A Patron Saint for Conciliarism?
Thomas A. Droleskey
While teaching a political science course at Nassau Community College in Garden City, Long Island, New York, during the Spring Semester in 1983, I attempted to point out that our contemporary "culture" promotes things that are inimical to the good of souls and thus to the good of all social order. The group of mop-haired dope-heads called The Beatles was mentioned as deserving particular opprobrium for its role in helping to corrupt youth and to spread its message of personal self-indulgence and its popularization of the use of marijuana. One student, now an attorney, objected, saying that if it hadn't been the Beatles promoting these things that some other group would have come along and done the same thing.
"True enough," I told the student. "But what did Our Lord say about Judas?
'The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born.' (Mt. 26:24) That is, even though Judas was only doing what Our Lord knew from all eternity that he was destined to do he was still responsible for his actions. The same is true of the Beatles. Each member of that evil group is responsible for his own actions."
The student was incredulous. I had just attacked cultural icons who have admirers, sad to say, even among traditional Catholics to this day! Above and beyond my criticism of the Beatles, though, the student, whose parents were rather prominent Catholics in a Long Island parish, earnestly asked me the following question: "Who's Judas?"
My response was this: "Perhaps the priests and nuns responsible for your religious education."
The fact that this young student, going on nineteen years old at the time, had never heard of Judas was not shocking to me. Although I was not a traditional Catholic at the time, I was, despite my own sins and failings, a Catholic from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, seeking to advance the good of the Faith as best I knew how for the honor and glory of God and for the good of the souls of my students. I knew full well the problems in the Church in general and in Catholic education in particular. I was not comfortable with the ambiguity and squishiness, as I saw it at the time, of the Second Vatican Council. It was my hope, misplaced, as it turned out, that Pope John Paul II would "correct" the problems of "liturgical abuses" and bad bishops and rotten catechesis. However, I knew that there was warfare being waged against the Faith from within the official structures of the Church. The fact that a young girl did not know about Judas was entirely unsurprising to me.
One of fundamental tools of the warfare being waged against the Faith, which I understand now has been directed from the Vatican itself in the past forty to forty-eight years, has been the introduction of incessant change into the life of practicing Catholics, starting with the synthetic creation of a Mass that was meant to help to "raze the bastions" of Catholicism so as to be more acceptable to Protestants. The liturgical revolutionaries knew that it would be a relatively easy thing to get Catholics, accustomed to incessant and unpredictable liturgical changes, to accept changes in other matters, including the formulation of doctrine itself. All that was considered certain and settled, even by the Church's dogmatic councils, up to that point was rendered uncertain and unsettled. To be sure, the uncertainty began to be propagated in "Catholic" colleges and universities and seminaries in the immediate aftermath of the close of the Second Vatican Council (although Modernism was found in many such institutions well-before 1965). Nevertheless, the person in the pew was softened to accept the novelty of uncertainty as a normal and natural part of Catholic life as a result of the revolutionary changes in the Mass that were imposed in 1969 with the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae. Thus, one of the Modernist's chief goals, that of unsettling the certainty of Catholic doctrine, was achieved in a blitzkrieg that bewildered many a Catholic mind and wound up devastating the vineyard of Our Lord's true Church.
Pope Saint Pius X wrote of this Modernist goal in Pascendi Dominci Gregis, issued on the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 8, 1907:
Dogma is not only able, but ought to evolve and to be changed. This is strongly affirmed by the Modernists, and clearly flows from their principles.
Warning the bishops about the necessity of guarding against the ways in which Modernists propagated their errors, Pope Saint Pius X quoted his predecessor, Pope Leo XIII as follows:
"It is impossible to approve in Catholic publications a style inspired by unsound novelty which seems to deride the piety of the faithful and dwells on the introduction of a new order of Christian life, on new directions of the Church, on new aspirations of the modern soul, on a new social vocation of the clergy, on a new Christian civilization, and many other things of the same kind."
This warning of Pope Leo XIII's, contained in the encyclical letter against Modernism issued by his immediate successor, is the exact opposite of the spirit of Pope John XXIII's Opening Address to the Second Vatican Council in 1962:
In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, we sometimes have to listen, much to our regret, to voices of persons who, though burning with zeal, are not endowed with too much sense of discretion or measure. In these modern times they can see nothing but prevarication and ruin. They say that our era, in comparison with past eras, is getting worse, and they behave as though they had learned nothing from history, which is, none the less, the teacher of life. They behave as though at the time of former Councils everything was a full triumph for the Christian idea and life and for proper religious liberty. We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand.
