Every day, conservative Catholics are publicly expressing contempt for the authority of the Roman Pontiff. Every day, they exalt themselves above the Supreme and Universal Pastor, speaking as if HIS decisions on doctrine and discipline were subject to THEIR judgment, as if he had no authority over them, unless they happen to decide his decisions are right. Some even go so far as to suggest that the errors which are possible in his decisions on doctrine and discipline have no limits at all, as if the Father and Teacher of all Christians could teach heresy, or could lead the Church away from the path to Heaven.
Their arrogance knows no bounds. They judge all things, as if they were each their own Supreme Pontiff. They have dogmatized their own understanding of doctrine and discipline. They speak as if they had the role to teach and correct the Pope, and as if he had no role to teach or correct them, unless he is telling them what they wish to hear. Is not the Magisterium the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition and Scripture? And yet they speak as if they had that same role, or even a role above the Magisterium itself, to judge whether any idea is of the Magisterium or not.
Truly, many of these persons are already in a state of schism: “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff” [Canon 751]. Therefore, they are already automatically excommunicated [Canon 1364]. And yet they continue to speak and act as if they were in full communion with the Church. They continue to receive Communion, even though Communion is forbidden to them as excommunicates. And what is their main complaint? that the Church gives Communion to those who (supposedly) should not receive.
When will the schism occur openly? When will large numbers of conservatives publicly renounce the Successor to Saint Peter, falsely accusing him of teaching heresy? I think it will be relatively soon. Amoris Laetitia has already caused them to be poised at the starting blocks of a race away from communion with the Ruler of Christ’s whole fold. All that is needed is one sharp sound, to set them running away from the Rock on which the Church is founded.
I think that Amoris Laetitia is not quite enough for them to depart openly and unequivocally from the True Vicar of Christ. But I trust that Pope Francis will continue to teach, and I think that some teaching of his in the near future will be the last straw for them. This teaching may well be on salvation theology. As far as I can tell from his limited comments so far, Pope Francis seems to have much the same opinion as I hold on the universality of the offer of salvation.
* non-Catholic Christians can be saved without converting to Catholicism
* non-Christian believers can be saved without converting to Christianity by formal baptism
* atheists and agnostics can be saved without converting to belief in God.
By love of neighbor they can enter the state of grace. By love of neighbor, they can return to the state of grace, if they fall away by actual mortal sin. Everyone who truly loves his neighbor also truly loves God, at least implicitly.
When Pope Francis eventually teaches on salvation theology, I believe he will teach similarly. And then the pride-filled conservatives will falsely accuse him of heresy, and will openly and unequivocally depart from communion with him.
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