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Letter to London
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Atila Sinke Guimarães
Published in The Remnant, June 31, 2001

Some months ago, Mr. Michael Davies made an attack upon The Remnant columnists who had criticized the document Dominus Jesus and issued a challenge to engage in a “lively debate” on the topic. Since I was one of the collaborators of the newspaper who had written in this sense, I published a small note communicating to Mr. Davies that I would accept his invitation. He responded in an article (The Remnant May 31, 2001) that the debate would have to be further postponed. He explained to his readers the importance of the position he holds and his many commitments and affirmed that he would not have time to deal with the matter before August. I continue to await the promised polemic.

Despite his tight schedule, Mr. Davies nonetheless found time to criticize rather minutely my Bird’s Eye View column of March 31. It seems that he likes appetizers before the main course. In his critique, he made one insinuation and four attacks against me. I will respond to these here.

A Protestant attitude?

1. The insinuation. With regard to the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Mr. Davies explained to readers that this Dicastery had published some “three dozen” documents since the Council, although he had only read “about a dozen.” I cannot refrain from smiling at seeing my opponent counting Vatican documents like one who counts eggs. In the dozen that Mr. Davies read, he found them all “totally orthodox.” And he commented: “It would be very alarming if anything coming from the CDF was not totally orthodox. If documents emanating from the CDF are to be subjected to the judgment of laymen, then we would be in the same position as Protestants.” Thus, his insinuation is that I would be taking the same arrogant position of the Protestants in criticizing Dominus Jesus.

On October 31, 1999, Cardinal Edward Cassidy and Lutheran bishop Christian Krause signed the sadly famous Accord of Augsburg, in which the Catholic doctrine of the Council of Trent was, at the least, put in the shadows in order to please the Protestants. The text of the accord was approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to the declarations of Cassidy. [1] It was several Lutherans who stated that Ratzinger’s input in that text was absolutely crucial.[2] Now, according to Mr. Davies, if I would disagree with the Augsburg document, as I did, I would be taking a Protestant position.

Having presented these facts, I make my first reply to Mr. Davies. According to Mr. Davies, when the CDF puts aside the prior teaching of the Magisterium to approve the text of an accord with Protestants and if someone disagrees with this, then this person would be under suspicion for taking a Protestant position because he is trying to avoid favoring Protestantism. If someone agrees with the CDF initiative, according to the position advised by Mr. Davies of blind obedience to everything emanating from this Congregation, he would be obliged to favor Protestantism in order not to take a Protestant position. A little incoherent, isn’t it? I would be grateful if Mr. Davies could explain how a well-intentioned lay Catholic may act when the official authority favors either Protestantism or other errors or heresies.

Until he can clarify the matter, I will continue to follow the evangelical counsel: “Beware of false prophets who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. By their fruits you shall know them” (Math. 7:15-16). Also, the teaching of St. Thomas: “When there is an imminent danger for the Faith, Prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects.” [3] I do not see any Protestant tendency in obeying these counsels if the criticism is made for love of the Catholic Church and with due respect shown for the high position of the Prelates. If the Prelates would have the courage to stand up against the present day errors, the laity would normally remain silent. Since the former are silent, the latter see themselves obliged to try to fill this lacuna provisionally.

Allow me to comment briefly on Mr. Davies’ affirmation that the CDF documents are “totally orthodox.” In my book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, I published an appendix on The Catholic Church and Homosexuality. There I cite three documents of the CDF on this topic and compare them with former Catholic doctrine.[4]I show how they cross over the moral boundaries that consider homosexuality a vice against nature and seem to give rein to this depravity in the Church. I would like to know if Mr. Davies would consider those documents “totally orthodox.”

Are the Catholic and Jewish religions identical?

2. His first frontal attack concerns a phrase of Cardinal Ratzinger that I cited and commented upon in my column. This is the phrase: The Jewish faith “for us is not another religion, but the foundation of our own faith.” In his attack, Mr. Davies makes several minor charges as well:
A. he asks that I cite “the correct context” of the phrase – a light insinuation that I deceived my readers.
B. Further on, he comments: “If he [speaking of me] is suggesting that His Eminence believes that the Catholic and the Jewish religions are identical, I can only describe such a suggestion as ludicrous.”
C. Then he affirms that because the Jewish religion does not have Baptism, it cannot contain heresies, as I wrote in my column. Finally, he expresses his enthusiastic support of Ratzinger’s statement and tries to demonstrate its veracity.
For the sake of clarity, I will respond to each part separately.