Popes from Blessed Pius IX through Pius XII, inclusive, warned consistently about the dangers posed by Modernity in the world and its embrace by various and sundry personages in the Church. Pope Saint Pius X gave a name to the embrace of Modernity by Catholics: Modernism: Pope John XXIII, on the other hand, threw "open the doors" of the Church to the world, thus starting the course on to our present day wherein one pope after another eschews dogmatically defined formulas in favor of the Lutheran notion of God's "love," as though there is a necessary conflict between the dogmas given to us by God through the Church and His ineffable love and mercy. This has become a particular theme of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, a disciple, among others, of the late Father Karl Rahner, S.J., and the late Father Hans Urs von Balthasar, who has said that a Protestant syncretist heretic named Roger Schutz had attained "eternal joy" after his murder last year. There is, it appears, in the writing and speeches of our current Holy Father the acceptance of a dichotomy between God's love and the immutable dogmas He has entrusted to His Church for safekeeping and infallible explication (as he noted in his "homily" on May 13, 2005, at the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano, where he said that "Jesus is a Person, not an Idea"). True to the Modernist mind critiqued by Pope Saint Pius X, Pope Benedict XVI believes that there is some necessity of re-evaluating matters that have no relationship to the good of the Church and can only wind up further confusing and bewildering the dwindling number of Catholics who bother to practice the Faith.
As have been noted on this site and elsewhere, for example, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Archbishop William Levada, who had once said that the term Transubstantiation is
“long and difficult term” and that “we don’t use it any more," is examining the longstanding Catholic Tradition concerning Limbo. (See Do NOT Go Forth and Baptize and License to Kill.) The Holy Father's forthcoming first encyclical letter is going to examine, according to Francis Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, something near and dear to the heart of Lutheran theologians, the connection between "agape" and a certain other form of "love" that will not be mentioned here. Suffice it to say that enemies of purity and modesty will use that first encyclical letter to bombard innocent ears will all manner of talk about matters pertaining to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, which Pope Pius XI noted in Divini Illius Magistri are never to be discussed publicly in a classroom setting, certainly not in mixed company in the offering of Holy Mass. This is a necessity for the good of souls in the midst of the emptying of our our pews and in the midst of the doctrinal confusion engendered by the liturgical revolutions of the past fifty years? This is a necessity for the good of souls in the midst of a continuing crisis involving the protection and promotion of perverted priests by perverted bishops, some of whom continue to be appointed and promoted by Pope Benedict XVI? (By the way, folks, shouldn't it tell you something that a man who thinks that Transubstantiation is a "long and difficult" term that "we don't use any more" has the trust of the Vicar of Christ? Just a little something? Maybe?) And this is to say nothing of the continuing exhortations in behalf of the novelties of ecumenism and religious liberty, about which I have written repeatedly and at great length on this site.
Well, even though the report, written by Richard Owen of the London Times, that the Pontifical Committee for Historical Science was considering rehabilitating the reputation of Judas Iscariot has turned out to be a mistranslation of Monsignor Walter Brandmuller's comments on the discovery of an apocryphal"gospel of Judas," do not doubt the fact that there are some Catholics who desire earnestly for there to be such a rehabilitation. Consider the following part from the original Richard Ownen report, which did not depend on a mistranslation of a story in La Stampa:
In scholarly circles, it has long been unfashionable to demonise Judas and Catholics in Britain are likely to welcome Judas’s rehabilitation.
Father Allen Morris, Christian Life and Worship secretary for the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, said: “If Christ died for all — is it possible that Judas too was redeemed through the Master he betrayed?”
Thus, do not doubt the fact that there are many within the official structure of the Church who want the reputation of Judas Iscariot to be rehabilitated. One priest, Monsignor Frank Gaeta of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, has gone so far as to refer to the traitor as "Saint Judas Iscariot. Indeed, as I noted in the original posting of this article, the Holy Father's own mentor. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, believed that everyone is saved, including Judas Iscariot. Thus, it is important to consider that the original report of Richard Owen was rendered eminently credible in light of what von Balthasar, whose influence upon the mind of Pope Benedict XVI is still very strong (look at the desire to "review" the existence of Limbo). Thus, I include in this revision of my original article the comments of Father Regis Scanlon, O.F.M., Cap., in a 1999 article in The New Oxford Review. The Holy Father believes in the error of Universal Salvation, which is why there is no urgency for him to invite Jews or Protestants to convert to the Faith. Does he believe Judas is saved? His mentor did. It is thus important for every serious Catholic to read with care Father Scanlon's magnificent article, "The Inflated Reputation of Hans Urs von Balthasar:"
The theological ideas of Hans Urs von Balthasar, the Swiss Catholic theologian who died in 1988, have captured the imagination of Catholic scholars throughout the Church. Both "conservative" and "progressive" churchmen have hailed him as one of the century's pre-eminent theologians. He has been called one of "the twentieth century's outstanding Catholic thinkers," and compared to Augustine and Aquinas. Clearly, Balthasar's opinions carry considerable weight among Catholics today.
Balthasar's "Hope" For Judas & All Men
Balthasar, in Dare We Hope "That All Men Be Saved"? claimed there was no certainty that anyone is in Hell or ever will be in Hell. He stated that "the Church ... has never said anything about the damnation of any individual. Not even about that of Judas." Thus, he declared, every Christian has the "obligation" to hope that all men are saved, including Judas.
