Father Ryan Erlenbush
of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls and Billings, Montana 
(formerly known as 'Reginaldus' at the New Theological Movement blog) 

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush ('Reginaldus')
Ryan Erlenbush graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School in 2001. (He is currently in his late 20's.) He attended St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 2005, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a double major in philosophy and classical languages. He continued his preparation for ordination at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy. He received a bachelorís degree in sacred theology (STB) from the Gregorian University in 2007, and both an MA and an STL (focusing on dogmatic theology) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (aka the Angelicum) in Rome.

Ryan Erlenbush was ordained a deacon at St. Peterís Basilica in Rome on October 7, 2008 by aux. Bishop of Milwaukee William Callahan. Deacon Ryan Erlenbush was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Michael Warfel on June 23, 2009 at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, in Billings, Montana.

Fr. Erlenbush is currently assigned as pastor of Corpus Christi parish in Great Falls, MT, in the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings.

Fr. Ryan blogs at the New Theological Movement (NTM). Formerly, he blogged there under the pseudonym, 'Reginaldus'. On 27 July 2011, Fr. Ryan began posting at NTM under his real name.
Corpus Christi Parish
Rev. Ryan Erlenbush, pastor
410 22nd Ave NE
Great Falls MT 59404-1513
Phone: 406-453-6546
or 406-453-6547
stlukes@bresnan.net
The Bishop of Fr. Ryan's diocese is:

Most Reverend Michael W. Warfel
Bishop of Great Falls-Billings Diocese
PO Box 1399
Great Falls, MT 59403-1399
bishop@dioceseofgfb.org


The Heresies and Doctrinal Errors of Fr. Ryan Erlenbush
at the New Theological Movement blog
1. He claims that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is not valid, if the penitent does not resolve to do the particular penance assigned by his confessor:
Fr. Ryan: "The principal means of satisfaction for sin is the accomplishment of the penance imposed upon us by the priest. This penance must be agreed to by the penitent.... If the penance is not accepted -- if the penitent does not resolve to complete the penance -- the sacrament will be invalid."
(For Divine Mercy Sunday, How to make a good confession)
This false and heretical teaching about the Sacrament of Reconciliation endangers souls because someone might mistakenly think that he is not forgiven, despite contrition and confession with absolution. See my reply to this claim here and again here.

Fr. Ryan has revisited this issue, but it is not clear if he has modified his position. See the discussion here: More on the Penance Controversy. In any case, his latest comments continue to depart from the infallible teaching of the Magisterium on this Sacrament.

2. He claims that most non-baptized children -- which would obviously include the children of Jewish, Muslim, Mormon, and other non-Christian families -- commit a mortal sin as their first rational act, about the age of seven.
Fr. Ryan: "I agree with you that, in the case of a baptized child, it is highly highly unlikely that they will commit a mortal sin before adolescence. However, in the case of a non-baptized child, I am quite certain that their first rational act will either be a mortal sin or an act of supernatural virtue which brings with it the forgiveness of original sin through an implicit baptism of desire. [for my part, I suppose that most non-baptized children commit a mortal sin as their first rational action...hence the great need for evangelization and infant baptism]"
(Can children commit mortal sins? A reflection on first confessions, from the comment dated: April 1, 2011 11:07 AM)

See also this more recent post: The Nativity of St. John the Baptist and the limbo of the children
This bizarre false idea is not supported by anything the Church has ever taught, and it is an offense against persons of other faiths and against the mercy and grace of God. See my article here.

