Tag Archives: spirituality

FULL TEXT: The Final Angelus of Pope Benedict XVI

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The final Angelus……..with outstretched arms Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges a packed St. Peter’s Square beneath him as he delivers the the final Angelus devotion of his tenure as Pontiff 24 February 2013 in this handout photo provided by Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano. The Pontiff’s resignation officially takes effect at 8pm local time on 28 February 2013. EFE/EPA/OSSERVATORE — at Città Del Vatican

Full Text:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labours and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).

We can draw a very important lesson from meditating on this passage of the Gospel. First, the primacy of prayer, without which all the work of the apostolate and of charity is reduced to activism. In Lent we learn to give proper time to prayer, both personal and communal, which gives breath to our spiritual life. In addition, to pray is not to isolate oneself from the world and its contradictions, as Peter wanted on Tabor, instead prayer leads us back to the path, to action. “The Christian life – I wrote in my Message for Lent – consists in continuously scaling the mountain to meet God and then coming back down, bearing the love and strength drawn from him, so as to serve our brothers and sisters with God’s own love “(n. 3).Dear brothers and sisters, I feel that this Word of God is particularly directed at me, at this point in my life. The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”, to devote myself even more to prayer and meditation. But this does not mean abandoning the Church, indeed, if God is asking me to do this it is so that I can continue to serve the Church with the same dedication and the same love with which I have done thus far, but in a way that is better suited to my age and my strength. Let us invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary: may she always help us all to follow the Lord Jesus in prayer and works of charity.

I offer a warm greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer, especially the Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School. I thank everyone for the many expressions of gratitude, affection and closeness in prayer which I have received in these days. As we continue our Lenten journey towards Easter, may we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus the Redeemer, whose glory was revealed on the mount of the Transfiguration. Upon all of you I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

END

Generations of Faith: An Analysis of the Catechetical Program

An Analysis of the Catechetical Program “Generations of Faith”

By Cate VanLone-Taylor

Saint Don Bosco, pray for Catechetical Truth

“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17)

  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  (Matt 7:15-20)

Introduction

In the past three decades, a great change initiated by liberal Catholic educators and theologians has attempted to revolutionize the methodology of catechetical instruction.      The models used are drawn from the ‘whole community catechesis’/‘shared Christian praxis’ model originated by Thomas Groome and Bill Huebsch.

  This model seeks to involve the entire faith community, thus providing lifelong catechetical formation for parishioners of all ages.  A strong emphasis is placed on the sharing of “faith stories” a type of ‘lived’ theology, instead of textbooks, citing the General Catechetical Directory, #158 which states: “the community is proposed as the source, locus and means of catechesis.”  Detailed below are some of the dangers involved in such an approach.

Dangers

Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) Green Bay,WI : Attention has also been drawn to the program “Generations of Faith,” which is designed for “parish faith-formation,” but is distinguished by its lack of clear Catholic teaching.  The proposed “antidote” to programs such as this is the use of texts such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Faith and Life catechism series.

Catholic Answers Forums: Generations of Faith: “Its only as good as your priest. If your priest takes the reins, and is a good teacher of the faith, and has some control of the people who teach the other “segments” (e.g catechists or teens) then it can be great. Its good because it actually revolves around the liturgical year which is something lost on Catholics in the U.S., and has the entire family coming, rather than using children’s religious education as a baby-sitting service. THAT SAID, if the priest is not the one in control, if it goes the way of much catechesis in many parishes, then it can be a disaster because more people are influenced.” 

Catholic Answers Forum: Our parish is instituting this Generations of Faith with is led by two laywomen who are rather liberal. Thier idea is to direct all “spirituality” to the lowest common denominator so they “get the love of Jesus in their hearts” Well it goes downhill from there and I’m on the “core team” who advises on content.  I’m only there to try to make it seem Catholic otherwise it would be CINO – same stuff you could get at any Baptist parish! (sigh)

Catholic Culture (written by noted Catholic author Donna Steichen): John Roberto founded the Center for Ministry Formation in 1978, and served as its director until 2000. While at CMF he founded the Generations of Faith Project, developed it with funding from the Lilly Endowment, and now, as its director and project coordinator, conducts training workshops across the US for staffs at the growing number of parishes that are initiating the Generations of Faith program. Seven hundred parishes in 60 dioceses are already using GOF; 21 parishes in the Raleigh diocese signed on last December.  Roberto consistently argues against textbooks, citing such varied authorities as the General Catechetical Directory, #158 (“the community is proposed as the source, locus and means of catechesis”), and Maria Harris (more on her below), has openly stated: “the church is the curriculum, content, and catechist.”

Faith formation is event-centered, developed around the events of our shared life as Church. Faith formation demands a unified, life-long catechesis. Through events, Generations of Faith has a 6-year curriculum: the Church year of feasts and seasons, sacraments and liturgy, rituals and prayers, spirituality, justice, and service. Beliefs and practices for living as a Catholic emerge from the life of the faith community. The content emerges out of the event. A text is not the curriculum; the curriculum is the life of the Church. An introductory video for Generations of Faith offers colorful footage of cheerful intergenerational groups, with adults mingling, eating (food is always part of the event), chatting, and praying in parish centers and churches, while happy children construct craft projects or paint primitive symbols, dramatize Bible stories, or sing in choirs. These parishes appear to offer the kind of warmly welcoming ambiance Protestant converts often say they keenly miss when they become Catholics.

In place of weekly catechism classes for children, these programs feature a single monthly assembly or “faith festival,” where parishioners of all ages gather for a meal, see a dramatic presentation of a Bible story, hear an address about a community problem, or celebrate the event of the month (cited as examples were Advent, Lent, Thanksgiving, and Kwanzaa). After a general prayer service, all break into peer clusters for discussion, singing, or art projects. The entire group joins together for closing prayer. On their way out, participants pick up take-home materials that will reinforce the evening’s theme, help prepare for the next event, or suggest some form of community service or political activism.

Illiteracy and Alienation

Because the problems of religious illiteracy and alienation are authentic and acute, the presentation was attractive even to skeptical listeners, daring to hope that it might mean the beginning of real change. Generations of Faith is endorsed by NCCL as an initiative to revitalize American Catholic life. In the right hands, with sound doctrinal instruction as its centerpiece, the social component of whole community catechesis certainly could enrich parish life. There is enormous hunger among the laity to hear and understand the eternal truths and moral teachings that neo-modernists in the catechetical movement long ago jettisoned.

The Generations of Faith film, like other “whole community catechesis” literature on display, skims over questions about specific doctrinal content. (“The parish is the content.”) Detailed examination of the GOF materials and their sources reveals alarming resemblances to the hollow Renew I and II and RCIA projects that engage the laity in uninstructed, heterodox “faith-sharing” without authentic “indoctrination” to let them know what the Church really teaches.  GOF credits the contributions of a feminist former nun Maria Harris, and such other “foundational thinkers,” as Anglican John Westerhoff; Sister Catherine Dooley, OP, of the religious education department at Catholic University of America; and progressive Francoise Darcy Berube, whose 1996 book, Religious Education at a Crossroads exhorts educators not to “turn back in fear” to the catechism model of the rigid “good old days.”