It seems compassionate to desire that all men be saved and to be horrified at the thought of anyone suffering eternal punishment -- even Judas. But this feeling must not cloud the intellect to the point of undermining the Gospel or the natural law and truth itself. The problem with Balthasar's "hope" is that it conceals an implicit doubt about the Church's philosophy of truth and her doctrine on Jesus Christ.
A hope is absurd unless there is the possibility that it will be realized in the future. But, if Balthasar's "hope" would come to fruition and everyone would in fact be saved, what would then be said about the fact that this situation contradicts statements in sacred Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church? If these sources clearly teach that Judas or someone else is in Hell (or will be in Hell), then to hope that everyone will be saved is to hope either that these sources of revelation are in error or that the natural law with its principle of noncontradiction is in error. A hope like this really seems to be a doubt that the natural law and "unchangeable truth" exist and can be known by the Church. It seems to be a doubt about one's faith and the sources of revelation. And if Jesus Christ Himself taught that Judas or anyone else is in Hell (or will be in Hell), then to "hope" for universal salvation is to hope that Jesus made erroneous statements. The most disconcerting feature of Balthasar's hope for universal salvation is that its logic appears to require an assumption of Christ's ignorance and fallibility.
But the question is: Do Scriptures, Tradition, and the Magisterium clearly teach anything about the end of Judas and the possibility of universal salvation? Let's investigate.
The Gospel Of John 17:12
The certainty of Judas's damnation does not primarily rest on Matthew's statement: "It would be better for that man if he had never been born" (Mt. 26:24). Rather, as St. Augustine demonstrated in his Homilies on the Gospel of John, it is John 17:12 that indicates Judas's eternal punishment:
The Son therefore goes on to say: "Those that thou gavest me, I have kept, and none of them is lost, but [i.e., except] the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (Jn. 17:12). The betrayer of Christ was called the son of perdition, as foreordained to perdition, according to t
he Scripture, where it is specially prophesied of him in the 109th psalm" [in some Bibles 108th Psalm] (Tractate cvii, No.7, ch. xvii. 9-13).
When Jesus stated, "that the Scripture might be fulfilled," He was referring to Psalm 109. St. Peter applied Psalm 109:8 to Judas, when he said: "It is written in the Book of Psalms, ... 'May another take his office"' (Acts 1:20). By applying Psalm 109:8 to Judas, Peter also pointed to Judas's damnation, because Psalm 109:6-7 says of the very same person mentioned there: "Set thou the sinner over him: and may the devil stand at his right hand. When he is judged, may he go out condemned and may his prayer be turned to sin." Verse 7, "May his prayer be turned to sin," or "May his plea be in vain," foretells Judas's (the betrayer's) final impenitence. So, John 17:12, Acts 1:20, and Psalm 109:7 together indicate the betrayer's eternal damnation.
St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, also maintained that Judas suffered eternal punishment because he died without final repentance and forgiveness. St. Ambrose in his Concerning Repentance said: "For I suppose that even Judas might through the exceeding mercy of God not have been shut out from forgiveness, if he had expressed his sorrow not before the Jews but before Christ." St. Thomas Aquinas in the Summa Theologica stated: "Thus; as men are ordained to eternal life through the providence of God, it likewise is part of that providence to permit some to fall away from that end; this is called reprobation" (1a, q. 23, art. 3). And in De Veritate St. Thomas said: "Now, in the case of Judas, the abuse of grace was the reason for his reprobation, since he was made reprobate because he died without grace" (vol. 1, q. 6, art. 2). St. Thomas certainly judged that "Judas was reprobated." ("Reprobated" means rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.)
Again, according to St Catherine of Siena, God the Father pointed out Judas's eternal punishment when He explained to Catherine the meaning of the sin against the Holy Spirit. God said:
This is that sin which is never forgiven, now or ever: the refusal, the scorning, of my mercy. For this offends me more than all the other sins they have committed. So the despair of Judas displeased me more and was a greater insult to my Son than his betrayal had been. Therefore, such as these are reproved for this false judgment of considering their sin to be greater than my mercy, and for this they are punished with the demons and tortured eternally with them (No. 37, emphasis added).
Thus, Judas perished not simply because of his part in Jesus' trial, but because of a final act of "despair" or "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" (Mk. 3:29) at the "moment of death," says St. Catherine.
Finally, other saints taught that Judas's perdition was certain. For example, the great scholar St. Thomas More in The Sadness of Christ said: "The place of Scripture which predicts that Judas would perish is in Psalm 109, where the psalmist prophesies in the form of a prayer: 'May his days be few, and may another take over his ministry."' More explained:
the fact that this prophetic utterance applies to Judas was suggested by Christ [Jn. 17:12], was made clear by Judas's suicide, was afterwards made quite explicit by Peter [Acts 1:20], and was fulfilled by all the apostles when Mathias was chosen by lot to take his place [Acts 1:26] and thus another took over his ministry.... He [Christ] has spoken: "Father, I have guarded those whom you gave to me, and none of them has perished except the son of perdition." I think it worthwhile to consider here for a moment how strongly Christ foretold in these words the contrast between the end of Judas and the end of the rest, the ruination of the traitor Judas and the success of the others. For He asserts each future outcome with such certainty that He announces them not as future happenings but as events that have already definitely taken place....
