Questions and Answers
I would appreciate your insight on a magazine which I received 2 months ago entitled, "A Voice Crying in the Wilderness," written by Brother Michael Dimond O.S.B.. This author appears to have intensely researched the material, having over 320 footnotes.
I have a few questions which I would like you to answer which I'm sure many other concerned Catholics also share. I will precede each question with a concise summary of each topic.
#1. The first topic discusses the prophecies of Our Lady of La Salette on September 19, 1846: "Rome will loose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist... The Church will be in eclipse." The author (of "Voice in the Wilderness) proceeds to accuse the post Vatican II Popes, particularly Pope John Paul II of many scandalous public speeches and deeds. For instance, on 10/27/86 in Assisi, Italy, Pope John Paul II prayed with the leaders of 160 different religions, including African animists who are devil worshippers. Another instance was in Papua, New Guinea on May, 8, 1985 our current Pope allowed an 18 year old American woman to read one of the readings during his Papal Mass completely naked from the waste up! Along with the above allegations, our Pope also, supposedly, lifted the excommunication of Martin Luther and apologized for the mistake. Are all of these accusations true? If so this would make the last three Popes heretics. Does an heretical Pope automatically lose his pontifical office or does he have to be deposed by the College of Cardinals.
First of all it is necessary to make the distinction between a Pope who is personally heretical and a Pope who officially proclaims heresy. Also we must make the distinction between principle and strategy. For instance, Pope John Paul II has officially taught the ancient dogma of the Church that the outside of the Catholic Church it is impossible to be saved. He has even quoted the Fathers of the Church: "He who does not have the Church for his Mother cannot have God for his Father."
Nevertheless, everything this Pope does seems to indicate that he believes other religions and even pagan cultures have value. Thus we have a situation like Assisi where a statue of Buddha was placed upon the high altar in front of the tabernacle and incensed as a god. This was done along with American Indian tribal dances, African Voodoo "priests", Hindus, Shinto priests, Muslims, the Dali Lama, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, Anglicans, etc. the opening speech of Pope John Paul II went as follows: "Permit me to begin by thanking you, from the bottom of my heart for the outpouring of spirit and soul and good will with which you have accepted my invitation to pray at Assisi... The fact that you come here implies no intention of finding a religious consensus between us, or to negotiate on the convictions of beliefs, because every human must honestly follow his right conscience with intention to finding the truth and obeying it..." "The fact that we profess different creeds does not take away from the significance of this day. On the contrary, the churches, the ecclesial communities and the religions of the world show that they profoundly desire the good of humanity." "From here we will go to different places to pray. Each religion will have the time and the opportunity to express itself according to its own traditional rite. Then from our separate places of prayer we will walk in silence towards the esplanade of the Lower Basilica of St. Francis. Once reassembled, each religion in turn will present their prayer. At the end of the day, I will try to express what this unique celebration has said to my heart, being as I am a believer in Jesus Christ and first servant of the Catholic Church."
The Holy Father chooses his words carefully even in caution when it comes to proclaiming directly the truth that Christ and Christ alone is the only real means of salvation. Does Pope John Paul really believe that other religions have value? The answer is yes. But if I may be permitted let me make what seems heretical, orthodox by daring to interpret the Holy Father's actions in the proper light.
Despite all the evidence that the pastoral directives of the Second Vatican Council have failed miserably Pope John Paul is a firm believer that what the Second Vatican Council attempted to do has immense value for the Church not only in the later half of the 20th Century but throughout the next millennium. He was convinced that before the Council the Church was in a position of combat with the world. When Pope John XXIII proclaimed the Council he lit a flame in the heart of Karol Cardinal Wojtyla. To change the world by transforming the whole world by the love of Christ. To go into the world as a missionary of love bringing mankind to the feet of Christ by reaching out and embracing the world. Not hiding behind the protective walls of the Church. Reaching out to the Muslims, the Communists, the Nazis not directly but by appealing to the peoples under their respective influence. He believes, as did John XXIII, that it is possible to transform the geopolitical landscape by interjecting the Spirit of Christ into everything. The trick for Pope John Paul is not to mention our Lord at all but just to represent Him and everything He taught.
