Parts Three and Four of Seven Parts
Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D.
[Editor's foreword: Although those who have been convinced that the distortion and misrepresentation of Catholic teaching on the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus made famous by the late Father Leonard Feeney is correct--and that all who disagree with it are execrable "heretics" who will be cast into Hell immediately upon their deaths, the truth is otherwise. Father Martin Stepanich, O.F.M., S.T.D., has been kind enough send me photocopies of seven articles that he wrote on the authentic Catholic teaching on the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. These articles appeared in The Remnant between November 3, 1973, and June 7, 1974. Those possessed of the false interpretation of the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus made the same arguments then, with the same demonic fury and pride, that are being made today by their successors.
[It is, therefore, with great joy that I present parts three and four of this series of articles for those who are open to learning the truth of Catholic teaching, and I thank Father Martin for his kindness in forwarding these articles to me.]
Part III: That "Pretty Preposterous" Salvation Article, published on January 1, 1974
We find it necessary to publish the protest letter of a quick-on-the-trigger reader against the first part of the "Outside the Church There Is No Salvation" article that appeared in the Nov. 3, 1973, Remnant, in order to expose the confused and impossible mentality of those who, in total and ignorant blindness and contrary to all sound reason, choose wilfully to adhere to what is a heretical interpretation of the Church's doctrine on salvation outside visible membership in the True fold.
As was to be expected, there was another, just as wild and illogical protest to the second part of our "Salvation" article, which appeared in the Nov. 15, 1973, Remnant, but there is no need to put on display more than same of this kind of arrogant nonsense.
The first protest letter, then, of one whom we will call Mrs. P. P. (for "pretty preposterous"), reads as follows:
Dear and Rev. Father--
Your article in the current Remnant (11-3-73) was pretty preposterous, to say the least.
From the enclosed as printed in the October 1973--hereabouts, it doesn't seem to be that dear Father Feeney is yielding an inch--even if as you say he is mellowing.
We will all mellow when we get in our 70s--let us hope we've as fine as grasp of truth and the Church Militant as Father Feeney has always had.
Meanwhile, if you article and Omlor's (Robber Church No. 3) final Interdum is the best the opposition can put out, then I'll take Fr. Feeney's sterling promulgation of the Church's teachings before the Liberal Modernists got the upper hand and used what they said were the words of Pius IX and XII to introduce the exception to No Salvation Outside the Church in the idea of invincible ignorance!
Just as today they are "using" and abusing His Holiness by attributing to him the necessity of the Masonic Novus Ordo to replace the True Mass of St. Pius V.
Be ye not deceived, nor hasten to deceive others. In God's good time, Fr. Feeney will be vindicated just as Alphonsus Liguori, Joan of Arc, Louis de Montfort and others were after living and dying in episcopal disfavor.
Gratefully(?) in Our Savior, His Blessed Mother, and His Vicar on Earth, Paul VI.
Our letter-writer of instant protest against facts, who could not even wait for the second part of our article to appear, is obviously beyond being convinced of the correct Catholic doctrine of salvation, and she has made it clear in both her letters that she does not want to be convinced of it. She does not make the slightest intelligent attempt to disprove, with documented evidence or any kind of sound reasoning, the facts brought out in either the Nov. 3rd or Nov. 15 parts of the "Salvation" article, and she knows all too well that these facts cannot be disproven, and especially by one who is mentally in no way equipped to do so.
Mrs. P. P. begins with a a quick and disdainful blurting out of the words "pretty preposterous", and then makes a hurried get-away from the unwanted facts presented in the article in question, losing herself in a mass of odds and ends that she imagines build up can incontrovertible case or orthodoxy for her.
Of these odds and ends, there is, first, a hasty recourse to the "enclosed" evidence (which we will get to in a minute) that Fr. Feeney has not yielded an inch--apparently forgetting that this is precisely what was indicated in the article. As for the diversionary bit about "mellowing", we must let Mrs. P. P. know that it was a certain prestigious group of Feeneyites themselves, not we, who had said that they had mellowed.
