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Thursday, September 12, 2013

The FSSP and the Sadducees

A recent blog post describes the teaching of an FSSP priest who asserts that aborted babies do not go to heaven. The FSSP priest's erroneous teaching led the blogger to an extended, and unfortunately erroneous, meditation on why the lie taught by this "good priest" would be true.

The crux of the argument: while baptism of blood and desire exists, both require the use of reason. According to the priest's erroneous line of reasoning, since infants have not the use of reason, aborted infants cannot receive either baptism of blood or baptism of desire.

Furthermore, according to this priest's version of the Feeneyite heresy, if we were to assume that such babies were baptized by blood via their abortion, that would make abortion into a sacrament. The unfortunate blogger, a good man dazed by this dizzying line of clerical absurdity, labels the priest's reductio ad absurdem argument "irrefutable". 

Many unfortunate Catholics have fallen under the spell of this particular priest. Even though the blogger takes care to explicitly deny that this nonsense is dogma, his use of the word "irrefutable" implies that the blogger thinks the priest's false line of reasoning is of doctrinal quality.

Unfortunately for both the FSSP priest who teaches this error and the poor Catholics who follow his frequently erroneous reasoning, the liturgy of the Church specifically and explicitly denies the priest's entire line of thought.

Consider the feast of Childermas, the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. Note the word "Holy" in the title of the Feast. Childermas celebrates the entry into heaven of those infants slaughtered by Herod as he fruitlessly sought to murder the King of Kings. 

Those infants had not the use of reason. Their only virtue was to be slaughtered for a saviour whom even their own parents did not yet know, yet every irrational infant slaughtered by Herod and baptized only by his own life blood is celebrated by the Church as a saint in the heavenly choir.

Obviously, martyrdom is not a sacrament, yet according to the eternal liturgy of the Church, martyrdom sends people to heaven, even people who have not the use of reason. In fact, martyrdom is so effective at sending infants to heaven, that even the infant's parents need not know anything of Christ in order for the infant, slaughtered as a mute witness, to attain the heavenly kingdom.

Now, if we followed the "very good priest's" logic, we would be forced to conclude that infanticide is a sacrament. But I bet it isn't.

Like infanticide, like abortion, martyrdom is not to be sought, for it may send the one who murders the martyr to hell. Yet martyrdom may also bring about conversion in the murderer, and for this reason, the saint who is faced with martyrdom may embrace it, even embrace it joyfully, as long as he offers his death for the conversion of the one who murders him. 

We don't know what happens to innocents who die unbaptized. But the liturgy of Childermas gives us a solid hope, as does the infallible teaching of the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium. Any priest who says otherwise contradicts the infallible Church. Such a priest may be many things, but "good" is not one of them. 

When Jesus faced the Sadducees, he faced a group of men who accepted only the Torah as holy Scripture. Much as many traditionalists adhere only to the EF Mass and reject the OF Mass as somehow false or contaminated, the Sadducees refused to accept the prophets or the writings as inspired. Only the eternal Scripture of the Torah was good enough for them. 

Jesus used quotes from their own Torah to refute them, and admonished them by saying, "You are quite wrong. You know neither Scripture nor the power of God." 

Similarly, the Church, via Her liturgy, rebukes this "good priest" and uses the very EF liturgy he embraces to demonstrate his error. He is quite wrong. He apparently knows neither liturgy nor the power of God. 

In fact, the CCC specifically denies that Limbo exists.

CCC 1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.

It is a condemned heresy to say that you can pray for those who are in hell. Limbo, as is commonly envisioned, is the first circle of hell. If Limbo existed, then the CCC would be teaching heresy. The CCC is promulgated by an Apostolic Constitution, the highest expression of the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium. Thus, Limbo does not exist.


Jordanes551 said...

You are mistaken, Steve. The Church does not say that aborted babies certainly go to heaven, and it is acceptable for Catholics to believe, as most Catholics throughout history have believed, that aborted babies are deprived of the Beatific Vision. (This belief is why Pope Sixtus V in his apostolic constitution Effraenatum said abortion is such a heinous crime, for, he said, it deprives the child of life in this world and eternal life in the next. Sixtus was not, however, defining that belief dogmatically -- rather, he was attesting to it. In those days no Catholics had any other belief regarding the ultimate fate of aborted babies than the one Sixtus V held.)

It is, of course, also acceptable for Catholics to hope that God may in some way save aborted babies even though they were deprived of Baptism of Water. That, however, is not Church doctrine, and is a hope that is not grounded in the Church's tradition or liturgy. Sorry, not even the Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs, is able to establish that aborted babies are saved through Baptism of Blood, because aborted babies are not killed out of odium fidei as the Holy Innocents were. From the standpoint of the Church's traditions, the FSSP stands on much firmer ground than you do. Your "Sadduccee" analogy is overwrought and untenable.

