Is "feeneyism" really heretical? Also if it is truly heretical than how can one possibly refute it when there are statements and quotes like these:
Pope Leo XIII : “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held.”
Pope Leo XII : "We profess that there is no salvation outside the church. ... For the church is the pillar and the ground of truth."
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved"
Pope St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Summo Iugiter Studio, 590-604:
“The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.”
The problem is that "Feeneyism" is variously defined, and it is unclear exactly what Fr. Feeney taught. After all, he was a very popular church author and had a number of best-sellers. Here is some information on the meaning of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus:
FR. FRANCIS J. CONNELL, "FR. CONNELL ANSWERS MORAL QUESTIONS," (1958),
comments as follows:
The doctrinal phrase "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus," first used by
Cyprian (ca. 210-258) and approved by the Council of Florence (1438-1445),
and its associated doctrine, baptism of desire (flaminis, or de voto), is a
complex subject that some misconstrue by taking the flat statement out of
proper context within the balance of traditional Catholic teaching since the
early centuries of the Church.
The doctrinal phrase was not originally directed against non-
Catholics AS INDIVIDUALS, but against heretical sects insofar as they are
sects. Its purpose is to safeguard the truth that there is only ONE body of
Christ and, therefore, only ONE Church that which possesses and communicates
the fullness of the blessings brought to men by Christ. (Fr. John Laux,
Catholic Apologetics, Book IV, p. 125)
It is easy to err on either side of the question: to believe
that no one who is not a formal, practicing Catholic can be saved; or to
believe that all men are saved, no matter what their belief and practice may
It is impossible to be saved outside the Church, because the Church
is the rule or measure of faith, without which faith it is impossible to
attain heaven. Natural good will is not enough to be saved. Anyone who
with natural good will alone cannot be saved.
However, if God gives the grace to embrace the True Faith, and one
accepts -- that is, baptism of desire -- he is truly a member of the Church
by means of his desire of being united to the Church by sacramental Baptism,
were it in his power. He can thereby be saved inside the Church, even
he cannot receive Sacramental baptism of water.
In Catholic moral theology, Baptism is necessary for salvation by
necessity of means. When a thing is necessary for the attainment of an end
because it contains in itself something requisite for this purpose, we say
that it is necessary by necessity of means. In such an event, if a person
does not employ the means, even though it involves no fault on his part, per
se he cannot attain the end.
When we say that per se it is impossible to attain an end without
something that is necessary by necessity of means, we imply that by God's
ordinance another means may supply in certain cases. Thus, baptism of
and baptism of blood can supply the chief effects of the baptism of water in
certain cases. In such an event, we say that the means in question is
necessary by relative necessity of means, as distinct from the case when
nothing will supply for the means (absolute necessity). A person is not
necessarily "outside" the Catholic Church merely because he is not an actual
member. But, in order to be saved, one must be united to the Catholic
at least by desire, either explicit or implicit. Through such a desire one
whose lack of actual membership in the Church is not due to any fault on his
own part can be "inside" the Church, and, if he joins to his desire an act
faith and an act of divine charity, can be saved."
THE TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA (1917) summarizes as follows:
The baptism of desire (baptismus flaminis) is a perfect contrition
heart, and every act of perfect charity or pure love of God which contains,
at least implicitly, a desire (votum) of baptism. The Latin word flamen is
used because Flamen is a name for the Holy Ghost, Whose special office it is
to move the heart to love God and to conceive penitence for sin. The
"baptism of the Holy Ghost" is a term employed in the third century by the
anonymous author of the book "De Rebaptismate." The efficacy of this
of desire to supply the place of the baptism of water, as to its principal
effect, is proved from the words of Christ. After He had declared the
necessity of baptism (John 3), He promised justifying grace for acts of
charity or perfect contrition (John 14): "He that loveth Me, shall be loved
of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him." And
again: "If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love
him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him." Since
texts declare that justifying grace is bestowed on account of acts of
charity or contrition, it is evident that these acts supply the place of
baptism as to its principal effect, the remission of sins. This doctrine is
set forth clearly by the Council of Trent. In the fourteenth session (cap.
iv) the Council teaches that contrition is sometimes perfected by charity,
and reconciles man to God, before the Sacrament of Penance is received. In
the fourth chapter of the sixth session, in speaking of the necessity of
baptism, it says that men can not obtain original justice "except by the
washing of regeneration or its desire" (voto). The same doctrine is taught
by Pope Innocent III (cap. Debitum, iv, De Baptismate), and the contrary
propositions are condemned by Popes Pius V and Gregory XII, in proscribing
the 31st and 33rd propositions of Baius."
ST. ALPHONSUS LIGUORI (1696-1787) comments as follows:
It is de fide [of the faith and required to be believed by all
Catholics] that there are some men saved also by the baptism of the Spirit
[i.e., de voto, of desire, by the grace of the Holy Spirit]. In this he
expresses the teaching of all the Fathers, Doctors, popes, and theologians,
including St. Cyprian, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Fulgentius, St.
Aquinas (Summa Theologiae, IIIa, Q. 68, A.2), St. Peter Canisius, St.