Listed beside the General Directory for Catechesis and various USCCB documents, among course texts and resources for a Certificate in Lifelong Faith Formation to be offered in January 2005 by the Center for Ministry Development, along with Bill Huebsch and Maria Harris , are the names of still other architects of the specious “catechetical renewal”: Sister Kathleen Hughes, RSJC, James D. Davidson, William D’Antonio, Jane Redmont, William Shannon, Loughlan Sofield, ST. These professionals are deeply implicated in the present decline in religious literacy, yet they still seem certain they’ve been heading in the right direction these forty years. Why haven’t they arrived at their destination, then?  There simply hasn’t been time yet, they explain.

Bernard Lee, SM, is director of the Institute for Ministry at Loyola University, New Orleans, and a member of the Call to Action Speakers Bureau. In his presentation on Small Christian Communities, he said that “reform” councils like Vatican II produce a backlash. He counseled: “Until the backlash is out of your system, you can’t really get on with the reforms.”

At the banquet where he accepted NCCL’s 2004 Catechetical Award, former Christian Brother Gabriel Moran (whom NCCL correctly credits with “reshaping the field of religious education”) said turmoil is to be expected after a council, and new building cannot begin until the resistance is cleared away. Moran is near the end of his career, and his wife Maria Harris is now too ill to travel; they do not expect to see the triumph of their lifework. But Moran still thinks triumph will come, despite general recognition by their peers that religious education has been devastated.

It seems odd that NCCL chose to present its award to a man who bears so much responsibility for the devastation. It is rather like elevating a horse to the college of cardinals.

*Donna Steichen is the author of Ungodly Rage: The Hidden Face of Catholic Feminism, and Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church, (both from Ignatius Press).

Fashion Me a People Conference—This Conference was recently held in Orlando (January, 2008) sponsored by the Center for Ministry Development (CMD) in partnership with Harcourt Religion Publishers, the purveyors of textbooks to the schools of the Orlando Diocese. Their curriculum resources highlight “Generations of Faith Online”, a service of CMD, which has been funded by grants from the Lilly Endowment, a Protestant Foundation seeking to undermine the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church in order to encourage ecumenism with other Christian religions based on the lowest common denominator of beliefs. They promote worship exploration teams to develop ideas for visual enhancement of the sanctuary and innovative “worship services.”

The speakers at this Conference included the curious theology of Thomas Groome, a dissident ex-priest and consultant to Harcourt Publishers, noted for his zeal in undermining the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to promote catholicity (note the small “c”) of ecumenism with other Protestant groups.

Research on Authors / Contributors of Generations of Faith:

Bishop Robert Morleno, Diocese of Madison:  (Regarding  dissenting theologians) “Associations with “anti-Catholic groups” such as Call to Action, Catholics for a Free Choice, Women’s Ordination Conference, FutureChurch, CORPUS, DignityUSA, and others which profess “serious departures and denials of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church could “certainly be grounds for removal” for a person who is responsible for teaching catechesis and “passing on the Church’s teaching.”

Sister Kathleen Hughes: Sister Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ, (Lay Presiding: The Art of Leading Prayer).  Sister Hughes, a feminist liturgist, was for many years a member of ICEL, a group that provided problematic English liturgical translations. (Helen Hull Hitchcock, Adoremus Bulletin)

  •      Catholic Culture Library: Sister Kathleen Hughes has for many years been a member of ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and a consultant to the NCCB Committee on the Liturgy. Five years ago, she says, she addressed the Congregation for Divine Worship, in Rome, on the subject of inclusive language. In a lecture last September at Maryville University in St Louis, she said she expects to see women ordained in her lifetime. She also announced that the Latin word deus is too often improperly translated as “Father,” adding, “We need more metaphors for God.”A former professor of liturgy at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union, Sister Hughes is the newly-elected Provincial of the Religious Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the author of several books, including Silent Voices, Sacred Lives of which I feel impelled to remark that if these ladies only could be silenced, the whole Church would be better off.  http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23726149/The-Madeleva-Lectures-in-Spirituality”  Note:  other feminist theologians that signed this decree were Sr. Joan Chittister and Sr. Monica Hellwig.  Google them using “dissent” “heterodox” or “liberal” and you will come up with many hits.  Former Sr. Maria Harris (deceased) husband- former Brother Gabriel Moran
  •      Amazon Book Review:  “Women’s spirituality, suggests educator Harris, is a “dance of the Spirit” consisting of seven steps: “Awakening, Discovering, Creating, Dwelling, Nourishing, Traditioning, and Transforming.”  Very much an interfaith book (Harris draws on Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism), this is also quite feminist in a gentle way and should appeal to questing women with a New Age bent.The Madeleva Manifesto ”    http://www.cta-usa.org/reprint07-00/theologians.html”   http://www.docstoc.com/docs/23726149/The-Madeleva-Lectures-in-SpiritualityMs. Harris was a member of “Call to Action”  as is her husband.*Note:  other feminist theologians that signed this decree were Sr. Joan Chittister and Sr. Monica Hellwig.  Google them using “dissent” “heterodox” or “liberal”  or “feminist theology” and you will come up with several pages hits.

    Unitarian Universalists of America:     http://www.uua.org/documents/recc/reader_curriculum_guide.pdf

    Unitarian Universalists of America:      http://online.sksm.edu/Syllabi/IntroToLiberalRE.FinalSyllab011410.Spr10.pdf

    Read the entire article–       http://www.uuroanoke.org/sermon/050710Source2.htm

    Iimplicit theology and null theology        http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/2005/12/implicit-and-explicit-theologies-part.html

    This article is excellent–names the promoters of the liberal religious education /whole community catechesis/shared praxis movement.  Note paragraph three: ” http://www.losangelesmission.com/ed/articles/2006/0606ds.htm

    From Amy Welborn’s Blog: (Zhou’s Comments)

    “Young Catholics languish in ignorance because no one ever taught them the content of the faith. Many of those who are old enough to have been catechized in pre-conciliar times are now uncertain whether the Church still holds as true the tenets they learned in their youth, because they have heard those beliefs mentioned so seldome–if ever–during the past 30 years. Hispanic Americans, unsatisfied by what they are taught in Catholic parishes, are streaming out to hear Jesus preached in evangelical churches. As measured by public behaviors and attitudes, Catholic sexual morality is no better than that of any other group, and worse than some.  Can this wasteland be restored? If reform is possible, the first step must be to understand our present predicament.

    The catechetical collapse of the past 35 years has not been an isolated phenomenon. One of the most prominent partisans in the campaign that produced the “new catechetics,” Father Berard Marthaler, cheerfully concedes that it “has had a symbiotic relationship with biblical scholarship, the liturgical movement, and the ‘new theology.'”

