Jacques Maritain Center : On the Church of Christ


Invisible Presence IN the Visible Church
and Invisible Presence OF the Visible Church


No Salvation outside the Church
A Formula with a Double Meaning

1. "No salvation outside the Church," -- this is a formula of unparalleled ambiguity. According to the sense in which one takes it, it is either a misleading assertion which immures the mind in a dungeon where it believes itself forced to despair of all those who are not our own, -- or the statement of a holy truth in which we can nourish our hope toward all those who are not our own.

2. In the first senxe, the formula in question signifies: "No salvation for those who do not belong visibly to the visible Church." Unfortunately this first sense has prevailed for a long time. It is said that St. Francis de Sales wept at the thought that all Protestants would be damned. It was to confuse the man, the human subject member of a non-Catholic spiritual family, nd the sin of heresy abstractly considered in itself.

In the second sense, the formula in question signifies: "No salvation for those who to the visible Church do not belong visibly or invisibly." And these last ones are doubtless innumerable, among non-Christians as also among non-Catholic Christians: because the Church of Christ extends invisibly beyond her visible limits, and embraces in her bosom all those who are saved by the grace of Christ, even if they do not know Him, or if they know Him poorly, or if, for any reasons whatever of which sad human history is not avaricious, their ancestors separated themselves from the Church of which Peter continues in his successor to be here on earth the leader, in other words from the person of the Church under her earthly state.{1}

Some Words on Three Great Non-Christian Spiritual Families

These few words are a second preliminary remark, -- a kind of preface, longer than I would have liked, in which, in order to know a little bit of whom we are speaking, I shall try to sketch the significant traits, in my own perspective,{2} -- of certain great spiritual families about which the studies of comparative religion expand today in a precious manner the knowledges of the Western world.

It is toward the primitive religions, and the most primitive ones among them, that I would have doubtless liked to turn first my attention. But I confess to be poorly informed concerning them. Besides we have few data on the cavemen. We know however that they "were great artists, remarkable observers, clever artisans" and -- Norbert Casteret affirms -- "men preoccupied with spirituality."{3}

Be that as it may, what interests me here, when I think of the non-Christian religious families, is not the primitive religions; it is above all the three great families constituted by Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Islam.


1. It is essential to a religion to link men among themselves, and with God, through a common "faith" in sacred truths (the word "faith" covering there many analogical diversities). Brahmanism{4} is a religion in the strict sense of the word, and the most exalted religion at which man has arrived without the help of the Revelation inherited from Abraham and from Moses,{5} by virtue therefore only of the thirst for the Absolute, Cause of being, which he carries naturally in him,{6} and of the effort thus aroused in his mind in order to rejoin in some way this Absolute.

This means that at the origin of the Brahmanist religion there is the élan of "natural mysticism" with its highest aspirations.

A parenthesis here, in order to settle vocabulary. First, the word "mystical" I call "mystical" experience, in general, any experience fruitive of the absolute. Afterwards the expression "natural mysticism," which is doubtless not too felicitous a one. Let us recall that there is a "supernatural mysticism," -- that one in which, through the gifts of grace and of the Holy Spirit, the soul enters into the depths of God: one could call it also mysticism of the union of love. In contradistinction to this supernatural mysticism, the "natural mysticism" of which I am speaking here is due to the sole forces of human nature surpassing itself, beyond any concept and beyond any work of reason; it would be better perhaps to call it mysticism of deliverance, or mysticism of the evasion of time.

I have dealt with it in an essay in which, in my eyes at least, there are some important views, and in which my attention was wholly turned towards Hinduism. The mystical experience in question there has nothing to do with the entry into the depths of God.{7} I described it as a wholly intellectual experience of the pure substantial existence of the self, in which, returning by a persevering exercise the ordinary course of mental activity, the soul empties itself of every particular operation and of all multiplicity, and through this abolition itself of all ideative act attains and knows in night, beyond all concept, that metaphysical marvel, that absolute, that perfection of every act and of every perfection, which is existence, -- its own substantial existence.{8} The abolition of every act of thought of which it is a question here is itself, let us note this well, an act of the soul, unique in its kind and intensely vital.{9}

2. Such a mysticism of deliverance, tending toward the divine Absolute and attaining, -- mediately but without any rational inference, -- the Cause of being through and in the supraconceptual experience of this finite absolute: the pure existence of the human self,{10} -- this is what, in my opinion, is for the philosopher (I do not say for the historian) the first element to be considered in Hinduism, as accounting for its deepest élan.

The second element to be considered is the metaphysical speculation traversed by this élan, and which builds its great systems with a view to consummating itself in the experience to which it tends (even though the latter were then to assume new aspects, as it happens with the bhakti).{11} Although the Veda and the Vedanta are held to be revealed, this "revelation" (scruti), -- in which figure also the writings of sages who came later (it was prolonged in the Upanishads) and which does not present itself at all as the word itself of God transmitted to us, but as an intemporal truth perceived by inspired ones, -- lends itself to interpretations so fundamentally different that the "theology" of Hinduism takes on its dimensions only in the metaphysic or rather the metaphysics of the latter:{12} metaphysics higher than those of Aristotle and of the Mohammedan falsafa, but which, being religious in essence, and using concepts with a view to passing finally beyond them, were able, in actual fact, to climb their Himalayas only by traversing shadows and receiving the more or less secret support of Imagination and of Myth.

They advance thus without the rigor required in itself by a work of pure reason. Not having, moreover, the idea of the absolute liberty of the creative act (the universe is for them a necessary manifestation of the generosity of God), they tend no doubt to recognize the transcendence of God but do not attain to it truly (the human soul is a mode of the divine Being; insofar as spiritual it is of the same nature as He; He has a cosmic body . . .). The Self (âtman) is fundamentally the same in God and in man, although free in God of all imperfection and of all relativity.

3. Lastly we know that metaphysical speculation is something difficult in itself. On the other hand, in order to attain to a mystical experience of the natural order such as that of deliverance, it is necessary to employ very exacting techniques and disciplines, and to require of the powers of our nature a constantly prolonged effort of contemplative concentration, which is not within the reach of the multitude.

The great thinkers of Hinduism have carried this effort too high for it to be able to be lived at this level by the majority of men. Let us not be surprised that in the popular masses it has quickly become an idolatrous cult in which gods and goddesses abound and which holds very low the human being.


1. Buddhism is a religion only in the expanded -- very expanded -- sense of the word.{13} It is above all a discipline of behavior and of mental therapeutics, a regime of disaffection from everything to be practiced in a nondiscontinuous manner (at least by the bikkhus, if not by the multitude which gains merits upon merits by making to them its offerings). There are required in it the more and more profound persuasion that all things are illusory appearance, very long empty meditations, meticulous rules, and, in the Buddhism of the "Great Vehicle," a universal compassion due to the perfect experience of the vanity of everything: all of this with a view to withdrawing the finally delivered one not only from the sufferings of life in time, but, in the final analysis, from the human condition, and even from the condition of existent. Save us, we beseech you, from the ocean of existence, as it is said in a Tibetan hymn.{14}

Just the opposite of the Brahmanic experience of mukti, or deliverance (which I have described above as a nocturnal experience of the pure existence of the self, through and in which -- mediately therefore, but without any concept or rational discursus -- there is perceived in night the existence of the Cause of being, or of the divine Self), the Buddhist experience of deliverance, the accession to nibbana (this is the Pali word) or nirvana (this is the Sanskrit word), must, in the perspective of our essay on natural mysticism, be described, by very reason of the radical phenomenism professed by Buddhism, as a nocturnal experience of the nonexistence of the self.

And this changes many things. I noted a moment ago that in the Hindu experience the abolition of every act of thought was itself an act, an intensely vital act through the means of which the soul attains in night the pure esse of the self. Now such an act, in which the reality of the self culminates, is clearly out of the question, since there is no self. And as to the flux of the captive acts-pure-phenomena of the illusory becoming, it is precisely it which it is necessary to transcend. How so? A philosopher is entitled to pose the question. It seems indeed that what is required can be only a total vanishing of the Spirit. And one does not experience the vanishing of the spirit.

2. The assiduous exercise of meditation on anything, be it on a single word indefinitely repeated, -- and above all on the impermanence of things, -- can lead to a good dose of wisdom, of detachment, and of courage, sometimes of heroic courage. One finds thus among the Buddhist monks great figures who do honor to humanity.

But what to say of the final term to which all this effort of meditation tends? The entry into nirvana, supposing that one reaches it by the prolonged use of the appropriate techniques, can be a mystical experience of deliverance only at the cost of a lived contradiction: for it is by an act in which, in actual fact, the reality of the self culminates that the soul is enraptured then in the nonexistence of the self.

I shall certainly not venture to try to discover in what Zen consists, -- which all the veils of the Orient protect from indiscreet glances. Moreover how could one ask oneself in what consists that which refuses to anything all consistency? Michel Perrin risked it; in a conversation with a Buddhist nun of high degree, at the monastery of Suji-Ji, he asked, "What is Zen?" Answer: "Zen is everything, and yet it is nothing; but it is also something." Then, after a moment of meditative silence, and a subtle smile: "To speak of it is to say false things; to think is a hindrance to intuition; one can only practice it. . . ."{15}

What one succeeds nevertheless, however "obtuse" one may be, in perceiving in it, is a kind of judo in which by dint of disconcerting the disciple, the master leads him, not certainly to any theoretical conviction (that which would suppose that one attaches importance to something: the truth rationally grasped),{16} but to a mental state (or rather vital, psychophysical) testifying even in the slightest reflex that nothing is worth the trouble of anything. Then there will come -- perhaps -- suddenly the illumination, the flash of wonder in the hic et nunc absolutely liberated from all thought.

It would indeed be futile to seek there unfathomable metaphysical depths. It would be futile also to leave in oblivion the strong seasoning of inevitable mystification which flavors with pimento these great secrets of spirituality.


1. Islam is a religion in the strict sense of the word, like Hinduism, and of a certainly more elevated and more pure type than Hinduism, for it has an extraordinarily strong sense of the divine Unity and of the divine Unicity, as also of the infinite transcendence of God, -- an extraordinarily strong sense but which remains too dependent still upon the human measure: Islam does not know the trinity of Persons, which shows more divine still the unity of the divine Essence; and it does not know the generosity with which God makes Himself known, and which shows more divine still His infinite transcendence.

The fact is that on the one hand Islam rests upon the Revelation inherited from Abraham and from Moses, through which human thought has been fortified and superelevated in its élan toward God; and that on the other hand it is totally subject to another "revelation," which issues only from a merely human fire (and not without fumes) with which the heart of Mohammed was inflamed when he was struck as if by a clap of thunder by faith in the unique God, -- supernatural faith, may one think,{17} preyed upon from the outset by the merely human fire in question. It is this other revelation which in the sons of Ismael took the place of the supreme accomplishment brought by the Incarnate Word Himself to the whole teaching which Israel had received from the Holy Spirit.

There are for Islam five great apostles: "the first is Noah, who embarks in the Ark 'in the name of God,' and with whom, after the flood, God renews the pact."{18} The second is Abraham, ready to immolate the son whom God had granted to his prayer. The third is Moses, to whom God spoke in the burning Bush on the mountain. The fourth is Jesus, whom God "cast into the womb of Mary," and who, according to the Koran, was only in appearance crucified and put to death.

And it is Mohammed who is chronologically the fifth, but "qualitatively he is the first of all, since his message is called to complete all messages." The revelation received by Mohammed is recorded in a book, the Koran, which Islam holds to be the very Word of God supernaturally dictated to the Prophet, and upon which it is entirely centered.

2. The God of Islam is a God Inaccessible in the mystery of His proper life, and Unparticipatable, a God Unknowable, or, as Louis Gardet prefers to say,{19} Impenetrable in Himself. Of Him the Islamic faith knows "the most beautiful names" which designate Him, -- and, in the relation which creatures have with Him, His Omnipotence, and His Mercy toward men; but only that. So that by a strange paradox, it is in the falsafa, in the great metaphysicians (Avicenna in the first place) steeped in Hellenistic thought, -- which was held to be suspect and heterodox by Algazel and the doctors of the Kalam, -- that it is necessary to seek the riches of Mohammedan thought in that which concerns not only the universe of creation, but Being through itself.

