Rorate Caeli

Forbidden text and Catholic samizdat:
"Vatican II and the 'Bad News' of the Gospel"

It seems disagreeing with Rahner and von Balthasar may place a text in a warped anti-version of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum...

Considering this (Catholic World Report: "If you’re looking for the review, 'Vatican II and the ‘Bad News’ of the Gospel', it has been removed"); and this (Eerdmans: "We were thrilled to learn Monday that Catholic World Report had published a positive review of Ralph Martin’s book 'Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization.' Our delight turned to bewilderment, however ..."), we cannot help but post said text here. It is actually a text with a highly favorable reading of Vatican II, but some idolized third rails seem to have been touched.

And spread it around the web in samizdat mode, please, before we are perhaps kindly asked to remove the content.


Vatican II and the “Bad News” of the Gospel

Ralph Martin’s new book clarifies what the Council actually taught about salvation outside the Church
David Paul Deavel
April 01, 2013
Ruefully observing statistics showing that only 6 percent of American Catholic parishes considered evangelism a priority, the late Cardinal Avery Dulles once lamented, “The Council has often been interpreted as if it had discouraged evangelization.” Ralph Martin’s new book, Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization, aims to explain why this interpretation has taken root despite the fact that the Council documents, particularly the keystone document Lumen Gentium (LG), are brimming with talk about evangelization as the Church’s main job. In fact, Paul VI’s encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi stated that the objectives of the Council were summed up in one statement: “to make the Church of the 20th century ever better fitted for proclaiming the Gospel.” Yet the opposite happened.
Martin thinks, and with reason, that the loss of impetus to evangelize is based upon the widespread notion after the Council that almost everybody will be saved—except maybe really evil people like Hitler and Judas. Having the sacraments or an explicit faith in Christ is seen as a nice add-on. But essentially the theology of salvation could be summed up by the 1989 cartoon movie All Dogs Go to Heaven.
Of course this theology had backing from big names. Karl Rahner declared that the Council had a “theological optimism…concerning salvation.” Richard McBrien’s commentary on LG claimed that the Church now considered the human race as “an essentially saved community from whom a few may, by the exercise of their own free will, be lost.” Even the Jesuit scholar Francis Sullivan, author of a very careful study of the teaching on salvation outside the Church, tended in his more popular writings to throw caution to the wind and claim a “general presumption of innocence which is now the official attitude of the Catholic Church.” These claims were never undergirded by any actual citations or close readings from the Council, which marked a doctrinal development indeed, but not one of automatic salvation or “presumed innocence.”
While the question of the salvation of those who have never heard the Gospel has been bubbling up in a new way since the 16th-century discovery of peoples in the New World, it had been coming to a steady boil over more than 100 years before Vatican II. The categories of invincible ignorance (whereby one could not be held accountable for not knowing about Christ and the Christian message) and implicit faith (whereby the invincibly ignorant might embrace as much truth as God has allowed one to receive and thus embrace Christ implicitly) have been around for a while. That arch-traditional pope Pius IX had already given assent to the possibility of salvation outside the visible boundaries of the Church in encyclicals in 1854 and 1863. This view was even included in a draft document of the First Vatican Council (which was never finished because of the Franco-Prussian war’s interruption). The Second Vatican Council’s teaching of this possibility of salvation outside the sacraments and explicit faith, then, was the culmination of a long doctrinal development that had already been given expression by the papal Magisterium a century before Vatican II.
Martin affirms this development, noting that LG 16 very clearly indicates the possibility of salvation outside of the visible Church and explicit faith. That key passages states:
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. Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is considered by the Church to be a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life. (LG 16)
Notice, however, that simple ignorance, even ignorance that could not be helped, is not a sufficient condition for salvation—sincere seeking of God, a real attempt to follow the dictates of conscience, and an embrace of whatever truth is given are all necessary. To such people “divine assistance” will be given. But notice also that the Council Fathers said that such people “may” achieve eternal salvation. But what is so striking is that even when this passage is quoted, the final lines which warn of the dangers to those outside of the faith are rarely quoted and even more rarely commented on at length:
But very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair. Hence to procure the glory of God and the salvation of all of these, the Church, mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature,” fosters the missions with care and attention. (LG 16)
Far from a human race that is presumed innocent or essentially saved, the Council Fathers see a world in which salvation is neither assured nor easy. It is a world in which, “very often,” rejection of Christ has been a reality, is still possible, and is a main reason for Christian missions. Indeed, the Council also warned about the severe judgment falling on Catholics who do not persist in charity and faithfulness.
The Council’s “optimism,” Martin rightly notes, is about the possibility of salvation outside of the Church, not the probability that everybody inside or outside it will be saved. The Council doesn’t give odds on this question or tell us whether hell is densely populated or not, nor does Martin attempt to do so. But he notes that the “very often” is attached to the negative possibility. In a chapter examining the scriptural references in LG 16 he demonstrates that this “bad news” is indeed biblical. Where, then, did the All Dogs view of the Council come from? Mostly from two sources: Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar.
While Martin is clear that he respects both theologians and acknowledges their own pastoral desires, what is demonstrated in the two chapters covering their thoughts is how little backing they had in their own theories. Rahner, while occasionally acknowledging that the Council did not actually say anything new doctrinally on this topic, used the tactic that would later characterize the Bologna school: in Ratzinger’s words, the Council’s texts were interpreted as “a mere prelude to a still unattained conciliar spirit…” Thus, Rahner’s foundations for hope in universal or near-universal salvation were founded upon his own particular theological vision—a vision that gave little attention to the whole witness of either Scripture or Tradition on this point and (as he later acknowledged) underestimated the reality of sin.
While Rahner may have ignored Tradition and Scripture, Balthasar professed to be a man who paid attention to it all. Martin’s brief against him shows, however, that on his professed “theological hope” for universal salvation (best glimpsed in his book Dare We Hope That All Be Saved?), Balthasar has a tendency to ignore and occasionally mischaracterize his sources. Martin offers devastating critiques of Balthasar’s use of Scripture, the Fathers, and indeed logic. Balthasar quotes scriptural passages without even their immediate context, adduces witnesses who do not say what they purportedly say (e.g., Maximus the Confessor’s supposed embrace of universalism), and claims that one cannot love people sincerely if one believes that anyone could possibly reject God—the last a strange claim indeed given his view that the saints stand high as theological authorities. Finally, he seems to back up his positions with rather extravagant extra-biblical speculations about conversions in hell.
Balthasar and Rahner and many of their followers believed that the Church’s missions would be successful only if we could stop telling people the bad news. Whether or not they actually agreed with the speculative views of the theologians, many bishops and pastors embraced the idea that the Church would be better off if it stopped talking about sin and hell and accentuated the positive. As one theologian in 1973 wrote, with this strategy, “men will storm her doors seeking admission.” The result has been less than spectacular. Rare are the people who will spread the faith merely because the Church says so if there is no point to it other than drawing new members into “our community.” To paraphrase Flannery O’Connor, if the Church isn’t a place of salvation, it is simply an Elks Club. And the Elks aren’t doing that well these days either. It was Rahner, after all, whose talk about the “optimism of the Council” yielded at the end of his life to essays on the “winter of the Church.”
Martin does not spare bishops or popes in his criticism of this strategy of talking only about the positives. Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s encyclicals on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi and Redemptoris Missio, are scored for omitting “the traditional focus on the eternal consequences that rest on accepting or rejecting the gospel that motivated almost two thousand years of mission.” Martin calls for an end to this “unwise silence” about a significant part of the Christian message. It is a particularly heartening sign that his book is blurbed by seven US bishops. Perhaps these endorsements are a sign that what Russell Shaw once called the US bishops’ “Potemkin Village” is now being torn down.
Martin’s one misstep is that he too quickly passes by the question of the danger to non-Catholic Christians. While Vatican II’s recognition of the power of salvation at work among other Christians separated from the Catholic Church is accurate, it is perhaps a little too pat. Martin does not mention the dangers to Christians whose baptisms are valid but who do not have the fullness of the sacraments or the guidance of the Magisterium to help them in a world in which, as he notes, the culture’s morality moves further from Christian teaching every day. The bad news is for all of us—Catholics, other Christians, and non-believers. We all need to hear it if the good news is to make sense. And we all need to hear it because it’s true.
About the Author: associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and adjunct professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).