3. He claims that children who die without Baptism are sent forever to the Limbo of Hell. He also claims that they are very happy and perfectly fulfilled there (even though they are in Hell). He claims they know that there is a God, but they don't know that there is a Heaven, and that they don't know that they are in Hell.
Fr. Ryan: "Briefly, regarding Limbo: If it exists, it is part of hell (though there is no punishment). Limbo would be the state of perfect natural happiness, and no supernatural happiness [but the souls there would not know that they are missing out on anything, so they would be very very happy and perfectly fulfilled (naturally)]. If Limbo does exists, those in Limbo will remain there for all eternity -- it is part of hell. Thus, Limbo would continue to exist forever in hell and none of the souls there would ever go to heaven. [in this respect, Limbo is very different from Purgatory]"
(Can children commit mortal sins? A reflection on first confessions, from the comment dated: April 1, 2011 11:17 AM)
His claim is heresy because Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium have always taught that Hell is a place of eternal punishment. Christ explicitly taught that Hell is a place of "eternal punishment" (Mt 25:46). Furthermore, two Ecumenical councils (Lyons II and Florence) specifically taught that all those who die in a state of original sin alone are sent to Hell to be punished. The claim that perhaps some persons in Hell are very happy and perfectly fulfilled is contrary to the constant teaching of the Church on Hell as a place of eternal punishment, and constitutes an open rejection of the infallible teachings of two Ecumenical Councils.

But if there is no Limbo, then, according to Fr. Ryan, these same children would not go to Heaven, since they supposedly died in a state of original sin, but to the main part of Hell to suffer forever.

In another article, Fr. Ryan expounds on this point, continuing to claim that unbaptized children are sent to Hell, to be happy forever. My refutation of his claim is in this post and in this lengthy article

Fr. Ryan Erlenbush has again asserted and taught this same heresy -- that some souls may be 'perfectly happy' and free from punishment in the fringe of Hell -- in his latest post: 'Some facts about purgatory'. He also reasserts his error that children 'before the age of reason' cannot sin at all.

Yet again, he reasserts the same errors in this post; however, now he admits that it is possible for children who die without baptism to receive another type of baptism (desire or blood).

4. He claims that original sin is passed on to each successive generation only through the father, not through the mother.
Fr. Ryan: "and it is the common doctrine of theologians that original sin is passed on specifically through the active power of the male seed; hence, if a man were to be conceived of a virgin, and without male seed, he would be conceived without original sin"
(Questions (and answers) on early Genesis, Part II)
But what would happen in the unfortunate case of human cloning, if the child is cloned of a woman?
Fr. Ryan: "The way I would answer the question (as I have it answered other times, on other blogs) is this: In the case of cloning (if it is possible), the 'active power' of generation usually attributed to the male seed would then be attributed to the doctor (whether male or female) doing the cloning. Ultimately the physical aspect of the male seed isn't what is important -- it is the causal power that matters, and the doctors would seem to be providing the active cause in 'cloning'."
(Questions (and answers) on early Genesis, Part II from the comment dated: February 18, 2011 8:39 AM)
He claims that original sin would then be passed on, not from the parent, but from the physician. This claim is incompatible with the dogma of the Council of Trent that original sin is "transfused into all by propagation," since in this claim neither parent passes on original sin. See my explanation here.

5. He claims that all wealthy persons are thieves who are guilty of mortal sin.
Fr. Ryan: "When one man has excess wealth (that is, property and wealth which are beyond his legitimate needs) while another is in poverty (lacking material necessities), the rich man is a thief. The excess he possesses belongs to the poor man and, if he refuses to distribute his wealth accordingly, he plays the part of the 'rich fool' in the Gospel parable.

"The same fundamental doctrine underlies both the right to private property and the teaching against possessing excess wealth while others are in need. Each and every man has the God-given natural right to make use of the earth to supply for his own necessities as well as those of his family. Thus, we have the right to personal property, by which we secure a means of satiating our needs. Likewise, however, whenever anyone is lacking in basic necessities (food, water, shelter, medical care) he has a right to whatever excess wealth is present in his community. Thus, the excess food in your fridge and in mine, belongs to the poor. The excess money in your bank account and in mine, belongs to the poor. It is no alms to give to the poor from our excess wealth, we only restore to them what had belonged to them by divine right."

"All men have a right to maintain the necessities of their own existence -- and this includes saving a little something for the future -- to hoard any wealth beyond this, is to commit the sin of theft. It is always a sin and, when the injured party is a poor man, it is always mortal."
(Stealing from the poor)
So even if a wealthy person donates generously to the Church and to various charities, in Fr. Ryan's view that person is still a thief guilty of mortal sin, as long as they retain wealth beyond their legitimate needs. This false teaching on ethics is refuted here. Father Ryan repeats this assertion about the weathly here.