Let us note finally that for strict Islamic orthodoxy those attribute -- blasphemously -- to God a human passion who admit between Him and His creature a union of love through which He gives Himself to him and transforms him in Him, for his supreme accomplishment and His eternal, consubstantial joy. (It is faith in the Incarnation and in the Holy Spirit which enlighten a little the Christian on this matter.) And it was because he believed in this love ("God whose Essence is Love," "I have embraced with my whole being all Your love, O my Holiness! You have manifested Yourself to me to such an extent that it seems to me that it is Yourself Who is in me!") that Hallâj was condemned by the public powers, scourged and cut up, and put to death on the gibbet in 309/922.{20}


All Non-Christians and Non-Catholic Christians Who Have in Them the Grace of Christ Are Invisibly in the Visible Church

1. They are in the visible Church invisibly,
      either from the fact that (non-Christians) they belong visibly to a spiritual family originally other than the Church,
      or from the fact that (non-Catholic Christians) they belong visibly to a confession in more or less profound dissidence with the Church.

The non-Catholic Christians, by the very fact that they all have faith in Christ (a faith not diminished in the regions of the dissidence least removed from the center) must clearly be placed in another category than the non-Christians. Moreover, as we shall see in the third part of this chapter, the degrees to be considered in the more or less profound dissidence of the confessions to which they belong raise, with regard to the latter, a problem (that of the "elements of Church") which does not present itself, at least at first sight (it presented itself only after the Council), with regard to the non-Christian spiritual families. Finally the diverse degrees of dissidence in question require that one make, with regard to the non-Catholic Christian confessions, distinctions which matter greatly to the theologians, but which are extraneous to the subject-matter of this book.

Let us make another preliminary remark: unless he is completely dehumanized by business{21} or by the life of pleasure, every man, by the very fact that the human soul is spirit, worries about religious matters and has his ideas concerning them, which, if he does not profess the faith which the Church professes, can be more or less near to this faith or more or less opposed to it.

And let us understand that, in this last case, a man who for example is firmly attached to a non-Christian religion or even makes profession of atheism{22} (I have known some whose greatness of soul I envied) can have in reality the grace of Christ in him, if, while not knowing or not recognizing in his head Christ and His divinity, he has without knowing it, at the bottom of his heart, and in the supraconscious and supraconceptual state, faith in Him, through the most profound élan of his moral being and of his volition of the good.

I have just employed the words "supraconscious" and "supraconceptual." They relate to a higher psychological sphere, to a "heaven of the soul," in which the latter knows in a wholly intuitive manner, unformulated in concepts and in words, things which it does not know itself that it knows, because this knowledge is supraconscious. In the presently envisaged case it is also a knowledge of volitional type, in which "the appetite passes to the condition of object," but which includes a speculative element due to the lumen fidei.{23}

As soon as one has to do with the supraconscious of the spirit, the words "implicit faith" and "explicit faith" are to be rejected in like manner: because, drawn from current language which concerns itself only with the conceptual register, they enclose us in this register. If one believed for a long time that in order to have in oneself grace it was necessary to believe "explicitly" the two articles containing virtually all the rest ("to believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him") which the Epistle to the Hebrews (11, 6) mentions, it is because one remained solely at the plane of conscious and conceptual thought, and because one neglected thus a good half of the human psyche. What is necessarily required is not a faith (in these two credibilia at least) formulated in concepts at the plane of conscious thought; it is a faith (in these two credibilia at least) which is present in the soul and has a hold on it actually and formally, even if as a result of one of those blockages which are not rare in human psychology, it cannot pass into consciousness and be formulated there in concepts and in words.{24} An atheist can have such a faith completely unbeknownst to him. It is the secret of God.

This is why we are not obliged to admit that for a man who professes atheism to be saved it is necessary that an Angel come and instruct him and teach him to recite the two first credibilia; -- nor are we obliged to send into Hell a great atheist like Nietzsche (this atheist, -- one can indeed believe that it was through thirst for God, in the supraconscious of the spirit, that at the plane of conscious thought, obstructed by modern philosophy, he announced the death of God in the words which he uttered).

2. By the sole fact that he has in him the grace of Christ, a man, to whatever spiritual family he may belong, or without any spiritual family, is in the Church, even if (contrary to what would have been normal in itself) he is not in it visibly: because to be vivified by the grace of Christ and to be vivified by the soul of the Church is the same thing; in other words, because, as I have said in Chapter II (note 11), the soul of the Church is the pleroma of all graces (the word 'grace' designating here sanctifying grace, principle of divine life which inhabits a human soul or an angelic spirit). It is made up, in that which concerns the Church of the earth, of all the graces (sanctifying graces) individually received by men since the repentance of Adam, according as they are all likewise, although to different degrees, participation in the divine life, and according as all of them, by virtue of the dynamism of charity which emanates from them, are interconnected and constitute a single and supreme common good in the unity of the love of God, and of all the beings created in His image. It follows from this that the soul of the Church informs the body of the latter in an indissoluble union with it, but that it is not, as is our soul, prisoner of the body which it informs. For grace is free like the divine generosity. So that the soul of the Church, while being the "form" of the body of the Church, is also in all those among the other spiritual families to whom, without their being Visibly part of this body, Christ has granted His grace: each one of these individual graces being in itself{25} one of the constituent parts of the soul of the Church. Thus, at the same time as in the body of the Church, which it informs, the soul of the Church exists also, -- like a sowing of stars, -- in a multitude of men dispersed in the entire world who do not belong visibly to her body, and to whom she brings supernatural life.

I hold that there is perfect coextensivity between the soul and the body of the Church, if by "body of the Church" one understands the structures of this visible complex organism, the articulations required in order to assure the service of its collective life, and the organs and the acts (sacramental and magisterial) through which the person of the Church acts among us (cf. further on, Chapter XI). All of this is informed by the grace of Christ which is the soul of the Church, whatever may be in other respects the possible shortcomings of such or such Churchmen.

But if one applies it to the individual persons (who are the object of our present considerations), -- whether individual members of the Church, or individual persons belonging visibly to other spiritual families, -- I do not think that the maxim: "where the body of the Church is, there her soul is; where the soul of the Church is, there her body is" remains correct unless it is suitably nuanced.

It is thus as regards the first part of this maxim: a baptized person brought up in the Church and who has installed himself decidedly in a life of mortal sin has lost grace; he remains a member of the body of the Church -- on condition that he has kept the faith ("dead faith" since it is now without charity); but the soul of the Church is no longer in him, no longer actuates his soul. It is true that belonging to the body of the Church, the faith, even "dead," which he has kept remains in him an initium of the supernatural order which has a chance of aiding him to recover grace, and that, on the other hand, everything is ready around him in order to aid him also to recover it; his brothers pray for him; and if one day he decides to change his life, he has only to make a good Confession. Yet it is necessary that he decide to do this. Let us say that as regards him the soul of the Church is still "there," but in a wholly tendential and virtual manner (or rather initial, by reason of the faith which has remained in him).

Likewise, in its second part, the maxim in question is correct only on condition that it is suitably nuanced. For the body of the Church is not only the visibility -- at least for the angels -- of the acts accomplished by a non-Christian under the influx of the grace which is in him. The body of the Church is her whole complex organism, with all the structures, the articulations and the joints of which St. Paul speaks,{26} and with at its summit the earthly leader of the Church. And it is indeed clear that in the case of a non-Christian who has grace in him this complex organism is not "there"; it is elsewhere. This non-Christian is neither visibly nor formally a part of it. (Mutatis mutandis, it is necessary to say as much of a non-Catholic Christian: in his case the complex organism of the Church is not "there" in its integrity.)

But the grace which sanctifies this non-Christian (or this non-Catholic Christian) is not given to him only as salutary for him; insofar precisely as grace of Christ (every grace which He gives to one or to another, -- He destines it to the royal gift, to the sharing of the divine life with which He wishes to overwhelm His Bride), the grace which sanctifies this non-Christian (or this non-Catholic Christian) is given to him as being in itself (or "by birth" if I may say, and from its infusion into the soul) one of the constituent parts of that plenitude of all the individual graces in interconnection which is the soul of the Church. It is the soul of the Church which is through one of its constituent parts rendered present in this non-Christian (or this non-Catholic) by the grace of Christ.

But every soul is in itself architectonic: made in order to inform a body it tends toward this information, it demands it ontologically. Received from God by the non-Christian (or the non-Catholic Christian) in question, the soul of the Church contains already in it, in its architectonic virtue, this body itself in its entirety. It is "there," but in a manner wholly tendential and virtual, or rather initial.

This, in my view, is how one can declare that, through the individual graces which God spreads everywhere, the soul of the Church exists, in innumerable and invisible dispersed ones, beyond the body itself which it informs and to which it causes them to belong initially, and overflows immensely this body (which it does not however leave) in the non-Catholic and non-Christian regions of the entire world, without contradicting for all that the maxim: "where the body of the Church is, there her soul is; where the soul of the Church is, there her body is," on condition that this maxim is suitably nuanced. Through the architectonic virtue of the soul of the Church present in him, a non-Christian who has grace belongs invisibly, in an initial and wholly tendential manner, to the visible body of the Church.

And this is how every non-Christian (or non-Catholic Christian) who has grace in him is invisibly a part of the visible Church. He is in her because the grace of Christ by which he lives supernaturally is in itself one of the constituent parts of the soul of the Church, and because living by the grace of Christ he lives, at the same stroke, by the soul of the Church. And he is in the visible Church invisibly (voto, non re), since he belongs visibly to a spiritual family which is originally other than the Church (or which, while being Christian, finds itself in more or less profound dissidence with the Church).

May I be permitted to insist upon a point briefly indicated above: the views which I propose here{27} do not weaken in any way the thesis of the coextensivity of the soul and of the body of the Church. In reality it is the pleroma of all the sanctifying graces individually received, -- by all the dispersed ones who belong only invisibly to the Church, as also by all the ones gathered together in her unity who belong to her visibly, -- which constitutes the soul of the Church and which informs the organism with the multiple joints which is her body. And it is to the body of the Church in its full and complex integrity that the grace of Christ received by a non-Christian, and which is one of the constituent parts of the soul of the Church, deputes this non-Christian, joins and articulates him virtually and initially, makes of him one of the members of the great body in question, but an invisible member, hidden to the eyes of all and to his own eyes, and whose belonging to the body remains initial and in the tendential state.

However lofty may be in itself the grace received by him, it is in him under an incomplete or imperfect mode, since he is not formally and in act, but only through the architectonic virtue of the soul of the Church present in him, a part of the body of the Church, is not aided by the Sacraments and the other means of salvation which she dispenses, does not participate in her worship, does not proclaim with her the kingship of Christ; in other words, since the grace received by him, and which makes him a participant in the capital grace of Christ, to a very high degree perhaps, does not unfold in their formal expansion all the demands and the riches which it contains with regard to the body of the Church as also with regard to fully explicitated faith. This non-Christian who has the grace of Christ is in the house of the Bride and enjoys her intimacy, -- and he is there as a friend and blind servant, he does not see the face of the Bridegroom nor the treasures of His house.

But he is really although invisibly a member of the Church and of the communion of saints, he lives truly by her life of grace and of charity, he is assumed by her personality, he participates by this fact in her coredemptive mission, and he can be much more exalted in sanctity than many of her visible members.

That in Order to Be Saved It Is Necessary to Belong Visibly or Invisibly to the Visible Church, -- This Is Because the Person of the Church Is Already Here on Earth the Plenitude of Christ, His Body and His Bride, and Because in Heaven She Gathers Together in Her, Until the Last Day and for Eternity, All the Saved

1. Another question presents itself finally, and one which it is important, I believe, to bring to light. It has for object the reason for which no one is saved if he is not visibly or invisibly a part of the visible Church.

Why is this so? It is not by reason of the means of salvation which the Church offers to men. Alone here on earth the Church of Christ, of Christ come, offers to us in their full integrity the means of salvation which the divine wisdom had in view from all eternity and which Christ entrusted to His Bride. But it is not for this reason that in order to be saved it is necessary to belong visibly or invisibly to the Church. In no domain do the means at our disposal suffice to enable us to attain the end which we are pursuing: we must use these means, and use them well. And to use the means of salvation which the Church offers to us is the affair of our liberty aided by grace. And it depends on our liberty, faithful or unfaithful to grace, to use or not to use these means, and to use them well or badly.

