How should a Traditionalist Catholic

… view Mahatma Gandhi? I’ve often thought that he was a great and holy man. But some of my fellow trads think otherwise. What do you guys think?

Pray for his soul. A great man he was. A “Holy” man he was not. He did not believe in God, he did not believe in God made Man- Jesus Christ. To believe THAT is to be holy- to deny that is to be accursed, condemned.

You have to distinguish “Holy” from what appears to be good and not “Holy”.

Ghandi was a great peaceful “Christ like” man. So will the Antichrist I hear.

Ken

I agree with the last post…
I would say that he was a good man, but that he is not “holy” since he was not Catholic and Baptized, and we only really know about him what is from others since we don’t know much about his personal morality and it is none of our business.

As far as your position. When people ask me about historical figures who were “good people” and if the Church says they are in heaven or not I first tell them that it is not up to me nor is it my place to pass any judgement on the individual or group in question. I only give them Church teachings and how I may understand it while reminding them I am not the final authority.
The church says that there is “No salvation outside the Catholic Church”. But also, the Church will never say a particular person is in hell or heaven. The Church only canonizes people she knows are in heaven and it gives us Catholic Christians as well as non-believers an example to follow and imitate. All souls are subject to the Church, but also to God’s Mercy. It is a rather compliacated Theological issue that people take too lightly and too much opinion is induced.

This is a little off topic, but there is a grave danger in Catholics, or even the Catholic Church herself saying non-Catholics are “holy” or blessed, or even an example to follow.
The Catholic Faith is the TRUE Faith…
This problem therfore is important because if non-Catholics see that certain Buddist, Hindu, Aethist etc. are termed a certain way by a Catholic or a representitive of the Church, it is then a grave injustice to the non-Catholic as they see a sign of approval and find less incentive to convert, repent and amend their ways. They think "see I can be just like this non-Catholic and the church will approve of me so long as I am a good person."
For more information it also helps to study Catholic Justification, and the traditional teachings in regards to salvation within or outside the church. Pay special attention to the parts on vincible and invincible ignorance because that part is terribly confused these days but the great Theologians are who we can turn to for better understanding (Augustine, Aquinas etc.).

An example of this on the forums is apparent with a gentleman named Thomas Merton. It is wrong of people to hail him as a “great spiritual author” or a tremendous asset to Catholic spirituality. Thomas Merton’s writings are not officially approved by the church just because there may be a nihil and obstat as some people elluded to. That only means that particular bishop found them to be “without error”. But in all reality, that all depends on how faithful the bishop who approves that work is to the True Faith and Church teachings.
I personally know his works to be out of line and incompatable with traditional Catholicism and spirituality (refering to teachings and St. John of the Cross and other doctors of the church etc.)…
But, in all reality the people who parade him as a holy man who “advanced contemplative prayer” etc. are wrong just as those who condemn him because it is not up to the individual Catholic…We can only prove, illustrate how and why his writings are incorrect and incompatible. Only the magisterium can make that call and even then the Catholic magisterium will never condemn a soul, only the wrongs they have done.

Back to Ghandi…Well, he was “peaceful” and a pacifist and there is no doubt he did much for his county, but, we can’t know his soul and his true intentions etc. Also, Christ’s Peace, is not the peace that the world understands.
Just like a murderer converts on their deathbed or (heaven forbid) a Catholic flips out and commits atrocities right before their death and remains unrepentant. and we would not know the true state of their souls.
Personally, I say: If Ghandi was not Christian, and he really did much good, then how much more is expected of us who have the True Faith? Shouldn’t we now have a great incentive to do better since we have been given such grace from God Almighty?
I respect him just as I would any secular personality; for the good they did, but I never claim to know or remark on the status of his soul. Also, with secular personalities (of other faiths) I only follow any of their examples if they are compatible with orthodox Catholic Teachings.

That was rather winded! You probably know most of that, but that other thread I mentioned frustrated me…sorry! :stuck_out_tongue:

I think he was a good man who loved God and his neighbor. He admired Jesus as he is pictured in the gosples and would probably have become Christian but for what he saw of the Christians around him. In his behavior he was Christian. As for his soul, I leave that to God.

I don’t think any Catholic should look to him as we look to the saints or even consider him as someone to be modeled. The Saints are the models of holiness and faith. Remember, we are not saved by works alone–we need faith. Ghandi displayed no explicit faith in God or Jesus Christ.

He claimed to like Christ but not Christians–and yet he decided not to follow Chirst; so he couldn’t have liked Him that much. We love Him so much we follow Him despite the sins of his followers. That’'s faith.

