Another Interview with Archbishop Di Noia

The National Catholic Register published an interview with Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P., the newly appointed Vice President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Of special interest is this section (my comments in red; otherwise bracketed remarks are from the Register):

How much is a perceived weakening of the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (no salvation outside the Church) a major part of the problem, as some traditionalists assert? Has today’s understanding of the dogma contradicted its earlier teaching?

I don’t know if you can blame this on the Council so much as the emergence of a theological trend that emphasised the possibility of salvation of non-Christians. But the Church has always affirmed this, and it has never denied it. … [Karl] Rahner had a disastrous effect on this with his “anonymous Christianity.” But the Council does not alter the teaching of the Church. [It’s wonderful to see a high-ranking prelate in the Church cast aspersions at Karl Rahner’s theological legacy. It is also good to see him affirm that the teaching of the Church has not been altered by Vatican II.]

And yet they argue it does?

This is a very good example of two of the things we’ve mentioned: the danger of reading this as it’s been read by Rahner, instead of in the light of the whole Tradition.

They claim that salvation is hardly proclaimed anymore.

Ralph Martin agrees with that. We do have a crisis, because the Church has been infected with the idea that we don’t have to worry or be anxious or we don’t sufficiently take the mandate to proclaim Christ seriously. But it’s not because of Vatican II, but bad theology. That’s why Dominus Iesus  was part of the response to all of that theology of religion. There is no question that the necessity of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus has a long history. But they were talking about heretics, not nonbelievers. [One might wonder if that’s what the Fathers of the Council of Florence thought, for whom, by the way, heretics were unbelievers.] That formula addresses the problems of heresies. It has its history.

The Council did say there are elements of grace in other religions, and I don’t think that should be retracted. I’ve seen them, I know them — I’ve met Lutherans and Anglicans who are saints. [Lumen Gentium 8 mentions the “many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its {The Catholic Church’s} visible structure” and goes on to say that “These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.” If the saintly looking Lutherans and Anglicans are cooperating with God’s grace as given them in these “elements of sanctification and of truth,” then they will end up in the bosom and unity of Holy Mother Church, whither these elements “impel” them. Let us not forget that the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is the Communion of Saints.]