These are my positions on some controversial issues.
Canonization of Saints
The solemn canonization of saints by the Pope is an infallible act of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium, belonging to the second added paragraph of the Profession of Faith.
No Salvation Outside the Church
I think writers like Bishop George Hay [The Sincere Christian, Vol. II, 259-348] and Fr. Michael Müller, C.Ss.R., best explain what the Church proposes dogmatically. The blessings God grants outside of the Catholic Church [cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium §15] not only come from the Catholic Church [St. John Paul II the Great, All Salvation Comes through Christ], but lead people to the Catholic Church, which is why Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio §3 says that the Holy Spirit uses the separated churches “as a means of salvation” to bring people into the unity of the Catholic Church outside of which one cannot be saved [cf. Dominus Iesus §16]. Babies validly baptized in a non-Catholic community who die before the age of reason are really members of the Church and go to Heaven. Someone who dies in the state of “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of Baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” and “the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him” (CIC 751) is not saved. “God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6)” (Vatican II, Ad Gentes § 7), that is, “if someone [who] is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts … followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must most certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as He sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)” [St. Thomas Aquinas, The Disputed Questions on Truth, Vol. II , Q. 14, a. 2; trans. Robert W. Mulligan, S.J. (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 1952, 262); cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium §16], because explicit faith in Christ and in the Trinity is necessary for salvation [Summa Theologica II-II, qq. 7-8]. An invincibly ignorant non-Catholic adult cannot be saved as such; he must first enter or explicitly desire to enter the Church; God does not deny such persons who diligently follow the dictates of their conscience the natural (e.g., missionary) or supernatural (e.g., illumination) means to bring about this entrance or explicit desire for entrance into the Church before death. Example: A Hindu who dies without first being sorry for his sins and becoming a baptized Catholic or explicitly desiring to become Catholic is damned; it is wrong to say, “a Hindu who is invincibly ignorant of the Catholic Church and does not become a baptized Catholic or at least explicitly desire to become a baptized Catholic before his death can be saved, but in spite of his Hinduism to which he clings in invincible ignorance, not because of it” (compare the statement of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who wrongly said Buddhists can be saved in Buddhism but not by Buddhism in An Open Letter to Confused Catholics (Leominster: Fowler Wright Books, Ltd., 81) with e.g., the last sentence of Pope Gregory XVI of holy memory in Summo Iugiter Studio §2). If you know someone “who was not received into the Church before his death,” do not despair of his salvation “because we cannot know for certain what takes place between God and the soul at the awful moment of death,” but rather pray that he died a Catholic by an extraordinary grace of God because “God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten, at the hour of death, one who is not yet a Catholic, so that he may see the truth of the Catholic faith, be truly sorry for his sins, and sincerely desire to die a good Catholic” [Fr. Michael Müller, Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine, No. III (New York, Catholic Publication Society, 1875), 108].
St. Gregory Palamas
I don’t feel comfortable venerating someone who was notorious for his opposition to the Catholic Church unless the Magisterium has declared, upon prayerful and careful investigation, that it is morally certain that the person did not die before being formally received into the Catholic Church or explicitly desiring to enter the Catholic Church, because otherwise that person would be damned (cf. Fr. Joseph Schweigl, “Menologio graeco-slavico post annum 1054,” Periodica de re morali, canonica, liturgica 3 (Rome 1941): 224, 228). I venerate St. Gregory Palamas because the Magisterium has done so in his case, thanks to the holy Josyf Cardinal Slipyj (1892-1984), who began rehabilitating St. Gregory’s memory in 1970. I am still curious if anyone knows what specifically led the Magisterium to this conclusion, in light of St. Gregory’s well-known opposition to Filioque. In 1336 St. Gregory Palamas wrote his two Apodictic Treatises against Filioque (which was already a dogma in 1274; see Denzinger 460) at St. Sabbas (Fr. John Meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas pp. 39-40). The contemporary pope was Benedict XII of Rome (1334-1342) of happy memory. What led the saintly Josyf Slipyj to the requisite (for liturgical veneration) moral certainty that Palamas–who died in 1359 and is not recorded as becoming Catholic in 1355 when Pope Innocent VI of Rome (1352-1362) sent Paul of Smyrna (Titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople 1366-1370) to the Palamas-Gregoras debate–did not die before accepting the truth of the dogma of Filioque? All of the fasting and other good works that St. Gregory is credited with in his biographies would not be meritorious if he was in formal schism from 1336 until shortly before his death in 1359, since morally good actions done without charity (i.e, when someone is in a state of mortal sin) are not quickened by subsequent penance (cf. ST III, q. 89, art. 6).
