Compiled by Bro. Peter Dimond, O.S.B.
DEFINITION OF SCHISM
Pope Pius IX, Quartus Supra (#12), Jan. 6, 1873, Definition of a Schismatic: “For the Catholic Church has always regarded as schismatic those who obstinately oppose the lawful prelates of the Church and in particular, the chief shepherd of all.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 39, A. 2: “Hence the sin of schism is, properly speaking, a special sin, for the reason that the schismatic intends to sever himself from that unity which is the effect of charity: because charity unites not only one person to another with the bond of spiritual love, but also the whole Church in unity of spirit. Accordingly schismatics properly so called are those who, willfully and intentionally separate themselves from the unity of the Church… Wherefore schismatics are those who refuse to submit to the Sovereign Pontiff, and to hold communion with those members of the Church who acknowledge his supremacy.”
Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: “…We ask: In the first place whether you and the Church of the Armenians which is obedient to you, believe that all those who in baptism have received the same Catholic faith, and afterwards have withdrawn and will withdraw in the future from the communion of this same Roman Church, which one alone is Catholic, are schismatic and heretical, if they remain obstinately separated from the faith of this Roman Church. In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.” (Denz. 570b)
St. Augustine, Faith and the Creed, 393 A.D.: “We believe also in the holy Church, that is, the Catholic Church; for heretics violate the faith itself by a false opinion about God; schismatics, however, withdraw from fraternal love by hostile separations, although they believe the same things we do. Consequently, neither heretics nor schismatics belong to the Catholic Church; not heretics, because the Church loves God; and not schismatics, because the Church loves neighbor.”
QUOTES WHICH PROVE THAT ALL BAPTIZED INFANTS ARE SUBJECT TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF
Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra: “Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Leo XIII, Nobilissima (# 3), Feb. 8, 1884: “The Church, guardian of the integrity of the Faith – which, in virtue of its authority, deputed from God its Founder, has to call all nations to the knowledge of Christian lore, and which is consequently bound to watch keenly over the teaching and upbringing of the children placed under its authority by baptism…”
The Catholic Church teaches that the baptized infants of heretics are actually Catholics, even though these infants are baptized by heretics in a heretical church building and are taken to the heretical church every week.This is de fide.
Pope Innocent IV, Council of Lyons I, March 6, 1254: “Moreover, if anyone without repentance dies in mortal sin, without a doubt he is tortured forever by the flames of eternal hell. – But the souls of children after the cleansing of baptism, and of adults also who depart in charity and who are bound neither by sin nor unto any satisfaction for sin, at once pass quickly to their eternal fatherland.” (Denz. 457)
It is de fide that all baptized infants without exception who die go straight to the “eternal fatherland” (heaven). So, infants born to heretics or schismatics and baptized by heretics or schismatics, and present in a heretical church building which contains heretics, are actually Catholics. Anyone who denies this is a heretic.
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6, Can. 13 on Justification: “If anyone shall say that infants, because they have not actual faith, after having received baptism are not to be numbered among the faithful… let him be anathema.” (Denz. 869)
Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae christianae (#4), Jan. 10, 1890: “…Jesus Christ laid upon His Apostles the injunction to ‘preach the Gospel to every creature,’ He imposed, it is evident, upon all men the duty of learning thoroughly and believing what they were taught. This duty is intimately bound up with the gaining of eternal salvation: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned.’ [Mk. 16:16] But the man who has embraced the Christian faith, as in duty bound, is by that very fact a subject of the Church as one of the children born out of her, and becomes a member of that greatest and holiest body, which it is the special charge of the Roman Pontiff to rule with supreme power, under its visible head, Jesus Christ.”
WHEN DO BAPTIZED INFANTS, WHO ARE BORN TO HERTICAL OR SCHISMATIC PARENTS, LOSE SUBJECTION TO THE ROMAN PONTIFF AND/OR THE CATHOLIC FAITH AND THUS CEASE TO BE CATHOLIC?
A baptized person who has the Catholic faith, as a baptized infant does, can only cease to be Catholic through heresy, schism or apostasy.
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis Christi (# 23), June 29, 1943: “For not every sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or apostasy.”
