A Critical Analysis
of Ratzinger's Dominus Jesus
Most Rev. Donald J. Sanborn
Think that Dominus Jesus reaffirms that the Catholic Church is the "unique means of salvation"? Think again…
IN AUGUST, 2000 the Vatican issued a document entitled Dominus Jesus, which was touted by the press as a defense of the Church's traditional teaching that the Catholic Church is the unique means of salvation. The Wanderer, true to form in sanitizing everything which emerges from the modernists in the Vatican, called it a new Syllabus of Errors. (The Syllabus of Errors was the wonderful document issued by Pope Pius IX in 1864 which condemned modern errors). But is this document a true defense of the Catholic Faith? No. In fact, it contains explicit heresy, and is the boldest and most complete explanation of modernist Church theology to date.
I. The Catholic Doctrine on the Church
A. The Catholic doctrine concerning the unicity of the Church. The Catholic Church teaches that she alone is the unique Church of Christ, and that all other religions, whether Christian or non-Christian, are sects. They are false religions. St. Cyprian said, "There is one God, and Christ is one, and there is one Church and one chair founded upon the rock by the word of the Lord. Another altar cannot be constituted nor a new priesthood be made except the one altar and the one priesthood. Whosoever gathereth elsewhere, scattereth." 1
B. Who are members of the Catholic Church? The Church teaches that those people are members of the Catholic Church who have been validly baptized, and who have not been excluded from the Catholic Church by means of heresy, schism, or excommunication. Pope Pius XII teaches in his encyclical Mystici Corporis:
"Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. 'For in one spirit' says the Apostle, 'were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free.' As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit." 2
Therefore in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, which is the one, true Church, there are only the following categories of people:
(1) Catholics, i.e., those who are members of the Roman Catholic Church;
(2) heretics, that is, validly baptized people who have left the Church because they adhere publicly to false teachings and/or non-Catholic sects;
(3) schismatics, that is, validly baptized people who have left the Church because they refuse to recognize the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, or belong to sects which profess the same;
(4) excommunicates, those who have been ejected from the Church by declaratory sentence of excommunication;
(5) infidels, that is, the unbaptized, who fall into two subcategories: (a) Jews, whose error of resistance to the true Messias has a special name, that of perfidy, and (b) heathens, that is, pagans, idolaters, and people who have no religion at all.
C. The Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.
Pope Pius XII said in Mystici Corporis:
"If we would define this true Church of Jesus Christ - which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church - we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression 'the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ'- an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers." 3
The same Holy Father, in his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), condemns the idea that somehow the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are not one and the same thing: "Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation."
D. The Catholic notion of communion. Communion consists in a relation of member to head and of member to member of the Mystical Body of Christ. This relation exists because the members are incorporated into the Mystical Body through (1) valid Baptism (2) the profession of the Catholic Faith, and (3) submission to the pope, the authority of the Catholic Church.
All three things are necessary for the incorporation; the absence of one of them would effect a separation from the Mystical Body.4 Such a person would be, therefore, outside the Church, since communion is a necessary effect of incorporation, and one cannot be incorporated without being in communion. In simpler terms, to be in communion means to be in the same church as someone else.
