The modernistic idea of Implicit Faith, The Mother of all Heresies.

The Athanasian Creed, infallibly declared at the Council of Florence and reaffirmed again at the Council of Trent, states:

1.  Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;

2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;

4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.

5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.

6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.

7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.

8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.

9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.

10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.

11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.

12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.

13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.

14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.

15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;

16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.

17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;

18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.

19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;

20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.

21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.

22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.

23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.

24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.

25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.

26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.

27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.

28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.

31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.

32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.

33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.

34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.

35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.

36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.

37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;

38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;

39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;

40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

42. and shall give account of their own works.

43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.

44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

The idea of implicit faith was something that was condemned:

Condemned error: "A faith indicated from the testimony of creation, or from a similar motive, suffices for justification" (Denz. 2123, Pope Innocent XI, 1679).

Of course, some will say that the Pope was condemning the idea of a natural faith in the existence of God even though the word "natural" is nowhere to be found in his pronouncement. The authentic interpretation of this canon came a few decades later. From the late Brother Thomas Mary Sennott's (Obl. S.B., M.I.C.M.) book The "Ignorant Native":
And in 1703 during the reign of Pope Clement XI when the missionary effort to the Amerindians was at its height, the Holy Office responded to an inquiry from the Bishop of Quebec: "Question. Whether it is possible for a crude and uneducated adult, as it might be with a barbarian, to be baptized, if there were given to him only an understanding of God and some of His attributes, especially His justice in rewarding and punishing according to this remark of the Apostle: "He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder" (Heb. 11:16), from which it is to be inferred that a barbarian adult in a certain case of urgent necessity, can be baptized even though he does not explicitly believe in Jesus Christ.
Response. A missionary should not baptize one who does not explicitly believe 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" (Denz. 2380).
To an additional query the Holy Office responded, that even an adult Indian at the point of death, must make an act of faith in the Trinity and the Incarnation before he could be baptized. (Denz. 2381)
Evidently, the Bishop of Quebec believed in implicit faith, if only "implicitly," but had the theological sense to ask Rome.  A generation later, Pope Benedict XIV would say the same thing:
Pope Benedict XIV, Cum Religiosi (On Catechesis), 1754, #1, 4: "We could not rejoice, however, when it was subsequently reported to Us that in the course of religious instruction preparatory to Confession and Holy Communion, it was very often found that these people were ignorant of the mysteries of the faith, even of those matters which must be known by necessity of means; consequently, they were ineligible to partake of the Sacraments. [...] school-masters and mistresses should teach Christian doctrine; that confessors should perform this part of their duty whenever anyone stands at their tribunal who does not know what he must by necessity of means know to be saved." 
Of course, a century prior to Pope Innocent XI's condemnation, the Council of Trent stated the same, also:
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session. 6, Chapter 3, ex cathedra: "But although Christ died for all, yet not all receive the benefit of His death, but those only to whom the merit of His Passion is communicated."
Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 8, ex cathedra: "But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the fellowship of His sons;..."
Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, Iniunctum nobis, Nov. 13, 1565, ex cathedra: "This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved… I now profess and truly hold…"
The "great" 19th-century theologians.

Some will appeal to the "great" theologians of the 19th-century as an appeal to implicit faith being true, that either Saint Thomas did not really mean what he said regarding the necessity of explicit faith or that he erred. (Of course, they make the same "observation" with respect to the medieval Councils.)  This "appeal to authority" is no different than the appeal that the atheist Sam Harris makes when he states the fact that over 90% of the membership of the US National Academy of Sciences are atheist and/or agnostic, therefore, you should be too, since these people are so much more educated and smarter than you are.

No one (that is, those of us "Feeneyites") doubts the fact that Catholic liberalism began to enter the Church during the 18th-century, following on the heels of Newton's Principia a century earlier. The Enlightenment had begun, and the French Philosophes were on the scene, changing not only the political, economic, and social landscape of Europe but also influencing religious faith, their major target, of course, being Roman Catholicism.  It was the rise of deism, with the beginnings of modern atheism.  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, etc., were all influenced by these individuals and all of them, Thomas Paine included (who almost went to the guillotine), spent a great deal of time in Paris meeting with them.

