What if the Pope was wrong?

#21

I think there is a lot of confusion over what “being a member of the Church” means. It is true that there is no salvation outside of the church and that only Catholics can be saved. However, it is possible for a person who is innocently ignorant to actually be a member of the church and a “Catholic” without realizing it. These people are counted among the members of the church due to their ignorance.

This is not an invitation to relativism. Only the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and is the “true” religion, so to speak. However, the church is comprised of all the faithful, even if their faith is misplaced due to ignorance. A member of a different religion can be counted as a Catholic if they are innocently ignorant of the true faith and follow God to the best of their ability. They are not saved through their false religion, but through the Catholic Church.

Only God can judge whether a person is innocently ignorant. I would think that the question is more complex than simply being aware that the Church exists.

#22

Thanks everyone for the encouragement. Out of my many relatives my great-grandmother is the one I worry about the least. I mean I have a cousin and an aunt who are married to divorced people, my aunt grew up Catholic and became mormon, I have an aunt who believes in the “Whatever feeeeeeeels good to you.” My grandparents rarely go to mass, my mom’s family are stiff-necked SSPXers and have told my mom she is going to hell because we go to the NO mass.
No, I am used to it, all I can to is lead through example and pray, my relatives won’t listen, but they do watch. I just pray that they have the chance to repent of their sins before they die, and if possible that they can become Catholic, but if not, that they remain out of the Church because of ignorance. Basically I pray that they get to heaven.
Sometimes that is all you can do, and sometimes I think it is better than talking, because when you talk to them, you could say something that would drive them further away. We only engage them in conversation if they start. The most heated debates are between the SSPX people and my dad. I love listening.:thumbsup:
Don’t worry, just pray and trust in God!

Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart! So you don’t have to fast from meat or anything, today is a great feast day! Thank Our Lord for his great mercy and ask St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and St. Claude de la Colombier for their intercession! (I was born on the feast of the Sacred Heart and my confirmation name is after St. Margaret Mary thus Margarite;))!

#23

I stand by my statement. The woman knowingly rejects the Church in favor of her community. She has found what she is looking for and apparently has no interest in becoming Catholic. That is her choice. Let her live with it.

No, I don’t disagree with the Baltimore catechism at all. It is pretty clear on the subject. Nothing that I wrote contradicts anything it says.

You appear extremely naive. Sorry but you do. Saying as you did, and I quote:

B]No one can look at the history of the faith, all of her teachings, scriptural evidence of the Church and say, “well that’s a nice church”. That is innocent ingnorance if I ever heard it.

Is an outlandish statement. Hopelessly naive and horribly distorted, Listen, many of the must vociferous of anti Catholic apologists know far more about the Catholic faith than most of us put together do. They know what the Church teaches, why it teaches it, the dogma, the history its rituals, scriptural references everything. Yet they consciously reject it of their own free will. You cannot call that invincible ignorance because it isn’t. Maybe invincible arrogance but not ignorance or innocence. They prefer what they have. Its their choice.

As far as salvation goes, I just looked at my old Baltimore Catechism, still around after all these years. Nowhere does it say that people in her position WILL be saved. It says only that it is possible under certain circumstances. Not guaranteed, possible under the right conditions. Can she be saved, of course. Will she, I would say doubtful at this point. I hope that she is, I pray that she is, but if not, it was her own choice.

And as far as the old Catechism goes it also says this, also from lesson 11
Q. 514. What excuses do some give for not becoming members of the true Church?

A. The excuses some give for not becoming members of the true church are:

   **1. They do not wish to leave the religion in which they were born.**
   2. There are too many poor and ignorant people in the Catholic Church.
   **3. One religion is as good as another if we try to serve God in it, and be upright and honest in our lives.**

Q. 515. How do you answer such excuses?

A.

   **1. To say that we should remain in a false religion because we were born in it is as untrue as to say we should not heal our bodily diseases because we were born with them.**
   2. To say there are too many poor and ignorant in the Catholic Church is to declare that it is Christ's Church; for He always taught the poor and ignorant and instructed His Church to continue the work.
   **3. To say that one religion is as good as another is to assert that Christ labored uselessly and taught falsely; for He came to abolish the old religion and found the new in which alone we can be saved as He Himself declared.**

As I said, it is pretty cut and dried. Its her choice.

#24

Without getting into a protracted discussion, I will simply give answers.

Changing one letter on a word makes a world of difference. The bold and underlined word should be** could.** not would. So the answer is NO, he did not say that.

