A LETTER FROM BRO. JOHN MARY, M.I.C.M.
TO TERRENCE J. BOYLE
September 3, 1997
I really enjoyed this letter. We would have absolutely no problem agreeing with your position, since I feel it is our own position too. I am heading over to your website to view the Kolakowski book. I'll say hello to Gary for you when I see him next week. I'm sorry you won't be coming to the conference, but Gary can fill you in after he returns. And all the audio tapes and video tapes will be available shortly after the conference.
In her Immaculate Heart,
Bro. John Mary, M.I.C.M.
August 31, 1997
Dear Bro. John Mary:
I think we are in total agreement. I would never say that my "miraculous" baptism idea can be taught, in the sense of teaching that any such miracle has ever occurred or will ever occur or that any such miraculous baptisms are part of the Church's planned ministry. The only thing that can be taught in this area is that the Church teaches that God has ordained that absolutely the only people who can be saved are those who have received sacramental baptism of water and the Holy Ghost and die members of the Roman Catholic Church in the state of grace. Period. No exceptions. Not because we like it that way, but because God ordained it that way.
I raised my hypothesis only as a response to those who say that upholders of the above doctrine seem more interested in making God a cruel and unjust monster who would consign to Hell aborted foetuses, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, et al., while saving fiends lucky enough to be executed by the state right after having made Pascal's wager and received the sacraments offered by the prison chaplain.
Of course, the proper response to them is to expound the doctrine of original sin and the fact that no Confucius, Dalai Lama, or foetus about to be aborted is sinless and therefore none of them has any right to salvation. But, it does seem to me, also a part of the response to make clear, not only that we humans didn't write the laws or the sentencing guidelines, but that we believe that the One Who did write them is all-loving and all-merciful. When, therefore, we recite the Church's doctrines on salvation, it's not because we want to consign anyone to Hell, Limbo, or any other place. We, as much as any Liberal, want everyone saved.
In short, my hypothesis is meant just to show it is possible for pray for anyone. My response emphasizes that the doctrine "extra ecclessiam..." , harsh at it may seem, presumes no one has ever died without meeting the conditions necessary for salvation. It only states the conditions for salvation (conditions we did not set, but God), and doesn't say anything about how few, or how many, meet them..
Even with the most unlikely cases - Amer-Indians who died prior to A.D. 1492, Eskimos and pygmies who died around A.D. 150, aborted infants dying today - Fr. Feeney, Cardinal Ottaviani, Pope Innocent III, and everyone else cannot say for sure that any of them died without meeting the necessary conditions. Therefore, our response to the opponents of the Church should always make clear that Traditionalist Catholics consign no one to Hell, but pray for everyone's salvation.
The only thing I've added is to ask that in our defense of the doctrine we also be willing to accept that God MAY, by a miracle, bring any person to a meeting of the conditions. Not that He does or will, just that He may. And if He may, then we can pray that He will.
What kind of miracle He might use to accomplish this is really none of our business. Of course, for us to be able to pray for a miracle, it cannot be something self-contradictory (e.g., praying that the Devil relent and forego a conquest by arranging for someone to be baptized, or some other less obvious nonsense, like Malachi Martin's prayed for after-death baptisms or like Thomas Aquinas's hypothetical angelic baptisms).
But hpothesizing the Blessed Virgin's administering a miraculous baptism is not inherently impossible. We may not be able to teach that she has ever administered any such baptisms or that she ever will. But we can hypothesize that such a miracle could occur, just as we can hypothesize a miracle of someone who has died being brought back to life long enough to be catechized and baptized (which is the most famous miracle St. Ignatius Loyola performed in his lifetime and is one already being reported of Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
In short, a priest should be able to tell a pregnant mother prone to having miscarriages to keep trying to have a family and, if perchance she does start to miscarry again, to pray that a miracle such as I have hypothesized may occur.
Regards, Terry Boyle
P.S. Have you read Kolakowski's book "God Owes Us Nothing"? I found it fascinating. I have posted a review of it on my web site. I suggest that the St. Benedict Center's web site post a good, in depth, review of this book.