Why is this web site named Catholic Tradition?
Or, why Catholic, why Tradition?

Why Catholic?

Because God gave us the great, indispensable gift of faith to believe what He has revealed through His holy Church and because we choose to accept this gift of faith out of gratitude to Almighty God and to attain salvation because His only true Church teaches:

No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church

The Official and Infallible teaching of the Catholic Church on Salvation:

     Ex Cathedra: There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all is saved. [Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215]

     Ex Cathedra: 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 Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302]

     Ex Cathedra: 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; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. 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. [Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441]

Catholic Faith and Water Baptism Necessary for Salvation . . .

Liberal theologians have used incorrect definitions for "Baptism of desire," which reduce the dogma "no salvation outside the Catholic Church" to a meaningless formula. Unfortunately, these erroneous definitions have found their way into many Catholic books and catechisms. Therefore, we urge the faithful to believe and teach what the Church has infallibly taught.

     To that end, we present here three things:

     (1) the proper definition of "Baptism of desire";
     (2) a proof, from the infallible canons of the Council of Trent, of the necessity of water Baptism for salvation;
     (3) an illustration of the relation of Faith, desire, and Baptism, to justification and salvation.

         1. The correct definition of "Baptism of desire": "In its proper meaning, this consists of an act of perfect contrition or perfect love [that is Charity, which necessarily implies that one has the True Faith], and the simultaneous desire for Baptism. It does not imprint an indelible character on the soul and the obligation to receive Baptism by water remains."

               [Page 126 of "The Catholic Concise Encyclopedia", by Robert Broderick, M.A., copyright 1957, Imprimatur by Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York, August 31, 1956]

2. Water Baptism Is necessary for Salvation. Session 7, Canons 2 & 5 of the Canons on Baptism from the Decree Concerning the Sacraments:
    "Can. 5. If anyone says that Baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, let him be anathema."

    "Can. 2. If anyone says that true and natural water is not necessary for Baptism and thus twists into some metaphor the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: 'Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost,' let him be anathema.

      In terms of a syllogism we have

the infallible major premise: "Baptism is necessary for salvation,"
     the infallible minor premise: "True and natural water is necessary for Baptism," and
     the logically unavoidable conclusion: "Baptism by true and natural water is necessary for salvation!"

3. The Sacraments are necessary for salvation: Can. 4, on the Sacraments in general, from the Council of Trent: "If anyone says that the Sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that 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." [Note: Catholic Faith and the desire (i.e., votum, or "vow," from the original Latin) for Baptism are necessary for justification (justification is also called "sanctifying grace," and salvation is eternal life with God in Heaven) not only desire and not only faith. Further, the Sacraments-----chiefly Baptism-----are necessary for salvation.]

      By these infallible pronouncements we protect God's truthfulness in the matter of Faith and water Baptism [Eph. 4: 5, Jn. 3: 5]. We also offer a passage to emphasize another dogma of our Faith, i.e., God's omnipotent Providence. God's Providence would not refuse a person the necessary requirement of water Baptism if he has Catholic Faith and a desire for Baptism, even if miraculous means are necessary [Acts 8: 26 ff.].

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Why Tradition?

To be Catholic is essentially to uphold and pass on Sacred Tradition, one of the three pillars of the Church, the other two being Sacred Scripture and Sacred Magisterium. Tradition is the [originally] unwritten deposit of faith, orally given to the Apostles who were commanded to keep pure its tenets and practices. Before Magisterium and Scripture there was Tradition, to which the other two are necessarily and intrinsically linked, just as first there must be a mother and a father before there can be children, so Tradition is the home in which the canonized books of the Bible and the doctrines taught by the popes and dogmatic councils dwell. It is the sure guide by which to measure interpretations that may result from the other two. And we know that Tradition must be kept whole and entire because:

1. The Papal Coronation Oath . . .

Catholics erroneously believe that it is impossible for a Pope to make mistakes involving the faith and its liturgies.  The answer is found in the Papal Coronation Oath. The full text of the Oath reads:

"I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors, to encroach, to alter (change), or to permit any innovation therein.