Our thanks to Angelqueen for providing the full version of this forbidden text... (Tip: Pertinacious PapistCWR removes Deavel's review of Ralph Martin's book).(The book cover image comes from Eerdmans.)


Johan said...

It's quite easy. Everything the Council teaches which is novel is wrong and stupid. Everything else that "the Council teaches" is what the Church has always taught, only set in less clear language.

I'm so tired of "WHAT DID THE COUNCIL REALLY TEACH?" and references to Council documents as if it's the revealer and climax of Church history and teaching.

Jeff Culbreath said...

Well, if I'm not mistaken Fr. Joseph Fessio, the founder of Ignatius Press and CWR, has always been a strong promoter of von Balthasar, who was the subject of his doctoral dissertation.

Jeff Culbreath said...

"When the time came for me to prepare for my doctoral studies in theology, I went to Fr. de Lubac for counsel. I remember that moment very clearly. He suggested that I do my doctoral work on Hans Urs von Balthasar. I didn't know much about von Balthasar at that time, so I asked Fr. de Lubac to elaborate. He said: 'von Balthasar is the greatest theologian of our era, and maybe of all time.' What made this particular impressive to me was that, having gotten to know Fr. de Lubac and his writings over a three year period, I knew that he was very measured in his judgments, always precise and sober." - Fr. Joseph Fessio

New Catholic said...

Still... Catholic World Report is supposed to be more than Ignatius extended, and they do, as here, provide reviews of books by other publishers - and the words of its editor are very strong: "The author, Dr. David Paul Deavel, did what he was asked to do—review a book from his perspective—but he wasn’t able or attempting to facilitate that fuller treatment." "Wasn't able": incompetent; "wasn't attempting": ill-disposed, to use a nice word.

Joseph Gryniewicz said...

Johan, perhaps you forgot to read the article? As the book review states, not even Rahner thought that there was anything novel in the council to support his position regarding salvation. The necessity of believe in Jesus and of communion with the Catholic Church is still taught in Vatican II. No need to throw away what is not novel. Many Catholics, going to their Novus Ordo Churches, would benefit very much from knowing that Vatican II changed nothing in this regard.

