By Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser
Parts referenced in this treatise surrounded by [*]
Delivered on July 11, 1870
Most eminent presidents, eminent and reverend fathers. I get up to speak today with great sadness and even greater fear. With great sadness, since the treatment of the center of ecclesiastical unity has become the occasion of discord among the reverend fathers, such discord that we are able to say with the prophet: "Seeing this, they will cry out in the streets, and the messengers of peace will weep bitterly" (Is. 33:7). I rise to speak with even greater fear, lest a great cause be ruined by its advocate. Nevertheless, I proceed, counting on divine grace and your good will...
The office of the Apostles consisted in this: they would be the authentic ocular and auricular witnesses to the word of God, witnesses preordained by God and sent by Christ to all nations: and to this office, proper to the Apostles, there was added the corresponding gift of personal infallibility. The bishops succeeded the Apostles not as succeeding to a universal apostolate but rather to an episcopate as rulers of individual churches. And thus it happened that the prerogative of personal infallibility, joined in an extraordinary mode to the apostolate, would not pass on to the bishops. The bishops by power of their office are guardians of the deposit which the Apostles - as witnesses preordained by God - committed to them. It is as Paul says to Timothy: "Hold to the form of sound teaching, which you heard from me in faith and in the love of Christ Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you guard the worthy deposit" (2 Tm. 1:13-14). This same thing is said to all the bishops. In this duty of guarding, communicating and defending the deposit as a treasure of divine truth, the bishops also are helped by the Holy Spirit. But this infallible aid of the Holy Spirit is not present in each of the bishops but rather in the bishops taken together and joined with [their] head, for it was said to all generally and not each individually: "Behold, I am with you all days until the end of time" (Mt. 28:20).
This prerogative granted to St. Peter by the Lord Jesus Christ was supposed to pass to all Peter's successors because the chair of Peter is the center of unity in the Church. But if the Pontiff should fall into an error of faith, the Church would dissolve, deprived of the bond of unity. The bishop of Meaux speaks very well on this point, saying: "If this Roman See could fall and be no longer the See of truth but of error and pestilence, then the Catholic Church herself would not have the bond of a society and would be schismatic and scattered - which in fact is impossible."
LET NO ONE SAY: "Yes, the See of Peter is the center of unity, but from that there only follows the office which the Roman pastor has of confirming and of preserving his brothers in the faith. But the office is one thing, the authority, especially an infallible authority, is something else." I REPLY: how would the Roman Pontiff be able to fulfill this office which was divinely and especially given to him if he did not have a special authority which all others - even the bishops whether dispersed throughout the world or gathered together - should recognize as unassailable?...
We now come to the arguments from tradition, and this is the argument from the public documents of the councils which can be found in the proposed Draft itself. However, before I make a few reflections on these documents, let me say a little bit in a general way about the argument from tradition as it is brought forth to prove the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. Generally speaking the argument comes from tradition but it can be construed in different ways. Let me say it as I will (for now I will omit things for the sake of time); let me say how I would construct this argument from tradition and the way I was led to use this method.
One day when I was praying on my knees at the "confessio" of St. Peter's, I lifted up my eyes and saw the words inscribed there which say: "From this place one faith shines on the world." At these words I recalled all those things which, from the earliest ages of the Christian religion down to our own day, the holy Apostolic See has done and suffered in order to preserve the authority of the faith in the Church of Christ and to repair that authority where it has been harmed. While I was thinking about this, the deep conviction held me that the Holy See would not have been able to fight so strenuously, so constantly and so successfully for the truth unless it had always been persuaded of the gift of inerrancy, promised, in the person of Peter, to Peter's successors, and unless the Church had offered its assent to this conviction of the Holy See. Thus, most reverend and eminent fathers, the traditional argument which I want to present to you. As I have already said, I now abstain from proposing it. In order to strengthen the first part of this argument, I read again and again the genuine epistles of the Roman Pontiffs as edited by Coustantio and by Andrea Thiel, his recent continuator. As often as I read them and the more I considered them, the more did I become convinced that the Roman Pontiffs, as they descended into the arena as witnesses, doctors and judges of the universal Church to fight for the Christian truth, were incapable of erring, through the power of a divine promise. Don't let anyone say that the Roman Pontiffs, commending the dignity of their own See, speaking, that is, on their own behalf, should not be believed. For if the testimony of the Roman Pontiffs is weakened for that reason [viz., because they speak on their own behalf], then indeed the entire ecclesiastical hierarchy is called into question: the authority of the teaching Church is not able to be proved except through the teaching Church.