A. The context. I took Ratzinger’s quote from a CNS dispatch published by the well-informed L.A. weekly The Tidings (January 5, 2001). It stated the following: “The experience of the Holocaust horrors may have prompted a ‘new vision’ of Catholic reconciliation with Jews after centuries of anti-Judaism and ‘deplorable acts of violence,’ said Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in a front-page article in the Vatican’s newspaper of December 29. He said Catholic dialogue with Jews belonged to a unique category because the Jewish faith ‘for us is not another religion, but the foundation of our faith.’” The sentence I quote is the nucleus of the dispatch, the rest is ancillary. I have at hand the cited issue of the L’Osservatore Romano (daily Italian edition) and the resume, considering that it is a dispatch, is well done.

B. Ludicrous. Ratzinger’s affirmation is ambiguous because it permits several interpretations of what he really thinks about the similarity between Catholicism and Judaism. Nevertheless, two boundaries limit these interpretations.

First, he was not talking only about past relations with the Jews, as Mr. Davies took it. Second, he was not saying that the two faiths are identical. Between these two limits the sentence can be interpreted however one would like, since Ratzinger made no further clarification. I understand the phrase in this way: the Jewish faith for us Catholics is not a different religion. I think that the Cardinal was trying to emphasize the similarity of the Progressivist conception of the Church (to which he adheres) and present-day Judaism. This reality falls into a broader context. According to innumerable serious authors, to establish a pan-religion is one of the objectives of Masonry and Judaism. By various means, conciliar Progressivism has been trying to achieve a similar goal.

What I maintain is that this is the orientation being followed by Cardinal Ratzinger, the present CDF, and various Vatican Dicasteries – for example, the Pontifical Councils for the Unity of Christians, for Inter-Religious Dialogue and for Non-Believers. If some Prelate or notable layman would like to discuss this matter further publicly, I am at his disposition. Mr. Davies is certainly included in this invitation.

My opponent caustically qualifies anyone who could suggest that Judaism and the Catholic Church are identical as “ludicrous.” I have just showed that I do not think this. However, I know several who went further than I did in this matter. For example, the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, is a convert from Judaism. Speaking of his conversion, he affirmed: “The decision to become Christian did not present itself as a denial, but as the affirmation of an assumed Jewish identity.” [5] On another occasion, he said: “My nomination and my presence in Paris place in sharp evidence the part of Judaism that Christianity carries in itself. It is as if suddenly the crucifix had begun to carry the yellow star.” [6]

Here are two categorical statements of Lustiger defending an identity between the Catholic Church and present-day Judaism. How does Mr. Davies interpret these words of His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris? Would they be ludicrous? Would the Cardinal be subject to criticism? If this is the case, why not Cardinal Ratzinger as well? Or perhaps the thesis of Lustiger should be accepted without discussion in order to avoid acting like the Protestants? In this case, couldn’t Ratzinger’s phrase also be interpreted in the same light as Lustiger’s statements? I leave the matter open for Mr. Davies to respond.

C. Heresies in Judaism. My adversary affirms that one cannot speak of heresies when criticizing the Jewish errors, since heresy can only be applied properly to one who has received Baptism. I respond: Mr. Davies is right, but he simplifies the matter since he does not consider the different ways the truth can be applied. He does not take into account some important historical facts:

First, the fact that Judaism is the source of almost all the heresies, according to the words of St. Pius V: “We know that this most perverse people [which follow the Judaic religion] has always been the cause and fomenter of almost all the heresies.” [7] Therefore, in this sense, one can speak properly of the heresies contained in Judaism.

Second, various members of Judaism who converted to the Holy Church and then later returned to the Jewish religious practices were guilty of “blasphemies that in themselves are considered heretical,” according to the words of Pope Gregory XIII. [8]

Third, it is a common practice of Judaism to infiltrate the Catholic Church with their partisans who ask to be baptized so that they can stimulate from within the creation of a creed similar to their religion. The 17th Council of Toledo (694) [9] and the 4th Ecumenical Lateran Council (1215) [10] condemned respectively a conspiracy to install Judaism within the Catholic Church and the converted Jews who practice the rites of the Jewish religion. Such actions can also legitimately be considered heretical.

D. Davies’ defense of the Cardinal. Ratzinger’s phrase has two parts. As I noted above, he said that the Jewish faith “for us is not another religion, but the foundation of our faith.” The first part is the point of interest: that is, how does one explain that the Cardinal charged with guarding the orthodoxy of the Catholic Faith can affirm that Judaism “is not another religion,” that is to say, is not different in relation to Catholicism? Mr. Davies attempts to justify the second part of the phrase, which no one put in doubt. As for the first part, he does not address the problem.

