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Are Orthodox, Copts, and Similar Killed for the faith Christians? July 14, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, Ecumenism, General Catholic, Holy suffering, Interior Life, martyrdom, persecution, Saints, sanctity, sickness, Society, Virtue.

Two weeks ago, I did a post on the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.  A commenter objected that those holding heretical views or in schismatic groups are not Christians.  I argued back that they are certainly considered to be Christians by the muslims, and are dying for the Faith, even if they hold erroneous beliefs.

This may seem like hair-splitting, but touches on matters foundational to our self-understanding as Christians.  As such, I ran the matter past a local traditional priest, and was gratified to find his understanding of these folks essentially identical to mine.

In normal situations, it is not wrong to say that Copts or Orthodox are not Christian, or are at least highly faulty ones.  They hold views that are erroneous, dangerous, and perhaps even damnable under certain circumstances.  Of course, most all of these people know no better, they were raised in this error or in schism and were taught it was right and correct from a very early age.  Their personalresponsibility for holding such errors is, then, highly debatable.

However, my post was not describing a normal situation.  It was describing a situation of dire, religious-oriented persecution.  These people are being wounded and killed for professing Jesus Christ as their Savior and rejecting islam.  They can, in that sense, even be considered martyrs.  Of course, the specifics of individual situations mean everything, but broadly speaking, they are dying for their belief in Jesus Christ, an act always held to be immensely meritorious.  It is even quite possible that in some situations this profession was sufficient to overcome whatever guilt they hold for their erroneous/schismatic beliefs and provided a baptism by desire/blood into the True Church.  That’s an elaborate issue and goes beyond the scope of this post, but I believe, and the priest agreed, that such a profession of faith could – could – even be meritorious of salvation.

And that’s precisely why the muslims torture, maim, and kill them, because these people refuse to deny Jesus Christ as their savior and refuse to accept the false, demonic religion created by the Arabian goat herder Mohammad.

A critical note of distinction: these people are NOT dying for the errors they hold or in rejection of the Catholic Faith.  If they were, their actions would not be efficiacious of Grace and would be greatly offensive to God.  They are dying for Jesus Christ and His religion by the lights they have.  Those lights may be faulty, but they are the best they have.  Those lights are not extinguished from merit due to these errors.  In the same sense the Church has declared martyrs and Saints certain souls from the days of the Fathers who died for the Faith even though they had not been formally received into the Church and probably still held wrong beliefs even up to the moment of death.

As I said, it’s a complex issue.  Fundamentally, I believe in Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus as a straight up, literal interpretation, but I have a hard time believing souls holding errors innocently would still be damned by God for all eternity after dying for the Holy Name.  Since they are being viciously persecuted for Christ, since they are dying for Christ, I will call them Christian.  The priest agreed.

I’m open to refutation based on quotes from Saints, Fathers, and/or Councils.  I don’t think there is such, but one never knows.  There has always been a mystical element of the Faith, however, in that we must recognize that what we can see and record is not all there is to reality.  God operates beyond time and space and even a murderer who viciously repudiated the Faith throughout his life was often considered saved by a mere kiss of a crucifix on the gallows.  We don’t know what God sees in the human heart.



1. tg - July 14, 2016

I totally agree with you. I can’t imagine anybody arguing with you about it.

2. Joseph D'Hippolito - July 14, 2016

Murder is murder. What the Muslims are doing to Copts and other Christians is murder. Given that Muslims believe they’re doing this for the Greater Glory of Allah, they are violating the Second Commandment (“You shall not take God’s name in vain.”) and are unrepentant about it.

I would like to know what your priest friend would say if Muslims were doing this to Mormons. The same moral logic should apply. Unfortunately, most people (let alone Catholics) no longer think morally (Just look at the clowns writing for Patheos, the NC Reporter and the NC Register.). It’s not politically correct or intellectually fashionable, doncha know?

3. Brian Springer - July 14, 2016

The Council of Florence declares that even if one were to pour out their blood for Christ, they could not be saved if they remain outside the fold of St. Peter.

The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the “eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” The same council also ruled that those who die in original sin, but without mortal sin, will also find punishment in hell, but unequally: “But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

Tantumblogo - July 14, 2016

The Council of Florence has always been a bit hard to reconcile with people who have always been considered to be Saints, like the soldier who joined the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste on a whim at the last moment, even though he had no catechesis and was not baptized. He is considered one of the 40 martyrs and a Saint. These men have been venerated since their death in 320 as Saints. There are other similar martyr Saints who also never received baptism.

I tend to accept the Decree of the Council of Florence as it applies to normal life/death but when it comes to martyrdom (baptism by blood) I am not clear how it can be reconciled with known Saints. That doesn’t mean I am anywhere close to a universal salvationist, there is great reason to fear (though I do not definitively know) that virtually all souls outside the Church are damned.

4. Faith of Our Fathers - July 14, 2016

In the Gospel when the Apostles said to Jesus ” master we found others casting out Demons in your name should we stop them”Christ reply was ” whoever is for me is not against me ” I know as a Catholic who’s just returned from Holy Mass and receiving The Eucharist that it is a gift beyond comprehension,but anyone surely who’s open minded to the word of Christ and who is Martryed for that believe deserves and will obtain Eternal Life. I would like to think that I would die rather than deny Christ but Saint Peter denied him ( although he was Martryed ) I remember a Priest telling a true story about a drug lord going into a Mass and saying ” anyone who wants to leave and save themselves can ” I can’t remember how many was at this Mass,but the Priest telling said story said that only 3 remained plus the Priest who was saying the Mass . It’s a sobering thought one cannot say or tell what will happen until we’re in that situation. I have to admit I hope am not put to that test.

5. Brian Springer - July 14, 2016

I wasn’t arguing for water baptism only, though your post is understandable considering the fact that this decree is brought up whenever the Feenyism issue is raised.

I agree that the soldier who joined the Martyrs of Sebaste is a saint even though he likely never received water baptism nor catechesis. Though I think it can be argued that he’s “covered” under the definition laid down by the Council of Florence, since he died wishing to join the other Martyrs, who were presumably joined to the true Church.

Tantumblogo - July 14, 2016

My bad. I gotcha. Thanks

6. huxleyorwell - July 15, 2016

You confess Christ in your words and actions before other people, then he will confess you;
You deny Christ before other in either your words or actions before other people, then he will deny you.

Those people, admittedly Copts and Orthodox, are staying loyal to the name of Christ and are willing to suffer for him,, even under the extremely zealous (and hellish) persecution that Muhammadan fundamentalists/radicals are capable of foisting upon all professing Christians.

There are many sorts of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, including Orthodox and true Catholics.

And sorry for my recent rage at you. You are a more patient person than I, I need to confess.

Yet, what are to become of these Eastern Christians? Both Eastern Catholics and Eastern Other? They are a dying breed, because the Muslims are murdering them off and selling their women and daughters into the most degrading slavery. How many countries will receive the Christian refugees from the East? Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Syria….

Many nations (at least in Europe) were recently quite quick to receive youngish-adult able-bodied male Moslem “refugees” (occuping Muslim armies, mayhap?), but what is to become of the real refugees (Eastern Catholics, Orthodox, Copts, Eastern Other-Christians, Jews, etc.) ??

What happens now?

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