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Church Teaching on Rhythm Method & Natural Family Planning

We know that artificial contraceptives are mortally sinful. The Catholic Church teaches that one who uses these contraceptives, and dies with this stain of sin on their soul will go to hell. One can not be a Catholic and reject this. However, what of the question of Natural Family Planning otherwise known as the Rhythm Method?? Is Natural Family Planning sinful?

This turns out to be a misunderstood question, so here is what the theologians and the Church says…

On the Question of Natural Family Planning

by the Most Reverend Mark. A. Pivarunas, CMRI

The issue of Natural Family Planning is certainly one that has been misunderstood and misrepresented. On one hand, there are some who erroneously believe that NFP can be practiced indiscriminately without the necessary conditions listed by Pope Pius XII (i.e. a serious reason, mutual consent, and morally possibly) and on the other, there are some who condemn entirely the practice of NFP, regardless of serious necessity. It would be better, of course, if this delicate matter were treated in private — with married couples and those preparing for marriage. Because it has become so public, however, it is necessary to answer the important question: “What DOES the Catholic Church really teach on this moral issue?” You will find the answer well explained by His Excellency. Once again, let this also serve as a reminder to all couples that a sufficiently grave reason is necessary to make use of Natural Family Planning.


February 18, 2002

Dear N.,

Praised be Jesus and Mary!

Thank you for your recent letter on the topic of “rhythm” and I welcome the opportunity to set this matter straight.

Not unlike the Protestants who misinterpret Sacred Scripture, there are some traditional Catholics who misunderstand past teachings of the Catholic Church and thereby arrive at erroneous conclusions. I believe that this is certainly the situation with “rhythm.”

Consider the following points:

1) The very concept of “rhythm” was first considered by the Catholic Church in 1853. The Bishop of Amiens, France, submitted the following question to the Sacred Penitentiary:

“Certain married couples, relying on the opinion of learned physicians, are convinced that there are several days each month in which conception cannot occur. Are those who do not use the marriage right except on such days to be disturbed, especially if they have legitimate reasons for abstaining from the conjugal act?”

On March 2, 1853, the Sacred Penitentiary (during the reign of Pope Pius IX) answered as follows:

“Those spoken of in the request are not to be disturbed, providing that they do nothing to impede conception.”

a) Please note: “providing that they do nothing to impede conception.” When married couples practice rhythm, they do not do anything unnatural in the act itself.

In Medical Ethics by Fr. Charles J. McFadden, O.S.A, Ph.D., we read:

“In the use of the safe period, married persons do not interfere in any way with the operation of nature. Their marital relationship is carried out in the strictly natural manner… No unnatural action is committed by those who exercise their marital rights in a truly natural manner during the safe period… In marriage, both parties acquire mutual permanent rights to marital relationship. This fact indicates that they have the right at all times. Generally speaking, however, they do not have the obligation to exercise their rights at any specific time.”

b) Conception certainly can still take place even when couples practice rhythm. In Marriage Guidance by Fr. Edwin F. Healy, S.J., S.T.D., we find:

“Rhythm cannot be looked upon as a certain method of avoiding offspring… The reasons for lack of certainty are: (1) It is difficult to be sure of the strict regularity of a particular woman’s ovulation periods. (2) Fertilization at times occurs during the periods which this theory regards as absolutely sterile.”

2) Another reference to rhythm appeared in 1880. Fr. Le Conte submitted the following questions to the Sacred Penitentiary:

“Whether married couples may have intercourse during such sterile periods without committing mortal or venial sin?”

“Whether the confessor may suggest such a procedure either to the wife who detests the onanism of her husband but cannot correct him, or to either spouse who shrinks from having numerous children?”

The response of the Sacred Penitentiary (during the reign of Pope Leo XIII), dated June 16, 1880, was:

“Married couples who use their marriage right in the aforesaid manner are not to be disturbed, and the confessor may suggest the opinion in question, cautiously, however, to those married people whom he has tried in vain by other means to dissuade from the detestable crime of onanism.”

a) Please note that onanism and rhythm are two different things. In Medico-Moral Problems, Fr. Gerard Kelly, S.J., explained:

“The Church teaches that contraception is a sin because it means doing what is evil. It is not the same with rhythm. Those who practice the rhythm do nothing evil. They simply omit doing something good — that is, they abstain from intercourse at the time when it might be fertile. Therefore, the morality of using rhythm must be judged in the same way as other omissions: if the abstinence from intercourse is a neglect of duty, it is sinful; if it does not imply a neglect of duty, it is not sinful.”

b) In The Administration of the Sacraments by Fr. Nicholas Halligan, O.P., there is yet another reference to the morality of rhythm:

“As regards the conjugal act spouses are free to choose whatever time they wish to use their marital rights or also to abstain by mutual consent. Thus they are not obliged to perform this act only during the fertile period, neither are they obliged to refrain during the sterile period.

“God has endowed the nature of woman with both periods. Deliberately to limit the use of marital relations exclusively to the sterile periods in order to avoid conception (i.e., to practice periodic continence or rhythm) is, according to the common teaching of theologians, morally lawful in actual practice if there is mutual consent, sufficient reason and due safeguards against attendant dangers. “It is also common teaching that this practice of family limitation without good and sufficient reason involves a degree of moral fault. This fault certainly could be mortal if serious injustice is done or there exists grave danger of incontinence, divorce, serious family discord, etc.”

c) Furthermore, the above responses of the Sacred Penitentiary (which are quoted in sections 1 and 2 of this letter) were the moral guidelines for the theologians long before Pope Pius XII addressed this issue. As we read in Handbook of Moral Theologyby Fr. Dominic Prummer, O.P.:

“To make use of the so-called safe period (i.e., to refrain from the conjugal act during the period when the woman is fertile) has been declared lawful by the Sacred Penitentiary, but it is not a certain means of preventing conception, since there is no infallible way of determining the safe period.”

3) You misinterpret Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Casti Connubii when he teaches:

“Since, moreover, the conjugal act by its very nature is destined for the generating of offspring, those who in the exercise of it deliberately deprive it of its natural force and power, act contrary to nature, and do something that is shameful and intrinsically bad.”

a) Married couples do not “deprive it [the marriage act] of its natural force and power” with the practice of rhythm because conception is still possible.

b) The footnotes in Denzinger on this quote of Pope Pius XI refer to the sinful practice of onanism — whether by interrupted copulation or by artificial instruments. There is no mention of rhythm at all.

4) It is also incorrect to say that Pope Pius XI had not referred to rhythm in his encyclical when he taught:

“Nor are those married couples to be considered as acting against the order of nature who make use of their right in the proper, natural way, even though through natural causes either of time or of certain defects, new life cannot thence result.”

a) In Moral Theology by Fr. John C. Ford, S.J., and Fr. Gerard Kelly, S.J., we find an interesting answer to those who would doubt whether this quote of Pope Pius XI was referring to rhythm:

“The fact that the licit use of the sterile period was already at that time a commonplace among theologians, the fact that the phrase ‘through natural reasons… of time’ was used, rather than ‘reasons of age’ or some similar expression, and the fact that the immediate context of the encyclical itself was concern for the difficulties of married people tempted to onanism — all these considerations convinced the great majority of theologians that Pius XI was here referring to the permissible use of the sterile periods as a means of avoiding conception. Pius XII, we may mention here, explicitly confirmed this view in 1958 (Address to Hematologists, 12 Sept. 1958, A.A.S., 50 [1958] 736), thus dispelling what little doubt had existed on this point.”

b) Thus whatever interpretation you may apply to Pope Pius XI’s “Nor are those married couples…”, Pope Pius XII has already confirmed what his predecessor meant.

