and those in communion with them
["sects", otherwise heresies, here described as works of the flesh; indeed one may find himself a part of a sect as punishment for some unrepented fleshly sin, in accordance with 2 Thessalonians 2:10]
The Church teaches that any rejection of the supreme Magisterium is heresy, and makes one not a Catholic and that any religious communion with heresy is "wretched schism" and separates one from God, the Church, sanctifying grace, and salvation.
We already know that outside the Church there is no salvation or remission of sins, as Pope Boniface VIII dogmatically defined in his bull Unam Sanctam:
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, , ex cathedra: "Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins,"
So we know how to determine who is and who is not a heretic, that is anyone who rejects any portion of the Divine and Catholic Faith is a heretic and not a child of God, and it follows that we must also apply this not only to individual heretics, but to their sects as well.
Now if we profess communion with heretics, that is if we are in communion with those we KNOW or CAN and OUGHT TO KNOW reject ANY dogmatic definitions of Holy Mother Church, are we still Catholic? Pope Pius IX has the answer to that one. He lays down the very principle that we should adopt when dealing with anyone or any sect that rejects dogmatic definitions of the See of St. Peter:
Pope Pius IX, Graves Ac Diuturnae, : ". The serious and long-lasting plots and efforts which the new heretics who call themselves Old Catholics use daily in your country to deceive the faithful and to tear them away from their ancient faith, urge Us, as a duty of Our supreme apostolate, to zealously devote Our paternal care and attention to protecting the spiritual welfare of our children...
". Having violently occupied parishes and churches with apostate priests, they have not neglected any deception or cunning to lead the children of the Catholic Church into wretched schism."
He clearly is telling us here that LIES AND CUNNING lead souls into schism, leads them OUT of the Church. A person does not necessarily know that he has been deceived. Does that mean that because he is unaware of the trickery of his enemies that he is any less schismatic? Evidently not, according to Pope Pius IX.
(Graves Ac Diuturnae cont'd) "Because it has always been especially characteristic of heretics and schismatics to use lies and deception, these sons of darkness are to be reckoned among those the prophet spoke of: "Woe to you deserting children who have faith in the shadow of Egypt. You have rejected the word and have hoped in trickery and rebellion." They love to deceive the unwary and the innocent and to draw them into error by deception and hypocrisy.
"They repeatedly state openly that they do not in the least reject the Catholic Church and its visible head but rather that they are zealous for the purity of Catholic doctrine declaring that they are the heirs of the ancient faith and the only true Catholics. But in fact they refuse to acknowledge all the divine prerogatives of the vicar of Christ on earth and do not submit to His supreme Magisterium."
Who else do we know who fits this description? Any sect nowadays who rejects any portion of the solemn Magisterium - or explains it away to try and tell us it really means something it DOES NOT ACTUALLY SAY, such is the "deception or cunning" by which they lead men into schism and OUT of the Church. How about the SSPX and the CMRI who teach that Baptism is not indeed absolutely necessary for each soul for salvation? How about the Novus Ordo, who teach the same? These are heretical sects, rejecting the solemn Magisterial dogmatic definitions, such as those of Vienne, Florence and Trent on Holy Baptism.
". This sect overthrows the foundations of the Catholic religion, shamelessly rejects the dogmatic definitions of the Ecumenical Vatican Council, and devotes itself to the ruin of souls in so many ways. We have decreed and declared in Our letter of November that those unfortunate men who belong to, adhere to, and support that sect should be considered as schismatics and separated from communion with the Church."
The principle is clearly laid out by this Pope of the Catholic Church. Any sect that rejects the dogmatic definitions of the Vicar of Christ is a heretical sect, and good willed or no, we learn that that any of those "unfortunate men who belong to, adhere to, and support that sect should be considered as schismatics and separated from communion with the Church." This position, as you will read further on, is exactly that proposed by the Saints and Fathers of old.