    The “new catechetics” movement, already established in Europe and taking root in the United States, seemed before the Second Vatican Council to be a generally benign attempt to teach the faith in a more vital way. What–or who–turned it into a catechetical revolution? Why did the Catholic religious and academics who embraced it first stop teaching Catholic doctrine, and then (with courageous exceptions) begin to ridicule the very notion of teaching it, and even to denigrate those who objected? Candidates for the title of chief culprit are abundant.

    Most of those involved in this movement seem to have been acquainted each other, often through encounters at academic centers, especially the Catholic University of America (CUA). Their influence seems to have been more a function of their positions and their efficient collaboration than of the intellectual force of their ideas, which tend to sound naive today.

    It may be impossible to name one person as most responsible for the current state of religious instruction in the United States. But no one has a stronger claim than Father Gerard Sloyan who, in 17 years in CUA’s Religious Education department–ten as chairman–reorganized the entire curriculum, and thus changed the religious attitudes of a key cohort of religion teachers. It was he who first hired dissenter Charles Curran, in 1964. His 1967 book, Speaking of Catholic Education–by its praise for Dutch Catechism, its clear distaste for the term “transubstantiation,” its displacement of personal sin by a “fundamental option” for or against God, and its call to defer First Confession until after First Communion–proves that the toxic ideas of the revolution were fully formed by the mid-1960s.

    Children, Father Sloyan declared, cannot learn doctrine; they can only experience religious emotions. Let them participate in the liturgy, treat them with respect and kindness, and their religious emotions will develop. He implied that rote memorization of theological propositions was the sum and substance of traditional catechesis, when in fact it was only one valuable element in a living culture that was also built on sacramental practice, liturgical and devotional prayer, stories of saints, Bible stories, and frequent reference to the social obligations imposed by membership in Christ’s Mystical Body.

    In 1967, Sloyan left CUA to teach at Temple University, remaining there for 25 years. Later he returned as a “distinguished lecturer,” but the move seems not to have sweetened his temper. “Is Agape Any Match for Fear and Loathing in the Religious Psyche?” Sloyan’s contribution to The Echo Within, a 1997 collection of essays published to honor Berard Marthaler on his academic retirement, is a fuming denunciation of orthodox Catholics. Characterizing them as ignorant, rigid, repressed, ideologically infected, infantile, censorious, malicious, and uncharitable, he says he offers these diagnoses, “in the friendliest possible spirit.”

    Given the views of his mentor, it seems small wonder that Sloyan’s protégé, former Christian Brother Gabriel Moran (Maria Harris’ husband) , strayed from orthodoxy. Many observers, admirers and critics alike, propose Moran as the most influential man in the catechetical revolution. Michael Warren, editor of Source Book for Modern Catechetics, says, “Few persons in the United States have made a contribution to the catechetical scene as complex and difficult to assess as Gabriel Moran.

    Moran’s work influenced many in the catechetical movement to reject divine revelation–the Church’s deposit of faith–in favor of “on-going revelation”–in effect, the interpretation of one’s own experiences as private revelation. This meant not simply that catechists should enliven the students’ understanding of the Gospel by connecting it to their life experiences, but that the students could find revelation only in their own experience. A student “would have to reject any document from the past pretending to divine revelation,” Moran wrote. As Msgr. Michael Wrenn has observed, that category includes the Gospel.

    Moran was not alone in his opinion. Piet Schoonenberg, SJ, a Dutch theologian linked to the Dutch Catechism, was making the same point In the same era. In 1970, Schoonenberg wrote:

    “From a mere approach to the message, experience has become the theme itself of catechesis. Catechesis has become the interpretation of experience. It has to clarify experience, that is, it has to articulate and enlighten the experience of those for whom the message is intended.”

    The most phenomenal thing about this thesis was its reception. To an astonishing extent, Catholic educators and publishers proved willing to jettison Christian belief and substitute a radically individualistic “noble savage” romanticism straight out of Jean Jacques Rousseau. According to a 1997 essay in The Echo Within, Moran was then unaware of its antecedents, but he has not changed his mind over the ensuing 30 years. “In adopting ‘revelation’ as central, Christianity prepared for its own undoing,” he writes.

    “Christian writers cannot get anywhere by assuming the existence of or investigating an object named ‘Christian revelation,'” Moran argues, declaring the theory of revelation to be “a modern invention and a disastrous one.” God continues to speak today, he says, but speaking does not mean revelation, a term that implies “assertions of truth.” Speaking, he explains, could mean compassion, care, love, or forgiveness. As to truth, he says “much contemporary thought” holds that “the first thing to ask of a statement is not whether it is true but whether it is interesting.” At most, “God’s speaking” can only provide human understanding with “a glimpse of the truth.”

    Finally, Moran tells us that Christians must stop equating “‘Jesus Christ’ with ‘God and man,'” because that “has the effect of creating the great middleman, who is then neither divine nor human. ‘Jesus Christ’ becomes the name of a storehouse of truths, the revelation of God.”

    After leaving the Christian Brothers, Moran became a professor of (non-denominational) religious education at New York University. His wife, Maria Harris, a former Sister of St Joseph of Brentwood, also represents herself as a religious educator, and has taught women’s studies at several institutions. Most notably, she combined those genres in a post-Christian guide to feminist self worship, Dance of the Spirit: The Seven Steps of Women’s Spirituality.

    I think that really the Catholic Church in the US experienced a “revolution” no less damaging that the Cultural Revolution in China or what went on in Cambodia. It is the job of those who come after to clean up the damage of the craziness of their elders.

    †Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam† website:

  •      From the book “Homosexuality and Christian Faith“, we quote Maria Harris directly:“At the end of the 20th century, individuals are probably no wiser than they ever have been about their sexual lives, but the human race undeniably has a different understanding of sexuality from what it had in the past. Studies subsequent to the two Kinsey Reports have confirmed the fact that the human race has an imaginative diversity of sexual expression. Sexual intimacy between consenting partners of the same sex seems to be nothing less and nothing more than part of that wonderful range of expression.What would (Saint) Paul make of today’s sexual scene? It really is not possible to lift people out of one place in history and situate them in another. Presumably they could learn the language of a new era if given time to adjust. ….A Christian today might even think that (Saint) Paul would see homosexuality as part of God’s creation, sanctified by the Incarnation. The world of our bodily senses is not a veil that obscures divinity. The material world, whatever its groans and travails, is the expression of divine goodness. The best impulses of that world – the genuine struggles for the fulfillment of bodily existence – cannot be dismissed…People’s sexual expressions have to be seen within that context.”James  D. Davidson

    Writes for “America”, “National Catholic Reporter”,”Commonweal” and “Ligourian”: all liberal Catholic publications.  Google for many articles to read.  It is worth noting that he does not write for more orthodox Catholic publications such as ‘First Things’.