5) For those who would belittle Pope Pius XII’s teaching on the morality of rhythm on the score that he addressed only mid-wives and nurses, let them realize that this address is contained in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (the official Acts of the Apostolic See).

Refer to: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 43 (1951) 845-46. On two other occasions, Pope Pius XII reiterated this same teaching and these also can be found in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis 43 (1953) 855-60 at 859 and Acta Apostolicae Sedis 50 (1958) 732-48, at 736.

a) It is interesting to note that Fr. Paul Nau, O.S.B., in his article on the “Ordinary Universal Teaching Authority of the Pope” explicitly referred to this teaching of Pope Pius XII on rhythm as an example of an allocution used to promulgate a teaching to the universal Church:

“The pope can use other means for worldwide communication. With extreme care for tact and delicacy, Pope Pius XII has chosen, in speaking of certain more delicate problems of conjugal chastity, to confine his remarks to an audience of doctors, nurses and technicians.

“A good example of this is the allocution Pius XII gave in 1951 to the midwives. Certainly an allocution is not the most solemn means of teaching at the pope’s disposal, but it is just as certain that the pope did intend to teach quite authoritatively in this case.

“There is no question but that such a discourse was intended to have, and in fact has had, a much wider audience than that of his immediate hearers. The same is true of letters and allocutions directed to bishops. As Supreme Pastor teaching other pastors, the pope here exercises a magisterium that is virtually universal. The audiences in these cases are like sounding boards for greater resonance and wider acceptance of the papal teaching.

“When considering such widespread resonance and acceptance of teachings in the Church, we cannot overlook the help of the Holy Spirit given personally to the Successor of Peter. This assistance is meant to prevent the Pastor from leading the flock astray. The pope is endowed with infallibility because he must direct the Church which Christ promised would be preserved from all error till the end of time.

“We can expect the help of the Holy Spirit on any occasion to be in direct proportion to the impact the pope’s words have on the faith of the universal Church. Whatever is accepted throughout the Church must be true, and the greater acceptance a papal declaration finds, the greater reason we have for accepting it as part of the Catholic faith.”

6) It is important to mention that Pope Pius XII placed a condition on the use of rhythm:

“Consequently to embrace the state of matrimony, to use continually the faculty proper to it, and in it alone, and on the other hand to withdraw always and deliberately, without a grave motive, from its primary duty, would be to sin against the very meaning of conjugal life” (A.A.S., 43 [1951] 845-846).

7) Well before Vatican II, moral theologians consistently reiterated the teaching of the Sacred Penitentiary and Pope Pius XII on the morality of rhythm.

It is difficult to comprehend how anyone can claim that the pope, the Sacred Penitentiary, and moral theologians have been in error on this issue for some 150 years and that laity have now figured it out.

With an assurance of my prayers, I remain

Sincerely in Christ,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

Bergoglio Denies the Immaculate Conception?!

from Novus Ordo Watch

Chaos Frank opened his mouth again…

Francis denies Immaculate Conception, says Virgin Mary Not a Saint from the Beginning

The Novus Ordo circus in Vatican City continues unabated even during one of the most solemn times of the year. Francis is so far removed from Catholicism that he cannot even offer Christmas greetings to his staff without uttering heresy.

On Dec. 21, 2018, Francis received the employees of his Unholy See and Vatican City State at the hideous Paul VI audience hall and, referring to the Nativity scene set up there, said:

Our Lady and Saint Joseph are full of joy: they look at the Child Jesus and they are happy because, after a thousand worries, they have accepted this gift of God, with so much faith and so much love. They are “overflowing” with holiness and therefore with joy. And you will tell me: of course! They are Our Lady and Saint Joseph! Yes, but let us not think it was easy for them: saints are not born, they become thus, and this is true for them too.

(Francis, Christmas Greetings to, Dec. 21, 2018)

The Italian original has these words:

La Madonna e San Giuseppe sono pieni di gioia: guardano il Bambino Gesù e sono felici perché, dopo mille preoccupazioni, hanno accolto questo Regalo di Dio, con tanta fede e tanto amore. Sono “straripanti” di santità e quindi di gioia. E voi mi direte: per forza! Sono la Madonna e San Giuseppe! Sì, ma non pensiamo che per loro sia stato facile: santi non si nasce, si diventa, e questo vale anche per loro.


The video of the address is available here (the paragraph quoted above begins at the 20:35 min mark).

The fact that Francis suggests that it wasn’t until after some kind of interior struggle that Holy Mary and St. Joseph (finally) “accepted this gift of God”, is troubling and blasphemous enough. This alone would probably suffice to accuse him of heresy. But he goes much further. He explicitly says that it was not easy for them to be joyful at the Birth of Christ because this required holiness that they had not received from birth but had to acquire over time!

Needless to say, it is most certainly generally true that saints are not born but made over time, with penance and prayer, enabled and aided by the grace of God (cf. Mt 11:30). However, the Blessed Virgin Mary is an exception in that she was perfectly holy from the very beginning of her existence, and this is a dogma defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854:

…To the honor of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, to the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, to the exaltation of the Catholic Faith and the increase of the Christian religion, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and by Our own, We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine, which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary at the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, in virtue of the merits of Christ Jesus, the Savior of the human race, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and on this account must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.

Wherefore, if any should presume to think in their hearts otherwise than as it has been defined by Us, which God avert, let them know and understand that they are condemned by their own judgment; that they have suffered shipwreck in regard to faith, and have revolted from the unity of the Church; and what is more, that by their own act they subject themselves to the penalties established by law, if, what they think in their heart, they should to signify by word or writing or any other external means.

(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus; Denz. 1641)

So, not only was the Blessed Virgin Mary born a saint — “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) — she was conceivedone, too. In other words, she has always been a saint, even from the very first moment of her existence. There was never an instant in which she existed without this fullness of grace; at no point was she ever under the dominion of the devil. This was already hinted at right after the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15).

Yes, we can already think of five things to know and share that Jimmy Akin might offer to exonerate his “Holy Father” from the charge of heresy, but interpretation is one thing and spin another. Francis said what he said, and he wasn’t even speaking off the cuff. He was reading a prepared speech, one that gets reviewed and vetted by a Novus Ordo Dominican theologian in order — make sure you’re sitting down — to ensure it contains nothing heretical or erroneous.

[We pause for a brief moment while you finish laughing.]

But vetted or not, the fact remains that at the end of the day the “Pope” has an obligation to know what he says in public. Should a mistake indeed ever creep in, he then has an obligation to (1) correct the mistake, (2) redress the scandal caused, and (3) take steps to ensure it won’t happen again in the future.