Hank Igitur said...

The empty Hell of von Balthasar. It would be nice if that were true but we know he is wrong.

Haec nox est in qua primum patres said...

Johan: the point is precisely that the Council's teachings are not novel! Indeed, that this is the case, and that this fact has been so artfully obscured by so many.

Jeff Culbreath said...

I certainly agree, New Catholic, that CWR is supposed to be more than Ignatius extended.

But it must be excruciatingly difficult for an outfit like Ignatius/CWR - on a purely human level - to publish words like these about "the greatest theologian of our era, and maybe of all time":

"Martin offers devastating critiques of Balthasar’s use of Scripture, the Fathers, and indeed logic. Balthasar quotes scriptural passages without even their immediate context, adduces witnesses who do not say what they purportedly say (e.g., Maximus the Confessor’s supposed embrace of universalism), and claims that one cannot love people sincerely if one believes that anyone could possibly reject God—the last a strange claim indeed given his view that the saints stand high as theological authorities. Finally, he seems to back up his positions with rather extravagant extra-biblical speculations about conversions in hell."

Common Sense said...

I genuinely believe that some non catholics will be saved, providing that are well disposed towards the truth as they know it. Christ responded to pharesees thus:"If you were blind, you wouldn't be in sin, but because you claim to see, your sin remains." Our Lord stipulates willfull sin as principal obstacle for salvation. In my opinion, there may be a such proposition as invicible ignorance quite valid. Atherwise we all might as well subcribe to Calvins' repugnant error, where God created some for salvation and some for eternal hell, susequently imlicating God in sin and crime. Calvins' is the most hideous heresy ever tought. What does pre VII church teach on this subject?

St.Arbucks said...

Duh. They are the sole-proprietor of Balthasar, $$$.

St. Corbinian's Bear said...

It's funny, because All Dogs Go To Heaven, Unless They're Catholic was the title of a piece I did on my blog on Lumen Gentium. It took the form of a humorous dialogue between a sincere Catholic and a theologian. The theologian admitted that, ironically, of all religions, only Catholics are singled out in Lumen Gentium for possible damnation -- twice. The theologian offers him some Chick tracts to save him, but the Catholic comes up with a neat bit of sophistry that satisfies the theologian.

I had a personal project of trying to explain LG in a series of articles, and finally concluded, after the 10th close reading of paragraph 8 ("Church of Christ" and "Catholic Church" and the former impelling all mankind toward some small c "catholic unity") it was impossible for me to understand in any orthodox way. I'm a lawyer, so am not entirely unequipped to read documents.

I figured anything that opaque and confusing did not relate to my salvation, or at least I would not be held accountable for trying and failing to understand it.

Documents on the USCCB website about Evangelization limit it to fallen away Catholics, "nones", and those who come knocking on the church door. But Dominus Iesus said ecumenism is part of the Church's evangelization mission. So many signals to process.

Spe Salvi suggest the "vast majority" of people go to Heaven. I think you can point to LG and say that Catholics are NOT graded on the Spe Salvi curve like everyone else, and Hell will be teeming with us, while atheists and infidels are enjoying Heaven. Of course 1964 was a very different world, before Richard Dawkins and Osama bin Laden.

Personally, while I understand the semi-official thinking in the Vatican II Church, I live my life more conservatively and will evangelize where I can (tough these days).

Bookworm said...

LG 16 is a perfect example of Vatican II's calculated doublespeak. Say one thing, then say the opposite to appease the traditionalists, then interpret later according to the novelty. LG 22 and 23 are also notorious examples of this diabolical doublespeak.

By the way, as the excellent Catechism of the Crisis in the Church by Fr. Matthias Gaudron excruciatingly shows, JP II's new "gospel" as he traveled around the world was this: "Understand: you're already saved. I come to let you know this. Therefore, be not afraid."

Patrick said...

So Rahner was a Jesuit and von Baltazar was a Jesuit (for awhile) and now we have a Jesuit pope. Things just get curiouser and curiouser.

Knight of Malta said...

Dear Hank,

You are absolutely right. Read Hungry Souls to get a taste of how right you are.

Though it's only about Purgatory, it shows that Divine Justice is no joke. Christ wasn't joshing around when he said:

"Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat." --Matt. 7:13

Nor do I think the seers at Fatima were joking when Mary, the Mother of God, showed them souls 'burning' in hell.

JM said...

