Salvation Outside of the Church

Status
Not open for further replies.
C

Catholic_Mom_1

Guest
I recently heard someone insist that Catholicism teaches exclusivity of Salvation. That is, only baptized Catholics can achieve Salvation. I of course argued that this is simply not true. However, after finishing that discussion based upon my general understanding of the faith, I went back (for my own peace of mind) to find the Church’s official teaching on this topic. What I found in the CCC and other reference books such as “This Is The Faith” is that the Church is a bit ambiguous on this one. They say you have to be baptized, but then say that we should trust in God’s mercy in cases of miscarriage, etc. In older texts, there is even discussion of two different Limbos, one for all pre-Resurrection souls which was emptied by Jesus. The other is for all unbaptized souls not deserving damnation. Can anyone tell me where to find a solid, definitive statement from the Church on this topic?

Many thanks!
 
Hey CatholicMom,

The Church teaches as dogma, “no salvation outside the Church” and it means just that. However, there is a bit of nuance in this dogma and the controversy which surrounds it can be divided into two issues: Invincible Ignorance and what is commonly called* Baptism of desire and of Blood*.

The first one, invincible ignorance, was an issue brought up by Pope Pius XI in Singulari Quadem,
“For it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt **in this matter ** in the eyes of God. Now, in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For, in truth, when released from these corporeal chains “we shall see God as He is” [1 John 3:2], we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but, as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this mortal mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is “one God, one faith, one baptism” [Eph. 4:5];it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry.”
Here, Pope Pius XI has told us that we must believe that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, there is no salvation. He also tells us that those who through no fault of their own, do not come into the Church, are not held responsible for that before the eyes of God (mortal sin requires sufficient knowledge).

What it does not say is that these people will automatically be given a pass; Pope Pius XI just make’s a statement of fact: that those who through no fault of their own, do not enter the Church do not commit a sin by not doing so.

He also makes an important point at the end; that we must teach that there is “one God, one faith, one baptism” and that it is unlawful to speculate any further.

The second issue revolves around Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood. This is the teaching that someone can be united to the Church (in cases of emergency) through the desire (votum) for baptism. And that those who are unbaptized who die for Christ can be saved. This is an issue where a theologian from Boston, Fr. Feeney, got into a little trouble with.

That’s it, for now anyways, (don’t want to make it too long) since chances are, this topic will produce a lot of responses.

And believe me, they usually do. 🙂

Miguel.
 
Nobody gave her Catechism? Sheesh, some apologists.

1258 The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.

1259 For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
 
Nobody gave her Catechism? Sheesh, some apologists.
Woe is us…After all, everyone knows that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the end all and be all of all debate issues 😉 :rolleyes: 🙂

Miguel.
 
The Catholic Answers tract, “Salvation Outside the Church,” gives a very concise, and accurate account of the Church’s teaching on this matter:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men” (CCC 780).
Many people misunderstand the nature of this teaching.
Indifferentists, going to one extreme, claim that it makes no difference what church one belongs to and that salvation can be attained through any of them. Certain radical traditionalists, going to the other extreme, claim that unless one is a full-fledged, baptized member of the Catholic Church, one will be damned.
. . . [T]he early Church held the same position on this as the contemporary Church does—that is, while it is normatively necessary to be a Catholic to be saved (see CCC 846; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14), there are exceptions, and it is possible in some circumstances for people to be saved who have not been fully initiated into the Catholic Church (CCC 847).
. . . [T]he same Fathers who declare the normative necessity of being Catholic also declare the possibility of salvation for some who are not Catholics.
These can be saved by what later came to be known as “baptism of blood” or " baptism of desire."
The Fathers likewise affirm the possibility of salvation for those who lived before Christ and who were not part of Israel, the Old Testament Church.
However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity.
For more information, I’d reccomend reading this explanation by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas: “Can Outsiders Be Insiders?”

Dominvs Iesvs is a nice document; certainly an authoritative take on this isue. But most Catholics don’t have the time of day to sift through these things with their super-duper decoder rings and figure out what the Church is really trying to say. I find that popular summaries are much more helpful in teaching the faith.
 
Thank you, DominvsVobiscvm, for posting that article. I’m a new Catholic, and it has been my understanding that the Catholic Church recognized protestants as being Christians — just Christians that were missing out on the fullness of spirituality. The Catholic Church accepted my Protestant baptism as completely valid.

The reason this is important to me is because I indeed was a Christian for 22 years prior to that. I was very much in love with Jesus Christ and I loved and devoured the Word. My life was changed, I saw His active hand working in my life, and I saw His supernatural use of me. He has recently led me to the Catholic Church, but sometimes I feel lost and scared when I hear legalism.

Back to the topic at hand, a plain reading of the Catechism indicates to me that no one will be save outside of Christianity, except in unusual circumstances. In our modern time, we tend to view the Catholic Church as a denomination of Christianity. But before the Reformation, the physical Church and the mystical Church were one and the same. I believe the point of the doctrine is apart from Jesus Christ, which brings us into the mystical church, one cannot be saved (except under unusual circumstances). But I encourage Protestants to discover the Catholic Church because of the fullness of blessings here.
 
