Fr Michael Rodriguez: Religious Indifferentism

RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENTISM
WRITTEN BY ADMIN ON SEPTEMBER 29, 2013. POSTED IN ANSWERS, SALVATION, TRADITION

RELIGIOUS INDIFFERENTISM

by Fr. Michael Rodríguez

In the beginning, God decreed that “the woman” would crush the serpent’s head (Gen 3:15): by Divine Providence, the holy Mother of God is the great vanquisher of heresies. Thus, it was most fitting for Pope Pius IX to issue the Syllabus of Errors, in which he condemned the principal errors of the time, on the Feast of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, December 8, 1864 (the 10th anniversary of the solemn definition of this Dogma of Faith). Among the principal errors condemned by Pope Pius IX, were the following four expressions of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism:

• Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

• Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.

• 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.

• Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church. [Nos. 15-18]

Contrary to the false beliefs listed above, the Holy Catholic Church teaches that every single man has a fundamental, moral duty to seek and embrace the truth which is revealed by the one, true God. The truth revealed by God is one and only one: Jesus Christ and His Church, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (Jn 14:6a) In His infinite Goodness and inscrutable Wisdom, God Himself has marked out the path to eternal salvation, “No man cometh to the Father, but by Me.” (Jn 14:6b); there is only one gate by which we enter Heaven, “I am the door. By Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” (Jn 10:9)

Religious Indifferentism may be defined as the heretical belief that all religions are of equal, or sufficient, salvific value, i.e. that man can be saved by following any religion whatsoever. Religious Indifferentism is a rejection of the Catholic religion as the only true religion, and a refusal to acknowledge that all other religions are false. Religious Indifferentism is a direct, outright denial of the following de fide Dogmas of the Catholic Faith: (1) The Church was founded by the God-Man Jesus Christ, (2) Christ founded the Church in order to continue His work of Redemption for all time, (3) Christ is the Head of the Church, (4) Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation.

Even though Religious Indifferentism has always been condemned by the Catholic Church, particularly by the Popes of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries, this pernicious belief is quite likely the most widespread heresy of our present age. Shockingly, its noxious fumes, having engulfed the Church and society at every possible level, are being inhaled by millions, even billions, of souls on a daily basis! Consider the following expressions of popular, nearly universal, thinking:

• You have your beliefs, and I have mine.

• Everyone has a right to his/her own religious beliefs and these should be respected.

• I know he is not Catholic, but we all believe in the same God anyway.

• Even though my cousin left the Catholic Church, she is a really good person, honest and hard-working. How can she possibly not go to heaven?

• We live in a free country where all religions should be welcomed and respected.

• Those may be your personal religious beliefs, fine, but it is wrong to try and impose them on others.

• Do not be critical of others simply because they do not believe as you do.

• Institutionalized religion is the problem . . . everyone can get to heaven as long as one is true to oneself and tries to be a good person.

• My brother left the Church and became an evangelical. He now reads the Scriptures more than before, he is a better husband, heck, he is even a better Christian.

• Beliefs are not as important as helping the poor and needy.

All of the above statements represent “popular” corollaries of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism. They all contradict the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church! These false ideas are placing millions, even billions, of souls in mortal danger! God’s truth and the salvation of souls is at stake here! Religious Indifferentism—very much a part of the “smoke of Satan” and “diabolical disorientation” that is seeking to wreck the Church—has even spread and invaded the highest levels of the Catholic Church. It is important to note that, faithful to the teaching of the First Vatican Council, orthodox Catholics hold that the Pope’s charism of infallibility enables him to define doctrines of faith or morals contained in the Deposit of Faith given to us by our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ. It would be a serious error to think that Catholics believe that every single word spoken by the Pope is infallible. Consider the following statements made by members of the post-Vatican II hierarchy:

• “It will continue to be an explicit and very important part of my mission to repeat and emphasize that our attitude to the Jewish religion should be one of the greatest respect.” [Pope John Paul II, November 26, 1986]

• “The Church believes that Judaism, i.e., the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable Covenant, is salvific for them.” [Cardinal Walter Kasper, 2001, at the time, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews]

• “Campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable to the Catholic Church.” [Cardinal William Keeler, 2002, Archbishop of Baltimore at the time]

• “This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians; if they follow their own conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition, they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to historical completion in Jesus Christ.” [Cardinal Walter Kasper, November 6, 2002]

• “You love God, we love God and he is the same God.” [Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, in reference to Muslims and Roman Catholics, June 20, 2013, at the Albanian Islamic Cultural Center in Staten Island, NY]

• “Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values.” [Pope Francis, July 10, 2013, “Message to Muslims throughout the world for the end of Ramadan”]

Every one of the six statements listed above is erroneous, and contradicts the perennial Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church! Some of them are, materially, heretical! All are examples of the terrible scourge which Religious Indifferentism has inflicted upon the Mystical Body of Christ.

The main body of this essay illustrates briefly how seven essential aspects of the True Faith stand definitively opposed to Religious Indifferentism. These great “pillars” of Roman Catholicism are: (1) the Symbol of Faith, Credo in unum Deum . . . , (2) the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, (3) the Real Presence of Our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in the Blessed Eucharist, (4) the perennial Magisterium of the Catholic Church, (5) the Act of Faith, (6) the perennial witness of the Saints, and (7) “A great sign in heaven”: the Holy Mother of God. By adopting this approach, this essay intends to make the battle lines clear: the city of man (Religious Indifferentism) versus the City of God (the Roman Catholic Church); the devil, the world and the flesh pitting themselves against the very Spirit of God. In addition, this approach will demonstrate convincingly how diametrically opposed Religious Indifferentism is to the one, true Catholic religion, and will highlight how the heresy of Religious Indifferentism is “subversive of the foundations of the Catholic Faith.” (Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos, 3)

1. CREDO IN UNUM DEUM . . . [The Mystery of the Triune God]

Credo in unum Deum, I believe in one God . . . The Christian Symbol of Faith, which we pray at Holy Mass every Sunday and on important Feast Days, begins with the profession of faith in “one God,” Credo in unum Deum. The existence of one God—unus Deus—has profound implications for both the natural and supernatural worlds. One God, thus, one true religion which He Himself has revealed. St. Paul teaches, “One body and one Spirit . . . one hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all.” (Eph 4:4-6) Thus, according to St. Paul, there is only one true religion (“one faith”) because there is only one Lord. If one truly believes in “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all,” then one must believe in one faith and one true Church founded by Jesus Christ, “the one mediator of God and men” (1 Tim 2:5).

