Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

Over the last few years since my reversion, I have had the opportunity to dialogue and discuss many differing points of contention between Catholics, other Christians and members of other Faith traditions. Obviously not all these discussions have happened with a spirit of kindness and openness. Mankind, flawed as we may be suffers from the ego, and points of discussion involving 'Truth' often lead to a full blown argument. Needless to say that this of course is pointless as no good fruit may come of it. About two months ago, I received a most curious email, but one that required me to not just write a simplistic blog post, but to amplify my answers within the context of a near full blown thesis. The question, paraphrased, 'Are non-Catholics saved?' So that being said, I hope to clarify as much of the Catholic position as possible! Here goes, enjoy and have fun!

First off, as a primer, I'll quote from Sacred Scripture,.."I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (St John 14:6) Simple enough, in this passage, Jesus clearly teaches that He is the only way to Salvation. Next up we'll go to the Church Fathers on this very topic. So here goes, St Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Philadelphians, chapter three goes on to say that (paraphrase) For all who belong to Christ Jesus are with the Bishop...He latter says that people who go into schism will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Cor.6:9) So far we've got a consistant model right? So the question becomes the following, are people living good lives in other religions saved? The simple answer is they can be, in a way known only to Christ Himself,.for they are saved through Christ by His merits on the Cross and by their relationship to the Church.

By now, the liberals are gushing, going God loves everybody/everything, there is no hell, blah, blah, blah,...The Conservatives, on the other hand are rigidly interpreting the 'No salvation outside the Church within the confines of a very literalistic interpretation. The Catholic Church, in her wisdom discerns that there are elements of Truth in other religions, but that truth is first and foremost Catholic truth, as it properly belongs or finds its natural end within the Catholic understanding. At this time, we can now begin to understand that with God, all things are possible, God wills all men to be saved, man however has free will and therefore a free choice. An ignorant buddhist who never heard the Gospel, yet lives as best he can by the dictates of the natural law and of his conscience can therefore be saved. How? By Christ, in a manner known to Himself, and by that person's relationship to the Church. Therefore we can conclude the Buddhist is not saved by his buddhist faith, but by Christ! St Thomas Aquinas argued that people are united to the Church (invisible) by various degrees, (in potencia...). So people not in full communion with the Church can still be receiving Grace from Her. The Church will look at these communities and religions and therefore see how much Catholic Truth they contain. Here goes:

The Fullness of God's Revelation is found in the Catholic Church...***The Orthodox Churches in the East also are true Churches, and the schism of 1054 has been removed, so by the will of the Holy Spirit, we will probably achieve unity under the Papacy two generations from now,..(In my opinion.)

Next up we have the protestant communities stemming from the 'Reformation.' Although most vary in degree within themselves, the further back you go, (Anglicanism) the more Liturgical they are. Most evangelicals only recognize two sacraments, yet they possess the Bible, a moral code, and traditional beliefs in the Trinity, and the Redemption of mankind by the cross.

After that we have Traditional Judaism,.which we can consider our elder brothers in the Faith. While we disagree on who the Messiah is, we look to them for the Old Testament. Within Judaism, its own schisms started to occur, with Reform, liberal, Hassidic, Orthodox, name it!

Finally within the monotheistic realm, we have the first of what we could call the great heresies. Islam. We(Catholics) affirm that they believe in one God, and to quote Vatican II (Nostra Aetate)they also profess to hold the faith of Abraham. We disagree on God's nature, and thus disagree with Master/slave imagery. To paraphrase John Paul the Great, Islam sees Christ as through broken lenses. (For more on Islam, for my posts on it,...)Obviously I could go on forever, considering all major religions and faith systems.

I hope this example serves well, because ultimately we are all called to evangelize. The next time we are at a funeral, and the priest unofficially canonizes the deceased, (most of the liberals do,..) gently remind them not to judge, (proclaming a person in Heaven is rendering judgement too!!) lest we be judged. It is especially important when at a funeral of a non-Catholic or non Christian. Ask that Almighty God shine His face upon them, and that at death, they had repented asking God, in their own understanding, of forgiveness. Are non-Catholics saved? To answer the question, I will ask if a person can get to China on a canoe without directions, I would argue they can,..but... (I think you get my point...)

Sorry for the drab post today,..but I hope I made sense...

St Thomas Aquinas,....ora pro nobis.


Kevin said...

Awesome post Marco! I run into this too after my convergence, because well I'm living an ecumenism council and it me trying to her to the fullness of the faith and not reverse. My wife is born and raised Methodist, and is still Methodist, so pray for her. God wants her to be Catholic more then you or me. Another great DMZ (demilitarized zone) for me and my wife to again on I’ve learn comes straight from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Wounds to unity
In fact, "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church—for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame." The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ's Body—here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schisms — do not occur without human sin:
Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies, and disputes. Where there is virtue, however, there also are harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers.

"However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."
"Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements." Christ's Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."


Marco said...

Appreciate the comment Kevin! One thing we have to remember is that we don't convert anybody, God might use us as an instrument, but we are ultimately on the Holy Spirit's time. May your wife be placed under the mantle of Our Blessed Mother,.Have confidence, she'll come home!!!

Teresa said...

Excellent post, Marco!

The Church also teaches that there is Baptism of Desire which one may receive under extraordinary circumstances. Plus, the person would also receive the same sanctifying grace that we do in the Sacrament of Baptism.

"While the sacraments give a visible dimension to the faith, as an external profession of the Church, it is nevertheless true to state that faith then is a more fundamental requirement for Church membership. For that reason the Church teaches that, “Baptism of water is really necessary by necessity of means, but extrinsically only, according to the positive will of God. But what is necessary only extrinsically can be supplied through something else; it was altogether fitting that this would be supplied through charity or perfect contrition, which are the best depositions".

Catholic Mission said...


The Council of Trent mentions the baptism of desire but does not say if it is de facto or de jure known to us. Just about everyone, from the Most Holy Family Monastery to the Urbaniana, Angelicum, Gregorian and other Pontifical Universities in Rome assume, its is de facto known to us in the present times.

By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.
Canon IV-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema."-Council of Trent

American sedevacantists imply the Baptism of desire is de facto known to us in the present times.

Those who believe in this latter idea (that baptism of desire can apply to Jews or Muslims, etc.) would have to immediately abandon it upon seeing any of the infallible definitions on Outside the Church There is No Salvation. If not, they are definitely heretics who have been automatically excommunicated from the Church. One could not reasonably believe that members of non-Catholic religions being saved is compatible with Outside the Church There is No Salvation.
- page 167, The Dogma that there is No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church and without the Catholic Faith and refuting baptism of desire from the website of the Most Holy Family Monastery,NY

Catholic Mission said...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
We do not know any case of the baptism of desire so Fr.Leonard Feeney was correct in saying that there is no de facto baptism of desire,that we know of