I have already answered most of the objections raised by the Religious Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen will raise in my Topic by Topic analysis of Vatican II. (Linked Here)
In this post I will go part by part refuting this troubled congregations claims.
CMRI Claim NOSTRA AETATE #1: “The opening paragraph of this declaration (Nostra Aetate) strongly suggests that, yes, salvation may be found outside of the true fold. It states: “One also in their final goal: God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, and His saving designs extend to all men against the day when the elect will be united in that Holy City ablaze with the splendor of God, where the nations will walk in His light.” The meaning of this last phrase does not at all agree with a similar phrase found in Sacred Scripture.“
Response: The CMRI seem to have skipped over the REAL opening paragraph (by not quoting the first sentence of their chosen paragraph – which so also happens to explain it very well in the light of the faith). The real quote reads “One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men, until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.” (Bold is they part the did not quote!)
Clearly Nostra Aetate #1 is making us recall that God create everyone, Catholics and all other people who practice other religions. This same God also made himself the final end of man regardless if you are Catholic or not. His saving design does extend to all people. (Jesus died for all not just people in the West how are Catholic). Yet, that extension to all people has an until – at the end of time things are finished and people will be in the Holy City.
Reading paragraph 1 as I have shows that the CMRI are using straw men miss quotes to attack a holy council.
CMRI Claim: Canons of the First Vatican Council in the First Chapter of its Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith: “1. If anyone denies that there is one true God, Creator and Lord of things visible and invisible: let him be anathema. 2. If anyone dares to assert that nothing exists except matter: let him be anathema. 3. If anyone says that God and all things possess one and the same substance and essence: let him be anathema.” These previous statements are at odds with Nostra Aetate.
Response: What does it mean to make someone anathema? Does that mean St. Paul could not enter a Jewish synagogue? – He clearly did. Does that mean we walk on a different side of the street as Jews and Protestants?
No it does not. When Vatican II says there are good aspects to other religions it is only stating a fact. Is the world fundamentally good or evil? How created it? — God that means the world is at its core good but has been corrupted by the first sin. To say that people and a way of life is completely evil is to say that God created something evil in itself which is impossible. Just think, is even the devil himself all evil? Could God have made something all evil? No. Being itself at least is good. Now a system of values and ideas could be evil completely because it is not matter, yet most religions contain at least a similarity or shared value set with Catholicism. In this way we can say there is something good in them. Is not God the source of all good?
I have previously gone through and shown how the
CMRI Claim: “It should be remarked that in no way can it be said that the followers of these religions (non-Catholics) make a “loving, trusting flight toward God;” the gods they worship are pantheistic deities — devils in reality — and, ultimately, themselves. What greater insult can there be offered to the true God than the worship of man, which is the ultimate purpose of the religious practices of Hinduism and many other Eastern religions?”
Response: It has been the ancient teaching of the Church including Saint Ambrose towards a non-Christian Emperor of his day and Saint John Chrysostom about Socrates that those who follow their conscience and are invincibly ignorant can make their way toward God. It may not be common but it is possible. It is even possible for the flight to be loving. How else would following your conscience and natural moral law be anything but loving. We have to recognize that each person has the natural law inscribed upon their heart! That enough is for people to avoid most grave evils in the Bible or elsewhere in Church law and truly be called loving.
The following are not direct responses to CMRI claims. Yet, I am not going to answer the usual and typical objections simply because CMRI makes them. These I have answered before.
“So it is that that messianic people (The Church), although it does not actually include all men, and at times may look like a small flock, is nonetheless a lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race.” –Lumen Gentium #9 Vatican Website Translation
One of the most common arguments against Vatican II has to do with Nostra Aetate. In paragraph 2 you can read the following, “Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites.” http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html
It is claimed that Vatican II teaches that Buddhism is a way to reach perfect liberation through personal effort alone. Taken in this way the paragraph is clearly false as only Jesus can offer prefect liberation and we can only attain this through grace not personal effort only.