E. There is no such thing as a "partial communion" between the Roman Catholic Church and non-Catholic sects. To assert that there is a partial communion between the Roman Catholic Church and non-Catholic sects is overtly heretical, since it is directly contrary to the Church's teaching:
Pope Pius IX: "None [of these religious societies differing among themselves and separated from the Catholic Church], not even taken as a whole, constitutes in any way and are not that one, Catholic Church founded and made by Our Lord and which He wished to create. Further, one cannot say in any way that these societies are either members or parts of that same Church, because they are visibly separated from Catholic Unity." 5
Pope Leo XIII: "Jesus Christ never conceived of nor instituted a Church formed of many communities which were brought together by certain general traits - but which would be distinct one from another and not bound together among themselves by ties which make the Church one and indivisible - since we clearly profess in the Creed of our Faith: " 'I believe in one...Church.' " 6
Pope Pius XI: "It is absurd and ridiculous to say that the Mystical Body can be formed out of separated and disjunct members." 7
Pope Pius XI: "It is to depart from divine truth to imagine a Church which one can neither see nor touch, which would be nothing more than spiritual in which numerous Christian communities would be united by an invisible bond, even though they are divided in faith." 8
F. It is necessary to belong to the Roman Catholic Church in order to be saved. The Church teaches that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. It is a Catholic dogma which must be believed by all. Pope Pius IX called it a notissimum catholicum dogma, that is, a most well-known Catholic dogma, and declared:
"It is to be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that this Church is the unique ark of salvation, and that he who does not enter it, will perish in the flood." (Singulari Quadam, 1854)
Does "outside the Church, there is no salvation" mean that anyone who is visibly outside the Roman Catholic Church is going to hell? No. It means that those who culpably remain outside of it are going to hell. But they are not culpable who are invincibly ignorant of it, that is, who have not received sufficient exposure to it so as to recognize its truth. Only God is the ultimate judge of who is and who is not guilty in this regard. We can formulate the general principle, however, that if a non-Catholic were to know or even seriously suspect that the Catholic Church were the true Church of Christ, but failed to investigate it and to enter it, he would be condemned to hell for eternity. Our first supernatural movement toward God is in the virtue of faith, that is, by loving His truth. If we fail to love the truth, we cannot see God. Our Lord said, "He who is of the truth, hears my voice," to which Pilate responded, "What is truth?" If we fail, therefore to love the truth known as the truth, or suspected to be the truth, we are condemned.
That those who labor under invincible ignorance of the Catholic Faith will not be condemned is explicitly taught by the same Pope Pius IX, who was so emphatic about the doctrine that outside the Church there is no salvation. He states:
"It is known to us and to you that they who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion and who, zealously keeping the natural law and its precepts engraved in the hearts of all by God, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, by the operating power of divine light and grace, attain eternal life, since God who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin." 9
G. Non-Catholic sects are not in any way part of the true Church of Christ. The theory that there is a Church of Christ which is above all the churches which profess to be Christian was condemned in the nineteenth century. This theory was proposed by the Anglicans in the same century, and is known as the "Branch Theory." It held that the "Universal Church" consisted of three branches: the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Anglicans. Although not in communion with one another, they are, nonetheless, all part of the "Universal Church." These Anglicans identify the "Universal Church" with the Mystical Body of Christ, which, as such, has no visible government, and therefore no visible head. They thus would not identify any one existing "Church" exclusively with the Mystical Body or "Universal Church." Cardinal Mazzella, a prominent nineteenth-century theologian, quotes an Anglican by the name of Litton, who sounds just like Ratzinger:
"The particular Churches, although separated, are one because of the common relationship to the one, true Church or Mystical Body of Christ, and by their connection with it." 10
According to Cardinal Mazzella, they say that the unity of government of the Catholic Church is better, but is in no way essential, and can therefore be absent, without detriment to being the Church. When schism occurs within this "Universal Church," that is, when one church breaks off from another, as in the case of the Orthodox and the Anglicans with regard to the Roman Catholic Church, the separation is not total and perfect, nor is it even a separation from the Roman Catholic Church inasmuch as it is true, but only inasmuch as it has been corrupted in the area of faith or morals. Therefore, there remains, according to this theory, an essential communion, in those things which are true and right, whereas communion is rejected in the area of erroneous doctrine, in superstitious worship, or tyrannical rule.
Parenthetically, this Protestant idea of being in communion with what is right, and not in communion with what is wrong is exactly the position of the Society of Saint Pius X with regard to Wojtyla. They therefore accept certain doctrines and disciplines of the New Religion, while rejecting others. They are in communion with Wojtyla when he talks like a Catholic, and not in communion with him when he talks like a non-Catholic.