6. Is Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Fr. Ryan claims that Jesus is only the Way in His human nature, and only the Truth and the Life in His Divine Nature:
"Jesus is not the Way according to his divinity"
"in his humanity, Christ is not our salvation"
(How Jesus is the Way, and how he is the Truth and the Life)
My explanation of the problems with this claim is in this post.

7. Fr. Ryan has a blog post on the topic of the Trinity. Most of what is said is a good explanation of the Nature and Persons of the Trinity. But then he closes the post with this claim:
Fr. Ryan: "Finally, even granting that the Lord should choose (per volutatem) to redeem man by means of incarnation, it is possible that any or all of the persons of the Trinity could become incarnate in one or multiple human natures. The Father or the Holy Spirit could have become incarnate. The Son could have become incarnate in more than one human nature. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit could have all become incarnate in the same human nature, or in multiple human natures."
(Necessity and freedom in the Trinity)
Certainly, God's salvation of man by means of Incarnation is God's free choice, not a necessity due to His Nature. But the proposal that any Person or Persons of the Trinity could have become Incarnate in any combination of one or more human natures is a theological error. If Christ was incarnate in more than one human nature, what would distinguish one human will of Christ from the other, or one human nature of Christ from the other? All the distinctions that are possible would be merely superficial.

There are three types of acts that God cannot do: (1) acts that are impossible because they contradict His Nature, (2) acts that are immoral, because He is Goodness and Justice, (3) acts that are truly and fundamentally foolish (not which merely seem foolish to us), because He is Perfect. The claim that Fr. Ryan makes about multiple Incarnations falls into the third category, and so is not possible for God. More on this topic in my post.

8. On the subject of Miracles, it seems that Fr. Ryan does not allow God to perform certain acts, even in a miraculous manner, if these acts were contrary to nature. In other words, he does not allow that God is able to act beyond, or in contradiction to nature, nor to suspend the laws of nature. Here is my post explaining this error, and citing several examples from his writings. And here is an explanation of what is and is not possible for God.

9. On the Eucharist: he claims that "At this point, it is good to note that the Church has never stated (nor, I am sure, will she ever state) that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist." His lengthy explanation on this point undermines the teaching of the Church that Christ is present with His whole human nature (as well as His Divine Nature), since every human nature is comprised of the physical (body) and the spiritual (soul). It is presumptuous and arrogant for him to claim that the Church will never state that Christ is physically present in the Eucharist. His post is here and my comments are here and here.

Fr. Ryan also claims that Jesus is "not locally present" in the Eucharist. (See the comment dated September 25, 2010 1:54 AM in this post.) These two claims, that Jesus is neither physically present, nor locally present, in the Eucharist undermine the doctrine of the Real Presence.

10. Fr. Ryan claims that the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick can only be received if the recipient is both physically sick AND spiritually sick AND has committed some past actual sin. Concerning baptized children before the age of reason, he claims that they have no need of spiritual healing, cannot validly receive this Sacrament, that it would be gravely sinful for a priest to give them the Sacrament, and that the Church is unable to change the rule that the recipient must have had the use of reason. He also claims that baptized children prior to the age of reason cannot "show true love" (despite having the theological virtues of love, faith, and hope). His claims imply that the all-pure Virgin Mary was unable to receive this Sacrament, despite the assertion of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, based on her visions from God, that Mary did receive this Sacrament at the end of her life on earth.

See his claims here, and my arguments to the contrary and this follow-up post.

