There is only one way to believe dogma: as holy mother Church has once declared.
Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra: “Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”
This definition of the First Vatican Council is critically important for dogmatic purity, because the primary way the Devil attempts to corrupt Christ’s doctrines is by getting men to recede (move away) from the Church’s dogmas as they were once declared. There is no meaning of a dogma other than what the words themselves state and declare, so the Devil tries to get men to “understand” and “interpret” these words in a way that is different from how holy mother Church has declared them.
Many of us have dealt with people who have attempted to explain away the clear meaning of the definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation by saying, “you must understand them.” What they really mean is that you must understand them in a way different from what the words themselves state and declare. And this is precisely what the First Vatican Council condemns. It condemns their moving away from the understanding of a dogma which holy mother Church has once declared to a different meaning, under the specious (false) name of a “deeper understanding.”
Besides those who argue that we must “understand” dogmas in a different way than what the words themselves state and declare, there are those who, when presented with the dogmatic definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation, say, “that is your interpretation.” They belittle the words of a dogmatic formula to nothing other than one’s private interpretation. And this also is heresy.
Pope St. Pius X, Lamentabile, The Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907, #22: “The dogmas which the Church professes as revealed are not truths fallen from heaven, but they are a kind of interpretation of religious facts, which the human mind by a laborious effort prepared for itself.”- Condemned
Pope St. Pius X, Lamentabile, The Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907, #54: “The dogmas, the sacraments, the hierarchy, as far as pertains both to the notion and to the reality, are nothing but interpretations and the evolution of Christian intelligence, which have increased and perfected the little germ latent in the Gospel.”- Condemned
Dogmas of the faith, like Outside the Church There is No Salvation, are truths fallen from heaven; they are not interpretations. To accuse one who adheres faithfully to these truths fallen from heaven of engaging in “private interpretation” is to speak heresy.
The very point of a dogmatic DEFINITION is to DEFINE precisely and exactly what the Church means by the very words of the formula. If it does not do this by those very words in the formula or document (as the Modernists say) then it has failed in its primary purpose – to define – and was pointless and worthless.
Anyone who says that we must interpret or understand the meaning of a dogmatic definition, in a way which contradicts its actual wording, is denying the whole point of the Chair of Peter, Papal Infallibility and dogmatic definitions. He is asserting that dogmatic definitions are pointless, worthless and foolish and that the Church is pointless, worthless and foolish for making such a definition.
Also, those who insist that infallible DEFINITIONS must be interpreted by non-infallible statements (e.g., from theologians, catechisms, etc.) are denying the whole purpose of the Chair of Peter. They are subordinating the dogmatic teaching of the Chair of Peter (truths from heaven) to the re-evaluation of fallible human documents, thereby inverting their authority, perverting their integrity and denying their purpose.
Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (#7), Aug. 15, 1832: “… nothing of the things appointed ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning.”
Thus, there is no “strict” or “loose” interpretation of Outside the Church There is No Salvation, as the liberal heretics like to emphasize; there is only what the Church has once declared.
Sign up for our free e-mail list to see future vaticancatholic.com videos and articles.