Pope Leo XIII teaches in Satis Cognitum (June 29, 1896), No. 6, “As there is one Lord and one baptism, so should all Christians, without exception, have but one faith.” Notice that Pope Leo begins with the existence of “one Lord”—Credo in unum Deum—and, as a necessary consequence of this truth, there is one faith. Similarly, Pope Pius XII states in Mystici Corporis (June 29, 1943), No. 22, “As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith (Eph 4:5).” The teaching of St. Paul and the Catholic Church is clear and consistent: if one denies that there is only one true faith, one thereby denies that there is one Lord. Religious Indifferentism is a most grave sin that strikes against the very First Commandment, “I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt not have strange gods before Me.”

There is a profound connection between the Mystery of the Triune God (Credo in unum Deum) and the one true Church, teacher and guardian of the one true Faith. “The Church comes from the Triune God, the one and the true, in whom disunion is unthinkable, and shares in a manner the oneness of the life of the Godhead. This life is given us through grace, faith, hope, and charity, created gifts emanating from the depths of the Blessed Trinity and raising us up to a supernatural union with God.” (The Teaching of the Catholic Church, Volume II, edited by Canon George Smith, p. 703) Just as the Church “comes from the Triune God,” so too does the one true religion; as the Church “shares in a manner the oneness of the life of the Godhead,” so too does the one true religion.

2. THE CHURCH IS THE MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST

[The Mystery of the Incarnation]

St. Paul teaches the doctrine that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ:

• “And He hath subjected all things under His feet, and hath made Him head over all the Church, which is His body, and the fullness of Him Who is filled all in all.” (Eph 1:22-23)

• “And He is the head of the body, the Church . . . ” (Col 1:18)

• “Now you are the body of Christ, and members of member.” (1 Cor 12:27)

• “For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of the body, whereas they are many, yet are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Cor 12:12)

In the 2nd century, St. Irenaeus calls the Church the “great and glorious Body of Christ.” Pope Pius XII writes, “the unbroken tradition of the Fathers from the earliest times teaches that the Divine Redeemer and the Society which is His Body form but one mystical person, that is to say, to quote Augustine, the whole Christ.” (Mystici Corporis, No. 27)

Not only is Jesus Christ true God and true Man, but the Church forms “the whole Christ” with Him as the Head. Reflect on this: together with Christ, the Church forms “the whole Christ.” If the Church is truly the Mystical Body of Christ, then it is impossible to sever Jesus Christ from His Church. It should be clear that the Catholic Church comprises the Mystical Body of Christ, “Only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed.” (Mystici Corporis, No. 22) If a particular religion rejects Jesus Christ, it is ipso facto a false religion, plain and simple. Similarly, if a particular religion rejects His Body, the Church, it is likewise ipso facto a false religion. Once one embraces the sublime truth about the Mystical Body of Christ, how can one possibly think that all religions are equal? How can a religion be “true” and “good,” if it rejects the Mystical Body of Christ?

The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, teaches at length on the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ (No.7), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 795, affirms, “Christ and His Church thus together make up the ‘whole Christ’ (Christus totus). The Church is one with Christ.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes on to quote Pope St. Gregory the Great, “Our Redeemer has shown Himself to be one person with the holy Church whom He has taken to Himself,” as well as St. Thomas Aquinas, “Head and members form as it were one and the same mystical person.”

Pope Pius XII expresses this mystical union between Christ and the Catholic Church as follows: “[Christ] so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. Indeed, if we are to believe Gregory of Nyssa, the Church is often called simply ‘Christ’ by the Apostle [Paul]; and you are familiar . . . with that phrase of Augustine: ‘Christ preaches Christ.’” (Mystici Corporis, 53); “our Savior shares prerogatives peculiarly His own with the Church in such a way that she may portray, in her whole life, both exterior and interior, a most faithful image of Christ. It is He who through the Church baptizes, teaches, rules, looses, binds, offers, sacrifices.” (Mystici Corporis, 54); “Christ our Lord wills the Church to live His own supernatural life, and by His divine power permeates His whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members . . . ” (Mystici Corporis, 55); “Christ our Lord wills that His abundant graces should flow from His fullness into the Church, in order that she should resemble Him as closely as possible” (Mystici Corporis, 52). Thus, to reiterate, if “the Church is one with Christ,” if she is called “Christ” by St. Paul and St. Augustine, then a necessary consequence is that any religion or sect which rejects the Catholic Church, thereby rejects Christ Himself! Only the religion which accepts Christus totus can be the true religion.

One final, extremely important point to keep in mind is that the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ flows from the Mystery of the Incarnation. According to Pope Leo XIII, “The Son of God decreed that the Church should be His mystical body, with which He should be united as the Head, after the manner of the human body which He assumed, to which the natural head is physiologically united. As He took to Himself a mortal body, which He gave to suffering and death in order to pay the price of man’s redemption, so also He has one mystical body in which and through which He renders men partakers of holiness and of eternal salvation. God ‘hath made Him (Christ) head over all the Church, which is His body’ (Eph 1:22-23).” (Satis Cognitum, No. 5) Pope Pius XII teaches, “As He hung upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Him of Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure.