2. The reason for which there is salvation only in the visible or invisible belonging to the Church does not stand in the perspective of the means of salvation. It stands in the perspective of salvation itself. Salvation is in Christ. To be saved is to be in Christ, in Him Who in saving by His death assumes into His life all the saved. But, on the one hand, already in her peregrinal state the person of the Church is the Plenitude of Christ, His Body and His Bride. How is it possible to be in way of being saved if already here on earth one does not belong visibly or invisibly to His Plenitude, to His Body, to His Bride? On the other hand, in her state of consummated grace or of eternal glory, the Church gathers together in her, since the repentance of Adam, and she continues in the course of time, -- until the day when Purgatory and this earth will come to an end, and when the dead will come to life again, -- to gather together all the saved in her glory. How is it possible to be a saved one in eternal glory if one is not a member of Christ in glory, and of the person of the Church in her state of glory? That which supposes that from here on earth one belongs already visibly or invisibly to this same person in her peregrinal state?

3. Such is, in my eyes, the true reason which founds the maxim "No salvation outside the Church" and permits one to understand it in its proper meaning. I believe that if during too long a time one has understood this maxim in an erroneous sense (no salvation if one does not belong visibly to the visible Church), it is because for too long one has assigned to it a reason which was not the true one, in seeking the reason why of it in the perspective of the means of salvation, which only the Church offers to us in their integrity (no salvation therefore if one does not have at one's disposal these means in their integrity).

Let us add that on this question of the reason why it is important for us to keep ourselves always on guard. If, even today when no one believes any longer that in order to be saved it is necessary to be visibly in the visible Church, we continued to envisage the problem of salvation in the perspective of the means of salvation, would we not run the risk of being led to think, be it subconsciously, that the number of the saved is a dependent variable of the more or less perfect and more or less complete means of salvation which men have at their disposal? Who would dare to say however that there are more saved among the Christians than among the non-Christians? Who would dare to dream of establishing (with what theological supracomputers?) a statistics of the elect of God? The Christians have at their disposal more means of salvation than the others. But, as I indicated above, there is always human liberty which can slip away from grace and misuse the better. And there is also this terrifying saying: "When much has been given a man, much will be required of him. More will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted."{28} And there is also what Jesus has showed us: His severity toward the Pharisees, so studious to use (badly) the means of salvation prescribed by the Law, and His refusal to condemn the adulterous woman, like so many of those who came to Him without having used these means of salvation.

4. The fact remains that in everything every man has need of being aided by others; and that in order to attain an end we have always to use some appropriate means: a boy who wishes to become a doctor or an engineer must pass through the schools and the formation which are befitting.

If it is a question of the supernatural order, of attaining salvation and eternal life, then we have fundamentally need of an aid -- incomparably stronger -- which God sends to us through our human brothers. And we have fundamentally need of the means of salvation which come to us from the Church, whether visibly present to us (because we are visibly in her), or invisibly present to us in some manner (as we shall see later on).

This is why preaching, apostolic activity and missionary activity, -- in order to cause to radiate more here on earth the glory of God, and in order to bring the means of salvation in their plenitude to more men on the earth, -- have in the Church a role of such essential importance: which however is not the primary importance absolutely speaking. For the primary importance absolutely speaking belongs to the aid brought to our brothers by things which relate, no longer to the means of salvation which these latter have to use, but directly to their salvation itself and to the exercise of their liberty: the love (to tell the truth it is an "extravagant love") which God asks of us for Him and for them, prayer, and the participation, -- in suffering for them, if it is necessary, to the point of dying for it, -- in the redemptive work which Christ pursues in and through His friends until the end of time.

I add that the Trappists and the Carmelites are precisely delegated to this order of things; and also that a simple presence of true love and of true prayer among men is a testimony which of itself has a chance of drawing them toward the Savior and of causing them to turn their eyes toward His Church (and this all the better as one does not know it oneself, and as one does not propose to oneself to exercise any apostolic activity). It is not unimportant, it seems to me, that Christian laymen become conscious of such realities.


Catholic Ecumenism

1. It is the second Council of the Vatican which has given to the Church this name of "sacrament of salvation," universal sacrament of salvation,{29} whose import is in my eyes so great. It is it also which has called Catholics to enter into the path of ecumenism. Hence the general title which I have given to this third part, in which it will be a question of ecumenism in the proper sense (concerning the ensemble of Christians), but also of an "ecumenism" in the expanded sense (concerning the ensemble of men).

The word ecumenism is a holy and venerable word; it is not its fault if, betraying the thought of the Council, many incompetents stimulated by a small number of avant-garde thinkers (excuse me, I should say charismatic) call today ecumenism the search for a spurious universalism, whose first condition is indifference with regard to truth: the idea being to unite finally all Christians in spite of their dissidences, -- and all men in spite of the diversity of their beliefs, -- in a same "Church" gathering them together in the name of Jesus in order to lead them to our final plenitude on earth, without one knowing either that which is the one or in what consists the other. The duty of fidelity to the light is however a duty which one does not elude, without abdicating at the same stroke intelligence.

One can note in this connection, according to a remark of my friend Father Cottier, that the transcendentals play nasty tricks on us because they are too lofty for us. At the time of the wars of religion the idea of Truth rendered ferocious a multitude of brave people, who in its name massacred each other mercilessly. Today the idea of Unity causes a similar multitude of brave people to completely forget that which is due to truth, in other words stultifies them without recourse.

There is however, thanks be to God, an ecumenism which is an authentic universalism, -- because it joins together complete fidelity to truth and fervent love of unity, -- to be reestablished if possible among all Christians and to be recognized among all men. With regard to our dissident brothers, it is the merit of Father Congar to have called attention, in a work published as early as 1937, to this Catholic ecumenism,{30} to the progress of which the second Council of the Vatican was now to ask Christian intelligence to devote a vast effort of renewal in the pure flame of faith.

2. The problem presents itself first concerning dissident Christian confessions. It will be a question of them in the two following sections. For the moment I shall confine myself to two remarks:

In the first place, it is indeed evident that one cannot conceive an ecumenical assembly as the assembly of a kind of council of administration, of which the members represent and defend diverse interests and come to an agreement with the help of mutual concessions and of compromises. The truth of divine revelation is not divided into portions of each of which each Christian confession would have the particular deposit, so that unity would come about through the bringing together of these different portions into a single whole. The whole is already there, in the Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Church of which the successor of Peter is the head here on earth has received the mission to propose to men the whole truth of the revelation consummated by Christ and of the doctrine of the faith, with the marvellous richness and the divine profundity of all the contrasting themes which it envelops and reconciles. Error comes from exclusivism, and everything is included in the immense and multiform unity of the faith of the Church.

Every Catholic is and ought to be conscious of this. This is why he salutes with joy and love every truth of faith professed by a dissident confession, while knowing that he also professes it already.

And this is why there is no question for him of asking a Lutheran or a Quaker to abandon the truths of faith to which he is attached. Let him attach himself to them more than ever! By reason of these truths one can say that it is in and (in a measure) through his spiritual community that he will be saved (account being taken of the substitutions due to grace in the supraconscious of the spirit). What the Catholic regrets is that this Lutheran or this Quaker does not recognize other truths of faith.

What does this mean, if not that, -- as long as the dissidence will last (a long time certainly in many cases), and without brushing aside the hope of preparing from afar, and as much as possible, a global unity of faith and of jurisdiction (embracing absolutely all presently dissident Christians) which it is permissible to regard as a great utopian ideal, -- what from this moment is required above all of Catholics is a work of fraternal friendship with men who do not think like them in religious matters, and who can be admirable Christians but do not profess the Christian faith in its integrity. Nothing is more stupid than to imagine that in order to be true and profound friendship requires identity of thought. There are many Catholics who are far from being my friends; there are non-Catholics who are for me blessed friends. The truest and most fraternal friendship can exist between men who think differently on essential matters. It includes doubtless, then, an element of suffering, but one which renders the friend more dear still. One prays for him, but far from bringing pressure to bear on him in order to convert him to one's own faith, one loves him such as he is, and one esteems, one respects, one strives to know better and to understand better that which he believes and that by which he lives.

It is curious to note that one uses abundantly today the word: ecumenical dialogue (in which one has to do with abstract ideas and notions, -- to their detriment sometimes, when one planes them down in order that they may accomodate themselves or have the appearance of accomodating themselves to one another); but that one almost never hears anyone speak of ecumenical friendship (in which one has to do with men, and with human reality). And yet is it not this which is first required? Well-established habits of mutual friendship, strengthened by time, -- are these not the indispensable condition in order that the ecumenical spirit may pass into reality, where it will take one day juridically constituted forms of unity? May I say that from this point of view, however useful may be, at their plane, the meetings of commissions, with their definite programs, their reports, and their speeches, more useful still would seem to me fraternal banquets, in which Catholics and members of such or such dissident confession would eat and would drink together, and would go then to smoke together in the drawing room, conversing at random, joking, passing from one subject to another, and forming unexpected relations of reciprocal confidence? I do not seem serious; I speak however seriously. The meal taken in common is a natural rite of human friendship.

Be that as it may with the banquets of my dreams, the fact remains that what it is a question of above all is to know one another better, to understand one another better, and to love one another better.

And at the same stroke it is a question also of exchanging goods of great value.

3. For if such an exchange is not at all conceivable in the domain of faith and of divinely revealed truth, in other words of the teaching which, on the one hand, the Catholic magisterium and, on the other hand, the diverse dissident confessions give,{31} it is possible and real with regard to the manner in which this teaching is received and lived by the members of all the Christian communities in question. There is thus, -- this is my second remark, -- a vast domain in which for Catholic ecumenism, -- and on the basis of mutual friendship, -- a fruitful exchange is desirable between all: I think for example of the fervor shown by this one with regard to such or such particular truth of faith, whereas that one is inclined to neglect it more or less; and of the diverse kinds of psychological attitudes and behaviors linked with the ethnic varieties; or of the varied types of spirituality and of religious experience which it is so instructive for each one to learn to know in the others; or of that reading of the Bible in the vernacular which has long been so to speak a privilege of our Protestant brothers, and which has henceforth passed into the Catholic people.{32} With regard to the whole vast domain to which I allude, one can speak of a kind of ecumenical complementarity, on condition that one is resolved to use each time his intelligence, in attention to truth first served. Did not St. Augustine say that heresies are thorns that prick us out of our torpor? And does not Cardinal Journet add that in these thorns there can be roses? Adding also that "in the measure in which the discoveries or experiences of the dissidents have occurred under the influence of heresy, they will need to be rectified before they can be integrated. . . ."{33}

A Catholic will be pleased thus to recognize the true values present in the dissidents. He will find much to learn from Russian spirituality, from this "Christianity of penitents, and of penitents who are not embarrassed to confess their grossest faults," from that sacred respect toward the humiliated and the offended, and toward suffering, which makes that for this spirituality, from the moment that a man suffers, and above all suffers unjustly, he becomes venerable, to the point that one has seen "examples of children or of other innocents" canonized by the people "for their unmerited suffering."{34} A Catholic will be able to profit from the tenderness of heart and from the zeal with which many members of the Church of England practice that pietas anglicana of which Father Congar speaks with good reason. He will like to read the poems of Herbert, of Vaughan, of Traherne, of Crashaw. He will be grateful to the Lutheran Paul Gerhardt for those hymns full of love with which Bach nourished his genius. He will be able to appreciate the "theology of the heart" of Zinzendorf and of the Moravian Brethren.

And in the present epoch in which the fear of God is so briskly forgotten, he will seek to scrutinize, with a kind of sympathy, even the terrifying sentiment of the divine transcendence and of the glory of God with which the soul of Calvin was invaded, so blindly that the Reformer hardened and falsified it because in reality he formed of the divine transcendence itself a too human idea (it is not in His essentially mysterious and immensely generous infinitude; it is in comparison with man and with the abjection in which he is immured that Calvin conceived the greatness of this jealous God, Who when He justifies a man does not put in him anything holy, any grace which is inherent in him).{35} But it is above all, -- and not only in order to understand better his Protestant brothers, but also in order to grasp in the entrails of history the development of modern thought, -- it is above all the original experience of Luther that a Catholic will study with a passionate interest, that tragic anguish of salvation, -- centered in the insurmountable misery of subjectivity, -- which shows God as an enemy and which, while the whole of the human collapses, throws itself desperately into faith (while waiting to throw itself later into philosophical unreason).{36} Being well understood that in these two last cases one does not have to do with an "exchange," and it is not at all a question of purifying an experience in order to integrate it (one does not integrate the absolutely unique and personal experience that a man has had), but of trying to see how, and by what truths to be restored, the experience of a Luther or of a Calvin would have found itself transformed if it had been pure.

