Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma has been considered as the definitive single volume summary of Catholic dogmatic theology ever since its original publication in German in 1952. This great work by Ludwig Ott presents a comprehensive yet concise outline of the entire system of Catholic doctrine, laying out its sources in Scripture and Tradition as taught by the Magisterium of the Church.
There can be no doubt that of all those present at Vatican Council II, the revolutionary prelates and periti that comprised the German contingent were most keenly aware of Ott’s magnum opus as they assembled some ten years following its publication.
These men, whose mission it was to make certain that the Rhine would flow into the Tiber, knew better than anyone else that Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma would provide considerable ammunition for any who might arise in defense of Catholic tradition moving forward, thus forestalling the aggiornamento they so coveted.
Of primary concern to the progressive Council fathers, in particular those who came to Rome from the birthplace of Protestantism, was ecumenism. Throughout the conciliar text one sees evidence of a concerted effort to affirm the heretic communities. The ecumenists even went so far as to assure them of their divinely ordained importance in God’s plan of salvation, a 180 degree turn from authentic Catholic tradition and an open invitation to religious indifferentism.
So, what did they do?
In drafting the text of Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism, it appears as if they consulted Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma in order to launch a preemptive, nearly word-for-word, strike aimed directly at Ott’s faithful presentation.
Under the heading “Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation,” Ott’s compendium states:
As against modern religious indifferentism, Pius IX declared: “By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it, will perish in the flood.” (D 1647)
In order for a Church to be considered “Apostolic,” its bishops must enjoy Apostolic succession, something to which the heretics most certainly cannot lay claim. As for the appellation “Roman,” this applies only to those churches that recognize the primacy of the See of Rome and the Roman Pontiff, something the schismatics flatly reject.
Fr. Ott went on to make certain that his readers would understand that both of these communities are considered to be outside of the only ark of salvation:
It is the unanimous conviction of the Fathers that salvation cannot be achieved outside the Church. This principle was extended not only to pagans but to heretics and schismatics as well.
Even as Fr. Ott wrote in 1949, the Holy Office under Pope Pius XII was compelled to issue a Monitum (or Warning) and a separate explanatory Instruction forbidding Catholic participation in ecumenical gatherings; this coming on the heels of the formal establishment of the World Council of Churches in the previous year.
At the time, self-proclaimed Catholic champions of the ecumenical movement were promoting the idea that the Spirit of Christ is actively working unto salvation even within the Protestant sects. Fr. Ott directly addressed this error as well, writing:
St. Irenaeus teaches that: in the efficacy of the spirit all those have no part, who do not hasten to the Church; rather they, by their evil teaching and their evil deeds, rob themselves of life. For where the Church is, there is also the spirit of God, and where the spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace” (Adv. haer. III 24, I).
The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II systematically rejected each of these doctrines:
It follows that the separated Churches [schismatic] and Communities [heretical] as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church. (UR 3)
In just two sentences, the Council directly contradicted – in order, no less – the true doctrine as presented so clearly by Fr. Ott. This it does, firstly, by plainly asserting that the schismatic and heretical sects, as communities, are a “means of salvation;” i.e., the Council insists that they too are arks of salvation.
Secondly, the conciliar text attributes the salvific nature of these “separated” communities to the Spirit of Christ, aka the Holy Spirit.
Note, however, that the ecumenists were clever enough to suggest that the “efficacy” of the Spirit’s action in this case is derived indirectly, as from “the Church.” This maneuver was apparently enough to placate most of the traditional bishops, who in their naiveté evidently failed to notice that “the Church” had also undergone a redefinition.
Both the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and the Decree on Ecumenism were deliberated and approved during session three of the Council and promulgated on the same date, November 21, 1964.
The former text was at pains to make certain that the Church of Christ would no longer be considered synonymous with “the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church” as it had been prior to the Council (e.g., see Mystici Coporis – 13), stating instead that it merely subsists in the Catholic Church (LG 8).
This allows the post-conciliar ecumenist to maintain that the schismatic and heretical communities are used by God as a means of salvation thanks to their share, not in what is specifically Catholic per se, but in what pertains to the Church of Christ. As Lumen Gentium plainly stated:
Many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its [the Catholic Church’s] visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ… (ibid.)
So, did the Council progressives actually consult Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma for guidance in order to formulate their attack against the true doctrine of the Church?
It sure looks that way, though I suppose we cannot know for certain.
Be that as it may, what is beyond the shadow of any doubt whatsoever is that the spirit of Vatican II did not more or less renege on the Catholic Church’s own claim to be the sole means of salvation, as certain Big Tent, Low-T “traditional” media moguls will tell you.
Rather, the Second Vatican Council, on the most crucial question of all – the salvation of humankind – plainly set forth propositions that directly contradict the de fide teachings of the Holy Catholic Church and her exclusive claim as the only ark of salvation.