    Jane Redmont (“ Acts of Hope “)

  •      There are sixty gazillion contemporary books on Benedictine spirituality, including the very popular  ” http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Distilled-Daily-Living-Benedict/dp/B000GG4GVC/ref=pd_sim_b_5/105-9952589-5561209  by Joan Chittister (feminist Catholic Benedictine sister, author, worker for peace: National Catholic Reporter columnist, member of Call To Action speakers bureau).  http://www.natcath.org/%3Cspan%20style= Most people loved the Chittister book, and while I like a lot of her other work, this one didn’t float my boat, at least in the past year.”  
  •      WCCO TV:  August 9, 1999  Reverend Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., author of Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin and dean of the Chapel for Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Jane Redmont, feminist Catholic theologian from Berkeley, California. 
  •      October 10 National Catholic Reporter ran a front-page article about the “Critical Mass,” a feminist “liturgy” held in Oakland’s Bishop Begin Plaza [see November Faith], describing the pseudo-ritual, which included divesting a mock male priest, as an authentic Catholic Mass: “I understand the body of Christ in a way I had not before…” wrote contributor Jane Redmont, who also participated in the event as a member of its planning committee. “This is my body, I say, touching a woman’s arm and shoulder. This is my blood, I say, touching another woman, of a different age and race from my own. You are my flesh and blood, we are saying, and Christ’s flesh and blood. We know this in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup; we know this in touching each other’s bodies.”Redmont continued, “We have disagreed over terminology and theology, we have varying relationships to Jesus and to the local church. Some of us are more attached than others to biblical and historical sources and authorities….Some choose to stay but not to have their names listed anywhere: fear of losing church-related or Catholic academic jobs.”A week after Redmond’s story, the National Catholic Reporter editorialized that the Oakland event is “too critical to shrug off” because “women are not going to disappear.” “One doesn’t have to endorse the liturgy–and certainly there are liturgists and Catholic feminists who would take issue with the event in Oakland–to recognize the importance of taking it seriously,” read the editorial.
  •      Read 2nd paragraph at bottom (p. 171)–then, read 3rd paragraph (which also elaborates on heterodox views of Kathleen Hughes):” http://books.google.com/books?id=mwvqvYv7N5kC&lpg=PA171&ots=Xq-fs9Sl8d&dq=%22Jane%20Redmont” ( In ‘contents” read: Engine of Lay Ministry which details the powerful role of Call To Action in the promotion of clericalizing the laity.)
  •      Amazon Book ReviewEditor Mary Jo Weaver has gathered a great group of prominent theologians, academicians and scholars to write about “hot button” issues facing liberal/progressive American Catholics. What she has produced is an outstanding collection of essays that give voice to that group. Each essay examines a different issue, such as birth control/abortion, the role of women in the church, the liturgy and many more. The essays are academic in nature yet accessible to all readers in its style and tone. If you’re a liberal/progressive Catholic and want need some support for when people attack your views, this book is a must.  Msgr. William  Shannon
  •      http://credo.stormloader.com/Doctrine/rocheres.htm.
  •      While many theologians such as McBrien, Father Francis Sullivan at Boston College and Monsignor William Shannon in Rochester, NY, berated the Vatican and accused  it of forcing good people out of the Church, Dr. Joyce Little, a theologian at St. Thomas university in Houston, said that those who encouraged women to believe they could be ordained if only enough pressure were put on the Vatican have a lot to answer for.   http://www.ewtn.com/library/ISSUES/VATBAN.TXT
  •      Catholic Education Resource Center:    www.catholiceducation.org)  Chesteron once remarked that he loved the Catholic Church because it had prevented him from becoming a child of his age. William Shannon, sadly, is very much a child of his age, as are his Catholic compatriots in the media. I daresay that in a hundred years, his introduction to Merton’s masterpiece will seem far more dated than the text it introduces. Indeed, it is Merton who gets the last word on Shannon. It occurs when Merton realizes the error of his old life: “I saw clearly enough that I was the product of my times, my society, and my class. I was something that had been spawned by the selfishness and irresponsibility of the materialistic century in which I lived. However, what I did not see was that my own age and class only had an accidental part to play in this. They gave my egoism and pride and my other sins a peculiar character of weak and supercilious flippancy proper to this particular century: but that was only on the surface. Underneath, it was the same old story of greed and lust and self-love, of the three concupiscences bred in the rich, rotted undergrowth of what is technically called “the world,” in every age, in every class. 
  •      Mark Gauvreau Judge. “Strangers in the House: When Catholics in the Media Turned Against the Church.” Crisis (November, 2003): 41-45.” 
  •      “Ten Reason’s” Blog:    http://richleonardi.blogspot.com/2005_10_09_archive.html The parish bulletin indicates that one “Fr. William H. Shannon” will be sharing a “Catholic perspective on death and dying” at a nearby chapel. Given that Shannon’s      http://www.americancatholic.org/Newsletters/CU/ac0400.aspheterodox ruminations on the “Resurrection of Faith” are largely what inspired my recent     ” http://www.catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?art_id=29722critique of the Catholic Update publications, I can only imagine how he’ll set forth about, say, Terri Schiavo.
  •      Catholic Answers Forums:   ” http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?p=4042142” 
  •      Catholic Answers Forums:  Vatican II: The Vision Lives On (p. 2)…. “web sites that are presenting dangerous or heterodox theology or spirituality? (Fidelity); Books by Richard Rohr, William H. Shannon 
  •      “Using a document named Always Our Children priests of Chicago, Rochester, and their GLBT [gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgende red] allies throughout the nation, have attempted to demonize two thousand years….(see very bottom of article)   http://www.catholiccitizens.org/press/contentreview.asp?c=11468
  •      Catholic Exchange website- August 18, 2005.  Author: Rich LeonardiConsider Fr. William H. Shannon’s “The Resurrection: How We Know It’s True.” Here is an excerpt from the section called “The Resurrection: An experience of faith”:The point which I am trying to lead up to is the realization that seeing the risen Jesus was not an experience of empirical data; it was an experience of faith. For the very best that empirical experience might have achieved was an experience of resuscitation, not resurrection. Think of Lazarus in John’s Gospel (Jn 11:1-45). He was mortal and he died. He was resuscitated and therefore was living again, but even after his resuscitation he was still mortal. Hence people could see him before and after because in both cases he was mortal. Lazarus was as much a subject of empirical data after his resuscitation as before his death.  The mortal Jesus — the Jesus before His death — could, like the mortal Lazarus, have been experienced as a fact of empirical data; the risen Jesus, however, could only be experienced by faith. For resurrection is not returning from the dead. It is a leap beyond death to an entirely different kind of existence. Such a leap cannot be empirically verified. Father Shannon’s speculations run counter to Pope John Paul II’s orthodox description of the Resurrection: Christ’s Resurrection is the strength, the secret of Christianity. It is not a question of mythology or of mere symbolism, but of a concrete event. It is confirmed by sure and convincing proofs. The acceptance of this truth, although the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s grace, rests at the same time on a solid historical base. (From remarks given before praying the Regina Caeli on Sunday, April 21, 1996) Thus, it simply isn’t consistent with Catholic teaching for Father Shannon to state that the Resurrection “was not an experience of empirical data” and that the risen Jesus “could only be experienced by faith.” Instead, in the pope’s words, it was a public, “concrete event” backed by “convincing proofs” and resting on “a solid historical base.” No later than 15 years after Christ’s earthly ministry, St. Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians that 500 “brethren” saw the risen Jesus “at one time.” He did not write, as Shannon would have it, that they just sensed Him spiritually. As the Vatican wrote just last winter, “the appearances of the Risen Lord and the empty tomb are the foundation of the faith of the disciples in the Resurrection of Christ, and not vice versa.”Am I making too much of a fuss about this? I don’t think so. Let’s remember who reads these Catholic Updates — RCIA candidates, participants in adult faith formation groups, perhaps someone shaky in his faith who wants to be certain of what the Church teaches. That they should be handed something like Father Shannon’s wrong musings on the Resurrection is a shame. That his musings bear the imprimatur of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is, well, something worse.Gabriel Moran  (there are 10 pages of ‘hits’ when I googled the word dissent)