11. Fr. Ryan claims that when Jesus said to the Canaanite woman: "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." that our Lord was calling her a dog, making an accusation, engaging in name-calling, and deliberately humiliating her "with this most demeaning term". He even term the exchange in these words: "The divine insult -- 'You are a dog' " How, then, does he explain why our Lord would act in such a manner? by saying: "How good and loving our Savior is!" And he further claims that the woman's response to Jesus means this: "It is altogether true what Thou sayest, O My Saviour. I acknowledge that I am a worthless dog, and not worthy that the children's bread should be given to me, who am a Gentile." [Why did Jesus call the Canaanite woman a "dog"? To teach us how to pray!]

In effect, Fr. Ryan is accusing Jesus Christ of behaving in a reprehensible manner, contrary to the teaching of the Church about our loving merciful Lord, and the goodness of human nature, and the equality of all human persons before God. It should be unthinkable to the faithful of Christ that anyone of any nationality or religion would be called a worthless dog by anyone, let alone by Christ.

To the contrary, Jesus was using a figure of speech, not unlike the figure whereby He calls His own disciples sheep, or the figure by which He Himself is called the lion from the tribe of Judah, or the figure whereby Paul calls Christ a spiritual rock (1 Cor 10:4). The use of an animal as a figure does not indicate an accusation, nor name-calling, nor deliberate humiliation, nor are such figures demeaning terms. The figure indicates the plan of God, whereby the Israelites are chosen first, to prepare for the arrival of the Messiah. But when He does arrive, he completes the part of the plan concerning the Jewish people, and then expands the chosen people so that Gentile and Jew are equal in the one Church. "Is God of the Jews only and not also of the Gentiles? On the contrary, of the Gentiles also." (Romans 3:29).

12. Fr. Ryan claims that everyone who dies unrepentant from even one venial sin is sent to Hell. This heretical claim is an open rejection of several different magisterial teachings on sin and salvation.
Fr. Ryan: "Hence, it would seem to me that if a person died without any contrition (even imperfect) for venial sin -- he would be thereby failing in final perseverance, and would be committing a mortal sin.... So, to the question 'would we go to Hell if we obstinately hold on to even on venial sin?' -- It seems to me that obstinately holding on to sin (actively turning from God toward sin, even venial sin) becomes a mortal sin at the moment of death, when we are meant to turn to the Lord with particular love and devotion.... at the moment of death, we need to at least desire to be saints (this means desiring to be free of all venial sin, even idle talk)." (See his comments after his post.)
This claim by Fr. Ryan Erlenbush constitutes an utter rejection of the teaching of the Church on the distinction between venial sin and mortal sin. He conflates venial sin so that it seems to become, not only a mortal sin, but the only unforgivable mortal sin: final impenitence. This type of claim is entirely incompatible with magisterial teaching, and it endangers the eternal salvation of souls. See my lengthy refutation of this claim here.


What is Fr. Ryan's response to the above numerous theological arguments, correcting him for teaching serious doctrinal error? First, he makes a series of personal attacks against me. Then, he asserts that a priest is superior to a layperson, and therefore a layperson should not correct a priest. Father Ryan goes so far as to claim that strictly speaking, brothers are those who are equal or inferior, not superior, and that our common brotherhood by Baptism is only an analogy. This is of course absurd. How can a person be your brother, if you are not also his brother? If a layperson is a brother to a priest, then the reverse is also true. Moreover, Christ is our brother, and yet He is superior to us all -- and none of this is mere analogy.

It is true that the role of an ordained person is generally greater than the role of a non-ordained person. However, this refers to the role, not the person. A particular layperson may well be holier than a particular priest, or he may be more knowledgeable about theology. The priest as a person is not superior to the members of the laity as persons. As human persons, we are all equal (by having the same nature).

Fr. Ryan believes that, as a priest, he is superior (not merely in role, but as a person) to all laypersons. And this claim of superiority allows him to reject all theological arguments that attempt to correct his grave doctrinal errors. All such attempts at fraternal correction are summarily dismissed because they are made by an inferior, i.e. a lay person such as myself.

For my lengthy explanations as to why these teachings of Fr. Ryan are doctrinal errors, see my blog improperium Christi and my other writings. For my response to his unsubstantiated accusation of agnoeticism, see my four replies: One | Two | Three | Four.

-- Ronald L. Conte Jr.