If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ—which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church—we shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the expression ‘the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ’—an expression which springs from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of the Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers.” (Mystici Corporis, 12-13)

3. THE REAL PRESENCE OF OUR LORD IN THE BLESSED EUCHARIST

[The Mystery of the Incarnation]

In Capharnaum, near the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus Christ taught, “Amen, amen I say to unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:54-55). As a result of this “hard” teaching, many of Jesus’ disciples left Him . . . and Our Lord allowed it. For the sake of the only truth which saves, the Son of God was willing to be forsaken even by the twelve, asking them, “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:68) In the response given by Simon Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:69), God has provided mankind with the definitive “answer” to the heresy of Religious Indifferentism. All religions are not equally valid and true! There is only One Who has the words of eternal life, and these “words of eternal life” He has entrusted to Peter (and his successors), the rock upon whom He has built His Church. Furthermore, the core (i.e. the “hardest,” the ones which call forth the greatest faith) of the “words of eternal life” of the Most High Son of God is His teaching on eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood.

Faithful to her Divine Head, the Catholic Church teaches the de fide Dogma: The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are truly, really and substantially present in the Eucharist. Indeed, this is a tremendous mystery, and yes, this is a “hard saying” for many, but since it is absolutely true, how can any religion claiming to be true, deny this truth of salvation? As the soul accepts the doctrine of Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist, it echoes the reply of St. Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” It echoes his profession of faith at Cesarea Philippi, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” It echoes the immortal cry of St. Paul, “But in all these things we overcome, because of Him that hath loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life . . . nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth . . . shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:37-39). It echoes the tears of St. Thomas, “My Lord, and my God.” (Jn 20:28) Such a privileged soul, while also accepting all that the marvelous doctrine of the Holy Eucharist implies, is as far removed from Religious Indifferentism as heaven is from hell.

Consider the following beautiful Prayers in Preparation and Thanksgiving for Holy Communion:

(a) I know, O Lord my God, that I am neither worthy nor sufficient that Thou shouldst come under the roof where my soul dwells, for it is all deserted and in ruins; and, indeed, there is scarce any place in me where Thou mightest lay Thy head. But even from the height of Thy glory Thou didst humble Thyself for us, so now also bear with my lowliness. And, as Thou didst deign to lay Thyself down in a manger in a cave, so now also deign to enter the manger of my sinful and defiled body; and, as Thou, didst not refuse to enter the house of Simon the leper, and to sup there with sinners, so also deign to enter into the dwelling of my humble soul.

[St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, 4th Century]

(b) O Almighty, Everlasting God, I draw near to the Sacrament of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick, I come to the Physician of life; as one unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; as blind, to the Light of eternal brightness; as poor and needy, to the Lord of heaven and earth. I implore Thee, therefore, out of the abundance of Thy limitless mercy, that Thou wouldst heal my sickness, wash away my sins, enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty and clothe my nakedness that I may receive the Bread of Angels, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, such purpose and intention, as is expedient for the health of my soul. Grant me, O merciful God, so to receive the Body of Thine only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from the Virgin Mary, that I may be found worthy to be incorporated into His Mystical Body, and accounted among His members. Grant also, most loving Father, that Him Whom I now purpose to receive as though veiled, I may at last behold openly, even Thy beloved Son, Who with Thee, and the Holy Ghost,ever liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.

[St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th Century]

(c) Arise, my soul, revive thy faith, which tells thee that thy God became man, that same Jesus Who was born in the stable of Bethlehem, that Jesus Who rose triumphant from the grave, that Jesus Who now sits glorious at the right hand of the Father, is now present with thee in the Most Holy Sacrament. O Faith! O Faith! what greater thing can be said and believed? God is here, in order to enter my heart and become entirely mine—the Almighty God!

[St. Leonard of Port Maurice, 18th century]

(d) “My eyes and my heart shall be there always.” (3 Kgs. 9:3) Jesus has fulfilled this beautiful promise in the Sacrament of the Altar, where He lives with us night and day. My Lord, would it not have been enough for You to remain in the Blessed Sacrament during the day only, when You could have someone to adore You and keep You company? Why remain the whole night as well, when all the churches are closed and men retire to their homes, leaving You quite alone? But I understand You. It is love that has made You our prisoner. It is the very great love You have for us that has kept You on earth, unable to leave us either night or day.

O God, O Love that is beyond our understanding, since You bend down so much toward us as to leave Heaven in order to live near us on the altar, I am determined to visit You more often. I wish to enjoy as often as I possibly can Your most sweet presence, which is the cause of the happiness of the Saints in Heaven. Enkindle in my heart a great desire to remain always near You in the Blessed Sacrament. Ah, my loving Jesus, if only I had always loved You! If only I had always pleased You!

[St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, 18th century]

(e) My dear Jesus, I thank Thee with all my heart for coming to me and nourishing my soul with Thy sacred Body and most precious Blood. I thank Thee for all the graces and blessings I have ever received through the merits of Thy sacred passion and through the institution of the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. With the help of Thy grace I will endeavor to manifest my gratitude to Thee by greater devotion to Thee in the sacrament of Thy love, by obedience to Thy holy commandments , by fidelity to my duties, by kindness to my neighbor, and by an earnest endeavor to become more like to Thee in my daily conduct. Blessed be Thy holy name! O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!

[Indulgence of 100 days.—Pope Pius VI, May 24, 1776]

(f) May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved, with grateful affection at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time.

[Indulgence of 100 days.—Pope Pius IX, February 29, 1868]

(g) O sublime Mystery that man cannot fathom, wrought upon the altar of sacrifice! O miracle of God’s power and goodness! I, a poor feeble creature, am permitted to eat as food the Supreme Lord God. My God and Savior, how exalted are Thy thoughts above the thoughts of men, and how boundless Thy wisdom and Thy mercy that prepared for us so royal a banquet as to give us Thine own Flesh and Blood for the nourishment of our souls. I cannot but fall on my knees, overcome with amazement and admiration. O Lord, I admire, adore and love Thee.