The real problem is that supporting von Balthasar on this point is, quite truly, supporting BS. Which means JPII and BXVII were, in fact, also supporting BS. But so what? Earlier popes supported the Confederacy. And...? I have the utmost respect for Brumley, Fessio, and IP. Really, I do. But the time has come to call out von Baltahsar and all the wishful thinker on this point. Papal sympathies notwithstanding, he flies in the face of Tradition. Even Avery Dulles cannot spin it otherwise, nor Neuhuas. Hell is a real possibility, and many people go there. Otherwise, any intelligent reading of Scripture is called into question, and readers' interpretative biases reign supreme. Everywhere in Scripture, it is quite obvious: people go to Hell. Yes, they do. Starting with Judas, even if Guardini wishes it were otherwise. Unless the meaning of the text os so esoteric we should just give it up. Sorry that offends, but any other reading is disingenuous at best. All "hoping" aside. Really, sounds like Clinton's "What do you mean by "is", for heaven's sake. Can we not get to a place where we admit this is obvious. For in fact, unless you have extreme loyalties bending your perspective, it is. OR, the Church's Tradition on this has been wrong. In which case, by all means, let us cave on celibacy and gay marriage, yesterday, since the arguments for those are actually more convincing. HvB is an diol to many, but on this point he is quite clearly, singularly, and loudly, wrong. And the effects have been more than mildly damning.

Bookworm said...

Patrick, now is an especially suitable time to read Malachi Martin's great book, The Jesuits. Anyone who wishes to understand the rot must read this book.

Indeed it would be an excellent idea for RC to post a review or something of this book.

St. Corbinian's Bear said...

@Bookworm: Calculated doublespeak, or perhaps a compromise document that tries to satisfy everyone, either way, I tend to agree. They quote 1 Tim 2:4 about all men being saved, but leave off coming to the knowledge of the truth, almost as if the truth were no longer that important. You are saved because of the "dignity of humankind" or somesuch.

But we know the council knew how to make an infallible pronouncement, because they made one: papal infallibility. Compare a paragraph 8 or 16 with that. It is quite clear. I would think -- and I'm not a theologian -- that a council document would have to rise to the level of simple coherence before it could be considered to teach anything at all. Can you interpret it in line with previous teaching? Yes, but I know when I'm torturing the text to make it say what I want, and when I'm reading it plainly.

Anyway, I think we would be in the same place without the documents. It is a problem of people drinking from the poisoned well of 20th century theologians. Also, the handwriting is on the wall. The Church's best shot at maintaining institutional viability may be as the symbolic focus of a small-c catholic, universal religious community where everyone is allowed to keep their own traditions. Or maybe that's how it looked.

Or maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. It has been known to happen.

St. Corbinian's Bear said...

@JM "Bill Clinton's what do you mean by is." -- We already went through that with whether is means is or subsists means is, or what, in 2000 and 2007. I'm not sure I know to this day, despite studying the explanations.

Gratias said...

Papapovero is a Vatcan II man. Pray that he does not convene a Vatican III. The present Year of Faith Celebrating VC2 is the hanging ball that Bishop Pancho can knock out of the park.

beng said...

Important note:

1. Ralph Martin is one of the four people (the other three being William Storey, Ralph Kiefer and Steve Clarke) who brought the Charismaticism to the Catholic Church.

2. Fr. Francis Sullivan SJ supports women priests and his writings can be found on

3. When reading LG 16, please take note of the suplementary note 19 (not "footnote" but "supplementary note"). It goes:

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*)

That Supplemantary note 19 is actually:

19) Cfr. Epist. S.S.C.S. Officii ad Archiep. Boston.: Denz. 3869-72.

What is that? That is actually the letter to Archbishop Cushing of Boston concerning Fr. Leonard Feeney and St. Benedict center we're all aware of.

So LG 16, that particular problematic paragraph, must be read in light of that letter.

Sooo tired said...

VII-The Hermenutic Of Obfuscation

Everyone is saved except for those who aren't

Hank Igitur said...

While we are considering von Balthasar and Rahner do not forget Rahner's "transfinalization", a rejection of St Thomas Aquinas' definition of transubstantiation. Even Paulus VI could not agree with him on that.

B16 also wrote a preface for a book by H von B "I commend to you the works of Hans Urs von Balthasar". I wonder what the Pope Emeritus thinks of his words now?

von B was of course Swiss, like Mr Kung who has so warmly welcomed the election of the new Bishop of Rome.

Dorotheus said...

Centuries ago it used to be thought that one of the greatest delights of heaven was a grandstand view of the torments of the damned in hell. Can we not believe that a loving creator God, who loves all he creates and desires to lose nothing of what he creates, will have some means of bringing to himself those who have known nothing of him or even rejected him - means of which we can have no knowledge? Why persist in applying to God human systems of rewards and punishments? Can it be that some Catholics, as well as attributing their human ways of thinking to God, actually want to enjoy that grandstand view of hell?

scary goat said...

It seems to me that there is a huge difference between interpreting something somewhat liberally and hopefully...and CHANGING that something. Like rules...there is a huge difference between bending the rules or even breaking them in certain circumstances and actually changing the rules. I know a lot of good people who aren't Catholic and no, of course I don't relish the thought of their eternal damnation, but I do believe that salvation comes through the Church. To my mind, the answer comes in a quite liberal application of "invincible ignorance" and I am pretty sure ignorance abounds in this world...and ultimately leaving judgement to God as He sees and knows all things in men's minds and hearts. I hope "many" will be saved...and I feel that we have a responsibility to try to evangelise and it seems to me to be a nonsense to claim some sort of almost universal salvation otherwise what is the point in the Church at all? It seems much more logical to understand that salvation comes through the Church and that those outside her are in danger but can possibly be saved by God's mercy. If all dogs go to Heaven and all religions are valid paths surely that is pure syncretism and the whole thing becomes pointless. It's a bit like while I wouldn't advocate the stoning to death of unmarried mothers, rather they should be given care and compassion (when it happens in breach of the rules) the fact that it happens isn't a good reason to scrap the rules on marriage and demolish the whole of society. There are rules and exceptions. I can see how those outside the Church can still be saved as exceptions through God's mercy but if you start claiming that the Church isn't necessary to salvation the whole thing, the whole raison d'etre of the Church collapses....ummmmm...isn't that what's been happening?