As far as the second part of the traditional argument is concerned, viz., the assent of the Church which is offered to the faith of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the gift of Inerrancy of their See, the Church has well manifested this assent indirectly (i.e., by reason of its mode of acting) as well as directly and by explicit words. Passing over in silence the explicit testimonies by which the holy Fathers and the councils have manifested their assent, I ought to spend a little time on the indirect testimony which is drawn from the Church's mode of acting, since doing so will offer me the opportunity of removing some of the difficulties which have been raised by some of the reverend fathers. This indirect testimony rises from the rule of faith which the most ancient Fathers have handed down...
I now come to the second part of our proposed chapter, that is, to the definition of papal infallibility itself. This is contained in the second part of chapter four. In the general relatio on this second part, it seems to me that two things are necessary: 1. to determine accurately the state of the question, and, 2. to illustrate the formula of the definition by a brief commentary. First of all, therefore, the state of the question.
When we attempt a more accurate determination of the state of the question, we first come upon the words which have already so many times been ordered into exile from this hall, but which have not yet gone into exile. Those words are: infallibility which is personal, separate, and absolute. In reality the question hinges on these words. Let us see, therefore, as briefly as possible, what the sense of these words is.
In what sense can the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff be said to be personal? It is said to be personal in order to exclude in this way a distinction between the Roman Pontiff and the Roman Church. Indeed, infallibility is said to be personal in order thereby to exclude a distinction between the See and the one who holds the See. Since this distinction did not acquire any patrons in the general congregations, I shall refrain from saying anything about it. Therefore, having rejected the distinction between the Roman Church and the Roman Pontiff, between the See and the possessor of the See, that is, between the universal series and the individual Roman Pontiffs succeeding each other in this series, we defend the personal infallibility of the Roman Pontiff inasmuch as this prerogative belongs, by the promise of Christ, to each and every legitimate successor of Peter in his chair.
Having said this, the notion of papal infallibility is not yet sufficiently defined. The personal infallibility of the Pope must be more accurately defined in itself in the following way: it does not belong to the Roman Pontiff inasmuch as he is a private person, nor even inasmuch as he is a private teacher, since, as such, he is equal with all other private teachers and, as Cajetan wisely noted, equal does not have power over equal, not such power as the Roman Pontiff exercises over the Church Universal. Hence we do not speak about personal infallibility, although we do defend the infallibility of the person of the Roman Pontiff, not as an individual person but as the person of the Roman Pontiff or a public person, that is, as head of the Church in his relation to the Church Universal. Indeed it should not be said that the Pontiff is infallible simply because of the authority of the papacy but rather inasmuch as he is certainly and undoubtedly subject to the direction of divine assistance. By the authority of the papacy, the Pontiff is always the supreme judge in matters of faith and morals, and the father and teacher of all Christians. But the divine assistance promised to him, by which he cannot err, he only enjoys as such when he really and actually exercises his duty as supreme judge and universal teacher of the Church in disputes about the Faith. Thus, the sentence "The Roman Pontiff is infallible" should not be treated as false, since Christ promised that infallibility to the person of Peter and his successors, but it is incomplete since the Pope is only infallible when, by a solemn judgment, he defines a matter of faith and morals for the Church universal.
In what sense can the infallibility of the Pope be said to be "separate"? It is able to be called "separate," or rather distinct because it rests on a special promise of Christ and therefore on a special assistance of the Holy Spirit, which assistance is not one and the same with that which the whole body of the teaching Church enjoys when united with its head. For since Peter and his successor are the center of ecclesiastical unity, whose task it is to preserve the Church in a unity of faith and charity and to repair the Church when disturbed, his condition and his relation to the Church are completely special; and to this special and distinct condition corresponds a special and distinct privilege. Therefore, in this sense there belongs to the Roman Pontiff a separate infallibility. But in saying this we do not separate the Pontiff from his ordained union with the Church. For the Pope is only infallible when, exercising his function as teacher of all Christians and therefore representing the whole Church, he judges and defines what must be believed or rejected by all. He is no more able to be separated from the universal Church than the foundation from the building it is destined to support. Indeed we do not separate the Pope, defining, from the cooperation and consent of the Church, at least in the sense that we do not exclude this cooperation and this consent of the Church. This is clear from the purpose for which this prerogative has been divinely granted.