Therefore, Mr. Davies missed the mark. What he justifies is the fact that Catholicism proceeded from the Old Testament. He does not explain how this can be applied to present-day Judaism in order to justify the first part of Ratzinger’s statement. This first part is quite strange since between the birth of the Church and our times, many events have taken place that have changed Jewish-Catholic relations. I cite only two: the Deicide and the anti-Christian conspiracy. Judaism fomented both events, as Church Tradition and the best anti-liberal and anti-modernist authors teach. Such authors to a certain degree are the fathers of the present day conservative and traditionalist movement.

Now, Mr. Davies’ emphasis on his adherence to the first part of the phrase seems to signify that he does not believe in the multi-century combat of Judaism against the Catholic Church. Hence, some questions arise: What is the true position of Mr. Davies in relation to the anti-Christian conspiracy? Does he believe that Judaism and Masonry have been plotting for ages to destroy Christendom and the Holy Church?

These are not academic questions. They are issues of great interest to Catholic conservatives and traditionalists. It is difficult to understand how Mr. Davies can assume positions of leadership in these movements when he seems to deny the presuppositions that all have. Perhaps he could clarify the matter.

A request to reveal other sources?

2. The second objection seems to be only a trick. He wants to know what edition of Dominus Jesus I use when I affirm that the “Church of Christ” includes Schismatics and Protestants. Does he doubt the truth of my critique? Or does he want me to reveal to him what documents I have for the debate that he is supposed to take up later? Thus, he could decide whether it would be better to drop the matter or carry on the polemic. I don’t know his intention. The documents and sources that he requests I will give in the response to his critique, not now.

Allow me to make a parallel remark. The tactic Mr. Davies employs is curious. Early in his article, he affirmed that he would not be able to comment on my critique of Dominus Jesus before August. However, in his first insinuation against me and in two of his four attacks, the theme is my opinion on Dominus Jesus. Why does he say one thing and do another?

Appropriate title for Schismatic Churches

3. His third objection refers to my habit of designating the so-called Orthodox Church as Schismatic Church. Mr. Davies does not deny it is schismatic, but he considers it “particularly reprehensible” to give it this name. In order to prove that the Schismatic Church should be called the Orthodox Church, Mr. Davies strives to show that it deserves the title of “church.”

Although I do not agree with some historical arguments that he presents, I think that the discussion does not apply to my case, because I do not deny that it deserves the title of church; what I deny is that it is orthodox. Thus his argumentation, even if it were historically objective, would not be conclusive. To be conclusive he should have proved that it deserves the title of orthodox. For the second time, he missed the mark. I think it would be sufficient to end my response to his objection here. However, in consideration for my readers, I will explain further.

He states: “It has not been the usage of the Holy See, as a matter of courtesy, to refer to the Orthodox as Schismatics for a century or more.” I realize that in diplomatic relations with the Schismatics the Holy See may not use this name, but can employ lighter terms such as “dissidents,” “those who are not in communion with the Catholic Church,” etc. Notwithstanding, when the Church turns to her children to teach the truth, the language can be different. In my case, I am just a layman and not a member of the Holy See, and I am not speaking to Schismatics, but to Catholics who are subject to the temptations of ecumenism. Therefore, my obligation is to be truthful with these Catholics, not to be courteous to the Schismatics. I do not see anything “particularly reprehensible” in this conduct.

I follow the norms of the ordinary teaching of the Church that were in use before Vatican II. I learned these norms from religion classes and good catechisms. I am a Brazilian with 55 years of age, and I remember well many of the teachings in the Marist Brothers School where I studied from 1957 to 1962, that is to say, in the years that immediately preceded Vatican Council II.

Among such teachings were these, summarized in my own words: The norm of the Catholic Church in relation to the religious confessions that proceeded from the Eastern Schism is to call them Schismatics or one should say the “so-called Orthodox Church,” the “self-named Orthodox Church.” Or, when writing, one can use “Orthodox” Church, placing the word between quotations. But one should not call them Orthodox, because the name signifies the church that has the true faith. And only the Catholic Church has the true Faith. For this reason, the only true Orthodox Church is the Catholic Church.

The Catechism Explained, by Fr. Francis Spirago, one of the most accepted catechisms before Vatican II, says: “The followers of Michael Cerularius call themselves the Orthodox Greeks, while we call them Schismatic Greeks, in opposition to the United Greeks or Uniates, who preserved their allegiance to Rome.” [11]

The Christian Apologetic Course, by Fr. W. Devivier, one of the most eulogized books of Catholic formation, says this: “The Greek Church is a schismatic church, though its denial of Papal Infallibility constitutes it, since Vatican Council I, as heretical as well.” [12]

I heard these wise norms applied many times in Sunday sermons, in the Catholic media, and in private counsels. It seems absurd to suppose that these norms were applied without the approval of the Holy See. Thus the affirmation that the Church has not used the expression “for a century or more” does not correspond to reality. Only after Vatican II did these norms disappear in order to favor ecumenism.