40.png
petra:
Thank you, DominvsVobiscvm, for posting that article. I’m a new Catholic, and it has been my understanding that the Catholic Church recognized protestants as being Christians — just Christians that were missing out on the fullness of spirituality. The Catholic Church accepted my Protestant baptism as completely valid.

The reason this is important to me is because I indeed was a Christian for 22 years prior to that. I was very much in love with Jesus Christ and I loved and devoured the Word. My life was changed, I saw His active hand working in my life, and I saw His supernatural use of me. He has recently led me to the Catholic Church, but sometimes I feel lost and scared when I hear legalism.

Back to the topic at hand, a plain reading of the Catechism indicates to me that no one will be save outside of Christianity, except in unusual circumstances. In our modern time, we tend to view the Catholic Church as a denomination of Christianity. But before the Reformation, the physical Church and the mystical Church were one and the same. I believe the point of the doctrine is apart from Jesus Christ, which brings us into the mystical church, one cannot be saved (except under unusual circumstances). But I encourage Protestants to discover the Catholic Church because of the fullness of blessings here.
Petra,

I think it is a little narrower than everyone would like to admit. We know that there are Christians out there that are very anti Catholic and these anti Catholic Christians know very well that the Catholic Church claims to be the one true Church. This would put the onus on the Anti Catholics to find out all they could about the church. I just don’t see how they are invincibly ignorant when they argue with Catholics, especially on these boards.

Also the gospels are quite clear that there are certain things that are very important. I think that John 6 is very clear that unless we eat his flesh and drink his blood we will have no life in us. What happens to a bunch of the people who reject Jesus’ command. I see other non Catholic Christians as those people who walk away in John 6.

-Ted
 
Other than those who are genuinely ignorant of the Catholic Faith as being the true faith etc, there is very little hope for salvation outside of the CAtholic Faith. That means protestants etc. Go back to the earliest times of the Church immediately after the Apostles and read what they have to say and then read on along the timeline towards us. They are quite aggressive in basically damning people who divert from the Catholic Faith.

No salvation outside of the CAtholic Faith is the normative situation, any allowances made for those outside of the faith must be small allowances. If they are large allowances then there is in reality no requirement to be catholic. The Church has always taught that it is most important to be catholic.

Do I damn anyone to hell for not being a “good catholic”, by no means, but the Catholic Church has had no qualms about inferring so.

The modern day Church is very concerned about offending people so uses language that is shrouded in seemingly flip flop type statements. All you Catholics/Christians out there should read heavily what the early Church/Fathers say in their writings and you will see that they make no bones about excommunicating people, declaring them heretics, etc,.
 
The basic thrust of the “No Salvation Outside the Church” teaching is this:

There can be no salvation outside of Jesus Christ.

This is what the Church really is getting at with this statement. We don’t know who, ultimately, is saved and who is not. But we do know, with 100% certainty, that everyone who is saved is only saved through their union with Jesus Christ.

The Church is the Body of Christ. Therefore if you are united with Christ, you are united with His Church – even if you do not realize it.

As Catholics, we understand the Catholic Church to be the one true Church that Christ founded. Therefore the normative way to be united to Christ is by being a faithful member of the Catholic Church. (Note the emphasis on the word “faithful.”)

Can one be united to Christ and not be a Catholic? Well, as has been pointed out in this thread already, the Catholic Church certainly accepts the validity of most Protestant baptisms. So those who are baptised in the Trinitarian formula outside of the Catholic Church are already united, albeit imperfectly, with the Church.

What is the point of all of this? It is just this, to say that anyone who is saved, is saved because of Christ. And if you are united to Christ, you are part of His Church. The normative way, established by Christ, to achieve this is through the graces mediated to us through the Church that He established. However, it is not for us to determine how God may or may not choose to operate outside of the visible membership of His Church.

If you were not a Catholic before you entered heaven, you will be once you get there. 🙂

But rather than spend time speculating how one may “be saved” outside of the Catholic Church, why not just take the path mapped out for us by the Savior and fully partake in what the Catholic Church has to offer?

Pax Christi,
Matt
 
The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church, 838

These people have the possiblity of salvation.
 
Although, as Catholics we believe that if you do not die in a state of grace- you will not be saved… how will those who have not confessed nor been given last rites- be cleansed from their mortal sins?? Becuase if this goes back to however the individual interrpets their belief to be forgiven- that removes the necessity of the sacrament of Confession-- for those who are Catholic if they interpret it things to mean that hey don’t need to confess.