  •      Catholic Culture:  Can Reform Come?  http://www.catholicculture.org/news/features/index.cfm?recnum=20884Christian Brother Gabriel Moran: many observers, admirers and critics alike, propose Moran as the most influential man in the catechetical revolution. Michael Warren, editor of Source Book for Modern Catechetics, says, “Few persons in the United States have made a contribution to the catechetical scene as complex and difficult to assess as Gabriel Moran.”Moran’s work influenced many in the catechetical movement to reject divine revelation–the Church’s deposit of faith–in favor of “on-going revelation”–in effect, the interpretation of one’s own experiences as private revelation. This meant not simply that catechists should enliven the students’ understanding of the Gospel by connecting it to their life experiences, but that the students could find revelation only in their own experience. A student “would have to reject any document from the past pretending to divine revelation,” Moran wrote. As Msgr. Michael Wrenn has observed, that category includes the Gospel.
  •      The Rosary Light & Life – Vol 43, No 2, March-April 1990: Brother Gabriel Moran, for whom the basis of theology is not supernatural revelation but experience, wrote in his book “Catechesis of Revelation” :”Revelation consists only in present conscious experience of people. (p. 13) . . . There is no revelation except in God revealing Himself in personal experience . . . One must choose to structure it (the curriculum) according to the people precisely because that is where revelation is. (p. 144) . . . People who demand that there be a higher norm of truth than human experience are asking for an idol.” (p. 45) 
  •      AD 2000 Book Reveiw: A Generation Betrayed should be read by bishops, priests, teachers, parents – indeed, by everyone interested in religious education. It not only throws a flood of light on what is wrong in modern catechetics, but shows with admirable clarity what the Church really teaches on the vital issues being so tragically contested today.  Such muddled thinking is hardly surprising given the prevalence of the lightweight new catechetics – spearheaded by such experts as Thomas Groome and Gabriel Moran – over the past 30 years or so in most Australian dioceses.William D. Antonio
  •      Marys Advocates   www.marysadvocates.org/clsawho.html)   At the Canon Law Society of America’s 1992 annual convention, William D’Antonio explained how laity who reject the Pope’s traditional teachings, and the autocratic rule that undergirds them, are affirming the liberating principles of Vatican II, especially those enunciated in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. (1) D’Antonio supported those who engage in pre- or non-marital sex, use contraceptives, support friends who divorce and remarry, and vote for pro-choice candidates 
  •      Common Dreams. org:     http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0504-04.htm. “Is The Pope Catholic?”“…Karol Wojtyla has shaped a hierarchy that is intolerant of dissent, unaccountable to its members, secretive in the extreme and willfully clueless about how people live.  Probably no institution run by a fraternity of aging celibates was going to reconcile easily with a movement that embraced the equality of women, abortion on demand and gay rights. It is possible, though, to imagine a leadership that would have given it a try. In fact, Pope Paul VI indicated some interest in adopting a more lenient view of birth control, and he handpicked a committee of prominent Catholics who endorsed the idea almost by acclamation. The pope agonized, and then astonished Catholics by reaffirming the old ban. “If you want to look for where credibility on human sexuality got lost, it got lost there,” said the Catholic University sociologist William D’Antonio.”
  •      Amazon Book Review:  Voices of the Faithful: American Catholics Striving For Change (2007):  Dr. William D’Antonio and Rev. Anthony Pogorlec at the Catholic University of America, in this important Church in the 21st Century book, leaves the reader with little doubt that those who have membership in VOTF are indeed “Loyal Catholics Striving for Change.  Thomas Groome
  •      Catholic Culture Website:  Compilation on Thomas Groome      This is a very large file which extensively documents the the “shared Christian praxis” approach which is foundational to programs such as Generations of Faith.  Groome also dissents against the Church’s doctrine on the male-only ministerial priesthood. In his book Sharing Faith (1991), he asserts that “the exclusion of women from ordained ministry is the result of a patriarchal mind-set and culture and is not of Christian faith.” http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=6516Bill Huebsch
  •      Los Angeles Lay Catholic Mission; June 2006:  Los Angeles Religious Education Congress: A large proportion of speakers have addressed both the congress and Call to Action gatherings. Among more than a dozen Call to Action speakers appearing at the 2006 Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles were: Capuchin Father Michael Crosby, who spoke on injustice in the Church; Father Donald Cozzens, of Cleveland’s John Carroll University, who has famously written that the priesthood is becoming a gay profession; Edwina Gateley, an eccentric feminist whose performances resemble English music hall comedy more than religious presentations; Bill Huebsch, current head of Twenty Third Publications, who talked about parish adult education. 
  •      Catholic Answers Forum -Feb. 14, 2007- Re: Whole Community Catechesis:  “I am a DRE for a cluster of 4 parishes and I have to concur that the state of knowledge among most Catholics is pretty bad across the board. The problem with doing “whole community catechesis” is that many of the parents generation do not attend Mass and do not seem to care to learn about the Faith. My parish did Generations of Faith and it failed gradually and miserably… fewer and fewer attending. Many parents just drop their kids off at religious education as baby-sitting some time. I don’t mean to be cynical, but it is frustrating.” 
  •      AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM (Fall, 2004) Report on Los Angeles Religious Education Congress:“When God came, He didn’t come as a catechism. God did not come as a moral code or a doctrinal system or theology school. He came as a person. God is love….This love is messy – not an easy love. Following the law – law has boundaries that are very clear. Who’s in, who’s out? Who’s allowed to come to communion, who’s not? Who’s a practicing Catholic, who’s not? Love is not….When you love someone, you don’t ask, ‘are you a good Catholic?’ Love transcends that. Theology is precise, love is is not. Love is ragged around the edges. Doctrine can be collected in a book, love cannot. Love is beyond the boundaries of that. Love transcends it all. When we give a dinner party at our home, we don’t ask, ‘are you in a valid marriage?’” – Catechist Bill HuebschConclusionsBased on the research done on the Generations of Faith catechetical approach, and its contributors who demonstrate their dissent from authentic Catholic teaching (demonstrated by the articles and links I have attached), I fear that not only our youth, but also poorly catechized parishioners could be harmed by heterodox teachings imbedded in the materials provided by The Center for Ministry Development, which publishes and promotes GOF.  Those of us who have been given the grace to seek out and learn all we can about our faith, must do our part in protecting God’s faithful from error.
  • Who Can Be Saved? by Avery Cardinal Dulles