H. The Branch Theory was condemned by the Church. In 1857 a society was founded in London called the Association for Promoting the Union of Christendom. In 1864, the Holy Office issued a letter forbidding Catholics to take part in it. In the letter Cardinal Patrizi mentioned that the members of the group are called upon to say prayers and offer "masses" for the intention that the three "Christian communions which, as they say, all taken together constitute the Catholic Church, that they finally come together one day to form one body." 11
Overwhelmed with grief by the blow from the Holy Office, 198 Anglican divines wrote to Cardinal Patrizi asking him to reconsider, saying that they were asking nothing else from God than that "ecumenical intercommunion which existed before the schism of East and West." His Eminence responded on November 8, 1865:
"Therefore the Sacred Congregation [of the Holy Office] deeply regrets that it has happened to you who think that those Christian bodies which vaunt themselves as having an inheritance of the priesthood and the Catholic name, although cut off and separated from the Apostolic See of Peter, belong as parts to the true Church of Jesus Christ. There is no opinion which is more at variance with the genuine notion of the Catholic Church. For the Catholic Church...is that which, built upon a single Rock, rises up into one coherent body and is held together by unity of faith and charity.
This same condemnation was included in the schema on the Church which was distributed to the Council Fathers at Vatican I: 12
"If anyone should say, that the true Church is not one body in itself, but consists of varied and diverse societies of Christian name, and is spread out among them, or that various societies disagreeing among themselves in profession of faith and separated by communion, constitute, as members or parts, the one and universal Church of Christ, let him be anathema."
Despite the condemnation of the Church, however, Wojtyla continues to propagate this heresy concerning the Church.
It is important to understand this Vatican II ecclesiological heresy (Church heresy), for it is the basis of its heresy concerning religious liberty. Critiques of Vatican II tend to center on the religious liberty heresy, but it is merely an outflow of the Church heresy, which is more grave as it is more fundamental.
St. Augustine said:
We believe in the Holy Church which is indeed Catholic. For the heretics and schismatics also call their congregations Churches. But the heretics violate the faith by thinking falsely, and the schismatics break away from fraternal charity by their wicked dissensions, although they believe what we believe. For this reason neither the heretics belong to the Catholic Church, which loves God, nor the schismatics, because the Church loves her neighbor. 13
II. The Teaching on the Church in Dominus Jesus
Dominus Jesus was published supposedly to defend the Church's uniqueness as the means of salvation, and even more fundamentally to defend Christ's role as the unique mediator between God and man.
The first part of it, paragraphs 1to 15, deal with the unicity of Christ as mediator. Most of it is very nice, but nevertheless a mortal blow is given to Christ's universal mediation in paragraph 14. First it states:
"It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once and for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God."
Very Catholic. But then it says:
"Bearing in mind this article of faith, theology today, in its reflection on the existence of other religions and of other religious experiences and on their meaning in God's salvific plan, is invited to explore if and in what way the historical figures and positive elements of these religions may fall within the divine plan of salvation. In this undertaking, theological research has a vast field of work under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium. The Second Vatican Council, in fact, stated that 'the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude, but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a participation in this one source.' " 14
The "translation" of this statement is this: that other non-Christian religions are a means of salvation, but they have to be in some way connected to Christ as the single mediator. Why are Ratzinger and Wojtyla so concerned about this? It is because they want to make a single universal religion. But in order to make a single universal religion, you need a single mediator. So they want to chide those theologians who are saying that Buddha or Mohammed or Moses are parallel mediators. Ratzinger quotes Wojtyla:
"Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ's own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his." 15
This is the heart of the matter. The one-world-religionists Ratzinger and Wojtyla are worried that they will not be able to organize the whole world into a dogma-less, featureless Christianity, but that this new religion will have to co-exist along with others. So the task of theologians is to show how Buddha, Mohammed and Moses are compatible with Christ as "co-mediators" or "sub-mediators." Such a doctrine will bring non-Christians into the "Church of Christ" too.
In paragraph 16 of Dominus Jesus, Ratzinger moves on to the subject of the "unicity and unity of the Church." He declares:
"Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of the Catholic Faith. Just as there is one Christ, so there exists a single body of Christ, a single Bride of Christ: 'a single Catholic and Apostolic Church.' "
Wonderful. But now we come to the heresy. We will examine the heretical and erroneous texts one by one.
Text no. 1 "This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in [subsistit in] the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Saint Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him."