The purpose of this prerogative is the preservation of truth in the Church. The special exercise of this prerogative occurs when there arise somewhere in the Church scandals against the faith, i.e., dissensions and heresies which the bishops of the individual churches or even gathered together in provincial council are unable to repress so that they are forced to appeal to the Apostolic See regarding the case, or when the bishops themselves are infected by the sad stain of error. And thereby we do not exclude the cooperation of the Church because the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff does not come to him in the manner of inspiration or of revelation but through a divine assistance. Therefore the Pope, by reason of his office and the gravity of the matter, is held to use the means suitable for properly discerning and aptly enunciating the truth. These means are councils, or the advice of the bishops, cardinals, theologians, etc. Indeed, the means are diverse according to the diversity of situations, and we should piously believe that, in the divine assistance promised to Peter and his successors by Christ, there is simultaneously contained a promise about the means which are necessary and suitable to make an infallible pontifical judgment.
Finally we do not separate the Pope, even minimally, from the consent of the Church, as long as that consent is not laid down as a condition which is either antecedent or consequent. [*]We are not able to separate the Pope from the consent of the Church because this consent is never able to be lacking to him.[*] Indeed, since we believe that the Pope is infallible through the divine assistance, by that very fact we also believe that the assent of the Church will not be lacking to his definitions since it is not able to happen that the body of bishops be separated from its head, and since the Church universal is not able to fail. For it is impossible that general obscurity be spread in respect to the more important truths which touch upon religion, as the Synod of Pistoia held.
Note well. It is asked in what sense the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff is "absolute." I reply and openly admit: in no sense is pontifical infallibility absolute, because absolute infallibility belongs to God alone, who is the first and essential truth and who is never able to deceive or be deceived. All other infallibility, as communicated for a specific purpose, has its limits and its conditions under which it is considered to be present. The same is valid in reference to the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff. For this infallibility is bound by certain limits and conditions. What those conditions may be should be deduced not "a priori" but from the very promise or manifestation of the will of Christ. Now what follows from the promise of Christ, made to Peter and his successors, as far as these conditions are concerned? He promised Peter the gift of inerrancy in Peter's relation to the Universal Church: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it ..." (Mt. 16:18). "Feed my lambs, feed my sheep" (Jn. 21:13-17). Peter, placed outside this relation to the universal Church, does not enjoy in his successors this charism of truth which comes from that certain promise of Christ. Therefore, in reality, the infallibility of the Roman Pontiff is restricted by reason "of the subject," that is when the Pope, constituted in the chair of Peter, the center of the Church, speaks as universal teacher and supreme judge: it is restricted by reason of the "object," i.e., when treating of matters of faith and morals; and by reason of the "act" itself, i.e., when the Pope defines what must be believed or rejected by all the faithful. Nevertheless, some of the most reverend fathers, not content with these conditions, go farther and even want to put into this constitution conditions which are found in different ways in different theological treatises and which concern the good faith and diligence of the Pontiff in searching out and enunciating the truth. However, these things, since they concern the conscience of the Pontiff rather than his relation [to the Church], must be considered as touching on the moral order rather than the dogmatic order. For with great care our Lord Jesus Christ willed that the charism of truth depend not on the conscience of the Pontiff, which is private - even most private - to each person, and known to God alone, but rather on the public relation of the Pontiff to the universal Church. If it were otherwise, this gift of infallibility would not be an effective means for preserving and repairing the unity of the Church. But in no way, therefore, should it be feared that the universal Church could be led into error about faith through the bad faith and negligence of the Pontiff. For the protection of Christ and the divine assistance promised to the successors of Peter is a cause so efficacious that the judgment of the supreme Pontiff would be impeded if it were to be erroneous and destructive of the Church; or, if in fact the Pontiff really arrives at a definition, it will truly stand infallibly.
[*] BUT SOME WILL PERSIST AND SAY: there remains, therefore, the duty of the Pontiff - indeed most grave in its kind - of adhering to the means apt for discerning the truth, and, although this matter is not strictly dogmatic, it is, nevertheless, intimately connected with dogma. For we define: the dogmatic judgments of the Roman Pontiff are infallible. Therefore let us also define the form to be used by the Pontiff in such a judgment. It seems to me that this was the mind of some of the most reverend fathers as they spoke from this podium. But, most eminent and reverend fathers, THIS PROPOSAL SIMPLY CANNOT BE ACCEPTED because we are not dealing with something new here. Already thousands and thousands of dogmatic judgments have gone forth from the Apostolic See; where is the law which proscribes the form to be observed in such judgments?