    by Avery Cardinal Dulles

    Nothing is more striking in the New Testament than the confidence with which it proclaims the saving power of belief in Christ. Almost every page confronts us with a decision of eternal consequence: Will we follow Christ or the rulers of this world? The gospel is, according to Paul, “the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith” (Rom. 1:16). The apostles and their associates are convinced that in Jesus they have encountered the Lord of Life and that he has brought them into the way that leads to everlasting blessedness. By personal faith in him and by baptism in his name, Christians have passed from darkness to light, from error to truth, and from sin to holiness.

    Paul is the outstanding herald of salvation through faith. To the Romans he writes, “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Faith, for him, is inseparable from baptism, the sacrament of faith. By baptism, the Christian is immersed in the death of Christ so as to be raised with him to newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).

    The Book of Acts shows the apostles preaching faith in Christ as the way to salvation. Those who believe the testimony of Peter on the first Pentecost ask him what they must do to be saved. He replies that they must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and thereby save themselves from the present crooked generation (Acts 2:37-40). When Peter and John are asked by the Jewish religious authorities by what authority they are preaching and performing miracles, they reply that they are acting in the name of Jesus Christ and that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul and his associates bring the gospel first of all to the Jews because it is the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. When the Jews in large numbers reject the message, Paul and Barnabas announce that they are turning to the Gentiles in order to bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 13:46-47).

    A few chapters later in Acts, we see Paul and Silas in prison at Philippi. When their jailer asks them, “What must I do to be saved?” they reply, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” The jailer and his family at once accept baptism and rejoice in their newfound faith (Acts 16:30-34).

    The same doctrine of salvation permeates the other books of the New Testament. Mark’s gospel ends with this missionary charge: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole of creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).

    John in his gospel speaks no less clearly. Jesus at one point declares that those who hear his word and believe in him do not remain in darkness, whereas those who reject him will be judged on the last day (John 12:44-50). At the Last Supper, Jesus tells the Twelve, “This is eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). John concludes the body of his gospel with the statement that he has written his account “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

    From these and many other texts, I draw the conclusion that, according to the primary Christian documents, salvation comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ, followed and signified by sacramental baptism.

    The New Testament is almost silent about the eternal fate of those to whom the gospel has not been preached. It seems apparent that those who became believers did not think they had been on the road to salvation before they heard the gospel. In his sermon at Athens, Paul says that in times past God overlooked the ignorance of the pagans, but he does not say that these pagans were saved. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul says that the Gentiles have come to a knowledge of God by reasoning from the created world, but that they are guilty because by their wickedness they have suppressed the truth and fallen into idolatry. In the second chapter of Romans, Paul indicates that Gentiles who are obedient to the biddings of conscience can be excused for their unbelief, but he indicates that they fall into many sins. He concludes that “all have sinned and fall short” of true righteousness (Rom. 3:23). For justification, Paul asserts, both Jews and Gentiles must rely on faith in Jesus Christ, who expiated the sins of the world on the cross.

    Animated by vibrant faith in Christ the Savior, the Christian Church was able to conquer the Roman Empire. The converts were convinced that in embracing Christianity they were escaping from the darkness of sin and superstition and entering into the realm of salvation. For them, Christianity was the true religion, the faith that saves. It would not have occurred to them that any other faith could save them.

    Christian theologians, however, soon had to face the question whether anyone could be saved without Christian faith. They did not give a wholly negative answer. They agreed that the patriarchs and prophets of Israel, because they looked forward in faith and hope to the Savior, could be saved by adhering in advance to him who was to come.

    The apologists of the second and third centuries made similar concessions with regard to certain Greek philosophers. The prologue to John’s gospel taught that the eternal Word enlightens all men who come into the world. Justin Martyr speculated that philosophers such as Socrates and Heraclitus had lived according to the Word of God, the Logos who was to become incarnate in Christ, and they could therefore be reckoned as being in some way Christians. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen held that the Wisdom of God gave graces to people of every generation, both Greeks and barbarians.

    The saving grace of which these theologians were speaking, however, was given only to pagans who lived before the time of Christ. It was given by the Word of God who was to become incarnate in Jesus Christ. There was no doctrine that pagans could be saved since the promulgation of the gospel without embracing the Christian faith.

    Origen and Cyprian, in the third century, formulated the maxim that has come down to us in the words Extra ecclesiam nulla salus—”Outside the Church, no salvation.” They spoke these words with heretics and schismatics primarily in view, but they do not appear to have been any more optimistic about the prospects of salvation for pagans. Assuming that the gospel had been promulgated everywhere, writers of the high patristic age considered that, in the Christian era, Christians alone could be saved. In the East, this view is represented by Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom. The view attributed to Origen that hell would in the end be evacuated and that all the damned would eventually be saved was condemned in the sixth century.

    In the West, following Ambrose and others, Augustine taught that, because faith comes by hearing, those who had never heard the gospel would be denied salvation. They would be eternally punished for original sin as well as for any personal sins they had committed. Augustine’s disciple Fulgentius of Ruspe exhorted his readers to “firmly hold and by no means doubt that not only all pagans, but also all Jews, and all heretics and schismatics who are outside the Catholic Church, will go to the eternal fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels.”

    The views of Augustine and Fulgentius remained dominant in the Christian West throughout the Middle Ages. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215) reaffirmed the formula “Outside the Church, no salvation,” as did Pope Boniface VIII in 1302. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Council of Florence (1442) repeated the formulation of Fulgentius to the effect that no pagan, Jew, schismatic, or heretic could be saved.

    On one point the medieval theologians diverged from rigid Augustinianism. On the basis of certain passages in the New Testament, they held that God seriously wills that all may be saved. They could cite the statement of Peter before the household of Cornelius: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35). The First Letter to Timothy, moreover, declares that God “desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). These assurances made for a certain tension in Catholic teaching on salvation. If faith in Christ was necessary for salvation, how could salvation be within reach of those who had no opportunity to learn about Christ?