   "To the contrary, with glowing affection as Her truly faithful steward and successor, (I vow) to reverently safeguard the passed-on good, with my whole strength and utmost effort.

   "To cleanse all that is in contradiction with canonical order that may surface.

   "To guard the holy canons and decrees of our Popes likewise as Divine Ordinance of Heaven, because I am conscious of Thee, Whose place I take through the grace of God, Whose Vicarship I possess with Thy support, being subject to severest accounting before Thy Divine tribunal over all that I confess.

    ''If I should undertake to act in anything of contrary sense, or should permit that it will be executed, Thou willst not be merciful to me on the dreadful day of Divine Justice.

    "Accordingly, without exclusion, we subject to the severest excommunication anyone----be it our self or be it another----who would dare to undertake anything new in contradiction to this constituted evangelic tradition and the purity of the orthodox Faith and the Christian Religion, or [who] would seek to change anything by his opposing efforts, or [who] would concur with those who undertake such blasphemous venture."

[Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum, P. L 105, S. 54]

   Thus the Pope here says in so many words: "If I deviate from the traditional teaching and practice of the Church, may God not have mercy on me." This Papal Oath is part of our Catholic heritage. It began around the 6th or 7th Century. And even though it is not said anymore, it is, if you will, the Church's "Job Description" of the Pope, and any Catholic who professes to follow Peter, who has no authority to leave the way of Tradition.

   This Papal Coronation Oath is a wealth of instruction for us:

1) It demonstrates that even the Pope is forbidden to deviate from Tradition,
   2) The fact that a Pope takes this Oath shows that it is possible for a Pope to deviate, otherwise there would be no need to take such a solemn, terrifying oath.

[When Pope Saint Pius X condemned Modernism in Pascendi, he opened that encyclical stating that if he took no action against Modernism, he would have failed in his primary duty. This shows that it is possible for a Pope to fail.]

   In fact there are examples in history of Popes who deviated, such as Pope Honorius I, Pope John XXII and Pope Nicholas I. Archbishop M. Sheehan in his magnificent 1951 Apologetics and Christian Doctrine, points out that far from undermining the Papal Office, the occasional weaknesses and mistakes of the Popes serve as proof of the Papacy's Divine institution. "We may, indeed, make no difficulty," says Bishop Sheehan, "admitting that in the long history of the Papacy, there have been errors of policy. It seems as though God wished to make the occasional weakness of the Papacy a motive of credibility, a proof that the Church is Divinely supported."

[Pope Nicholas I, whose declaration on the validity of the minister of Baptism (whether it could be a Jew or a pagan), noted in passing (according to Bellarmine) that "Baptism was valid whether administered in the name of the three Persons or in the name of Christ only." In this Pope Nicholas was mistaken. Baptism in the name of Christ only is not valid. See (John Henry Newman, Certain Difficulties (London, 1876), cited in Michael Davies, Lead Kindly Light The Life of John Henry Newman (Long Prairie, MN: Neumann Press, 2001), pp. 181- 182.) Likewise, "Pope Honorius is, among all the Popes in any way guilty of heresy, both the best known and the most culpable even though this concerned only a single episode in an otherwise great Pontificate. The phrase he used when justifying his compromise with the heretics has a surprisingly up-to-date ring about it, for all that it was spoken in 634: 'We must be careful not to rekindle ancient quarrels.' On the strength of this argument, he allowed error to spread freely, with the result that truth and orthodoxy were effectively banished. St. Sophronius of Jerusalem was almost alone in standing up to Honorius, and accusing him of heresy. Eventually the Pope came to his senses, but he died without having repaired the immense damage caused to the Church by his lack of decision. For this reason the Sixth Council of Constantinople cast its anathema upon him, and this was confirmed by Pope Leo II. All the great Ecumenical Councils since then have endorsed this verdict; even while proclaiming the dogma of Papal Infallibility, the Church of Rome upheld the anathema cast many centuries ago upon one of her Pontiffs on account of heresy. Pope John XXII said at Avignon, on the Feast of All Saints, 1331, that the soul does not enter the Beatific Vision until the resurrection of the body, at the last day. Protests followed, and a rebuke from the University of Paris whose theologians were consulted. John XXII died in 1334, admitting and recanting his error . . . The Testament of Gregory XI, dated 1374, is both moving and instructive. For in it he recognizes in effect that he may have committed 'errors against the Catholic Faith or adopted opinions at variance with the Catholic Faith' in his teaching given 'in public or in private' and he now abjures and detests any such thing of which he may have been guilty. John XXII, upon his deathbed, solemnly recanted every opinion, every teaching, contrary to the Catholic Faith, alluding to his heretical sermon given on the Feast of All Saints in 1331, 'submitting all that he may have said or written on the subject to the judgment of the Church and of his successors: determinationi Ecclesiae ac successorum nostrorum'." Quoted from "The Question of Papal Heresy, Scandal or Schism" by Abbe Georges de Nantes, The Catholic Counter-Reformation of the XXth Century, June, 1973.]