Patrick Henry Omlor is unjustifiably trotted out for a quick whack for his "crime" of not accepting the Feeney heresy. And then the "liberal modernists" are dragged into the picture, where they do not belong. They are NOT the ones who have attributed to Popes Pius IX and Pius XII the words quoted in our Nov. 3rd article, nor would they, any ore than Mrs. P. P., ever be interested in quoting the Popes correctly when it would hurt their own heretical cause. They ("liberal modernists") are not interested in the correct Catholic interpretation of the Dogma of salvation--and neither are the Feeneyites, especially not the incurably opinionated Mrs. Mrs. P. P., who obviously has the mind and tongue of a "liberal modernist", though using her "talent" in another area.
Mrs. P. P. pulls off the old liberal trick of trying to discredit the source of the papal statements that she refuses to accept. That is why Pope Pius IX and XII are not even allowed by her to say what they really said in their encyclicals, nor is this liberal modernist woman interested in checking with the encyclicals in question to find out if they actually say what we attributed to them in our Nov. 3rd article. Instead, she prefers to dream up something about how certain people are tying to make an "exception" to the salvation Dogma, and she, being invincible in her ignorance, denies the very notion of "invincible ignorance" as it was always been understood by the Church and as employed by Pope Pius IX.
And yet, in her second letter, this liberal dreamer has the cheek to assert that the expression "invincible ignorance" is a "modernist expression"--which means that the regards Pope Pius IX a modernist. She also asserts that "Baptism of Desire" is a modernist expression, and this means that, among others, St. Thomas Aquinas of the 23th century is a modernist, for he uses that expression and expounds the doctrine pertaining to it in his Summa Theologica (Part III, Q. 68, Art. 3). With all her "talent" for fabrications, Mrs. P. P. opines that "enemies of the Holy Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiff (and she is one of those enemies!) ... probably once misrepresented and misquoted Pius IX over invincible ignorance.
Because the facts presented in our "Salvation" article are not the right flavor for her, and side-tracking is more in accord with her tastes, Mrs. P. P. drags in also the question of the "Novus Ordo" Mass where it does not belong, and she thinks nothing of her glaringly contradictory stance manifested in her unfavorable attitude towards the "Novus Ordo" and her favorable attitude towards him who gave the Church the same "Novus Ordo". She proceeds to offer an admonition about not deceiving or being deceived, without realizing how totally she herself has been deceived and taken in by heresy. And, finally, certain Saints and a heretic who will not budge an inch from his heresy are placed on an equal footing--something that fits in very nicely with the thinking of her birds-of-a-father liberal modernist friends and their "salvation for all" theory.
Whatever may or may not have been the "education" of our benighted reader in other matters, she has either received no education at all in the Church's true salvation doctrine, or, in in her unsuspecting innocence, she was incorrectly indoctrinated and is a victim of deception.
The "'enclosed" to which her first letter refers, is a fairly recent little 3-page folder entitled "A Message from Father Feeney", with the added sub-title" "A Statement to the Catholics of Boston and of America". Published by the ill-named "Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary", St. Benedict Center, Still River, Massachusetts, with a different address given for ordering "additional copies", the folder is not dated, though Mrs. P. P. wrote "October 197l3" on it.
The Feeney Message is triumphantly presented by Mrs. P. P. as Exhibit A evidence that our Nov. 3rd article was indeed "pretty preposterous", simply because "dear Fr. Feeney" has not moved an inch from his heresy and disobedience, and so he must necessarily be right, since he had remained so firm in his "sterling promulgation" of error.
We know from personal experience how evasive Feeneyites, like all heretics, can be, for they have shown themselves reluctant to tell exactly what their position is. They seem afraid to hear themselves proclaim their belief that all who are not visibly and externally members of the Catholic Church through Baptism of water are automatically condemned to eternal hell-fire. This would mean that good faith is impossible in any non-Catholics of whatever brand, and that all non-Catholics, without exception, are automatically excluded from Heaven by the Feeneyites. Nor could there ever have been any converts to the True Faith if there is no good faith and good will and desire for the Truth to lead a non-Catholic into the True Fold.
And woe to the unbaptized infants, and double woe to all the unborn victims of today's Satanic abortionists, for the Feeney doctrine must logically relegate them to the eternal woe of hell!
We may as well ask: Is good faith possible in a Feeneyite? Is it possible for Mrs. P. P.?
It is no surprise to find no clear statement of the true Feeneyite position in the recent ("enclosed" Feeney Message. There is only a generalized and impudently untruthful claim of "loudly professing every dogma of faith", with a careful evasion of the specific Dogma at issue, and a pretended respect for the authority of the Holy Father. There is is also something vague about "our grievances" and "our crusade", while the "Message ends with a statement that is subject to either a true or a false interpretation, namely: "We still profess the same Faith, out of which no one at all can be saved, as we did a quarter of a century ago". But the "Message" nowhere tells what was, and is, the precise nature of the "grievances" and of the "crusade in question.