But that is not what Vatican II says. If we read the text carefully we can see that Buddhism teaches a way to reach perfect liberation. The translation above is from the Vatican website. Other translations such as Costello Publishing Company’s Vatican Council II the Basic Sixteen Document translates docetur as proposes. Hence the sentence reads that Buddhism proposes a way. Taken in context with the next sentence which states that other religions try to counter human restlessness in different ways it becomes clear that Vatican II is not in error. First, saying that Buddhism teaches or proposes something is not the same as agreeing with the teachings validity. Second, the next sentence says that all religions propose ways to liberation but also does not mean that we agree with those ways. This first and second interpretation is the only way to make sense of the end of paragraph 2 which says, “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.” Why would the paragraph claim that religious life in its fullness dwells with Christ and that she must proclaim this if other religions like Buddhism offer perfect liberation? Because the paragraph was not meant to mean that Buddhism validly teaches its followers perfect liberation but only proclaims to.
The argument claiming that Vatican II teaches error about Buddhism in Nostra Aetate fails to consider the entire paragraph which the quotation is taken from. Now one might argue that the wording does give the wrong impression, but taken in context with the following sentences the meaning becomes clear enough.
Again in paragraph 2. “Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry.” This is often claimed that Vatican II teaches that Hinduism with its many false gods and through myth expresses an inexhaustible mystery which is God. Yet, I think that is misusing the text. All it says is that through myth (which can be endlessly created by humanity) Hinduism contemplates the divine mystery. It does not mean that the false gods can fully represent God or His mystery but that at least some aspect is hinted at therein. (all created things bear at least some resemblance to God as remote as it may be) It does not also mean that Hinduism does not need Christ for its fullness as paragraph 2 ends as noted in section 2.1. “For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable.” Romans 1:20. Hence, Hinduism sees something of God but does so inadequately through false gods.
Great Other Resource on the Subject
No Salvation Outside of the Catholic Church – Great Article linked here
Other Arguments, Muslims etc…
Claim: Nostra Aetate #3 says that Muslims worship the creator of heaven and earth, but Muslims don’t worship the Trinity so this is wrong.
Response: It has been the position of the Church since the Apostles that the Jews worship God – the same God as the Catholics even though they do not recognize Jesus nor the Holy Spirit as God. The same logic here applies to Muslims who profess (i.e. does not necessarily mean do) to hold the faith of Abraham like the Jews. To deny this is to deny the link between the Old and New Testaments. This would destroy a basic tenant of Catholic thought resulting in a form of Gnosticism which held that the Old Testament God was not the same as the God of the New Testament. The Muslims get many things wrong. Yet, they get somethings right as well. Nostra Aetate clearly states in paragraph #2 that the Catholic Church holds the fullness of salvation. “Indeed, she [Church] proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.“
In Fact, Pope St. Pius X goes even further than Vatican II in his Catechism Q12 under the communion of the saints section. All Vatican II says is that the Muslims worship God – that they are theists. St. Pius X’s catechism goes so far as to say that they worship the true God! That is something to recall when debating this issue. It was not something Vatican II came up with, and it never used the word true, just God as to point out that they are theists.
Claim: Nostra Aetate #4 says the Jews are very dear to God and that the Church should have mutual esteem and exchange knowledge with the Jew. Yet, the Jews rejected Jesus and need to be called back from their false religion so the Church cannot esteem them.
Response: The council of Trent was clear when it taught that all of sinful humanity not only the Jews were responsible for Jesus death. To say that the Jews rejected Jesus is the same as saying that most of secular society rejected Jesus. Do you esteem secular society/Roman society/Greek culture in any way? We can esteem some parts because although these cultures did reject Jesus some parts were not totally bad nor did all reject Jesus. The Apostles when they became Christian did not cease to be Jews! Nor did Jesus himself ever stop being Jewish! Catholicism was built upon Judaism. Even today there are Jews who convert, (they themselves never rejected Jesus 2000 years ago), become Christian and never stop being Jews. Why do they never stop? Because Christianity is not a repudiation of Judaism but a fulfillment. Just as Mary is given a special place as Mother of God, the Jews were given a special place as the people (race) from which Jesus was born and from which Christianity sprung. Catholicism is a incarnational thing. Esteem for the Jews, or that God holds them very dear is part and parcel with the incarnational nature of the incarnation. We don’t have to be afraid of esteeming some Jewish knowledge because they have preserved some valid understanding of the Old Testament which we as Christian sometimes forget.