   It is necessary to understand this in order to counteract the false notion of Papal Infallibility held by many Catholics who claim that the Pope can pretty much do or say anything he wants simply because he is Pope. This is not what the Church teaches.

   In a sermon on the subject, the eminent 19th Cardinal John Henry Newman quoted a Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of Switzerland that received the approval of Blessed Pope Pius IX. The letter was on the subject of Papal Infallibility, and what a Pope may or not teach. The Swiss Bishops clearly stated:

  "It in no way depends upon the caprice of the Pope, or upon his good pleasure, to make such and such a doctrine the object of a dogmatic definition. He is tied up and limited to the Divine revelation and to the truths which that revelation contains. He is tied up and limited by the creeds, already in existence, and by the preceding definitions of the Church. He is tied up and limited by the Divine law, and by the constitution of the Church . . ."
[Taken from a sermon by Cardinal Newman published in Lead Kindly Light, The Life of John Henry Newman, Michael Davies (Neumann Press, Long Prairie, 2001) p. 184.]

The Pope himself, then, is bound to teach what has always been taught by the uninterrupted teaching of his predecessors throughout the centuries. We likewise learn from the Coronation Oath, the Pope is also bound to not deviate from Tradition.

 Throughout the ages, the Popes, Saints and Holy Doctors have taught that the first duty of all Catholics, including the hierarchy in Rome, is to maintain Tradition; that is, to maintain the purity of the Faith in doctrine and practice. We are also commanded to abhor novelty. Pope Saint Pius X wrote in his Encyclical Against Modernism:

  "But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicaea, where it condemns those 'who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind . . . or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow anyone of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church' . . . Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: 'I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church'." [Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi, Encyclical against Modernism, 1908, para. #42.]

   And the Second Council of Nicaea teaches infallibly,

  "If anyone rejects any written or unwritten Tradition of the Church, let him be anathema."
[Cited from The Great Facade, p. 28.]

Yet the discarding of Tradition and the introduction of novelties has been the defining element of the post-Conciliar Church.

   On the subject of maintaining Tradition, Saint Peter Canisuis, Doctor of the Church, wrote in his Summa Doctrinae Christanae, "It behooves us unanimously to observe the ecclesiastical traditions, whether defined or simply-retained by customary practice of the Church."

Saint Peter Damian, another Doctor of the Church, teaches, "It is unlawful to alter the established customs of the Church . . . Remove not the ancient landmarks which the fathers have set."

Likewise, in the early 20th Century, Pope Benedict XV repeated almost verbatim the words of Pope Saint Stephen, when he declared "Do not innovate anything. Rest content with Tradition."
[Pope Saint Stephen (254-257) said, "Let them innovate in nothing, but keep the traditions."]