Presbyter said...

We see here the continued reluctance to face the obvious: that the Second Vatican Council and its vaunted aftermath "Spirit" was the most destructive thing to have happened to the Church in modern times.

Ma Tucker said...

I think the souls in hell are happy to be in hell. They could never bare the burning love of God. I don't think when you are faced with the beatific vision that you would indulge in a na na na naah nah moment for the souls in hell.

I would ask you to consider the consequences of what you are proposing bearing in mind the following criteria: Any belief or opinion you might hold that could in anyway serve to slacken you zeal for spreading the Gospel of salvation must be wrong.

If you think God is there to pick up the pieces regardless of whether we co-operate with His Will or not would you not be inclined to be a little less energetic in doing His Will?

I wonder if maybe we might change the perspective. Consider that God, who knows all things, can truely assess how a person would have lived his life in response to His grace had he been evangelised as God has Willed. Therefore the person failing in the evangelisation would be responsible for all the resultant sins and sufferings of the ignorant party. Failure to evangelise damns us. We are our brother's keeper.

benjoyce said...

Readers are probably well aware of the three dogma's that Fr. Feeney quoted. Especially the one from 1441 (Ex Cathedra). Here the dogma uses the word "no one" three times concerning salvation outside the Church.

One should not formulate doctrine which detracts from the dogma but should support it.

Bill Phelan said...

Gosh! Can you imagine a Catholic husband and wife puttng in nine hour days and then coming home with the expectation of sorting out the Church's true teachings on Hell?

NSD said...

Ralph Martin of course is the poster boy for the Charismatic movement who openly confesses that his "conversion" to Charismaticism occurred in his heady late 1960s college days in the US after participating in heretical Quaker-inspired protestant "prayer meetings".

Of course, I don't mean to demonize the man, but I would caution any Catholic who hopes to get a definitive overview of the Church's dogma of "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" from a man with this background. He certainly would not be my "one stop shop" for definitive Catholic theology.

Charismatics are one of the more vocal proponents of the "Springtime" notion of Vatican 2. It is interesting to see that Mr Martin is effectively challenging that notion but not at all surprising that his thesis focuses on "wrong interpretation" of Vatican 2 rather than anything inherently off-base within the documents of V2 themselves.

Malta said...


I completely believe in EENS--it is fully a dogmatic teaching of the Church, unlike the novelties in VII (not to say that VII doesn't reiterate some past dogmas).

I probably shouldn't admit this, but it's too fun not to: my Lutheran friend and his Jewish wife have extreme acrimony as to which faith to raise their children in. Well, one of his beautiful little daughters was going immediately into surgery, and he was at loose-ends how to secretly baptize her. So, I showed him how! Stick your thumb in water, and making the sign of the cross on her forehead, say I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What people don't realize is that everyone properly baptized, with the right form and intent, begins their journey as a Catholic, whether they're baptized Baptists, or what have you. But it's that first mortal sin that's your undoing; which is why we need the Church and her Sacraments.

How many of us can go through life without committing a mortal sin? I'm pretty sure in my younger years--before I was a Catholic--I committed most of the sins that Cry out to Heaven for Vengeance!

My point being, follow the perennial teachings of Christ's one and only Church, and you at least have a shot of getting into purgatory. And wear a blessed Scapular!

Malta said...

I was kidding, of course, about the Sins that Cry out to Heaven jest; although I have committed one, and that is depriving a man of his just wages. I think the comments on Fr. Z's blog are apropos here.

I believe that overtaxation is a form of depriving a person of their just wages. Food for thought.

scary goat said...

Oops! Forgot to mention I'm not a convert from protestantism though.

JabbaPapa said...

Thank you for posting this -- it does seem like a very good book, on the basis of this review.

One point of the review that I'd like to comment on, if I may :

The Second Vatican Council’s teaching of this possibility of salvation outside the sacraments and explicit faith, then, was the culmination of a long doctrinal development that had already been given expression by the papal Magisterium a century before Vatican II

It had, in fact, been explained nearly exactly as Martin himself presents it by an Ecumenical Council held soon after the declaration of the doctrine extra ecclesiam nulla salus in Antiquity (sorry, can't remember which one, nor if the Pope himself signed that explanation).

Eastern Orthodox Bishop Kallistos Ware has perhaps the finest exegesis of the doctrine that I've seen so far :

Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. All the categorical strength and point of this aphorism lies in its tautology. Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church" (G. Florovsky, "Sobornost: the Catholicity of the Church", in The Church of God, p. 53). Does it therefore follow that anyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned? Of course not; still less does it follow that everyone who is visibly within the Church is necessarily saved. As Augustine wisely remarked: "How many sheep there are without, how many wolves within!" (Homilies on John, 45, 12) While there is no division between a "visible" and an "invisible Church", yet there may be members of the Church who are not visibly such, but whose membership is known to God alone. If anyone is saved, he must in some sense be a member of the Church; in what sense, we cannot always say.