Perhaps someone will say: if we don't have a law, let us make one. But let us not do this lest we run up against that already condemned law which said that the council was above the Pope. Furthermore, of what use would be such a law? Would it not be completely useless, since it would never be able to be verified by the faithful and the bishops scattered throughout the world? Even more, it would be a very dangerous thing since it would offer the opportunity for innumerable foolish objections and anxieties.[*] Therefore, let Peter gird himself according to the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, since Peter does not grow old while the world grows old but rather renews his powers like the eagle...
Indeed it cannot be denied that, in the relation
of Peter to the Church, to which Christ willed that the infallibility of
Peter be joined, there is contained a special relation of Peter to the
Apostles and therefore also to the bishops, since Christ said to Peter:
"I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail, and you, once turned,
confirm your brothers" (Lk. 22:32). This, therefore, is the relation
of the Pontiff to the bishops which is contained in the promise
of Christ. If these words of Christ are to have their necessary force, then it seems to me that one should conclude that the brothers, that is, the bishops, in order that they be firm in the faith, need the aid and advice of Peter and his successors, and not vice versa...
A figure of speech is not an argument, or, as
is commonly said, every analogy limps. And that this
comparison, applied in this way, really limps, can be shown by the following reason. Are not the laity, among whom there are very many who are outstanding in knowledge and piety, and, even more, are not the priests who exercise the duty of teaching their parishioners, are not they all members of the Church? Who would doubt it? Therefore, should these also help the Pope by their advice and aid when he makes dogmatic judgments? By no means. And why not? Is it not because they do not belong to the Church teaching? All right, but at the same time it is evident that the analogy about the head and members limps. But now it is asked whether the bishops also - although they are constituted by God as witnesses, teachers and judges of the Christian faith - do not relate to the Pope as disciples to teacher, when he is defining for the whole Church and exercising his duty as universal teacher. Such is the case. For this is what the words of Christ and the words "supreme judge," "universal doctor," and "pastor of the whole flock of Christ" signify. So, on that point, too, the adduced comparison limps, and the consequence about the necessity of the advice of the bishops falls...
Furthermore - and this is to be noted well - everyone knows that this rule about the consent of the Churches in their present preaching is valid only in its positive sense and, by no means, in its negative sense. This means that everything which the Universal Church, consenting to, receives and venerates in its present preaching as revealed is certainly true and Catholic [doctrine]. But, what happens if disagreements arise among the particular churches and are followed by controversies about the faith? Then, according to Vincent of Lerins, one must recur to the consent of antiquity, that is, to Scripture and the holy Fathers; and, from the consent of antiquity, differences in present preaching are to be resolved...
[W]hoever contends that the Pope, either for his information or for an infallible judgment about faith and morals, totally depends on the manifest consent of the bishops or on their aid has nothing left to do than to establish that false principle which says that all dogmatic judgments of the Roman Pontiff are weak and reformable in and of themselves unless the consent of the Church accrues to them. But such an outlook is either completely arbitrary or subversive of all papal infallibility. It is arbitrary if it requires the assent of a greater or lesser part of the bishops. Because, who will decide what number of them is sufficient? Who will make a choice since, in this respect, the bishops are completely equal among themselves and the assent of some cannot be prejudicial to the assent and judgment of others? The arbitrary character of this outlook is seen especially when one is dealing with subsequent assent, either tacit or expressed. History is a witness to what anxieties, commotions and scandals come forth. But, wait, there is more. This system or outlook is completely subversive of all papal infallibility if the consent of the whole Church is required by it. For then there would exist in reality only one infallibility, that which resides in the whole body of the teaching Church. But in that case, the decrees of the Roman Pontiff can and should be reformed by a general council inasmuch as, in the meantime, the assent of the Church would not be so manifest that it could not be denied. And lest we fall again into the infallibility of the Pontiff decreeing by himself alone, the Pope would not be able to confirm any but those decrees of a council which were pleasing to a majority of the bishops or rather to the unanimity of the bishops. But what if the bishops did not agree among themselves? It would be the end of judgment in the Church, it would be the death knell of the Church which, according to the Apostle, should be the column and foundation of truth.
