The Point – November 1956

Edited Under Fr. Leonard Feeney M.I.C.M. — Saint Benedict Center

November, 1956


The Real Purpose of Interfaith

For nineteen hundred years Jewish spokesmen have been wrestling with an insistent and galling question: Why is it that wherever in the world Jews are found, there is also found distrust and hatred and loathing of Jews?

The Church’s explanation of this phenomenon is, of course, that it springs, directly and inevitably, from the curse which the Jews called down on their race when they rejected and crucified Christ. Unwilling to accept this solution, the Jews have given it a reverse twist and come forth with the accusation that, by telling people about the curse, the Church herself has brought on Jewish misery. This neat analysis constitutes the Jews’ definitive answer to their perennial question, Why are we hated? Thus, in January, 1944, the official organ of the American Jewish Congress, posing the query “Where is anti-Semitism spawned?” coyly replied, “In a denomination other than Protestant.”

Having furnished themselves with cause for shunning all things Catholic, however, it now appears that the Jews will not throw us aside entirely. For they are currently on view wrapping American Catholicism in a most fervent embrace — copiously illustrated in the daily press with prints of Jews shaking hands with Catholic priests, giving picnics for Catholic children, presenting plaques to Catholic bishops.

And what is the reason for this strange behavior? Is it some gross oversight on the part of American Jews? Are they abandoning their traditions? Or have they made a re-evaluation of the Church’s history and decided that she is not really so black as they once painted her?

No, the reason is none of these. It is simply that, along with their other schemes for wrecking the Church, the Jews are presently trying to see if they might not stifle her with affection. They are well aware that submission to Jewish attentions has a marvelously enfeebling effect upon Catholics. It makes them grow languid and doctrinally dissolute. It makes them lose all resemblance to those virile Catholics of history who forged Christian culture and preserved the Christian Faith. It makes them, in summary, willing and able participants in the activities of Interfaith — which, for a Catholic, is the final gesture of surrender to the Jewish embrace.

And herein the Jews exhibit a wiliness that marks them as true children of their father, who was, after all, an angel of light. For when they devised the cult of Interfaith, for the purpose of subverting the Church, the Jews did not set as its goal the condemnation of Talmud-burning or ghetto-building or other such apparent vexations of the Catholic past. Instead, they leveled their guns at a seemingly harmless, seemingly irrelevant principle of theology. Yet this principle is the bedrock upon which the entire structure of the Faith is laid: the dogma that the Church is the one divinely established way leading to eternal life.

Any participation in Interfaith involves a tacit but clear denial of this belief in the Church’s singularity. It involves the assumption that there exists a supreme, transcendent “Religion” with three aspects, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Judaism, which are all three on a par, both naturally and supernaturally. Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, as dean of New York’s Jewish Theological Seminary, states the Jewish position with gratifying forthrightness. The very first obstacle in the way of “intergroup goodwill,” says the Rabbi, is the mistaken belief that, “There can be only one true method of salvation for all human beings, regardless of their group affiliations.” Driving this point home, Kaplan then continues, “As the United Nations should call for the surrender of absoluteness in national sovereignty, so should the World Parliament of Religions call for the renunciation by every religious communion of any claim to exclusive possession of salvation.”

The following resume of Church teaching will indicate just how thoroughly Catholics are committed to this doctrine of one-way-to-heaven, which Jewish Interfaith is so determined to destroy.

To begin with, the Catholic Church’s “claim to exclusive possession of salvation” is not some lately and lightly adopted fancy. From the moment that Our Lord founded it upon Saint Peter, the Church has proclaimed, through all of Peter’s successsors, that it is the one fold, the single ark, the only salvational refuge. Take, for example, the three following pronouncements, infallible teaching from three of our Holy Fathers. These unequivocal statements are binding upon every Catholic, and denial of them incurs the Church’s most resounding anathemas.

Pope Innocent III, with the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215: “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved.”

Pope Boniface VIII, in his bull Unam Sanctam, November 18, 1302: “Urged by Faith, we are obliged to believe and to hold that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. We firmly believe in her, and We confess that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins … Furthermore, We declare, say, define, and pronounce, that it is wholly necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”

Pope Eugene IV, in his bull, Cantate Domino, February 4, 1441: “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the 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 almsgiving, their other works of Christian piety, and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving he 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.”

When Pope Eugene IV issued the above decree in the fifteenth century, he was speaking in such accord with the traditions of the Church that we can go back one thousand years to the fifth century’s brilliant Saint Augustine and read the identical message in one of his sermons to the people of Caesarea: “No man can find salvation save in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church he can find everything except salvation. He can have dignities, he can have the Sacraments, can sing ‘Alleluia,’ answer ‘Amen,’ accept the Gospels, have faith in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and preach it, too, but never, except in the Catholic Church, can he find salvation.”

In the face of the Protestant Revolt, the saints of the sixteenth century were constantly called upon to profess the doctrine of “No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church.” Here is how one of them, Saint Peter Canisius, of the Society of Jesus, phrased it in his famous Catechism: “Outside this communion (as outside the ark of Noe) there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not to Jews or pagans, who never received the Faith of the Church; not to heretics who, having received it, forsook or corrupted it; not to schismatics who left the peace and unity of the Church; finally neither to excommunicates who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church, like pernicious members … For the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his Mother.”