St Thomas More referred to Judas's act as one of "refusing to be saved." He also stated: "Infallibly certain about the fate of the traitor, Christ expresses his future ruin with such certainty that He asserts it as if it had already come to pass."
The Gospel Of Luke 13:23-24
A second scriptural passage that abolishes the possibility of universal salvation, and with it Balthasar's hope that all men be saved, is Luke 13:23-24. Luke states: "But someone said to him, 'Lord, are only a few to be saved?' But he said to them, 'Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able"' (Lk. 13:23-24). Now, "many ... will not be able ... to enter" means that "many" will not be saved.
Jesus' words in Luke 13:23-24 cannot be false. Pius X "condemned" the statement that "Divine inspiration does not so extend to all Sacred Scripture, that it fortifies each and every part of it against all error." (Enchiridion Symbolorum [Denzinger] 30th edition, Nos. 2011, 2065 [a]. Texts from this standard work will be cited as Denz.) And the Second Vatican Council states that "the books of Scripture" "teach" the "truth" of God "without error" (Dei Verbum, No. 11). Thus, there is divine, infallible, or absolute certainty that many will not enter the Kingdom of God.
Balthasar in Dare We Hope admitted that St. Augustine's belief that many go to Hell was clearly held by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, such as "Gregory the Great... Anselm, Bonaventure, and Thomas [Aquinas]," and by Church scholars such as the Venerable Cardinal Newman. Balthasar blamed St. Augustine for misleading the Church about the "numerous inhabitants" of Hell. But in fact it was Jesus, not Augustine, who first said that "many" would be lost (Lk. 13:23-24). Also, Jude 1:7 says that, "Sodom and Gomorrah ... have been made an example, undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." The Council of Quiersy in 853 stated that, "not all will be saved" (Denz. No. 318); the Third Council of Valence in 855 referred to those "who from the beginning of the world even up to the passion of our Lord, have died in their wickedness and have been punished by eternal damnation" (Denz. No. 323); and Pius II in 1459 even condemned the opinion "That all Christians are to be saved" (Denz. No. 717[b]).
Thus, even though the Magisterium has not yet condemned Judas by name or the mere "hope" for universal salvation, the Church is not in doubt about this matter. Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium certify that Judas and others have perished. Consequently, Balthasar's "hope" for universal salvation would necessarily be a "hope" that contradicts Scriptures, Tradition, and Magisterium.
Balthasar's Philosophical Reasons
A look at Hegelian philosophy will help us understand why Balthasar thought that he could contradict Jesus' statement that Judas is "lost" by hoping that Judas is saved. Eighteenth-century philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel claimed that no religious statement or concept is absolutely true. All are false or relative in some way. Only God is absolute truth. Therefore, according to Hegel's understanding, religious statements, concepts, or dogmas can be contradictory and only find their resolution or synthesis in God who is Absolute Truth. Hegel said that every concept contained a "Negative, which it carries within itself." For Hegel this positive-negative opposition within the concept was called the dialectic and it was "a necessary procedure of reason." Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines "dialectic" as "the Hegelian process of change in which a concept or its realization passes over into and is preserved and fulfilled by its opposite." Thus, Hegel maintained "the Necessity of Contradiction" for all thought to develop toward the Absolute, which is God.
Similarly, Balthasar believed that contradiction is a part of truth. As he explained in Word and Revelation, he believed that expressions of' "worldly truth," like "worldly Being," can be "contradictory" and even expressions of scriptural truths can be opposites or "contrary." Balthasar agreed with Hegel that "only God is 'the absolute truth'" and "'all truth is not, negation itself is in God' " (emphasis added). Thus, statements in the Bible are not absolutely true but each is relative and in some way negative or false, and these statements will find their synthesis only when we come to the Father who is absolute truth. But, for now, one cannot have complete confidence even in the words of Christ. Balthasar stated: "The word of Christ, who spoke as no other had spoken, who alone spoke as one having power, is nonetheless an insecure bridge between the wordlessness of the world and the superword of the father" (emphasis added).
Thus, Balthasar argued in Dare We Hope, beside the condemnatory scriptural statements that teach that there are people in Hell, there are also redemptive scriptural statements that "hold out the prospect of universal redemption." He used this example: "God wills that all men be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). Balthasar claimed that these redemptive scriptural statements are "seemingly opposed" to the condemnatory scriptural statements such as "many ... will not be able... to enter." He maintained that, "we neither can nor may bring [them] into synthesis." Since these "contradictory" statements can only be resolved in eternal life, we don't know the outcome. So, for Balthasar, we can still hope that Judas is saved.
But these statements appear contradictory only because Balthasar interpreted God's statements of desire, such as "God wills that all men be saved," as if they were statements of future realities, like "many ... will not be able ... to enter." But, we cannot treat God's statements of desire as if they were statements about future realities. Just as we know that God willed or desired Adam and Eve not to eat of the "fruit of the tree in the middle of the Garden" (Gen. 3:3), so we know for certain that God desires that no one sin. But, Adam and Eve ate of the tree and sinned. Consequently, hoping that all will be saved -- when Scripture says that some are lost -- is like hoping that no one ever sins when we know that Adam and Eve have sinned. The hope is an absurdity.