The Elements of Church

1. Before the second Council of the Vatican, it was the word vestigia Ecclesiae, the "vestiges of Church," which the theologians employed. They designated thus that which remains still of the Church in the dissident confessions, which were torn away from her by schism or heresy, or "that which can subsist of the true Church in the dissidence."

But it is not the word "vestiges"; it is the word "elements" which the Council used. "Some, even very many, of the most significant elements or endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, along with other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements."{37}

Consequently, the theologians employ henceforth the expression "elements of Church."

There is here, in vocabulary, a very significant change and one of great bearing, and which, in my opinion, marks a certain progress. With the word "elements of Church" one has to do with a mere objective declaration: that which there is common between a dissident confession and the Church, without reminder, in the background, of the scars of schism or of heresy.

It seems to me that this change in vocabulary is not without relation with the so manifestly true declaration of the Council which is found in the same section: "One cannot impute the sin of separation to those who at present are born into these Communities and are instilled therein with Christ's faith. The Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers."{38}

2. These elements of Church exist in act in the dissident confessions. It follows from this that, as Cardinal Journet writes,{39} "the separated Churches and Communities can continue to represent, to render present, -- in a doubtless partial, deficient, and affected-with-privation manner, -- the indivisible Church of Christ. The latter subsists integrally under the hierarchy, in whom she has her nucleus, but she recognizes herself present, -- it is a secret joy for her, -- everywhere that there is at work some authentic gift of this Christ of whom she is the Body." Let us say therefore that through the elements of sanctification and of truth of which it is a question, the Church is present in a certain manner in the dissident confessions. This is an invisible presence of the visible Church: I mean invisible to these other religious families, although this same presence discloses itself in some manner to the eyes of Catholic theologians, attentive to the elements of Church, which are in act, and therefore discernible and visible in themselves, in the religious families in question.

And this invisible presence is a virtual presence. For through the elements of Church which exist in act in these dissident communities, it is the entire visible Church, it is the person herself of the Church under her terrestrial state who is rendered virtually present in them. Presence virtual and invisible at one and the same time, and more or less vigorous in proportion to the number and to the value of the elements of Church discernible in the dissident communities, -- in proportion above all, shall I say, to the value of truth of the said elements.

I add that in explaining the formula: "the Church universal sacrament of salvation," the Council referred to the classical theory of the sacrament as sign and instrument: the Church is signum et instrumentum intimae cum Deo unionis totiusque genens humani unitatis, the sign and the means of intimate union with God and of the unity of the whole human race.

The elements of Church, understood in the proper sense of the word, which render the Church, -- the Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic, the Church of Rome, -- virtually and invisibly present, unbeknown to them, in the dissident confessions, communicate to this extent to these the virtue of this universal sacrament of salvation; and at the same time, according as they are there in act, they manifest to our eyes the means of salvation which these dissident Christian confessions place themselves at the disposal of men. "It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects . . . , have by no means been deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church."{40}

3. The change in vocabulary of which I have just spoken entails, it seems to me, a new question of great importance. Since the elements of Church which exist in the non-Catholic Christian communities designate that which there is common between these communities and the Church of whom Peter is the leader here on earth, is it not natural to ask oneself if there are not also such elements in the non-Christian spiritual families? Do not all the spiritual families of the earth, even those which are at the lowest degrees of the scale, and which are the most mingled with errors and with deviations, contain some seed of goodness? (For pure evil cannot exist.) And is it not true that to nothing of that which is good in humanity is the Church a stranger? Have they not all something common with the Church?

We shall discuss this question in the following section. But right here I indicate that in my opinion it is necessary to answer: yes, there is something common; but can one -- and when can one -- see in it an element of Church? This is an altogether different affair.

The fact remains that in any case the word "ecumenism" finds itself henceforth singularly expanded, -- as far as the limits of the earth: since the Church, as universal sacrament of salvation, is, as the Council says, the sign and the instrument of the unity of the human race; in other words, since all the saved of the entire world are saved by God and His Christ through the instrumentality of the Church.

This is the final object -- profoundly mysterious one -- to which our weak eyes have to turn their attention. Let us say immediately that the consideration of the diverse spiritual families, however important it may be, is, as we are going to see, far from sufficing when we seek to form for ourselves some idea of this great mystery.

The Elements of Church and the Diverse Spiritual Families

1. It is normal for a man to belong to a spiritual family. Let us remember, besides, the fundamental difference which, from the point of view of our present reflections, exists between the case of an individual man and that of his spiritual family. In the case of the individual man or of the human person there is, as I noted above, a supraconscious which it is very important for us to take into account. In the case of the spiritual family it is not at all the same. A collectivity as such, a family as such has no supraconscious activity which is proper to it. What one has to consider in it is only the visible notes which characterize it, above all the expressly formulated beliefs which it professes.

It follows from this, in particular, that a spiritual family can be itself very deficient, atheistic for example, and must consequently be envisaged as bearing this character. Whereas, by the supraconscious life of the spirit, which is something altogether personal, such and such individual members of this family can have in them the grace of Christ, and be saved.

2. I am going therefore to attempt here to consider, with regard to the elements of Church (which for a moment I take in the most indeterminate and most vague sense), some of the most representative spiritual families. I apologize immediately for the doubtlessly very imperfect vocabulary which I shall use: it is the vocabulary of an old philosopher who on the one hand has sought to simplify things, by not taking into account certain points of detail which are the concern of the theologian, and who on the other hand has chosen his words only in hesitating a great deal. I have taken great pains to propose a correct analysis. If I have not succeeded in this, another one more competent will succeed in it, I hope. And it will not be fruitless in any case to have raised the questions entailed by such an analysis.

It is according to the degrees of a descending scale that I shall conduct my inquiry. It is therefore the case of the dissident Christian communities that I shall consider in the first place.

The Dissident Christian Communities

1. One cannot conceive the Church without her leader who is Christ Savior.

I shall say therefore that there are Elements of Church, in the proper sense of the word, only in the dissident Christian communities.

These elements of Church, in the proper sense of the word, belong to the supernatural order, and they relate to the means of salvation according as the dissident communities in question offer them to their members, even though they be more or less diminished (they are entirely complete only in the Church).

Finally these elements of Church, in the proper sense of the word, being in themselves linked with the whole of which they are a part, and which is the Church, render, as we have seen, the entire Church mysteriously present, although more or less vigorously, in the non-Catholic Christian communities.

All that which was said on pages 114-115 concerns therefore only the dissident Christian communities.

2. I shall not study the characteristics of each of them (this book would not end). I shall be content with a few brief remarks.

Let us note that among these dissident Christian communities one finds above all the Greco-Slavonic Orthodox Church, the "Old Catholics," and the Anglican Church; then the Protestants (Lutherans or Calvinists), the Methodist Church, the Presbyterians, the Congregationalist Church, the Baptist Church, the Unitarians, religious groups like the Christian Scientists and the Quakers. . . .{41}

If it is a question of the Greco-Slavonic Church (or rather Churches) and of the Anglican Church, I think that in order to form for ourselves a just idea of them it is particularly important for us to take into account, in applying it to the Church, the metaphysical distinction between "nature" and "person." The elements of Church are in such abundance in the two Churches in question (above all in the first) that it is not only, as with the other dissident Christian confessions, the virtual and invisible presence of the person of the Church that we have then to consider; these two Churches appear, in diverse degrees, as possessing themselves almost all the nature (soul and body) of the visible Church. I said "almost all" the nature of the visible Church. This is why they are truly, more truly and more completely than any other dissident Christian confession, messengers and witnesses of Christ. There remains however the word "almost": and it refers to the absence of an element which one can certainly call capital, since in these Churches which do not recognize the head of the Church in her state of earthly pilgrimage, the successor of Peter, the nature of the Church of here on earth is decapitated, as I said in Chapter III.

But personality supposes a nature that is whole in its proper order (or to which there is lacking nothing essential) which it completes in the line of subsisting and existing in itself. This is why, as long as they remain separated from Rome, the two Churches of which I speak are not integrated themselves in act in the person of the Church.{42}

Photius, whom the Orthodox Church canonized, detached the latter from the person of the Church. The Greco-Slavonic Church or rather Churches are venerable collective bodies which have the episcopate and the apostolic succession, the doctrine of the faith, the Sacraments, the means of grace and of salvation, and many saints in Heaven and on earth; they are not the person of the Church under her earthly state.{43} Moreover one does not see in them either that movement of progression in time, even in dogmatic matters, or that apostolic radiance over the entire world which attest the proper life of the person of the Church here on earth.

The Church of England finds itself, roughly if I may say so, and with objective problems more difficult to confront, in a historical situation analogous to that of the Orthodox Church. I believe, besides, that on the subjective side, which is important in my eyes, there is in a good portion of its members a sincere regret of, and a real suffering from, separation, which one meets elsewhere only to a lesser degree. This is why it seems to me that it is, among the dissident Christian confessions, the one of which, with a fair amount of time no doubt, union with Rome appears as the least arduously realizable: in spite of obstacles of which the greatest is perhaps the fact that the love and the fidelity of the Anglicans toward their Church go along with a notable diversity in dogmatic matters,{44} which this Church itself regards rather as a privilege; without speaking of the question of authority, so debated among Anglicans themselves, and of the thorny question of the Anglican ordinations, which more thorough historical studies and a reciprocal concern of goodwill sparing of every susceptibility have, one can hope, a chance of resolving.

3. If we pass now to the non-Christian religious families, it is fitting to set apart those which, without recognizing Christ Savior, have faith in the transcendent God Who rewards those Who seek Him, and Who has revealed Himself to men (faith which, in itself, contains implicitly all the rest). Since they profess this supernatural faith in God, I think that that which they have in common with the Church merits still the name of Elements of Church. But since they reject faith in Christ Redeemer, of Whom the Church is the mystical Body and the Bride, it can no longer be a question but of elements of Church in the improper sense of the word.

It is the case of Judaism and that of Islam which I shall have to consider here.


1. Judaism is the religion of the true God blocked one day in an impasse by the men who failed to recognize their Messiah: a holy religion with bandaged eyes which, after the war foolishly launched against the Romans by the Zealots had brought about in 70 the ruin of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Temple, and the extinction of the sacred flame of the daily sacrifice, has during centuries maintained the spiritual unity of the Jewish people entered into the Diaspora.

The Jews faithful to the Synagogue have, although wounded by their human tradition since Caiphas, the supernatural faith of Abraham, of Moses, and of David. They have the Holy Books, the written Word of God. They have the Law and the Prophets. They have the Psalms and the Song of Songs. These are the elements of Church which one finds in Judaism.

Of itself the Judaic faith inclines one to seek intimacy with God, as certain eminent witnesses of Jewish spirituality, the Hassidim for example, show. The great work of the rabbinate however developed in an altogether different direction, in which subtlety of mind attached to the letter strives to determine, scrutinize, comment upon, often extend in a strangely arbitrary manner the meaning of the latter. It is to the rabbis of the first centuries that is due the composition of the Mishnah, of the Talmuds, of the Targums.

But, without speaking of its significant incapacity with regards to the Messianic problems,{45} the rabbinical teaching, by its intellectual narrowness combined with its taste for imaginary exegeses, has certainly contributed, in modern times, to divert from any religious belief many Jewish souls. The fact remains that "it is in rabbinical Judaism, which has preserved the three essential elements of the Jewish patrimony (the Book, the Sanctuary, the Land), that eternal Israel has drawn its unlimited capacity of revitalization."{46} The fact remains also that the Jews of our day, however unbelieving a good number of them, especially in the West, have become, are still the sons of the people of the Revelation, and of the sublime Awaiting. The awaiting of the Messiah Savior has no longer any reason for existence, since He is already come. But may we be able, Jews and Christians, to await together his Second Coming!

