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Pius IX Invincible Ignorance

By John C. Pontrello (September 14, 2019)

Pope Pius IX believed and taught the possibility of salvation for invincibly ignorant non-Christians. Many Feeneyite traditionalists have done their best to shield him from their critics. Feeneyite Sedes pounce on anyone who teaches heresy but they give Pius IX a pass. I took a few moments out to comment on how some of these people explain away Pius IX’s statements.

Here is one person’s take:

(ii) on Singulari Quidem (1856) and the invincible ignorance allegedly taught by Pius IX.

Pius IX. Singulari Quidem. AD 1856

This hope of salvation is placed in the Catholic Church which, in preserving the true worship, is the solid home of this faith and the temple of God. Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.'

to be able to hope' does not equal 'to be able to attain' >>> the choice to attribute the meaning of 'has a chance of salvation outside of the Church if he is excused through ignorance beyond his control' to the above statement (an unfortunate mistake) is (even though seemingly logical...) a conclusion that goes beyond that which is written ; 'to be able to hope for' is (absolutely) not exclusive from 'cannot have' as one can always hope for the impossible...

Invincible ignorance (and the consequent possibility of salvation, as opposed to mere hope) indeed seems to be inferred in the passage — yes. It is, however, NOT proclaimed. This is a difference.

Invincible ignorance was not “allegedly” taught by Pius IX, he taught it. In this passage he states in unambiguous words that the possibility of salvation exists for those who die outside the church, not those who currently live outside the church. Otherwise he wouldn’t have concluded the above passage with the clause “…unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.” This clause is the key to understanding the meaning of Pius' words.

Typical of traditionalists, this guy makes Pius IX out to be an idiot. He thinks the pope made a mistake in his choice of words. He did not. He clearly teaches that they can be excused from the consequence of dying outside the church- death & damnation (antonyms of the subjects “life” and “salvation”). If Pius IX meant something else he would not have ended this sentence with the additional clause. Here’s his predecessor Pope Eugene IV speaking on the same subject ex cathedra:

“The most holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41) 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 they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” (Council of Florence)

There is no question Pius IX believed and taught that those who die outside the church can be saved. Keep this in mind the next time a Feeneyite attacks other traditionalists for believing the same thing while giving Pius IX a pass.

I’ll address one more Feeneyite’s take on Pius IX. This person begins by quoting Pius IX:

“There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.” (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore - August 10, 1863)

Then he presents his take on the above passage:

Wonderful! What does the objective sense of this text state? Does it state that a person WHO DIES in that state will be saved, or even may be saved? No. It simply states that God will not suffer such a person to be eternally punished. What does that mean, in the context of his encyclical and of Catholic dogma? The obvious answer, the ONLY answer, is that God will get that person, who stained only with original sin and has never willingly consented to actual sin, though they had the opportunity to do so, baptized, bringing him into his faith so that he may merit eternal life. The words of Pius IX are justly understood in this light, since there is no contradiction with the Catholic dogma.”

This Feeneyite asks “Does it state that a person who dies in that state will be saved, or even may be saved?” Yes it does. The key to understanding the mindset of Pius IX with this passage is to read it in conjunction with his other statements, especially the first one quoted above: “Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.” Nothing could be clearer; Pius IX taught that there is an exception to the dogma “no salvation outside the church.” He also says that we on earth cannot know how, when, or to whom this exception occurs because that would be rash and presumptuous and therefore we should avoid that temptation. Here is how Pius IX explains this:

“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 have 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 with 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); To proceed with further inquiry is contrary to divine law.”

Pius IX held and taught that it is possible, owing to God’s mercy, for people who die outside the Church to be saved. But how and when this occurs is a mystery to us on earth and so it is forbidden to inquire deeper than that. In other words, continue to preach that there is no salvation outside the Church but DO NOT JUDGE THE DEAD.

Pius IX presents a big problem for Feeneyites, especially Sedevacantist Feeneyites. These types of personalities love to judge the dead as much as they do the living. They get off on it. But they also need this pope so they must do what they can to save his papacy. They offer excuses such as “Pius IX was only talking about being excused from certain eternal punishments but not that they could attain to salvation in that unbaptized state” or as we just read, “Pius IX made a mistake in his choice of words as that is not what he meant” or finally, the go-to play for traditonalist confronted with papal contradictions “But he wasn’t speaking infallibly; he was only speaking as a private fallible person at that moment.” I call these Feeneyite Sedes hypocrites when they attack other trads who believe exactly what Pope Pius IX believed and taught and yet refuse to push their imaginary vacancy back another century.

In conclusion, this short piece is not my attempt at getting at the correct Roman Catholic doctrine for salvation. If you want that then you will have to get under Pope Francis, Vatican II, and JP2’s new Catechism of the Catholic Church which explains Pius IX’s teaching as follows:

CCC 847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

This is the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church now. If you can live with that congratulations you’re a well-trained obedient Catholic. If not, then become your very own Roman Catholic Church outside of Rome like all of the other traditionalists or just join one that already exists. My purpose was to demonstrate that papal infallibility causes contradictions and schisms. Baptism of desire and invincible ignorance are two good examples. As a consequence, this piece also shines the spotlight on the rank hypocrisy of Feeneyite Sedes who refuse to go back in time and erase Pius IX’s papacy for teaching the possibility of salvation outside the Church.

John C. Pontrello

John C. Pontrello is a former Sedevacantist activist and seminarian in a traditional Catholic religious community. Prior to his association with traditional Catholicism, he managed an investment planning practice for many years. He currently resides in Western New York. His book entitled "The Sedevacantist Delusion: Why Vatican II's Clash with Sedevacantism Supports Eastern Orthodoxy" can be purchased through Amazon.com and is highly recommended.

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