More importantly, however, Balthasar's philosophy of truth violates the first self-evident principle of the speculative reason (the natural law), which states that the same thing cannot be affirmed and denied at the same time (the principle of noncontradiction). One cannot say that Judas is "lost" and that Judas is "not lost" (saved) at the same time. And to "hope" that Judas is saved when Scripture says that he is already lost is to hope for a contradiction in Scripture and in the Church's teachings. But, this violates the Church's defined teaching that God cannot... ever contradict truth with truth" (Denz. No. 1797), which guarantees that the meaning of Jesus' teachings in the New Testament and the Church's dogmas can never be different but always remain the same (Denz. No.1818).
Let's look at the most probable theological reason why Balthasar would be so bold as to "hope" for universal salvation in flat contradiction to Jesus' words in John 17:12 and Luke 13:24.
The Most Likely Theological Reason
Balthasar did not believe that Jesus' omniscience (or his all-knowing attribute) kept Him from speaking error or functioned to make Jesus' statements infallible. In You Crown the Year With Your Goodness, Balthasar stated:
But is not the Son of God also God? As such, is he not omniscient? Yes, but that does not mean that he wished to share all his divine attributes with his human nature. Here, doubtless, there are mysteries we shall never fully penetrate. But one thing we can say: just as the Son, as God, eternally receives full divinity (and hence full omniscience) from his Father, so he eternally gives himself, all that he has and is, back to the Father in gratitude; it is at his Father's disposal. Thus, in some way, we can understand that, when the Son's eternal "procession" from the Father takes the shape of a "mission" to the world, the Son deposits his divine attributes (without losing them) with the Father in heaven. For we read that he "emptied himself" of his divine form (Phil. 2:27) precisely so that he could be humanly obedient unto death (emphasis added).
Balthasar implies that, though the "Son of God" has "omniscience," His "omniscience" is nonfunctional when He comes to earth on a mission." For Balthasar, when the Son of God "emptied himself" for His mission to the world, He emptied Himself of His divine attribute of "omniscience" "without losing" it. But, how does the divine Son, Jesus Christ, have omniscience and at the same time not have omniscience? Balthasar seems to say in effect that, when the Son of God descended into the womb of Our Lady, He came down with a case of divine amnesia.
So, if the Son of God's divine omniscience was not operative while He was on earth, then He did not know more than any other human being. Consequently, for Balthasar, Jesus (like anyone else) could not know beyond His own human experience, and the infallibility of His eschatological statements about the hereafter cannot be guaranteed.
According to Balthasar, then, Jesus' nonfunctioning divine omniscience would surely have affected His knowledge of the last judgment. Balthasar stated:
"he [Jesus] is strictly ignorant of the hour. "But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father" (Mk. 13:32). This is crucially important; we must take it absolutely literally (emphasis added)."
But, the "hour" of Jesus' final coming is the "hour" of the last judgment, for the scriptural passage that speaks of the judgment of the "sheep" and "goats" begins: "When the Son of Man comes in his glory" (Mt. 25:31-46). If Jesus was "strictly ignorant of the hour" of His final coming, He was ignorant of the last judgment of Judas and others. So, Balthasar implies that Jesus was ignorant and fallible about the last judgment and the final end of Judas and others.
Because Balthasar's hope for universal salvation contradicts Christ's words in John 17:12 and Luke 13:23-24, the validity of Balthasar's hope logically depends upon the possibility of Christ's statements in John 17:12 and Luke 13:24 being erroneous. So, even though Balthasar nowhere explicitly states it, his "hope" is logically based upon his theory that Christ did not speak with omniscience and infallibility.
Balthasar's "Hope" Rested On A Condemned Theory
If one were to accept Balthasar's theory that Jesus was "strictly ignorant of the hour" of His final coming, one could hardly explain how Jesus could describe the events of His final coming in Matthew 24:15-42 ("the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light... they will see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of heaven"). This is what St. Ephrem, the fourth-century Doctor of the Church, pointed out. In his Commentary on the Diatessaron he stated about Jesus: "He described the signs of his coming; how could what he has himself decided be hidden from him?" St. Ephrem said that the first reason why Our Lord did not make the time of His final coming plain, was "so all generations and ages await him eagerly" and "think that he would come again in their own day." St. Ephrem also said, "He has not made it plain for this reason especially, that no one may think that he whose power and dominion rule all numbers and times is ruled by fate and time."
Thus, this opinion, that there was ignorance in Jesus, was already rejected during the fourth-century Arian heresy by Church Fathers such as St. Ephrem (and St. Ambrose). It was officially condemned by Pope Vigilius on May 14, 553, when he taught that "If anyone says that the one Jesus Christ, true Son of God and true Son of Man, was ignorant of future things, or of the day of the last judgment ... let him be anathema." (Denzinger, 29th ed., No. 419).
