For Those Who Consider

Themselves Catholic


My dear soul, it’s great that you want to think yourself Catholic. Not everyone is like you. Most people nowadays are content to consider themselves another religion entirely. The only catch is… are you really what you say you are? Words, after all, mean something. And the word ‘catholic’ has meant something in particular for nearly 2000 years, a meaning essentially unchanged for that span of time.


Think about it. Could you talk about humans, or the earth, or even baseball, and have the meaning change in some essential way and actually be talking about the same thing after the meaning changed? Of course not. What if, after a thousand years, you meant ‘ape’ by ‘human’, or ‘moon’ by ‘earth’, or ‘basketball’ by ‘baseball’. What then? After this dramatic shift could anyone mention humans, the earth or baseball and truly mean humans, the earth or baseball?


Or would not they be talking about apes, the moon or basketball instead?


It doesn’t take a brainiac to realize this. Words must stay the same in essential meaning or else real communication about the things you’re trying to talk about won’t take place. If the word changes in meaning too much then either no real communication is possible about that particular thing or else a new word must be found that communicates an identical meaning and hence translation occurs.


So, do you mean the same thing by ‘catholic’ that the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ meant by that word when they first used it in the ancient Greek language of their times as the official title of Jesus’ Singular & Unique Church way back in the first century almost two millennia ago?


Or have you come to mean something very, very different by it in the last few decades?


This isn’t whistling Dixie, my dear reader. Anyone old enough to remember --- or who does a little historical study --- knows that something huge took place in the 20th century. Most Catholics stopped believing the way they had always believed up until then, and most Catholics stopped trying to act the way they had always tried to behave up until that point. This monumental change was made official by the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council in Rome, Italy. Because even if some people try to say that no real changes were ratified at this council, only rather inconsequential ‘disciplinary’ matters, the bottom line is that everyone suddenly started acting like this council changed everything. And the council was used as justification for these dramatic shifts.


A simple test to see that this is true is the following:


Did you --- just above where I mentioned the Singular & Unique Church of Jesus Christ as spoken of by His Twelve Apostles in the first century --- automatically assume that Catholicism didn’t exist back then? Or that Roman Catholicism was something very, very different at that time from what you suppose it to have become a few centuries later after Emperor Constantine?


Would that be a ‘yes’?


Then guess what… you aren’t truly Catholic!


Because whether or not you personally want to believe in it, Catholics up until the mid-1900s had always professed belief in their Unique Church, claiming it had been started by Jesus & His Apostles in the AD 30s, while staying both really and crucially the same till our very own times.


So what Catholic Church are you talking about in contrast to the Catholic Church that they were talking about up until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s?


Are the two of you talking about the same thing?


Obviously not. The word ‘catholic’ has changed meaning during the last fifty years.


This change involves a lot of details. But it revolves around one very simple fact --- the dogma of ‘no Salvation outside the Church’. Up until the 20th century all Roman Catholics believed (or at least paid lip service to) in the perpetual teaching that no one could save his soul outside visible membership in this Utterly Unique Church of Roman Catholicism. And they thought this for a very simple reason --- because the Roman Catholic Church is Jesus Christ’s Body. That is to say, they knew, unquestioningly, that Christ’s Ecclesial Body was exactly identical to the Roman Catholic Church, no ifs, ands or buts.


Absolute equivalence, no exceptions.




That is no longer true today. That is to say, most people calling themselves ‘catholic’ no longer believe that a human being must die visibly in the membership of the Roman Catholic Church to save his soul. And they think this for a very stark reason --- because they don’t think the Catholic Church is Jesus Christ’s One & Only Ecclesial Body on earth.


In their minds (if they’ve even thought about it very deeply), God is pleased with anyone and everyone regardless of his religion…. just as long as he ‘tries his best’, being ‘sincere’ about his beliefs & behavior. That all religions significantly contradict the Catholic Church bothers them not in the least. That all of these religions can’t possibly be equally true never occurs to them, or strikes them as trivial. Religion, after all (say they), is just men striving to grasp God --- not God deigning to reveal Himself to men.