Then what if a Pope does deviate from Tradition and inaugurates novelties such as ecumenism and pop-music liturgies? Are we bound to follow him in these novelties? Are we bound to defend these innovations?

   According to the teaching of Pope Innocent III, and according to the great theologian Juan de Torquemada, and other Saints and Doctors of the Church, the answer is No! We are not bound to follow. We are encouraged to resist.

Cardinal Juan de Torquemada [1388-1468] was a revered medieval theologian responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were defined at Florence. Cardinal Torquemada, who is considered an ardent "papalist", teaches: "Were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scriptures, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or Divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands he is to be disregarded." [Summa de ecclesia (Venice: M. Tranmezium, 1561). Lib. II, c. 49, p. 163B. Translation from J.H. Newman, A Letter Addressed to His Grace the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone's Recent Expostulation (New York: The Catholic Publication Society, 1875), p. 86. This statement of Juan de Torquemada is found on page 171 of The Papacy in Transition by Patrick Granfield (New York: Doubleday, 1980). This book received high praise from Father (now Cardinal) Avery Dulles, SJ.]

Citing the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, Torquemada further teaches:

  "Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states [De Consuetudine] that, it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself, does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, 'he need not be followed' . . . " [Cited from A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, Father Paul Kramer, B.Ph., S.T.D., M. Div. (2nd edition, St. Francis Press, India) p. 29. The full quotation from Cardinal Torquemada reads, "By disobedience, the Pope can separate himself from Christ despite the fact that he is head of the Church, for above all, the unity of the Church is dependent on its relationship with Christ. The Pope can separate himself from Christ either by disobeying the law of Christ, or by commanding something that is against the Divine or natural law." It follows, then, that if it is possible for a Pope to command something against Divine law, then it is likewise possible for a Pope to permit something that is against Divine or natural law, or go against the traditional teaching of the Church. Cardinal Torquemada continues: "By doing so, the Pope separates himself from the body of the Church because the body is itself linked to Christ by obedience. In this way the Pope could, without doubt, fall into schism . . . Especially is this true with regard to the Divine liturgy as for example, if he did not wish personally to follow the universal customs and rites of the Church. . . Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states (De Consuetudine) that, it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, 'he need not be followed . . . " It must be stressed that there is no charge made that Pope John Paul has "separated himself from Christ". But we are only demonstrating that the Popes and Saints of the past have explained that it is possible for the Pope do so. And if the Pope deviates, then the duty of the Catholic is to resist.]

   Just as if a father tells his son not to go to Mass on a Sunday and to instead help Dad clean the garage, the son would not follow his father, but would respond, "You are my father, and I obey you in all things. But because you command something against the law of God, I will resist you." Likewise, we do not claim John Paul is not the Pope, that he is not our father. Nor do we withdraw all obedience from him. But if and when a Pope deviates from Tradition and introduces novelty, then we do not follow him on these points. Rather, we actively resist him. Our first allegiance must be to the perennial faith of the Catholic Church, and not to a Pope's personal foibles.

   Saint Robert Bellarmine, the great champion of the Counter-Reformation, taught the following regarding lawful Catholic resistance:

  "Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses the souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior." [For this and many more such quotations, see We Resist You to The Face, (Tradition in Action, 2000) Especially noteworthy are the three essays at the end of the book by Atila Sinke Guimaraes. See also "Resisting Wayward Prelates, According to the Saints", Catholic Family News, January, 1998. (Reprint #259 available from CFN for $1.75)]

   Thus we can make no moral judgment on anyone, especially the Pope of the Catholic Church. But we do have the duty to maintain the Traditional doctrine and devotions of the Catholic Church, and to resist novelty, even if it comes from the Church's highest places. [Resisting unorthodox novelties goes even further, since Saint Thomas Aquinas, in many passages of his works, upholds the principle that the faithful can question and admonish prelates. For example: "There being an imminent danger for the faith, prelates must be questioned, even publicly, by their subjects. Thus, Saint Paul, who was a subject of Saint Peter, questioned him publicly on account of an imminent danger of scandal in a matter of Faith. And, as the Gloss of Saint Augustine puts it (Ad Galatas 2,14), 'Saint Peter himself gave the example to those who govern so that if sometime they stray from the right way, they will not reject a correction as unworthy even if it comes from their subjects'." (Summa theologia, Taurini/Romae: Marietti, 1948, 11.11, q.33, a.4).] We must be firm in our resistance for the sake of our children as well.