This is where the distinction between principle and strategy comes in. If you want to convert the world through missionary activity do you go out and preach Jesus Christ directly even to the point of death? (This was the way our forefathers did it and they were quite successful.) Or do you go out and convince the world to live by the teachings of Christ even though they do not know Him directly and by so doing till the soil of their souls, plant and nurture the seeds of truth in the hope that our Lord will do the rest? I have found in my own experience that both means of teaching others the message of Christ have been effective. As a teacher I use whatever method I believe will penetrate the darkness of error for that particular person. The question then rests in which method one should use to convert others to Christ. Do you beat people over the head with the truth threatening them with hell and damnation if they do not accept the truth you have proclaimed? Or do you embrace them and through your loving example convert them to the love of Christ? On the one side you have people like St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Dominic, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Francis Xavier, St. Robert Bellarmine, and the majority of the great missionary Saints who preached the truth fearlessly as commanded by Christ. On the other side you have people like, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard, St. Bruno, St. Frances Cabrini, Blessed Margaret of Castello, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta who preached the Word of God primarily by their example.
There has been a constant tension between these two strategies throughout the history of the Church. Neither one of them is wrong but prudence may dictate which method must be used in the particular circumstances one finds oneself. An additional consideration along with these circumstances would be in one's position in the world.
Now let me make it very clear that I do not agree with the methods used by Pope John Paul II at the Assisi meeting, his meetings with the Jews and his embracing certain positions presented by the United Nations which are Masonic and Humanist in origin. Nevertheless, Pope John Paul has the right and even the duty of his conscience to use the method he thinks is most appropriate in presenting the Faith of Jesus Christ to the world. We have the right to disagree with him but as long as he has not come out and proclaimed heresy in his official capacity as Pope and as long as he has not attempted to define a new dogma based on error and heresy then we must give him the benefit of the doubt, even though we may vehemently disagree with his decision on how he sees fit to proclaim Jesus Christ.
It is very important to reiterate the teaching of the Church concerning the infallibility of the Pope. The charism of papal infallibility is very limited. It does not mean that he is impeccable (sinless) or somehow immune to the ravages and flaws of original sin. It does not mean that he will always make a prudent or right decision. Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II have proven that the office of the Papacy does not somehow instantaneously fill them with wisdom. Nevertheless, we are bound in holy obedience to them as long as they do not lead us into sin.
Concerning Luther, I know of no statement by the Pope which lifted his excommunication. In fact, to do something like that would simply be a symbolic action aimed toward strengthening any ties of unity that may already exist between us. Remember the Holy Father's goal is to bring back our separated brethren to the one, true Church. In Germany, in June of 1996, the Pope said many things about Luther but he never lifted the band of excommunication. According to Pope John Paul the Church recognizes that it made mistakes during the 1500's which contributed to the Protestant revolt. Nevertheless, Luther reminded the Church of two very important truths of which it had lost sight. The importance of the Sacred Scriptures and the necessity of personal conversion. But the Pope added that the Church also insists that Luther allowed his passions to carry him far beyond reforming abuses in the Catholic Church. His passion in fact led to a "fracturing of Christianity" in the West that to this day has not healed.
There have been several Popes who have held to heretical ideas. However, they never officially taught these views and indeed they renounced them when informed by orthodox theologians that they were in error. The only time that a Pope can be deposed would either be if he attempted to proclaim a heresy as an ex cathedra statement. This has never happened. Or if a Pope did things that were so damaging to the Church or to Tradition that the Cardinals saw a threat to the very nature of the Church. This has happened in the past when an election has been so debated as to create chaos and disunity throughout the Church.
Again I must say I do not agree with Pope John Paul or the strategy of the Second Vatican Council especially when it comes to the spirit of "ecumenism" and embracing the world. In fact, I find it outrageous and disgusting that Pope John Paul would tolerate the things he does, in what I believe to be his misguided efforts to convert peoples and cultures to Christ. If I were Pope and had been there when they paraded out a topless woman at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to do the reading from Sacred Scripture no less, I would have placed a blanket around her and escorted her away from the lectern. I wouldn't care how much it "offended" the natives. All cultures are not good and there are elements to some cultures which are downright evil. Nevertheless, I do not believe Pope John Paul was attempting to promote scandal or evil by his tolerance. As sad as it may be I believe he really thinks by tolerating such things he can transform even evil into good. I am sure he did not even believe that his tolerance would be as scandalous as it has been. Again this is a perfect example that he is like any other man. He miscalculates, misinterprets and makes mistakes just like the rest of us.
#2. In the second topic, the author maintains that the Church has always condemned all forms of birth prevention, including the Natural Family Planning (NFP). Because NFP withdraws the woman when she would be most inclined (when she is fertile) to marital relations, it is contrary to the natural law. Married couples are suppose to give as little thought as possible to the worries of conception and leave the family planning to God. Can not NFP be used to space the birth of children for the health of the mother?