    Thomas Aquinas, in dealing with this problem, took his departure from the axiom that there was no salvation outside the Church. To be inside the Church, he held, it was not enough to have faith in the existence of God and in divine providence, which would have sufficed before the coming of Christ. God now required explicit faith in the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation. In two of his early works ( De Veritate and Commentary on Romans), he discusses the hypothetical case of a man brought up in the wilderness, where the gospel was totally unknown. If this man lived an upright life with the help of the graces given him, Thomas reasoned, God would make it possible for him to become a Christian believer, either through an inner illumination or by sending a missionary to him. Thomas referred to the biblical example of the centurion Cornelius, who received the visitation of an angel before being evangelized and baptized by Peter (Acts 10). In his Summa Theologiae, however, Thomas omits any reference to miraculous instruction; he goes back to the Augustinian theory that those who had never heard the gospel would be eternally punished for original sin as well as their personal sins.

    A major theological development occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The voyages of discovery had by this time disclosed that there were large populations in North and South America, Africa, and Asia who had lived since the time of Christ and had never had access to the preaching of the gospel. The missionaries found no sign that even the most upright among these peoples had learned the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation by interior inspirations or angelic visitations.

    Luther, Calvin, and the Jansenists professed the strict Augustinian doctrine that God did not will to save everyone, but the majority of Catholic theologians rejected the idea that God had consigned all these unevangelized persons to hell without giving them any possibility of salvation. A series of theologians proposed more hopeful theories that they took to be compatible with Scripture and Catholic tradition.

    The Dominican Melchior Cano argued that these populations were in a situation no different from that of the pre-Christian pagans praised by Justin and others. They could be justified in this life (but not saved in the life to come) by implicit faith in the Christian mysteries. Another Dominican, Domingo de Soto, went further, holding that, for the unevangelized, implicit faith in Christ would be sufficient for salvation itself. Their contemporary, Albert Pighius, held that for these unevangelized persons the only faith required would be that mentioned in Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” They could therefore be saved by general revelation and grace even though no missionary came to evangelize them.

    The Jesuit Francisco Suarez, following these pioneers, argued for the sufficiency of implicit faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation, together with an implicit desire for baptism on the part of the unevangelized. Juan de Lugo agreed, but he added that such persons could not be saved if they had committed serious sins, unless they obtained forgiveness by an act of perfect contrition.

    In the mid-nineteenth century, the Jesuits of the Gregorian University followed in the tradition of Suarez and de Lugo, with certain modifications. Pope Pius IX incorporated some of their ideas in two important statements in 1854 and 1863. In the first, he said that, while no one can be saved outside the Church, God would not punish people for their ignorance of the true faith if their ignorance was invincible. In the second statement, Pius went further. He declared that persons invincibly ignorant of the Christian religion who observed the natural law and were ready to obey God would be able to attain eternal life, thanks to the workings of divine grace within them. In the same letter, the pope reaffirmed that no one could be saved outside the Catholic Church. He did not explain in what sense such persons were, or would come to be, in the Church. He could have meant that they would receive the further grace needed to join the Church, but nothing in his language suggests this. More probably he thought that such persons would be joined to the Church by implicit desire, as some theologians were teaching by his time.

    In 1943, Pius XII did take this further step. In his encyclical on the Mystical Body, Mystici Corporis, he distinguished between two ways of belonging to the Church: in actual fact (in re) or by desire (in voto). Those who belonged in voto, however, were not really members. They were ordered to the Church by the dynamism of grace itself, which related them to the Church in such a way that they were in some sense in it. The two kinds of relationship, however, were not equally conducive to salvation. Those adhering to the Church by desire could not have a sure hope of salvation because they lacked many spiritual gifts and helps available only to those visibly incorporated in the true Church.

    Mystici Corporis represents a forward step in its doctrine of adherence to the Church through implicit desire. From an ecumenical point of view, that encyclical is deficient, since it does not distinguish between the status of non-Christians and non-Catholic Christians. The next important document came from the Holy Office in its letter to Cardinal Cushing of Boston in 1949. The letter pointed out—in opposition to Father Leonard Feeney, S.J., and his associates at St. Benedict Center—that, although the Catholic Church was a necessary means for salvation, one could belong to it not only by actual membership but by also desire, even an unconscious desire. If that desire was accompanied by faith and perfect charity, it could lead to eternal salvation.

    Neither the encyclical Mystici Corporis nor the letter of the Holy Office specified the nature of the faith required for in voto status. Did the authors mean that the virtue of faith or the inclination to believe would suffice, or did they require actual faith in God and divine providence, or actual faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation?

    The Second Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church and its Decree on Ecumenism, made some significant departures from the teaching of Pius XII. It avoided the term member and said nothing of an unconscious desire for incorporation in the Church. It taught that the Catholic Church was the all-embracing organ of salvation and was equipped with the fullness of means of salvation. Other Christian churches and communities possessed certain elements of sanctification and truth that were, however, derived from the one Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church today. For this reason, God could use them as instruments of salvation. God had, however, made the Catholic Church necessary for salvation, and all who were aware of this had a serious obligation to enter the Church in order to be saved. God uses the Catholic Church not only for the redemption of her own members but also as an instrument for the redemption of all. Her witness and prayers, together with the eucharistic sacrifice, have an efficacy that goes out to the whole world.

    In several important texts, Vatican II took up the question of the salvation of non-Christians. Although they were related to the Church in various ways, they were not incorporated in her. God’s universal salvific will, it taught, means that he gives non-Christians, including even atheists, sufficient help to be saved. Whoever sincerely seeks God and, with his grace, follows the dictates of conscience is on the path to salvation. The Holy Spirit, in a manner known only to God, makes it possible for each and every person to be associated with the Paschal mystery. “God, in ways known to himself, can lead those inculpably ignorant of the gospel to that faith without which it is impossible to please him.” The council did not indicate whether it is necessary for salvation to come to explicit Christian faith before death, but the texts give the impression that implicit faith may suffice.

    Vatican II left open the question whether non-Christian religions contain revelation and are means that can lead their adherents to salvation. It did say, however, that other religions contain elements of truth and goodness, that they reflect rays of the truth that enlightens all men, and that they can serve as preparations for the gospel. Christian missionary activity serves to heal, ennoble, and perfect the seeds of truth and goodness that God has sown among non-Christian peoples, to the glory of God and the spiritual benefit of those evangelized.

    While repeatedly insisting that Christ is the one mediator of salvation, Vatican II shows forth a generally hopeful view of the prospects of non-Christians for salvation. Its hopefulness, however, is not unqualified: “Rather often, men, deceived by the evil one, have become caught up in futile reasoning and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or, some there are who, living and dying in a world without God, are subject to utter hopelessness.” The missionary activity of the Church is urgent for bringing such persons to salvation.