(h) Ah, that I loved Thee as Thou lovest me! Would that I could venerate and serve Thee as Thou dost deserve. O love, how extravagant, how prodigal Thou art! With excessive generosity, Thou dost lavish Thy gifts upon the beloved. O love! Thou hast no measure, no limits in Holy Communion, where Thou dost give us everything Thou art and all Thou dost possess. Thy holy Body, Thy august Soul, Thy most noble Humanity, Thy incomprehensible Divinity, in a word, O Lord, Thou dost give me Thy entire Self with all that Thou art! O God!—what an excess of love toward us poor children of men! O divine invention! O inestimable love! O priceless gift! O Jesus! to Thee be all praise and all thanksgiving forever!

An attentive and loving meditation, in faith, on the above prayers of the Roman Catholic Church is incompatible with the statements cited above by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal Dolan, and Pope Francis. The soul which prays the above prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, in faith, hope, and charity, is as far removed from any and all expressions of Religious Indifferentism, as heaven is from hell.

4. THE PERENNIAL MAGISTERIUM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

As cited above, according to St. Gregory of Nyssa, the Church is often called simply “Christ.” Therefore, Christ Himself, the highest possible authority in heaven and on earth, has repeatedly condemned the heresy of Religious Indifferentism over the course of the past twenty centuries.

• From the Athanasian Creed, Quicúmque Vult:

“Whoever wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the Catholic Faith. For unless a person keeps this faith whole and entire, he will undoubtedly be lost forever.”

• Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215:

“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.”

• Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull, Unam Sanctam, 1302:

“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

• Pope Eugene IV, the Bull, Cantate Domino, 1442:

“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. 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.

• From Pope Leo XII’s Inaugural Encyclical, Ubi Primum (May 5, 1824):

“Who can reflect without weeping on the fierce and mighty conflicts which have raged in Our times and continue to rage almost daily against the Catholic religion? A certain sect, which you surely know, has unjustly arrogated to itself the name of philosophy, and has aroused from the ashes the disorderly ranks of practically every error. Under the gentle appearance of piety and liberality this sect professes what they call tolerance or indifferentism. It preaches that not only in civil affairs, which is not Our concern here, but also in religion, God has given every individual a wide freedom to embrace and adopt without danger to his salvation whatever sect or opinion appeals to him on the basis of his private judgment. The apostle Paul warns us against the impiety of these madmen.” [Nos. 11-12]

“It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth Itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members.” [No. 14]

• From Pope Pius VIII’s Inaugural Encyclical, Traditi Humilitati (May 24, 1829): “Among these heresies belongs that foul contrivance of the sophists of this age who do not admit any difference among the different professions of faith and who think that the portal of eternal salvation opens for all from any religion.” [No. 4]

• From Pope Gregory XVI’s Inaugural Encyclical, Mirari Vos (August 15, 1832):

“Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that ‘there is one God, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph 4:5) may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever.” [No. 13]

• From Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Humanum Genus (April 20, 1884):

“[The Freemasons] teach the great error of this age—that a regard for religion should be held as an indifferent matter, and that all religions are alike. This manner of reasoning is calculated to bring about the ruin of all forms of religion, and especially of the Catholic religion, which, as it is the only one that is true, cannot, without great injustice, be regarded as merely equal to other religions.” [No. 16]

• From Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Immortale Dei (November 1, 1885):

“For men living together in society are under the power of God no less than individuals are, and society, no less than individuals, owes gratitude to God who gave it being and maintains it and whose everbounteous goodness enriches it with countless blessings. No one is allowed to be remiss in the service due to God, and since the chief duty of all men is to cling to religion in both its teaching and practice—not such religion as they may have a preference for, but the religion which God enjoins, and which certain and most clear marks show to be the only one true religion. . . . for we are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which He has shown to be His will.

Now, it cannot be difficult to find out which is the true religion, if only it be sought with an earnest and unbiased mind; for proofs are abundant and striking. We have, for example, the fulfillment of prophecies, miracles in great numbers, the rapid spread of the faith in the midst of enemies and in face of overwhelming obstacles, the witness of the martyrs, and the like. From all these it is evident that the only true religion is the one established by Jesus Christ Himself, and which He committed to His Church to protect and to propagate.”

[Nos. 6-7]

• From Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Immortale Dei (November 1, 1885):

“To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name. Men who really believe in the existence of God must, in order to be consistent with themselves and to avoid absurd conclusions, understand that differing modes of divine worship involving dissimilarity and conflict even on most important points cannot all be equally probable, equally good, and equally acceptable to God.” [No. 31]

• From Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical, Satis Cognitum (June 29, 1896):

“The Church of Christ, therefore, is one and the same for ever; those who leave it depart from the will and command of Christ, the Lord—leaving the path of salvation they enter on that of perdition. ‘Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ . . . He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation’ (S. Cyprianus, De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n. 6).” [No. 5]

• From Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical, Mortalium Animos (January 6, 1928):

“Thus, Venerable Brethren, it is clear why this Apostolic See has never allowed its subjects to take part in the assemblies of non-Catholics. There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it; for from that one true Church they have in the past fallen away.” [No. 15]

“The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of faith, this the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, and these will be lost forever unless their interests be carefully and assiduously kept in mind.” [No. 16]

5. THE ACT OF FAITH

The Act of Faith

“O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in Three Divine Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I believe that ThyDivine Son became man and died for our sins, and that He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, Who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.”

“But without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) At the root of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism is a decidedly corrupt version of Catholic doctrine on the act of faith. The First Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution, Dei Filius (1870), states, “Since man is wholly dependent on God as his Creator and Lord, and since created reason is completely subject to uncreated truth, we are bound by faith to give full obedience of intellect and will to God Who reveals.” (Ch. 3) Note the hierarchical order presented in this teaching: first, God Who reveals; next, the truth, and lastly, man who submits his intellect and will. The text of Dei Filius continues, “The Catholic Church professes that faith is a supernatural virtue by which we, with the aid and inspiration of the grace of God, believe that the things revealed by Him are true, not because the intrinsic truth of the revealed things has been perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself Who reveals them, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

Properly understood, the “subjective” dimension of the act of faith is subordinated to, and possible only due to the “objective” dimension of faith, i.e. God Who reveals the truth. If one understands the act of faith correctly, and one’s “starting point” is God Who reveals the truth, it is far easier to grasp that (given the One God Who reveals) there is only one true religion. Consequently, Religious Indifferentism is totally out of the question—it cannot be reconciled with the genuine act of faith. On the other hand, what happens when the “subjective” dimension is given primacy? If one’s “starting point,” with respect to faith, is one’s own intellect and will, it is easy to draw the (erroneous) conclusion that one religion or belief system is as good as any another, so long as one, personally, is acting in “sincere faith.”