This teaching is Katholikos in the finer sense of that word, and though it is a wound in the Body Mystical that such a fine teacher should be outside of Full Communion with the Holy Church of God, his teaching itself is strong evidence of his desire for that Communion with God and all of His Saints, Living and Dead, through our Lord Christ and His, our Church.

This teaching is the occasion of our fervent hope and prayer that those faithful to the Fraternity and Faithful to our Christ will be given the means and the Grace to return to Full Communion with all of those Faithful to God in Our Catholic and Apostolic Church.

scary goat said...


Although I have some sympathies with some of what you have written concerning certain VII documents, I am not sure that we should be taking a negative view of someone for his long gone youthful views. Everyone (most) were doing flower-power at that time...and which of us hasn't held views in our youth that we then see the folly of with greater maturity? I am more worried by those who insist on clinging to youthful folly long after it has gone past its sell by date.

J.C. said...

Malta, isn't the water supposed to be running (in some measure) for baptism? I always understood that it was necessary to pour the water, regardless of how small the amount, onto the forehead of the person to be baptized, while saying the words, "I baptize thee, etc."--no sign of the cross required. I thought the pouring of water and the words were the only stipulations. I don't mean to nitpick, but I do think every Catholic should know the correct matter and form of Baptism for the sake of the literal salvation of souls.

benjoyce said...

To "beng said"

that statement in LG from "the letter to archbishop Cushing" has no business being in the documents of VII. Fr. Rahner put it there.

The notorious letter to Arch. Cushing 1949 was NEVER placed in the Acta Ap. Sed. therefor it is not "official". It contains theological error I'm told AND Bishop Harrington of Worcester Ma. told St. Benedict Center (a long time ago) that - that letter was written "on this side of the Atlantic". It has been said that it was written by then Mons Wright who has notible placement in Randal Engels book, "The Right of Sodomy"
Is this where the Church obtains its official teaching?

Fr. Feeney never believed in invinsible ignorance. God will give you the grace to be saved, Meaning, that God will give you the Grace to become Catholic.

To be saved is to be Catholic, with no exceptions, but not all Catholics are saved

Many of us will go to Purgatory where we will learn how to be Catholic

ElFrancoLoco said...

Dorotheus, your questions were anticipated and answered by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica, Supplement, Question 94. Namely:

Article 1. Whether the blessed in heaven will see the sufferings of the damned?
Article 2. Whether the blessed pity the unhappiness of the damned?
Article 3. Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?

Your point that it would be blameworthy for professed members of the Church militant to take pleasure at the prospect of seeing their revenge glutted, is essentially Objection 3 from Article 3 above. It is affirmed -- but has no bearing on the dispositions of the saints in Heaven, the reality of Hell, whether anyone goes there, whether anyone remains there, etc.

ElFrancoLoco said...

Correction: replace "essentially" with "one aspect of".

Edward said...

Father Feeney sounded the alarm in 1949 and now 63 years later we see the result. First that dogma had to be silenced then the liturgy and the rest could be changed , EENS is a foundational dogma of the faith.

Dorotheus said...

Ma Tucker, I would imagine that when one really knows God, not just knowing what is said or believed about him, you cannot but do his will (though clearly will sometimes fail in doing so, and not necessarily because of disobedience or ill-will) - not because you are afraid of anything, or want to be saved or avoid hell, but because it is simply your nature.
The fact that you could envisage anyone being happy in hell (if hell is what we believe it to be) suggests to me that you don't really believe in it any more than anyone else these days. That being so, discussing who is or is not in hell is empty posturing, as fatuous and futile as trying to decide how many angels can stand on a pin-head.
Quoting medieval theologians, as someone else did, even those as distinguished as Aquinas, is not much use, since one always needs to ask how their ideas, expressed in the thought-forms of eight or more centuries ago, are to be interpreted today.

FromTheWasteland said...

Presbyter, you've spoken well. Even so, I'd say that you've understated that magnitude of the conciliar catastrophe. Behold:

"At the close of a long life (for I was born in 1905 and I now see the year 1990), I can say that it has been marked by exceptional world events: three world wars, that which took place from 1914 to 1918, that which took place from 1939 to 1945, and that of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. The disasters caused by these three wars, and especially by the last of them, are incalculable in the domain of material ruins, but even more so in the spiritual realm."

-Abp. Marcel Lefebvre, Prologue to his Spiritual Journey

So that they might protect themselves from it, so many need to get serious about studying this horror. I suggest beginning with The Catechism of the Crisis in the Church by Fr. Matthias Gaudron.

Jeremiah Methuselah said...

No authority for it, but I have always remembered that water must be poured for valid baptism. To interfere between parents who may or may not want a child baptised is not a right, it is a wrong, none of us should ever do this. God is merciful, always.

NSD said...

@ scary goat

If all Mr Martin has done with the Charismatics movement was in the late 60s in college, one might sympathize with the view you encourage ...

