Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. Mt. 10:16

Dom Lefebvre on the Doctrine of EENS Baptism and Salvation.

I had never fully understood the meaning of this teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, until I had to analyse the writings of Dom Lefebvre. To deal with the devil you have to have to have some idea of how the devil works and thinks. Dom Lefebvre’s teachings are as slippery as snakes, you know they are wrong but it is very hard to pin down exactly what is wrong with them. They are like those wild mushrooms that unwary people gather, confusing them with edible mushrooms; in appearance, innocuous; fatal, if ingested.

We must say it clearly: such a concept is radically opposed to Catholic dogma. The Church is the one ark of salvation, and we must not be afraid to affirm it.  You have often heard it said, “Outside the Church there is no salvation”–a dictum which offends contemporary minds. It is easy to believe that this doctrine is no longer in effect, that it has been dropped. It seems excessively severe.

The first thing that puzzled me about that sentence was the use of the word “dictum”. Why not use the word dogma (which it is) or infallible teaching? I looked it up and the legal definition of a dictum is:- Dictum has no binding authority and, therefore, cannot be cited as precedent in subsequent lawsuits. Link

You see how clever and deceitful Dom Lefebvre’s choice of words is. He states here that the dogma of the Catholic Church which is that ‘Outside the Church there is no Salvation’ has no binding authority!

He goes on to state that this dogma or “dictum ” seems excessively severe ( to contemporary minds), the implication being that Catholics are allowed to have an opinion about it. But a dogma of the faith is a Divinely Revealed Objective Spiritual Truth in which you either believe and are a Catholic, or deny and you are a heretic condemned to eternal damnation. Where is his condemnation of those who think that this dogma is excessively severe, in other words, those who deny the dogma, such as that contained in the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX?

17. Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ. — Encyclical “Quanto conficiamur,” Aug. 10, 1863, etc. ( Condemned Error). Link

Does that mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian’s formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” also reject the Creed, “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still catechumens) and baptism of desire.

That first sentence is the most vile, disgusting insult to all the Holy Martyrs that were tortured and died at the hands of Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and animists rather than recant the Catholic Faith. Martyrs who went to their deaths willingly and joyfully because they sincerely believed that the “outside the Catholic Church there is no Salvation’

No, it would be a second error to think that.

What was the first error? The only meaning I can get from this is that he is referring to the Church as the one ark of salvation because in the next sentence he denies the dogma that outside the Church there is no salvation, which according to him, is the second error.

Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian’s formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,”

Here condemns those who believe in and preach the dogma of EENS as being intolerant! Thus he condemns Our Lord Jesus Christ,God Incarnate, the Apostles, Martyrs , Saints, Saint Athanasius and all the Popes who up until Vatican II condemned religious indifferentism as being intolerant!

St. Cyprian’s formula?  Why use the word formula instead of the word dogma or doctrine? Again, I looked it up and the first two meanings of formula in the I found were:-

a. An established form of words or symbols for use in a ceremony or procedure.
b. An utterance of conventional notions or beliefs; a hackneyed expression.
So for Dom Lefebvre the Divine Truth, the dogma of the Catholic Faith, that there is no Salvation outside the Church are simply words with no real meaning or even, insult of insults, a conventional notion or hackneyed expression.
Why St. Cyprian, why not Saint Athanasius ? I’m afraid that I had never heard of Saint Cyprian until reading this and I still don’t understand why Dom Lefevbre cited him here. But I know there is method in his madness and there must be a diabolical reason behind it. St. Cyprian seemed to have been involved in various disputes with Rome including the re-baptism of heretics which was condemned by Pope Stephen:-
This was not Stephen’s view, and he immediately issued a decree, couched apparently in very peremptory terms, that no “innovation” was to be made (this is taken by some moderns to mean “no new baptism“), but the Roman tradition of merely laying hands on converted heretics in sign of absolution must be everywhere observed, on pain of excommunication. This letter was evidently addressed to the African bishops, and contained some severe censures on Cyprian himself. Link
I haven’t had time to read the whole article on St. Cyprian to gain a better understanding of the issues and some insight into why Dom. Lefebvre would cite him. If anyone more knowledgeable than myself could help, I would be very grateful.

2 thoughts on “Behold I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves. Be ye therefore wise as serpents and simple as doves. Mt. 10:16”

  1. I thought invincible ignorance was an ancient part of the faith. Didn’t the following ancient Catholic theologians all teach invincible ignorance?

    395 A.D. – St. Augustine – “[Y]ou are not considered at fault if you, against your will, are ignorant; however, if you are ignorant because you fail to ask, you are at fault. … So even now, if ignorance of the truth and difficulty in behaving rightly are [natural]…no one properly condemns the soul because of its natural origin. But if a man refuses to strive for excellence, or wills to step back from where he set out, he justly and properly suffers punishment.” (On Free Choice of the Will Volume III Chapter 19)

    1274 A.D. – St. Thomas Aquinas – “[It] is not imputed as a sin to man, if he fails to know what he is unable to know. Consequently ignorance of such like things is called ‘invincible,’ because it cannot be overcome by study. For this reason such like ignorance, not being voluntary, since it is not in our power to be rid of it, is not a sin: wherefore it is evident that no invincible ignorance is a sin.” (Summa Theologica I-II Question 76 Article 2)

    And: “[Man] receives the forgiveness of sins before Baptism in so far as he has Baptism of desire, explicitly or implicitly… [Therefore even] before Baptism Cornelius and others like him receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and their desire for Baptism, implicit or explicit.” (Summa Theologica III Question 69 Article 4)

    1863 A.D. – Blessed Pope Pius IX – “There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.” (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore 7)


    It looks like invincible ignorance is an ancient part of the faith. Am I misreading these quotes?

  2. You see, you are quoting the opinions of men not the teachings of Our Lord Jesus Christ, God Incarnate.
    1) Our Lord DID NOT teach salvation by invincible ignorance, and from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, the doctrines were already defined and St. Paul anathematized anyone, even if it were himself or another apostle, who preached another doctrine.
    2) If invincible ignorance could save anyone why did Our Lord command the apostles to go to all nations, baptize and preach the Gospel? Before Vatican II there were Catholic Missions all over the world, I am a living witness to that, because EENS was the doctrine of the Church and the missionary priests and nuns took Our Lord’s commandment to go to all nations, baptize and preach the Gospel, seriously.
    3) The Dogmas of the Catholic Faith, which all Catholics are required to believe, otherwise you are a heretic, are that to be saved you need to be baptized with water and the Holy Ghost; believe in all the articles of the Faith, i.e. the dogmas of the Faith and belong to the Catholic Church. Could anything be clearer? And again I am a living witness to the fact that all Catholics believed this before Vatican II. You don’t have to take my word for it, just read the books I have recommended. I dealt with these topics in my posts in June but I am so technologically challenged that I don’t know how to link my posts, even if I could.
    4) Most importantly, I have come to realize that the most pernicious effect of this heresy is to deny the doctrine of Original Sin and the necessity of Our Lord’s humble Redemptive Sacrifice thus negating the whole foundation of the Catholic Church and Faith. For what was the state of mankind before the Incarnation but of Original Sin and Invincible Ignorance?
    5) You are mixing up justification with salvation. If a man were invincibly ignorant, the sin of not belonging to the Church could not be imputed to him but that does not save him. Charles Coulombe explains it all very clearly in his book ” Desire and Deception”.

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