In short, formal religious beliefs are only so much fantasy, a mere personal whim or ‘psychological bias’. What really matters is being a ‘good person’, as modern people define ‘good’ at any given moment in time. And yet, what is truly good, as God sees it? And what does someone actually do to be good?


That Jesus in the Gospel tells us to ‘love God’ above all other things --- including above love of our neighbor --- is utterly forgotten. That He also said the way to love Him is to obey His commandments isn’t even the faintest glimmer of the most tenuous shadow of a hazy suspicion in their darkened minds.


I mean, think about it. If they did suspect that being good is the same as loving God and that this is even more important than loving your neighbor, being the way to obey His commandments then exactly what would those commandments be? And could all religions --- every one of which contradicts the others --- each equally teach all of these crucial commandments that we must obey in order to truly love God above all other things and so be good?


Not a chance.


Incidentally, my dear reader, if you don’t want to believe what I say --- that Catholicism is unchanged since the time of Jesus & His Apostles --- then read chapters fifteen to thirty-three of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus on this website. You may find it in the Books & Article section, easily seen in the navigation panel to the left of this central frame. It goes into detail from the records of history, quoting the words of men who lived long ago and who saw for themselves what existed back then in the first, second, third, fourth or fifth centuries AD when it came to the Christian Religion. And what they saw, what they describe in some detail in their very own words, is obviously Roman Catholicism… and not anything else going by the name of ‘christian’ during the last few hundred years since the Protestant Rebellion.


This is particularly plain when it comes to the Papacy. Real Catholicism tells us a pope is infallible when he officially teaches the entire Church something about faith or morals. Real Catholicism also tells us that the legitimate Roman bishops have had supreme authority over the Catholic Church since the very beginning, with St Peter in Rome. Hence, where the documentation exists and where such things as this are talked about in its pages, there should be an explicit trail of words upholding this audacious clam of the Roman Catholic Church from the mouths of Christians who lived way back then and wrote something about the Roman bishops.


And so it is. Chapters 15 to 33 of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus are proof of this. And if the Papacy existed all the way back then, essentially functioning just as it has in our own times in the last century, then how can any man logically deny that everything else the Catholic Church teaches is true, too? I mean, if Roman bishops have God-Given Infallibility to uphold the Saving Truth and so prevent damnation of souls through the deception of false religion, then how could anything the Papacy confirms with an infallible authority be less than certainly true? That’s the point of infallibility! To be sure that the Saving Truth is preserved untainted for future generations to believe… and thus save their immortal souls.


Ergo, show the existence of a fully functioning papacy from earliest times and you also affirm with infallible certainty everything else that this infallible papacy upholds in the Catholic Religion!


So what then? My dear soul, if you haven’t been truly Catholic up till now, then you need to become Catholic as soon as possible. There is no other way to save your precious soul.


And how do you do that?


First, make certain you know what the Catholic Faith teaches. A good, thorough catechism is the best approach. You may find just such a catechism on this website in the Profession & Abjuration section. It is called The English Catechism of 1583. I have enlarged and translated it from its original text and archaic language. In any case, if you have questions about it then write me. You may also learn about two of the most common mistakes people who consider themselves Catholic make nowadays --- and why these mistakes are not to be believed, thinking it’s ‘catholic’ to do so. I’ve addressed both of them in the Letters & Admonishment section of The Epistemologic Works, found in the navigation panel to the left. The first is entitled The Catholic Church Is the Only Way to Save Your Soul, No Exceptions Admitted --- and Here’s the Infallible Proof! The second is called Catholics Are Forbidden to Worship With Those Who Are Not Catholic --- and This Is Where the Catholic Church Has Said So! Out of all the writings on my site I have given these two an exclamation point in the titles… and for excellent reason, seeing as they are so very common and that both mistakes violate a common dogma of the Roman Church, damning a precious soul in the process.