Alphonsus de Liguori, Pope Innocent II, Pope Innocent III, and Pope St. Pius
X (De Baptismo, cap. 1).
THE COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1563) defines as follows:
Translatio ab eo statu, in quo homo nascitur filius primi Adae, in
statum gratiae ... post evangelium promulgatum sine lavacro regenerationis
AUT EIUS VOTO fieri not potest. [The translation from that state in which
man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace ... cannot,
since the promulgation of the gospel, be effected except through the laver
regeneration OR ITS DESIRE.] (Sessio Sexta de Iustificatione, Caput IV:
Insinuatur Descriptio Iustificationis Impii, et Modus Eius in Statu Gratiae)
Si quis dixerit, sacramenta novae legis non esse ad salutem
necessaria, sed superflua, et sine eis AUT EORUM VOTO per solam fidem
a Deo gratiam iustificationis adispisci, licet omnia singulis necessaria not
sint: anathema sit. [If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are
not necessary for salvation, but are superfluous, and taht without them OR
WITHOUT THE DESIRE OF THEM men obtain from God through faith alone the grace
of justification, though all are not necessary for each one, let him be
anathema.] (Session Septima, Canones de Sacramentis in Genere, N. 4)
St. Alphonsus Liguori in Book 6 of his Theologia Moralis, quotes this
passage and comments: "Therefore, it is de fide [dogmatic] that men are
saved by Baptism of desire."
TRADITIONAL POPES OF THE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURY comment as follows
concerning "invincible ignorance" of the true Faith, that is, ignorance
outside the moral responsibility of the individual.
Pope Pius IX
Allocution against the Errors of Rationalism and Indifferentism
December 9, 1854
It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the
apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark
of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood.
On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are
affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance,
are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord.
Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of
such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of
peoples, lands, native talents, and so many other factors? Only when we
been released from the bonds of this body and see God just as He is (1 John
3:2) shall we really understand how close and beautiful a bond joins divine
mercy with divine justice. But as long as we dwell on earth, encumbered
this soul-dulling, mortal body, let us tenaciously cling to the Catholic
doctrine that there is one God, one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5).
Pope Pius IX
Quanto conficiamur moerore
August 10, 1863
And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brethren, it is necessary once
more to mention and censure the serious error into which some Catholics have
unfortunately fallen. For they are of the opinion that men who live in
errors, estranged from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain
eternal life. This is in direct opposition to Catholic teaching.
We all know that those who are afflicted with invincible ignorance
with regard to our holy religion, if they carefully keep the precepts of the
natural law that have been written by God in the hearts of all men, if they
are prepared to obey God, and if they lead a virtuous and dutiful life, can
attain eternal life by the power of divine light and grace. For God, Who
reads comprehensively in every detail the minds and souls, the thoughts and
habits of all men, will not permit, in accordance with His infinite goodness
and mercy, anyone who is not guilty of a voluntary fault to suffer eternal
However, also well-known is the Catholic dogma that no one can be
saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who obstinately oppose the
authority and definitions of the church, and who stubbornly remain separated
form the unity of the Church and from the successor of Peter, the Roman
Pontiff (to whom the Savior has entrusted the care of His vineyard), cannot
Pope St. Pius X
Catechism of Christian Doctrine, para. 132
A person outside the Church by his own fault, and who dies without
perfect contrition, will not be saved. But he who finds himself outside
without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the
called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the
Church, that is, to the soul of the Church.
Pope Pius XII
Encyclical Letter Mystici Corporis
June 29, 1943
From a heart overflowing with love, we ask each and every one of
[non-Catholics] to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to
to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation.
For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain
relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain
deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can be enjoyed only in
the Catholic Church. (Para. 103)
TRADITIONAL THEOLOGIANS BEFORE VATICAN II who have commented include
Abarzuza, Aertnys, Billot, Cappello, Coronata, Davis, Herrmann, Herve,
Hurter, Iorio, Lennerz, McAuliffe, Merkelbach, Noldin, Ott, Pohl, Prummer,
Regatillo, Sabetti, Sola, Tanquerey, Zalba, and Zubizarreta.
DOM E. HUGUENEY, O.P., IN "LA OPINION TRADITIONNELLE DUR LA NOMBRE DES ELUS"
(La Revue Thomiste, 1933) comments as follows:
Of those who are members of the Church, the elect will greatly
outnumber the damned; and if we include as members of the Church all those
who are hers in spirit by baptism of desire, this immense number of elect
will be very great indeed. Yet, we must not forget that, outside the
the chances of salvation are much less; this means that many pagans will
probably lose their souls, because they are almost defenseless against the
devils and their own passions.
It is a very difficult thing to elicit perfect contrition in oneself.
With the graces of the Sacrament of Penance, Catholics may receive
with only imperfect contrition. With the great assistance that Holy Mother
Church offers to her practicing Catholic children, salvation is made so much
easier for them than for those who must struggle outside her, even if they
can in truth rely on a conscience that is truly and totally in invincible