Again, I do not wish to demonize the man ... for all intents and purposes he and his wife appear to be living Catholic morality with several children, and I won't disparage an honest man, even if he is incorrect and prone to error.

But his tryst with quakeristic pentecostalism inspired him to become one of the two co-founders of the Charismatic movement and over 40 years later he continues to preach its errors.

My only point to start and finish is to read his views on EENS with many grains of salt and caution ...

NSD said...

@ Jabba Papa

Can you provide a link to the Eastern Orthodox bishop's statements on EENS?

I'm interested because of an EO friend of mine who questioned the doctrine - I did lead him of course to the Athanasian Creed, and also am starting to share some of the biblical insight from Bp George Hay's "The Sincere Christian" volumes from the 1700s, but it would be interesting to read an EO bishop's support of the doctrine.


Nauseo said...

Dorotheus wrote: "Quoting medieval theologians, as someone else did, even those as distinguished as Aquinas, is not much use, since one always needs to ask how their ideas, expressed in the thought-forms of eight or more centuries ago, are to be interpreted today."

Here, friends, is a prime example of the poisoned fruit of Vatican II. Notice the shameless, indeed triumphalist chronological snobbery rooted in a thorough absorption of the myth of progress, rank historicism, and evolutionism. Quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, that mere "medieval," is now "not much use" to us today because our "thought-forms" have evolved far beyond his narrow provincialism. Incredible.

Age, thou art shamed.*
O shame, where is thy blush?**

-Shakespeare, Julius Caesar,* Hamlet**

BONIFACE said...

A few things:

Without being in any way a fan of Charismatic renewal, I have known some folks who are close to Ralph Martin and he is well-known in my community. While I disagree with his spirituality, nobody doubts that he is generally an honest scholar. His destruction of Balthasar's theology is just the latest voice in a growing throng.

Also, Balthasar's teaching in hell is not even the most problematic of his positions. I am much more concerned by his denial that Jesus Christ possessed the Beatific Vision:

NSD said...

@benjoyce and others

Indeed, Catholic dogma is such that not only does no one outside the Church get saved but that many Catholics also do not get saved.

Because while holding the True Faith, whole and defiled, is a necessary condition of salvation, only a state of grace secures that salvation.

And if Catholics were all saved, we would presume that all Catholics were in a state of grace, which would make a mockery of a need for confession.

Indeed, this is one of the dichotomies often noted by those who compare pre-V2 Catholicism and post-V2 Catholicism. At Mass in the old days, Catholics desperate to receive communion would line up for confession sometimes right until the Pater Noster during the Mass. And communicants were not numerous.

Nowadays, most Catholics don't go to confession, practicing ones may go once a year, and the *really* scrupulous go once a week at the designated Saturday 4-5pm timeslot before the Sunday liturgy held on Saturday afternoons. And yet, 99% of the attendants line up for communion.

Without the True Faith, whole and undefiled, one cannot be saved according to St Athanasius. But having that Faith is only the first step to securing a state of grace. Catholics (and non-Catholics) beware! or As the Lord put it "Be vigilant" - if we knew when the thief strikes at night, he would not rob us".

Oh to secure that sweet amazing grace, known to us as the "Grace of persevering grace". Our Lady promised it to those who become enrolled into Her Carmelite order of the Brown Scapular, as well as to those who fulfilled the 1st Five Saturdays devotion She spoke about at Fatima - Our Lord also promised it to those who faithfully fulfilled the 1st Nine First Fridays devotion to Sacred Heart. And our Lady I believe also promised it to those who faithfully pray 3 Hail Mary's each day.

In short, salvation is no guarantee for Catholics, and most likely not even in the cards for non-Catholics unless they first repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Apostolic Church and Faith, in union with His Vicar on Earth, the Successor of Saint Peter, the Pope of Rome. Believe it or perish.

scary goat said...


Ok, thanks for the additional information. I was only going by what I had read here as otherwise I know little about him.

Patrick said...

Not having read von Balthazar I only assumed him to be one of the common ilk of VII influenced theologians. The more I read about him now the more I am astounded that JPII came within days of making him a cardinal before von Balthazar's death. Maybe that little detail should be considered before any precipitate canonization.

JabbaPapa said...

NSD, surprisingly enough, he quote is up on the Wikipedia (!!!) article on EENS ..

Ma Tucker said...

You are quite right to take issue with my statement that the souls in Hell are happy to be there. Indeed if they were they would appreciate the justice of God. Thank you for that. They will the sin but are unhappy with the consequences:

Mike said...

"practicing ones may go once a year, and the *really* scrupulous go once a week at the designated Saturday 4-5pm timeslot before the Sunday liturgy held on Saturday afternoons"

While I am no fan of Saturday afternoon Masses for Sunday, my goodness, what on God's earth is wrong with those who go to Confession EVERY Saturday?

Unless I am missing your sarcasm, this is way off mark.

El Cid said...

