Thursday, February 09, 2006

The problem I have ...

... with Daniel Dennett is complex and would require more time that I have at my disposal just now to explain adequately. But I can offer an example. In a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Common-Sense Religion," Dennett delivers himself of the following:

... the Catholic movie star Mel Gibson ... was interviewed by Peter J. Boyer in a 2003 profile in The New Yorker. Boyer asked him if Protestants are denied eternal salvation.
"There is no salvation for those outside the Church," Gibson replied. "I believe it." He explained: "Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it."
Such remarks deeply embarrass two groups of Catholics: those who believe it but think it is best left unsaid, and those who don't believe it at all — no matter what "the chair" may pronounce. And which group of Catholics is larger, or more influential? That is utterly unknown and currently unknowable, a part of the unsavory miasma.

Which group of Catholics is larger is unknown? Not really. All informed Catholics know that Gibson's statement only demonstrates that while Gibson may be a first-rate actor and director, he is ignorant of his own church's teaching. Regarding the formula "extra ecclesiam nulla salus" -- "outside the church there is no salvation" -- the Catholic Encyclopedia (the old, pre-Vatican II one) says:

This saying has been the occasion of so many objections that some consideration of its meaning seems desirable. It certainly does not mean that none can be saved except those who are in visible communion with the Church. The Catholic Church has ever taught that nothing else is needed to obtain justification than an act of perfect charity and of contrition. Whoever, under the impulse of actual grace, elicits these acts receives immediately the gift of sanctifying grace, and is numbered among the children of God. Should he die in these dispositions, he will assuredly attain heaven.

Dennett doesn't know what he's talking about anymore than Gibson does. But he ought to. Which is one reason why he strikes me as a mere polemicist rather than a deep thinker.

Further evidence for this is provided by Adam Kirsch in the New York Sun: If Men Are From Mars, What's God.


  1. Daniel Dennett is a misguided individual who, one second after he dies, will realize he was wrong...too bad, so sad, too late!

    And Mel Gibson....yanno...with all the exposure I've gotten to the plethera of "Christian theologies" in the wonder the secular world thinks we're a bunch of raving lunatics!

    Belief in Jesus is the only way...period!


    The Italian diocesan priest Fr. Francesco Giordano studying at the Holy Cross University, Rome and working for his doctorate on the subject extra ecclesiam nulla salus says he affirms the dogma Cantate Domino, Council of Florence 1441.The ex cathedra dogma says all non Catholics, specifying, Jews, Protestants and Orthodox Christians needing to formally enter the Catholic Church to avoid Hell, which has fire.

    One can affirm Cantate Domino which indicates everyone with no exception, de facto needs to enter the Church and, at the same time believe de jure; in principle, a non Catholic can be saved implicitly (baptism of desire etc) and it would be known only to God.

    However Fr. Giordano’s position on 1) Fr. Leonard Feeney and 2) Lumen Gentium 16, Vatican Council II is not clear. He seems to contradict the dogma on these two points. Though, he told me at the Church Santa Maria di Nazareth, Boccea, Rome that he affirms Cantate Domino.

    Fr. Giordano, who has studied at the University of Chicago, is a young priest fluent in English and Italian. He received his Licentiate from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome and the subject of his thesis there was outside the church there is no salvation.

    Like St. Thomas Aquinas if one uses the defacto-dejure analysis it is possible to hold the ‘rigorist interpretation’ of the dogma and also affirm the baptism of desire (Council of Trent) and so not be considered a heretic. It does not have to be an either-or position i.e. the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus or the baptism of desire.

    Fr. Giordano believes Cantate Domino is compatible with Vatican Council II, Catechism of the Catholic Church and other Magisterial documents.

    Here is Cantate Domino.

    “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” -Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441. Ex cathedra – from the website

    St. Thomas Aquinas affirms the ‘rigorist interpretation’ of extra ecclesiam nulla salus.
    "There is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church." (Summa Theologica)
    St. Thomas also says that there can be the man in the forest in invincible ignorance.