Jordanes551 said...

Also, while I disagree generally with Feeneyite views, it is erroneous to refer to Feeneyism as a heresy. The Church has never formally proscribed Father Feeney's theology as a heresy, and when the Church some years back reconciled some "Feeneyite" groups, they were not required to renounce Father Feeney's position on Baptism of Blood and Baptism of Desire. Thus, his views, while now a minority opinion in the Church, are acceptable positions for Catholics to hold without incurring any impairment to their communion with the Church.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I didn't say aborted infants certainly go to heaven. I gave evidence that the priest's reasoning was erroneous.

He said aborted babies do not go to heaven. He said that if they did, abortion would be a sacrament.

I gave an example of slaughtered infants who DID go to heaven. I also demonstrated that holding the position that aborted infants go to heaven does not make abortion a sacrament.

I nowhere stated that I know where aborted infants go. I can't state that I know because the Church herself doesn't know.

As for the Feeneyites, I will let the historical record speak to that.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

For the documents on Feeney, you can go here:

Mike said...

Steve - where is YOUR Source of Dogma on "baptism of desire" or Salvation without water baptism ???

Here's what God says ...

Council of Chalcedon, Pope Saint Leo the Great, 451 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"For there are three who give testimony – Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. In other words, the Spirit of Sanctification and the Blood of Redemption and the water of baptism. These three are one and remain indivisible. None of them is separable from its link with the others."

Council of Florence, Pope Eugene IV, Session 8, Exultate Deo, 22 Nov 1439 -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the Church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water."

Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1 - Profession of Faith, Paragraph 3, 1215 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity -- namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the Church. If someone falls into sin after having received baptism, he or she can always be restored through true penitence."

Council of Trent, Session 5, Decree Concerning Original Sin, Paragraph 4, 1546 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"Even infants, who could not as yet commit any sin of themselves, are for this cause truly baptized for the remission of sins, that in them that may be cleansed away by regeneration, which they have contracted by generation. For, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God."

Council of Trent, Session 5, Decree Concerning Original Sin, Paragraph 4, 1546 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"If any one denies, that infants, newly born from their mother's wombs ... has need of being expiated by the laver of regeneration for the obtaining (of) life everlasting ... let him be anathema."

Council of Trent, Session 7, Baptism Section, Canon 2, 1547 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"If any one saith, that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism, and, on that account, wrests, to some sort of metaphor, those words of our Lord Jesus Christ; Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost; let him be anathema."

Council of Trent, Session 14, Chapter 2, On the Most Holy Sacraments of Penance and Extreme Unction, 1551 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"Seeing that the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not entered therein through the gate of baptism. For, what have I, saith the apostle, to do to judge them that are without? It is otherwise with those who are of the household of the faith, whom Christ our Lord has once, by the laver of baptism, made the members of His own body."

Council of Trent, Session 21, Chapter 4, That little Children are not bound to sacramental Communion, 1562 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"Finally, this same holy Synod teaches, that little children, who have not attained to the use of reason, are not by any necessity obliged to the sacramental communion of the Eucharist: forasmuch as, having been regenerated by the laver of baptism, and being incorporated with Christ, they cannot, at that age, lose the grace which they have already acquired of being the sons of God."

Mike said...

Sources of Dogma where "baptism of desire" is condemned with other baptism heresies ...

Council of Trent, Session 7, Decree on the Sacraments, 1547 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"In order to destroy ... the heresies, which have appeared in these our days on the subject of the said most Holy Sacraments ... the sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent ... has thought fit that these present Canons be established and decreed."

The Council of Trent defines Water Baptism is required for Salvation.

- - - -

Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution section, Paragraph 3, 1215 A.D. -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"We excommunicate and anathematize every heresy raising itself up against this holy, orthodox and Catholic faith which we have expounded above."

The Fourth Lateran Council defines Water Baptism is required for Salvation.

- - - -

Council of Florence, Session 8, 22 Nov 1439 -- Ex-Cathedra Dogma >
"Accept, admit and embrace, just as your holiness affirms in the decree, this most salutary synodal decree with all its chapters, declarations, definitions, traditions, precepts and statutes and all the doctrine contained in it."

The Fourth Lateran Council defines Water Baptism is required for Salvation.

- - - -

It's a shame how many people are sending themselves into Hell for being ... "b.o.d.- ers".

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Thanks, Mike - you prove my point about traditionalists. You know neither councils nor the power of God.

Mike said...