Now before I end this general relatio, I should respond to the most grave objection which has been made from this podium, viz. that we wish to make the extreme opinion of a certain school of theology a dogma of Catholic faith. Indeed this is a very grave objection, and, when I heard it from the mouth of an outstanding and most esteemed speaker, I hung my head sadly and pondered well before speaking. Good God, have you so confused our minds and our tongues that we are misrepresented as promoting the elevation of the extreme opinion of a certain school to the dignity of dogma, and is Bellarmine brought forth as the author of the fourth proposition of the Declaration of the French Clergy? For, if I may begin from the last point, what is the difference between the assertion which the reverend speaker attributes to Bellarmine, viz., "The Pontiff is not able to define anything infallibly without the other bishops and without the cooperation of the Church," and that well-known 4th article which says: "in questions of faith the judgment of the supreme Pontiff is not irreformable unless the consent of the Church accrues to it"? In reality there is hardly to be found any difference unless someone wants to call the disagreement of the bishops the cooperation of the Church so that a dogmatic definition would be infallible, even though the bishops dissent, but as long as they had been consulted beforehand. These things are said about the opinion of Bellarmine. As far as the doctrine set forth in the Draft goes, the Deputation is unjustly accused of wanting to raise an extreme opinion, viz., that of Albert Pighius, to the dignity of a dogma. For the opinion of Albert Pighius, which Bellarmine indeed calls pious and probable, was that the Pope, as an individual person or a private teacher, was able to err from a type of ignorance but was never able to fall into heresy or teach heresy. To say nothing of the other points, let me say that this is clear from the very words of Bellarmine, both in the citation made by the reverend speaker and also from Bellarmine himself who, in book 4, chapter VI, pronounces on the opinion of Pighius in the following words: "It can be believed probably and piously that the supreme Pontiff is not only not able to err as Pontiff but that even as a particular person he is not able to be heretical, by pertinaciously believing something contrary to the faith." From this, it appears that the doctrine in the proposed chapter is not that of Albert Pighius or the extreme opinion of any school, but rather that it is one and the same which Bellarmine teaches in the place cited by the reverend speaker and which Bellarmine adduces in the fourth place and calls most certain and assured, or rather, correcting himself, the most common and certain opinion.
©2003, Appendix D was edited by I. Shawn McElhinney. It is a
compilation of texts from a speech presented by Bishop Vincent Ferrer Gasser
of Brixen to the Fathers of the First Vatican Council. (On how the proposed
dogma of papal infallibility was to be properly understood.) This text
may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be
uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise,
without express written permission from the editor.
(Dr. Art Sippo on Ecumenism)
One of the sad corollaries of the divisions -- racial, social, political, economic, cultural and religious -- among all the people of the world is the suspicion that respect for the heartfelt beliefs of others is necessarily a betrayal of our own position. In the religious realm, many people see respect for the religious beliefs of others as disrespect to God. The systematic intolerance in the OT towards paganism and idolatry has been used as an excuse for continuing an attitude of intolerance even today.
More recent Biblical studies have shown that the intolerance shown towards the false religions in the environs of Israel were attempts to keep Israel "pure" as a preparation for the coming of Christ. Many people in the OT who did not become Jews were thought of very highly by the biblical authors. Nebuchadnessar is seen positively in Daniel. Cyrus the Persian is actually called "messiah" (i.e., Isa 45:1 - the Lord's anointed.) The words of Ezekiel are worth repeating here:
1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman; 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people; 4 then if any one who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes, and takes any one of them; that man is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand. 7 "So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but you will have saved your life. 10 "And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: `Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?' 11 Say to them, As I live, says the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel? 12 And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins. 13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die. 14 Again, though I say to the wicked, `You shall surely die,' yet if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, 15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right, he shall surely live. 17 "Yet your people say, `The way of the Lord is not just'; when it is their own way that is not just. 18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall die for it. 19 And when the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does what is lawful and right, he shall live by it. 20 Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways."The NT has several more references of interest. The Magi were very likely Zoroastrians. Jesus himself went out of his way to say that Samaritans could be good, Publicans could be justified and that a Roman centurion could have more faith than any other man in Israel. Then there are the words of St. Peter at the house of Cornelius that for some reason no one wants to remember:
10:34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."We Christians of ALL denominations have constructed vast theologies to justify our vilification of the "outsider" and to make it appear that God only favors us and the people who think as we do. In reality, Christ came not to save the righteous, but sinners. By definition, that means all men. When there was dissension among his disciples about the extent of the franchise of the Gospel this is what Jesus said:
38 John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us." 39 But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him; for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me. 40 For he that is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward. 42 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.The NT makes this clear elsewhere as well:
1 Timothy 2:
1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. 3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.
