Be Not Confused! On Authentic Dogmatic Development and Sound Doctrinal Interpretation

Part 14

So, there is no argument from silence. Even if Pope Francis were to remain silent through all this confusion about marriage and sex, there is no argument anyone can make from this silence.

The truth is available. Read Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals; read the New Catechism. Read Sources of Catholic Dogma. Be informed and do not lose the faith.

But there is another strategy someone might employ. Someone might take an interview by Pope Francis as though it were a magisterial act.

But in fact, these interviews are not magisterial acts. They are merely “words of a pope,” at best. I say at best because many of them are also second hand reports of what the pope said. But interviews do not constitute magisterial acts. It is creeping infallibility to proclaim that they do. Thus, we cannot use these interviews to mount theological arguments.

Nor is the pope protected by Christ when he issues his own opinions about things. Then, he speaks for himself, as an individual man living in the world. But because he is the man charged to defend, guide, and feed the flock of Christ’s only Church, the Catholic Church, because he is the man, because even Protestants who find certain things Catholic to which they cannot consent – because even these have for centuries found in the Vicar of Christ a kind of anchor in the midst of secularization, liberalization, banalization, because his words have often defended Truth and Goodness, and denounced Evil and Heresy, these too find in him a crucial point of reference. Thus, Catholic or non-Catholic Christian look to the pope to feed them with truth in the proper season.

Thus it is that the eyes of all the world look on the man.

So it was that every news press in the world reported a certain interview of the pope with the atheist Scalfari (2013). Of the interview, Scalfari writes, “The most surprising thing he told me was: ‘God is not Catholic.’ I asked him what he meant, since he is the leader of the Catholic Church, and he told me that ‘God is universal, and we are catholic in the sense of the way we worship him.”

First to note, we have this statement second hand. We do not have it from the pope’s own pen.

What do people like to do with this statement? People like to say, “You see! God did not establish just one religion that is true, just the Catholic religion. Other religions are also true. They are also ways God has divinely laid out for people to come to him.”

But that is totally false. God has appointed only two identifiable religions in the history of the world. First, there was Judaism and its rites. Second, there is the Catholic Church and its rites. Judaism is fulfilled in the Catholic Church and no longer has any divine appointment apart from its fulfillment in the Catholic Church. Thus the only religion presently appointed by God is the Catholic religion. The Catholic Church is sent out to the world to preach the Gospel of Christ, to offer the means for union with Christ and attainment of final salvation, and to guide human acts towards this glorious end. The Catholic Church was sent out by Christ that he might seek and save all that is confused, lost, wandering, straying, helpless, starving, blind in the world.

There is no other divinely appointed religion.

Do other religions have grains of truth in them? Yes; it is not practically possible to have a large set of truth claims that are all false. Are there good elements in these other religions? In many of them, yes. Are these elements sufficient to make the religion as a whole good and salvific? No, they are not. For religions are just that, wholes. Though each religion has some truth in it and most religions have some good in them, yet as a whole, none but ancient Judaism and the Catholic religion can be called good. Why? Because the errors in other religions are at the service of lies. If one presents himself in the name of God, “I am a prophet; I come speaking for God,” and yet God has not appointed him, he is a liar. Thus, all religions that now claim divine appointment, except the Catholic religion, are false religions. Their package deal destroys, it does not raise up and heal, even if isolated elements within them can be true and good.