New Sherwood

Fr. Neuhaus Documentary

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January 9, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

11 Comments »

  1. I love the part where he’s at his desk trying to figure out why some correspondent is disagreeing with him. Ha! I can almost hear the gears turning in his head …

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 9, 2009 | Reply

  2. I was thinking about Fr. Neuhaus and I went to the Wikipedia site and saw that he was a proponet of “universal salvation” and thought…. hmmmm. Indifferentism by any other name, does it smell as sweet?

    No doubt Fr. Neuhaus had a great impact and brought many souls to conversion but I worry that the concept of Universal Salvation deprives us of the souls of many more!

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    Comment by Mary | January 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hello Mary! Good to see you come alive again. :-)

    Fr. Neuhaus was one who hoped that all men would be saved. For him it was hope, not belief. The distinction is important. To the best of my knowledge this hope is permissible for Catholics, though I think it skirts dangerously close to making nonsense of divine revelation on several points.

    He was certainly not a “prophet” of universal salvation. The hope of universal salvation was not at all prominent in his work, and truthfully amounts to nothing more than a footnote. Most of his readers and admirers would be surprised to learn that he ever expressed such a hope. I myself only heard about it through his detractors.

    On this topic, and more than a few others, I found myself at odds with Fr. Neuhaus. I’m a traditionalist, and he certainly was not. But his thought and work were tremendously important and influenced many thousands of souls for the good – for eternity.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. Well, actually, he wrote about it several times and, as I recall, at some length, in FT. But I can have enormous admiration for someone with whom I have disagreements. In fact, pretty much everybody for whom I have enormous admiration is somebody with whom I have disagreements.

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    Comment by Lydia | January 12, 2009 | Reply

  5. Jeff:

    You said: Fr. Neuhaus was one who hoped that all men would be saved. For him it was hope, not belief. The distinction is important. To the best of my knowledge this hope is permissible for Catholics, though I think it skirts dangerously close to making nonsense of divine revelation on several points.

    Of course this hope is permisible! AND Biblical:

    1 Timothy 2: 3,4

    I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all men: For kings and for all that are in high station: that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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    Comment by annabenedetti | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  6. Lydia: Thanks for the clarification. I only recall one mention in FT, but I’m sure your recollection must be correct. In recent years I mostly ignored the articles and commentary dealing with ecumenism. Nevertheless, as a percentage of Fr. N’s total output, I would still insist that his ruminations on universal salvation are not very significant.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  7. Dear Anna,

    1 Tim 2:3-4 is the biblical passage that comes to my mind as well. But I think we need to understand God’s will aright. God’s permissive will allows for man, in freedom, to choose evil – even hell. In this sense, to say that God wills that all men be saved does not really speak to human hope or belief. We can also say God wills that no one commit a sin, yet it makes no sense to hope that no one will ever sin!

    Our Lord spends a lot of time warning of a place where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – not might be, but shall be. He says of Judas that “it were better for him if that man had not been born”. And He also says “Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it!”

    The entire Catholic tradition assumes the existence of hell and the reality that some souls go there. Some of the living have even been visited by the damned. Saints and visionaries have been given terrifying visions of hell, most recently the children at Fatima. The consensus through the ages has been that few will be saved, but many will be damned due to final impenitence, which is a real possibility and not merely theoretical.

    For these reasons I think even hoping for universal salvation is problematic and very likely to lead to heresy.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  8. Let me clarify that I don’t believe in universal salvation. I should have done so in my previous comment, but I don’t condense my thoughts very well sometimes. I believe completely that there is a Hell and that it is inhabited.

    However, I do believe that God longs for all men to come to him, and that through the power of prayer, some that one might not think could make it to Heaven will, if only through a prolonged stay in purgatory. I’ve read that Blessed Anna Catherine Emmerich saw Jews and Protestants in Purgatory.

    None of us know how God uses our prayers for unbelievers and for those who’ve wandered far from him. Remember it was the faith of his friends who lowered him through the hole in the roof which caused Jesus to cure the paralytic. I always hold out the hope that in those moments of dying that there may be one last chance for repentance; one last chance to say “yes, Lord. I believe.”

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    Comment by annabenedetti | January 13, 2009 | Reply

    • Beautifully said, Anna, and I agree. As we pray after every decade of the rosary: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

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      Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  9. “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

    Amen!

    I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet often… sometimes the 3:00 hour of mercy comes in the afternoon, and sometimes it comes in the wee hours of the morning, when I say it for whomever is dying at that moment who may be greatly in need of mercy.

    You know that old saying about no one knowing what happens “between the bridge and the water”. May God, Who is not constrained by time, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.

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    Comment by annabenedetti | January 13, 2009 | Reply

  10. For the record, Fr. Neuhaus articulated his views in this article in the August/September 2001 issue of First Things.

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    Comment by Jeff Culbreath | January 14, 2009 | Reply


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