The quotation is directly lifted from Lumen Gentium in Vatican II, and represents the fundamental heresy of Vatican II concerning the Church. Fr. Curzio Nitoglia, of the Institute of Our Mother of Good Counsel, explained the error of this text in an article that appeared in their journal Sodalitium:
"What does this formula actually mean? It was chosen deliberately in order to deny that the Church of Christ is only the Catholic Church. 'Subsistit in' means, in fact, that the Church of Christ is found in the Catholic Church, but is not exclusively identified with the Catholic Church. "
'The change of est (Pius XII) to subsistit16 (Gaudium et Spes) took place for ecumenical reasons,' explains Fr. Mucci, S.J. in Civiltà Cattolica (December 5, 1988). And Fr. Louis Bouyer writes that thanks to the 'subsistit' introduced by the Council, one has sought to 'propose again the idea of the one Church, even if it is presently divided among the diverse Christian Churches, as if among many branches.'17 This idea was taken up again by John Paul II in Canterbury. Furthermore Cardinal Willebrands, on May 5th and 8th of 1987, held some conferences in which he affirmed that the 'subsistit' supersedes and corrects the est of Pius XII (cf. Documentation Catholique, January 3, 1988). While the Council was in progress, Bishop Carli (then Bishop of Segni) and Fr. Aniceto Fernandez, Master General of the Dominicans, vigorously intervened to request the correction of Lumen Gentium by using the word est instead of 'subsistit,' in order to unequivocally reaffirm the Catholic Faith. But the ecumenical choice - or better, the heretical choice - prevailed. Fr. Congar writes:
'The problem remains if Lumen Gentium strictly and exclusively identifies the Mystical Body of Christ with the Catholic Church, as did Pius XII in Mystici Corporis. Can we not call it into doubt when we observe that not only is the attribute "Roman" missing, but also that one avoids saying that only Catholics are members of the Mystical Body. Thus they are telling us (in Gaudium et Spes) that the Church of Christ and of the Apostles subsistit in, is found in the Catholic Church. There is consequently no strict identification, that is exclusive, between the Church of Christ and the "Roman" Church. Vatican II admits, fundamentally, that non-Catholic christians are members of the Mystical Body and not merely ordered to it. ' [emphasis added]"18
Fr. Nitoglia continues:
"In fact Pius XII, in Mystici Corporis, teaches that the unique Church of Christ is (est) the Catholic Church. Lumen Gentium, on the other hand, changes the est to subsistit because it no longer identifies (est) the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. This is to say that the Church founded by Christ exists in the Catholic Church, without excluding the other 'separated churches.' (The conciliar magisterium uses capital C for the 'separated Churches') "
In short, the Mystical Body of Christ has a greater extension than that of the Roman Catholic Church."
The error of Vatican II is that it reduces the Roman Catholic Church to a mere organization in which the Church of Christ subsists. It is a mere branch of the great trunk of the Church of Christ. But there are other branches.
This heresy reduces the body of the Catholic Church to a mere moral person, that is, an ecclesiastical corporation with a certain natural structure, governed by certain natural laws, with a certain natural unity. Unity of faith is reduced to an obedience to "church order," which is to say, an external observance of the faith rules of the day, by which the church is preserved in order.19 This reduces the notion of orthodoxy to a purely legal observance of the prevailing theology of the day.
Those familiar with modernism see its ugly face in this theory and practice. Pope Pius XII condemned this theory in his encyclical Mystici Corporis in 1943:
"Therefore we deplore and condemn the pernicious error of those who dream of some kind of a false Church, a sort of society nourished and formed by charity, to which - not without disdain - they oppose another society which they call juridical."
In the encyclical Humani Generis, in a text which I have already cited, the same Holy Father condemns the idea that somehow the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are not one and the same thing:
"Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation."