It's not clear to me that von Balthasar is as theologically erroneous on the topics of judgment and damnation as as some elsewhere on this thread have claimed. I offer just a few examples of his writings in refutation:

- “How the Lord will judge, no one knows in advance; he tells us just one thing, namely, what he will judge about: ‘I was hungry, and you gave me food (or you gave me no food).’ Me, in the least of my brethren. Have we shown mercy, or only loved ourselves? One the documents have been presented, there is no longer any need at all to pronounce the verdict …” (Credo)

- In the Our Father, human forgiving, which we can understand, is indissolubly linked to with our hope and plea that God might expunge our debts, too, from his account book.” (Credo)

- “For all his gentleness and humility unto death on the Cross, God does not relinquish his attribute of being judge and consuming fire.” (The Christian and Anxiety)

- “We can leave aside the cruder forms, in which man thinks that by dint of a ‘materialization of grace’ he can superstitiously and magically gain power over God and salvation.” (The Christian and Anxiety)

NSD said...

@ Mike

I am neither off mark nor employing sarcasm.

I merely state that whereas in the past a small number of communicants would seek sometimes daily confession, the norm nowadays is that the most scrupulous of penitents are encouraged to go only once per week. And these are the rarity as most Catholics nowadays go less frequently, and in practice, if they go to confession at all, deem it only imperative to do so once annually, preferably during lent.

I think it is good to go as often as possible.

Common Sense said...

Please, can someone proficient in knowledge concerning salvation of non catholics, state churchs' traditinal authoritative teaching on this subject? What conditions non catholic and non christian must fulfill in order to be saved? Thank you.

beng said...


Are you Sede or Sede sympathizer?

Not even SSPX challange the letter from pre-Vatican II CDF to Archbishop Cushing.

And yes everyone is aware that Rahner put it there.

Ora et Labora said...

NSD I agree with MOST of what you said in your posting 08 April, 2013 17:12. except on this one point:
"the *really* scrupulous go once a week at the designated Saturday 4-5pm timeslot before the Sunday liturgy held on Saturday afternoons."

I agree with Mike and his comment "my goodness, what on God's earth is wrong with those who go to Confession EVERY Saturday?"

Au contraire going to confession as often as possible is most necessary especially now in days.

If anyone wants to find true healing, fight stress of every kind, and experience true spiritual peace go to confession as often as you can.

Knight of Malta, well said!!!

Ora et Labora said...

NSD I agree with MOST of what you said in your posting 08 April, 2013 17:12. except on this one point:
"the *really* scrupulous go once a week at the designated Saturday 4-5pm timeslot before the Sunday liturgy held on Saturday afternoons."

I agree with Mike and his comment "my goodness, what on God's earth is wrong with those who go to Confession EVERY Saturday?"

Au contraire going to confession as often as possible is most necessary especially now in days.

If anyone wants to find true healing, fight stress of every kind, and experience true spiritual peace go to confession as often as you can.

Knight of Malta, well said!!!

JVJ said...

The Council’s “optimism,” Martin rightly notes, is about the possibility of salvation outside of the Church

But there is no possibility of salvation "outside" the Church. To say that someone could be saved outside is simply to deny the dogma, which says, clearly, that salvation can't be found outside:

"There is one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which absolutely no one [nullus omnino] is saved."--Fourth Lateran Council, ex cathedra

St. Thomas Aquinas (De Veritate) taught that if someone is invincibly ignorant but follows the natural law and the promptings of grace, then God will find a way to bring that man inside the Church before he dies, whether by illuminating his intellect, sending him a preacher, or even, if necessary, sending him an angel from Heaven.

In both recorded New Testament cases of invincible ignorance (Cornelius the centurion, Acts 10, and the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8), God does not leave these men permanently in a state of ignorance, but sends them means to bring them to the true Faith.

The idea of "ignorance" being some sort of means of salvation is certainly one of the errors of the postconciliar period.

The fact is that if someone makes it to Heaven, then God brought him inside the Church before he died. It may not have been seen by any human eye, but it happened, or else the man died outside the Church and could not have been saved. If you have non-Catholic relatives on their deathbeds, keep praying for them, until the bitter end, and then still pray after they died, because you never know if God didn't work a last-nano-second miracle to join them to the Church. Read about Ven. Fr. Hermann Cohen and his Jewish mother for more on this.

Common Sense said...

Good point JVJ. Following the debate, it seems to me , that 'bad news' is the safe road. The moment someone starts preaching universal salvation, opens pandora box together with issued licence for the worst possible in human behaviour. Why beating yourself up with penance and good works, you go to heaven anyway, even if you don't want to.

Ralph Roister-Doister said...

Has everyone forgotten Alyssa Lyra Pitstick? Several years ago she wrote a blistering and exhaustively documented critique of Balthazar entitled "Light in Darkness: Hans Urs von Balthasar and the Catholic Doctrine of Christ's Descent into Hell." It was politely damned with faint praise by Neuhaus, Nichols, and the usual gang of high level mouthpieces. Last I heard, Ms Pitstick, who graduated from the Angelicum, was teaching courses on Catholicism at a Calvinist college.

That's what happens in today's renewed, rejuvenated and totally in tune with the times Catholic Church when you refuse to genuflect before the bust of Hans Urs von Ozymandias.

"Pray and obey" was never meant to be a form of lobotomy.

Lynda said...

Someone ought to tell some of the so-called orthodox Catholic blogs that pray and obey doesn't require a frontal lobotomy - many of them seem to think otherwise, at least since Pope Francis was elected.