11 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, 12 training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, 13 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
9 The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one is saved apart from him. The way we are joined to him is by incorporation as "members" (more correctly "organs") in his Mystical Body, the Church. If the good Samaritan could be held up to us by Christ as an example for right conduct, he must have been "saved" even though he was a Samaritan, not either a Jew or a Christian.
Because of our fallen nature, we know that God is far more compassionate than we are. When we try to preserve the dignity of God we forget that after the humiliation of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion, God has no dignity left to defend. As St. Paul said in Phillipians:
4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.We do not need to defend God's dignity. He has already given that up for us and, frankly, he can defend himself if need be. What we need to defend is the integrity of his Word and his good will towards all men. We need to witness to this in our own lives by how we live and in how we treat other people. To do that we do not need triumphalism, intolerance, or a condescending attitude towards our fellow man. After all, what would men have been without the great religious leaders like Buddha, Mohammed, or Zoroaster? Hasn't Hinduism had a positive impact on life in India despite all of its deficiencies? Hasn't the Church made good use of the Sibyls, Aristotle, Plato, Plotinus, Cicero, and other pagans? Can we not respect what is good in other religions and recognize the prevenient grace of God in them as a preparation for the Gospel? Hasn't the Catholic Church already done that?
Whatever Catholics may have done in the past with regard to encountering other religions, there are alternative ways of showing the love that Christ has shown towards sinful man without always having a chip on our shoulder and being ready to argue. We have an obligation to evangelize the world and to preach Christ and him crucified in the hopes of converting people to the truth. But we don't need to convert everyone to our way of thinking. We must also help the world come to know Christ through us so that they "will not be quick to speak evil" of him. For some people, by the grace of God, that may be as far as they will be able to go in this life. Bearing witness to Christ is not a matter of debating fine points of doctrine, but of practicing what we preach and preaching what we practice. And most importantly, of showing to other people the same love and acceptance that God has shown to us. It is no accident that the greatest public outpouring of love towards a Catholic in this century occurred when the nation of India gave Mother Teresa a state funeral. Is it possible that her legacy will bear fruit in the future? It is far more likely than those "missionaries" whose major theme is the antithetical rejection of the cultural and religious legacy of India.
Our Lord, as always, said it best:
14 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.The rest we must leave in God's hands.
©2000, Appendix E was written by Dr. Art Sippo and used with
permission. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading,
but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically
or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
(Writings - I. Shawn McElhinney)
This section was last revised on January 14, 2004
I have listed these essays in order of their release with the most recently released works being closest to the top. Of the pieces I have written or had a hand in writing, there are at least nine essays not on this list. Among the ones not on this list which come immediately to mind are (i) three essay extractions from my treatise (ii) one extraction from the Christian Unity essay. There is also (iii) one e-zine article from 2001 and (iv) two of the essays I cowrote in 2001 with Pete Vere. And finally, (v) the two essays I cowrote with Pete Vere for The Catholic Answer in 2003. (One of which was run in the September-October 2003 issue and the other was run in the January-February 2004 issue.)