This error was refuted most thoroughly in A.D. 600 when Pope Gregory I (St. Gregory the Great) rebutted the Monophysite sect known as the "Agnoetae" who also held that Mark 13:32 ("neither the Son, nor the angels know the day and the hour") indicated that Christ was ignorant (all cites in this paragraph are from Denz. No. 248). Pope Gregory taught that Christ knew by means of two natures, and what He did not know "from" His human nature, He knew "from" His divine nature. Thus, Pope Gregory maintained that, while Christ knew "the day and the hour of judgment" in His human nature, He knew this from His divine nature and not from His human nature. He said: "Therefore, that which in [nature] itself He knew, He did not know from that very [nature]." So, Christ knew all things "in His human nature." Pope Gregory stated: "so the omnipotent Son says He does not know the day which He causes not to be known, not because He himself is ignorant of it, but because He does not permit it to be known at all." And, he concluded:
For with what purpose can he who confesses that the Wisdom itself of God is incarnate say that there is anything, which the Wisdom of God does not know? It is written: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... All things were made by him [John 1:13]. If all, without doubt also the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so foolish as to presume to assert that the Word of the Father made that which He does not know? It is written also: Jesus knowing, that the Father gave him all things into his hands [John 13:3]. If all things, surely both the day of judgment and the hour. Who, therefore, is so stupid as to say that the Son has received in His hands that of which He is unaware? (Denz. No. 248.)
Obviously, if the Son received into His hands "all things," including "the day of judgment," surely He also knew who would, and who would not, be saved -- even Judas!
Again, there is only "one Person" in "Christ" and this Person is a divine Person -- namely, "God" (Denz. No. 282-283). We say that the divine Person Jesus Christ knows by means of His two natures. But, while Jesus Christ has a double consciousness, He has only one center or I (ego) of consciousness, which is divine. John Paul II puts it this way:
"There is no gospel text, which indicates that Christ spoke of himself as a human person, even when he frequently referred to himself as "Son of Man." This term is rich with meaning. Under the veil of biblical and messianic expression, it seems to imply that he who applies it to himself belongs to a different and higher order than that of ordinary mortals as far as the reality of his "I" is concerned. It is a term, which bears witness to his intimate awareness of his own divine identity."
Although He has a fully human nature and a fully divine nature, Christ is a divine Person, not a human person. And, whatever we say about the knowledge of the Person of Jesus Christ we say about the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Thus, Jesus Christ had infinite knowledge "in" His human nature, but He had this knowledge from His divine Person.
Jesus could experience suffering in His human nature as something new to His Person, which He had never experienced. And, surely, as Fr. John Harden says, Christ had "sense perception and derive[d] corresponding knowledge from such experience" -- i.e., "experiential knowledge" (The Catholic Catechism). Once more, the Son of God (Jesus Christ) could "conceal" some property manifested by His Person, like the manifestation of His glory or the immensity of His majesty (see Phil. 2:7, "he emptied himself), and this would account for a lack of consolation flowing to His human nature from His beatific vision. But He could not give up something intrinsic to His divine Person or His divine Being. And God's self-knowledge is intrinsic to His divine Being, for St. Thomas Aquinas says that, "God understands Himself through Himself." And, he says: "the act of God's intellect is His substance" and "His act of understanding must be His essence and His existence" (Summa Theologica, 1a, q. 14, art. 2).
It is not surprising, then, that Pius X "condemned" any statement that denies "the infallible knowledge of Jesus Christ" or any statement that denies that Jesus had "knowledge circumscribed by no limit" (Denz. Nos. 2032, 2034, 2065[a]). Nor was it surprising that under Benedict XV the Church taught that "Christ was ignorant of nothing, but from the beginning knew all things in the Word, past, present, and future, or all things that God knows by the knowledge of vision" (Denz. Nos. 2184, 2289). So, Balthasar's "hope" for universal salvation rested logically on a theory of Christ's ignorance and fallibility, which had been often and variously condemned.
Compassion To A Fault
If Jesus suffered from divine amnesia, then there is more in doubt than just the eternal whereabouts of Judas. If Jesus' omniscience and infallibility were nonfunctional, then Christianity itself is in doubt. Mark 13:32 ("neither the Son, nor the angels know the day and the hour") can be explained in harmony with the Fathers and the Tradition of the Church. One should note that when Mark uses the term "Son" he is not referring to Jesus as Son of God, with an emphasis on Jesus' divine nature, but as "Son of Man," with an emphasis on Jesus' human nature (Mk. 8:31, 9:9, 10:33, 13:26). Thus, when Jesus refers to His own knowledge or act of knowing (neither the Son ... knows), this is most probably a reference to the origin of this knowledge, or Jesus' human act of knowing through His human consciousness. In other words, Jesus is saying that "the Son" (of Man) does not "know" the day or the hour of His coming "from" His human nature (although He knew these things from His divine nature). This is in harmony with the Fathers and the popes of the Church who have consistently interpreted Mark 13:32 down through the ages to mean that Jesus knew the day and the hour but chose not to reveal it to mankind. And, if a scriptural passage can be interpreted in harmony with the rest of the Church and Scriptures, the Catholic must accept this interpretation. When Balthasar interpreted Mark 13:32 apart from the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church, especially in flat contradiction to Pope Vigilius"anathema," he sided with Nestorians, Arians, and other heretics.