Father Joseph de Sainte Marie was an outstanding theologian who taught in Rome in the 1970s and 80s. He was an expert on Fatima and a loyal son of Pope John Paul II. He worked closely with John Paul, and helped to compose the formula that the Pope used for the Consecration of the World to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1982. [For example, see "The Church's Duty to Believe and Obey the Fatima Message", Father Joseph de Sainte Marie, republished in Catholic Family News, August 2000, (Reprint #509 available from CFN for $1.75 postpaid.]

   Yet even Father Joseph de Sainte Marie uttered the following warning about those who now occupy the highest levels of the Church:

   "In our day, and it is one of the most obvious signs of the extraordinarily abnormal character of the current state of the Church, it is very often the case that the acts of the Holy See demand of us prudence and discernment." [Cited from Apropos, Isle of Skye, Scotland, Issue No. 16, 1994, p. 5.] Father Saint Marie, Saint Robert Bellarmine and the others are speaking only of those pronouncements of the Holy See that do not touch on infallibility, such as disciplinary matters, statements of opinion or prudential judgments, speeches to groups or bodies, such as the United Nations and scientists, his personal actions apart from formal declarations that contradict Catholic truth, etc. The Pontiff's infallibility and its limits are formally and infallibly defined in the Council of Vatican I, which made explicit once and for all what was always implicitly believed and held by the Church worldwide from the beginning, much like the dogma of the Assumption. -------- The Web Master.

   The Fathers of the Church have given us the same firm guidance as to what a Catholic must do during a time of ecclesiastical crisis. Saint Vincent of Lerins teaches:

"What shall a Catholic do if some portion of the Church detaches itself from communion of the universal Faith? What other choice can he make if some new contagion attempts to poison, no longer a small part of the Church, but the whole Church at once, then his great concern will be to attach himself to antiquity [Tradition] which can no longer be led astray by any lying novelty." [Saint Vincent of Lerins (c. 445 A.D.) cited from A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, Fr. Kramer, (1st edition), pp. 28-29.]

 Finally, we must draw courage from the words of Saint Athanasius who teaches, "Even if Catholics faithful to Tradition are reduced to a handful, they are the ones who are the true Church of Jesus Christ." [Quoted from Latin Mass News, Sacred Heart Church, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Vol. 4, Issue 17.]

 We must, also draw strength from Pope Saint Pius X who assures us "Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither the revolutionaries nor innovators, they are the traditionalists." [Pope St. Pius X, Our Apostolic Mandate, Aug. 25, 1910, para. 44.]

As a Catholic who is trying her best to follow tradition in these bewildering times I conclude with the following for you, the reader, who may disagree with this little tract, to ponder:

If the current Pontiff [and he is the Pope, I am not sedevacantist] can "apologize" for all the errors and sins of past Popes [even though in reality he was apologizing for Tradition and truth, a  scandal to the faithful], that means he is saying to the world, Popes can err. Well, then, would not that apply to him also? Nowhere in Tradition or Scripture does God command us to ignore our God-given reason. In fact He commands us to "not cast pearls before swine," meaning we must judge the situation [not the person], and He also says, "Come let us reason together," meaning He expects us to do just that. Reason tells me that some future Pontiff may find it judicious to remove the scandal of these inappropriate "apologies" by issuing a most appropriate "apology" of his own. Think about it.

A large portion of the second part, on Tradition was taken from "World Youth Day" by John Vennari, Catholic Family News, February 2003 Issue.