QUOTES ON THE TRINITY AND THE INCARNATION AS THE TWO MYSTERIES OF FAITH WHICH MUST BE POSITIVELY KNOWN BY ALL ABOVE REASON TO BE SAVED
Notice that this dogmatic creed declares that the Catholic faith, in terms of its simplest components (i.e. what you would absolutely have to tell every man above reason without exception before baptism and so that he could be saved and have the Catholic faith) is the Trinity and the Incarnation. No other dogma can be rejected, of course, but these are the only two which must be positively known by all above reason. Notice that this dogmatic creed uses the phrase “whoever wishes” or wills to be saved, indicating that it is speaking of those above reason.
Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Athanasian Creed, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.– But the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity…
“But it is necessary for eternal salvation that he faithfully believe also in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ…the Son of God is God and man… This is the Catholic faith; unless each one believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”
Below we see that the Holy Office under Pope Clement XI responded that a missionary must, before baptism, explain these absolutely necessary mysteries to an adult who is at the point of death.
Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703:
“Q. Whether a minister is bound, before baptism is conferred on an adult, to explain to him all the mysteries of our faith, especially if he is at the point of death, because this might disturb his mind. Or, whether it is sufficient, if the one at the point of death will promise that when he recovers from the illness, he will take care to be instructed, so that he might put into practice what has been commanded him.
“A. A promise is not sufficient, but a missionary is bound to explain to an adult, even a dying one who is not entirely incapacitated, the mysteries of faith which are necessary by a necessity of means, as are especially the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.”
Another question was posed at the same time and answered the same way.
Response of the Sacred Office to the Bishop of Quebec, Jan. 25, 1703:
“Q. Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes… although he does not believe explicitly in Jesus Christ.
“A. A missionary should not baptize one who does not believe explicitly in the Lord Jesus Christ, but is bound to instruct him about all those matters which are necessary, by a necessity of means, in accordance with the capacity of the one to be baptized.”
The same truth is taught by St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: “After grace had been revealed, both the learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation, of which we have spoken above.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica: “And consequently, when once grace had been revealed, all were bound to explicit faith in the mystery of the Trinity.”
Notice that no other mysteries are mentioned as absolute necessities of means for all above reason. Here is another Holy Office Decree reflecting the same truth:
Errors condemned under Pope Innocent XI, March 4, 1679, #64: “A person is fit for absolution, however much he labors under an ignorance of the mysteries of the faith, and even if through negligence, even culpable, he does not know the mystery of the most blessed Trinity, and of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Denz. 1214)
Pope St. Damasus, 382 A.D.: “This, then, is the salvation of Christians: that believing in the Trinity, that is, in the Father, and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, and baptized in it…”
Athanasius, Letters to Serapion of Thmuis, 360 A.D.: “… let us note that the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer aught to be called a Christian: there is a Trinity, holy and perfect, acknowledged as God, in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… And because this is the faith of the Church, let them somehow understand that the Lord sent out the Apostles and commanded them to make this the foundation of the Church, when He said: ‘Go out and instruct every people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol 1:782)
Athanasius, Letters to Serapion of Thmuis, 360 A.D.: “This is the faith of the Catholic Church; for on the Trinity the Lord founded it and rooted it…” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol 1:784)
Athanasius is not denying that the Church was founded upon St. Peter; he is rather illustrating that the principal dogma of the Catholic Faith is the Trinity, which is bound up with the Incarnation and Our Lord’s Divinity as the Son of God. Thus, again and again we see that the Trinity and the Incarnation are shown to be the Catholic Faith in terms of its simplest mysteries and the mysteries that no one above reason can be ignorant of and be saved.
St. Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity, 356 A.D.: “This, therefore, is the true faith which brings blessedness to men: to acknowledge Him as God and man, to confess Him as the Word and as flesh, neither forgetting His divinity in view of His humanity, nor ignoring His flesh because He is the Word.” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol 1:873)
It should now be well established that not all aspects or dogmas of the Faith must be known by all above reason, but only the Trinity and the Incarnation are absolutely necessary for everyone above reason to know without any exceptions or excuses for ignorance.
St. Alphonsus, quoted in Fr. Michael Muller’s The Catholic Dogma: “‘Some theologians hold that the belief of the two other articles – the Incarnation of the Son of God, and the Trinity of Persons – is strictly commanded but not necessary, as a means without which salvation is impossible; so that a person inculpably ignorant of them may be saved. But according to the more common and truer opinion, the explicit belief of these articles is necessary as a means without which no adult can be saved.’ (First Command. No. 8.).”