Added to al this is Fr. Feeney's ridiculous claim that all the evils rampant within the Church today have come about because no one would listen to him 25 years ago--whereas the real fact is that he himself contributed to those evils with his heresy of rejecting a Dogma of the Faith and with his contempt for ecclesiastical authority.
After bemoaning the fact that, 25 years ago, he did not receive any "protection" for his heresy from the lowest ecclesiastical authorities on up to the Vatican's Holy Office, Fr. Feeney makes the most preposterous claim of all in his "Message". That is, he claims to have received, by way of a private letter, the "support and encouragement" of Pope Pius XII, who supposedly encouraged and blessed his self-style "crusade"--which could only mean blessing his "crusade" for something that is a totally false interpretation of the Church's salvation Dogma.
The truth is that Pope Pius XII personally gave explicit orders that Fr. Feeney be summoned to Rome by the Holy Office, so that his views on salvation outside the Church could be examined first hand. It was because of his refusal to obey a repeated summons from the Holy Office that he appear in Rome on January 31, 1953, under the threat of automatic excommunication from the Church, that Fr. Feeney actually incurred that excommunication, which was made public in a decree of February 13, 1953, after the decree of excommunication had been approved and confirmed by Pope Pius XII on the previous day. The same Holy Father had also approved, on July 28, 1949, the Holy Office's explanation of how the Church's Dogma, "Outside the Church there is no salvation," is to be understood.
And here is the most preposterous and most brazen part of the preposterous Feeney Message: Pope Pius XII, he says, "canonized our grievances in his famous Encyclical Human Generis of 1950, condemning those of his sons 'who reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the True Church in order to attain salvation'."
No one with elementary understanding needs to be told that Pope Pius XII was referring, in that statement, to such errors as religious indifferentism, false ecumenism, and the false nation that all men will eventually be saved--errors which would indeed reduce to a"meaningless formula" the Church's salvation Dogma, because they would eliminate the nee of a One and Only True Church.
According to Fr. Feeney's audaciously distorted interpretation of the passage quoted from Human Generis, Pope Pius XII would himself have to be accused to "reducing to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the True Church in order to attain salvation", because he maintained, in his encyclical on the Mystical Body, that those of good faith who do not belong the visible Body of the Church "have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer"--as was brought out in our November 3rd article. And Pope Pius IX would have to be held guilty of the same charge.
The trouble is that those with a shallow understanding and only surface vision, who can see only the words "Outside the Church there is no salvation", and not their profound meaning, are incapable of penetrating into the Mystery of Grace hidden within those words. It is indeed strange that one who (according to Mrs. P. P) supposedly has "as fine a grasp of truth" as does Fr. Feeney, should completely fail to grasp the Mystery of Salvation as understood by the Church.
Such, then, is the misleading and confused and outright false Feeney Message that dear Mrs. P. P. ought to see as "pretty preposterous, to say the least". Perhaps she knows of persons who were for a time misled by some organization or individual that they thought to be orthodox, but which they eventually found to be objectionable in some way or other, causing them to withdraw support from said organization or individual. Maybe she could do the same in regard to the Feeney heresy, not what she knows the facts.
Surely, if Mrs. P. P. opens her mind and heart to God's grace, and humble herself before Him, and quite rushing headless into preposterous and ignorant statements, she will drop the Feeney heresy hard and fast.
Part IV: Aquinas's "Heresy" of Baptism of Desire, published on February 1, 1974
It has been repeatedly asserted by adherents of the modern Feeney heresy that such theological notions as "invincible ignorance" and "Baptism of blood" are modernist inventions, which came into being within the past 100 years or so, though they are not in agreement as to just how long ago these "inventions" were supposed to have seen the light of day (some say 70-80 years ago), nor do they venture to say who were their supposed "inventors".
Of course, they would never be able to provide any kind of proof for their erroneous contention, because the terms represent genuine Catholic teaching of long standing. There never was any "invention" to begin with, except that the charge itself is an invention of Feeneyism.