St. Gregory’s essence-energies distinction, although sometimes incautiously worded, posits a formal, not a real, distinction, in God Himself, between the essence and energies. A real distinction would be heresy.
I agree with the theory of Nicholas of Gorran (†1295), qtd. in p. 425 of Fr. Édouard Divry, O.P., La Transfiguration selon l’Orient et l’Occident: “I believe that this light was glorious by an analogical similitude, not univocally. Indeed, this was a light formed (formata) in the body by the divinity (a divinitate) that the Apostles apprehended by their external senses. Through this light that their eyes were seeing, they understood by their intellect (intellexerunt) the light of glory that they, however, did not see with their fleshly eyes.”
People who deny the infallible doctrine that women cannot be ordained to the priesthood are “no longer in full communion with the Church” (Ratzinger-Bertone, “Commentary,” §6, 117 qtd. in Dulles, Magisterium: Teacher and Guardian of the Faith, p. 91). However, such persons are not heretics for upholding this error until the Magisterium defines the impossibility of women’s ordination as a dogma (i.e., as divinely revealed).
Pope Honorius I
John Chapman, O.S.B.’s treatment of the subject is definitive: The Church condemned Pope Honorius I not as a Monothelite (Jean Garnier, S.J. showed this) or as someone who taught heresy ex cathedra (pace Gallicans like Jacques-Benigne Bossuet), but as a heretic nonetheless for prohibiting both Catholic and Monothelite expressions and not issuing an ex cathedra definition to quash Monothelitism. Contrary to my previous stance and that of Karl Joseph Von Hefele, Dr. Warren Carroll, and many Catholic apologists, Pope St. Leo II did not redefine the Sixth Council’s condemnation of Honorius in a milder sense; in fact, he defined it in a harsher sense. The case of Honorius is no prejudice to the dogma of papal infallibility because Honorius did not define error ex cathedra (proven by Melchior Cano, O.P. among others based on Honorius’s not defining, condemning, or binding), which is an intrinsic impossibility; our defense of Honorius can stop here. As Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman says, “the condemnation of Honorius by the Council in no sense compromises the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. At the utmost it only decides that Honorius in his own person was a heretic, which is inconsistent with no Catholic doctrine” (Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, Volume 2, A Letter Addressed to the Duke of Norfolk on Occasion of Mr. Gladstone’s Recent Expostulation, “The Vatican Council,” 317).
Like Dave Armstrong, I agree with Fr. William G. Most‘s solution; see Dave’s excellent post at <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/davearmstrong/2006/04/molinism-middle-knowledge.html>.
Gospel Order and Dating
St. Joseph, the second holiest of saints after Our Lady, contracted original sin but immediately after contracting it was cleansed of it in the womb. He committed no personal sins. He was a virgin and the brother of St. Cleopas and natural son of Jacob the brother of St. Anne and the son-in-law of St. Joachim a.k.a. Heli by his marriage to Our Lady, and was in his thirties when he married Our Lady. St. Joseph is already resurrected and he reigns, body and soul, in Heaven. <https://ia800300.us.archive.org/23/items/lifegloriesofstj00thomuoft/lifegloriesofstj00thomuoft.pdf>
Dionysius the Areopagite Writings: Authorship
The author of the Areopagite Writings is St. Dionysius the Areopagite, Bishop of Athens and Martyr (†96; feast day October 3). I say this in spite of the universal scholarly consensus to the contrary. See <https://web.archive.org/web/20101228112306/http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/dionysian-authorship-of-corpus.html>, <https://exlaodicea.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/dionysius-the-areopagite/>, and <http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2010/03/writings-of-st-dionysius-areopagite.html>.
Shroud of Turin
Shepherd of Hermas: Authorship