Steve - if you could study the Dogmatic statements for the next 1,000 years you still won't see it in your blinded state.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Mike, there's a difference between objective and subjective evil.

Objectively, something I've done may be enough to send me to hell.

But subjectively, the circumstances of the act and my own limited understanding may qualify the evil to such an extent that I am not responsible - I have committed evil, but have not sinned.

The Church's councils state the objective fact - lack of baptism merits hell. But subjectively, the Church has always insisted we do not know the state of any individual soul, nor will we until the Last Judgement.

For unbaptized infants, She has not only told us that we don't know what happens to any particular unbaptized infants, She has actually gone to the trouble of telling us that, taken as a class, we have the right to hope that these unbaptized infants are in heaven.

Since you don't understand the difference between objective and subjective, and since you don't acknowledge the Church's right to give us this hope, you pretend to know God's mind. This is blasphemy, but your invincible ignorance will undoubtedly prevent you from being culpable for it.

In other words, your interpretation is evil, but it probably isn't sin.

Unknown said...

What about my full term stillborn son Max who had a baptism already scheduled and God parents. Someone want to explain that one. Does it count for Max that his parents were married in the Catholic Church and as part of that arrangement had agreed to raise all the children God blessed us with in the Church? Any dogmatic/ council experts want to talk this one because I have it ON FAITH that Max is in Heaven

Steve Kellmeyer said...


The Faith into which the parents have been baptized, and their rational participation in that one Faith, stands in for the rational participation of the child.

If I can pray for someone else, offer my sufferings up for someone else, even assist in the baptism of someone else via my participation in Faith, then I see no reason why the intentions of the parents of a child who dies before baptism would not stand in for the child's own intentions.

Such a child is, by every reasonable definition, a catechumen, and catechumens who die before baptism are buried in holy ground, for they have been baptized by their desire.

Unknown said...

Sorry for the double post. And I was at that Mass in Dallas when this priest made this this comment before Mass started. It was also my first time at a Latin Mass. My parish priest who came to the hospital after Max was born (and was the first non med staff to hold him and before we got to) told us that we had accomplished the goal of Catholic parents and that was to get our children to Heaven. We had also asked for baptism of Max and was told that it was done on stillborns. We had also consecrated Max to the Blessed Virgin while he was in utero.

Unknown said...

Thank you Steve. We have had two subsequent miscarriages at 11 weeks both and both were consecrated and had their God parents in line. We still remain childless on Earth but feel blessed that we are building our family in Heaven. Both of us have become closer to God and know taht our three little ones in Heaven pray heard for us and for all (because that would be how we would have taught them) for salvation and attaining the ultimate goal of Heaven. I thank God every day for even the blessing of conceiving children!

Steve Kellmeyer said...

God bless you for persevering in what are very difficult situations.

I have long instructed my children to pay no attention to the priest in question. He frequently displays literally insane theological opinions from the ambo - this is but one of several nonsensical positions he holds.

The pastor continues to allow him to preach. Therefore, the pastor bears culpability for his frequent raving lunacy. After several years at this parish, I now fully understand why bishops are so opposed to the FSSP and the Extraordinary Form.

Allan Wafkowski said...

Steve said:
"I gave an example of slaughtered infants who DID go to heaven. I also demonstrated that holding the position that aborted infants go to heaven does not make abortion a sacrament."

Steve, you did none of those things. The Sacrament of Baptism was not yet in force when Herod killed the innocents.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Allan, *WE* are bound by the sacraments but God is not.

God does what He wants when it comes to salvation.

The Church has explicitly told us via the CCC that we have a RIGHT to hope that unbaptized children enter heaven.

You have no right to contradict the Church.

Allan Wafkowski said...

I in no way contradicted the church. I merely illustrated your lack of understanding of sacramental history. You stated that you had shown an example of children who had died without Baptism who nevertheless went to heaven. Again, I say you did no such thing. The Holy Innocents did not need to be baptized to be saved because they were under the Old Covenant. The need for Baptism is of the New Covenant.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Allen, NO ONE could be saved under the Old Covenant.

Aquinas points this out quite clearly in the Treatise on Law section in the Summa.

We are only saved by the sanctifying grace imparted by the sacraments. None of the Temple sacrifices or rituals imparted sanctifying grace.

That's why there is a Limbo of the Fathers - they were all waiting for Christ to show up and give them the sanctifying grace they needed.

We need sanctifying grace. Baptism is one of the means by which we get it, but God may have other means of which we do not know.

In fact, He *CERTAINLY* has other means because NO ONE in the Old Covenant received it during their lifetimes *EXCEPT* the Holy Innocents. At least, those are the only people the liturgy has reliably indicated as having received it during their lifetimes, i.e., at the instant of their deaths.

