Vatican II’s Most Harrowing Line, by David G Bonagura, Jr.

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Image: The Parable of the Sower by Rembrandt, 1652 [Louvre, Paris]

By David G Bonagura, Jr., The Catholic Thing, April 11, 2022

David G. Bonagura Jr. teaches at St. Joseph’s Seminary, New York. He is the author of Steadfast in Faith: Catholicism and the Challenges of Secularism and Staying with the Catholic Church: Trusting God’s Plan of Salvation.

Note: Today, Robert Royal files the third installment from Rome for The Vatican Thing: “What is to be Done?” Bob writes about the ongoing conversation about Ukraine in the Vatican and among Italian journalists, and about the role Pope Francis can and should play in efforts to end the war. You can read the report by clicking on the title in this note or by clicking on EVENTS above and then selecting THE VATICAN THING from among the drop-down options.


David G Bonagura, Jr.Tucked at the end of a hotly debated passage in Lumen Gentium about the Church’s role in salvation comes one sentence that has not received as much attention. What follows the statement that “all the Church’s children” have received their holy Catholic faith not from merit, but from “the special grace of Christ,” is the most harrowing line of Vatican II:

If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged. (LG 14)

These words are worth pondering deeply as we approach Good Friday and Easter this week. ….