I give the qualification of heretical to this doctrine of "subsistit in," since it is contrary to the Church's universal ordinary magisterium concerning the nature of the Church and of the Mystical Body of Christ. It is certainly de fide catholica that the Mystical Body of Christ is exclusively identified with the Roman Catholic Church. It is certainly heretical to assert that a heretical or schismatic sect is a part of the Mystical Body of Christ. Recall what the Popes have already taught:
Pope Leo XIII said: "Jesus Christ never conceived of nor instituted a Church formed of many communities which were brought together by certain general traits - but which would be distinct one from another and not bound together among themselves by ties which make the Church one and indivisible - since we clearly profess in the Creed of our Faith: " 'I believe in one...Church.' " 20
Pope Pius XI said: "It is absurd and ridiculous to say that the Mystical Body can be formed out of separated and disjunct members." 21
Pope Pius XI also said: "It is to depart from divine truth to imagine a Church which one can neither see nor touch, which would be nothing more than spiritual in which numerous Christian communities would be united by an invisible bond, even though they are divided in faith." 22
Text no. 2 "Therefore there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united with her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches." (no. 17)
This statement is the logical conclusion of the previous statement. It merely says that the schismatics and heretics who have broken off from the Roman Catholic Church form parts of the Church of Christ. They are other branches. It is heretical for the same reason that the "subsistit in" is heretical. It completely alters the nature of the Church of Christ, and places a distinction between the Church of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church.
It should also be pointed out here that the schismatics and heretics who have left the true Church of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, are not "Churches" at all. As "Churches." they do not even exist. For who gave them existence? God? Of course not. Human beings? Yes, schismatics and/or heretics. But human beings cannot beget "Churches" any more than they can make gold out of iron. All that they can come up with are phony substitutes for the real Church.
The true term for these so-called "Churches" would be bands of heretics or groupings of schismatics, for that is all they are. They do not have any legitimate ecclesiastical life, charter, or structure. They are nothing. They are cadavers.
Text no. 3: "Therefore, the Church of Christ is present and operative also in these Churches, even though they lack full communion with the Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the Primacy, which, according to the will of God, the Bishop of Rome objectively has and exercises over the entire Church." (no. 17)
This text more explicitly draws the conclusion of the original error of Lumen Gentium. It extends the Church of Christ beyond the borders of the Roman Catholic Church, and gives legitimacy to non-Catholic sects. It also makes submission to the Roman Pontiff, as well as belief in the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, accidental to being a part of the Church of Christ.
This is explicit heresy. The Church of Christ is present and operative in these "Churches" even though they reject the authority of the Roman Pontiff. But this is contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church teaches that Christ and the Pope constitute a single hierarchical authority. Pope Pius XII states in Mystici Corporis (no. 40):
"That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same."
It follows, then, that those who are cut off from the Pope are also cut off from Christ. For this reason Pope Pius XII, also in Mystici Corporis (no. 22) said:
"As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore if a man refuse to hear the Church let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body."
Text no. 4: "On the other hand, the ecclesial communities which have not preserved the valid Episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery, are not Churches in the proper sense; however, those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the Church." (no. 17)
The statement refers to Protestants. Unlike the Greek Schismatics and some Old Catholics who have maintained a valid episcopacy and a valid Eucharist, some Protestants can merely lay claim to valid Baptism. Hence they do not qualify, he says, to be considered "particular Churches," i.e., member Churches of the Church of Christ. Nonetheless, their valid Baptism makes their individual members incorporated in Christ. Protestants are therefore members of the Church of Christ, the Mystical Body of Christ.
The obvious conclusion is that their adherence to heresy in these sects does not exclude them from being incorporated into Christ, that is, from being members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
But this doctrine is contrary to what is commonly taught by the Church and is therefore heresy. The Church teaches that the effect of Baptism whereby we are incorporated into Christ is annulled by adherence to heresy. We have already seen the texts from Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XII which make it clear that adherence to the same faith is necessary for adherence to the Mystical Body of Christ.
Text no. 5: "In fact the elements of this already given Church exist, joined together in their fullness in the Catholic Church and, without this fullness, in the other communities. Therefore these separated Churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as a means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church." (no. 17)
The statement is a mere repetition of previous documents, one of John Paul II, and the other of Vatican II. The statement boldly declares that non-Catholic sects are a means of salvation, and that they derive their efficacy as a means of salvation from the Catholic Church. This statement is directly contrary to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the Church there is no salvation). It is therefore heretical.
Far from beings means of salvation, non-Catholic sects are means of damnation. For as non-Catholic sects, they preach to their adherents heresy, schism and error, which serve only to separate people from God and the true Church. If their followers knowingly and willingly adhere to these deviations from the truth, they go to hell. It is only by invincible ignorance of their errors that the adepts of these sects may be excused of their crimes of heresy and/or schism. In such a case they may save their souls in spite of the false religion to which they adhere.
