Religious Indifferentism Condemned
“And this is the lethal system of religious indifferentism, which is repudiated by the light of natural reason itself.”
– Pope Pius VIII.
The entire ecumenical program, as exemplified by the new Week of Prayer is a severe rupture with the past, not continuity. It is a manifestation of the religious indifferentism condemned consistently by the Popes all through history.
The Popes throughout the centuries, and especially since the time of the French Revolution, condemned any activity that places the Catholic Church on equal footing with false religions. Here we will recount the teaching of four consecutive popes against religious indifferentism – a series of magisterial statements that reflect true continuity with perennial Catholic teaching. We will quote solemn pronouncements from Popes Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI and Blessed Pius IX. Sadly, these are statements we never hear from post-Conciliar Vatican leaders.
Religious indifferentism is one of the many reasons for the Papal condemnations of Freemasonry, since Masonry places all religions on the same plain. Pope Leo XII taught in his inaugural Encyclical, Ubi Primum:
“A certain sect, certainly known to you, [Freemasonry] and wrongfully arrogating the name of philosophy for itself has stirred up from the ashes the disorganized collections of almost all the errors. … it teaches that ample liberty has been granted by God to every man to join any sect or to adopt any opinion which may be pleasing to him according to his own private judgment, without any danger to his salvation … it would be really impossible for the completely truthful God, who is Sovereign Truth itself, the best and most wise Provider, and Rewarder of the good, to approve of all sects that are teaching dogmas that are false and frequently opposed and contradictory to one another and to bestow eternal rewards upon the men who join these sects …”
Pope Pius VIII forcefully condemned this error in the encyclical Traditi humilati nostrae:
“And this is the lethal system of religious indifferentism, which is repudiated by the light of natural reason itself. In this light we are warned that, among many religions which disagree with one another, when one is true, that there can be no association with light and darkness. Against these repeaters of ancient errors, the people must be assured, Venerable Brethren, that the profession of the Catholic Faith is alone the true one, since the Apostle tells us that there is one Lord and one baptism. As Jerome says, the man who eats the Lamb outside of this house is profane, and the man who is not in the ark of Noah is going to perish in the deluge. Neither is there any other name apart from the Name of Jesus given to men by which we must be saved. He who believes will be saved, and he who shall not have believed will be condemned.”
Yet the “lethal system” of religious indifferentism condemned by the Popes — that a man may find salvation in any religion — effectively receives the stamp of approval by today’s practice of ecumenism and by the new pan-religious Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held at Rome’s St. Paul Outside the Walls.
Pope Gregory XVI likewise condemned this error in his Mirari vos arbitramur:
“Now we come to another very fertile cause of the evils by which, we are sorry to see, the contemporary Church being afflicted. This is indifferentism, or that wicked opinion which has grown up on all sides through the deceit of evil men. According to this opinion, the eternal salvation of the soul can be attained by any kind of profession of faith, as long as a man’s morals are in line with the standard of justice and honesty. You must drive out from the people entrusted to your care this most deplorable error on a matter so obviously important and so completely clear. For, since the Apostle has warned that there is one God, one faith, one baptism, those who pretend that the way to [eternal] beatitude starts from any religion at all should be afraid and should seriously think over the fact that, according to the testimony of the Savior Himself, they are against Christ because they are not for Christ; and that they are miserably scattering because they are not gathering with Him; and that consequently, they are most certainly going to perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith and keep it whole and inviolate”.
Pope Gregory XVI here is simply restating the essential truth contained in the 4th Century Athanasian Creed, thus demonstrating the continuity of Catholic truth throughout the ages. The Creed begins:
“Whosoever wishes to be saved must, first of all, hold the Catholic faith, which, unless a man shall have held it whole and inviolate, he will most certainly perish forever.”
“This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man shall have believed it faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
Blessed Pope Pius IX specifically condemned religious indifferentism in his magnificent 1864 Syllabus of Errors:
• It is an error to believe, “ Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.”
• It is an error to believe, “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”
• It is an error to believe, “Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.”
The Second Vatican Council’s ecumenical orientation is thus a departure from consistent papal condemnations of religious indifferentism. The practice of Conciliar ecumenism manifest by today’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, is religious indifferentism in action. Public ecumenical ceremonies with false religions, ennobled by celebrating these events at the major Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, sends the message that any religion is good enough for salvation. It broadcasts to the world the religious indifferentism censured by the consistent magisterial teaching of the popes of all time.
As Catholics we are bound, as Vatican I infallibly taught, to hold to the truths of Faith taught throughout the centuries “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” as the Church always held. Not even a Pope can change these teachings.
Further, any priest ordained prior to 1967 had sworn a solemn Oath against Modernism in which he promised to always hold and teach the Catholic Faith “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” as the Church taught consistently throughout the ages.
The truth that there is no salvation outside the Church; the fact that true union can only come about by the return of dissidents to the one Catholic Church; and the truth of the condemnations of religious indifferentism, are all part of that great body of Catholic doctrine we are bound to believe as the Church has always held. A Catholic who does not do so is guilty – in the objective order — of a grave sin against Faith.
A priest who solemnly swore the Oath Against Modernism is under even greater obligation. The eminent American theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton warned that a man who takes the Oath Against Modernism, and then breaks that Oath, “would mark himself as a sinner against the Catholic Faith and a common perjurer”.
–from Catholic Family News, 12 Jan 2011 AD