It is worth noting that such a corruption of the notion of what constitutes faith, is a defining mark of the heresy of Modernism. Pope St. Pius X explains this in Pascendi Dominici Gregis (September 8, 1907), “the need of the divine in a soul which is prone to religion excites a certain special sense, and this sense possesses, implied within itself both as its own object and as its intrinsic cause, the divine reality itself, and in a way unites man to God. It is this sense to which modernists give the name of faith.” (No. 7)

Contrary to the false, modernist notion of faith, Pope Leo XIII teaches, “But he who dissents even in one point from divinely revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he thereby refuses to honour God as the supreme truth and the formal motive of faith. For they who take from Christian doctrine what they please, lean on their own judgments, not on faith; and not ‘bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor 10:5), they more truly obey themselves than God. ‘You, who believe what you like, believe yourselves rather than the Gospel.’ (St. Augustine, lib. xvii, Contra Faustum Manichaeum, cap. 3)” (Satis Cognitum, 9)

6. THE PERENNIAL WITNESS OF THE SAINTS

“And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . . ” (Mt 28:19-20) In reference to this “final” and “grand” mandate of Our Savior to “go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15), Pope Benedict XV writes, “As the centuries have passed, the Church has never forgotten that command God gave her, and never yet has she ceased to dispatch to every corner of the world her couriers of the doctrine He entrusted to her, and her ministers of the eternal salvation that was delivered through Christ to the race of men.” (Apostolic Letter, Maximum Illud, November 30, 1919, No. 1). The Holy Father proceeds to mention some of the great apostles and missionaries of the early centuries, “One of them was Gregory the Illuminator, who brought the Faith to Armenia. Another was Victorinus, the apostle of Styria [Austria]. Frumentius, who evangelized Ethiopia, was a third. Later on Patrick brought forth the Irish in Christ; Augustine introduced the Faith among the English; and Columba and Palladius preached the gospel to the Scots. Later still Clement Willibrord, the first Bishop of Utrecht, brought the radiance of the gospel to Holland; Boniface and Anagar carried the Faith to the Germans; and Cyril and Methodius won Slavonia for the Church.” (Maximum Illud, 2)

The divine command to save souls by teaching them the one truth and baptizing them into the one fold of Christ, the very essence of the life and mission of the Catholic Church, is likely the strongest, most enduring, condemnation of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism.

St. Patrick

St. Patrick was born in the year of Our Lord, 387, in the north of France. He applied his mind to the study of letters but chiefly to psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, retaining them in his memory and continually singing them to the Lord; so that even from the flower of his first youth he was daily wont to sing devoutly unto God the whole psalter, and from his most pure heart to pour forth many prayers.

When he reached the age of sixteen, the famous King Niall, monarch of Ireland, swept along the coast of France on a marauding expedition, and captured the good youth with many of his countrymen. St. Patrick was carried to the shores of Ireland, and sold as a slave. Six years later he managed to return home, and he placed himself under the guidance of St. Germain, the illustrious Bishop of Auxerre.

In 432, Pope Celestine I authorized St. Patrick’s consecration as bishop, and he set out with twenty well-tried companions to convert the Isle of Erin (Ireland). After a short stay at various points, St. Patrick penetrated into Connaught. In the county of Cavan he overthrew the great idol called Crom-Cruach, and on its ruins erected a stately church. It was about this time that he baptized the two daughters of King Laegrius. The fair royal converts soon after received the veil at his hands. The Apostle held his first synod in 435, near Elphin, during which he consecrated several bishops for the growing Church of Ireland. It was in the Lent of this year that he returned to Cruach-Patrick, a mountain in Mayo, and spent forty days, praying, fasting, and beseeching heaven to make beautiful Erin an isle of saints.

The most glorious success everywhere attended his footsteps. The heavenly seed of truth fell on good ground, and produced more than a hundred-fold. St. Patrick, after spending seven years in Connaught, directed his course northward. He entered Ulster once more in 442. His progress through the historic counties of Donegal, Derry, Antrim, and others was one continued triumph. Princes and people alike heard, believed, and embraced the truth. Countless churches sprang up, new sees were established, and the Catholic religion was graced with a deep, lasting foundation.

“And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth. Going therefore, teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . . ” (Mt 28:19-20) In reference to this “final” and “grand” mandate of Our Savior to “go into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15), Pope Benedict XV writes, “As the centuries have passed, the Church has never forgotten that command God gave her, and never yet has she ceased to dispatch to every corner of the world her couriers of the doctrine He entrusted to her, and her ministers of the eternal salvation that was delivered through Christ to the race of men.” (Apostolic Letter, Maximum Illud, November 30, 1919, No. 1). The Holy Father proceeds to mention some of the great apostles and missionaries of the early centuries, “One of them was Gregory the Illuminator, who brought the Faith to Armenia. Another was Victorinus, the apostle of Styria [Austria]. Frumentius, who evangelized Ethiopia, was a third. Later on Patrick brought forth the Irish in Christ; Augustine introduced the Faith among the English; and Columba and Palladius preached the gospel to the Scots. Later still Clement Willibrord, the first Bishop of Utrecht, brought the radiance of the gospel to Holland; Boniface and Anagar carried the Faith to the Germans; and Cyril and Methodius won Slavonia for the Church.” (Maximum Illud, 2)

The divine command to save souls by teaching them the one truth and baptizing them into the one fold of Christ, the very essence of the life and mission of the Catholic Church, is likely the strongest, most enduring, condemnation of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism.