Nor should it be argued that because these sects have valid sacraments they therefore have "means of salvation." It is not true to say that they have them. It is true that a heretic or schismatic may use a sacrament validly, but these sacraments are not the property of these sects.
Furthermore heretics and schismatics use Catholic sacraments unlawfully and therefore sinfully - objectively speaking. It is only in extreme necessity (e.g., danger of death) that the Church authorizes the use of some of her sacraments at the hands of non-Catholics. Cardinal Mazzella said:
"The sacraments which the heretics have preserved in their sect are like spoils which they have taken from the Church when they left it, but which belong to the Church. A fugitive servant can take his master's money with him; a soldier can take the general's standard. But just as those who leave with these things do not belong to the family or the army, so do heretics not belong to the Church." 23
Text no. 6: "The lack of unity among Christians is certainly a wound for the Church; not in the sense that she is deprived of her unity, but 'in that it hinders the complete fulfillment of her universality in history.'"
Qualification: ERRONEOUS, at least.
The statement implies that the Church of Christ cannot realize her universality until all "Christians" [read heretics and schismatics] are reunited under a single church organization. This is false. The Catholic Church does not need the reunion of heretics and schismatics in order to have her essential property of universality or catholicity. She is perfectly catholic or universal without them. For catholicity merely means the Church's diffusion among all peoples and nations. The fact that some of these people remain outside of her, or worse should leave her, in no way compromises her universality.
Nor has the Church ever taught that the whole world will one day convert to her. In fact, the opposite seems true, that with the progress of time the faith shall be obscured and charity shall grow cold, until there are very few Catholics left in the world.
When Our Lord prayed that "all may be one," He was referring to the unity which pertains to His Church, and not to the whole human race. But it must be remembered that these one-world-churchers like Wojtyla and Ratzinger are desperate to figure out a way to get everyone into one religion.
III. The Correct Interpretation of this Document
I hold that the interpretation which I have given to this document is right and true, because it is in conformity with other statements of both Wojtyla and Ratzinger.
Consider, for example, Ratzinger's (and Wojtyla's) definition of the Church of Christ in his document entitled Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion (1992):
"The Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, is the universal Church, that is, the worldwide community of the disciples of the Lord, which is present and active amid the particular characteristics and the diversity of persons, groups, times, and places."
Where is unity of faith? Where is submission to the Roman Pontiff? Where is there even mention of Baptism? These elements are not there, because they are not necessary in Wojtyla's and Ratzinger's World Church.
Concerning "particular Churches," which include the sects of schismatics and heretics, Ratzinger says in the same document: "the universal Church becomes present in them with all her essential elements." (§ 8). The "Cardinal" develops the particular Church theme, stating that "the universal Church is therefore the body of the Churches." [i.e., the particular Churches]. He emphasizes that in every particular Church "the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and active." (§ 9). Continuing in the same paragraph, he identifies the universal Church and the particular churches:
"From the Church, which in its origins and its first manifestations is universal, have arisen the different local churches, as particular expressions of the one unique Church of Jesus Christ. Arising within and out of the universal Church, they have their ecclesiality in her and from her."
How do we know that the schismatic and heretical sects are particular Churches? Ratzinger says so:
"This communion exists especially with the Eastern Orthodox Churches which, though separated from the See of Peter, remain united to the Catholic Church by means of very close bonds, such as the apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, and therefore merit the title of particular Churches."
He says that "the universal Church becomes present in them [the particular Churches] with all her essential elements." (§ 8).
He even goes so far as to say that where there is a valid Eucharist, you have the Church of Christ:
"Indeed, 'through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches, the Church of God is built up and grows in stature',24 for in every valid celebration of the Eucharist the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church becomes truly present."
IV. Summary and Conclusion
Ratzinger's new document Dominus Jesus is merely a dull rehash of previous documents. There is no condemnation of religious indifferentism, but rather there are explicit declarations of principles which themselves constitute religious indifferentism. For if the Church of Christ is present with all of its essential elements in heretical and schismatic sects, and if they are used by the Spirit of Christ as a means of salvation, then what else do you need? The only thing left is degree of perfection of being the Church of Christ and a means of salvation. This is precisely what Wojtyla and Ratzinger assert: that the Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and of the means of salvation, whereas the others have only a partial serving of these things. Their lack does not prevent them, however, from being members of the Church of Christ.