2 - Obviously, Benedict XVI is more conservative than JP II – how do we explain to non-Catholics why it is okay for Popes to have differing opinions and priorities without discrediting our belief that the Pope is infalliable?
3 - A lot of what I have read about JP II’s papacy is highly critical of his ecumenism, which almost sounds like he, the infalliable Pope, could have been wrong. Is this possible?

With the word corrected and the first question, questions 2 & 3 are moot.
Prayers & blessings
Deacon Ed B

#25

She rejects the Church in favor of her community. She has found what she is looking for and apparently has no interest in becoming Catholic. That is her choice. Let her live with it.

No, I don’t disagree with the Baltimore catechism at all. It is pretty clear on the subject. Nothing that I wrote contradicts anything it says.

You appear extremely naive. Sorry but you do. Saying as you did, and I quot=palmas85;3747237]

Our Refuge quote "No one can look at the history of the faith, all of her teachings, scriptural evidence of the Church and say, “well that’s a nice church”. That is innocent ingnorance if I ever heard it

.

Is an outlandish statement. Hopelessly naive and horribly distorted,

No it isn’t. This woman in question **HAS NOT **looked at the history of the faith, all of her teachings, and scriptiral evidence. **THAT IS WHY **she said 'it is a nice church"
If she truly had looked into the evidence she would have become Catholic.

You cannot call that invincible ignorance because it isn’t. Maybe invincible arrogance but not ignorance or innocence. They prefer what they have. Its their choice.

And I am speaking of this one woman and her particular case. But how many ordinary church going protestants really fit the category of what you have described above?
Now here is a fellow, an anglican, who does know what the church teaches and he rejects it and HE WILL NOT BE SAVED.
cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=7342
"We object to the Pope claiming to be the Vicar of Christ. We reject all claims to authority that imply the insufficiency of scripture. We reject any implication that Jesus’s work on the cross was insufficient or is received by more than faith or requires some other mediator," Reverend Jensen said.
There is nothing in modern Roman Catholicism that reduces our need to protest. They have not repented of their Reformation errors."

As far as salvation goes, I just looked at my old Baltimore Catechism, still around after all these years. Nowhere does it say that people in her position WILL be saved. It says only that it is possible under certain circumstances. Not guaranteed, possible under the right conditions. Can she be saved, of course.

This is what I have said

Will she, I would say doubtful at this point

.

Disagree. She is invincibily ignorant of the truth.

Let me repeat what I said earlier. It is expremely difficult for a protestant to be saved because they do not have the sacrifice of the Mass and the seven sacraments. They must live a moral life just like a Catholic and if they do that and they are baptized and are through no fault of their own ignorant of the Church then they will be saved.

Pope Pius IX *Quanto Conficiamur Moerore *

"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’
“ Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church.
Eternal salvation cannot be obtained **by those **who oppose the authority **and statements of the same Church and are **stubbornly separated **from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter…9. God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. unhappily fallen and strive to guide First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation. "

#26

Well what do you think she has looked at then? Seems to me that if she has been told of it by her family and knows enough to say its a nice Church she is far from ignorant of it.

Many people have truly looked at the evidence and rejected it.
To say that this woman did not truly look into the faith is really kind of presumptuous on your part don’t you think? How do you know she didn’t? Many Catholics have left the faith. They know the truth and reject it.

Hey maybe one day this woman will enter the Church. But until she does, given that she has been told of it, knows of it and rejects it, she is in a very precarious position.

You are indeed correct. We disagree.:thumbsup:

#27

You have this completely correct. Different popes approach this question from different perspectives and one must know what the perspective is in order to understand the response.

Previous Popes said that there is not salvation outside the Church. This is not in question.

John Paul II said that many ecclesial communities, even non Christians have SOME of the same means to salvation that the Catholic Church has, because they get it through the Catholic Church via their spiritual connection with the Catholic Church. Therefore, their salvation is made possible through truths that come from the Catholic Church and they subscribe to such truths, even though they do not subscribe to all of our truths.

Benedict XVI is looking at this from a historical perspective and sayng that the Catholic Church is the true Church because it has an unbroken line of succession back to Christ and the Apostles. He is not saying that not one else knows any truth. That’s not the way that he’s using the term. He’s using the word true almost interchageably with original. I realize that the word original doesn’t encompass everything that true encompasses, but synonyms are just that.

JR :slight_smile:

#28

=palmas85;3749432]Well what do you think she has looked at then? Seems to me that if she has been told of it by her family and knows enough to say its a nice Church she is far from ignorant of it.

