LifeSiteNews has the story with their usual bias against the Pope. But the quotes from Pope Francis have an interesting wording:
Francis: “You know that there are some criticisms: that the pope is not courageous, he is a reckless person who is taking steps against Catholic doctrine, that he is one step away from heresy, there are risks.” Then he references the Second Vatican Council.
LSN responds to the Pope by reminding us that scholars have already accused the Pope of heresy, and that some issued their own document called the Declaration of Truths. See my commentary on the so-called “Declaration of Truths” here. There are blatant heresies in that document. And this is what happens when you reject the Magisterium, and the Roman Pontiff, the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present.
But the dogma of Vatican I teaches us that each Pope has the charism of truth and of never failing faith, and that the Apostolic See is without blemish. So, as Bellarmine also taught, no Pope can teach or commit heresy.
The title of this post is: “Pope Hints At Impending New Declaration of Dogma”. And that is my read of what Francis says “he is one step away from heresy.” They have already accused him of heresy, and surely, he is aware of this. So what is the next “one step” he intends to take, which bears comparison with the teachings of an Ecumenical Council? What risk is he about to take? I believe Francis intends to issue a new definition of dogma under Papal Infallibility, on the topic of salvation for non-Catholics and non-Christians and non-believers.
A law is not a law until it is promulgated. And a formal dogma — which is an infallible teaching of the Magisterium, as opposed to the infallible teachings of Tradition and Scripture, material dogma, which truths have not yet been taught infallibly by the Magisterium — is not a formal dogma until the Magisterium teaches it infallibly. So while I will opine on what that possible future definition may be, it is not yet a dogma. One might argue that these assertions have already been taught by the ordinary universal Magisterium. However, I don’t think the teachings to date reach that level, not yet. There are clear past teachings, though, which support these assertions (as explained in my book: Forgiveness and Salvation for Everyone). And, as I begin to write them, I realize some are already dogma [#1] and others are clear teachings which may or may not fall under the OUM [#2, maybe others].
1. This first point is dogma, under Trent, Decree on Justification, Chapter IV. That those who have received a baptism of desire are children of God by spiritual adoption along with those who have received the formal Sacrament of baptism with water.
2. The baptism of desire can be implicit, and therefore non-Christian believers can be in the state of grace, and can go to Heaven even if they die without receiving baptism with water.
3. Even non-believers (atheists, agnostics, pagans) can receive a baptism of desire and be in the state of grace since faith can also be implicit. Their faith in the transcendent values of this life (love, mercy, justice, truth) is sufficient with a sincere but mistaken conscience (invincible ignorance) to harbor the three theological virtues, including theological faith.
4. Therefore, non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers can be in the state of grace and can be saved without converting to Catholicism, or Christianity, or belief in God — if they follow their conscience and avoid or repent from all actual mortal sins.
5. non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers can repent from actual mortal sin and be saved by perfect contrition, which can also be implicit.
6. God positively wills, after the fact of our sinfulness, that there be a plurality of religions. However, so-called religions that are fundamentally based on grave sin (Satanism, idolatry of any kind) are only permitted by the will of God, as He also permits other grave sins.
7. Any religion which includes the love of God and neighbor is, at its core, a true religion, despite its errors on many other subjects. For these are the two great Commandments, adherence to which grants the state of grace, return to which grants forgiveness from even actual mortal sin, and persistence in which grants eternal life.
Of course, any use of Papal Infallibility by Francis will likely be very different from my wish list of teachings above. But there is a “one step away” coming soon from the Pope. And it is likely to be on the subject of Human Fraternity.
Note that documents are not infallible. Only teachings are infallible. So a document from Francis exercising Papal Infallibility could contain other teachings that are non-infallible, and even some limited degree of error, on points other than the dogma or dogmas issued in the document (which at this point is hypothetical).
Have faith in the true Magisterium. Do not believe the lies and half truths taught by the enemies of Pope Francis, the enemies of other Popes, and the enemies of Vatican I and II.