But let’s not kid ourselves here. Francis is right at home with heresy, as our “Pope Francis” page shows, which catalogues his most egregious heresies and howlers. His contempt for the Blessed Virgin Mary is not a secret, although he does, of course, feign a devotion to her most of the time. Recall the following Marian lowlights of his almost 6-year reign of terror so far:

In other words, Jorge Bergoglio has a pattern of insulting Mary Most Holy. (Here we won’t mention his frightful blasphemies against Jesus Christ or the Holy Trinity, which are documented on our Francis page linked above.)

Ah, but Francis also says very noble and beautiful things about the Holy Mother of God, does he not? He certainly does, and he also celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception every Dec. 8. What does this mean, then?

Keep in mind at all times that we are dealing here with a blaspheming deceiver. Contradictory messages and conflicting signals are by design, and they do not show a soul who is confused but one who is trying to cause the greatest possible damage to souls.

As Pope Pius VI said about the innovators he was condeming at the end of the eighteenth century:

[Their way of speaking and acting] cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up to the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.

(Pope Pius VI, Apostolic Constitution Auctorem Fidei, introduction)

Regarding the heretic Nestorius in particular, the same Pope said:

…he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.

Sound familiar?

It should. It’s just that, compared to Bergoglio, Nestorius was a choirboy.

“Bp.” Robert Barron tells Jew: No need to become Catholic, Jesus is only the “Privileged” Way

Setting the Word on fire…

“Bp.” Robert Barron tells Jew: No need to become Catholic, Jesus is only the “Privileged” Way

Someone once said that what’s new about the “New Evangelization” of the Vatican II Church is that they never get around to actually evangelizing.

That would be bad enough, but as the Novus Ordo Sect’s rising media star, “Bishop” Robert Barron, demonstrated on a special edition of The Ben Shapiro Show the other day, the reality is much worse: The New Evangelization is actually an Anti-Evangelization, in which souls are not merely not taughtthe Gospel but are actually taught a false gospel (cf. Gal 1:8-9) that confirms them in their unbelief and tells them they need not convert to Catholicism if they wish to be saved.

This is no exaggeration. Have a look at the scandalous answer Barron gave when his host, the Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro, asked him directly what the Catholic Church teaches about the possibility of salvation for people like him. The tragedy begins at the 16:20 min mark and ends at 18:09:

We won’t fully transcribe the whole train wreck of an answer, but we’ll quote the salient portions.

Shapiro asks:

What’s the Catholic view on who gets into Heaven and who doesn’t? I feel like I lead a pretty good life, a very religiously-based life, in which I try to keep not just the Ten Commandments but a solid 603 other commandments as well. And I spend an awful lot of my time promulgating what I would consider to be Judeo-Christian virtues, particularly Western society’s. So, what’s the Catholic view of me? Am I basically screwed here?

Before we look at how Mr. Barron responds, let’s look at how a Catholic would answer this question. A Catholic would say something like this:

Mr. Shapiro, I have no doubt that you are of good will and are sincerely trying to lead a virtuous and God-fearing life, but ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, we have been deprived of the divine life which we need to have in our souls to be able to enjoy God’s Presence forever in Eternal Bliss. For this reason, try as you might, your attempts at keeping the commandments, however many in total, are necessarily doomed to failure. You were conceived in original sin and thus deprived of the supernatural grace you need to make it to Heaven, and even keeping all of the commandments cannot make up for that. In addition, you have sinned in the past and you will sin again in the future, and so it is clear you have already failed in your effort to keep all the commandments. This is why we all — we who are the physical offspring of Adam and Eve — need a Redeemer.

Only the Redeemer could expiate the offense Adam and Eve committed and repair the privation of supernatural grace they transmitted to their progeny. They offended an infinite God and therefore incurred an infinite debt. The violation of God’s law that they committed could only be expiated by infinite Atonement. But what finite being should be capable of rendering infinite Atonement? It is impossible to do for a mere creature.

God, who is all-just, demands that proper expiation be made. But God is also merciful, and therefore, instead of leaving man to his misery and to face his eternal punishment in hell, God took pity on us and decided to provide the remedy Himself. Thus the prophet Isaias foretold: “Say to the fainthearted: Take courage, and fear not: behold your God will bring the revenge of recompense: God himself will come and will save you” (Is 35:4).

Thus God Himself became the Redeemer, and this is Jesus of Nazareth, God’s very own Son. He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity become incarnate. This Incarnation — a hypostatic union of the Divine Nature of God the Son with a created Human Nature from the house of David — was also prophesied by Isaias: “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened, and bud forth a saviour” (Is 45:8). The Dew from Heaven, the Just One whom the clouds rain, is the Divine Nature, and That which buds forth from the earth that opens, is the Human Nature. That is why King David, though he knew the Redeemer would be his descendant, called him “Lord” (Ps 109:1; cf. Mt 22:41-46).

God sent us His Son, the Redeemer, to render on our behalf an infinite Sacrifice of Atonement for sin to the Most Holy Trinity. This He was to do by suffering the Passion, as foretold by Isaias (Is 53) and in the book of Wisdom (Ch. 2), and by offering Himself to be slaughtered on the Cross as the Passover Lamb of the New and Eternal Covenant, before rising again from the grave. This Sacrifice of God’s only Son was foreshadowed by Abraham, who, obeying God’s command, took his only son to be sacrificed, laid wood on his back (Gen 22:6), and said: “God will provide himself a victim for an holocaust” (Gen 22:8).

With Jesus Christ’s Sacrifice on Mount Calvary, all that was foreshadowed by the Temple sacrifices and the Mosaic ceremonial was fulfilled, and the Old Law ceased. This was signified by the rending of the veil in the temple in Jerusalem the moment Christ died (see Mt 27:51).

It was most fitting that man should be redeemed in this way. Being truly God, Jesus was able to render an infinite Atonement to the Trinity on behalf of mankind. Being truly man, He was able to render that infinite Atonement on behalf of mankind.

To benefit from this Perfect Sacrifice which Jesus Christ rendered on the Cross on Mount Calvary, all men must have Its merits communicated to their souls. The first condition for this to happen is that we must believe (see Jn 3:16; Mk 16:16; Heb 11:6). We must believe everything that God has revealed, especially that He is One God in Three Divine Persons, that He became incarnate in Jesus Christ, that He suffered and died for our sins, that He rose from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sent the Holy Ghost to sanctify our souls.

This Faith is a supernatural gift which is infused into our souls through grace, and this same grace enables us also to hope and to love, all three of which are necessary for salvation. Nothing we do has any supernatural merit before God if we do not have Faith (see Heb 11:6). We are condemned either to despair or to presumption if we do not have hope, for “we are saved by hope” (Rom 8:24). And if we do not love, if we do not have supernatural charity, we are “nothing” (1 Cor 13:2), for we are commanded to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves for God’s sake (see Mk 12:30-31), else our Faith is “dead in itself” (Jas 2:17).