2. The elements of Church which exist in Judaism belong to the supernatural order, but, as I indicated above, these are elements of Church in the improper sense of the word. They relate to means of salvation themselves truncated (in the Old Testament the sacraments like Circumcision prefigured, did not give grace; and, as far as I know, the idea of sacrament is absent from the Judaic theology. As to the Holy Books, they are cut off there from the New Testament.) And if in themselves the elements in question are linked with the Whole of which they are a part, and which is the Church, nevertheless an inhibition, -- which proceeds from the fact that this religious family, which believes in the most holy God, does not believe in Christ Savior, -- prevents them from rendering the Church mysteriously present in it. Israel was formerly the Church in one of her preparatory ages. It would be futile to speak of an invisible presence of the visible Church in the Israel of today.

It is clear, besides, that if at a given moment of history the princes of the priests condemned the Son of God, and if the greater part of the people followed them in their refusal of the Truth preached by the apostles, nevertheless all the Jews who in subsequent times were born and were raised in the rabbinical community, and our contemporary Jewish brothers, are as innocent of the blood of Christ as our Lutheran brothers are innocent of the sin of heresy committed by Luther.{47}


1. Islam is the second of the non-Christian religious families in which, because it takes into account the supernatural order, it is fitting according to me to recognize elements of Church.

But if it believes in the unique and transcendent God, Who reveals Himself to men, it rejects like Judaism faith in Christ Savior. The elements of Church present in it are therefore elements of Church in the improper sense of the word.

2. I have spoken above of Islam, I can therefore be brief here.{48} I shall say that it professes to have, as the Council says, "the faith of Abraham," supernatural faith although less pure in it than in the Jews (it requires that one believe also in the diverse fables which strew the Koran), and not seeking in itself intimacy with God. Islam reveres also (without giving it the first place) the Word of God written in the Old Testament. It regards Jesus as a prophet, born of Mary without a human father.

Thus therefore, elements of Church in the improper sense of the word. And means of salvation in a sense which I shall call as reduced as possible (no notion of sanctifying grace; no sacraments, be they only figurative). And for the same reason as that which I indicated concerning Judaism, these elements of Church (in the improper sense), while remaining in themselves linked with the whole of which they are a part, cannot render the Church mysteriously present in this religious family. It would be futile to speak regarding it of an invisible presence of the visible Church.


1. I have already said also some words about Brahmanism. I shall note that in considering it a new question presents itself from the outset. In reality, it has no doubt a certain notion of revelation, the latter however has nothing to do with revelation such as we understand it (the Sanskrit word is moreover audition). It is a question here of an intemporal revelation. If in the time of men the sacred texts have been gathered and communicated by inspired sages of whom the list is long, these sacred texts are themselves eternal and uncreated, "without beginning" and "not human."{49} The sages transmitted them to us after having in their meditation listened, not to God speaking to them at a moment of history, but to a syllable-less song which has neither beginning nor end.

Likewise there is for Hinduism a "salvation" procured either "by experimental knowledge of the absolute" or "by divine grace raising up on the part of the dependent soul a response of love." {50} But here again the words could deceive us: this salvation is liberation from the law of Karma and of transmigration, this grace issuing from one of the three supreme ones who crown the Brahmanist pantheon (Vishna or Çiva, closer to the Hindu heart than Brahma) is benevolence, favor or protection, but not gift which superelevates interiorly the soul and causes it to participate in the very life of God; and to experience the absolute is only a sublime attestation of the power of our mind concentrating in meditation. Finally the supreme God is so mingled with the cosmic energy of Brahman that one does not succeed in affirming clearly His perfect transcendence. And He is not the only God; there are other gods, who remain submitted to the servitude of transmigration, and who have merited for a time a suprahuman condition.

In short, with all the beliefs, the myths and the speculations of Hinduism, as with its mysticism and its yoga, man remains at the door of the supernatural order, -- at the highest of his native forces when they cause him to surpass himself in order to attain to an ecstasy of natural spirituality, or to the dazzlement of a haughty metaphysical knowledge nourished with the obscure splendors of creative imagination.

2. The question which presents itself is therefore: when a spiritual family has in common with the Church things which do not belong to the supernatural order, but only to that of created nature, can we say still that these are elements of Church? No doubt the Church is the guardian of the goods and of the truths which are at the foundation of the natural order. But her mission is essentially supernatural. That which she has in common with the spiritual family in question is therefore not truly elements of Church, neither in the proper sense nor in the improper sense of the word.

I shall say therefore that with Brahmanism we have to do with preelements of Church; and not with "means of salvation" in the Christian sense of this word, but with preparations of the natural order, more or less remote (and very mixed) of which grace can make use.

And more still than in the case of Judaism and of Islam, it would be futile to speak of an invisible presence of the Church in the Hindu religious family.


1. Of Buddhism also there was mention above. It keeps the common belief in transmigration, but in insisting less than Brahmanism on the fundamental rationality immanent in the universal order. Buddhism is above all practical, it is a question for it of delivering itself, more radically still than Brahmanism succeeds in doing, from the slavery and from the illusion of becoming, which cause suffering to abound endlessly. It is existence itself that it blames: it is necessary to reject absolutely all substantial being: neither God, nor soul, the experience of deliverance is an experience of the nonexistence of the self.{51}

Essential truths which relate to the capacities of our nature are thus ignored.

2. Here still there remain however things, and great things, which are found in common with the Church: the profound sentiment of the impermanence and of the nothingness which corrode all that which we see here on earth; the thirst for a definitive liberation, already in this earthly life, thanks to a plunge into spiritual experience (the latter totally different, moreover, from the experience of the Christian contemplative); and that universal compassion which makes the nobility of mayahana Buddhism, and which however does not come from love, but from the supreme elevation of the delivered one considering in all things the misery of existence.

But it is clear that nothing of all this can constitute an element of Church. I shall say therefore that what we find here is shadows of Church (sometimes transluminous), and not "means of salvation," but aspirations of the natural order to a spiritual deliverance (ambiguous).

It would be clearly futile to speak of an "invisible presence of the visible Church" in this religious family ("religious" in a very diminished sense) which does not recognize the existence of God.


1. In spite of the violent struggle which he carried on against religion, Marx himself gave rise in modern times to a new kind of religious obedience and of religious devotion, if one no longer understands by the word "religion" anything but the bond uniting among themselves a certain number of men on the basis of a more or less severe dogmatics and with a view to "absolute" ends, -- the "religion" in question being entirely turned toward the earth, and completely atheistic.

I am not thinking at all here of the Communist Party (which insofar as political party does not concern my subject), but of the spiritual family constituted by those of the disciples of Marx who have, in my opinion, remained the most faithful to his original thought, -- I mean to his lived contradictions which contribute for a good part to the seduction which he exercises (whereas on the doctrinal plane he despised every claim of justice as of a vain and empty ideology, his heart burned in reality with a holy rage against social injustice and the misery of the exploited, which shows us in him the same blood as that of the old prophets);{52} of the problem of the relation between communism and man which always obsessed this heir of Western humanism; -- of his idea (utopian) that the dictatorship of the proletariat will only be a transitory phase, and that communism will ensure the expansion of the human person, all alienation having definitively ceased, and will issue in the full realization of the first article of faith: homo homini deus, Feuerbach said; Marx will say: man is for man the supreme being, das höchste Wesen; in other words, communism will issue in Marxian "salvation."

I am full aware that the spiritual family to which I allude is (not without frictions) wholly entangled with the Party; but in itself it is distinct from it.

2. Between this atheistic spiritual family and the Church there are some common things: the claim, for the world of work, of conditions of existence really conformable to that justice which is an affair of praxis to be implemented but also -- in the eyes of the Church, if not of Marx -- an affair of moral exigency to be recognized; the clear view of the misdeeds of the adoration of profit; the consciousness that an economic and social regime become entirely dehumanizing must be fundamentally transformed, -- without speaking of all the condemnations declared formerly by the Councils against usury (cf. Chap. IV, p. 30), and of the old medieval idea, still true in my opinion, that the fecundity of money is a thing contrary to nature.

It is indeed evident that by reason of an essentially atheistic doctrine, and for which there is nothing but the earth, these common things cannot constitute an element of Church. I shall say that there are here traces of Church, to which no "means of salvation" correspond, but a call, on the temporal and merely terrestrial plane, and however mingled it may be with errors and with illusions, to a social condition more worthy of man: traces of Church which, in the Party, turn into the worst counterfeit.

And it would be clearly futile to speak of an "invisible presence of the visible Church" in this atheistic spiritual family.

The Hippies

1. The hippies present to us a spiritual family particularly typical of our epoch. It is fitting to consider for a moment the family in question.

It is essentially refusal: refusal of the whole established system, refusal of the world of parents, refusal en bloc of the lies of civilization. This reaction of a portion of youth (there were 200,000 of them in their assembly on the Isle of Wight, 400,000 in that of Bethel, during the summer of 1969) is a worldwide phenomenon and one of great significance: according as it appears as a sentence of condemnation -- merited, besides -- brought against a culture proud of its idolatry of science and of money, and which is rotting from within. Such a refusal is not something bad in itself. The saints, when they decide to change their life, posit also from the outset an act of refusal: but because they have discovered a truth infinitely superior to the world, and to which they give themselves.

Nothing similar in the hippies. Their refusal is purely and simply a flight, a collective flight; whereas a refusal worthy of man is founded on the internal exigencies of the individual person, on his courage, on the effort of his intelligence and of his will in order to do a constructive work, -- above all to save that which he feels noble and good in him, and then to work to change the world, to the extent that one can.

The flight of the hippies proceeds from a soft and forceless will, drowned in the troubles of adolescence, and from an intelligence which has remained childish through laziness, and which is thrown into confusion by all the slogans, Freudian and other, which the mass media of the adult world distribute. They are the victims of this bourgeois world which they are right in detesting. In their flight they carry away all its misery with them.

Flight into the gregarious (of this gregariousness one finds many other examples today: to get together, -- it is the sole recipe of salvation for empty souls), flight into the irrational, into availability to the demands and to the mirages of instinct, into the hedonism of the full enfranchisement of the senses. I see there as if the reverse of Buddhism: instead of willing at any cost to deliver oneself from becoming, from its illusions and from its torments, it is a question of enjoying as much as one can the ephemeral, and of finding one's joy, -- a collective joy, naturally, -- in the instant which passes, while closing one's eyes to all the rest.

2. Such is, it seems to me, what from the first glance one perceives in the spiritual family of the hippies. But one discerns immediately another thing in it: that which I shall call a first threshold of human enigmatic and of stirring of the soul, or a first point of reflection. The flight of the hippies is possible only on the condition that they create for themselves a closed world, an artificial paradise in which they will lead their life. And consequently this world will have its own disciplines, and its own values.

In the first place they will be the values of the infrareason: a 'letting go' of nature, above all through a total sexual liberty, of which the greatest misdeed is to banish human love (which is permanent gift of self) by virtue of the decidedly effected dissociation between the pleasures of sex and love. Homosexuality plays also here its part. But here is the paradox, and where the stirring of the soul appears: this debacle of human nature (it is human only with moral rules) goes hand in hand with an ideal of purity of nature, of sincerity, of candid spontaneity. And, in actual fact, a certain purity can thus find itself present: vegetable purity (the flowers have no shame) which has its strange brilliancy, and which I am far from scorning.

And in the second place, -- because in the hippies as in every human being there are present the radical aspirations of our soul, which is spirit, and because all the doors are open, including therefore those of the aspirations to the suprarational, -- the closed world of which I am speaking will form its standards out of a general counterfeit of the values of the spirit: the sacred, mysticism, ecstasy, the flights of contemplation, the suprahuman (when it is not subhuman) element included in fraternal life, the ceremonial, the ritual, with its necklaces and its flowers, and all the signs which delight the imagination, -- nothing is lacking there, all being brought down to the plane of nature and of the senses, and easily procured by rock-and-roll, L.S.D. and the hallucinogenic drugs, in a total confusion and without any human or divine criterion.

3. Finally let us take care not to fail to recognize the existence of a second threshold of human enigmatic and of stirring of the soul, and of a second point of reflection. For one cannot be content indefinitely with the counterfeit, and there are inevitable options.

On the one hand one can choose to go in the service of the devil: to seek what is worst in tantrism and the aberrant forms of oriental esoterism, to devote oneself to magic.

