Friday, November 21, 2014

Fr.Brian Harrison interprets ecumenism and religious liberty in Vatican Council II as a continuity with the past : I agree with him

Here is another cite to Fr. Harrison relevant to a recent HTF blog  topic:
This is with reference to Fr.Harrison’s article on Ecumenism .I agree with him.

The Decree: No Error HereNow we can go on to consider UR in the light of the four above-mentioned doctrinal errors reprobated by Pope Pius:
(1) Does Vatican II adopt a “lowest common denominator” approach to “balance” unity and truth? Not at all. Unitatis Redintegratio 3 affirms that while the separated brethren have many elements of truth, God’s will is that they all come to that plenitude which can be found only in Catholicism:
For it is through Christ’s Catholic Church alone . . . that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic College alone, of which Peter is the head . . . that we believe the Lord entrusted all the benefits of the New Covenant in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ, into which all those who already in some way belong to the people of God ought to be fully incorporated. (UR 3, emphases added)
Lionel: I agree with Fr.Harrison here.

The Decree also recalls that while there is a “hierarchy” of Catholic truths, insofar as these vary in “their relationship to the foundation of the Christian faith,” this does not mean that the less “fundamental” Catholic beliefs—those not shared by Protestant or Orthodox Christians—are “negotiable” or can be swept under the rug. (The revealed truths about our Lady, for instance, derive from the Incarnation, not vice versa.) On the contrary, “It is of course essential that [Catholic] doctrine be presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism which harms the purity of Catholic doctrine and obscures its genuine and certain meaning” (UR 11).
Lionel: Agreed!

(2) Does UR imply a gradual descent into naturalism at the expense of divine revelation, leading to an abandonment of all revealed truth? No, because it never accepts the premise that Pius XI says leads to that “dead end,” namely, the modernist idea that the different religions all just “give expression, under various forms, to that innate sense which leads men to God.” The conciliar teaching, in contrast to this naturalistic account of religion, stresses the supernatural realities of revelation and faith. UR asserts that “the Catholic Church has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all means of grace” (UR 4; cf. UR 3). Furthermore, “Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying. . . . And after Peter’s confession of faith, he determined that upon him he would build his Church . . . [and] entrusted all his sheep to him to be confirmed in faith” (UR 2). The Fathers who promulgated UR were of course also those who, just one year later, promulgated the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, which serves as an interpretative key to other conciliar documents touching on that subject.
Lionel: I am still am with Fr.Harrison.

(3) Does UR envisage a united “Church” of the future as being a “federation” of different Christian denominations agreeing to differ in at least some doctrinal matters? Nowhere is there any such suggestion.
Lionel: I agree!

Vatican II presents the unity willed by God as one in which everyone is—surprise, surprise!—Catholic. Having made it clear that by “the Church” they mean the body led by “the bishops with Peter’s successor at their head”—i.e., the Roman Catholic Church—the Fathers continue:
The Church, then, God’s only flock, like a standard lifted high for the nations to see it, ministers the gospel of peace to all mankind, as it makes its pilgrim way in hope towards its goal, the fatherland above. This is the sacred mystery of the unity of the Church, in Christ and through Christ, with the Holy Spirit energizing its various functions. (UR 2, emphases added)
Lionel: Unitatis Redintigratio is orthodox.

Three kisses

(4) From what has been said already, it should be clear that the Decree on Ecumenism does not teach the fourth heresy censured by Pius XI in Mortalium Animos, namely, the idea that Church unity is a mere future ideal which separated Christians must work to construct, insofar as it does not yet exist. Of course, we need to distinguish carefully here between the unity of the Church as such and unity among Christians. Obviously, if we understand the word “Christian” to cover everyone who professes faith in Christ, the latter unity does not exist yet—and never has existed since the first schisms arose in New Testament times! But such divisions do not imply that the Church herself is—or ever could be—disunited, in the sense of being divided into different denominations holding different doctrines. Our creedal article of belief in ” One, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church” rules this out. And so does UR when it expresses the hope that, as a result of ecumenism,
little by little as the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into the unity of the one and only Church, which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, exists completely (Lat., subsistit) in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and which we hope will continue to increase until the end of time. (UR 4, emphases added)
Lionel: Still orthodox!

Whether or not, in the decades since Vatican II, ecumenism as UR expounds it has always been faithfully implemented—even by the Church’s own leadership—is of course a distinct question. A further one is whether or not the results achieved after about half a century vindicate, with the benefit of hindsight, the prudence of UR’s “window-opening” disciplinary changes. I think Catholics can now legitimately debate both these questions. In any case, if this brief comparison has helped to show that the Council did not fall into the doctrinal aberrations reprobated by Pius XI in 1928, it will hopefully have served a useful purpose.
Lionel: Praised be Jesus and Our Lady ! It is nice to read a rational approach to UR.