If the promoters of this modern heresy of Feeneyism are logical in their invincible ignorance, they will be forced to accuse, among many other great old-time theologians, none other than the Prince of Theologians" himself, St. Thomas Aquinas, of the 13th century as being both a "heretic" and a "modernist", for this Saint clearly upholds the Catholic doctrine of desire in his renowned Summa Theologica. The misguided sheep of the Feeney flock do not know this, but what about the hard-core leaders who are so ready to quote St. Thomas if it serves their heretical purposes?
We now wish to present the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas on Baptism of desire in his own words, as we find this teaching in the Summa, and we hope that even less-educated readers will easily grasp the main ideas, though they may have trouble here and there in following the methodical scholastic system that the Saint uses in taking up and solving theological questions.
We regard it as a happy coincidence that we happen to be calling attention to this great Saint of the Middle Ages on the approach of the 7th centenary of his death, which occurred on March 7, 1274.
Aquinas deals with the recipients of Baptism in Part III, Question 68, of his Summa, Bearing the title, "On those who receive Baptism", Question 68 is divided up into 12 "articles". In the second of these 12 articles, Aquinas takes up the matter that now holds our interest, namely, the question of "whether a man can be saved without Baptism."
In article 2, following his usual system of giving both sides of a question, the Saint first cites three objections favoring the view that a man cannot be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism, and then he considers the opposite view, that is, the belief that a man can indeed be saved without the actual reception of this Sacrament.
After having brought forward both views--first "against" and then "for--the Prince of Theologians declares his own position and presents his solution to the question, and in this he defends the traditional Catholic teaching that a man can, under certain conditions, be saved without Baptism of water. Finally, he refutes the three objections one by one.
We now call on St. Thomas Aquinas to come forward and solve the problem of "whether a man can be saved without Baptism". He begins as follows:
We proceed thus to the sacred article: Objection 1: It seems that no man can be saved without Baptism, for Our Lord said (Jn. 3, 5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God". But those alone are saved who enter God's Kingdom. Therefore, no one can be saved without Baptism, by which a man is born again of water and the Holy Ghost.
Objection 2. Further, in the book, De Eccl. Dogmat., 41, it is written: "We believe that no catechumen, though he die in his good works, will have eternal life except if he suffer martyrdom, which constitutes all the sacramental power of Baptism". But if it were possible for anyone to be saved without Baptism, this would be the case especially with catechumens who are credited with good works, for they seem to have "faith which works through charity" (Gal 5, 6). Therefore it seems that no one can be saved without Baptism.
Objection 3. Further, as stated above (Art. 1; Ques. 65, art. 4), the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. Now, that is necessary "without which something cannot be" (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 5). Therefore, it seems that no one can obtain salvation without Baptism."
We will yet see how Aquinas answers each of these three objections. The Saint next proceeds to give a brief statement of the opposing view--the true Catholic view--which holds that a man can be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism. He says:
On the contrary, Augustine says (On Leviticus, 84) that "some have received the invisible sanctification without the visible sacraments, and to their profit: but though it is possible to have the visible sanctification, consisting in a visible sacrament, without the invisible sanctification, it will be to no profit". Since, therefore, the Sacrament of Baptism pertains to the visible sanctification, it seems that a man can obtain salvatiion by means of this invisible sanctification."
After having thus completed giving both sides of the question, St. Thomas presents his own view, showing that he agrees with the second position, as held by the great St. Augustine of the 5th Century (d. 430). This means that Aquinas favors the view that a man, by virtue of "invisible sanctification", can be saved without Baptism of water, which is precisely the position always held by the Catholic Church.
The Prince of Theologians proceeds as follows, and we deem it helpful to add emphasis:
I answer that the Sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, both in reality and in desire--as in the case with those who neither are baptized nor wish to be baptized, which clearly indicates contempt for the Sacrament in the case of those who have the use of free will. Consequently, those to whom Baptism is wanting in his way cannot obtain salvation, since neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through Whom alone salvation can be obtained.
Secondly, the Sacrament of Baptism may e wanting to someone in reality, but not in desire. For instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And SUCH A MAN CAN OBTAIN SALVATION WITHOUT BEING ACTUALLY BAPTIZED, ON ACCOUNT OF HIS DESIRE FOR BAPTISM, which desire is the outcome of "faith which works through charity" (Gal. 5, 6), whereby God, WHOSE POWER IS NOT TIED TO VISIBLE SACRAMENTS, SANCTIFIES A MAN INWARDLY. Hence, Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: "I lost him whom I was to regenerate, but he did not lose the grace he prayed for".
