In these ecumenical times, Rome presents a loving image as she repeatedly expresses her concern for her separated brethren. "Come home," echoes the siren call of Rome. "Return to me, separated brethren."
Documents such as John Paul II's Fides et Ratio, seem to imply that doctrine is not a major concern, that the "good things" in just about any religion are worthy and acceptable. Is this now the official position of the Roman Church? We need only look briefly to the new Code of Canon Law, promulgated by John Paul II in 1983, for an idea of how the RCC really feels toward her separated brethren.
A sort of "catch all" law is Canon 752, which reads:
While the assent of faith is not required, a religious submission of intellect and will is to be given to any doctrine which either the Supreme Pontiff or the College of Bishops, exercising their authentic magisterium, declare upon a matter of faith or morals, even though they do not intend to proclaim that doctrine by definitive act. Christ's faithful are therefore to ensure that they avoid whatever does not accord with that doctrine. -- Code of Canon Law, English translation copyright 1983 The Canon Law Society Trust
Did you notice that Catholic faithful are to submit to magisterial declarations in matters of faith and morals, even though there may be no intention to definitively proclaim that doctrine? In other words, Catholics are to submit their will and intellect to the Magisterium, even when they may not know what the Magisterium's position is. Bear this in mind as we look at a few of the canons.
The Roman Catholic Church wants your children and it will punish you if you do not give them to her.
Can. 1366 Parents, and those taking the place of parents, who hand over their children to be baptised or brought up in a non-catholic religion, are to be punished with a censure or other just penalty.
Mother Rome must be loved. No one is to utter any public statement against her. Are you willing to abandon your right to confront the errors of Roman practice in order to be at peace with her?
Can. 1369 A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.
Can. 1371 The following are to be punished with a just penalty:
1° a person who, apart from the case mentioned in Can. 1364 §1, teaches a doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff, or by an Ecumenical Council, or obstinately rejects the teaching mentioned in Can. 752 and, when warned by the Apostolic See or by the Ordinary, does not retract;
Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties.
What exactly constitutes a "just penalty?" I suppose the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known variously as "The Inquisition," "The Holy Office" and other labels calculated to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Rome, might have some suggestions in that area. Unfortunately, I have not discovered many of the governing documents of the Congregation. However, I believe that a look as some of the canons of the Council of Trent might give us some additional idea of how welcome to Rome are the doctrines and beliefs which separate us.
FOURTH SESSION: DECREE CONCERNING THE CANONICAL SCRIPTURES: "If anyone does not accept as sacred and canonical the aforesaid books in their entirety and with all their parts [the 66 books of the Bible plus 12 apocryphal books, being two of Paralipomenon, two of Esdras, Tobias, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Sophonias, two of Macabees], as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate Edition, and knowingly and deliberately rejects the aforesaid traditions, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA." -- Denzinger, 30th Ed., 784
Hmmmm. I wonder if the anathema works ex post facto Can it be that Jerome, Cardinal Cajetan and Pope St. Gregory the Great have been anathematized believing the Apochrypha useful but not canonical?
SEVENTH SESSION, CANONS ON BAPTISM: "If anyone says that in the Roman Church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" -- Ibid.,Canons on Baptism, Canon 3, Denzinger 859
SEVENTH SESSION, CANONS ON BAPTISM: "If anyone says that baptism is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" -- Ibid.,, Canon 5, Denzinger 861.
FOURTEENTH SESSION, CANONS CONCERNING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF PENANCE:
"If anyone denies that sacramental confession was instituted by divine law or is necessary to salvation; or says that the manner of confessing secretly to a priest alone, which the Catholic Church has always observed from the beginning and still observes, is at variance with the institution and command of Christ and is a human contrivance, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA" -- Canons Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of Penance, Canon 7, Denzinger 917
The new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ. Nothing, such as confession, baptism, prayer, or faithful service, is to be added to believing as a condition of salvation. (John 1:12: 3:16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:29; Acts 13:39; 16:31; Rom. 1:16-17; 3:22, 26; 4:5; 10:4; Gal. 3:22.)
"Well," you might argue, "the Catholic Church is changing. As we approach the new millenium, she is softening her position to those who disagree with her." Is she? To quote myself,
Pius X (1903-1904) established in Lamentabili that the Church's interpretation of Sacred Scripture is not subject to the more accurate judgment and correction of exegetes. Of particular interest to those who may have fallen for the RCC's current ecumenical posturing, is Pius' declaration that the organic constitution of the Church is immutable and not subject to perpetual evolution. In other words, any separated brethren who are lured into the willing arms of Rome will have to first abandon any other doctrines to which they may subscribe in order to embrace without reservation the heresies of Rome.
So, either go along with Rome or be declared anathema. Is that a big deal? The Catholic Encyclopedia informs:
. . ."To understand the word anathema", says Vigouroux, "we should first go back to the real meaning of herem of which it is the equivalent. Herem comes from the word haram, to cut off, to separate, to curse, and indicates that which is cursed and condemned to be cut off or exterminated, whether a person or a thing, and in consequence, that which man is forbidden to make use of." This is the sense of anathema in the following passage from Deut., vii, 26: "Neither shalt thou bring anything of the idol into thy house, lest thou become an anathema like it. Thou shalt detest it as dung, and shalt utterly abhor it as uncleanness and filth, because it is an anathema." . . . - Joseph N. Gignac, Anathema, © 2007 by Kevin Knight Has Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur
To be declared anathema is a big deal in the Roman Church. It is intended to parallel Paul's casting out of the Corinthian church the man who had relations with his father's wife (1 Corinthians 5:1-8). All of those separated brethren whom Rome is so eager to have return to her bosom, if we are to believe that just penalties have been imposed upon us and we have been excommunicated and anathematized -- condemned by the Church's own canon law to the eternal fires of Hell.
Not to worry, folks. The Roman Church, its prelate and Magisterium can be compassionate. They can and will lift the excommunication and anathemas – though I don't know about the "just penalties" -- of those who will abandon those beliefs that stand contrary to those of the Roman Catholic Church and return to her bosom.
All that is necessary, really, is to turn your back on God's grace, Christ's sacrifice and the Holy Spirit's regeneration and instead deliver your soul to the Devil.