Conversion to Orthodoxy
#1
I would like the opinions of others on this hypothetical situation: There is a traditional Catholic who has come to reject, in his conscience (and certainly in light of the modernism and confusion in today's Roman Catholic Church), the claim of papal infallibility.  This person is comfortable with the spirituality, theology, and outlook of the Christian east.  For Sunday worship, his only reasonable options are weird, modern Roman Catholic Masses or traditional Orthodox liturgies.  If this person, rejecting papal infallibility and breaking communion with the pope, converts to Orthodoxy, does he, from a Roman Catholic perspective, have any hope of salvation?  Or, having cut himself off from the pope, is he hopeless?  Thanks to everyone who offers an answer!   
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#2
Someone who persists until death in culpable, irrepentant heresy or schism can't be saved.  That being said, there may be mitigating factors that sufficiently reduce culpability--and there is always the possibility of repentance and conversion before death.  There is always hope until the particular judgment is rendered.

I will say this with regard to mitigating factors: there's a reason we have an omniscient and perfect God as judge.  He alone can truly read our hearts and consciences.  We shouldn't presume the culpability for our sins is mitigated as we may delude ourselves (a confessor may make this determination, but we shouldn't presume it ourselves).
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#3
"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)

The Church allows for invincible ignorance, but I wouldn't push my luck...
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#4
(11-30-2015, 12:33 PM)Credidi Propter Wrote: "We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)

The Church allows for invincible ignorance, but I wouldn't push my luck...

These two things that you mention (the declarations of Unam Sancam and the Church's recognition of invincible ignorance) have caused me a lot of trouble lately.  Could you help me in understanding how they are compatible and not contradictory?  Pope Boniface didn't say, "We declare that it is necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff except those who are invincibly ignorant."  He said that it is declared necessary for every human creature, period.  And yet, Lumen Gentium (and other "infallible" statements, surely) profess that invincible ignorance lifts this necessity.  But again, Pope Boniface allows no such exception. 
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#5
Pope Boniface's definition was merely reiterating the dogma that outside the Church there is no salvation.  He merely clarified one point: which Church? The Church subject to the Roman Pontiff.  To be subject to the Roman Pontiff is to belong to the Church subject to him.  The Church recognizes other salvific forms of belonging to this Church other than explicit membership.
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#6
(11-30-2015, 10:16 AM)2HeartsServant Wrote: I would like the opinions of others on this hypothetical situation: There is a traditional Catholic who has come to reject, in his conscience (and certainly in light of the modernism and confusion in today's Roman Catholic Church), the claim of papal infallibility.  This person is comfortable with the spirituality, theology, and outlook of the Christian east.  For Sunday worship, his only reasonable options are weird, modern Roman Catholic Masses or traditional Orthodox liturgies.  If this person, rejecting papal infallibility and breaking communion with the pope, converts to Orthodoxy, does he, from a Roman Catholic perspective, have any hope of salvation?  Or, having cut himself off from the pope, is he hopeless?  Thanks to everyone who offers an answer! 

How much about Orthodoxy does this hypothetical person know?  Does he or has he attended Orthodox Divine Liturgy for any extended period of time?  Does he pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit?  Has he spoken with Orthodox and Catholic priests about his situation?  Does he realize that you cannot force belief, even with the "threat" of loss of salvation?

In all candor and honesty I too have immense issues with the whole concept of papal infallibility and Boniface's statement.  Huge issues.  As such, I have ceased to attend, for the time being, any worship service of the Roman Church and am very seriously considering (again!) re-entering Orthodoxy.  And, for what it's worth, I will not be arguing about this here.

You may suggest to your hypothetical person that he read this.

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#7
I agree with the sentiment above, but I am writing separately to attempt to state it more succinctly.

A person who breaks communion with the Catholic Church is objectively in a state of schism.  And a person who rejects the teachings of the Church, such as papal infallbility, is objectively in heresy.  Schism and heresy are, objectively, sinful and are grave matter.  In order for those sins to be mortal for a particular person, the person much commit the sin with full knowledge of the sin and full consent of the will.  If the conditions are met, the person has committed a mortal sin, which much be forgiven through confession or perfect contrition.  A person who dies in the state of mortal sin does not have any hope of salvation. 

One could make a compelling argument that the Catholic Church, in the last few decades and in the present, no longer clearly teaches that schism and heresy are mortal sins.  As such, there might be some question about the person's having full knowledge that schism is objectively grave matter.  Although a person who is familiar with Fisheaters probably knows that these things are objectively sinful and are grave matter.

From experience, I can say that a person who truly comes to believe that Orthodoxy is correct and Roman Catholicism is incorrect no longer concerns himself with how the Roman Catholic Church would judge his prospects for eternal salvation.  Perhaps that is a good way for one to know how much one has truly come to reject Catholicism in favor of Orthodoxy.  On the other hand, I think that such a person should consider how he would judge the question if he were in a situation where he had better "options" for Sunday Mass -- if the person were in a position to avoid the weird masses and attend the Traditional Mass, would the person still be compelled to reject certain things about Catholicism?  I found that this can be an important question to ask in considering this question.

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#8
First. as someone who has made the journey to Orthodoxy and back to the Roman Catholic Church, I can assure you that if you convert to Orthodoxy, you will be exchanging one set of problems with another.  No matter how comfortable you are now, your comfort will diminish as you come to confront Orthodoxy's problems, among which are jurisdictionalism, phyletism and a distorting, sometimes lying polemicism against the West.  You see, having more than one jurisdiction of Orthodoxy within one territory violates the Canons.  So there you have it:  another conundrum just as glaring as apparent contradictions or invalidating data vis-a-vis papal infallibility.

If you are chrismated into Orthodoxy, you will be excommunicated latae sententiae from the Roman Catholic Church.  What does this mean for your salvation?  I don't know.  I believe that most priests and bishops would not be concerned for your salvation, provided you are a good Orthodox.  However, the teaching of the Church is that deliberate schism is grave matter.

My own view is that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches are really the same Church in the eyes of Our Lord.  Nevertheless, I would discourage you from converting for the sake of comfort.  I guarantee that should you convert, you will become less and less comfortable.

Perhaps instead of converting you should hash out your problems with papal infallibility and satisfy your love for the Eastern Church by reading Orthodox material, attending Vespers on Saturday evenings, and occasionally attending the Divine Liturgy at an Orthodox Church (provided you satisfy your Sunday obligation at a Roman Catholic Church, perhaps at the Saturday vigil.)  Others here would suggest attending an Eastern Rite Catholic Church.

I want to come back to your infallibility issue.  I know something about this, because I have had the same issue.  Using logic, one can find himself painted into a corner.  I would recommend trusting the overall mercy and providence of God and giving the narrowest permissible interpretation of infallibility.  Focus on a life of prayer and good works and, as my former Orthodox priest advised me, get out of the business of ecclesiastical shuffling.
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#9
Thanks for your comments, everyone.  I really do appreciate the help.  As can be assumed, the hypothetical person is, largely, me.  Clare, I have seriously considered your advice and have at times thought that, in the end, what you suggest would be the most convenient thing for me to do (and what I would, probably, be happiest doing).  Here is the problem: I have been away from the sacraments for a while and have finally-thanks be to God-come to a place where I really desire to make a good confession.  I don't know, though, if I can make a good confession in the Catholic Church while I have these doubts about infallibility, etc.  If it is truly a mortal sin to contemplate schism or question infallibility, how can I make a good confession if I don't repent of this things?  This is my problem.  In the end, I just want to get back to the sacraments and a deeper spiritual life without a) compromising my integrity by lying to myself or others and b) abusing the sacrament of penance by failing to confess serious sins (that I'm not convinced are serious sins).  It makes me want to scream....
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#10
I made the same trip from Roman Catholicism to Orthodoxy and back again.  I agree with Claire to a large extent. 

Before you reject papal infallibility, make sure you take some time really thinking about whether you're rejecting the actual doctrine or the misappropriation of the idea that we see spreading so widely in our times.

I think that, viewed in the correct perspective, this topic is really overblown.  Contrary to what certain people in our time (both sedevacantists and "liberal Catholics") want people to believe, papal infallibility is an extremely rare invocation.  On those things that are pronounced infallibly, there is a rather long history of belief in those doctrines.  Let's take an example in the proclamation of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The pope proclaimed this doctrine infallibly, which means that it is an objectively true thing that should be believed.  It did not become objectively true because the pope pronounced it -- it was always true, and the pope commented on its truthfulness.  The Orthodox believe in the Assumption.  So for this proclamation, everyone agrees that the pope spoke infallibly because he said what was true.

The conditions for infallibility limit the pope in such a way that he really cannot make a pronouncement that would be something that the Church did not already recognize as objectively true.  The conditions precedent to an infallible declaration prevent the pope from innovating in these pronouncements.  If he were to innovate, then his pronouncement would not be infallible.

Really, every bishop is infallible when they teach the Truths of the Church.  The pope has the particular ability to close questions of theological debate with an infallible pronouncement, or he can deliberately leave the issue open (as in the case of the Assumption where the pope did not define whether Mary died since the issue is still debated). 

The issue of papal supremacy is a much bigger deal, in my opinion, than papal infallibility.  Still, I don't know how much this all matters on a day-to-day basis.  The pope isn't calling me up telling me to do stuff that is contrary to the faith.  My connection to the pope is tenuous at best -- I attend Mass in the neighboring diocese at the FSSP parish.  I'm in communion with bishops who are in communion with the pope.  Aside from that, what the pope says and does can only have an impact on my faith to the extent that I allow that to happen.  I think we should fight for the faith, even if it happens that we're fighting against the local bishop or the pope.  There have been heretic popes in the past and people fought against them. 
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