St. Teresa of Avila stated about a doubt or "thought" against a Church teaching, even a "small truth" of the Church: "just to pause over this thought is already very wrong." Similarly, the Venerable John Henry Newman, in Discourses to Mixed Congregations, stated that, "no one should enter the Church without a firm purpose of taking her word in all matters of doctrine and morals, and that, on the ground of her coming directly from the God of Truth." Moreover, he said about a Catholic who "set out about following a doubt which has occurred to him": "I have not to warn him against losing his faith, he is not merely in danger of losing it, he has lost it; from the nature of the case he has lost it; he fell from grace at the moment when he deliberately entertained and pursued his doubt" (emphasis added). From this perspective the most disquieting feature of Balthasar's "hope" for universal salvation is that it smuggles into the heart of the Catholic a serious doubt about the truth of the Catholic faith under the guise of one of the most beautiful and natural aspects of love, namely, compassion.
Father Scanlon is not, as far as I know, a traditionalist. He is a priest who was working in the Archdiocese of Denver at the time he wrote this article seven years ago for New Oxford Review. He is not John Vennari or Christopher Ferrara or Father Paul Kramer or Michael Matt or me. Father Scanlon's analysis was based on a thorough understanding of Catholic doctrine and on the acceptance of the principle of non-contradiction, that two mutually contradictory statements cannot be simultaneously true. Hans Urs von Balthasar's contradiction of defined dogma, including that in the realm of Christology itself, is incompatible with Catholic truth. It is erroneous. The mere fact that the current Pope is a disciple of this deluded man does not redeem his errors. The fact that the current Pope is a disciple of this deluded man, however, does explain why there is such a rush to "mainstream," if you will, von Balthasar's errors into the very pulse of the Church Militant. Pope Benedict XVI is clearly moving the Church in the direction of embracing the error of Universal Salvation.
Although the Church has never officially placed any particular soul in Hell, we know that souls go there. This is the late Sister Lucia's description of the vision of Hell that she shared with her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, when Our Lady appeared to them for the third time, July 13, 1917:
She opened Her hands once more, as She had done the two previous months. The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. That vision only lasted for a moment, thanks to our good Heavenly Mother, Who at the first apparition had promised to take us to Heaven. Without that, I think that we would have died of terror and fear.
Here, you see, is one of the reasons why Pope Benedict XVI played such a pivotal role in deconstructing the Fatima Message (see Father Paul Kramer, ed., The Devil's Final Battle). Our Lady taught the children of Fatima to say the following prayer (And, folks, let's get this prayer right: Father Nicholas Gruner taught me the correct way to say this prayer two years ago; it will be tough to break the old habit of adding the words "of thy mercy" after "in need." However, the way the prayer appears below is how it was taught by Our Lady to Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia):
O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fire of hell; lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need.
Our Lady's Fatima Message included a Vision of hell. It included a prayer that we be saved from the fire of hell. A man who believes in the error of Universal Salvation cannot admit that there is a necessity to be saved from hell, especially if we "dare hope" that all men will be saved. This is one of the reasons, among others, that the Holy Father played the role he did in 2000 with the alleged "release" of the Third Secret of Fatima. This is why he does not mention Fatima in any of his "peace" messages. Bent on the re-defining of the Catholic Faith along the lines proposed by Karl Rahner and Hans Urs von Balthasar, Pope Benedict XVI is using his pontificate to propagate theological errors to replace "ideas" that he finds troubling. The only trouble for the Holy Father is this: those "ideas" are found in Scripture and have been dogmatically defined by popes and dogmatic councils. They are irreformable.
Saint Alphonsus de Liguori wrote the following in Preparation for Death:
Were hell not eternal, it would not be hell. Torments which continue but a short time, are not a severe punishment. the man who is afflicted with an abscess or cancer submits to the knife or the cautery. The pain is very sharp; but because it is soon over, the torture is not very great. But, should the incision or cauterization last for a week, or for an entire month, how frightful should be his agony! A slight pain in the eye, or in the teeth, when it lasts for a long time, become insupportable. Even a comedy, a musical entertainment, would it continue for an entire day, produces intolerable tediousness. And would it last for a month, or for a year, who could bear it? What then must hell be, where the damned are compelled, not to listen to the same comedy or the same music, nor to submit merely to pains in the eyes, or in the teeth, or to the torture of the knife, or of the red-hot iron, but to suffer all pains and all torments? And for how long? For all eternity. They shall be tortured forever and ever.
This belief in eternity is an article of faith; it is not an opinion, but a truth attested by God in so many places in Holy Scripture. Depart from Me, you accursed, into everlasting fire. And these shall go into everlasting punishment. Who shall suffer eternal punishment in destruction. Every one shall be salted with fire. As salt prevents putrefaction, so the fire of hell, while it tortures the damned, performs the office of salt by preserving their life.