Many great saints- such as the Cure of Ars and Don Bosco-- have explicityly told us that many souls are not saved because they do not confess…

I see how this could work for those who have never been baptised and so at the moment of death receive Baptism of Desire (or Blood) and by the merits of their baptism are cleansed of all sins- both Original and actual and all punishment due to them because of their sins. I do not see, however, how this works for those who have been baptised and die without these means to remit sin…

I understand that the sacraments are the ordinary vehichles for God’s grace and thatt he is not bound by the sacraments… but that means anything outside of the sacraments is extra- ordinary, and therefore exceptional. I also believe that God will use everything we give Him to bring us to salvation, but if we die with mortal sin upon our soul we will fear His Justice so much we will flee in terror … all the way to the gates of Hell, for when we are not in a State of Grace, it is as though we have put up an umbrella while standing at the foot of the Cross-- and are no longer able to be covered by the Blood of the Lamb- so at judgement rather than seeing the Mercy of God, who views us bathed in blood of the Paschal Sacrifice and therfore allows His judgement to pass over us-- we are seen and judged according to our own merits, which is complete unworthiness…

I greatly fear the watering down of this teaching about salvation- makes Catholics lose their zeal for souls and their prayers and sacrifice that all become Catholic. It worries me that this leads to believing that one religion is just as good as another-- to me that has the fingerprints of Satan all over it!!

Protestants have no qualms about saying that only Christians are saved, why are we so frightened and embarrassed of our Faith being the surest path to Heaven…
 
We can all discuss minor points of theoretical salvation law, however, it is clear from the historical and continuous teaching of the CAthlic Church that she is the only normative arc of salvation.

Of course ultimately know one knows who is saved and who is not saved, so we can be ‘giving’ when it comes to requirements for salvation and becasue we have friends and family who are not catholic but Christian of some description we do not want them to go to hell. So we will read into whatever we can that allows more than the minor possibility of salvation for those who aren’t “good” catholics.

The truth is that for the Catholic Church to be the True Church then all the others “churches” are false Chuches to some degree.
If we insist that the CAtholic Church is the true Church then those outside of the CAtholic Church have only a very slight possibility to get to heaven, knowing how many problems we humans have then more than likely that altogether means very very few non catholics must make it to heaven. ( and that does not mean that most catholics will get to heaven necessarily either)

If there is any more than a slight chance that protestants etc will get to heaven then it is in reality no benefit to be catholic. We can’t have it both ways, Either it is extremely important for our salvation that we are catholic or it is not, that leads to two possibilities and you can deduce what they are.

In Christ.
 
Hey Tim-

Its Chris, aka Defens0rFidei…glad to see you are still alive!

Anyway, here is some food for thought on the subject…

Pope Eugenius IV - ‘Cantate Domino’ circa 1200s AD

“The most Holy Roman Church believes, professes, and teaches that none of those who are not within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever have a share in eternal life, but they will go into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels unless before death they shall have entered into the Church; and so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those abiding within this unity can profit from the Sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal reward for their fasts, their almsgiving, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may be, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the name of Christ can be saved unless he abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
 
Tim Hayes:
We can all discuss minor points of theoretical salvation law, however, it is clear from the historical and continuous teaching of the CAthlic Church that she is the only normative arc of salvation.

Of course ultimately know one knows who is saved and who is not saved, so we can be ‘giving’ when it comes to requirements for salvation and becasue we have friends and family who are not catholic but Christian of some description we do not want them to go to hell. So we will read into whatever we can that allows more than the minor possibility of salvation for those who aren’t “good” catholics.

The truth is that for the Catholic Church to be the True Church then all the others “churches” are false Chuches to some degree.
If we insist that the CAtholic Church is the true Church then those outside of the CAtholic Church have only a very slight possibility to get to heaven, knowing how many problems we humans have then more than likely that altogether means very very few non catholics must make it to heaven. ( and that does not mean that most catholics will get to heaven necessarily either)

If there is any more than a slight chance that protestants etc will get to heaven then it is in reality no benefit to be catholic. We can’t have it both ways, Either it is extremely important for our salvation that we are catholic or it is not, that leads to two possibilities and you can deduce what they are.

In Christ.
Is that you Bastoune??
 
Exactly Tim. This goes back to the whole invincible ignorance argument we have been hearing in Catholic circles and OBOB. We all respect the superficial layer of IV, but I feel it has been spread too thick. Much like "extra"ordinary ministers have become ordinary, so IV appears to have a broad definition, though intended for limited instances. Surely God judges, but to paint a broad stroke and claim a lack “knowledge” in the full faith allows that window of opportunity to creep in is bound to be divisive.

What is knowledge? Who has evidence, as only a limited amount of people had evidence historically like St. Paul, so is one accountable if he leaves the Church? Is a Muslim handicapped, even if he has the right resources to discover the truth? Does being a part of something an acknowledgment of truth or is one accountable because he is persuaded otherwise? Seems like everyone is going to Heaven with the current definition and thought on this issue.

I think this is the flaw in proponents of IV’s new interpretation.
 
Someone posted a VERY CONCISE explanation of this doctrine on the Defenders forum a few months back. I emailed it to an account that I do not have access to right now. I will see if I can find it and post it here. DCF has those that lean towards both ends of the spectrum on the matter and if I recall most everyone agreed that what was said was in fact agreeable.

If someone knows what I am talking about, feel free to beat me to the punch …
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Back
Top