    After the council, Paul VI (in his pastoral exhortation “Evangelization in the Modern World”) and John Paul II (in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio) interpreted the teaching of Vatican II in relation to certain problems and theological trends arising since the council. Both popes were on guard against political and liberation theology, which would seem to equate salvation with formation of a just society on earth and against certain styles of religious pluralism, which would attribute independent salvific value to non-Christian religions. In 2000, toward the end of John Paul’s pontificate, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued the declaration Dominus Iesus, which emphatically taught that all grace and salvation must come through Jesus Christ, the one mediator.

    Wisely, in my opinion, the popes and councils have avoided talk about implicit faith, a term that is vague and ambiguous. They do speak of persons who are sincerely seeking for the truth and of others who have found it in Christ. They make it clear that sufficient grace is offered to all and that God will not turn away those who do everything within their power to find God and live according to his law. We may count on him to lead such persons to the faith needed for salvation.

    One of the most interesting developments in post-conciliar theology has been Karl Rahner’s idea of “anonymous Christians.” He taught that God offers his grace to everyone and reveals himself in the interior offer of grace. Grace, moreover, is always mediated through Christ and tends to bring its recipients into union with him. Those who accept and live by the grace offered to them, even though they have never heard of Christ and the gospel, may be called anonymous Christians.

    Although Rahner denied that his theory undermined the importance of missionary activity, it was widely understood as depriving missions of their salvific importance. Some readers of his works understood him as teaching that the unevangelized could possess the whole of Christianity except the name. Saving faith, thus understood, would be a subjective attitude without any specifiable content. In that case, the message of the gospel would have little to do with salvation.

    The history of the doctrine of salvation through faith has gone through a number of stages since the High Middle Ages. Using the New Testament as their basic text, the Church Fathers regarded faith in Christ and baptism as essential for salvation. On the basis of his study of the New Testament and Augustine, Thomas Aquinas held that explicit belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation was necessary for everyone who lived since the time of Christ, but he granted that in earlier times it was sufficient to believe explicitly in the existence and providence of God.

    In the sixteenth century, theologians speculated that the unevangelized were in the same condition as pre-Christians and were not held to believe explicitly in Christ until the gospel was credibly preached to them. Pius IX and the Second Vatican Council taught that all who followed their conscience, with the help of the grace given to them, would be led to that faith that was necessary for them to be saved. During and after the council, Karl Rahner maintained that saving faith could be had without any definite belief in Christ or even in God.

    We seem to have come full circle from the teaching of Paul and the New Testament that belief in the message of Christ is the source of salvation. Reflecting on this development, one can see certain gains and certain losses. The New Testament and the theology of the first millennium give little hope for the salvation of those who, since the time of Christ, have had no chance of hearing the gospel. If God has a serious salvific will for all, this lacuna needed to be filled, as it has been by theological speculation and church teaching since the sixteenth century. Modern theology, preoccupied with the salvation of non-Christians, has tended to neglect the importance of explicit belief in Christ, so strongly emphasized in the first centuries. It should not be impossible, however, to reconcile the two perspectives.

    Scripture itself assures us that God has never left himself without a witness to any nation (Acts 14:17). His testimonies are marks of his saving dispensations toward all. The inner testimony of every human conscience bears witness to God as lawgiver, judge, and vindicator. In ancient times, the Jewish Scriptures drew on literature that came from Babylon, Egypt, and Greece. The Book of Wisdom and Paul’s Letter to the Romans speak of God manifesting his power and divinity through his works in nature. The religions generally promote prayer and sacrifice as ways of winning God’s favor. The traditions of all peoples contain elements of truth imbedded in their cultures, myths, and religious practices. These sound elements derive from God, who speaks to all his children through inward testimony and outward signs.

    The universal evidences of the divine, under the leading of grace, can give rise to a rudimentary faith that leans forward in hope and expectation to further manifestations of God’s merciful love and of his guidance for our lives. By welcoming the signs already given and placing their hope in God’s redeeming love, persons who have not heard the tidings of the gospel may nevertheless be on the road to salvation. If they are faithful to the grace given them, they may have good hope of receiving the truth and blessedness for which they yearn.

    The search, however, is no substitute for finding. To be blessed in this life, one must find the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in the field, which is worth buying at the cost of everything one possesses. To Christians has been revealed the mystery hidden from past ages, which the patriarchs and prophets longed to know. By entering through baptism into the mystery of the cross and the Resurrection, Christians undergo a radical transformation that sets them unequivocally on the road to salvation. Only after conversion to explicit faith can one join the community that is nourished by the Word of God and the sacraments. These gifts of God, prayerfully received, enable the faithful to grow into ever greater union with Christ.

    In Christ’s Church, therefore, we have many aids to salvation and sanctification that are not available elsewhere. Cardinal Newman expressed the situation admirably in one of his early sermons:

    The prerogative of Christians consists in the possession, not of exclusive knowledge and spiritual aid, but of gifts high and peculiar; and though the manifestation of the Divine character in the Incarnation is a singular and inestimable benefit, yet its absence is supplied in a degree, not only in the inspired record of Moses, but even, with more or less strength, in those various traditions concerning Divine Providences and Dispositions which are scattered through the heathen mythologies.

    We cannot take it for granted that everyone is seeking the truth and is prepared to submit to it when found. Some, perhaps many, resist the grace of God and reject the signs given to them. They are not on the road to salvation at all. In such cases, the fault is not God’s but theirs. The references to future punishment in the gospels cannot be written off as empty threats. As Paul says, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

    We may conclude with certitude that God makes it possible for the unevangelized to attain the goal of their searching. How that happens is known to God alone, as Vatican II twice declares. We know only that their search is not in vain. “Seek, and you will find,” says the Lord (Matt. 7:7). If non-Christians are praying to an unknown God, it may be for us to help them find the one they worship in ignorance. God wants everyone to come to the truth. Perhaps some will reach the goal of their searching only at the moment of death. Who knows what transpires secretly in their consciousness at that solemn moment? We have no evidence that death is a moment of revelation, but it could be, especially for those in pursuit of the truth of God.

    Meanwhile, it is the responsibility of believers to help these seekers by word and by example. Whoever receives the gift of revealed truth has the obligation to share it with others. Christian faith is normally transmitted by testimony. Believers are called to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.

    Who, then, can be saved? Catholics can be saved if they believe the Word of God as taught by the Church and if they obey the commandments. Other Christians can be saved if they submit their lives to Christ and join the community where they think he wills to be found. Jews can be saved if they look forward in hope to the Messiah and try to ascertain whether God’s promise has been fulfilled. Adherents of other religions can be saved if, with the help of grace, they sincerely seek God and strive to do his will. Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice. God’s saving grace, channeled through Christ the one Mediator, leaves no one unassisted. But that same grace brings obligations to all who receive it. They must not receive the grace of God in vain. Much will be demanded of those to whom much is given.

    Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., holds the Laurence J. McGinley Chair in Religion and Society at Fordham University. This essay is adapted from the Laurence J. McGinley Lecture delivered on November 7, 2007.

    The Orate Fratres

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