To prove His Messiahship, Christ worked countless miracles, including the raising of dead men back to life, and ultimately, raising Himself from the dead. Jesus’ Messianic dignity is likewise confirmed by the fact that after His arrival, all prophets ceased. God sent no more prophets as He had done “at sundry times and in divers manners … in times past” because now He “hath spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the world” (Heb 1:1-2).

Now Christ, once He had ascended into Heaven, did not leave us orphans. He sent the Holy Ghost and established a hierarchical society of men with the mission to make disciples of all nations (see Mt 28:19-20) and to teach, sanctify, and govern His sheep. This society He instituted to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15), the Ark of Salvation to which all must belong if they wish to be saved, just as all who wanted to be saved from the Deluge in the days of Noah had to be inside his ark or else perish. This society is called the Catholic Church, because it is the universal (Greek: katholikos) Church established by God for all of mankind.

I would like to recommend to you a little booklet by Tertullian, For the Conversion of the Jews, which shows how Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies. In addition, I urge you to read the apologetics material by the convert David Goldstein and the conversion story of Alphonse Ratisbonne as well as that of Eugenio Zolli, the former Chief Rabbi of Rome.

Ben, Jesus Christ is your Redeemer also. He has already redeemed you, but this Redemption is of no avail to you for as long as you deny Him (see Mk 16:16; Mt 10:32-33; 2 Tim 2:12): “This is the stone which was rejected by you the builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name under heaven given to men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:11-12). Let your Redeemer, therefore, also become your Savior. Apart from the grace of Christ, which cannot be obtained without Faith, nothing you do will save you (see Jas 2:10).

I implore you, therefore, be blind no longer and see! See that the Redeemer foreshadowed in your own Scriptures (the Old Testament) is Jesus of Nazareth, who suffered and died for you and for all men so that the curse of Adam and Eve would be taken away from your soul and His divine life be infused into it abundantly (cf. Jn 10:10), to your eternal happiness and His eternal glory.

This is how a Catholic would respond to Ben Shapiro’s sincere question about the possibility of his eternal salvation.

By contrast, look at how Barron answers Shapiro’s question whether he, as an Orthodox Jew, will be damned if Catholicism is the true religion. The “great evanglizer” says:

No. The Catholic view — go back to the Second Vatican Council, [which] says it very clearly. I mean, Christ is the privileged route to salvation. I mean, God so loved the world He gave His only Son that we might find eternal life. So that’s the privileged route. However, Vatican II clearly teaches that someone outside the Christian Faith can be saved.

We’ll have to interrupt Barron here because this is intolerable: Christ is merely the privileged route to salvation!? What an audacious blasphemy!

How wrong this is can be seen, not just from the Scripture text Barron himself quotes, which says nothing about a privileged route whatsoever and in fact, in its unabridged full quotation, indicates the opposite: “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn 3:16). Barron conveniently left out the underlined part, which makes clear that unless we believe in Christ, we will perish. This same inconvenient truth is taught even more explicitly in Mk 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.”

There are, then, not two different routes, a first class privileged one for Catholics and then an economy class for all the rest, both with the same destination. Christ was rather clear on that: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me” (Jn 14:6). Our Lord did not say: “I am the Privileged Way, and the Truer Truth, and the Better Life.” In fact, to the unbelieving Jews specifically he said: “[I]f you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin” (Jn 8:24).

What Barron is spouting is the heresy of indifferentism. It was roundly condemned by Pope Gregory XVI:

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that “there is one God, one faith, one baptism” [Eph 4:5] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him” [Lk 11:23], and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore “without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate” [Athanasian Creed].

(Pope Gregory XVI, Encyclical Mirari Vos, n. 13; underlining added; bold and italics removed.)

This is exactly what Barron is telling Shapiro, although in the following words he attempts to make it sound somewhat Catholic:

Now they’re saved through the grace of Christ, indirectly received. So, I mean, the grace is coming from Christ. But it might be received according to your conscience. So, if you’re following your conscience sincerely — or in your case, you’re following the commandments of the Law sincerely — yeah, you can be saved.

Here Barron tries to smooth over his indifferentism by claiming that those sincere practitioners of apostate Judaism are saved only because they receive grace from Christ our Lord in an indirect way. Clever though this idea may be, it has no support in Catholic Tradition or Sacred Scripture, nor in the magisterial pronouncements of the true Catholic Church, whose last known Pope was Pius XII (d. 1958).

So, what is Barron ultimately telling Shapiro? He’s telling him that as long as he’s trying his best to be a good person (“maintain morality”), he’s good to go, he will go to Heaven, his salvation is assured, courtesy of that “indirect” grace of Christ. That is heresy!

Evidently noticing that the subjectivism he’s preaching implies a kind of relativism, Barron attempts damage control:

Now that doesn’t conduce to a complete relativism. We still would say the privileged route, and the route that God has offered to humanity, is the route of His Son. But no, you can be saved.

Ah! So it’s not a “complete relativism”, only a partial one. Good to know. And there comes that “privileged route” again, which has no support in 1,900 years of Catholic teaching. But even there he cannot keep his lies straight, because he contradicts himself. If “the route that God has offered to humanity, is the route of His Son”, then obviously any other routes are not “the route of His Son”; and yet he also insists that those who take other routes are still saved by the grace of Christ, who is the route God offers to humanity. So in the end it is only one route, then, even in Barron’s convoluted thinking? Then why does he say Christ’s route is merely the privileged one, rather than the only one?

Alas, Barron proceeds to one-up himself. Here’s what he says next:

Even — Vatican II says — an atheist of good will can be saved. Because […] when I follow my conscience I’m following Him, whether I know it explicitly or not. So even the atheist — Vatican II teaches — of good will can be saved.

Following Christ by simply following your conscience, no matter how poorly formed? Wow! The world is full of followers of Christ, and they don’t even know it.

By saying that “even the atheist … of good will can be saved”, Barron is fully in line with his boss, “Pope” Francis, who said the exact same thing in April of this year. Remember?

The continual appeal to the condition “if you follow your conscience”, in addition to being false and misleading, is also beside the point. We are all sinners, and even if our consciences were the ultimate norm of all morality, the fact would remain that many times we simply do not follow our consciences. We sin. We do wrong. We fail to love God or our neighbor as we should. And this is true for everyone, whether it be Catholics, Protestants, Jews, or atheists.

So the real question is: What happens if one of those “indirect route” takers does not follow his conscience? Then what? How will he find forgiveness apart from Christ, apart from supernatural and perfect contrition? Knowing Barron, perhaps he would simply pull out an “indirect forgiveness” joker and consider the problem solved.

The “good atheist” who follows Christ without knowing it by following his conscience — that is the perfidious “anonymous Christian” doctrine of Karl Rahner (see Robert C. McCarthy, A Critical Examination of the Theology of Karl Rahner [Buchanan Dam, TX: Carthay Ventures, 2001], pp. 23-27). It is in harmony with the Vatican II error of the primacy of conscience.

Barron makes it seem as though conscience is God telling every man what is to be done and what is to be avoided. The true Catholic teaching on conscience, however, is simply this:

[Conscience] is an act of the intellect, judging that an action must be performed as obligatory, or must be omitted as sinful, or may be performed as lawful, or is advisable as the better course of action. Thus, we have four types of conscience — commanding, forbidding, permitting, counseling.