But on the other hand one can on the contrary, through the counterfeit, let pass spontaneous gushings which issue truly from the spirit: above all, and this is not rare in the hippies, the gushing of poetry, -- I know that poetry is not grace, far from it; but when poetry is truly present, something of Heaven has shone nevertheless for a moment; -- and the gushing of music, -- in this respect the hippies owe much to the blues and to the gospel music of the Blacks. And along with this, why would it not happen sometimes that there gush up also obscure desires, however weak they may be, for the mysterious world which is that of the gifts of God?

In the midst of the blemishes of an anarchical and irregular moral life, such desires can gush up in a heart, and make there their secret way. We must take into account the complexity of the human soul, which the gaze of the angels can alone decipher. Personally I have not known any hippies, but I have known a good many people who resembled them. And among them I have been able sometimes to see, and to respect, that kind of vegetable purity of which I spoke a moment ago, -- a sign perhaps, who knows ever, and prefiguration of another purity, worthy this time of the image of God. And I have been able to feel also sometimes the promises which the authentic sense of poetry, and the obscure desires to which I have just alluded, contained of a life really centered above reason, not below it.

I do not doubt that among the hippies there are some of the same human quality, and who, be it without their knowledge, have in their hearts a solicitude, sullied perhaps in other respects, real nevertheless, for the true things of which the spiritual family in question cultivates the counterfeit: solicitude for the true sacred, for true mysticism, for true contemplative humility, for a true life of fraternal devotion which charity alone can give, for the true enchantments of authentic liturgy. These ones, however few they may be, have something common with the Church, who cherishes in the light that to which they aspire in night.

4. Of course, there is no question here of "elements of Church," nor, it is evident, of "means of salvation." I shall say that it is a question rather of tatters of Church; and of a pitiable search, gropingly, for a raison de vivre which is founded in truth, and for what the hippies themselves call, without knowing that which they are saying, "the true liberation of the spirit."{53}

In Conclusion

1. In conclusion of this whole long analysis, we see that there exist elements of Church in the proper sense of the word, and by virtue of which the Church finds herself invisibly virtually present in a spiritual family constituted outside of her, only in the dissident Christian confessions, in particular in the Greco-Slavonic Orthodox Church and in the Anglican Church.

And it is only in two non-Christian spiritual families, Judaism and Islam, that there exist elements of Church in the improper sense of the word, -- inapt, this time, to render there the Church virtually and invisibly present.

In all the other spiritual families which we have considered, the something common which they have with the Church is too weak and ambiguous in order to be able to be called element of Church. So that clearly one also cannot speak of a virtual and invisible presence of the Church in the spiritual families in question.

Let us not forget, on the other hand, that one finds in the modern world an appreciable number of men too immersed in the turmoils of the temporal in order to have, in that which concerns them, the slightest interest in any spiritual family whatever.

2. It follows from all of this that when one tries to understand a little the universality of the sacrament of salvation that is the Church, the consideration of the diverse spiritual families, however instructive it may be by way of complement, provides, as I indicated at the outset, only a very insufficient help.

It is necessary to turn our eyes toward something else. I have indeed my view on this subject, but it belongs to a domain which is not mine, and it would be the affair of a well-equipped theologian to judge decisively what it is worth. Believing it well founded, I am going to propose it nevertheless. Let it be well understood, however, -- even if I do not express myself with all the oratorical precautions which would be necessary, -- that it is conjecturally that I propose it.

The Absolutely Fundamental and Universal Element of Church

1. It is an absolutely fundamental and universal element of Church which we must discover. Where to seek it? In my opinion, in man himself such as he comes into the world. I think that the primitive and fundamental element of Church, and one which exists everywhere on the earth, -- it is each human person who bears it in him, according as by nature he aspires to know the Cause of being, as also to a state of happy expansion of his being, and according as, wounded in his nature by the sin of Adam,{54} to such a degree that in his first act of freedom he cannot choose the good (and therefore love naturally above everything the subsisting Good) without grace naturam sanans, -- he has at the same stroke, if he does not slip away from the grace initially given, a thirst for God which is at one and the same time of nature and of grace (of grace, in other words "exceeding all created nature").{55}

And he has also, even if he slips away from grace, a desire to save his being which is consubstantial with him, because his being is wounded (he does not know it, but he experiences it since emerging from childhood through suffering and grief).{56} It is this desire to save his being, and to be aided by all the means which are necessary for this, however unknown they may be, which, in act in the supraconscious of the spirit, makes of each man an element of Church in the proper sense of the word, and it is through this desire, -- voto, non re (I would prefer to say "truly, but by virtue only of desire, not of accomplishment"), -- that in each of those to whom the Good News has not come, and by the sole fact that they are men born after the Fall, the whole Church is virtually present, -- virtually and invisibly.

2. The philosophers tell us that the loved is in the one loving, the desired in the one desiring. But applied to the question before us this maxim assumes a meaning of an exceptional import and of an exceptional profundity.

On the one hand, indeed, with regard to the desiring subject, we have to do with a desire rooted in being, therefore incomparably more fundamental than all the ordinary desires which can pass in the soul. As long as a man exists, this desire torments him, conscious in those of us who have the religious sense, supraconscious in all.

On the other hand, with regard to the term of the desire, it is important to distinguish two very different cases. If it is a question of the object of the desire considered only as object of the latter, it is from the desire itself that it derives its being in the soul of the desiring one; the desired is in the desiring one, but it is in him only ideally, such as, for example, a journey which I desire to make. If on the contrary that which is object of desire is also, -- with or without the knowledge of the desiring one, -- a thing possessing its own existence outside of the desiring subject, the desired in question is then a real being in the world, which by the desire is rendered virtually present in the desiring one, and which as such finds itself virtually and invisibly immanent in his life.

Supposing that a woman exists somewhere in the world who is for such or such a given man the unique perfect companion possible, so to speak made-to-order for him, this woman, whom he does not know, exists virtually in him through the desire of human complementarity which dwells in him. She is mysteriously immanent in his life. It is she whom he loves through all the women whom he will be able to love. And it may be that one day he will meet her. . . .

3. Well! the Church of Christ exists, she is there, visible on the earth, and sovereignly real, together with all the means of salvation which she provides. Such and such a man "born in the forests" or in some primitive tribe does not know her; but through the desire to save his being, and to receive the aid of all the means necessary for this, which dwells in the man in question, this really existing Church is in her entirety virtually present in him, virtually and invisibly immanent in his life.

She attracts him without his knowing it to her reality. And in following the desire to save his being which dwells in him, -- in other words, the desire which he has for her without knowing her, -- he will have in his life, even if he be a sinner, and in the options which he will make, occasions to obey inspirations which come from above, to profit better from the good which there is in his religious family if he has one, to be guided in his path by the angels, and to open himself to the grace of God which in one manner or in another is offered to each, and of which no one is deprived except through his own fault. (And perhaps one day he will meet this true Church; and he will recognize her perhaps.)

This is how I conceive that man himself is the most fundamental and most universal Element of Church, in whatever region of the earth he finds himself, and whatever complementary help he may be able to receive from a religious family -- Christian-dissident or non-Christian -- in which he may have been born and may have been reared.

Every human being is thus, by the very fact that he is a man come into the world after the Fall, able to participate in some manner in the universal sacrament of salvation that is the Church; he can receive and is called to receive the effects of the universal sign and instrument of intimate union with God, and of the unity of the whole human race. He is already mysteriously a child of the Church.

4. And this is also how I understand, -- but provided that one goes further than the consideration of the diverse spiritual families when one brings into play the notion of "element of Church," -- the theological text of an admirable richness of thought which has nourished the reflections of an old philosopher while I was working on the present section:

"Just as at the very interior of the visible communion of the Church, there is a very characteristic difference of incorporation between the just and sinners, so there is," Father M. V. Leroy writes,{57} "far beyond her visible limits, an immense domain in which it is [ . . . ] the holy Church of Jesus and of the apostles, the one and unique Catholic Church who realizes herself, immanent in the diverse Christian communions (and, beyond, in the other religious groups and in the entire human family), in the measure of the presence and of the action in them of the 'elements of Church.' So that those even who are officially non-Catholics, but Orthodox, Protestant, etc., are already her children, are already incorporated in her, doubtlessly in a manner still incomplete and therefore imperfect, but dynamic, open, requiring in itself a going beyond and a realization, and, for the best of them, personally salutary, 'spiritual,' although imperfectly 'corporal.' This presence, this immanence of the Catholic Church ( -- Roman!) in the other 'Churches,' this belonging to the unique Flock of all the faithful of Jesus (and, beyond, of all the men who in their hearts have received grace and opted for God and His Kingdom) cannot without caricature be interpreted in terms of possession: it is not a claiming of a power, but recognition of a gift. Those only will be shocked by it who, attracted to the dualism of the Reformation between visible Church (or Churches) and invisible Church, suspect instinctively the Roman Church of imperialism and of totalitarianism." "'Thus the Church' " (the author concludes by this quotation from Charles Journet),{58} "'the Church of Christ entrusted to Peter, is at one and the same time more pure and more vast than we know. More pure, since she is, not certainly without sinners, but without sin, and since the evil actions of her members do not stain her. More vast, since she gathers together around her all that which in the world is saved. She knows that from the depth of space and of time there attach themselves to her through desire, in an initial and latent manner, millions of men whom an invincible ignorance prevents from knowing her, but who have not refused, in the midst of the errors in which they live, the grace of living faith.'"

A Threefold Approach

1. If one tries to glimpse a little to what degree the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world wishes that His Bride be associated in His work and conduct with Him the affairs of salvation, not only as to the men who belong to her visibly, but also as to all the others, it seems to me that it is necessary to join together three considerations, or three different approaches.

In the first place the Church, -- the visible Church, -- is the place of salvation: all the saved are visibly or invisibly in her. It is this of which I spoke in the second part of this chapter.

In the second place, the Church, -- the visible Church, -- is the universal sacrament of salvation, and she is herself present, not only in her members in an actual and visible manner, but also, virtually and invisibly, in all other men, by the sole fact that they are men come into the world after the sin of Adam, and, by this title, absolutely fundamental and universal elements of Church. It is this of which I spoke in the third part of this chapter.

It is necessary to add now a third consideration or a third approach. The Church pays for the salvation of men, and in this sense she is cause or agent of salvation, -- not only for those who belong to her visibly, but for the men of all the earth, -- according as she is dedicated to that coredemption of love and of suffering through which Christ willed to unite to Himself, even in His redemptive sacrifice accomplished once and for all on the Cross, all those who have received His grace.{59} As Pius XII says in the encyclical Mystici Corporis , Christ "requires the help of His members," not certainly by way of complement, but by way of participation, in order that His Passion may bear its fruits on the earth.

It is a question here, no longer of the means of salvation, but of salvation itself and of the gifts from above to be obtained for men, in passing through the heart of God, His justice and His mercy, and in sharing the love and the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross in order that there be applied to the human multitude, all along the ages, the Blood of the Savior and Its infinite merits.

2. I think that concerning such a mystery a distinction must be made. On the one hand each soul in state of grace is called to it for his personal account, in the measure of his sanctity. There are hidden saints, immolated in prayer, upon whom everything rests. Did not Tauler say that a single act of pure love is more efficacious than all the works? Apropos of those whom he calls "the true friends of God," he says also that "their sole existence, the sole fact that they are, is something more precious and more useful than all the activity of the world."{60}

But on the other hand one thing matters more still: it is the coredemption of which the person of the Church herself in her peregrinal state pursues the work here on earth, and in which are assumed all her members, -- however imperfect they may be, however often they may have to rise again from their falls, -- from the fact that their belonging to the person of the Church carries off a little of themselves into the great coredemptive passion which she suffers here on earth until the end of the world. And this work of coredemption effected here on earth by the person of the Church goes as far as the redemptive work of Christ: it embraces all the earth and invokes grace upon all men. And it assumes in it, clearly, all that which the best among her members accomplish in the same coredemptive order in proportion to their personal holiness.