[This article first appeared in the July-September 2008 issue of the Australian quarterly Oriens. Reprinted with permission.]

The “Subsists In” Controversy
In June 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith released a statement, Commentary on the Document: Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church, which sought to clarify some of the Second Vatican Council’s teachings on authentic ecumenism. The CDF statement was met with some controversy because it stated that non-Catholic Christian “ecclesial communities” (with the exception of Orthodox traditions) could not be termed true “churches.” In saying this, however, the CDF was merely reiterating what Unitatis Redintegratio had already established:

Catholic ecumenism might seem, at first sight, somewhat paradoxical. The Second Vatican Council used the phrase ” subsistit in ” in order to try to harmonize two doctrinal affirmations: on the one hand, that despite all the divisions between Christians the Church of Christ continues to exist fully only in the Catholic Church, and on the other hand that numerous elements of sanctification and truth do exist without the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church whether in the particular churches or in the ecclesial communities that are not fully in communion with the Catholic Church. For this reason, the same Decree of Vatican II on ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio introduced the term fullness ( unitatis/catholicitatis) specifically to help better understand this somewhat paradoxical situation. Although the Catholic Church has the fullness of the means of salvation, nevertheless, the divisions among Christians prevent the Church from effecting the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her children who, though joined to her by baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. The fullness of the Catholic Church, therefore, already exists, but still has to grow in the brethren who are not yet in full communion with it and also in its own members who are sinners until it happily arrives at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem. This progress in fullness is rooted in the ongoing process of dynamic union with Christ: Union with Christ is also union with all those to whom he gives himself. I cannot possess Christ just for myself; I can belong to him only in union with all those who have become, or will become, his own. Communion draws me out of myself towards him, and thus also towards unity with all Christians. ( Commentary on the Document: Responses to Some Questions)

Lumen Gentium 8, ‘elements of sanctification and truth’ and the ‘subsistit it’ issue do not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.Even for Fr.Harrison LG 8 is not a break with Tradition.
I also agree with Fr.Harrison’s views on Religious Liberty ( on Stevem Speray’s blog).
In the footnotes of Dignitatis Humanae, Vatican Council II there is a reference to a state with a secular Constituion. When we make the distinction between a Catholic Confessional state and a state with a secular Constituion, DH is not a break with the past.
-Lionel Andrades


George Brenner said...


I am confused by this blog for just recently you posted:

Fr.Brian Harrison also mistakes the baptism of desire as being an exception to the dogma on salvation
Post by Lionel A on Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:53 am


Fr.Brain Harrison is in the Fr.Leonard Feeney- St.Benedict Centers camp, in as much, that he holds the literal interprtation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, as it was known for centuries.

Fr.Harrison,O.S., M.A., S.T.D and Asociate Editor of Living Tradition, Oblates of Wisdom, USA states 'we should be communicating rather more directly to our Protestant, lapsed Catholic and non-Christian brethren the unequivocal message that “Jesus Christ wants YOU to be a Roman Catholic!” If we did so rather more boldly, I suspect that the spiritual fruits would be very considerable, with a harvest of souls that would truly give glory to God.' (

So like the St.Benedict Centers, the communities of Fr.Leonard Feeney, he would say there is no baptism of desire which is an exception to the dogma but like the SBC he somehow also holds the view of the baptism of desire as being visible to us in the present times.

In potential, as a possibility, they assume that the baptism of desire is an exception to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.


George Brenner

Catholic Mission said...

Fr.Brian Harrison like Bro. Andre Marie MICM affirm the literal and traditional interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. In the sense that there are no exceptions.
However at the same time they will not say that the Letter of the Holy office 1949 was wrong to infer that the baptism of desire and being saved in invincible ignorance, are relevant to the dogma and so could not be exceptions.
Instead they will go into theology and say correctly that there are no exceptions.
Similarly, since they both infer that the baptism of desire and being saved in invincible ignorance are known and visible to us, they extend this irrational reasoning to Vatican Council II.

So for both of them LG 16, LG 8, UR 3 etc contradict the literal interpretation of extra ecclesiam nulla salus, the Feeneyite version.

If they admitted that there is no known and visible exception to the dogmatic teaching ( all need the baptism of water in the Catholic Church in the present times) they could say that the Letter of the Holy Office is factually incorrect. Also, Vatican Council II does not contradict the traditional teaching on other religions and ecumenism, unless one assumes that people saved in Heaven are physically visible and known on earth to be explicit exceptions to the dogma.If one uses this irrational premise in the interpretation of Vatican Council II text, then the Council emerges as a break with Tradition.
So on one hand they affirm the dogma and on the other hand they infer that the baptism of desire etc are visible and known to be exceptions.
Fr.Harrison in one post on the Internet sais he affirms extra ecclesiam nulla salus but is not a Feeneyite.
These are the conflicting positions that have been coming across to us, even from the SSPX and their supporters.