Conscience is not, therefore, in the strict sense, habitual knowledge of right and wrong. This is moral science. Neither is conscience in the strict sense an habitual attitude toward moral problems, although we use the term sometimes in this sense, as when we speak of a scrupulous conscience or a lax conscience. But in the true sense, conscience is an actof the practical intellect, concerned with a particular action which one is contemplating doing or omitting in the future. (Many people, particularly non-Catholics, regard conscience as an emotional faculty. They “feel” that something is right or wrong, and are guided in their conduct by this feeling. Of course, this norm is entirely unreliable. The more intelligence and the less feeling enter into conscience, the more likely it is to be correct.)

(Rev. Francis J. Connell, Outlines of Moral Theology, 2nd ed. [Milwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing, 1958], p. 38; italics given.)

It is true that conscience is a norm of morality, since it is a dictate of the practical intellect: “The voice of conscience is the authoritative guide of man’s moral conduct” (Rev. Thomas Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology, vol. 1, 5th ed. [London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1925], p. 29). However, a man’s conscience is not the ultimate norm of moral conduct by any stretch: “Not that the individual conscience is independent of all authority…” (A Manual of Moral Theology, p. 29). It is, rather, what is called the “proximate subjective norm” of morality. By contrast, the remote objective norm “is the eternal law of God [and] the proximate objective norm is the natural law…” (Connell, Outlines of Moral Theology, p. 20).

Barron is trying to place conscience above everything, even above the Gospel and Divine Revelation. In 1952, Pope Pius XII condemned this false view of conscience, which was already making its way into the Church by means of false teachers, who were promoting what the Pope called the “new morality”, also known as situation ethics or ethical existentialism:

The new ethic (adapted to circumstances), say its authors, is eminently “individual.” In this determination of conscience, each individual finds himself in direct relationship with God and decides before Him, without the slightest trace of intervention by any law, any authority, any community, any cult or religion. Here there is simply the “I” of man and the “I” of the personal God, not the God of the law, but of God the Father, with whom man must unite himself in filial love. Viewed thus, the decision of conscience is a personal “risk,” according to one’s own knowledge and evaluation, in all sincerity before God. These two things, right intention and sincere response, are what God considers! He is not concerned with the action. Hence the answer may be to exchange that Catholic faith for other principles, to seek divorce, to interrupt gestation, to refuse obedience to competent authority in the family, the Church, the State, and so forth.

(Pope Pius XII, Address Soyez les Bienvenues, n. 7)

Pope Pius proceeds to denounce this false new morality — which, incidentally, is also what underlies Francis’ Amoris Laetitia — as “alien to the Faith and Catholic principles”.

Tragically, in his conversation with Barron, Shapiro exhibits more or less the attitude of the Pharisee in the Gospel who went up to the temple and prayed: “O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess” (Lk 18:11-12). But he was not justified (see verse 14). However sincere Shapiro may be in the observance of 613 commandments, it will not merit eternal salvation for him because “whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all” (Jas 2:10).

The entire Old Covenant was meant to teach the people of Israel that they cannot save themselves by their own natural strength, that without God’s supernatural grace, it is not possible to attain eternal salvation. The purpose of the Law was to convict people of sin, to show them their neediness and weakness before God. And so St. Paul explained to the Galatians that “by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified” (Gal 2:16). In fact, “if justice be by the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal 2:21). Indeed! For had the Law been able to justify, then there would have been no need for a Redeemer.

In short: A merely natural goodness does not suffice for us to be able to enter God’s supernaturalkingdom. Ours must be a supernatural goodness, and this can only be communicated to us in sanctifying grace, which cannot be had apart from Faith, hope, and charity.

“Bp.” Barron has committed not only a grave sin against God but also a grave injustice against Mr. Shapiro. Here he had the opportunity, served to him on a silver platter, to explain to this man, who is obviously very intelligent and seems of good will, that his observance of the Mosaic law is in vain and will never be able to merit him salvation if He does not convert to Jesus Christ. What does he do instead? He tells him, basically, that he is just fine as an apostate Jew, and that, as long as he is sincere in his beliefs, he will be saved inspite of his unbelief. As the profound theological explanation for how this can be, Barron proclaims that it will simply be Christ saving him anyway.

In other words: Be whatever religion you think is true — or none, as in the case of atheists — and in the end it will be Christ who saves you. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the New Evangelization in all its glory. Welcome to what the New Theology (Nouvelle Theologie) of Vatican II has accomplished. The heroic work of the Church’s missionaries was in vain. They could have simply announced to the pagans to keep following their consciences.

By teaching this false doctrine, the “great evangelist” Barron has blasphemously made Jesus Christ into a sort of soteriological stooge, who will save souls regardless of whether they have accepted His Truth, mercy, and grace, as long as they were convinced they didn’t need it. According to this perverted view, Christ can and will admit souls of merely natural goodness into supernatural bliss, even though they have not been made holy through His grace but are defiled with sin, in complete contradiction to Apoc 21:27: “There shall not enter into it any thing defiled….”

Barron is putting forward a kind of Pelagianism, a kind of salvation by human strength alone, which would imply the heresy of Naturalism. He tries to get around that by claiming that as long as one is sincere about it all, Christ will supply grace nonetheless. In other words, it is salvation by subjective sincerity.

Apparently sincerity is automatically transformed by God’s grace into a vehicle effecting salvation. This is the false Modernist gospel of Vatican II, and the pseudo-bishop is preaching it with a passion. Translation: “Don’t bother with Catholicism if you don’t want to. You are fine in whatever religion you choose, just make sure you are sincere about it.”

This is the anti-gospel that allows a “Pope” to kiss the Muslim Koran and a Mother Teresa to help Hindus become better Hindus rather than Catholics. It is what Pope Pius XI denounced as “that false opinion which considers all religions to be more or less good and praiseworthy, since they all in different ways manifest and signify that sense which is inborn in us all, and by which we are led to God and to the obedient acknowledgment of His rule” (Encyclical Mortalium Animos, n. 2).

Barron’s thesis also runs afoul of the following two errors condemned by Pope Pius IX:

[CONDEMNED:] Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.

[CONDEMNED:] Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.

(Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Errors, nn. 16-17)

Barron has reduced the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church to utter meaninglessness, as Pope Pius XII warned and lamented 68 years ago: “Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation” (EncyclicalHumani Generis, n. 27). Were the great Mgr. Joseph C. Fenton still alive, he would rebuke Barron for trying to “restrict the meaning of the Church’s necessity for salvation to the fact that the gifts of grace whereby a man actually achieves salvation really belong to the Church” (The Catholic Church and Salvation [Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1958], p. 127).

It is telling that Barron bases his theology of salvation on the Second Vatican Council — the Modernist robber synod — because he obviously can’t get this heretical and nonsensical teaching from genuine Catholic doctrine. For example, it was a given that Barron wasn’t going to quote the 15th-century Council of Florence:

[This Council] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.