    De Veritate, 14. : “It is possible that someone may be brought up in the forest, or among wolves; such a man cannot explicitly know anything about the faith. St. Thomas replies- It is the characteristic of Divine Providence to provide every man with what is necessary for salvation… provided on his part there is no hindrance. In the case of a man who seeks good and shuns evil, by the leading of natural reason, God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him…”
    St. Thomas Aquinas is saying:

    1. So de facto everyone on earth needs to enter the Church for salvation an there are no exceptions.De jure (in principle) there can be a person in invincible ignorance who can be saved.

    Here we have no contradiction of the Principle of Non Contradiction.

    2. St. Thomas Aquinas is saying for others :

    De facto everyone on earth needs to enter the Church for salvation but there are de facto exceptions that we can know of (invincible ignorance etc). So everyone needs to enter the Church except for ….This is a contradiction of the Principle of Non Contradiction and irrational (defacto-defacto) .It is the political position of the secular media and the Angelicum, Gregorian and Opus Dei University in Rome.

    Fr. Giordano agrees with the first (1) interpretation of St. Thomas Aquinas and extra ecclesiam nulla salus. However is he free to express it in his doctorate?

    It would mean Lumen Gentium 16 does not say that we know of cases of non Catholics saved in the present times in invincible ignorance. If the Lumen Gentium text does not make this claim and rationally we cannot know any such case, then Vatican Council II does not contradict Cantate Domino - and we are back to the centuries-old interpretation.

    Would the Opus Dei University accept this doctoral thesis?

    We do not know any case of a person saved in invincible ignorance or the baptism of desire (BOD). We don’t know any specific case. So we can accept BOD and invincible ignorance only in principle. We can know it only as a concept.

    We can never know any such case in reality. We cannot meet someone who has been saved with BOD or in invincible ignorance. So it is never de facto; real, as is the baptism of water. The baptism of water is repeatable and visible. It is de facto.

    So when we refer to the baptism of desire it is always de jure (in principle, acceptable). It can never be known in reality.

    If it is not de facto to us it does not contradict Cantate Domino on extra ecclesiam nulla salus. (EENS)

    So de facto Catholic Faith and the baptism of water are needed for all for salvation, with no exception.

    While de jure, in principle, there can be persons known to God only who can be saved with the baptism of desire or invincible ignorance (in the manner known to God).

    So affirming the baptism of desire etc does not conflict with the interpretation of EENS according to Fr. Leonard Feeney. Fr.Leonard Feeney taught de facto everyone with no exception needed to enter the Church for salvation and de facto or de jure we do not know any case of the baptism of desire.

    There is no de facto or de jure baptism of desire (implicit salvation) that we can know of as humans.

    It is never de facto and so never in conflict with the dogma.

    There can be a baptism of desire de facto known to God but it can never be defacto for us.

    So the baptism of desire can never be known de facto and can only be accepted in principle I repeat. Since it can never be defacto known to us it does not oppose the dogmatic teaching. Since one accepts it in principle; as a possibility, one cannot be called a heretic. I cannot be called a heretic for rejecting the baptism of desire. I do not. I accept it in principle as a possibility known de facto only to God.Neither can I be called a heretic for affirming Cantate Domino. Since it refers to de facto everyone needing Catholic Faith and the baptism of water the same as Ad Gentes 7 and it is not in conflict with the Council of Trent's reference to the baptism of desire(implicit and dejure).

    Since one is defacto and the other de jure it does not contradict the Principle of Non Contradiction as would a defacto-defacto irrational analysis.

    We cannot know any case of implicit salvation i.e. baptism of desire, invincible ignorance, good conscience, partial communion with the Church as it is never de facto known to us. So it is not opposed to the dogma which indicates everyone needs to de facto enter the Church for salvation. The dogma says everyone with no exception needs to be a formal, de facto member of the Church for salvation. Everyone de facto needs Catholic Faith and the baptism of water to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.

    Probably if Fr.Giordanao knew the truth on this subject and wrote it in his thesis , the Angelicum would not permit him to receive a Licentiate. They would not even approve the subject for ‘research’. At the Opus Dei University Fr. Francesco has chosen a seemingly harmless aspect of outside the Church the church there is no salvation. He will focus on a specific time period of the dogma and with reference to St. Thomas Aquinas.