The only objection that might be brought forward at this point is that Pope Pius IX was talking about a sect that had already received formal condemnation, and that until this takes place for individual sects, one is free to attend their "worship" and still remains Catholic. Pope Vigilius, however, in the sixth century, ratified the following declaration of the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, which shows the fallacy of making such an objection:
Pope Vigilius, Second Council of Constantinople, ex cathedra: "And about that claim of the Apostle: Even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. As we said earlier, I repeat once more: If anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, let him be accursed. Since the Lord declares that the person is judged already, and the Apostle curses even the angels if they instruct in anything different from what we have preached, how is it possible even for the most presumptuous to assert that these condemnations apply only to those who are still alive? Are they unaware, or rather pretending to be unaware, that to be judged anathematized is just the same as to be separated from God? The heretic, even though he has not been condemned formally by any individual, in reality brings anathema on himself, having cut himself off from the way of truth by his heresy. What reply can such people make to the Apostle when he writes: As for someone who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned."
It is rash and inconsistent to propose that the above teaching of Pope Vigilius applies only to individuals and not to groups of individual as well (sects).
So how are we supposed to deal with such sects then? Should we take the advice of those who say we can go to them for the Eucharist? Mingle with the enemies of God so that we can receive the Blessed Sacrament from a heretical or schismatic priest who SINS EVERY TIME HE CONFECTS IT?
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Tertia Pars, Question , Art. : "I answer that, As was said above , heretical, schismatical, excommunicate, or even sinful priests, although they have the power to consecrate the Eucharist, yet they do not make a proper use of it; on the contrary, they sin by using it. But whoever communicates with another who is in sin, becomes a sharer in his sin."
And what does Pope Pius IX say?
(Graves Ac Diuturnae cont'd) ". You should remind them to beware of these treacherous enemies of the flock of Christ and their poisoned foods. They should totally shun their religious celebrations, their buildings, and their chairs of pestilence which they have with impunity established to transmit the sacred teachings. They should shun their writings and all contact with them. They should not have any dealings or meetings with usurping priests and apostates from the faith who dare to exercise the duties of an ecclesiastical minister without possessing a legitimate mission or any jurisdiction. They should avoid them as strangers and thieves who come only to steal, slay, and destroy. For the Church's children should consider the proper action to preserve the most precious treasure of faith, without which it is impossible to please God, as well as action calculated to achieve the goal of faith, that is the salvation of their souls, by following the straight road of justice."
No further comments on Pius IX.
But a question arises: What if we simply don't know that we are attending the Mass of a heretic or schismatic?
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, Prima Secunda Pars, Q. , Art. : "Now it is evident that whoever neglects to have or do what he ought to have or do, commits a sin of omission. Wherefore through negligence, ignorance of what one is bound to know, is a sin; whereas it is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called "invincible," because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: Wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin. On the other hand, vincible ignorance is a sin, if it be about matters one is bound to know; but not, if it be about things one is not bound to know."
Truly, one is bound to know the Catholic Faith well enough to be able to spot heresy and to know whether or not he is joined to heretics and schismatics. So the answer to the question is, in accordance with the Angelic Doctor, if we ARE ABLE to know that our priest, bishop, etc. is heretical or schismatic, but we adhere to him anyway, then we indeed share in his sin, the sin of schism or heresy, whereby we would then be labouring OUTSIDE the true religion. Invincible ignorance on the other hand, ignorance that is not able to be overcome by any well ordered human effort, is a different matter, for Pope Pius IX himself also said:
Pope Pius IX, Singulari Quadem, December , : "For it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God."
So if the person had NO JUSTIFIABLE and HUMANLY POSSIBLE WAY AT ALL of being ABLE to know that his priest was a heretic, then indeed according to the Roman Pontiff, this person would not be stained with any guilt in that matter, namely schism or heresy. So clearly it behooves us all, if we are about to profess subjection to such and such a priest or bishop, to do our utmost to make sure that he indeed holds the Catholic Faith whole and inviolate.
Let's go to the Saints and Fathers of the Church and see what their take is on the matter has been:
Apocalypse 18:4: "And I heard another voice from heaven, saying: Go out from her, my people; that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues."
But guess what? The anti-christian sect that is fraudulently passing itself off as the Catholic Church teaches the exact opposite of this, they teach that you may go ahead and be among the heretics and schismatics:
What Must You Do To Get to Heaven?