(Council of Florence, Bull Cantate DominoDenz. 714)

The Council of Florence didn’t bother to name atheists as excluded from the Church because it was no doubt inconceivable to the council fathers that anyone could put forward a doctrine so monstrous and stupid as the one Barron proposes, to wit, that even atheists, as long as they are of good will, could be saved by the God whom they denied and with whom they wanted no part!

To a man still searching for the true religion, what Barron said to Shapiro clearly conveys that he need not worry about examining the claims of Catholicism until the very end, for it (supposedly) teaches that even if he is in error, as long as he is sincere about it, his salvation is assured. This is truly an infernal, diabolical doctrine that Barron is preaching, and it is indeed Vatican II to the core. It is the precise opposite of evangelization!

At the same time, we must be fair and acknowledge once again that what Barron preaches is entirely in agreement with the doctrine of his “Pope”, Francis, who has made clear on numerous occasions that he does not seek people’s conversion to Catholicism — and neither does Benedict XVI:

Conversion to Catholicism? It’s optional at best. Conversion to clean energy? Now that’s a duty! It’s the Vatican II religion. That explains it.

Before we end this lengthy post, a few more words about who this pseudo-Catholic Robert Barron is.

Barron was a “priest” in Chicago until 2015, when he was appointed by Francis to serve as auxiliary “bishop” in the Novus Ordo archdiocese of Los Angeles, California. In the Modernist Sect he is considered a great and model evangelizer, one who uses social and traditional media to spread knowledge and love of the Roman Catholic Faith (ouch!). He founded an apologetics ministry calledWord on Fire and produced a 10-part documentary grossly misnamed Catholicism, which aired on PBS and is available now on DVD and streaming. More recently he has founded the Word on Fire Institute. Barron is the author of numerous books, including the most recent Arguing Religion: A Bishop Speaks at Facebook and Google.


The Word on fire? “Bishop” Barron at work…

Some already consider Barron the new Fulton Sheen, who was a telegenic Catholic priest and later bishop who captivated and edified even secular audiences with his Catholic educational progams on American radio and television for decades before Vatican II. (Unfortunately, when the Modernist revolution began from the top in 1958, Sheen fell in line very quickly and became a mouthpiece promoting the Novus Ordo religion, but that’s not our topic now.) When Modernists like Barron are taken for heroes of the Catholic Faith in the Vatican II Sect, you’d hate to find out what Joe Sixpack in the pew believes.


Of course, for the cover of his misnamed Catholicism documentary, displayed above, Barron used the gorgeous Gothic-style Sainte-Chapelle church in Paris, a remnant from the days of true Catholicism. This is simply deceptive advertising on his part, for the churches of the religion he preaches look more like space ships, medical offices, or like the cathedral he himself now has to call home, the “Our Lady of the Angels” abomination in Los Angeles, which sums up architecturally the lasting theological legacy of “Cardinal” Roger Mahony, who commissioned it. It is nothing short of aesthetic terrorism.


Truth in advertising:
How come Barron didn’t use this as the cover for his work promoting the Vatican II religion?

Since Barron continually appeals to the Second Vatican Council for his theology, it is only fair that what he sells as “Catholicism” should also reflect the true architectural legacy of that infernal council. Shouldn’t it?

So now we know what Barron understands by “proclaiming Christ in the culture” (words found on the Word on Fire home page) and “proclaiming the power of Christ” (the subtitle of his book Word on Fire). When asked directly about the most important topic there is — “Can I be saved in any religion or must I become Catholic?” — he tells people, basically, that it really doesn’t matter, as long as they are sincere about it. After over 50 years of Vatican II, this is where they’re at in the Novus Ordo Church.

Robert Barron — we might call him the “Robber Baron” since he steals potential converts — fits the description given by St. Paul: “For such false apostles are deceitful workmen, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (2 Cor 11:13). Pray for this dangerous pseudo-bishop; but even more so, pray for the poor souls who fall victim to his false doctrines.

Salvation is by Faith, hope, and charity, not by being sincere in one’s lack of these infused virtues.

Tragically, some people will find out the hard way.

The #MeToo Movement

Though some may reject it, the truth is that the Catholic Church teaches that “‘immodest dress” is a sin and an offense against the 6th commandment. Modesty inclines one to refrain from any action or word that might lead oneself or others to an unlawful incitement of the sexual appetite. Modesty is necessary for safeguarding purity.

While the degree of correlation varies incident by incident, Bishop Sanborn recently tied in the culpability of both men and women in the recent #MeToo Movement. Below is the article sourced from In Veritate.

Keep in mind that immodesty comes in many forms, and in the realm of clothing, the Church gives us the Marylike Standards for modesty and chastity.

The MeToo Movement

Much has been said recently about women who have suffered from the sexual assaults of men.

It is true that the conduct of some men is deplorable in this regard, but it is also true that the conduct of some women is deplorable as well.

The 1960s produced a sexual revolution unheard of in the history of the world, which in turn caused a revolution in family life from which we are still reeling, and the end of which is nowhere in sight.

The trend began over one hundred years ago, and gained momentum in World War I. Before the war, for example, women covered their entire bodies with clothing. After the war, the hemlines came up and the necklines came down.

Women operating stock market board and a ticker tape machine at the Waldorf in 1918, during World War I.

Never in the history of women’s dress, up to about 1918, did women wear skirts above their ankles. It was considered immodest. Even in the eighteenth century, where the necklines were low, women covered their arms to at least three-quarter length, and wore skirts to their ankles. To show one’s bare arms or to wear a skirt higher than the ankles was a sign of a prostitute.

By the 1920s women’s clothing had undergone a radical transformation. So did their behavior. With the advent of the cinema, and especially that of Hollywood, the “glamor girl” look became fashionable, as well as the flirtatious activity which accompanied it. Nevertheless the average respectable woman wore a dress that came to mid-leg length, and was otherwise modest in clothing. The skirts gradually made their way higher during the 1940’s and 1950’s, but in general a woman’s dress was within the norms of modesty.

I say “in general,” because even the 1930s saw the dawn of tight-fitting dresses on women, which were immodest inasmuch as they were too revealing. Later this gave way to a full skirt in the 1950’s, much more modest. But the 1960’s saw the return of the tight dress, and with it the miniskirt, something that the human race had never seen on decent women since the dawn of mankind.

Hollywood became extremely immodest in both dress and behavior in
the 1950s. It was the prelude of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Marilyn Monroe was a typical example of this degenerate tendency.

Up to about 1965, most women were married, not divorced, had five or six children, at times more, and were devoted to their homes. With the appearance of the birth control pill in the 1960s, the role and attitudes of women would change radically, and with these changes, family life would suffer immeasurably.

Betty Friedan

“Freed” from the burden of having and raising children, and urged on by the radical feminists such as Betty Friedan, women left their homes and went out into the workplace. This change was concurrent with the general attitude of sexual freedom in the 1960s, by which people abandoned the inhibitions of previous times, and felt no restraints in pursuing the inclinations of their lower nature. Movies and television took ever greater liberties in this regard. This decline in morals could easily be seen if one were to trace, little by little, the modesty of television in the 1950s to the immodesty of television in our own time. The doses came in small spoonfuls, just as Vatican II did. Little by little decent people were asked to tolerate more and more immodesty.