We know, historically, that the Enlightenment was having an influence on Catholic theologians, because the Popes of that time were condemning the theological errors of these Catholic (sic) intellectuals, Papal Bulls that are rarely, if ever, even referenced by the post-Vatican II Popes.  Finally, in 1854 Pope Pius IX "changed" the Church's immemorial teaching.  Perhaps his "half-nod" concession to the liberal intellectuals was meant to unify Catholic theology; his Syllabus of Errors would soon follow, a vain and fruitless attempt to contain the swell of Catholic modernism.  Of course, in the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, his Syllabus does not even have a footnote.

The fact that Catholic theologians of a few centuries ago were beginning the slippery slope into modernism proves nothing.  Popes had, for centuries, given Catholic theologians wide latitude in exploring controversial ideas.  After all, most people could not read, and the Popes of that era never envisioned the modern Internet. So, when Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who would become a Doctor of the Church, said that he believed that explicit faith was the more "common opinion," but tolerated the notion of implicit faith absent the Blessed Trinity and Incarnation, Popes tolerate him.  To say that they approved of such a notion is just an argument from silence.  Not every theologian has been condemned for every heretical idea that he held to.  Eventually, the "minnow swallowed the whale," and now implicit faith is the "common opinion."  Once upon a time, it was not.

In any case, does it matter?  I do not think so.  Saint Alphonsus was a human being, was not infallible, and his works, while great, are not without error.  So, if he erred on some things, then appealing to his "half-nod" of implicit faith hardly means anything.  Let's consider the Athanasian Creed:

"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;"

Nothing about the "ignorant native," "laboring in invincible ignorance," etc.  Of course, the early Fathers of the Church knew about such things.  They knew that there were people, ignorant natives, who had never heard the Gospel; they knew that simple people could not understand deep theological concepts; and they knew that heretics were not always to be condemned, if they were willing to submit to the Church.  And yet, the Creed is stated without qualification, without exception. Of course, modernists would be quoting it ad nauseum if such were not the case!

The words "speak for themselves"; believe what you will.  Or consider what the chief theologian and peritus of the Second Vatican Council had to say:

"It was declared at the Second Vatican Council that atheists too are not excluded from this possibility of salvation. The only necessary condition which is recognized here is the necessity of faithfulness and obedience to the individual's own personal conscience. This optimism concerning salvation appears to me one of the most noteworthy results of the Second Vatican Council. For when we consider the officially received theology concerning these questions, which was more or less traditional right down to the Second Vatican Council, we can only wonder how few controversies arose during the Council with regard to these assertions of optimism concerning salvation, and wonder too at how little opposition the conservative wing of the Council brought to bear on this point, how all this took place without any setting of the stage or any great stir even though this doctrine marked a far more decisive phase in the development of the Church's conscious awareness of her Faith than, for instance, the doctrine of collegiality in the Church, the relationship between scripture and tradition, the acceptance of the new exegesis, etc." (Fr. Karl Raliner, S.J., "Problem of the 'Anonymous Christian'", Theological Investigations, Volume XVI, The Seabury Press, New York, 1976, pp.283, 284.)

So, one is no longer "justified by faith," but by being "faithful to one's conscience." Of course, if one is going to appeal to theologians of the past as to the "mind of the Church," then one can certainly do the same with theologians of the present. Better, I think, to appeal to the infallible declarations of the Church, and certainly, more consistent, and less contradictory, to do so!  But, finally, consider what Saint Alphonsus taught:
“Still we answer the Semipelagians, and say, that infidels who arrive at the use of reason, and are not converted to the Faith, cannot be excused, because though they do not receive sufficient proximate grace, still they are not deprived of remote grace, as a means of becoming converted. But what is this remote grace? St. Thomas explains it, when he says, that if anyone was brought up in the wilds, or even among brute beasts, and if he followed the law of natural reason, to desire what is good, and to avoid what is wicked, we should certainly believe either that God, by an internal inspiration, would reveal to him what he should believe, or would send someone to preach the Faith to him, as he sent Peter to Cornelius. Thus, then, according to the Angelic Doctor [St. Thomas], God, at least remotely, gives to infidels, who have the use of reason, sufficient grace to obtain salvation, and this grace consists in a certain instruction of the mind, and in a movement of the will, to observe the natural law; and if the infidel cooperates with this movement, observing the precepts of the law of nature, and abstaining from grievous sins, he will certainly receive, through the merits of Jesus Christ, the grace proximately sufficient to embrace the Faith, and save his soul.” (The History of Heresies, Refutation 6, #11, p. 457)
Seems pretty clear and very traditional!

Protocol 122/49.

