That low rumbling sound you’ve been hearing in the east is the sound of Pope Piux IX spinning in his grave (which, oddly, if the listing I saw at the Vatican is accurate, is not actually at St. Peter’s) as the Roman leadership has continued moving ever farther away from his Syllabus of Errors and headlong into embracing pure inclusivism. We had noted more than once John Paul II’s statements in this regard. On November 30th, Benedict XVI likewise seemed to give his approval to the viewpoint. From the official Vatican webpage we read,
In elucidating the psalm, the Pope also referred to a meditation on the subject by St. Augustine in which, he said, “the great Father of the Church introduces a surprising note: he knows that even among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people committed to peace and goodness, though without sharing the biblical faith. In the end, then, God will lead those people to the heavenly Jerusalem, rewarding them for their pure consciences.”
I’ve seen some interesting expansions of these statements, and I’m hoping the full text will show up in the next edition of L’osservatore Romano, but these statements are fully in line with the interpretation I offered of the relevant sections from the CCC in the debate with Bill Rutland earlier this year. If a staunch conservative like Ratzinger holds firmly to this perspective, there seems little chance the trend in Rome will ever turn back to its former beliefs on that particular subject. Once again we see that “theology matters,” since, of course, there is no one with such a pure conscience to begin with, no one who fears God and does what is right before Him “without sharing the biblical faith.” A false anthropology combined with a defective view of the atonement results in a false soteriology.