    Imagine him telling the professor at the Angelicum that the Letter of the Holy Office 1949 supported Fr. Leonard Feeney on doctrine. The Letter referred to the ‘dogma’. The text of the dogma, Cantate Domino above, has the same message as Fr. Leonard Feeney; the Church teaches ‘infallibly’ that all Jews in Boston need to convert into the Church to avoid Hell. So how could Fr. Leonard Feeney could be excommunicated for heresy as the media and the Angelicum claim? Would they allow him to continue ?



    Imagine him telling the professor at the Angelicum that there is no text in Vatican Council II which contradicts Cantate Domino.

    Even now at the Holy Cross University can he challenge his professors to point out any text in Vatican Council II which contradicts Cantate Domino?

    Similar errors as at the Angelicum are also being taught at the Opus Dei University. He could have to provide ‘research’ which is politically acceptable.
    A common error at the Catholic Universities and traditionalist priests of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX),supporters of Fr. Leonard Feeney and sedevacantists Most Holy Family Monastery are:

    They say there is no baptism of desire. They are correct there is no known case of a person saved with the baptism of desire. De facto in reality we don’t know any such case. So in this sense the vague phrase’ there is no baptism of desire’ is correct.

    However in its nature, the baptism of desire can never be defacto for us. In its very nature, since it is known only to God; there is no de facto d baptism of desire for us.

    It is only de facto for God and for us humans a concept, a possibility, acceptable in principle (de jure).

    So the Most Holy Family Monastery(MHFM) reject the baptism of desire since they assume it is de facto and so contradicts the dogma Cantate Domini.

    It would be contrary to the principle of Non Contradiction for the MHFM’s Dimond Brothers to accept a baptism of desire, which is, defacto for them. They must realize that the baptism of desire can never be known de facto and since it is dejure, known only to God, it does not contradict the Principle of Non Contradiction. So I can affirm Cantate Domino and also the baptism of desire (de jure, a possibility). This is not heresy as the MHFM would claim, since in principle I accept the possibility of a person being saved with the baptism of desire.


    How does the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate at Boccea, where Fr. Francesco lives, respond to this issue? Fr. Francesco offers the Tridentine Mass at the Church there and often hears Confession.

    The Parish Priest is Fr. Settimo Manelli FFI (Tel: 06-6156091 06-6156091 E-mail: ).I have been sending some of these posts on this blog, to Fr.Settimo and to Fr. John Francesco FFI, an American priest of the community who also lives at Boccea. Here there are some 30 Friars many of whom study Philosophy at the seminary in Boccea.They are taught by Fr. John Francesco and the other FFI priests. I would like them to answer these four questions about the Catholic Faith.

    1. Do they hold to the ‘teachings ‘of the Church according to the media (New York Times, Boston Globe, Reuters etc) or according to Magisterial texts, on the subject of extra eccleisam nulla salus?

    2. Do they interpret Vatican Council II and Fr. Leonard Feeney as an exception to Cantate Domino or do they see Vatican Council II (Ad Gentes 7) and the Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston 1949, affirming Cantate Domino?

    3. There can be no Tridentine Rite Mass without extra eccleisam nulla salus. To reject an ex cathedra dogma, in the name of Vatican Council II or whatever is heresy. It’s a mortal sin ?

    4. Can we personally know cases of non Catholics saved in the present times with a good conscience, the Word of God, in partial communion with the Church etc?

    Fr. Francesco Giordano who lives with the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate at Boccea affirms Cantate Domino and the baptism of desire. So he cannot be called a heretic. This has been a sad controversy in the Church. He affirms Cantate Domino and Vatican Council II. I am sure other priests will also follow him.
    -Lionel Andrades

  8. Question: OK so are you saying that anyone who is not Catholic is going to Hell?

    Lionel: Do you mean de facto or hypothetically?

    De facto everyone on earth needs to be a Catholic, with Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water to go to Heaven and avoid Hell. (Cantate Domino, Council of Florence, Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II etc).

    Hypothetically; as a concept, in principle, a person can be saved with implicit salvation (baptism of desire etc) and it will be known only to God.

    De facto we do not know any case of a person saved with the baptism of desire etc.

    So are you saying that anyone who is not Catholic is going to Hell?

    De facto; in reality, when I meet a non Catholic, I know he is oriented to Hell unless he converts into the Catholic Church.

    De jure (in principle), a person can be saved in invincible ignorance etc and it would be known only to God.
    -Lionel Andrades