Is it possible that before he died he had at least an implicit faith and repented of any disbelief he was culpable for? Of course–but that kind of path is not to be held up as an example and promoted–especially if we can’t say for sure he even followed that path. It is best to profess the true faith as soon as possible and to persevere in it until death.

A Catholic’s view of Gandhi should be the same, regardless of whether they consider themselves traditional or progressive. At least that’s how i view it. :shrug: i believe that Kleary had a pretty good answer.

Ditto most everyone else. Whatever his great qualities, we know he knew of Christ but failed to embrace him and his Church. Only God knows if he has been held culpable for this rejection. As another pointed out, there are so many examples of fully Christian holiness out there, there’s no need to hold up a respectable non-Christian in their place.

I don’t believe that there is any evidence that he did not believe in God. And while he may not have been able to embrace Christianity because of centuries of oppression of his people by Christians and inaedquate modelling of the truths of Christianity, he did indeed follow the “way” of Christ in seeking peace. Quite frankly he lived the message of Christ far better than most Christians I have ever encountered. I personally expect, assuming I make it myself, to see many who did their best to find the “narrow gate” but may not have made it to the Catholic faith.

As to his holiness, according to Vatican II, there is much than can be found good and holy in other religions, and in those who practice them and truly seek God’s will. Accoring to the Catholic Church, there is reason to believe that one who does attempt to do so can indeed be saved through the universal redemption of the Cross. To make statements that one is “accursed and condemned” because they have not become Christian is outside of Church teaching, which does provide for at least the possibility if one did not or could not believe that becoming Catholic was a “requirement”.

I personally will let God be God and let Him decide which of His univerally beloved children He brings into His kingdom. Last I heard I don’t get to set the rules, nor was I given the ability to read anyone’s soul to determine their “standing” before God.

Peace,

We are not saved by good works alone, but by our faith in Christ working through love. Yes, if through no fault of the individual’s, he is not a Catholic, then his supernatural faith in God can carry an implicit faith in Christ. God will judge if Ghandi was at fault or not. From his own statements, however, he claims to be well acquainted with Christ, but because he doesn’t like the fact that Christians sin, he considers the religion of Christ not worthy of himself.

John 9:41 Jesus said to them: If you were blind, you should not have sin: but now you say: We see. Your sin remaineth.

As Bishop Challoner explains:
41 “If you were blind”… If you were invincibly ignorant, and had neither read the scriptures, nor seen my miracles, you would not be guilty of the sin of infidelity: but now, as you boast of your knowledge of the scriptures, you are inexcusable.

As to his holiness, according to Vatican II, there is much than can be found good and holy in other religions, and in those who practice them and truly seek God’s will. Accoring to the Catholic Church, there is reason to believe that one who does attempt to do so can indeed be saved through the universal redemption of the Cross. To make statements that one is “accursed and condemned” because they have not become Christian is outside of Church teaching, which does provide for at least the possibility if one did not or could not believe that becoming Catholic was a “requirement”.

Yes, as St. Augustine said, where there is truth, there is God. However, these elements tend towards Catholic unity, they are not salvific apart from the Church, the Body of Christ. In fact, the Second Vatican Council cimply calls them preparation for the Gospel (which Ghandi explicitly rejected). The problem is, for someone who is not at fault for being non-Catholic to be united to the Church by implicit desire, they must at least have supernatural faith in the one true God. Idolators, Atheists, and Polytheists can not have this. All men through natural means can discover this true God, according to First Vatican Council and St. Paul, who says for this reason men have no excuse for not knowing Him.

The Second Vatican Council distinguished between those who knew or sought the true God and those who did not. The former can be united to the Church and saved, but the latter are only sent helps that draw them to seek and know Him. This is why the Second Vatican Council says the missions are first and foremost directed to this type of person. Ghandi was a Hindu who also held all religions to be equally valid. He did not search for the true God but simply satisfied himself with his pantheon of gods and religious indifferentism in regards to God’s truth. He apparently rejected those helps and graces sent by God. His own good works apart from faith are worthless before God.

I personally will let God be God and let Him decide which of His univerally beloved children He brings into His kingdom. Last I heard I don’t get to set the rules, nor was I given the ability to read anyone’s soul to determine their “standing” before God.

This is a good approach. We cannot know if before he died Ghandi cooperated with the graces God sent him to draw him to Himself. For this reason we should pray for the repose of his soul.

But, his good works apart from faith should not be held up as an example to follow, lest the weak brethren be deceived into thinking good works apart from Christ are salvific.

Here is the passage from St. Paul

Romans 1:19 Because that which is known of God is manifest in them. For God hath manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable. 21 Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

The Second Vatican Council (Lumen Genium) quotes a phrase from a couple verses later as part of its discussion on this topic (my emphasis):

  1. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126);** But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.** In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*)

[notice how the above can attain salvation, but the following are only given the helps necessary for salvation–those helps, however, must be responded to]

Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.** Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(*20) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”,(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.


And I will let God determiine whether Gandhi did in fact seek the true God or not. I have no belief that his good works of themself would save him, nor have I said any such thing. But if those good works are the fruits of the word of God written on his heart, regardless of whether he felt capable of accepting the Christian faith, the Church’s teachings would seem to at least hold out hope.

There are many things that can render one incapable of “knowing” or accepting Christianity. There are many Christians who have left the Church, feeling that it cannot be true if it has failed to transform its followers to its Founder’s message. God surely knows the constraints under which we operate and is quite capable of determining which of us were truly seeking Him.

Ghandi was a Hindu who also held all religions to be equally valid. He did not search for the true God but simply satisfied himself with his pantheon of gods and religious indifferentism in regards to God’s truth. He apparently rejected those helps and graces sent by God.

I would hold that you and I are completely and totally incapable of making any such judgment, especially any judgment that he did not seek the true God. Whether he found the true God, knowingly or unknowingly, I have no way of knowing. I don’t personally believe he could have done the things he did for the benefit of his fellow man, willing to lay down his life for his brothers of any faith, had he not had the help of God’s grace, which the Church tells us is freely given to ALL men.

Peace,

Mahatma Gandhi was not holy. He may have had some good intentions with his peaceful ways. But he also believed in the caste system, which is in my opinion against the most basic of human rights, that all men are created equal. So admire his non-confrontational ways if you want, but know the man as well.

Regardless of the final state of his soul, he shouldn’t be held up by Catholics as a great and holy man. Let us hold up those who have professed the true faith and good works first, those who did not reject the truth because it meant associating with sinners. Doing good works apart from the faith of Christ is not the path to salvation–if someone is saved without professing the true faith because of certain circumstances outside their control–glory to God and His infinite mercy–but that way should not be held up as the path Jesus calls us to.

If someone needs an individual to show as an example of holiness, there are countless Catholic saints to choose from–why choose Ghandi?

One of the side effects of the Protestant heresy of sola fide is Catholics tend to focus too much on good works. But we can’t neglect that faith without which it is impossible to please God.

Absolutely false. He tried personally to eliminate the caste system, especially the “untouchables” and intentionally cleaned latrines himself to show that equality.

From answers.com

“His defence of caste especially annoyed the untouchable (outcastes) who were denied political independence due to astute political manœuvres.”

Gandhi also hindered the fight against Germany and Japan. Although he was one of the most credible non-Christian moral leaders, an exceptional case like his only demonstatrates the truth of the Church’s teachings.

Did I neglect any Catholic saint? Have I put Ghandi above any Catholic saint? Does one have to eliminate a Catholic saint to find something admirable in one who is not Catholic? This is not a “zero sum” game.

And once again, I have neither said nor implied that good works are saving Ghandi or anyone else. I have simply noted that I believe his good works to be the fruits of a search for God. I totally agree that absent the faith in, and search for, God we can do nothing of meaning.

The funny thing is that if one looks at the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, those chosen for eternal life for how they treated the “least of my brothers” are unaware that they have done so for God, asking “when did we do these things for you?”. Jesus himself made clear that it is those who are doing such out of the love of God written on their hearts, even without knowing they are doing so, who will find themselves in the kingdom of heaven. I happen to be one who believes that Ghandi will be counted among those. If one chooses to believe otherwise, that is their prerogative, but I don’t think that opinion can be as a result of Catholic teaching.

Peace,

excellent post, ncjohn.

This is true, but you have to be in the flock in the first place.There is One Shepherd and one flock. The whole world is not the flock of Christ–but He knows His and they know Him. His sheep are those fed by Peter and his successors.

It is also like the parable of the large net thrown into the sea catching a multitude of fish and then the bad are thrown back. The thing is, if you’re never in the net to begin with you’re already lost (I do not find it a coincidence here that Peter was a fisherman or that Jesus said he would make the Apostles fishers of men).

Being Catholic is the only way you can be absolutely sure you’re in the flock or net–you still might be cast out of course. It is possible for non-Catholics to be in the flock or net if they are not culpable for remaining outside visible communion with the Church and they love God above all things and desire to completely abandone themselves to His mercy, love, and will. But, again, we should hold up the sure path to salvation as the Way. We should honor those as holy men and women who followed that one true path, not other paths. That is why the title of “Saint,” which means Holy, is only given to Christians.

It seems to me that this is what lay behind ncjohn’s fine post above. Thank you for further explaining it.

In my haste I copied a quote from a quote assuming it was the whole post–my apologies. My patience was not how it should have been :o

Thank you for further explaining it.

I got lucky! :o

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