Second, make sure you’re truly baptized. To wit, make sure you’re baptized the way the Catholic Church says you’re supposed to be baptized. Most people don’t think baptism is important. And those that do baptize often don’t baptize correctly. That is to say, their baptism is invalid. An invalid baptism will not save your soul, and must be corrected before you can have real hope of entering Heaven. A valid water baptism occurs when, as an adult, you freely consent to be baptized, and when --- whether as such a freely consenting adult or as a child before you have a free will that you can exercise --- the person baptizing sprinkles, pours or dunks water over the crown of your forehead while, at the same time, saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” For instance, Protestants who baptize invalidly nowadays usually do so because they say the words first and then, after saying these words, dunk the person in water. If in doubt about your baptism’s validity, then you can be baptized conditionally. Should you have questions in earnest about it, then please contact me.


And, third, if already baptized validly, then make sure you abjure your heresy. A heresy contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church and will damn your soul. Abjuration officially renounces this heresy. If you called yourself ‘catholic’ but then discovered that you are not, then you have believed a heresy. For instance, if you thought a person could die in any religion and still get into Heaven, then you believed in the Salvation Heresy. It is directly opposed to the Salvation Dogma --- namely, ‘no Salvation outside the Catholic Church’. You would need to wholly reject this heresy to become Catholic. How do you do so?


If we lived during normal times, you would go to the local parish priest and ask him for help. He would catechize you properly, make sure you’re baptized validly, and would arrange with the diocesan bishop to receive your abjuration. Accordingly, a short written statement would be drawn up that denounces any heresy you had believed and also includes a formal Profession of Faith. Having signed this abjuration and made your profession, the bishop would then lay his hands upon you in penance. That is to say, you would be received back into the Church with the bishop absolving you of your grievous sin of heresy. You would then be inside the Catholic Church and within the Hope of Salvation.


Unfortunately, though, these are not normal times. The Great Apostasy has erupted into the open and people who are supposed to be Catholic are not truly Catholic. This includes men who are supposed to be priests, bishops and even popes. They are actually heretics & apostates. They have denied what the Catholic Religion teaches. Invariably this denial revolves around the Salvation Dogma. Since 1965 and the end of the Second Vatican Council, ostensible popes & bishops have blatantly taught that human beings can die in the practice of a false (read: non-Catholic) religion whilst ending up in Heaven.


This flies in the face of what Catholics have believed since the beginning of the first millennium, as any honest historian knows. Sacred Scripture of the New Testament makes it plain that Christ & His Apostles taught a path to Salvation that is exclusive to His Body, the Church, and the earliest Christian writers make this plain, too, with no exceptions admitted. Yet if any doubt exists, then we examine three of many infallible statements of the Papacy regarding the entrance to Heaven, this one from 1302:


“Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic. We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins... Therefore, if the Greeks [Eastern Schismatics, who practice what is called ‘eastern orthodoxy’ in more recent times] or others should say that they are not confided to Peter and to his successors [that they are not subject to the Roman Papacy], they must confess not being the sheep of Christ [admit that they aren’t truly Christians since they aren’t truly followers of Christ], since Our Lord says in John ‘there is one sheepfold and one shepherd.’ ...Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” [Pope Boniface VIII’s Unam sanctum, emphasis & annotation added]


And we leap back to the 4th century where the Church in Her Third Great Creed infallibly announces:


“Whoever wills 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 everlastingly.” [Athanasian Creed, Articles 1 & 2, all emphases added]


Then we leap forward to 1441 where the Council of Florence infallibly declared:


“The most Holy Roman Catholic Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, 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 receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be 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.” [Pope Eugene IV’s Cantate domino, Paragraph 12, all emphases added]


Even the densest of brains can see these infallible statements for what they are --- a narrow way to Salvation that brooks no exceptions, and which is obviously Roman Catholic! The statements are simple and add no qualifications to change the straightforward meaning of the original statements, as do the speeches & writings, invariably, of those who call themselves ‘catholic’ in the last half century. Now compare this to but three of many statements from Vatican 2 and afterward telling us, in very stark contrast to the statements above, how broad their brand new way to Heaven is. We start in 1964:


“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.” [Second Vatican Council, Lumen gentium, Paragraph 16, all emphases added]