Yes but you have to come to know that it is the True Church. She is not there yet. She is sill ignorant.

Many people have truly looked at the evidence and rejected it.
To say that this woman did not truly look into the faith is really kind of presumptuous on your part don’t you think? How do you know she didn’t?

We don’t know the extent of her knowledge. All we do know is that she has yet to reach a final conclusion

Many Catholics have left the faith. They know the truth and reject it.

Then they will not be saved. I know Catholics that have left the Church because they know nothing about it.They can’t tell you one teaching of the Church. If this ignorance is through their own fault, their own laziness, and only God knows the answer to that, then they have refused the Church and will not be saved.

I have just finished listening to a tape by a former Baptist minister that became a Catholic priest. His name is Father Gray Bean. An amazing story of his conversion to the faith and the priesthood.
This man knew the bible inside and out yet he was totally ignorant of the Catholic Faith. He even believed that we were not truly Christian. He knew that the Catholic Church gave us the Bible yet he remained ignorant of the truth.
He knew that there were Bishops but couldn’t accept that they were the successors of the Apostles. He remained ignorant.
He was given a book while he was in the Baptist seminary about an atheist that became a monk. This started his journey to Catholicism that took years.
He read the early Church fathers yet he remained unconvinced. He began reading about sacraments yet remained invincibily ignorant. Through no fault of his own he could not accept the Church. Then one day while sitting with his King James Bible in a Catholic Church during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament asking God to give him a sign he opened up the bible to John 6 " unless you eat this flesh and drink this blood you will not have life in you"
Only then did he become convinced. Invincible ignorance is hard to overcome. Conversion does not happen in a flash. Non-Catholics need time to discover that they have been living in error. I cannot condemn someone like this 92 year old grandmother because she has yet to accept the truth. It takes time.

If you like you can get the tape of Gray Bean’s journey from Baptist minister to the priesthood here

biblechristiansociety.com/

#29

The lady has consciously rejected the Church. She wants, apparently to stay with hers. How much more do you need?

From your take on things it would seem that someone has to have intimate knowledge of the faith, and then in effect say

“Why, yes, I know full well the Church Catholic is indeed the true Church and I know full well that by rejecting her I will not be saved. Nonetheless I reject her.”

In order to be outside the faith. I don’t think that is the case at all.

And yes, believe it or not I know that conversion can take years.

What I have trouble with is the apparent belief of many that no matter what you believe its ok as long as you believe in something. And that is just wrong, especially when you have heard of the Catholic Church and still knowingly reject her, as in this case.

In the example you gave, the person struggled for years but eventually came home. In the case we were discussing the woman isn’t struggling. She’ s where she wants to be.

I think that is the deciding or should be the deciding factor.

#30

This is very unfair and very unmerciful. One must not only hear about the Church and know about it. One must also be convinced that entering the Church is God’s will.

When a person of another faith rejects entering the Catholic Church for fear that they may be commiting a sin against God, they are not subjectively culpable of any sin. In fact, they are trying to please God and it is their desire to please God, even if mistaken, that in the end does serve him and makes salvation possible.

This person is not hesitating because of any rebellion against the Church, but because she was born and lived almost a century with a belief system that in her mind was pleasing to God.

To say that such a person will be lost, because she has heard of and reject the Catholic faith is unreasonable. Reason and truth must go hand in hand, as Pope Benedict has often taught and as did John Paul II.

God’s mercy is greater than our understanding. We cannot deny that God will have mercy on one who tries to please him, even if they are mistaken. There have been many canonized saints who were mistaken about many things, but reached Heaven nonetheless. Redemption is not about living free of error, but about honesty of conscience and love of God.

JR :slight_smile:

#31

Thank you for that post, JR. As one whose entire family is Protestant, and whose family mostly believe that Catholicism is heresy and that I abandoned the one true Christian faith–and who won’t be convinced otherwise–it helps. I’ve had a Priest explain this to me, too.

The whole issue brings two prayers to mind, both given to us in the twentieth century.

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those is most need of thy mercy.”

and

“My Jesus, I trust in you!” – coupled with all of the messages about Christ’s Divine Mercy given to St. Faustina.

It helps to remember that God is bigger than us, and more merciful than we might imagine. There is hope for everyone. :slight_smile:

#32

Of course, her being protestant doesn’t *guarantee *her salvation does it? It would still be objectively better for her soul to become Catholic, right?