Therefore, Mr. Davies is exaggerating in his affirmation that the norms have not been in usage for a century or more. They stopped being applied around 40 years ago. His indignation at my obedience to traditional norms seems to reveal that he also sympathizes emotionally with the new norms of Vatican II.

No salvation outside the Church

4. His fourth objection is this: “I would like to ask Mr. Guimarães to state whether he accepts the doctrine of Baptism of Desire, or whether he agrees with the teaching of Father Feeney that there is ‘no salvation outside the Church.’ If the latter, much of his criticism of DI would be understandable.”

I am not a member of the St. Benedict Center and have no special link with this institution. I do not know their teaching about Baptism of desire. I have heard many negative rumors about this doctrine. However, I am not a man who takes rumors seriously or gets involved in intrigues. This type of action is generally employed by superficial women or pusillanimous men who are afraid to say directly what they think. Because of the natural aversion I have toward this behavior, and seeing that the St. Benedict Center is the target of such rumors, I have sympathy for it, without ever having set foot there or had the pleasure of a personal contact with its directors. Some time ago I read a book about the life of Fr. Feeney and found it edifying. I approved of his strong Marian devotion. I liked his dogged opposition to the nascent ecumenism. I admired his fidelity to Catholic tradition.

Without having made special studies on the matter, my personal position with respect to Baptism of desire is, I believe, the same as that of Holy Church. Should it not be, I will willingly renounce it. Baptism of desire can exist as an exception to the rule. The rule is that in order to be saved it is necessary to be baptized sacramentally in the Catholic Church. To the measure that this exception is too readily assumed or transformed into the rule, a sophism is established. It was upon this sophism that the Progressivists based themselves to introduce the notion of belonging “anonymously” to the Catholic Church, which would make its circle much wider than her visible limits.

It surprises me that Mr. Davies attributes the dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church to the teaching of Fr. Feeney. One would have to be very unknowledgeable in doctrine not to know that this axiom was always defended by the Holy Church and that whoever professes the Catholic Faith has the duty to accept it. Perhaps Mr. Davies was too impressed by the rumors and forgot the position of the Church in this respect.

To stir his memory, I suggest that among other things, he read the following documents that clearly state this dogma: 16th Council of Toledo, Symbolum, May 2, 693 (Denzinger-Schönmetzer 575), 4th Lateran Council, November 30, 1215 (DS 802), Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctam, November 18, 1302 (DS 870), 16th Council of Constance, decree confirmed by Pope Martin V, February 22, 1418 (DS 1191), Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, November 4, 1442 (DS 1351), Pius IX, Syllabus (DS 2917), Apostolic letter Iam vos omnes, September 13, 1868 (DS 2997-2999), Leo XIII, Encyclical Satis cognitum, June 29, 1896 (DS 3304), Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, June 29, 1943 (DS 3821-3822).

Having refuted the objections of Mr. Davies, I await his next attack. I sincerely hope that amid his many occupations he will find more time to think about what he will write.

1. According to a Zenit dispatch of June 11, 1999, during a press conference in Geneva, “Cardinal Cassidy explained that the common statement and its annex have been approved by …. the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, whose prefect is Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Late this May, John Paul II also approved the signing of the Declaration to be carried out jointly with the Lutheran World Federation.”
2. See John Allen Jr., “Ratzinger credited with saving Lutheran pact,” National Catholic Reporter, September 10, 1999; A. S. Guimarães, “The October Revolution,” The Remnant, November 15, 1999
3. Summa theologiae II, II, q. 33, a. 4.
4. (Metairie, LA: MAETA, 1997), pp. 370-8.
5. Jean-Marie Lustiger, interview with the Bulletin de L’Agence Télégraphique Juive, La Documentation Catholique, March 1, 1981, p. 239.
6. J.M. Lustiger, interview with the Tribune Juive, Le Monde, September 5, 1981.
7. St. Pius V, Bull Hebraeorum gens, February 26, 1569; Ludwig Pastor, Historia de los Papas, vol. 17, p. 306.
8. Bull Antiqua Judaeorum improbitas, June 1, 1581; F. Vernet, entry Juifs et Chrétiens, Dictionnaire Apologétique de la Foi Catholique, col. 1737.
9. René Aigrain, “L’Église franque sous les Mérovingiens,” Histoire de l’Église (Fliche-Martin), vol. 5, p. 259.
10. Canon 70, Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta (Herder: Freiburg im Bresgau, 1962), pp. 241-243.
11. Ninth Article of the Creed, 4, 5.
12. W. Devivier, Curso de Apologética Christã, São Paulo: Melhoramentos: 1925, p. 99.

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