Ah, so profession of the Catholic Faith isn’t actually necessary for Salvation in spite of what the Athanasian Creed says, according to Vatican 2 adherents.  A novel teaching they confirmed a few years later in 1968:


“We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ, who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present for us in His body which is the Church. But the divine design of salvation embraces all men, and those who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation.” [Paul VI’s Creed of the People of God, Paragraph 26, all emphases added]


Oh… so somehow people must be ‘invisibly connected’ to the Roman Catholic Church without an actual profession of the Catholic Faith, and actual submission to the Pope isn’t truly necessary for Salvation after all, despite what Pope Boniface VIII very plainly & infallibly stated at the beginning of the 14th century! Yet Vatican 2 aficionados again touted their innovation in 1993, being either ignorant or dismissive of the words of Boniface VIII in Unam sanctam:


“This affirmation [outside the Church there is no Salvation] is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: ‘Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience --- those too may achieve eternal salvation… Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him...’” [John Paul II’s Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraphs 847-8, which quote loosely from Vatican 2’s Lumen gentium, Paragraph 16, and Ad gentes, Paragraph 7, all emphases added]


The conclusion is clear. Since the Second Vatican Council pretty much everyone going by the name of ‘catholic’ --- including those who are supposed to be priests, bishops and popes --- has blatantly denied the Salvation Dogma as it was always understood by real Catholics prior to the 20th century. They have done this by denying its narrowness, a narrowness that all real Catholics up until the 1900s knew it meant, whether they liked it or not, the Church having warned us clearly & infallibly that there are no exceptions to this rule. Moreover, a dogma explicitly common to the Deposit of Faith since the time of Christ & His Apostles. Hence, this Salvation Dogma must be believed in order to be Catholic to begin with. Fail to know its existence as it truly is… or fail to acknowledge its existence even if you do know its perpetual meaning… and you are not actually Catholic. And this is why the Roman Catholic Church has always striven to proclaim its Gospel to everyone who will listen, because if people don’t actually know what the Church teaches then they cannot possibly become Catholic and have real hope of salvation!


End of sentence.


So how is a person to abjure his heresy, assuming he was baptized validly before he fell into heresy, when there is no bishop with jurisdiction to receive it? One frequent notion is that you write up an abjuration of your heresy on your own, sign it, and then become Catholic. While a nice idea (there’s certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with writing your own abjuration), the notion is fatally flawed. This is because these folks make signing an abjuration a sacrament, instead of the obedience that it truly is.


Think about it. The Sacrament of Baptism is what enters a human being into the Roman Catholic Body of Christ. This is why even babies have to have water baptism in order to enter Heaven. Then, if as an adult you fall into mortal sin, the Sacrament of Penance is what restores you to the state of saving grace. This includes mortal sins against the Catholic Faith --- to wit, heresy or schism. It’s only that, in the case of heresy, the bishop necessarily reserves to himself the right to absolve such sins since it is he who governs a diocese in the footsteps of an apostle, and who must excommunicate or readmit into the unity of his local flock within the Catholic Church. Ergo why the bishop lays his hands upon the penitent, baptized sinner who abjures heresy and not one of his diocesan priests. It’s because a bishop governs a diocese, and it’s his responsibility to excommunicate or readmit the baptized souls in that diocese --- and not a mere diocesan priest, who does not have the authority to govern or excommunicate, etc.


Yet what if there’s no priest or bishop to hear your confession? What then?


Ah… here’s where Sacred Tradition helps us out, a sacred tradition that the Council of Trent affirms. Because if there is no priest or bishop available, are we then condemned to hellfire in the deadliness of our mortal sins with no escape or recourse to be had?


Of course not. Any well-instructed man knows that a Catholic with perfect contrition may confess his mortal sins directly to Heaven if there is no priest or bishop to whom he may turn. For more information about this please go here.


