Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Universal Salvation in Three Easy Steps

I was browsing through the pages of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review recently and came upon a most succinct and candid description of what is quickly becoming a virtual dogma of the ecclesiastical revolution we are currently experiencing: Universal Salvation. It appears in an article by the young Fr. Philip-Michael F. Tangorra entitled The Holy Spirit and the Contemporary Reform of the Catholic Church. The article is noteworthy on several counts - in particular, its last section (The Holy Spirit, Pope Francis, and the Church), in which the Protestant call of Ecclesia Semper Reformanda Est (The Church Is Always To Be Reformed) is taken up as a laudable ideal for the Catholic Church. However, I want to focus here on the brief paragraph consisting of a mere three sentences in which Fr. Tangorra manages to transition almost seamlessly from a vague affirmation of the dogma Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus (Outside The Church There Is No Salvation) to the doctrine that all men are saved. Observe:
There is no salvation outside of a participation in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, but the Holy Spirit, while not offering a separate or unique mediation of salvation from Christ, can unite all humanity to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, through the explicit act of faith in the existence of God and trust in God's divine providence for their salvation. "In the hearts of those men of good will, where grace is active invisibly, we can say that a non-Christian is mysteriously related to Christ, even if he is unconscious of the role of Christ in his life." Through this mysterious participation, wrought by the Holy Spirit, in the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, one participates in the fruits of the sacraments of baptism and of the Eucharist, and is, therefore, part of the People of God, as they are ordinantur Ecclesiae, related to the Church, which is necessary for salvation. (cf. footnotes in the original)
As Fr. Zuhlsdorf recently commented in regards to an article submitted to First Things deploring what passes as Catholic in many parts of the western world: It's another religion.

Indeed, and the first dogma of this new religion might very well be that of Universal Salvation.


  1. Dear Radical Catholic:
    Before making any further comments on Fr. Tangorra's theology, please read Pope Pius XII's encyclical, "Mystici Corporis Christi", paragraph 103, where is discussed the "votum inscio". It is this paragraph that is further developed by the Second Vatican Council in Lumen Gentium paragraphs 14-16 and in Gaudium et Spes 22. Yet further developed by the CDF in "Dominus Iesus", pars. 12-14, 20-22.

    While those who may have a mystical, unconscious, relationship with the Church do not obviously share in the full fruits that Christ has merited for the salvation gratuitously offered all humanity, namely the Church and her Sacraments, such a person by explicit faith, hope and love, the theological virtues, are indeed united to God, in the first instance, Christ Jesus, though not consciously in the second instance, and the Church of Christ, again not consciously in the third instance, and her Sacraments, in the fourth instance. True also, without these, the ordinary means that God provides for our salvation, the virtuous life may be more difficult. Yet, salvation is not impossible.

    You sir, fail to remember that "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" was never part of any dogmatic definition offered by a Pope, ex cathedra, or an Ecumenical Council, and is thus a dogmatic principle, but not a Defined Dogma. It is also, likewise, not explicit or implicit in sacred Scripture, thus it is not Doctrine. Furthermore, its original application by St. Cyprian of Carthage was in regards those already in the Church, who leave the Church in search for a "greater" truth and salvation outside of it. Cyrpian's dictum never applied, in his usage thereof, to those outside the Church, but to those who were inside, having known the truth of Jesus Christ, and have left.

    If you cannot accept these sources of Catholic teaching, then you ought to reconsider calling yourself Catholic, "Feenyite" sure thing, but Catholic...not so much! Even Ven. Pope Piux XII, whose image you adorn your profile with, condemned Leonard Feeney and his interpretation of "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus", which you seem to champion in the same way that Feeney had.

  2. Dear Anon,

    Actually, the profile image is that of Pope Benedict XV, not Pope Pius XII. I chose his image because he seems to me to be a largely forgotten pope. Which is to say, you're not the first one to make the same mistake.

    I find it interesting that, rather than argue the point that Fr. Tangorra is, in fact, promoting Universal Salvation, you've chosen to argue that the doctrine of Universal Salvation is fully in line with Catholic teaching - at least in its "development" since Pope Pius XII's 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi. Surely, you must be aware that the doctrine of Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus has been part of the ordinary magisterium of numerous Popes through the long history of the Church, including Pelagius II, St. Gregory the Great, Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Eugene IV, Leo XII, Gregory XVI, Pius IX, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, and Benedict XV. Even Pope Pius XII, whom you chose to quote in support of your contention, stated:

    "By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth."

    Are we supposed to ignore centuries of papal teaching on this on the grounds of a few vague statements made in the last 50 years? Either you believe that all men are called to become full, conscious and visible members of the Catholic Church, or you do not. Making a rule out of what is, essentially, a rare exception - besides being poor pastoral practice - is reckless endangerment of souls.


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