To keep an explicit statement of the Catholic teaching on salvation always before her priests, the Church has relied not merely upon theology textbooks and bulky volumes of papal decrees. She has carefully placed the doctrine among the priests’ compulsory devotions. Thus, in the Roman Breviary, “the priest’s prayerbook,” we find the Athanasian Creed, that ancient profession of the Catholic Faith which begins: “Whosoever wishes to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith, except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish eternally.”

After proclaiming the articles of the Creed, the prayer concludes: “This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

For the Catholic laity, the Church’s “claim to exclusive possession of salvation” is the dogmatic underpinning of countless everyday observances. It is thus that Catholics are so strictly forbidden to attend non-Catholic religious services, to join and encourage any of the Freemasonic organizations, to read the proscribed works of non-Catholic writers, to marry someone who is not a member of the Church. And, to elaborate one such point, it is thus that a Catholic parent must keep his child away from the non-Catholic school, for, as Pope Pius XI decreed in his encyclical letter on the Christian Education of Youth: “We renew and confirm these declarations, as well as the Sacred Canons in which the frequenting of non-Catholic schools, whether neutral or mixed, those namely which are open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, is forbidden for Catholic children, and can be at most tolerated, on the approval of the Ordinary alone, under determined circumstances of place and time, and with special precautions.”

The Catholically-schooled Catholic child is given a firm foundation in the unique necessity and singularity of his Faith. He learns, for example, that supreme lesson about Christian Baptism: even the helpless, new-born child of a devout Catholic mother will never see God in Heaven, if he dies unbaptized. With this norm of Divine justice in mind, the Catholic child is hardly taken aback when he later learns that a convert to the Catholic Faith, upon being received into the Church, makes the following “Abjuration of Heresy” (English text from The Priest’s Ritual).

“I, _____, having before me the holy Gospels which I touch with my hand, and knowing that no one can be saved without that Faith which the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church holds, believes and teaches, against which I grieve that I have greatly erred, inasmuch as I have held and believed doctrines opposed to her teaching, I, now, with sorrow and contrition for my past errors, profess that I believe the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church to be the only and true Church established on earth by Jesus Christ, to which I submit myself with my whole soul. I believe all the articles of Faith that she proposes to my belief and I reject and condemn all that she rejects and condemns, and I am ready to observe all that she commands me. And I make the following profession of Faith.”

The express objects of Catholic belief follow, and then the convert concludes:

“With a sincere heart, therefore, and with unfeigned faith, I detest and abjure every error, heresy, and sect opposed to the said Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Roman Church. So help me God, and these Holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.”

These examples of the Church’s “exclusive” mission in the world might be multiplied for pages, but perhaps no further pronouncement could be quite as pertinent as the words of Pope Pius VII when he deplored the presence in Catholic countries of propagandists who were bent on destroying the Faith of Catholics: “By the fact that freedom of all forms of worship is proclaimed, truth is confused with error, and the Holy and Immaculate Spouse of Christ, outside of which there is no salvation, is placed on the same level as heretical sects and even as Jewish perfidy!”

This is the Church’s answer to the Jewish proposal of Interfaith: Truth cannot share the platform with error, God’s one Faith must not be placed on a level with the devisings of men. It was precisely this message which the Vatican last year transmitted to the Bishops of England, ordering all Catholics to withdraw immediately from the Council of Christians and Jews, England’s number one Interfaith organization.

The prompt and publicized resignation of His Eminence, Cardinal Griffin, so lately deceased, was a great comfort to those in Rome who had condemned the Interfaith movement “on the ground that it was preaching a doctrine unacceptable to Catholics: that all religions are equal.”

The present campaign of the Jews to make the Church say that it is not a necessary item, that men can attain Heaven without it, should never be interpreted as the final goal of Interfaith. For even a debilitated Church body, even the most pliant hierarchical relic, would be still, by its very existence, a threat to Jewish security. The ultimate aim of the Jews’ program is the dissolution of the Catholic Church — an aim which long ago appeared in public print, wrapped, of course, in the soft garments of “brotherhood.”

In the Jewish World of London, for February 9, 1883, there appeared this benevolent message: “The dispersion of the Jews has rendered them a cosmopolitan people. They are the only cosmopolitan people, and in this capacity must act and are acting as a solvent of national and racial differences. The great ideal of Judaism is not that Jews shall be allowed to flock together one day in some hole-in-the-corner fashion, for, if not tribal, at any rate separatist objects, but that the whole world shall be imbued with Jewish teachings, and that in a universal Brotherhood of Nations — a greater Judaism, in fact — all the separate races and religions shall disappear.”

To the Catholic prelates and priests of America, The Point cannot overemphasize the urgency of this situation — nor yet, on the other hand, do we faint in despair at the enormity of the counter-blow which is needed.

One bishop can do it. One strong voice, raised in episcopal authority against the babble of “brotherhood” would be enough to electrify the whole nation, smash the Jewish Interfaith edifice, and preserve the Faith for this land which all the bishops of America so long ago dedicated to the Mother of God.


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