St. Patrick

St. Patrick was born in the year of Our Lord, 387, in the north of France. He applied his mind to the study of letters but chiefly to psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, retaining them in his memory and continually singing them to the Lord; so that even from the flower of his first youth he was daily wont to sing devoutly unto God the whole psalter, and from his most pure heart to pour forth many prayers.

When he reached the age of sixteen, the famous King Niall, monarch of Ireland, swept along the coast of France on a marauding expedition, and captured the good youth with many of his countrymen. St. Patrick was carried to the shores of Ireland, and sold as a slave. Six years later he managed to return home, and he placed himself under the guidance of St. Germain, the illustrious Bishop of Auxerre.

In 432, Pope Celestine I authorized St. Patrick’s consecration as bishop, and he set out with twenty well-tried companions to convert the Isle of Erin (Ireland). After a short stay at various points, St. Patrick penetrated into Connaught. In the county of Cavan he overthrew the great idol called Crom-Cruach, and on its ruins erected a stately church. It was about this time that he baptized the two daughters of King Laegrius. The fair royal converts soon after received the veil at his hands. The Apostle held his first synod in 435, near Elphin, during which he consecrated several bishops for the growing Church of Ireland. It was in the Lent of this year that he returned to Cruach-Patrick, a mountain in Mayo, and spent forty days, praying, fasting, and beseeching heaven to make beautiful Erin an isle of saints.

The most glorious success everywhere attended his footsteps. The heavenly seed of truth fell on good ground, and produced more than a hundred-fold. St. Patrick, after spending seven years in Connaught, directed his course northward. He entered Ulster once more in 442. His progress through the historic counties of Donegal, Derry, Antrim, and others was one continued triumph. Princes and people alike heard, believed, and embraced the truth. Countless churches sprang up, new sees were established, and the Catholic religion was graced with a deep, lasting foundation.

In less than a quarter of a century from the day St. Patrick set his foot on her emerald shores, the greater part of Ireland became Catholic. The darkness of ancient superstition everywhere faded away before the celestial light of the Gospel. The groves of the pagan Druids were forsaken, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered upon thousands of altars. The annals of Christianity record not a greater triumph. It is the sublime spectacle of the people of an entire nation casting away their heathen prejudices and the cherished traditions of ages, and gladly embracing the faith of Jesus Christ, announced to them by a man who had once been a miserable captive on their hills, but now an Apostle sent to them with the plenitude of power by Pope Celestine. [Little Lives of the Great Saints by John O’Kane Murray]

St. Boniface

St. Boniface was born in Devonshire (England), about the year 680. When he was but five years old, his chief delight was to hear holy men converse about God and heavenly things. He was educated from thirteen years of age in the monastery of Exeter, under the holy Abbot Wolphard. At thirty years of age he was promoted to the order of priesthood; and from that time was chiefly employed in preaching the word of God to the people, and in the care of souls. This servant of God, burning with zeal for the divine honor and the salvation of souls, never ceased to bewail, night and day, the misfortune of those nations which lay benighted in the shades of idolatry. In these holy dispositions, after having long implored the light and blessing of heaven, he, with the leave of his abbot, passed over into Frisia (Netherlands) to preach the Gospel to the infidels in 716.

In 719 St. Boniface went to Rome, and Pope Gregory II commissioned him to preach the faith to all the infidel nations of Germany. St. Boniface lost no time, crossed the Lower Alps, and traveling through Bavaria into Thuringia, there began his apostolic functions. He not only baptized great numbers of infidels, but also brought the Christians he found already established in Bavaria, and in the provinces adjoining to France, to reform many irregularities, and to live in accordance with the precepts of the Gospel and the holy canons of the Church.

A door was opened in Frisia, so for three years St. Boniface joined his labors to those of St. Willebrord, to the great increase of the Faith. From Frisia St. Boniface proceeded into Hesse and part of Saxony—wherever he came, he baptized many thousands of idolaters, destroyed temples, and built churches. In 732, Pope Gregory III conferred upon him the pallium, and constituted him Archbishop and Primate of all Germany, with power to erect new bishoprics where he should see it expedient.

In 745 Mainz became the metropolitan church of all Germany, and St. Boniface its Archbishop. In 746, he laid the foundation of the great abbey of Fulda, which continued long the most renowned seminary of piety and learning in all that part of the world.

In 754, this great saint, looking upon himself as devoted to labor in the conversion of infidels, consecrated his successor as Archbishop of Mainz, left his church in the best possible order, and set out with certain zealous companions to preach to the savage infidel inhabitants of the northern parts of East-Frisia. After having converted and baptized some thousands among them, he was martyred there, along with fifty-two companions, by sword-wielding pagans. His remains were returned to Fulda, where to this day they are regarded as the greatest treasure of that monastery. [Butler’s Lives of the Saints]

St. Peter the Martyr

St. Peter the martyr was born at Verona (Italy), in 1205. At the age of fifteen he received, at the hands of St. Dominic, the Dominican habit.

Gratitude to his Redeemer for the graces he had received, a holy zeal for his honor, and a tender compassion for sinners, moved him to apply himself with great zeal and diligence to procure the conversion of souls to God. This was the subject of his daily tears and prayers; and for this end, after he was promoted to the holy order of priesthood, he devoted himself entirely to the function of preaching, for which his superiors found him excellently qualified by the gifts both of nature and grace. He converted an incredible number of heretics and sinners in the Romagna, the marquisate of Ancona, Tuscany, the Bolognese, and the Milanese.

The fame of his public miracles attested in his life, and of the numberless wonderful conversions wrought by him, procured him universal respect; as often as he appeared in public, he was almost pressed to death by the crowds that flocked to him, some to ask his blessing, others to offer the sick to him to be cured, others to receive his holy instructions. He declared war in all places against vice. In the Milanese he was met in every place with a cross, banner, trumpets, and drums; and was often carried on a litter on men’s shoulders, to pass the crowd.

