Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Heresy Question

One question that keeps getting asked by atheists and sometimes even by Protestants is why the Catholic church was so slow to declare the killing of heretics to be sinful. Sure they arrived there eventually but it took many centuries and many executions before they did. Isn't this principle a pretty easy one? Does this not show that religion has an inherent tendency to produce violence towards people who disagree?

It is a good question. The trouble is it has a bit of an assumption behind it. That is that heresy is no big deal. The modern secular mind has this notion that any ideas about religion are obviously of little consequence and people should be able to say whatever they want. The trouble is that is not true. Very few things can destroy a society like a heresy can. What people believe matters. It does not just matter in terms of whether they go to heaven or hell. It matters politically, socially, militarily, etc.

So we should not ignore heresy. What should we do? First of all, we should teach. Explain exactly why a teaching is wrong. When that does not work you simply let the bad impacts start to happen. Yes, that can mean many people die or many people get abused or we end up in bad wars. 

Bad impacts can be terrible but they are not as terrible as using violence to prevent them. Having the Church, the mystical body of Jesus, associated with violence and murder is just unacceptable even when there seems like it can avoid a serious error. The number of people raising this objection proves the point. It has presented Jesus in a bad light and we can't do it. 

So what happens next? Well, sin when it is full grown leads to death. It can be the death of the heretics. That is often much more destructive than killing the heretics earlier would have been. Yet letting it play out respects people's freedom. It becomes clear that sin is not destructive because the church has so much power but rather because of its nature. 

There is another possibility. When sin is full grown it leads to death. Yet sometimes that death is not our death but the death of Jesus. It can happen with heresy to. The church as the body of Christ can become the object of hatred just like Christ Himself did. The death we allow to happen can be our own. This can ultimately lead to the resurrection of the church and the salvation of society. 

This is not a persecution complex. It is just a recognition that this is the way history flows. When society falls into sin the church goes onto the cross. The faithful remnant become annoying to the sinners because they keep speaking the truth. That eats at people's consciences and they overreact. At the end of the day it becomes obvious that the one on the cross is the Holy One and the ones who put them there is not. 

So you can see why people are slow to go here. People who have power don't tend to give it up right to the point of letting themselves be killed. Jesus did it and we are called to do it yet it is not easy. It is not the obvious moral principle people often assume when they ask the question. It is the stuff of heroic virtue. 


  1. Too many people are agreeing with me.They understand Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre made a doctrinal and objective mistake. He contradicted common sense and the Principle of Non Contradiction

    Too many people are agreeing with me.They agree that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre made a doctrinal mistake.It was an objective mistake.He contradicted common sense and the Principle of Non Contradiction.

    He was correct,Vatican Council II (Cushingite) is a rupture with Tradition but this is only when physically known baptism of desire(BOD) and being saved in invincible ignorance(I.I) is chosen for the interpretation.He accepted this premise( hypothetical BOD was objectively known in the present time) . This was an innovation in Catholic salvation theology.It was a prominent error in the Fr. Leonard Feeney case.

    There is no denial from traditionalists and pro SSPX bloggers.None of them are saying that Archbishop Lefebvre did not use the irrational premise to arrive at a non traditional conclusion.

    Meanwhile a prominent lay supporter of the SSPX who does not want to be quoted has said that the soul is invisible for man and that we cannot see or know cases of BOD and I.I. So BOD and I.I would not be exceptions to EENS.However this would mean that the Archbishop made a mistake. So even on something so obvious, as not being able to see a person's soul, he does not want to be quoted.

    In the previous blog post I mentioned that there are traditionalist and conservative Catholics who agree with what I have been writing.

    Tancred(The Eponymous Flower) and Prof.Phillip Blosser, professor of Philosophy at the Sacred Heart Seminary Detroit and owner of the blog Musings of a Pertinacious Papist - agree with me.Even Archbishop Thomas E.Gullickson, Fr.S.Visintin osb, Dean of the Theology at the Pontifical University of St.Anselm, Rome and John Martignoni, the apologist at EWTN agree with me. I am not saying anything new or personal.It is obvious that there are no physically known cases of the baptism of desire and being saved in invincible ignorance.

    There are many Catholic priests here who agree with me.They say there are no known cases of BOD and I.I in 2016.Since there are no explicit cases of BOD and I.I in our physical reality, BOD and I.I were never exceptions to the Feeneyite interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.(EENS).

    It means not only did Archbishop Lefebvre and the SSPX bishops make a mistake but so did Pope Benedict XVI in his interview with Avvenire.The pope said that extra ecclesiam nulla salus is no more like it was to the 16th century missionaries. He said there was a development of doctrine with Vatican Council II. He meant hypothetical cases mentioned in Vatican Council II(LG 16 etc) were not hypothetical for him. They were explicit.So they became exceptions to the dogma EENS as it was known over the centuries i.e the strict interpretation with no exceptions.


    There is good news for the SSPX and the sedevacantists.The old ecclesiology, which they support,while excluding Vatican Council II (Cushingite), is not contradicted by Vatican Council II(Feeneyite).

    They can tell Ecclesia Dei that they affirm the old ecclesiology ( on an ecumenism of return, and non Christians having to formally convert into the Catholic Church).They would also affirm Vatican Council II ( Feeneyite) i.e there are no known exceptions in Vatican Council II ( Feeneyite) to the strict interpretation of the dogma EENS.This is EENS as it was known to Fr. Leonard Feeney of Boston and the 16th century missionaries...

    Lionel Andrades


  2. Thanks so much for the comment. You make a lot of good points. The trouble is we can never give up on the living magisterium of the church. No matter how strongly we believe out arguments are better. Every heresy begins that way. They all start with someone making what seems like a very reasonable case. Whether it be Luther or Arius or Nestor or Lefebvre they all believed they had reason on their side.