Quovadis7 said...


Your last comment is fraught with errors:

"That's why there is a Limbo of the Fathers - they were all waiting for Christ to show up and give them the sanctifying grace they needed."

"In fact, He *CERTAINLY* has other means because NO ONE in the Old Covenant received it during their lifetimes *EXCEPT* the Holy Innocents."

Wrong - on both counts.

You are correct that they didn't receive sanctifying grace from their participation in the Old Covenant.

But, via God's Mercy alone, they HAD to have received His sanctifying grace BEFORE they died.

In order to attain the beatific vision, one MUST have had to have died "in God's grace and friendship" - as explicitly stated in CCC #1023 & 1030.

So, yes, you are correct that the Catholic Church teaches that God is not bound by His sacraments (CCC #1257).

But, the Church also teaches that being in a state of sanctifying grace at the moment of death is a necessity for attaining eternal beatitude.

Andrew said...

Greetings Steve,

Your claim that the Catechism "specifically denies that limbo exists" seems to be poorly supported since the passage you quote makes no mention of limbo.

"With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation."

If that means limbo doesn't exist, what if change it to:

With respect to the dead, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.

That certainly sounds like good Catholic theology. We can and should pray for anyone who is dead. So if we can pray for anyone, and we can't pray for people in hell, by your logic hell does not exist, or at least there is nobody there.

If limbo doesn't exist, and unbaptized children gain the graces associated with baptism through the faith of their parents, where do unbaptized children whose parents are satantists or buddhists or atheists go? As you correctly, point out, we don't know the fate of particular souls (except for the saints), so if you are going to consistently apply the standard you are holding this priest to, you would have to modify your contention that a parent's faith "stands in" for their child to a parent's faith "COULD stand in" for their child, because like you said, you don't really know.

Finally, if limbo doesn't exist, and dead babies don't go to hell, and dead babies don't go to purgatory because they don't have any personal sins to purgate, they must go straight to heaven right? So if they all go straight to heaven, why does the Catechism want us to pray for them? What would the point be? We don't pray for the salvation of the Holy Innocents.

This is can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially because of the great sadness parents rightly experience at the loss of a child. Clarity and patience are required of BOTH those who speak on the topic and those who listen.


Andrew said...

"I nowhere stated that I know where aborted infants go. I can't state that I know because the Church herself doesn't know."

According to you:

1) Limbo does not exist.
2) Aborted infants are not in hell, because the CCC invites us to pray for them, and we can't pray for people in hell.

Well that leaves only one other place, heaven. You say "I didn't say aborted infants certainly go to heaven", but that's the only place left once we have eliminated all other alternatives. Unless you want to come up with some other possible destination....hmmm, some other possible destination, that sounds a lot like Limbo.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Andrew, I didn't say aborted infants go to heaven. The Church did.

The Church invites us to pray for the souls of aborted infants. If we are invited to pray for the souls of aborted infants, they can't be in hell. You're right - that leaves purgatory or heaven.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

And who says that purgatory is just for the cleansing of personal sin?

Why couldn't there be levels within purgatory, wherein the souls of children remain in natural bliss until purgatory disappears and they are brought into the fold of heaven?

That would resolve the problem nicely.

Andrew said...

If my uncle Bob dies, the Church invites me to pray for him. Does that mean he can't be in hell?

So are you advocating an empty hell Steve? The Church invites to pray for any human person who has died. If you insist that she would not invite us to pray for anyone who might possibly be in hell, it only seems logical that no human person could be in hell. From your premise, perhaps there are fallen angels in hell, but no human persons.

Is that your position?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Andrew, there are some people for whom the Church won't say a funeral Mass, nor will She bury them in consecrated ground.

The Church doesn't tell us which individuals are in hell.

I certainly agree with Balthazar, that we have the right to HOPE that all men are saved.

That having been said, hell is most certainly populated. That's doctrine. Who is in hell will be left as an exercise for the student. Good luck.

Andrew said...

So if you know people are in hell. Who am I not allowed to pray for?

You agrgue that:
1) We can pray for unbaptized babies.
2) We can't pray for people in hell.
3) Limbo is part of hell.

Therefore: We know limbo doesn't exist.

You've made the leap from we can't pray for someone that we KNOW is in hell, to we can't pray for someone who can potentially go to hell (even a part of hell with eternal natural happiness), so logically, we can't be praying for anyone else who can go to hell. So who exactly am I not allowed to pray for. This is important because, you claim if I pray for them, I'm violating Church teaching.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Andrew, you confuse the particular with the general.

