Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Trade unions
Protestant Churches and Communism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Salvation of apostate Catholics

1633. You have repeatedly spoken of non-Catholics who have never realized the truth of the Catholic Church. I therefore take it that you hold that a Catholic who abandons the Catholic Church, no matter how exemplary thereafter his life may be, is doomed to hell.

No one can say that by any particular sin a man is doomed to hell. A sin might be grave enough in itself to take a man to hell, if he dies without repenting of it. But Holy Scripture tells us that whilst there is life there is hope. "As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live." Ezech., XXXIII, 11. No matter what a man does, allowance must always be made for the infinite mercy of God and the possibility of repentance before death. A Catholic who has had the Catholic Faith is, of course, in a very different position from a Protestant who has never had it. No well-instructed Catholic can abandon the Catholic Faith without grave sin; and no other good works he may do will exempt him from the necessity of repenting before God both of the sin of renouncing the Catholic religion and of the scandal he may have given by doing so. If he dies without repenting of such sins, he will lose his soul. But whether he will die without repenting, or whether any particular person who has abandoned the Catholic religion in the past has actually died without repenting of it, I do not know. God alone knows that. What can be said is that no particular cases you can bring forward in this matter could compel the withdrawal of any Catholic principles bearing on the subject, however complex those cases might be or whatever dilemmas they might seem to present.

1634. What would be the fate of the first Protestant reformers? They had all been Catholics.

Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII, John Knox, Ridley, Latimer and other pioneers of the Protestant Reformation had, of course, all been brought up as Catholics. On the principles I have explained to you, if their souls went from this world without repenting of their having abandoned the Catholic Church, they would be lost. Whether they actually died without repenting of it, or whether they repented of it at the last moment in a way known only to God and themselves, I do not know; and therefore I cannot tell you with any certainty what is their actual fate. If they have saved their souls, and if human thinking were valid in such matters, one would be tempted to say that their heaven would consist in recovering from the shock of having very nearly not got there at all!

1635. If a man, highly respected in the community and a very sincere type of person, renounces the Catholic religion and becomes a Protestant minister, is he automatically condemned to hell?

In this matter, we can leave out of consideration however highly respected he may be in the community. God is no respecter of persons from that point of view. In our Lord's own days the Scribes and Pharisees were very highly respected in the community, yet He castigated them and was consistently gentle and courteous to disreputable members of society. If such a person as you describe were very sincere, that would be better. But in that case he would not have abandoned the Catholic religion unless he were either completely ignorant of it, or insane—at least temporarily. As ignorance, provided it be not one's own fault, or insanity excuse from guilt, such a man would not deserve condemnation to hell for his defection. A sane and well-instructed Catholic, however, would not be in the same position. He could not be described as sincere, however highly respected he might be in the community. And he would certainly go to hell, unless he repented of his apostasy and were reconciled with the Catholic Church before he died.

1636. Take the case of a priest I know, and who cannot be said to have lacked full instruction in the Catholic religion.

I grant that no priest could apostasize from the Catholic Church and be excused on the plea that he was not well-instructed in his religion.

1637. This priest gave great scandal in his parish, yet although extremely repentant for having done so, he was dismissed from the Catholic Church and had to seek other employment.

Since a priest is ordained for the good of souls, the Catholic Church is surely not to be blamed for removing a priest whose unbecoming conduct is only doing harm to souls, But you are wrong when you say that, although he was extremely repentant for having given such scandal, he was dismissed by the Catholic Church and had to seek employment elsewhere. Had he been extremely repentant, as you say, the Catholic Church would at least have provided for his retirement to a life in private, supporting him and giving him the opportunity to devote himself to prayer and the sanctification of his soul. But instead of repenting, on your own showing, he went on to a further violation of his obligations. I do not say that he did so without remorse. But remorse is not repentance, for repentance supposes the will no longer to violate one's obligations.

1638. This priest married and thereafter led a blameless life.

You are judging as a non-Catholic and from the viewpoint of conduct under circumstances applicable to ordinary people. But a Catholic priest is not an ordinary person. He is a person who, by a vow of celibacy, has solemnly undertaken before God not to contract marriage. It would be impossible for any Catholic priest, well aware of his vow of celibacy, to go through a marriage ceremony and believe that he could live a blame less life before God in such a state. The condition of his soul must be judged, not by what you think, but by what he knows.

1639. This priest, because he still believed in Christ and loved Him, became a Protestant minister.

That could easily be a form of escapism, even if it were not a case of "to dig I am not able; to beg I am ashamed." By escapism I mean the attempt to compensate for a neglected duty by a self-chosen substitute. It would take an expert psychiatrist to analyze the mental state of such a man as you describe. It is possible to fail in conduct without failing in one's convictions. But that always means mental conflict; and the only way to some sort of peace is either to give up one's conduct, or to abandon one's convictions, or else to work out some kind of compromise by which one can go on with the conduct yet feel that somehow one is trying to put those convictions into practice. But how easily such a profession of belief in and love for Christ can be but a form of self-deception should be evident. Christ Himself said "Not everyone that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matt., VII, 21. And again He said: "If you love me, keep my commandments." Jn., XIV, 15. Not all the preaching to others can excuse one from fulfilling one's own obligations.

1640. Would such an ex-priest go to hell?

If he died in a state of unrepented mortal sin, he would. But whether any man has got himself into such a mental tangle that he is not capable of responsible conduct; or whether, granted a state of mortal sin, he will die without repenting of it, I am not in a position to say. Individual souls must be left to God. But the principle stands that if a Catholic wishes to save his soul he must be true to his Catholic Faith; and it is sheer presumption for a Catholic to imagine that abandoning the Catholic Church will make no difference whatever to the question of his ultimate salvation.



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