Roman Catholicism Trying to Hide/Obfuscate Their Official Dogma on Justification?

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Laus Deo

Puritan Board Freshman
In my latest small group meeting the topic regarding the salvation of Roman Catholics came up. The reason being many in our group have family members and friends who are in the Roman system and they were curious on my thoughts regarding if a faithful practicing Roman Catholic can be saved.

My response was, if someone is truly following Roman Catholic doctrine and adhere to all of the Canons the RCC teaches, then they would most likely not be saved. I said that knowing that the Council of Trent pronounced anathemas to anyone who says that they are justified by faith in Christ alone. That would mean that a true follower of the RC faith would be denying the true Gospel and would therefore not have saving faith. Now after saying this the concerned individuals said they heard the same thing so that prompted them to read the catechism of the RCC. They said they could not find those anathemas anywhere and that just because the Council of Trent decided that and it's not in the catechism that was done back in the 80's under Pope John Paul II, that it isn't what the RCC teaches.

This caught me off guard as I never read the RC catechism. I've since looked at a copy of the catechism from the official Vatican website and noticed that there is no mention of the anathemas regarding justification and it seems pretty watered down. They do state their views of justification, which is very convoluted. I then researched the authority of the catechism within the RCC on the Council of Bishops website and it is represented as basically a summary of beliefs. Then I wondered well what about the Council of Trent and the decrees made there? Why are they not in the catechism and do they still hold? Were they revoked? This is where it got interesting and lead me to starting this thread. Apparently, based on everything I could find researching the topic the Council of Trent decrees are "infallible" and are "dogma" within the RCC and cannot be revoked. I went on the Vatican website and I couldn't find the Council of Trent's documents.

So if the following pronouncements are current dogma of the RCC (Sixth Session of the Council of Trent), and practicing Roman Catholics truly believe them, wouldn't that make salvation unlikely for many of them?:

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XV.-If any one saith, that a man, who is born again and justified, is bound of faith to believe that he is assuredly in the number of the predestinate; let him be anathema.

It appears that the RCC is hiding their true Dogma. I believe it's most likely due to the ecumenical movement which really seemed to pick up steam during the 80's hence the catechism being written to obfuscate what they truly teach to make it more palatable for Roman Catholics and Protestants who are trying to view Roman Catholics as brothers in Christ.

To be clear, I did hedge my comment to the small group by saying that no one knows what degree any RC believer actually adheres to the faith. I was raised RC until I was in 7th grade and by God's grace I left the Roman system after my mother left the RCC. I can't say just because some one claims to be RC that they are unsaved. I do question how someone can be born again and continue to be a practicing Roman Catholic though. This is tough stuff when people have a genuine concern for loved ones, but it's important to really discuss and not to ignore.

Does anyone have any comments, thoughts or suggestions? Is my point flawed? Let me know if you can provide any more information on the topic. I found it very interesting in how difficult it was to find information regarding the Council of Trent/Catholic Dogma within official RC websites.
Just a comment, but I wouldn't expect a system with a wrong/distorted/convoluted teaching about how man is saved to be honest about everything.

I mean, they're denying the truth of salvation. How likely do you think they are to be honest with you about their denying of the truth?

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
I also forgot to mention that when I was researching this topic. The RCC has changed what they mean by Anathema. Instead of it being a curse pronounced they now say it means excommunication. They are doing everything they can to soften or mislead on their position.
I've run into this also. It took me a while to understand what their catechism was saying (after much re-reading of it and lots of comparison with their other catechisms and perusing their teachers, yuck), but they indeed still believe Trent on the gospel, and you will notice them citing Trent in their catechism in the references. The only difference now is that they try to emphasize being justified by faith--even faith alone--so as to deceive into thinking there is unity here. However, they mean something different by faith than Protestants do: their definition makes faith a virtue and requires charity as a virtue in order to justify, so they are saved due to having something good in them instead of merely receiving the righteousness of Christ outside of them.

Justification also means something different: it includes baptism (or its desire for it in unusual cases) and is a declaration that a person is just inwardly based on the infused grace.

Their religion is such that they are ultimately only saved by their love for Christ. Hence, you will see them make references to such in their devotional literature: that is the thing that is ultimately keeping them out of hell and is their hope for heaven.

There is debate in the Roman communion about the meaning of anathema and of Trent, but they for the most part agree (and the official position, which is what matters agrees): Trent is infallible and so it stands. I've seen what you have seen about the silly attempt to distinguish between curse and excommunication: For if someone held such a position in the Roman communion and was excommunicated, what is excommunication but a pronouncement that they will die in their sins if they do not repent? And truth is true everywhere: if certain things are needed for salvation and someone lacks them (because they are outside the Roman communion), they are cursed, whether Rome pronounces it officially upon them or no.

My concern for their deception and how it has allured some Protestants to Rome or made Protestants softer on Rome moved me to make this thread on this very subject:

Someone has since mentioned to me Rev. Adam Kuehner has a useful booklet, which looks useful, especially for the situation you have mentioned:

Aside from reading their catechism, etc., to understand their system (which is not a simple justification by faith + works as it is often purported to be, but in fact is much worse), I found Calvin's Antitode to Trent helpful, as well as these articles by Godfrey:

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The previous catechism of the Roman Church before today's Catholic Catechism is the Roman Catechism, from the 16th century; the catechism of Robert Bellarmine was also widespread, and in the US it was modified by the US Bishops to form the Baltimore Catechism. All of those previous catechisms are more straightforward as to their differences with Protestants, and their belief that only those in communion with Rome can be saved.
Now it's fairly common to hear Roman Catholics say that "faith alone saves," including Pope Benedict, and many undiscerning Protestants are fooled by this rhetoric, but when Roman Catholics say "faith alone" they mean that faith is the first or principal virtue, from which hope and love flow, and that one is justified through inherent righteousness, which consists primarily in the possession of those cardinal virtues, the chief of which is love. So you're saved "from faith alone" because those virtues which save you are from faith. They do not teach that faith saves by laying hold of the alien righteousness of Christ, but that one is saved by inherent merits.
Another misconception is that they came up with this language recently in order to fool Protestants. They may use it more now to fool Protestants, but this formulation goes back to St. Augustine, who explains this view in his commentaries on Paul's epistles. It's by no means a universal view of the Fathers; it is essentially an idiosyncratic error of Augustine that was carried on by Rome in the middle ages, due to their having essentially canonized the writings of Augustine, for better or for worse. The Roman Catholic Church, with the exception of Nicene Orthodoxy, has a strong tendency to keep the bad from the fathers and ignore the good.
I remember a conversation once with an RC guy about soteriology and being surprised that we seemingly agreed on a fair bit. I realize now that we very likely didn’t agree as much as I thought. There’s an important principle that I learned from a good friend of mine who was witnessing to Mormons: always make them define their terms.
With Roman Catholics, the meanings and implications of terms show a still great separation between us.
Here’s a helpful resource that might pertain to your specific question.
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