So with demonic cunning, Wojtyla and Ratzinger are able to say, "All religions are not equal," because the Catholic Church has the fullness, and the others only have parts. No, not all are equal, but they are all more or less good, and beyond that, in the schismatic sects one finds the Church of Christ, and a means of salvation. Furthermore the Protestants are members of the Church of Christ. This is asserted about these sects, even though they all adhere to schism and heresy.
But that all religions are more or less good is the very error condemned by Pope Pius XI in Mortalium Animos:
"Certainly such attempts can nowise be approved by Catholics, founded as they are on that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgement of His rule. Not only are those who hold this opinion in error and deceived, but also in distorting the idea of true religion they reject it, and little by little, turn aside to naturalism and atheism, as it is called; from which it clearly follows that one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realize them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion." [Emphasis added].
St. Pius X condemned the same doctrine in his encyclical Pascendi, which condemned the Modernists:
"In the conflict between different religions, the most that Modernists can maintain is that the Catholic has more truth because it is more vivid, and that it deserves with more reason the name of Christian because it corresponds more fully with the origins of Christianity. No one will find it unreasonable that these consequences flow from the premises."
Thus the two old deceivers have done it again. Wojtyla and Ratzinger have published bold-faced heresy under the headlines of "conservatism" and "defending the Faith." The Novus Ordo conservatives eat it up. It is just one more spoonful of the spoon-fed heresy and apostasy which we have been receiving since the 1960's. Ratzinger's doctrine is novelty. It is heresy. It leads to apostasy. It is given to us as a preparation for a World Church. By this document Wojtyla and Ratzinger have dispensed with the necessity both to assent to all Catholic dogmas and to be submitted to the Pope as essential conditions for being members of the Church of Christ.
(Most Holy Trinity Newsletter, October 2000)
1 Epistola ad Plebem, P.L.,40, 336.
2 No. 22. Emphasis added.
3 No. 13
4 Except in the case of infants, where only valid baptism is necessary. For this reason, the Church considers Catholics those children of heretics who are validly baptized, but who have not yet reached the age of reason. Upon reaching the age of reason these children of heretics are presumed to profess the same heresies and lack of submission to authority as that of their parents, and are therefore considered at that point to be outside of the Mystical Body.
5 Apostolic Letter Jam vos omnes, September 13, 1868.
6 Satis Cognitum.
7 Mortalium Animos.
9 Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10, 1863. Denz. 1677.
10 CAMILLUS CARD. MAZZELLA, S.J. De Religione et Ecclesia Prælectiones Scholastico-dogmaticæ, Romæ: Forzani et Socii, 1896.., p. 340.
11 Epistola S. Romanæ et Universalis Inquisitionis, data die 16 Sept. 1864.
12 But never voted upon, due to the Franco-Prussian War and the invasion of Garibaldi.
13 De Fide et Symbolo, c. 10.
14 Lumen Gentium, no. 62.
15 Encyclical Redemptoris missio, no. 5.
16 Est in Latin means "is." Subsistit in means "subsists in."
17 La Chiesa di Dio corpo di Cristo e tempio dello Spirito, (Cittadella: 1971) p. 603.
18 Le Concile de Vatican II, (Paris: Beauchesne) p. 160.
19 This idea can be seen in practice in the "disciplining" of "rebellious theologians" such as Hans Küng. They are not removed from membership in the Mystical Body of Christ due to their voluntary and public denial or doubt of truths revealed by God, having the effect of removing them from the unity of faith of the Catholic Church, but rather are merely told that they are "out of order" in their teachings, and cannot be considered a "Catholic theologian". It is simply to say that they are not "in the mainstream." They continue, however, to be members of the church-the Novus Ordo - but they are not allowed to function as theologians.
20 Satis Cognitum.
21 Mortalium Animos.
23 op. cit., p. 470.
24 Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 15, §1.