The following is from the Encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii. It should answer your question. It was published in 1930 and is considered completely orthodox.
"First consideration is due to the offspring (of marital union), which many have the boldness to call the disagreeable burden of matrimony and which they say is to be carefully avoided by married people not through virtuous continence (which Christian law permits in matrimony when both parties consent) but by frustrating the marriage act. Some justify this criminal abuse on the ground that they are weary of the children and wish to gratify their desires without their consequent burden. Others say that they cannot on the one hand remain continent nor on the other can they have children because of the difficulties whether on the part of the mother or on the part of the family circumstances.
But no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious."
"...through Our mouth proclaims anew: Any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the Law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin."
St. Augustine states, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it." (De Conjugal Adult., lib.II,n. 12)
You will notice that the Church has always taught that "deliberate frustration" of the purpose of conjugal relations, or "preventing" conception is both against God's law and against the natural law He established. In other words, it is deliberately frustrating the purpose of sex and direct prevention of birth that are against God's law not "virtuous continence".
"Is it wrong for the couple to abstain from sexual relations? In fact if both persons in the marriage have a mutual consent not to have sexual relations it is perfectly legitimate as long as they have done their duty in regards to the consummation of the marriage. This, of course, is extremely unusual and we should not make an example of the exception, however, it is important to note that a couple is not forced by God or marriage to have sex. The obligation which each party assumes is to render the marital debt upon the other's request, but there is no obligation from the nature of the contract to request relations."
"Is it wrong to restrict intercourse to those times when it is most unlikely conception will follow? Whatever may be the merits of this physiological dispute, it is ethically certain that to confine intercourse to a sterile period is not wrong, because no action intrinsically evil is committed and the intention of avoiding conception is not in itself wrong." (Man as Man, The Science and Art of Ethics by Rev. Thomas Higgins, S.J. 1948)
#3. The author claims that the Novus Ordo Mass is a deliberate counterfeit of the Tridentine Mass. A total of 35 prayers or about 70% of the Traditional Mass has been replaced or discarded in the liturgy of the New Mass. In the 2nd half of the Consecration, the words, "which shall be shed for many" was changed to "which will be shed for all." Does this invalidate the consecration and therefore, the Mass? Is it not true that as long as the 8 words of consecration are unaltered "This is my Body." "This is my Blood" the Mass remains valid regardless of what is done to the rest of the rite?
This is a false controversy. What you have said is correct. All that is necessary for the Consecration to be valid is "This is my Body." And "This is the Chalice of my Blood." For as St. Thomas Aquinas states in the Summa Theologica (Q.78 Art. 3 Pt. III):
"Consequently it must be said that all the aforesaid words belong to the substance of the form; but that by the first words, "This is the chalice of My blood," the change of the wine into the blood is denoted, as explained above (Art.2) in the form for the consecration of the bread;..."
Now anyone can see by just reading the Gospels and St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians that the form of the consecration (The words of institution given by Christ at the last supper) vary from gospel to gospel. In fact, St. Luke and St. Paul do not record the words "pro multis" "for many" at all. The form of the consecration of the wine St. Luke records is: "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." (Lk. 22:20)
St. Paul's differs also: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (1 Cor. 11:25)
Now we know that every one of the forms of consecration described in the Scriptures were all used in various liturgies throughout the world. If not using "for many" or changing it to "for all" would actually invalidate the consecration then even the Apostolic communities under St. Paul and St. Luke were having invalid liturgies which is absurd.
#4. In the final topic the author discusses the Church's dogma, "Outside the Church there is no salvation." He claims (with copious footnotes) that the Church has never officially approved of the concept of baptism of desire and baptism of blood as legitimate substitutions for baptism by water to become a member of the Catholic Church. What about the eternal fate of the catechumen who is martyred before receiving baptism by water? Or is it true, as this man claims, God would perform a miracle, if necessary, to enable a person truly desiring to become a Catholic to have the opportunity of being baptized with water?
First, I would suggest that you go to my Web Site and read my article on "Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus" in my sample issue of The Hammer. It is a more complete explanation of this controversial dogma. Go to http:\\www.roman-catholic.com
There are two important principles that must be kept in mind when dealing with this dogma. 1. "God wills all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of truth." Which means that He will use every opportunity to save men if they desire salvation. 2. God is Omnipotent and is never limited by the very laws He Himself has established. A miracle is proof of this. God can suspend His own laws to do what His infinite mercy desires. One must also keep in mind the distinction between God's ordinary means of salvation which is exclusively the Catholic Church and any extraordinary means He may choose to save someone of good will, a means unknown and unrevealed to us. =