You can pray for your uncle because we don't know the salvational status of any PARTICULAR person.

But the Church tells us that we can pray for the ENTIRE CLASS of unbaptized infants, that they do enter heaven.

The Church has pronounced on the ENTIRE CLASS of persons, saying that we can pray for them. She couldn't make such a pronouncement if the that class were CERTAINLY going to hell.

Notice the Church has funeral rites for such children, as She DOES NOT have for suicides.

We can pray for a PARTICULAR PERSON who committed suicide, but we can only expect that the CLASS of persons has objectively committed grave sin and is going to hell. But just the opposite is said about the CLASS of unbaptized infants. We have funeral rites for that CLASS of individual, and we can pray for all the individuals in the CLASS.

1261 As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.

Andrew said...

Do you see how your argument falls apart? You say I can pray for my friend who committed suicide, even though he may be in hell, but you also say that because we can pray for all unborn infants they cannot possibly be in hell/limbo.

You say we can't pray for everyone who has committed suicide, well at least not all at one time, we could pray for them each individually, but you also say that we can hope that ALL men, are saved. You extend it well beyond the personal to include every man, woman, and child who has ever lived. If that's not a class of people, I don't know what is.

That we don't have funeral masses for suicides as a class, doesn't mean we can't pray for them as a class. Are you arguing that if pray a rosary for the intention of the repose of the souls of all victims of suicide that I'm violating Church teaching? If so, can you point me to the teaching I'd be violating?

You are doing the same thing you accused the priest in question of doing- you are asserting a certainty that you don't really have. In the 3rd reply in this thread, you said "I didn't say aborted infants certainly go to heaven." Now you say that all unbaptized infants do go to heaven, possibly after a stay in purgatory, but ultimately they all certainly go to heaven. So your position has changed.

You say if we can pray for a class of people, they cannot possibly go to hell. We pray for our bishops and priests as a class all the time. We pray for Catholics as a class all of the time. Is it your contention that deceased priest, bishop, or Catholic cannot be in hell?

If the priest in question said that a dead, unbaptized baby cannot possibly be in heaven then he would be mistaken. He is however free to make the statment, that while it is possible some dead, unbaptized babies are in heaven, he does not believe any are other than those explicitly declared to be so by the Church, such as the Holy Innocents. On the particular, he has some freedom. So do you. You can say, "I think that all babies go to heavne." That's fine. But when you say "I KNOW all babies go to heaven, and that's what the Church teaches." then you have overstepped the bounds and portrayed your opinion as the Church teaching.

Now I personally don't think that we need to preface every comment we make with the disclaimer "This is only my opinion." It gets annoying and people should be smart enough to distinguish. Some people have more of a responsiblity to distinguish then others. A priest preaching a sermon would have more than a layman on his blog, I would think. However, when you are the one raising the issue of confusing opinions for authoritative teaching, it really undermines your argument when you are doing exactly the same thing.

You say a lot of good things. You're also off on some stuff. If the priest is who I think he is, he says a lot of good things, and he's off on some stuff. I will pray for you both. Please pray for me. Pax.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Limbo is not a doctrine of the Church. No one can say unbaptized children go to hell.

This is fact, not opinion.

Andrew said...

If you are including Limbo as part of hell, then a Catholic certainly can say that unborn children COULD go to hell. Since you are now asserting that all unborn children certainly go to heaven, can you provide any other Church teaching as a reference besides one paragraph from the CCC that invites us to pray for them? Pax.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

I'll leave that as an exercise for the student as well.

Andrew said...

Thank you for the discussion Steve. If your view is shared by others at the Church, it makes the "abortion is not a sacrament" line taken by the priest make more sense, because you are in effect turning abortion into a quasi-sacrament. By your faulty reasoning, it's better for a child to be aborted then to be born and baptized, because if they're aborted they automatically go to heaven. If they are born and baptized they might grow up, die in mortal sin, and go to hell.

Original sin is passed on by generation, meaning that we are stained by original sin from the moment of our creation. Baptism removes that stain. God COULD remove that stain by some other means, but there's not really any reason to automatically PRESUME that He does so in every case.

Hopefully you will consider some of the statements you've made further. You might want to consider, the statement on limbo from the International Theological Commmission. A few things to note:

1) The statement is not a magesterial document.
2) The statement is written after publication of the CCC.
3) The statement as a whole, is clearly written from a perspective that is NOT sympathetic to the idea of limbo.

Nevertheless, the statement notes of limbo:

"It remains therefore a possible theological hypothesis."

If the Church had officially denied the existence of limbo or the possiblity that unbaptized children go there, as you claim, it certainly seems that the folks on the commission would have noted that denial.