The SSPX/SSPV/CMRI accept the alleged "condemnation" of Father Feeney.  If that is the case, then they should accept Vatican II, all of it.  For how could one accept a letter from the Holy Office which had less canonical force than the condemnation of Galileo and yet reject an ecumenical Council of the Church???  It seems silly.  Besides, if  Protocol 122/49 is correct, then there are non-Catholics who are in a "state of grace," perhaps a large number of them, and why not pray with these people, have ecumenical gatherings, and work together for a better world?  After all, if everyone is destined for Heaven, how is that worldview any different than the atheistic materialistic worldview that asserts that we are all destined for annihilation?  In either case, we should work for a better World, shouldn't we?  So, the position of the SSPX/SSPV/CMRI is just self-contradictory and absurd, which is why those groups' membership is static, and as far as I can tell, consists of a number of "moonlighting Feeneyites."

Of course, being a "Feeneyite" does not imply or mean being a jerk to non-Catholics.  It just means, at a minimum, "agreeing to disagree" with them on matters or religion; however, if Protocol 122/49 is correct, then the default position should be that non-Catholics may at least be in a state of grace, which means that it could perhaps be a mortal sin not to pray with them.  So, in light of Protocol 122/49, the ecumenism of Vatican II makes sense.  One cannot embrace the former while rejecting the latter.

Of course, the SSPX/SSPV/CMRI will object, saying that Vatican II contradicts previous Papal bulls.  We, of course, could claim the same thing about Protocol 122/49.  (Such a conclusion, of course, depends on how one chooses to "read" the Holy Office letter; the same could be said about the documents of Vatican II.)  However, what's the difference between rejecting a Papal bull from 60 years ago and rejecting another from 600 years ago?  It's not like they come with "expiration dates"!!  If these groups embrace Protocol 122/49, then they should embrace Vatican II, all of it.  It's little wonder that defections, both in the priesthood and laity, occur regularly within these groups.

Protocol 122/49 -- What it did (and did not) say.

Here it is:

This letter is cited one time as a footnote in Vatican II and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, so, clearly, it is representative of Magisterial teaching. From "top" to "bottom" here are some highlights (however, I strongly encourage the reader to read the whole letter):
Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.
What "infallible statement"? Well, probably this one:
“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
Did Florence say that one must be "incorporated into the Church actually as a member with explicit faith in the Incarnation and sacramental Baptism in Water"? Almost certainly not, as they used the word "joined with Her"? They could have used a stronger verb, if they had wanted to, say, "incorporated into Her" if they had wanted to teach canonical membership.

However, the Holy Office letter teaches us that membership in the Catholic Church is not "optional": 
Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.
Now, could there be some exceptions? Certainly, if:

1) "a person is involved in invincible ignorance" AND

2) "a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God..." AND

3) "that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity" AND

4) "unless a person has supernatural faith" AND

5) "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire." AND

6) "at least he be united to her by desire and longing." Such would mean not professing a false religion either by ones "inward faith, by deeds, as well as by words." (Summa Theologica, Ia IIae, q.103, a.4)

HOWEVER, "they cannot be sure of their salvation".

Of course, #1 assumes that the One and Triune God, by His will, does not deliver an "invincibly ignorant" person from his/her ignorance, so as to allow that individual to be culpable for his/her unbelief.

I think, therefore, I believe.

Have a look again at line 28 of the Creed:
He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity.
Here's the Lain:
Qui vult ergo salvus esse, ita de Trinitate sentiat.
Note the word "sentiat."  Here's the definition (from the University of Notre Dame):             V      4 1 PRES ACTIVE  SUB 3 S   
sentio, sentire, sensi, sensus  V (4th)   [XXXAX] 
perceive, feel, experience; think, realize, see, understand;
You are certainly free to "interpret" the Athanasian Creed as for allowing an unconcscious perception of the Blessed Trinity, but as the Creed concludes with "which except a man believe truly and firmly" (quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit), I do not believe that you are being faithful to what the authors of the Creed were trying to convey.    After all, firmiter is defined as follows:
firmiter             ADV    POS                        
firmiter  ADV   [XXXDX]    lesser
really, strongly, firmly; steadfastly;
And, finally, fideliter:
fideliter            ADV    POS                        
fideliter, fidelius, fidelissime  ADV   [XXXCO] 
faithfully/constantly/loyally; earnestly; reliably/accurately; securely/firmly;
with reliance on God;
Does not sound like "unconscious belief" to me.  This is explicit enough; in future posts, I will be discussing the modern absurdity of "implicit faith."