The same goes for abjuration. Abjuration is simply the confession and renunciation of a mortal sin against the First Commandment, which is what heresy or schism amounts to. And because this kind of mortal sin normally causes excommunication, for which the bishop of your diocese is jurisdictionally responsible, then it is up to him, normally, to receive you back into the communication of the Catholic Church and so reverse the excommunication which started your spiritual dilemma. Hence, if there is no bishop to whom you may confess and renounce your heresy, then you are permitted to confess and renounce your sin of heresy directly to Heaven, with perfect contrition, begging forgiveness.


This is what readmits into the Communion of the Catholic Church when there is no bishop available.


So what about a written abjuration? What is that slip of paper all about?


It is a practical means of recorded testimony… that’s all. Under normal circumstances, it must be done. That is what the Church’s Canon Law requires. To refuse to do it under normal circumstances is an act of grievous disobedience, a mortal sin. It is, in fact, rebellion. And thus why it would cause one not to enter back into the Catholic Church if someone said he wanted to abjure his heresy, but was unwilling to sign the written abjuration that his diocesan bishop required from him. It would be a clear indication that this person is not serious, that rebellion still poisons his soul.


But under our abnormal circumstances? What then?


The situation is very different. For instance, ask yourself a few questions:


Who gets to decide what an appropriate abjuration is? And who collects these documents once they’re signed? Are we to send copies to every Catholic we know or can find out about? What if that amounts to hundreds --- even thousands or millions --- of Roman Catholics? Must we send a copy to every single Catholic in this situation? And what if somebody thinks our written abjuration is insufficient? What then? Who gets to say so, and how is anyone to know the correct opinion… if any? Moreover, what if someone doesn’t know how to write? Or can’t compose very well, or isn’t learned enough to have a theological understanding of all the different kinds of heresy there are nowadays?


Then what?


My dear soul, this is where it gets ridiculous. No one is required to be a learned theologian in order to save his soul. And yet the person who originally came up with this notion --- that written abjurations are absolutely necessary to salvation for baptized persons after committing heresy --- has now created a gigantic, written, catch-all abjuration for the Great Apostasy that, after several years in the making, is impossible for the simple layman to comprehend. I in the flesh witnessed folks signing it, who I know for a solid fact had no thorough understanding of what they were signing and thus alleging themselves to spiritually in the eyes of this person. They were babes in the wood and sitting ducks just waiting to get shot down by him later on for all kinds of purported infractions against the Catholic Faith!


This is nonsense. And it appeals only to other fundamentalist persons who can’t see the forest for the trees. (You may learn about the danger of Catholic fundamentalism here.) The bottom line is this:


The Catholic Church requires written abjurations under normal circumstances because it is an excellent tool for providing legal testimony as to what this person did in the eyes of the Hierarchy of the Church. If not literate, literate witnesses can be provided to testify by their signatures that the illiterate man did indeed attest to the written abjuration, which was obviously read aloud for his convenience. The bishop’s office keeps these documents within his diocese; there is no need for endless copies to be provided for every single Catholic that exists. Nor is there an exceedingly complicated abjuration composed --- the abjuration used is either a standard one that is simple and to the point, or else it is tailor made to suit the abjurer’s ability, knowledge & predicament. We say again to drive it home:


A written abjuration is not a holy sacrament but is instead an act of obedience to the practical dictates of Holy Mother Church’s Canon Law under normal circumstances. Where those circumstances do not apply --- because the situation is abnormal --- the requirement is merely that a man make a good confession to Heaven of his mortal sin of heresy with perfect contrition, and with the intent to appear before a bishop who has proper jurisdiction in order to perform his duty fully as an abjurer if ever a chance should arise in the future.


Case closed.


That said, my dear reader, we have but one thing left to ask:


Are you, indeed, Catholic?


Or is it just a meaningless title, one that no longer signifies what it used to signify?


If truly Catholic, then I rejoice with you in the Hope of Salvation. Your reward is potentially great!


But if not, then I beg you… please do what it takes to become truly Catholic. There is no other way to save your precious & immortal soul.


I am here to help you if you need it. But it’s up to you to do what you need to do.


May the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary grant you the divine graces necessary to do so, and may your guardian angel not let you rest until it’s accomplished. Yours in celestial charity,


                                                    -Paul Doughton


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