Let us note, further, that even if they do not belong visibly to the Church, all those who have grace, among dissident Christians or non-Christians, are also assumed by the person of the Church in her redemptive work. For by the sole fact that they are men come into the world after the sin of Adam the person of the Church is virtually and invisibly present in them; and by the sole fact that they have grace, the person of the Church, without their knowing it themselves, draws them to her and to that which she accomplishes. But then she draws them at the same stroke, without their knowing it, from their Christian-dissident or non-Christian spiritual family, which is not integrated in the person of the Church; and it is as being invisibly and unconsciously a part of the Church entrusted to Peter that they share in the redemptive work accomplished by the person of the Church. Whereas at the same time, to the extent that there is in them personal holiness, they bear testimony to the paths which the spiritual family to which they belong visibly leaves open to the grace of God.

3. It is by joining together the three considerations or approaches mentioned above that one is able, it seems to me, to best glimpse how the unity of the visible Church extends invisibly to the whole human race.

{1} The formula "No salvation outside the Church" is an abridgment in current language of a declaration of the Council of Florence (1438-1445), Denz.-Schö n., 1351: "Firmiter credit, profitetur et praedicat, nullos intra catholicam Ecclesiam non exsistentes, non solum paganos, sed nec Judaeos aut haereticos atque schismaticos, aeternae vitae fieri posse participes." What matters here is the declaration itself, not the manner in which one understood it in that epoch. That in actual fact the Fathers of the Council of Florence themselves understood it, -- according to the mentality of the epoch, and without having been conscious of its ambiguity, -- of a visible belonging to the Church, this seems evident to me. The fact remains that the declaration itself does not at all say it.

It is with time that the ambiguity in question appeared, -- and at the same stroke the true sense in which the declaration must be taken. There has therefore been mutation, not with regard to the declaration itself, but with regard to the manner in which those who formulated it understood it. The declaration itself is infallibly true (provided it is rightly understood). The assistance of the Holy Spirit is a thing from above, it bears on things infallibly true to be caused to be declared, not on the personal mentality of those who declare them.

{2} I apologize for these summary statements in the view of scholarly specialists, whose microscopes I have left aside. But did I not warn in my preface that this book was written by an ignorant one for ignorant ones like himself.

{3} Mikaël Penn, Les Hommes en jaune, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1967, p. 60.

{4} "Brahmanism is the majority religion of India. It comprises, today, more than three hundred million followers. It begins, for the historian, with those texts written in archaic Sanskrit which bear the name of Veda: accordingly the designation Vedism is reserved for ancient Brahmanism, whereas one calls Hinduism the post-Vedic phases of its evolution." (Olivier Lacombe, "Le Brahmanisme," in the collective work La Mystique et les Mystiques, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1965, p. 731.)

This well noted, I shall employ here indifferently the words "Brahmanism" or "Hinduism."

{5} Be it adulterated as in Islam by a debatable prophet.

{6} Cf. my book Quatre Essais sur l'Esprit dans sa condition charnelle, nouvelle édition revue et augmentée, Paris, Alsatia, 1956, p. 134.

{7} Cf. my book Les Degrés du Savoir, Ch. VI (in which it is shown that a mystical experience of the depths of God can only be supernatural. As to natural mystical experience as experience of the esse of the self, the idea came to me only later; the first edition of Quatre Essais appeared in 1939, that of Les Degrés du Savoir in 1932.).

{8} Cf. Quatre Essais, pp. 148-149.

{9} Cf. ibid., pp. 150-151.

{10} "From the very fact that the experience we are discussing is a (negative) purely existential experience, and from the fact that existence is transcendent and polyvalent, and is limited only by the essence which receives it, and of which precisely in this case one knows nothing, it is comprehensible that this negative experience, in attaining the existential esse of the soul, should at one and the same time attain this proper existence of the soul, existence in its metaphysical amplitude, and the sources of existence, according as the existence of the soul, taken concretely and to the extent that it is the exercise of effectuation extra nihil, is something emanating from and suffused by an influx wherefrom it attains its all. This influx is not experienced in itself, of course, but rather the effect which it produces is experienced in itself, and the influx in and through this effect. This is why the experience in question answers indeed in a certain fashion -- and to the extent that this is possible in the natural order -- to the desire of every thing to rejoin its sources and the principle of its being. It is the sources of being in his soul that man thus attains, thanks to the techniques through which nature reascends toward the spirit against the grain of nature and in a certain way disjoints its own proper metaphysical texture. The Hindu experience does appear, therefore, to be a mystical experience in the natural order, a fruitive experience of the absolute, of that absolute which is the substantial esse of the soul and, in it and through it, of the divine absolute (as cause of being, not as giving Himself as object of fruition)." (Quatre Essais, pp. 153-154.)

{11} On the bhakti, cf. Quatre Essais, pp. 162-163. -- For the bhakti, and for Ramanoudja, "the salutary way par excellence is that of the knowledge of love adhering to God as person and correlative of grace." Olivier Lacombe, L'absolu selon le Védânta, pp. 5-6.

{12} On this metaphysics, see in particular the book of Olivier Lacombe, L'absolu selon le Védânta, les notions de Brahman et d'Atman dans le système de Çankara et Râmânoudja, Paris, Guethner, 1937; and René Grousset, Les philosophies indiennes, Paris, 1931.

{13} "Is Buddhism a religion? In the etymological sense of the word, yes: res-ligiosa, 'the thing which binds'; the followers are bound by analogous convictions. But in the present sense of the word Theravada Orthodox Buddhism which denies the soul and God is not a religion. . ." Mikaël Penn, Les Hommes en jaune, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 1967, p. 19.

"Buddhism is essentially atheistic, and the multitude of the faithful expects from Buddha all that which one hopes from God (. . .) So much and so completely that one would believe oneself finally obliged to hold together two apparently contradictory propositions: 'Buddhism is not a religion, but it is a philosophy.' -- 'There is no thought more profoundly religious than the doctrine of Buddha.'" And again: "Atheism. Such is indeed, it seems to me, if one wishes to keep for the word 'God' its strict sense of absolutely transcendent Being, the judgment which it is necessary to bear on the religious literature of the Hinayana. Does the Mahayana contradict this atheism? (. . .) The pure essence of Buddheity, the Tathata, admits the multiplicity of the Buddhas who express it and who identify themselves with it ( . . . ) Behold therefore the Great Vehicle rejoins the Small Vehicle, in a pluralist conception of Beings who, from mortal, have become imperishable; who have become this by their merits, by their works. . . ." Fr. Taymans d'Eypernon, Les paradoxes du Bouddhisme, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1947, pp. 239-240, 245-246, 248.

{14} Cf. Mikaël Penn, op. cit., p. 168.

{15} op. cit., p. 309; cf. pp. 295-324. -- "What is Zen?" writes Dr. D. T. Suzuki. "It is one of the questions to which it is most difficult to reply; to reply, I mean, to the satisfaction of the questioners; for Zen resists even an attempt at any sort of definition or of description. The best way to understand it will clearly be to study it and to practice it at least a few years in the Meditation Hall . . . .) It is in the very nature of Zen to escape all definition and explanation; in other words, it can never be converted into ideas or described in logical terms." Essais sur le Bouddhisme Zen, Paris, éd. Adrien Maisonneuve, 1944, 4 vol., II, p. 65.

Is a somewhat blase philosopher surprised that the ineffability of Zen has not prevented Dr. Suzuki from writing a lot of learned volumes on it?

{16} "It is a question of discouraging the initiate from all rational research, and by this Zen is in the authentic tradition of Buddhism." Mikaël Perrin, op. cit., p. 295. Cf. Suzuki, op. cit., p. 89: "As long as the masters delight in the negations, the denials, the contradictions or the paradoxes, the task of intellectual speculation is not completely effaced in them. Of course, Zen is not opposed to speculation, since the latter is one of the functions of the mind. But it has followed a very different path ( . . . ) Language is therefore, for the masters of Zen, a kind of cry or of exclamation directly sprung from their interior spiritual experience." (p. 99.)

On Zen, see also what Arthur Koestler writes about it in his book The Lotus and the Robot, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1961. -- It is not surprising that for some centuries (until the end of the seventeenth) there was in Japan an admirable Zen art. A spontaneous explosion of pure irrationality can open the doors to the poetry hidden in the supraconscious of the spirit. But when pure spontaneity becomes itself the object of a discipline which wishes to attain it by automatism, poetry vanishes. (Cf. Koestler, p. 264.)

{17} This is what the Council suggests when it says that the Moslems, "professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God. . . ." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Ch. II, Sect. 16). The faith of Abraham was very certainly a supernatural faith.

Still it is necessary to note that as much as it is permitted to judge of such things, the Moslem faith seems to go (except in the great Sufis) to the testimony concerning God, to the enuntiabile, more than to the res itself, to the superintelligible depths of the divine Being.

{18} Louis Gardet, L'Islam, Religion et Communauté, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1967, p. 71 et seq. -- On the particular connotations of the words "religion" and "faith" in Islam, cf. ibid., pp. 29-38.

{19} Cf. Louis Gardet, op. cit., p. 55. Cf. also pp. 64 and 232.

{20} Cf. Louis Massignon, Al Hallaj, martyr mystique de l'Islam, Paris, Guethner, 1922; in course of republication. -- On Moslem Sufism, cf. Louis Gardet, op. cit., pp. 229-242.

{21} Cf. the beautiful book of Henri Hartung, Ces Princes du Management, Paris, Fayard, 1970.

{22} In treating of atheism in other writings (Raison et Raisons, Chs. VI and VII; and La Signification de l'athéisme contemporain ), I made a distinction which I believe well founded, but which I think now badly formulated, between what I called "pseudoatheism" on the one hand and "absolute atheism" or "true atheism" on the other hand. It would be necessary to say in the first case atheism by conviction of the mind (it is not at all pseudoatheism, but authentic atheism); and, in the second case, atheism by option of the heart. It is not of this second kind of atheism that it is a question here.

{23} See on this point my essay "La dialectique immanente du premier acte de liberté," in Raison et Raisons, collection of articles of an earlier date, Preface by Charles Journet, Fribourg, Egloff, and Paris, L. U. F., 1947. [English version of this essay appears in The Range of Reason, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1952, pp. 66-85. -- Tr.] -- When I wrote this essay, I had not yet disengaged the notion of supraconscious, so that the essay requires to be completed and corrected in this respect. It is in two other books (Creative Intuition in Art and Poetry and On the Grace and Humanity of Jesus) that I have insisted on the essential importance of the supraconscious of the spirit, that kind of unconscious which, unlike the Freudian unconscious, is not below but above conscious thought.

{24} One will find in Raison et Raisons (pp. 146-157) a more complete discussion on this subject. Does one desire an example in an altogether different domain? "Newman had long given up 'choosing his way' and was content to be led by the divine light" -- and in the supraconscious of the spirit had already implicit faith in the Church -- "yet still the Church of Rome seemed to him to be allied with Antichrist. There are more things in a man's heart than are dreamt of in his philosophy; or even, often enough, in his theology." (Charles Journet, The Church of the Incarnate Word, pp. 39-40.)

{25} Cf. further on, pp. 104-106.

{26} "Through him [Christ] the whole body grows, and with the proper functioning of the members joined firmly together by each supporting ligament, builds itself up in love." Ephes. 4, 15-16.

{27} On this whole question of the soul of the Church I employ, in order to simplify things, another language than Cardinal Journet, but while following his thought and, I hope, while summarizing it faithfully. For a complete and detailed theological elucidation, I send the reader to the admirably thorough analyses of Tome II of L'Église du Verbe Incarné (Chapter VI, Section I).

There is however a point on which I would take a somewhat different position. With regard to the non-Christians who, having received the grace of Christ, belong invisibly to the Church, is it necessary to think, -- it is not my opinion, -- that the grace received does not in any way cause them to participate in the coredemptive mission of the Church? (Cf. op. cit., II, p. 236: text completed and nuanced by the remarks of p. 406 to which I can only give my complete agreement.)

On the other hand, I do not think that there is reason to seek differences in the more or less perfect or imperfect degree of this invisible belonging. All (and it is this which matters for their salvation) have before God, more or less lofty and abundant, the grace of Christ, as also, in the supraconscious of the spirit, the light of faith, at least as to the essential data mentioned by St. Paul. And in all of them likewise the mode is imperfect under which the grace of Christ, to however lofty a degree in itself such or such a one may have it, finds itself in them with respect to that which the grace of Christ requires in itself as to belonging to the Church.

