Sunday, May 9, 2010

On the Unity of the Church

All Catholics know that the Church is ONE. But do all Catholics necessarily know exactly what this means? Unity can be considered under many aspects, and while the Church is certainly one, it is not necessarily one under all possible aspects. For example, members of the Church who live in two nations that are at war, while they are one in faith, are nevertheless divided in their temporal interests.

So for the Church to pray for unity does not mean that She is denying the unity She already possesses, which is the unity of Faith and obedience to the Chair of St. Peter, but rather She prays that all her members may be united in charity.

There is, however, a heretical denial of the Church's Divinely bestowed unity that must be addressed:

Antipope Paul VI, Unitatis Redintegratio, #3: "Even in the beginnings of this one and only Church of God there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly condemned. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions made their appearance and quite large communities came to be separated from full communion with the Catholic Church-for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame. The children who are born into these Communities and who grow up believing in Christ cannot be accused of the sin involved in the separation, and the Catholic Church embraces upon them as brothers, with respect and affection."

To say that they cannot be accused of sin is incompatible with Catholic theology and a denial of the principle set forth, first by St. Thomas and then by Pope Pius IX on invincible ignorance.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Prima Partis, Q. 76, Art. 2: "...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."

Antipope Paul VI, Unitatis Redintegratio, #3, cont'd:
"For men who believe in Christ and have been truly baptized are in communion with the Catholic Church even though this communion is imperfect. The differences that exist in varying degrees between them and the Catholic Church-whether in doctrine and sometimes in discipline, or concerning the structure of the Church-do indeed create many obstacles, sometimes serious ones, to full ecclesiastical communion. The ecumenical movement is striving to overcome these obstacles. But even in spite of them it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in Baptism are members of Christ's body, and have a right to be called Christian, and so are correctly accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic Church."

That is a heretical denial of the unity of faith and discipline proper to the Church. It is a denial that only those who profess this faith are able to attain to the fellowship of the children of God, as proven from the following dogmatic definition:

Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council, Session 3, Chapter 3,
#8-9, ex cathedra: "Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her Ordinary and Universal Magisterium.  Since, then, without faith it is impossible to please God and reach the fellowship of his sons and daughters, it follows that no one can ever achieve justification without it, neither can anyone attain eternal life unless he or she perseveres in it to the end."
But the heretics and schismatics that Antipope Paul VI is referring to do NOT accept Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church. They CANNOT be called the brothers of Catholics, since in order to be so they must first have reached the fellowship of the sons and daughter of God, which can only be done through holding the Faith of the Father and the Son.

Antipope Paul VI, Unitatis Redintegratio, #3, cont'd: "Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ."

It is true that all of these elements belong to the one Church of Christ, but there is neither the life of grace, which is sanctifying grace, or the remission of sins, nor the theological virtues or interior gifts of the Holy Ghost OUTSIDE the Church, as can be plainly discerned from the dogmatic definition and the papal teaching that follow:

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, ex cathedra: "[A]ll those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Catholic Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church's sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."
Pope Vigilius Second Council of Constantinople, ex cathedra: “…we bear in mind what was promised about the holy church and him who said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (by these we understand the death-dealing tongues of heretics)…”

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: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, avoid: Knowing that he, that is such an one, is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgment. (Titus 3:10-11)"

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