The 'Tradition is Opposed to Novelty' Canard:
This essay is a detailed response to an article written for The Remant by David Palm advancing the theory that "Tradition rejects novelty." The question of whether or not this theory is a viable one or not is the subject of this essay. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/dpalm.html
On the Intricacies of Dialogue - A Commentary:
This essay is in the form of a commentary on the divers and intricate elements that go into a proper understanding of -and utilization of- the dialogue in evangelization. In light of the numerous ways in which this term has been utilized in recent years -some properly and others improperly so- it seemed appropriate to deal with this subject from the standpoint of how the Magisterium of the Catholic Church envisions the application of the term. This piece is unlike any other I have done before. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/dialogue.html
Squelching Fr. Gruner's Squawking Squire:
The essay Pete and I coauthored for The Wanderer on Fr. Nicholas Gruner caused apparently no small stirring up of a hornets nest amongst Gruner disciples - including one particular prevaricator who sought to counter that short piece with an avalanche of verbiage which was published in The Remnant. This essay comprises my response in detail to two of the key sections of the piece. (Along with a third theme of the piece which is covered in a more generalized manner.) The intention of this essay is not only to confute those prevarications but also to highlight the disconnect of these kinds of self-styled 'traditionalists' from the Catholic spiritual tradition but with an approach I have seldom utilized in depth previously. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/squire.html
Yes Virginia, Fr. Nicholas is Suspended:
This piece was written in early 2003 and ran in the March 6, 2003 edition of The Wanderer. Though I made some contributions to the work in material and structure, this was primarily Pete Vere's essay. http://www.catholic-legate.com/tribunal/gruner2.html
Why We are 'Traditionalists' Properly So-Called:
The following template with only a few minor adjustments is identical to the essay of the same name which was published in the December 6, 2001 edition of The Wanderer as the lead editorial. This was originally part of a larger piece which I wrote in November of 2001 which was subsequently lost. (That piece was edited for periodical production by Pete Vere JCL -who also added a few segues to the piece- into what is with minor adjustments what you will find here.) http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/traditionalists.html
An Open Letter to A Friend:
This was written in September of 2002 to a friend who identifies himself as a 'traditionalist'. It is an exhortation for that individual to turn from their state of disobedience and objectively schismatic state and return to the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/albert.html
'Mr Critic' and Salvation Outside the Catholic Church:
This piece is in part a sequel to the first critique of a similar title further down on this list. It is essentially another demonstration of the key theological misunderstandings of a prominent Reformed critic of the Catholic Church. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/critic2.html
The Counter-Syllabus Canard:
This essay is a point by point confutation of the assertion that the Syllabus of Errors has been contradicted in any of its proposition by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church either at or since Vatican II. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/syllabus.html
Spiritual Malpractice II - The Theological Troubles of Dr. Svendsen:
This essay is sequel to the first essay on this theme. However, this piece much more so then the first essay reveals in meticulous detail the theological fallacies of someone who claims to be accredited in the area of theology. To say that I question the quality of his theological formation after this one would be among the understatements of the past ten years but the reader can draw their own conclusions. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/svendsen2.html
A Case Study in Modern Day Donatism:
This essay is an response to a letter sent to Cardinal Dario Castrillion Hoyos by Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX. (Cardinal Hoyos' position is that of Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy as well as President of the Ecclesia Dei commission.) The SSPX's parallels to ancient schismatics along with the addressing of many fundamentally erroneous perceptions of Bishop Fellay are the themes dealt with in this essay. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/donatism.html
Distinctions of Outlook:
This essay is an examination of Fr. Chad Ripperger's discourse on "extrinsic tradition" with certain philosophical problems (along with key historical/logical shortcomings) to the work outlined in reasonable detail. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/distinctions.html
Confusing Culture With 'Tradition':
This essay was coauthored with 'Matt1618' and deals with the subject
of communion in the hand and the revisionist history surrounding this practice
which is employed by both its supporters and its opponents.
Christian Unity and the Role of Authority:
This essay defends the Pauline Liturgy (aka "Novus Ordo") as a legitimate restoration. There was (and is) no intention made with this piece to endorse liturgical abuses nor imply that the rite is above further corrections to put it more into accordance with the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium. (Though my views on this liturgy are more positive now than they were at the time this piece was composed.) This was initially a stand alone essay; however it was later seen as expedient to revise the work and incorporate it into a larger project as an Appendix section. However, it still retains a value apart from the project in which it was made a part of. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/appendixa.html
The 'Tinkling Cymbal' of 'Mr. Critic':
This essay more or less addresses the misrepresentations and uncharitable accusations of a well-known Reformed apologist which were made against a Catholic writer whom I had (and have) good thoughts of. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/critic.html
Justification By Faith Working in Love:
This essay is a look at Justification through the words of Sacred Scripture. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/justif.html
On the Real Presence:
This essay is a biblical, historical, and grammatical examination of
the doctrine of the Real Presence. http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/realpresence.html
©2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, These writings were composed
by I. Shawn McElhinney except where otherwise noted. The texts may be downloaded
or printed out for private reading, but they may not be uploaded to another
Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without the express
written permission of the author.