prove their points…fairly deceptive and sneaky, and I’m glad that you have the patience to look that up for us.:wink:

Besides, about the infallibility question, it’s my understanding that there are only three statements that were proclaimed infallible…most prots. think that we believe every word out of the mouths of popes are infallible, and that just isn’t the case. I think they need a lesson on what infallibility really is.


#7

Ps. Dominus Iesus cites the Vatican II Documents. It’s absurd to think the Cardinal did not know what V II stated, especially since there are copius citations and bibliography and would contradict it. He also sites JP II’s Encylcical’s Redemptois Missio *Fides et ratio. He knows what JP II thinks and would not have contradicted him. * Why don’t these guys just admit they don’t understand Catholic dcotrine and sit back and learn for a while. They’re like a 4th grade Math student trying to tell a PHD in Calculus that his integrals are wrong. Very sad.


#8

[quote=thessalonian]For those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church, “salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit”;81 it has a relationship with the Church, which “according to the plan of the Father, has her origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit”.82
[/quote]

Unfortunately, there certainly does seem to be some contradiction between this statement and historical papal teachings, particularly the first one below.

Pope Boniface VIII in his Papal Bull Unam Sanctam (A.D. 1302): “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

**Pope Innocent III **and Lateran Council IV (A.D. 1215): “One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved…”

Pope Innocent III (A.D. 1198 - 1216): “With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved.” (Denzinger 423)

**Pope Leo XII **(A.D. 1823 - 1829): “We profess that there is no salvation outside the Church. …For the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. With reference to those words Augustine says: `If any man be outside the Church he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for Father since he has not the Church for mother.’” (Encyclical, Ubi Primum)

**Pope Gregory XVI **(A.D. 1831 - 1846): “It is not possible to worship God truly except in Her; all who are outside Her will not be saved.” (Encyclical, Summo Jugiter)

Pope Pius IX (A.D. 1846 - 1878): “It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.” (Denzinger 1647)

Pope Leo XIII (A.D. 1878 - 1903): “This is our last lesson to you; receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church.” (Encyclical, Annum Ingressi Sumus)

“He scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with Him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God.” (Encyclical, Sapientiae Christianae)

Pope Saint Pius X (A.D. 1903 - 1914): “It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.” (Encyclical, Jucunda Sane)

**Pope Benedict XV **(A.D. 1914 - 1922): “Such is the nature of the Catholic faith that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole, or as a whole rejected: This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.” (Encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum)

Pope Pius XI (A.D. 1922 - 1939): “The Catholic Church alone is keeping the true worship. This is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. …Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ, no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.” (Encyclical, Mortalium Animos)

Pope Pius XII (A.D. 1939 - 1958): “By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth.” (Allocution to the Gregorian, October 17, 1953)


#9

[quote=Scotty PGH]Unfortunately, there certainly does seem to be some contradiction between this statement and historical papal teachings, particularly the first one below.

[/quote]

“It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance concerning our most holy religion and who, assiduously observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life.” (Pius IX, Singulari Quadam)

Read this :

Can Outsiders Be Insiders?
catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4085


#10

[quote=Sarah Jane]“It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance concerning our most holy religion and who, assiduously observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life.” (Pius IX, Singulari Quadam)

Read this :

Can Outsiders Be Insiders?
catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4085
[/quote]

Right - but I think the OP’s argument was presented to him in the context of a debate concerning protestants. They certainly cannot be considered to be laboring in “invincible ignorance,” can they?


#11

And I forgot this one:

Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (A.D. 1438 - 1445): “[The most Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart `into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”


#12

“In like manner, the proceedings of the Council of Florence (1431), convoked to heal the rift between the Churches of the East and West, contained the following article: ‘[The holy Roman Church] . . . firmly believes, professes and preaches that no one outside the Catholic Church, neither pagans, nor Jews, nor heretics, nor schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life . . . And no one can be saved, no matter how much he has given in alms, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.’ A careful reading of the text reveals that the Council Fathers had in mind not an outright condemnation of those invincibly ignorant of the gospel, but of those who were obdurate in their rejection of it.” (Can Outsiders Be Insiders?)


#13

[quote=Sarah Jane]“In like manner, the proceedings of the Council of Florence (1431), convoked to heal the rift between the Churches of the East and West, contained the following article: ‘[The holy Roman Church] . . . firmly believes, professes and preaches that no one outside the Catholic Church, neither pagans, nor Jews, nor heretics, nor schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life . . . And no one can be saved, no matter how much he has given in alms, even if he sheds his blood for the name of Christ, unless he remains in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.’ A careful reading of the text reveals that the Council Fathers had in mind not an outright condemnation of those invincibly ignorant of the gospel, but of those who were obdurate in their rejection of it.” (Can Outsiders Be Insiders?)
[/quote]

Right - so I think you and I are in agreement…no?


#14

The point is that the quote by thessalonian appears to open up the possibility of salvation for “those who are not formally and visibly members of the Church” which is a much larger group of people (and would presumably include Protestants) than the “invincibly ignorant” people (presumably those people to whom the Gospel has never come). Therefore, that statement appears to contradict the historical papal teaching on the matter of salvation outside of the Church.


#15

Statements like this one from Pius IX, whom is quoted in your post above show that the Church emphatically proclaimed No Salvation Outside the Church and yet took in to account invincible igorance.

papalencyclicals.net/Pius09/p9quanto.htm
7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

Note the difference between “alienated from thetrue faith” and “struggling with invincible ignorance”. The Baltimore Catechism mentions “invincible ignorance” but says it is very rare that anyone would be saved who is in such a state and that it would mostly be baptized infants. However I would consider such things to be speculative.