The new Manichee heretics bore a greater hatred than ever against St. Peter. They hired two assasins to murder him on his return from Como to Milan. The ruffians lay in ambush for him on this road, and one of the them, Carinus by name, gave him two cuts on the head with an axe, and then stabbed his companion. Seeing Peter rise on his knees, and hearing him recommend himself to God by the words: “Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul,” and recite the creed, he despatched him by a wound in the side with his cuttle-axe, on April 6, 1252, the saint being forty-six years old. His body was pompously buried in the Dominicans’ church dedicated to St. Eustorgius, in Milan, where it still rests; his head is kept apart in a case of crystal and gold. The heretics were confounded at his heroic death, and at the wonderful miracles God wrought at his shrine; and in great numbers desired to be admitted into the bosom of the Catholic Church.

Carinus, the murderer of the martyr, fled out of the territory of Milan to the city of Forli, where , being struck with remorse, he renounced his heresy, put on the habit of a lay brother among the Dominicans, and persevered in penance to the edification of many. St. Peter was canonized the year after his death by Pope Innocent IV. [Butler’s Lives of the Saints]

St. Vincent Ferrer

St. Vincent Ferrer was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1357. In 1374, he entered the order of St. Dominic, and was ordained a priest five years later. He evangelized nearly every province of Spain, and preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. He died in 1419.

In 1406, St. Vincent Ferrer was invited by the Grand Sultan of Granada Muhammed VII Aben-Baha to come and preach in his Moorish Kingdom. The Sultan had heard much about him and wanted to see this all for himself (e.g. the miracles). St Vincent arrived in very humble fashion, in somewhat tattered rags as his habit was quite worn, and riding a donkey. He entered the great city of Granada, one of Europe’s great wonders in terms of opulence, architecture, exotic treasures, trees, fruit, etc. The people mocked him as he arrived, not being used to such a sight. The following day he began to preach. His voice was thunderous, full of authority, and he wrought numerous miracles. He refuted the errors of the Mohammedans and showed the superiority of the Christian Faith. The people were completely unaccustomed to this manner of preaching. Following three divinely-inspired sermons, eight-thousand Moors converted! The Sultan and his royal coterie prepared to submit to the waters of baptism as well. However, the leading imams threatened him with revolution amongst the nobles and his own death if he accepted the banner of the Cross. So instead the Sultan forced St. Vincent out of Granada. St. Vincent would have happily suffered martyrdom but agreed to leave because he did not want to endanger the lives of those eight-thousand who had already converted.

St. Vincent’s work to convert the Jews in Spain is even more astounding. He would enter a town and go the synagogue and preach there. In some places, like Toledo and Salamanca, the entire Jewish population converted and turned the synagogue into a Catholic Church! He wrought many miracles. He converted some leading Jews, including a rabbi, Solomon ha-Levi, who took the baptismal name Pablo de Santa María. That man later became bishop of Burgos. He converted the king’s physician as well, who became Geronimo de Sancta Fide. In 1413, there was a great debate at the Council of Tortosa for the conversion of the Jewish Nation. Vincent, Pablo de Santa María and others argued for the Catholic Faith against sixteen of the brightest Spanish rabbis. Fourteen of the sixteen converted as did countless other Jews! In all, historians credit St. Vincent Ferrer for converting approximately 200,000 Jews in Spain from about 1390-1415.

St. Francis Xavier

St. Francis Xavier was born in 1506 in Navarre, Spain. He died in 1552, on the Chinese island of Shangchuan, less than ten miles from the southern coast of mainland China.

Goa (India) was his first mission. He took a room in a hospital there so that he might be of service to the sick. While engaged in this work, he gave only three hours to sleep, which he often took stretched on the floor at the bedside of a patient. The remainder of the night was spent in prayer, and this refreshed him in both body and soul more than sleep refreshes us. When the morning dawned, he made his rounds, rendering what service he could to the sick. Later he said Mass, heard confessions, and preached in churches or in the open air. On feast days he went around the town with a little bell and gathered the children for catechism. The little ones, two or three hundred in number, would follow him home and hear his instructions. With the children came the parents, and soon a great many men and women turned from their pagan idols to worship at the altar of the true God.

Then began his extensive missionary travels. For ten years he went from place to place, suffering the severest hardships. He crossed mountains and with bleeding feet continued through the hot and rocky deserts. His usual food was a little rice cooked in water and some salt fish. He baptized thousands of people with his own hands. Often the number of converts was so large that his hand was lame from administering the sacrament.

The saint went from India to Japan in 1549, and here he spent two years and four months preaching to the Japanese and saving thousands of souls. Indeed, so marvelous was his apostolate that within forty years there were no less than four hundred thousand Christians in the island.

It is truly wonderful that one man in the short space of ten years should have visited so many countries, traversed so many seas, preached the Gospel to so many nations and converted so many infidels. [Rev. Frederick A. Reuter]

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales was born in France in 1567. He died in 1622. St. Francis de Sales converted approximately 72,000 Calvinist heretics in the area surrounding Geneva, Switzerland. For more than three years, his labors appeared to be fruitless. He trudged through the countryside, had doors slammed in his face and rocks thrown at him. In the bitter winters, his feet froze so badly they bled as he forged through the snow. He slept in haylofts if he could, but once he slept in a tree to avoid wolves. He tied himself to a branch to keep from falling out and was so frozen the next morning he had to be cut down.

St. Francis persevered, and finally, it pleased God to bring about the conversion of minds and hearts. Even when no one would listen to him, nor open their doors to him, he found a way to get under the door. He would write small pamphlets and then go around at night and slip them under people’s doors! In his writings he would refute the Calvinist errors and teach the true Catholic Faith. On account of his meekness and tireless efforts, thousands of souls returned to the one, true Church.