The effect of all of this revolution in sexual mores, as well as the role of women, is that men and women have been thrown together into situations which are very dangerous. Women are daily interacting with men in the workplace. In many cases they are dressed in such a way as to be immodestly attractive to men. The inevitable result is that, unless the men in the office are very vigilant about the virtue of chastity and fidelity to their wives, some very bad things take place.

The reason why there was, in past times, so much modesty in women’s dress, and the reason why women stayed mostly in the home, is precisely that men have a very hard time controlling their sexual desires.

Although men are principally guilty, the women are partially if not equally guilty. In many if not most cases their dress is sexually enticing, and their conduct with men often invites sexual advances.

Most of these assaults upon women are seen in show business, an environment which is notably loose and never known for its observance of chastity and fidelity. Most of the “victim” ladies in these cases look like lascivious women, and probably did much to cause the assault.

Other cases of assault occur in situations in which men enjoy much power and influence. Sports figures are often guilty of this as well as politicians. There seems to be an aggression that occurs in men as they advance in power and/or fame. Women should not be close to any environments such as these.

While women should not look odd by returning the mode of dress in 1912, they should nonetheless take all the steps necessary, even difficult, expensive, and inconvenient, in order to avoid being an occasion of sin to men, and thereby inviting upon themselves outrages by unscrupulous males.

Saint John Chrysostom, who died in 404, summed it up:

You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.

A Primer on Infallibility

Differing notions on Infallibility have contributed in no small way to divisions among traditional Catholics. Hence, in this series of simple questions, we wish to make most clear the research we have done in this regard.

The Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen adheres to the sede vacante position, namely, that the Chair of Peter is vacant today because of the nature of the Church’s Infallibility, among other reasons. Though it does not exact the same view of others, nevertheless it expects other traditionalists to accept this as a certainly legitimate explanation of the situation in the Church today. (Some sedevacantists will insist that it is the only legitimate view.)

To recap, we insist that the Chair of Peter is vacant today because the New Mass, the new liturgy, the new teachings, and the new Code of Canon Law are harmful to the Faith. Moreover, the New Mass is per se invalid as well. Hence, the true Church of Christ, protected as it is by infallibility, cannot be identified with the Church that has done these evil things, though this new Church continues to call itself “Roman Catholic.”

The true Church of Christ is to be found among those clergy and laity who adhere to the traditional Mass, liturgy, law, and teachings of the Catholic Church as they existed before the Modernist changes of Vatican Council II. from CMRI



1. What is Infallibility?
This is one of the three attributes of the Church, flowing from her very nature, whereby the Church is preserved from error when it teaches or believes a doctrine. The other two attributes are authority and indefectibility.

2. Why did Our Lord endow the Church with infallibility?
To have NOT given it to the Church would have voided His promises: “Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18) and “I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

3. In what matters is the Church infallible?
The Church, naturally, is infallible only in those matters that pertain to her mission of conducting souls to heaven: faith and morals.

4. What is included under “faith and morals”?
Theologians speak of the “Object” of Infallibility, i.e., those aspects of faith and morals which necessarily pertain to the Church’s Infallibility. According to Msgr. G. Van Noort,1there are both primary and secondary objects.

The primary object is all of the truths explicitly contained in Scripture or Tradition. The secondary object is “all those matters which are so closely connected with the revealed deposit that revelation itself would be imperiled unless an absolutely certain decision could be made about them.” Hence, the following must be considered as guaranteed by the Infallibility of the Church:
a. theological conclusions
b. dogmatic facts
c. the general discipline of the Church — in other words, the Church’s laws and the Church’s liturgy cannot contain something harmful to faith and morals.
d. approval of religious orders
e. canonization of saints

5. In what ways is the Church’s teaching infallible?
In teaching us what God has revealed through Scripture or Tradition, the Church is infallible when she does so, “either by a solemn judgment or by her ordinary and universal magisterium.”2

6. What is meant by “a solemn judgment”?
A solemn judgment can happen in two ways: either a solemn pronouncement on faith and morals by the Holy Father or by the teachings of an ecumenical council gathered under his authority.

7. What is the “ordinary and universal magisterium”?
By this term is meant the day-to-day teaching of the Pope and of the bishops in union with him. Even though it does not consist of solemn pronouncements, it, too, cannot lead the faithful astray; it is necessarily infallible as well. To deny this would mean that the Church could lead astray on a regular basis, while remaining faithful only to those truths solemnly declared — and this is an impossibility.

8. Does anyone personally exercise infallibility in the Church?
The Pope alone has personal infallibility. Bishops share in the infallibility of the Church when they, gathered in General (Oecumenical) Council or scattered throughout the world, teach in union with the Pope.

9. What does “ex cathedra” mean?
“Ex cathedra” means “from the chair of the Pope’s teaching authority.” Theologians usually apply it to the solemn definitions which a Pope makes, such as Pius IX’s solemn definition of the Immaculate Conception in 1854, or Pius XII’s solemn proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin in 1950. “Ex cathedra” is defined thus by Vatican Council I: “when [the Pope] in discharge of the office of pastor and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the universal Church.”3

10. How do we know whether a Papal teaching is “ex cathedra”?
Fr. Joseph Fenton4 explains the conditions for a solemn infallible declaration:
a. The Pope speaks in his capacity as Teacher and Ruler of all Christians.
b. He uses his supreme Apostolic authority.
c. The doctrine which he is speaking has to do with faith or morals.
d. He issues a certain and definitive judgment on that teaching.
e. He wills that this definitive judgment be accepted as such by the universal Church.
If the Pope declares that a doctrine was revealed by Christ (as known from Scripture or Tradition), then his teaching is a matter of “divine and catholic faith” (de fide divina et catholica). If it is not proposed as divinely revealed, then it is simply a matter of “catholic faith” (fides catholica).

11. Can a Pope err in his ex cathedra teaching?
It is impossible for him to err when his teaching meets the criteria outlined for ex cathedra teaching. The Vatican Council I declares that when he teaches ex cathedra, he is “possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed in defining doctrine regarding faith or morals.”5

12. Can Catholics, in good conscience, withhold religous assent to the Pope’s ordinary universal teachings?
No, they cannot. Pope Pius XII declared in his encyclical Humani Generis (1950):6 “It is not to be thought that what is set down in Encyclical Letters does not demand assent in itself, because in this the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their magisterium. For, these matters are taught by the ordinary magisterium, regarding which the following is pertinent: ‘He who heareth you, heareth Me’ (Luke 10:16); and usually what is set forth and inculcated in the Encyclical Letters already pertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their acts, after due consideration, express an opinion on a hitherto controversial matter, it is clear to all that this matter, according to the mind and the will of the same Pontiffs, cannot any longer be considered a question of free discussion among the theologians.”