#33

Being Catholic does not gurantee you salvation either. Obejectively speaking, the fullness of truth resides in the Catholic Church. Therefore, it should be eaiser for a Catholic to work for their salvation, because the Catholic has more to work with. However, there is a difference between objective reality and subjective reality. Many Catholics don’t make good use of the fullness of truth to which they have access. This is beyond the Church’s control.

At the same time, een the Catholic Church teaches that the Reformation communities retain enough of their Catholic origins that God can use them as a means of salvation.

Again, this is an objective statement, not a subjective one. For God to use the Reformaton communities as a means of salvation the individual must make use of those truths that are available to him or her. If he or she does not, then he doesn’t stand a chance.

Basically what John Pau II was saying is that there Reformation communities receive their means to salvation from the Catholic Church, because they are still linked to the Catholic Church as long as they maintain those Catholic elements that their founders took with them when they left the Church. John Paul II is being consistent with there is not salvation outside the Catholic Church. What he is pointing out to is that you can find Catholicism in many other ecclesial communities. Therefore, the spirit of Christ, because it is merciful, makes use of thoese bits and pieces of Catholicism found in other communities.

People are not saved because they believe in Martin Luther’s teachings on Predestination. But a Lutheran can be saveed because he believes in the Paschal Mystery, lives according the the Commandments, lives according to scriputure. practices love of God and neighbor, is repentant for his sins and does penance for them, because all of these things are rooted in Catholicism. Martin Luther didn’t event them. He took them with him.

John Paul II was talking about the entire Reformation community, not the individuals. The individuals have to live up to a certain set of moral standards whether it be within the Catholic Church or one of the other faith communities. They have to live up to the moral standards set forth in the scriptures and taught by the Church.

The highest moral standard is that we love God above all things and our neighor as ourselves. When a non Catholic rejects Catholicism based on the belief that to be a Catholic would be offensive to God, what he is doing is trying to be faithful to God, trying to love God, which the Church recognizes as the highest commandment.

“You shall love your God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.”

The fulness of revelation subsides in the Catholic Church, but the ability to love God above all things and neighbor as self is not a Catholic monopoly. There is a difference here.

In charity we should want everyone to know the fullness of truth.

Also in charity and mercy, we should never judge a person for trying to do what they believe is the will of God. We can judge their judgement, but not their soul.

JR :slight_smile:

#34

I still have a few questions for you, if you don’t mind.

What about communities like the Baptist community, in which a person can be “once-saved, always-saved?” If that person commits a mortal sin afterwards, does God still use the mechanism of the Baptist community to save that person?

I’m just a little curious, because what you’ve shared with me, seems at first glance to render the sacrament of reconciliation unnecessary.

How is reconciliation reconciled (heh)?

#35

Also, does that mean that a good protestant has as much chance as a good Catholic?

just curious?

#36

Well fine, if thats the case, why join the Church at all?. In fact why even have it? This idea that has developed that all will be saved regardless as to what they believe is somewhat troublesome.

#37

Perfect Contrition is one way. I don’t know if there are others.

CC

#38

They use what they have available, contrition for sin, penance and prayer. The wonder of God’s mercy is that he uses whatever gifts people have to bring them into his Kingdom.

The question that you raise regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation has been rasied in Catholic circles and the Church recognizes that there are other ways of obtaining forgiveness of sins. That being said, the Church has a sacrament in place, which other communities do not. Because the Apostolic Churches, Catholic and Orthodox, have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, then we must use that as our means, unless circumstances impair it.

JR :slight_smile:

#39

I put it to you this way, if you are hungry and you have a choice between going to one place and eating finger food or another place and eating a full meal, which would you choose?

Of course, both offer food, but the full meal makes more sense.

To live within an ecclesial community that has some of the truth and an eccesial community that has all of the truth is like the food example that I gave.

JR :slight_smile:

#40

This is a wonderful explanation. I am a convert to the Catholic Church from Evangelicalism.

It was purely grace that brought me here. I cannot say why God poured his grace my way, giving me the desire to search for the whole truth, and yet not give that desire to others. I cannot say that this desire started within me apart from Him, so that leaves this huge question as to why? And I don’t know that there is an answer.

But I know that there are those I left behind who love God and who live holy lives and it is not for us to say why God does not draw them to us, or reveal the truth of Catholicism to all as he seems to do to some.

In this we have to trust in his Mercy, he knows and loves more perfectly than we. And only God will judge, and his judgements will be perfect. And thank God that God is God and not any of us. There would be no hope for any. :wink:

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