I would like to note, after this, that, as Cardinal Journet writes (op. cit., II, p. 662), "there is real identity and distinction of reason between the Church and the Communion of Saints." It is the same reality envisaged from two different points of view. I shall say that the idea of "the Church" connotes the soul of the Church above all as informing the whole complex visible organism which is the body of the latter: so that a baptized person in state of grace, if he has kept the Catholic faith, remains visibly and formally a member of the body of the Church, whereas a Moslem or a Buddhist in state of grace is only invisibly, and virtually or initially, a member of this body. And I shall say that the idea of "the Communion of Saints" connotes the soul of the Church above all as sanctifying the individual persons in whom it resides: so that a Buddhist or a Moslem in state of grace is formally -- before God -- a member of the communion of saints, whereas a Catholic in state of sin and who has kept the faith is -- before God -- only virtually and initially a member of the communion of saints.

{28} Luke 12, 47-48. -- "The slave who knew his master's wishes but did not prepare to fulfill them will get a severe beating, whereas the one who did not know them and who nonetheless deserved to be flogged will get off with fewer stripes. When much has been given a man, much will be required of him. More will be asked of a man to whom more has been entrusted."

{29} Universale salutis sacramentum (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Ch. VII, Sect. 48). Cf. also Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Part I, Ch. IV, Sect. 45.

{30} Chrétiens désunis, Principes d'un "oecuménisme" catholique, Paris, 1937.

{31} Supposing that in a few cases this teaching is the same, then it is not any longer a question of exchange.

{32} I do not speak of theological exchanges, because I do not believe in them. A Catholic theologian has great profit in reading a Protestant theologian, especially if the latter is of high stature, like a Karl Barth; but (let us forget for a moment some charismatic pseudotheologians) he does not read him in order to prepare with condiments received from him a half-Protestant half-Catholic theological sauce; he reads him exactly for the same reason as any other author of value, a Marx or a Freud for example: as awakener of questions which he himself will resolve in his own light. It is thus that St. Thomas profited from the Greek philosophers and from the Arabian philosophers, and from all that which fell under his hand, -- he who would have been able to say, more truly than Mallarmé "and I have read all the books." Theology is a science; it is not a hotchpotch.

{33} Ch. Journet, The Church of the Incarnate Word, p. 42.

{34} Louis Bouyer, La spiritualité orthodoxe et la spiritualité protestante et anglicane, Paris, Aubier, 1965, pp. 14-15.

{35} Cf. Louis Bouyer, op. cit., pp. 121-124.

{36} Cf. the excellent article of Ernest R. Korn, "Aux origines de la pensée moderne," Revue Thomiste, 197 I-II and III. I quote here some lines from it:

"This repulsion, at the limit of blasphemy, which the God Who punishes and damns arouses in Luther, -- is it not rather the very expression of that war which the Reformer conducts against himself? The expression of a combat begun in order to reach a kind of infinity which Luther thinks he has found in the teaching of Tauler and of the Theologia Deutsch ?. . .

"The struggle which Luther conducts against the limitations of human nature, -- it is at the plane of human activity that it establishes itself: it is by a nonfinite and unlimited action that he intends to surmount the limits of the human being.

"The finitude of which he feels an eternal sadness and an infernal grief (and which he identifies with sin and with fault) is the radical finitude of the human being. The Lutheran manner of understanding the Catholic dogma of Original Sin expresses this limitation in terms of 'total corruption of human nature.' Hence this finitude becomes essentially culpable. And how can one be liberated from this culpability, how can one be saved, except by struggling against the human itself, that is to say, as Luther writes, by conducting 'oneself persecution against oneself.' Combat merciless and to the point of total collapse, for in order for salvation to be able to appear, it is necessary that man 'collapse and be annihilated in all his forces, in all his works, in his whole being.' And why? Because 'the nature of God is such,' explains the Reformer, 'that out of nothingness He makes something. This is why, out of him who is not yet nothingness -- out of him God cannot either make anything'. . . .

"Are not the Mass-losigheit and the Form-losigkeit which characterize Luther related to the experience of a total and measureless fluidity which maintains and blends the extreme oppositions: simul peccator et justus?

"Antagonism beyond consciousness? But which fills the soul with bitterness, with horror, with fright and with eternal sadness, with intolerable and inconsolable terror: infernal griefs, but which for Luther become the very door of Paradise."

{37} Decree on Ecumenism, Ch. I, Sect. 3. -- "The elements or endowments," the Council said. I think that the "interior gifts" (such as "the life of grace, faith, hope and charity") are to be classed especially among the "endowments"; whereas among the "elements" are to be classed especially visible things, such as "the written word of God" (and the Sacraments for example, -- Baptism above all, -- and the teaching of the truths of faith). It is by the words visible elements that the text quoted here ends.

{38} Ibid., Ch. I, Sect. 3.

{39} Nova et Vetera, January-March, 1970, "Intercommunion?", p. 3; cf. ibid., p. 7; and also Revue Thomiste, 1965-I, p. 45.

{40} Decree on Ecumenism, Ch. I, Sect. 3.

{41} On the Orthodox Churches and on the Protestant Reformation, from the point of view of the theology of the history of salvation, cf. Charles Journet, Nova et Vetera, 1967, n. 4 and n. 3.

{42} Cf. above, Ch. III, Sect. 5.

{43} Turned in upon themselves, and not without the decorum of superiority, even of arrogance, characteristic of large collectivities as such, they accuse Catholics of errors in faith, and rebaptize persons who have been baptized in the Catholic Church, whereas the latter acts toward them in an altogether opposite manner.

Nowhere more than in the tragic history of the Eastern schism have the weaknesses of which the personnel of the Church is capable when it acts as proper cause been laid bare, in the midst of circumstances -- palace intrigues, political rivalries between the empire of Rome and that of Byzantium, offenses and calumnies -- in which on both sides the human played its sad role. The fact remains that Nicholas I, Hadrian II and John VIII only bore witness to their fidelity to their duty and to their mission, and only acted under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in affirming against winds and tides the primacy of universal jurisdiction of the Papacy over the whole Church.

That such a rent was able to occur in the history of the Church herself, -- this recalls to us that the latter, with her supernatural personality, is composed of poor men, and that many in her personnel are subject in times of crisis to moments of aberration. This shows also that the ways which God has used toward His Son, in delivering Him into the hands of men without ceasing to guard Him by His love are also, in altogether different conditions, the ways which He uses toward His Church (as also, in altogether different conditions, toward His ancient people still loved because of its fathers).

{44} One can distinguish from this point of view three currents in the Anglican Church: the Anglo-Catholics, the 'middle-of-the-road' Anglicans, and the "evangelical" current, in which Protestant influences operate.

The history of the rupture between the Church of England and Rome still remains obscure. With the question of the divorce of Henry VIII (Wolsey had, it seems, found a means of obtaining the divorce without breaking with Rome, but had fallen into disgrace and the king did not listen to him; cf. J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, London, 1968) there was mingled the question, very complex also, of the ecclesiastical courts: the fear of the severity -- unusual -- which they owed it to themselves to show toward the gentlemen when many of the latter began to read Protestant books raised against them Parliament, not without disquieting also, it seems, certain bishops: all of which contributed perhaps to cause them to give in to force when Henry VIII had passed by Parliament the Act of Supremacy by which the king became the supreme leader of the Church of England. Mrs. Margaret Bowker, of the University of Cambridge, is pursuing historical researches on the subject. Cf. her article that is to appear in the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 1970 [Vol. 21(1971), pp. 61-77. -- Tr.].

On the other hand, it is interesting to note that there is today in the Church of England an effort of internal readjustment, implying the desire of a greater independence with regard to the Crown in that which concerns the nomination of bishops.

{45} Cf. M. J. Lagrange, Le Messianisme chez les Juifs, Paris, 1909.

{46} Cf. Stuart E. Rosenberg, "Le renouveau contemporain et l'expérience juive," in La Théologie du renouveau, Paris, éd. du Cerf, 1968. -- I quote from the recension of J. J. de Santo Tomas (Revue Thomiste, January-March, 1970, Bulletin d'Histoire de L'Église, p. 136), which continues thus: 1. In seeking by the Halaka the concrete realization of the Torah in Jewish life, the rabbis kept for the Holy Book its character of living Word of God, source of self-renewal of the individual and of the community. 'The Book of the people had changed [the Jewsl into people of the Book, and, with this Book, this people could survive all exile.' 2. The destruction of the Temple put an end only to the influence of the priests; there remained the Synagogue, less place of prayer than group of adorers, congregation in Israel and of Israel, in which one leams to serve God in the study of the Torah, to pray to Him in turning oneself toward Sion, in the expectation of the time of the 'restauration.' 3. For Sion was less a national concept than the symbol of a confidence in the historical intervention of God, like that of Egypt or of the return from Babylon."

{47} "True, authorities of the Jews and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. Jn. 19:6); still, what happened in His passion cannot be blamed upon all the Jews then living, without distinction, nor upon the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as repudiated or cursed by God, as if such views followed from the holy Scriptures." Vatican II, Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Sect. 4.

{48} On Islam from the point of view of the theology of the history of salvation, cf. Charles Journet, Nova et Vetera, 1967, No. 2.

{49} Cf. Olivier Lacombe, "Le Brahmanisme," in the collective work La mystique et les mystiques, Paris, Desclée De Brouwer, 1965, p. 732.

{50} Ibid., p. 741.

{51} "There is in fact, according to the Buddhist, no self. What is felt to be the 'I', the self residing in the body, is nothing of the kind. There is no soul or self which exists as a separate essence or entity, or which experiences physical and mental happenings. There is only the human complexity, made up of the elements and energy which have flowed together in a particular human form, and which are in a constant state of change. The sense of being a 'self', or of being an individual, is a result of the way in which physical entities and energies have been combined in human form. That is why, instead of talking about a soul or self, which might be supposed to exist (and survive) independently of the body, it is far more realistic to talk of 'not-self', or, in the Buddhist terminology, anatta." John Bowker, Problems of Suffering in Religions of the World, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1970, p. 241.

{52} "Justice as a conception is banished from his system, held up to ridicule; as lived exigency, it is the devouring fire from which his protest springs. . . . . It seems to me that this contradiction between an extraordinarily lucid and impatient moral conscience and the negation of its reality at the plane of philosophical reason confers on Marxism its explosive character and its force of seduction. I am speaking, of course, of Marx himself, for Marxism has not ceased to be torn between a humanist tendency and a tendency to rigid intellectual and political systematization, of which the Garaudy-Althusser debate, is only an episode." G. M. M. Cottier, Horizons de l'athéisme, Paris, Ed. du Cerf, 1969, p. 113.

Cf. also John Bowker, op. cit., pp. 138-140.

{53} From a Hippy hymn, in the musical comedy Hair.

{54} Cf. the interesting article of Emile Bailleux, "L'universel Adam et le péché originel," in the Revue Thomiste, Oct.-Nov., 1969. The exegetico-paleontologic presupposition in the perspective of which this article has been written is far from being established, and I regard it as philosophically debatable. But theologians do well to keep themselves ready for every eventuality.

{55} Cf. Sum. theol., I-II, 5, 7. -- Cf. also my essay "La dialectique immanente du premier acte de liberté" in Raison et Raisons (Paris and Fribourg, Egloff, 1947).

{56} This consubstantial desire is a natural desire which goes beyond the limitations of nature (transnatural desire) by reason of the Adamic grace in which man was created and which he has lost. "From the moment that grace (grace of Adam or grace of Christ) and faith are given to the human species, there we are infinitized, even if later on we lose grace, and even if we lose the faith. Even in a humanity which has lived in the state of innocence and which has lost Adamic grace, even in a humanity which has been Christian and from which faith departs, and with faith the properly supernatural desires, well, in the two cases, the transnatural desires remain stimulated, sharpened." Neuf leçons sur les notions premières de la philosophie morale, Paris, Téqui, 1950, pp. 106-107.

{57} "Chronique d'Ecclésiologie," Revue Thomiste, 1969, No. 2, pp. 301-302.

{58} L'Eglise du Verbe Incarné, II, Paris, 1951, p. 1114.

{59} On this subject see the excellent essay of Father Marie-Joseph Nicolas ("La Co-redemption," Revue Thomiste, 1947-I) from which I have given some quotations in The Peasant of the Garonne (pp. 248 et seq.).

{60} Sermons, t. II, p. 247. -- Cf. Charles Journet, L'Église du Verbe Incarné, t. II, p. 329.

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