Now, how great would be the folly of the man who, for the sake of a day's amusement, would voluntarily condemn himself to be shut up in a dungeon for twenty or thirty years! If hell lasted but a hundred, or even but two or three years, it would be the extreme folly in a Christian to condemn himself to fire for two or three years for the vile pleasure of a moment. But there is not the question of thirty, of a hundred, or of a hundred thousand years; but there is question of eternity; there is question of suffering forever the same torments--torments which will never end, and will never be mitigated in the slightest degree. The saints then had reason, as long as they were on this earth, and in danger of being lost, to weep and tremble. Blessed Isaias, even while lived in the desert in fasting and penitential rigors wept and said: Ah! unhappy me, who am not as yet free from the danger of losing my soul.
A belief in the error of Universal Salvation is also incompatible with Our Lady's Fatima Message on the grounds of ecumenism. That is, if all men are saved without being in a state of sanctifying grace and without belonging to the Catholic Church, then there is no need for the Church to seek the conversion of men and nations. Everyone is "just fine" where he is. Thus, Our Lord Himself was wrong to have effected the conversion of Saul of Tarsus as he proceeded to Damascus to engage in yet another persecution of the first Catholics. After all, if, as von Balthasar contends, we should not bother ourselves with the words of Our Lord about the eternity of hell, then why should we give any credence to His desire to bring out the conversion of Saul so as to make Him the Apostle to the Gentiles, Saint Paul? Protestantism leads to liberal Protestantism, which leads to agnosticism. Modernism is but a off-shoot of all of the sorry components of the Revolution begotten by Martin Luther and continued on to this day by various of the devils minions in the realm of theology and philosophy. Universal Salvation is simply one of the many aspects of Modernism, fraught with contempt for the very words of Our Lord and the Deposit of Faith He has entrusted solely to the Catholic Church. Our Lady's Fatima Message, therefore, must be suppressed in favor of an error that contradicts itself repeatedly, thus placing the souls for whom Our Lord shed every drop of His Most Precious Blood on Calvary in grave peril of eternal loss.
Alas, we live in a age of apostasy when bishops and priests and consecrated religious show their utter indifference, at best, and their support, at worst for erroneous agendas that are the result of their being steeped very personally into the depths of perversity. Men who are unwilling to give up their sins--that is, to reform their lives in cooperation with sanctifying grace--must perforce believe that all men are saved, that hell, if it even exists, is not for eternity, that in the end, you see, maybe the Mormons are right: that the devil and Our Lord will be reconciled! This is why the Collects of the Novus Ordo Missae do not contain no references to the possibility of eternal punishment that exist in the Collects of the Immemorial Mass of Tradition. The ethos of conciliarism minimizes the horror of our sins, preferring not to discuss at all how they caused Our Lord to suffer unspeakably in His Sacred Humanity on the wood of the Holy Cross. In this sense, therefore, Judas Iscariot is indeed the patron saint of conciliarism. No wonder that talk of his being "rehabilitated" seemed eminently plausible.
Will any bishop stop the rush down the road to Universal Salvation as the rotten fruit of ecumenism? The martyrs stood up in defense of the Faith. Where are the martyrs among our bishops and priests today? It is time for more and more diocesan priests to do what Fathers Stephen Zigrang, Lawrence C. Smith, Paul Sretenovic, and Stephen Somerville have done in recent years: stop being part of the system that propagates these errors and start offering the people the Mass that is the bulwark against such errors as Universal Salvation, doing so without fear of any of the unjust and illicit sanctions that might be imposed upon by bishops who are part of the revolution or too afraid to risk their precious episcopal careers to oppose it openly.
In the midst of all this utter insanity, we keep on our knees before the Blessed Sacrament and beseech Our Lady through Her Most Holy Rosary to bring this Holy Father to consecrate Russia to her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart with all of the world's bishops. Sure, this seems unlikely in the human order of things. Granted. All things are possible with God. Remember, we will be commemorating the conversion of Saint Paul in but ten days. While it is true that God's wrath will not be withheld forever, especially in light of efforts to rehabilitate his own betrayer, it is also true that He can bring about the conversion of those steeped in error. May it be our prayer that the errors of conciliarism are consigned to the same place as its patron saint.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saint Peter, pray for us.
Saint Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Beloved, pray for us.
Saint Andrew, pray for us.
Saint Matthew, pray for us.
Saint Matthias, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Bartholomew, pray for us.
Saint Thomas, pray for us.
Saint James the Greater, pray for us.
Saint James the Lesser, pray for us.
Saint Simon, pray for us.
Saint Philip, pray for us.
Saint Mark, pray for us.
Saint Luke, pray for us.
Saint Barnabas, pray for us.
Saints Titus and Timothy, pray for us.
Saint Augustine, pray for us.
Saint Benedict, pray for us.
Saint Francis of Assisi, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Anthony of Padua, pray for us.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori, pray for us.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us.
Saint Therese Lisieux, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Genoa, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, pray for us.
Saint John Marie Vianney, pray for us.