Such, then, is the clear Catholic doctrine of Baptism of desire--a supposed "liberal modernist heresy"!--taught by an outstanding 13th century theologian, who obviously must have been in an awfully big hurry to teach something that was not destined to be "invented" for another 600 years or so. And not only St. Thomas Aquinas, but as the Saint himself informs us, two 4th and 5th century greats--St. Ambrose (d. 397) and St. Augustine--taught the same concept of Baptism of desire, showing that they were even more anxious than he to get that "liberal modernist heresy" invented in plenty of time for the future Feeneyites to have their ammunition ready.
We must now go into the concluding part of Aquinas' exposition of the Catholic doctrine of Baptism of desire, that is, his refutation of the three objections to that doctrine which he began his second article of Question 68.
The first objection centers around Our Lord's declaration that no one can enter God's Kingdom unless he has been "born again of water and the Holy Ghost". This ancient objection, refuted so long ago, is a resurrected favorite of the modern Feeney heresy, which sees only the outer surface of words, but is incapable of penetrating into the profound Divine Mystery of sanctification represented by Our Lord's words. Aquinas very succinctly puts away that first objection, in these words (emphasis added):
Reply to Objection 1: As it is written (1 Kgs. 16, 7), "man seeth those thing that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart". Now, a man who desires to be "born again of water and the Holy Ghost by Baptism, is REGENERATED IN HEART, though NOT IN BODY. Thus, the Apostle says (Rom. 2, 29) that "the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Obviously, then, the key requirement for one to be "born again" is not water, but the HOLY GHOST. Though a man possessing "faith which works through charity" cannot be "born again" of water alone, he can be "born again" of the HOLY GHOST ALONE, that is, through a genuine desire for Baptism, which effects in him an "invisible sanctification".
Aquinas continues to defend Baptism of desire--not to mention"Baptism of blood" (martyrdom), another Feeneyite bugaboo--while refuting the second objection, which he had cited from an unnamed author's Latin work on dogmatic theology. The Saint says (emphasis added):
Reply to Objection 2: No man obtains eternal life unless he be free of all guilt and debt of punishment. Now, this plenary absolution is given when a man receives Baptism, or suffers martyrdom, for which reason it is stated that MARTYDOM "CONTAINS ALL THE SACRAMENTAL POWER OF BAPTISM", that is, as to FULL DELIVERANCE FROM GUILT AND PUNISHMENT. Suppose, therefore, a CATEHCUMEN to have the DESIRE FOR BAPTISM (else he could not be said to die in is good works, which cannot be without "faith which works through charity"), such a one, were he to die, would not forthwith come to eternal life, but would suffer punishment for his past sins "but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED, yet so as by fire", as is stated in 1 Cor 3, 15".
Aquinas, supported by the incomparable St. Augustine, very concisely disposes of the third and last objection to the Catholic doctrine of Baptism of desire with the following profound statement (emphasis again added):
Reply to Objection 3. The Sacrament of Baptism is said to be necessary for salvation insofar as MAN CANNOT BE SAVED WITHOUT AT LEAST BAPTISM OF DESIRE, "which, with God, counts for the deed" (Augustine, On the Psalms, 57)."
The crashing sound that the followers of the ill-fated Feeneyism should be hearing, after such a superb performance by the Prince of Theologians, is the sound of yet another of their pet idols being demolished--that is, the completely fabricated notion that the Catholic doctrine of Baptism of desire, as well as Baptism of blood, is a heretical invention of liberal modernists.
Surely, there must be enough elementary honesty hidden away in the hearts of the victims of the Feeney heresy to make them acknowledge humbly that they have been taken in and misled by irresponsible propagators of error, who fill that fat black spring-binders with quotations, only to manipulate those quotations as to serve heresy. It is high time these these innocent victims tell the quack theologians to look for another job.
Until now, perhaps, these victims of Feeneyism could possibly plead good faith and honestly invincible and innocent ignorance, since the heresy propagators withheld the true facts from them. But how much longer an they plead innocence, and receive the Sacraments from priests whom they slander as heretics, if they continue stubbornly and contumaciously to reject fact after fact that is presented to them, showing how they have fallen into heresy, which blocks one's way to salvation. Can they kick against the goad forever?