13. Does the Pope ever teach non-infallibly?
Yes, the Pope can employ a lesser degree of his teaching authority, and hence remove his teaching from the realm of infallibility. In such cases he does not intend to bind the consciences of the faithful by issuing definitive teachings. Even so, such teaching merits the greatest respect, coming as it does from the Chief Teacher of the Catholic Church. Of course, the Pope can teach even without invoking his Apostolic authority at all, i.e., as a private theologian, and in a private or individual circumstance. His teaching could then be weighed in the same manner as other theological opinions.


Dogmatic Theology, Vol. II, Christ’s Church, Newman Press: Westminster, 1957, pp. 108-119
2 Vatican Council I, Session 3, Chapter 3 – “On Faith”
3 Vatican Council I, Session 4, Chapter 4 – “The Infallible Teaching Authority of the Roman Pontiff”
4 “Infallibility in Encyclicals,” American Ecclesiastical Review, Vol. 128, March, 1953, p. 186
5 Vatican Council I, Session 4, Chapter 4 – “The Infallible Teaching Authority of the Roman Pontiff”
6 Denzinger 2313

Vatican II “in the Light of Tradition”?

Pastoral Letter by Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul
June 29, 1994

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

In the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of conservative publications which attempt to excuse the chaos and confusion in the modern Church of Vatican II by the erroneous argument that there is nothing theologically wrong with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and that the problems supposedly are caused by misinterpretations on the part of liberal priests, religious and laity. These publications enumerate the abuses perpetrated in the Conciliar Church and yet insist that the problem has not been caused by the modern teachings of the Council. They insist that the Vatican II decrees must be interpreted “in the light of tradition.” Let us briefly examine some of the many modern teachings which emanated from the Second Vatican Council and see if they can be interpreted “in the light of tradition.”

First of all, when the term “in the light of tradition” is used, it should mean that references can be found in the Church’s tradition to the particular doctrines in question. To interpret a doctrine “in the light of tradition” should mean that the doctrine has been previously taught by past Popes and Ecumenical Councils.

Let us begin by the examination of Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.” As we quote from this official Declaration of the Council, let us ponder how this Declaration could be interpreted “in the light of tradition.”

Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Vatican Council II; October 28, 1965)

“From ancient times down to the present, there has existed among divers peoples a certain perception of the hidden power that hovers over the course of things and over the events of human life… Religions bound up with cultural advancement have struggled to reply to these questions with more refined concepts and in more highly developed language.

“Thus, in Hinduism men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible fruitfulness of myths and a searching philosophical inquiry. They seek release from the anguish of our condition through ascetical practices or deep meditation or a loving, trusting flight toward God.”

Before we continue with the text, let us consider the overwhelming depth of error contained in these praises of Hinduism. Hinduism is a pantheistic as well as a polytheistic religion. It recognizes various gods in the created world. The world and everything in it, including man, is god. Among the various Hindu divinities, there are three of great importance — Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. Hindus worship many animals as god. Cows are the most sacred, but they also worship monkeys, snakes and other animals. Man is supposedly involved in an endless evolution of birth and death called reincarnation.

How then can this Declaration of Vatican II use the terminology that Hindus make “a loving, trusting flight toward God”? — Which god is referred to? Certainly not the true God.

“And express it through an inexhaustible fruitfulness of myths and a searching philosophical inquiry.” — How can one express “the divine mystery” (which is not defined) through myths and philosophical inquiry?

Did the authors of this Declaration ever hear of the First Commandment of God:

“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”?

Continuing the text of the Declaration:

“Buddhism in its multiple forms acknowledges the radical insufficiency of this shifting world. It teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by their own efforts or by higher assistance.”

Buddhism, like Hinduism, is a false religion yet differs in that it does not recognize a personal god. How then could the Second Vatican council officially declare the praises of this false religion? What kind of doctrine is it to proclaim that Buddhism “teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by their own efforts or by higher assistance”? What is this ambiguous “absolute freedom” and “supreme enlightenment”?

This Declaration, besides its ambiguous language of the Hindu’s “divine mystery” and “loving trusting flight toward God” and the Buddhists’ “state of absolute freedom“ and attainment of “supreme enlightenment,” is purely and simply the ultimate display of religious indifferentism! Religious indifferentism is the false belief, so often condemned by the Catholic Church, which holds that all religions are equally good and that men can attain salvation in the practice of any religion. This is manifestly false because God has revealed the true religion by which He is to be worshipped through His Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was truly a historical person and He worked the most stupendous miracles to prove His Divine Mission. To maintain that all religions are acceptable is to imply that Jesus Christ wasted His time to reveal the true Faith and found the true Church. Why should He have accomplished this, if, in the final analysis, the man-made religions of the world would also be acceptable.

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration continues with praises of the Muslims:

“Upon the Muslims, too, the Church looks with esteem… Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet.”

Herein lies a subtle contradiction. If Jesus Christ is acknowledged at least as a prophet by the Muslims, and prophets are truly inspired by God, how do the Muslims deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ Who solemnly and explicitly proclaimed Himself to be God — equal to the Father? Did the Catholic Church ever in its history look with esteem upon the religion of Islam? How can this be interpreted “in the light of tradition”?

Then comes the most preposterous statement of this entire Declaration:

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.”

What can be “good and holy” in the worship of false gods and in the practice of false religions?

Following this quote in the Declaration, there is a footnote which is the most damning of all statements:

“Through the centuries, however, missionaries often concluded that non-Christian religions are simply the work of Satan and that the missionaries’ task is to convert from error to knowledge of the truth. This Declaration marks an authoritative change in approach.”

Since Vatican Council II, no longer is it the role of the missionaries to convert the people of these religions to Catholicism; their new role is merely to promote the “good” in them?! This doctrine is directly opposed to the mission of the Catholic Church.

Christ founded His Church to teach all nations all things whatsoever He commanded. This was His solemn command to His Apostles and their successors:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:19).

“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Where would the Catholic Church be today if the Apostles and their successors did not attempt to convert to the true Faith the followers of false religions? Where would the Catholic Church be today if the Apostles and their successors merely tried to promote the “good” found in these false religions?

Continuing the text of the Declaration:

“The Church therefore has this exhortation for her sons: prudently and lovingly, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these men, as well as the values in their society and culture.”

How does one “in witness of Christian faith acknowledge, preserve, and promote the spiritual and moral goods” of false religions? Is Christianity, is Catholicism compatible and reconcilable with the worship of false gods?! What are the “spiritual and moral goods” to be found in false worship? Why is there not any reference to the work of conversion of the people of these religions?

Should it be any wonder why so many Catholics since Vatican II have involved themselves in the practices of the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamism?

Should it be any wonder that since Vatican II, John Paul II and his modernist clergy have publicly gathered together for worship in common with the leaders of these false religions and a multitude of other religions, including Animism, Voodooism, Shintoism, etc.?

What then are we to think of the argument that the decrees of Vatican II must be interpreted “in the light of tradition”? No where in tradition will we find such absurd doctrines. And as for interpretation, we only need to look to the ecumenical affair held in Assisi where 150 religions of the world assembled at the invitation of John Paul II to pray together. As Pope Pius XI so aptly defined such false ecumenism — “it is tantamount to abandoning the religion revealed by God” (Mortalium Animos).

In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI