Ludwig Ott (1906-1985) was a Catholic priest and theologian from Bavaria, who was professor of dogmatics and later rector of the Catholic university at Eichstaett. He wrote in the Preface to this 1952 book, "My aim was to present the essentials of Church teaching and the foundation of such teaching in clear and concise form.... only the most important pronouncements of Official Church Teaching, only individual significant scriptural texts, and only one or two patristic texts could be quoted verbatim. The history of the development of dogma has been kept within the minumum limits indispensable for the understanding of Church doctrine... The many indications to the works of St. Thomas are intended to be a pointer to deeper study." [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 544-page paperback edition.]
He explains in the Introduction, "Theological opinions are free views on aspects of doctrines concerning Faith and morals, which are neither clearly attested in Revelation nor decided by the Teaching Authority of the Church. Their value depends upon the reasons adduced in their favour... A point of doctrine ceases to be an object of free judgment when the Teaching Authority of the Church takes an attitude which is clearly in favour of one opinion." (Pg. 9) He observes, "The profane facts of natural science and history contained in Holy Writ are not inspired per se, but only ,,, by virtue of their relation to religious-moral truths. The data inspired... is also the Word of God, and consequently without error. However, as the hagiographers in profane things make use of a popular, that is, a non-scientific form of exposition suitable to the mental perception of their times, a more liberal interpretation, is possible here. The Church gives no positive decisions in regard to purely scientific questions, but limits itself to rejecting errors which endanger faith. Further, in these scientific matters there is no value in a consensus of the Fathers since they are ... here acting... merely as private scientists." (Pg. 92)
He admits, "The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary is not explicitly revealed in Scripture. According to many theologians is it contained implicitly ... in the following passages [Gen 3:15; Lk 1:28; Lk 1:41]... Neither the Greek nor the Latin Fathers explicitly teach the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Still they teach it implicitly, in two fundamental notions: a) Mary's most perfect purity and holiness... b) The similarity and contrast between Mary and Eve." (Pg. 200-201) Later, he adds, "Mary bore her Son without any violation of her virginal integrity... The dogma merely asserts the FACT... without determining more closely how this is to be physiologically explained." (Pg. 205) Similarly, about the Assumption of Mary, "Direct and express scriptural proofs are not to be had... From her fulness of grace spoken of in Luke 1:28, Scholastic theology derives the doctrine of the bodily assumption and glorification of Mary." (Pg. 208-209)
He states, "In the final decision on doctrines concerning faith and morals the church is infallible... Christ promised His Apostles the assistance of the Holy Ghost for the fulfillment of their teaching task... This presupposes that the Apostles and their successors in their promulgation of faith are far removed from the danger of error... The infallibility of the promulgation of faith is a presupposition of the unity and of the indestructability of the Church." (Pg. 297-298) He asserts, "As against modern religious indifferentism, Pius IX declared" 'By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it, will perish in the flood. Nevertheless equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord.' The last proposition holds out the possibility that people who in point of fact... do not belong to the Church can achieve salvation." (Pg. 312)
He points out, "The Council of Trent declared against the Reformers, whose idea of justification led them to deny ... the necessity o8f Baptism for salvation... As to the moment of the beginning of the baptismal obligation, the Council of Trent declared that after the promulgation of the Gospel... there could be no justification without Baptism or the desire for the same." (Pg. 356) He says, "Christ promised the power of absolution to the Apostles only [Mt 18:18] and transferred this power to them only [Jn 20:23]. The power passed from the Apostles to their successors in the priesthood, the bishops and the presbyters. The hierarchical constitution of the Church demands that the judicial power of absolution cannot belong to all the faithful indiscriminately, but only to members of the hierarchy." (Pg. 439)
He notes, "The Union Councils of Lyons and Florence declared that the souls of the damned are punished with unequal punishments... This is probably intended to assert ... a difference in the degree of punishment for personal sins. Jesus threatens the inhabitants of Corazain and Bethesda... with a stricter judgment then the dwellers in Tyre or Sidon [Mt. 11:22]. The Scribes are to be subject to a particularly strict judgment [Lk 20:47]." (Pg. 482)
Written prior to Vatican II, this clear exposition of “traditional” Catholic doctrine will be of most interest to traditionalists and conservatives, or to anyone wanting to know that “historical” Catholic teaching on a particular subject was.