The point here is that these two mysteries stand in a unique position among Catholic dogmas. No other Catholic teaching can be rejected without heresy, but these but these are the two which absolutely must be known and believed by all above reason to be Catholic.
DEFINITION OF HERESY
Canon 1325, 1917 Code of Canon Law: “After the reception of baptism, if anyone, retaining the name Christian, pertinaciously denies or doubts something to be believed from the truth of divine and Catholic faith, [such a one] is a heretic.”
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 5., A. 3: “Now it is manifest that he who adheres to the teaching of the Church, as to an infallible rule, assents to whatever the Church teaches; otherwise, if, of the things taught by the Church, he holds what he chooses to hold, and rejects what he chooses to reject, he no longer adheres to the teaching of the Church as to an infallible rule, but to his own will. Hence it is evident that a heretic who obstinately disbelieves one article of faith, is not prepared to follow the teaching of the Church in all things; but if he is not obstinate, he is no longer in heresy but only in error.”
St. Augustine, Against the Manichees: “In Christ’s Church, those are heretics, who hold mischievous and erroneous opinions, and when rebuked that they may think soundly and rightly, offer a stubborn resistance, and, refusing to mend their pernicious and deadly doctrines, persist in defending them.” (quoted by Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Q. 11. A. 2.)
Objection: If heresy is only an obstinate rejection of Catholic dogma, what about those who are baptized as infants and taught to deny the Trinity and Incarnation or taught things contrary to them? Are you saying that they could have the Catholic faith because they aren’t aware that the Catholic Church condemns their opinion? Doesn’t this argument prove that people who are raised with false opinions on other matters are also heretics, even if they’re not obstinate against Catholic teaching.
Answer: No. As covered already, a person above reason who has a false opinion, which contradicts essential faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation, cannot have the Catholic faith because these two mysteries are uniquely necessary. Knowledge of these two mysteries is absolutely necessary for all those above reason to be saved. So a false opinion about these matters – i..e. false opinions which would destroy faith in these dogmas – necessarily entails heresy, while false opinions on other matters do not unless accompanied by obstinacy. Notice how St. Thomas Aquinas expresses exactly our position on this matter:
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. I, Q. 32, A. 4: “Anything is of faith in two ways; directly, where any truth comes to us principally as divinely taught, as the trinity and unity of God, the Incarnation of the Son and the like; and concerning these truths a false opinion of itself involves heresy, especially if it be held obstinately. A thing is of faith, indirectly, if the denial of it involves as a consequence something against faith; as for instance if anyone said that Samuel was not the son of Elcana, for it follows that the divine Scripture would be false. Concerning [these other] such things anyone may have a false opinion without danger of heresy, before the matter has been considered or settled as involving consequences against faith, and particularly if no obstinacy is shown; whereas when it is manifest, and especially if the Church has decided that consequences follow against faith, then the error cannot be free from heresy. For this reason many things are now considered heretical which were formerly not so considered, as their consequences are now more manifest. So we must decide that anyone may entertain contrary opinions about the notions, if he does not mean to uphold anything at variance with faith. If, however, anyone should entertain a false opinion of the notions, knowing or thinking that consequences against the faith would follow, he would lapse into heresy.”
So if a person has been baptized as an infant, and hits the age of reason in a family where his parents are heretics or schismatics, he can certainly be Catholic, if he has faith in the Trinity and Incarnation and doesn’t obstinately reject any other Catholic teaching. This is proven by the following quotes, as well as logic flowing from the points above.
Council of Elvira, Canon 22, 300 A.D.: “If someone leaves the Catholic Church and goes over to a heresy, and then returns again, it is determined that penance is not to be denied to such a one, since he has acknowledged his sin. Let him do penance, then, for ten years, and after ten years he may come forward to communion. If, indeed, there were children who were led astray, since they have not sinned of their own fault, they may be received without delay.” (The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 1: 611n)
This obviously means that the children above reason who were attending the church of a heretical sect with their parents were not heretics because they were not obstinately against something they knew to be taught by the Church. This is ancient teaching of the Church. And this is exactly what we have said is the position of the Church, and what certain bad willed schismatics have called heretical. This also shows that the unity of the Church is not defined by buildings which are in or not in communion with the Church. If that were true, then an infant baptized in a building that is notoriously heretical and out of communion with the Catholic Church (e.g. a Protestant building) could not become Catholic.
