Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

What’s it all about? Lumen Gentium 16

October 18th, 2012, Promulgated by b a

This is a multi-part book review on Ralph Martin’s new book “Will Many Be Saved?: What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” by guest submitter Dominick Anthony Zarcone.

What’s it all about?  Lumen Gentium 16

At the Second Vatican Council, the assembled Bishops voted 2394 to 5 for the DECREE ON THE MISSIONARY ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH which was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965. In section 7 we read: “God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him.” (AG 7)

Hmm, interesting.

In 1975, the same Pope Paul VI wrote the Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELIZATION IN THE MODERN WORLD in which we read: “God can accomplish salvation in whomsoever He wishes by ways which He alone knows…… Men can gain salvation also in other ways, by God’s mercy, even though we do not preach the Gospel to them….(EN 80)

Yes, with God all things are possible.

But somehow many in the Church (both clergy and laity) have moved to the extreme interpretation that if God can lead those ignorant of the Gospel to find pleasing faith, God has led those who are ignorant of the Gospel to pleasing faith. And somehow, many in the Church (both clergy and laity) have moved to the extreme interpretation that if Men and Women can gain salvation in other ways known to God alone, they have gained salvation even though they do not know the Gospel.

Dr. Ralph Martin, in “WILL MANY BE SAVED? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization” contends that a study of the primary Second Vatican Council text (LG 16) upon which the two above quotes are based is the same primary text used by many in the Church to promote consequent extreme and erroneous interpretations that all are saved whether they heard the Gospel or not.

In fact instead of emphasizing what is actually taught (…without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized…..[see CCC 1281 1997 edition], many in the Church (both clergy and laity) incorrectly teach “are saved”.

Martin asserts that “The jump from possibility to certainty about the salvation of people (who have not heard the Gospel through no fault of their own) to certainty about their salvation is not warranted by the text” upon which all of these statements are based. (LG 16)

For this reason, the focus of Dr. Ralph Martin’s book is the 16th section of LUMEN GENTIUM, The Dogmatic Constitution On The Church. In fact, our author emphasizes an analysis of the last three sentences of Lumen Gentium 16 is particularily essential to understanding what Vatican II actually teaches; the same three sentences that virtually always are ignored or if they are ever mentioned at all, are mentioned only very briefly, and without significant comment.

Dominick Anthony Zarcone

But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (LG 16)

For our author, and for all of us, those are three very significant sentences which should neither be ignored nor given only brief attention without significant comment. Why should sustained attention be paid to these neglected last three sentences of LG 16?


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