How is it possible to reconcile the very mission of the Catholic Church to teach, convert and baptize all nations to the one, true Faith, with the ten popular expressions of the heresy of Religious Indifferentism which are listed at the beginning of this essay? How is it possible to reconcile the perennial witness of the Catholic Church’s greatest saints, including St. Patrick, St. Boniface, St. Peter of Verona, St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Francis de Sales, with the statements cited above by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Keeler, Cardinal Dolan, and Pope Francis?

“A GREAT SIGN IN HEAVEN”: THE HOLY MOTHER OF GOD

“And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” (Apoc 12:1)

In impressive harmony with Apoc 12:1, the “great sign from heaven” for our present times is the Holy Mother of God, and specifically for the 20th and 21st centuries, the momentous message which she brought down from heaven on July 13, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal. She entrusted this message, so dear to her maternal heart, to three poor, simple shepherd children named Lúcia, Francisco, and Jacinta. She confirmed the truth of her message on October 13, 1917, with the “Miracle of the Sun”—“a great sign in heaven”—an astounding public miracle witnessed by 70,000 people in a humble field known as the Cova da Iria, Fatima.

There are many highly significant, even urgent, aspects to the Mother of God’s “Fatima Message.” However, for the purposes of this particular essay, her Message at Fatima can be described as profoundly Catholic, a magnificent summary of the Gospel, and utterly, radically, opposed to the credo of Religious Indifferentism. In fact, her Message at Fatima, is perhaps best understood as God’s final call to mankind to convert to the one, true Faith, Roman Catholicism, without which there can be no peace in the world, and no hope of salvation. It is a remarkable message, because the Catholic Church herself, especially since 1960 (when the “Third Secret of Fatima” was supposed to be revealed by the Pope and, in blatant disobedience to Holy Mother of God, never was!), is in the greatest need of this conversion! She has been suffering, and continues to suffer from the most severe divine chastisement possible—apostasy, which is the loss of the true Faith, an apostasy which reaches all the way to the highest levels of the Church! Beginning with the Holy Father and all the world’s bishops, we desperately need to heed Our Lady’s Message at Fatima, convert, and recover the Catholic Church’s glorious Faith: her perennial doctrine, her timeless liturgy, her traditional discipline, piety, devotions, and way of life. The Catholic Church must once again preach, proudly, boldy, and joyfully, the social kingship of Jesus Christ! That He may reign through the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of His Mother . . . this is the divine Message of Fatima!

“Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.” (Prov 8:32, 34-35)

“In the plans of Divine Providence God always, before He is about to chastise the world, exhausts all other remedies. Now, when He sees that the world has not heeded any of them . . . He offers us with a certain trepidation the last means of salvation, His Most Holy Mother.” [Sr. Lúcia, December 26, 1957, interview with Fr. Augustine Fuentes]

Will the Church and the world hear the words of the “Lady from heaven,” and keep her ways? Will the Church and the world find life and salvation by obeying her Message at Fatima? As noted above, God’s 20th-21st century plan, placed in the most pure hands of Our Lady of Fatima, is—in general and in its details—strikingly opposed to Religious Indifferentism. Doctrinally, the Message of Fatima highlights Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, the Holy Eucharist, the Sacrament of Penance, the Papacy, and of course, Mary as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix of All Graces. In terms of the practice of the faith, the Message of Fatima sets forth that which is uniquely Catholic, for example: receiving Holy Communion and going to Confession, prayer of adoration and reparation, together with profound reverence before the Blessed Sacrament, the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary and meditation upon its mysteries, prayer and sacrifice, particularly for the Holy Father, devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and reparation for offenses and blasphemies committed against her Immaculate Heart, wearing the Brown Scapular, doing penance, and offering one’s daily duty to God as an act of sacrifice. It is highly significant that this “marian synthesis” of Catholic doctrine and praxis, in which the Message of Fatima consists, is thoroughly at odds with the heresy of Religious Indifferentism.

The “crown” of the argument that Our Lady’s Message at Fatima is the polar opposite of Religious Indifferentism, is God’s request for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. On July 13, 1917, the Mother of God revealed the following to the shepherd children, “ . . . I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.” Almost exactly twelve years later, on June 13, 1929, in Tuy Spain, Sr. Lúcia (at the time, a Dorothean nun) was in the convent chapel praying, and during this Holy Hour of Adoration and Reparation, Our Lady appeared to her alongside a mystical vision of the Most Holy Trinity. The Virgin Mary told Sr. Lúcia, “The moment has come when God asks the Holy Father to make, in union with all the bishops of the world, the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, promising to save it by this means.” Now fast forward to the year of Our Lord, 2013, and this direct command of God has yet to be obeyed by the Pope, the Vicar of Christ!

The Message of Fatima is a “great sign” which has been given from Heaven for our present age. The divine command to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is central to this Message, and the immediate result of this consecration will be the conversion of Russia to the Catholic Faith. Fr. Joaquin Alonso, likely the foremost expert on Fatima, interviewed Sr. Lucía on numerous occasions. In 1976, Fr. Alonso wrote that according to Sr. Lucía, the conversion of Russia refers “purely, plainly and simply to the total, integral conversion of Russia to the one true Church of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church.” Such a conversion of Russia is the antithesis of Religious Indifferentism.

Religious Indifferentism is probably the most nefarious single heresy of modern times. Let us pray to the Holy Mother of God, vanquisher of heresies, to crush this wicked lie of satan once and for all. (Gn 3:15) Let us pray for the Holy Father, that he may, in union with all the bishops of the world, obey God, and finally consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Fr. Michael Rodríguez was ordained a priest of the diocese of El Paso in 1996. As a priest, he served at various parishes: Our Lady of the Valley, St. Thomas Aquinas, Our Lady of Assumption, and Our Lady of Peace (Alpine). In 2001, he was assigned to San Juan Bautista Catholic Church in El Paso. Fr. Rodriguez is currently the parish vicar at Santa Teresa de Jesús Parish in Presidio, TX, as well as the missions of Our Lady of Peace in Candelaria, Sacred Heart in Shafter and San José in Redford.

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