Fr. Muller quoting Orestes Brownson, in The Catholic Dogma, p. 204: “Unquestionably, authorities in any number may be cited to prove – what nobody disputes – that pertinacity in rejecting the authority of the Church is essential to formal or culpable heresy, that persons may be in heretical societies without being culpable heretics, and therefore, that we cannot say that all who live and die in such societies are damned precisely for the sin of heresy.”
Pope Pius XI, Ecclesiam Dei, Encyclical on St. Josaphat, Nov. 12, 1923: “Our Saint [Josaphat] was born of schismatic parents but was validly baptized and received the name of John. From his earliest years he lived a saintly life. Although he was much impressed by the splendors of the Slavic liturgy, he always sought therein first and foremost the truth and glory of God. Because of this, and not because he was impressed by arguments, even as a child he turned towards communion with the Ecumenical, that is, the Catholic Church. Of this Church he always considered himself a member because of the valid baptism which he had received. What is more, he felt himself called by a special Providence to re-establish everywhere the holy unity of the Church.”
Pope Pius XI says here in Ecclesiam Dei that St. Josaphat was born of Eastern Schismatic parents in an area which was separated from the Chair of Peter and acceptance of the Papacy. St. Josaphat was validly baptized as an infant (and thus became a Catholic). As he grew up, he attended the Eastern Schismatic Slavic liturgy with his parents, but was still a Catholic and even “saintly” according to Pope Pius XI. He was a Catholic, even though he was attending a schismatic church building, because he had not obstinately embraced the Eastern Schism by rejecting the Papacy. Thus, his baptism as an infant made him a member of the Church (and subject to the Roman Pontiff) and he did not cease to be a member until he obstinately embraced schism or heresy, which he did not, even though he was attending a schismatic church with his parents. This is a precise articulation of our position on when the baptized children of heretics become schismatics and/or heretics: it is not at the age of reason, but when they obstinately embrace schism or heresy.
Certainly St. Josaphat had unusual good will, as proven by the fact that later on as an adult he converted many Eastern Schismatics back to Catholic unity. But this quote, among the other facts, strikes a death-blow to the false position that anyone above reason who attends a church building which would be outside of communion with the Catholic Church is a schismatic and/or heretic. No, it’s when they obstinately embrace the schism or heresy of the leaders of that group and thus become members of that sect by such an obstinate embrace of schism and/or heresy.
It should also be noted that those who are above the age of fourteen or so, and attend a notoriously heretical or schismatic church building (e.g. a Protestant or Eastern Schismatic church building where the leading pastor which notoriously and openly rejects the Papacy and/or other Catholic dogmas), are presumed to be obstinate against Catholic teaching. The same presumption could not be made about people who attend a church which professes to be Catholic and professes union with the Papacy (such as the SSPX), but holds false positions about the current issues. With regard to those churches you would have to know what an individual believes and is willing to accept to determine whether or not he is a Catholic or a heretic and/or schismatic.
Thus, I have established the following points without a doubt from the teaching of the Catholic Church:
Baptized infants are made subject to the Roman Pontiff, not by knowledge of who the Roman Pontiff is, which none of them have, but by their reception of baptism, as Pope Leo XIII teaches above. Baptism is the key component in initial subjection to the Roman Pontiff. An infant’s reception of baptism makes him a subject of the Church and the Roman Pontiff (who has supreme authority in the Church) even in schismatical church buildings until they themselves sever that subjection by heresy or schism.
If they don’t know about any other Catholic dogmas (other than the Trinity and Incarnation), then they are not heretics but Catholics [Christians], unless they hold a position that is incompatible with Faith in the Trinity and Incarnation or deny a truth that all know about God and the natural law or deny something that they know to be clearly taught in Scripture. For instance, if the baptized person described above claims to believe in the Trinity and Incarnation but holds that all religions are more or less good, then he is a heretic and does not have the Catholic Faith (even before he knows that such a position is condemned by the Church) because his belief is incompatible with true Faith in the Trinity as the one true God, which belief he must have to be said to have the Catholic Faith in its simplest components.