There has been no change in Church teaching. No contradiction. Merely a teaching that must be correctly understood and some things are “hard to understand”. So those who are not Catholics should not try this at home as I said before.

Blessings


#16

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by HH Pope John Paul II, the teachings of the Holy Fathers quoted by Scotty have been explained and expanded upon:

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers … All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

The Catechism goes further:
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist."324

Taken at face value, the Catechism seems to contradict the Popes quoted by Scotty. Since we know the Church cannot be lead into error by a Pope (John Paul II promulgated it with a preface that called it the “sure norm” for teaching the faith) nor can she contradict herself, the two must be reconciled. I think that the Catechism does this by stating the bit about “certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” Should they become Catholic? Heavens yes! Are they condemned out of hand for not converting, even if they know about the Catholic Church (and let’s face it, who doesn’t? I’m sure there are some, but I bet the numbers are small)? The Catechism seems to suggest otherwise, ie, "elements of santification and truth are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church and, rather most telling, “Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation.” Holy Mother Church looses nothing thereby and the truth is maintained, because those churches/ecclesial communities use those elements of santification and truth “whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church.” There is, however, also this: the same Catechism also quotes Lumen Gentium: “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”

The only way I think that this can be reconciled is to say that they cannot be saved who KNOW (are convinced, in other words) that the Catholic Church is THE Church, mediating the Grace of Salvation to the World. I still don’t think it condemns faithful Protestants who sincerely seek to follow Christ, because while they KNOW (are aware of) the Catholic Church, they don’t KNOW (are not convinced by) the Catholic Church.


#17

"On both counts, however, whoever is saved owes his salvation to the one Catholic Church founded by Christ. It is to this Church alone that Christ entrusted the truths of revelation which have by now, though often dimly, penetrated all the cultures of mankind. It is this Church alone that communicates the merits won for the whole world on the cross. " (Fr. John A. Hardon, On Salvation Outside the Church)

Source : ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ315.HTM


#18

[quote=Sarah Jane]"On both counts, however, whoever is saved owes his salvation to the one Catholic Church founded by Christ. It is to this Church alone that Christ entrusted the truths of revelation which have by now, though often dimly, penetrated all the cultures of mankind. It is this Church alone that communicates the merits won for the whole world on the cross. " (Fr. John A. Hardon, On Salvation Outside the Church)

Source : ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ315.HTM
[/quote]

Precisely!


#19

Well said! So if someone finds a bible in a dusty library it is to the Catholic Church, whose members wrote (the NT part) and assembled it into a single volume, that they owe the truths contained there. Those are the same truths taught today. The Church still holds the correct understanding of those teachings, but it is possible for someone, by the Grace of God, to reach the same understanding as the Church teaches by simply reading, meditating and praying.

In any case without this Church there is no salvation.


#20

[quote=Gene C.]Hi all,

I’m involved in a Catholic apologetic debate on a Protestant Web site. My opponent had made the following argument. Can you help me with this?

Hi Gene-

It seems a lot of stuff has been lumped together here. What, EXACTLY, is the conflict? Are these all infallible statements?

"Let’s go closer to Rome. In Sep 2000, Rome published the Dominus Iesus encyclical. The document, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (the current Pope), the Pope’s chief of doctrine, said that the way of salvation was ‘only in the unique and universal CatholicApostolicChurch’.

You do realize that this doesn’t exclude everyone who doesn’t consider themselves a Catholic, don’t you?

Then in Dec 2000, the Pope amended the Vatican pronouncement that the Roman Catholic Church was the ‘only way to salvation’,

did he(your debatee) mean to refer to the statement above? “the only way to salvation” doesn’t exist in the statement above. If he wasn’t referring to the above, where did he get the statement “only way to salvation”? Already things are confusing - he appears to be comparing apples and oranges

saying that Heaven is open to all as long as they are good. He said at an audience that ‘all of the just on Earth, including those who ignore Christ and his Church’ were ‘called upon to build the kingdom of God’.

all of these statements require context to understand. Nothing of significance is stated here.

His words repeated what was pronounced at the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago, but were clearly intended to repair harm to religious dialogue caused by a document issued in September.

Statement of opinion. Did the document make this claim or is this simply his take on it?

The amendment follows criticism of the pronouncement, which called other faiths ‘gravely deficient’ as a means to salvation. Ratzinger, in a letter following the publication, forbidded Roman Catholic bishops from using the term ‘sister churches’ to refer to Protestant faiths. The letter said such ‘sloppy terminology’ diminished the Roman Catholic Church’s position of pre-eminence as ‘the mother of all churches’".

I remain confused as to the exact conflict he perceives. It needs to be stated plainly otherwise we are just wasting our time attempting to refute it.

"So, Gene, wouldn’t you consider this matter in Dominus Iesus a cardinal doctrine on our salvation? And if so, how has the magisterium handled it? It would seem to me that either Ratzinger was wrong - and now as the Pope he could make it right if he wanted to - or Pope John Paul II was wrong, but certainly both can’t be right.

I disagree with the conclusion here - why can’t they both be right? Which statements, exactly, contradict one another?

So, the longing for that ‘infallible fuzzy’ that comes from turning your responsibilities over to an ‘infallible guide’ remains as unfulfilled as ever."

I was trying to tackle this myself but I realized what a great resource is available from my brothers and sisters on this Web site.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Grace and peace,
Gene

[/quote]


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