No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church


Q. Is it true that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church?

A. Yes. But, unlike the oft heard teaching that, “If you are not a Christian you are going to Hell”– this teaching of The Catholic Church does NOT mean that you must be Catholic in order to be saved or that if you are not Catholic you are going to Hell. But, the Church also does NOT teach that everyone will be saved.

In fact, in the early 20th century. Fr. Leonard Feeney, SJ taught that all unbaptized people, including babies, would be condemned to Hell. This was contrary to Catholic Theology so the pope called him to Rome to explain himself. He refused to go.

He was excommunicated for disobedience, refusing to go to Rome to explain his position. Then the Holy Office, under Pius XII, sent a letter to the Archbishop of Boston, condemning Feeney’s error. (It is known that Pius XII personally checked the English text of that letter). The very first paragraph pointed out what is obvious: we must avoid private interpretation of Scripture — for that is strictly Protestant. But then the letter said we must also avoid private interpretation of the official texts of the Church. To insist on our own private interpretation, especially when the Church contradicts that, is pure Protestant attitude.

Some years before his death he was reconciled to the church. The Church teaches that she KNOWS that a baptized person who dies without mortal sin on his soul may go to Heaven. Because

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. John 3:5

The unbaptized we leave to the mercy and justice of a loving God.

However, the Church also acknowledges that God is God and although baptism in the normal way to begin the journey to Heaven and be initiated into the Body of Christ, God is the final Judge. So, even those who might attain Heaven without having been baptized (like some of the inhabitants of the Americas for thousands of years before Christianity was introduced) are saved by Christ death and the ministry of His Church, according to the plan of God.

This teaching, “There is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church” does not mean your are going to Hell if you are not Catholic. It means basically that salvation is possible only through Jesus and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church; even if:

a person is not a member of a Catholic Church,

a person lived before the time of Christ,

a person never heard of Jesus, etc.

a person was never baptised

All these are left to the mercy of God to judge how they responded to His graces by keeping the moral law. They will be judged on what they knew, not what they didn’t know. So, those who are judged worthy to attain to salvation do so through Jesus Christ and His Church.

Roman 3:1 Then what advantage is there in being a Jew (Christian)? Much in every way, for to (us) has been entrusted the very words of God….

We have more information and especially GRACE from God through the sacraments to strengthen us and help us stay close to Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Wounds to unity

817 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.”269 The ruptures that wound the unity of Christ’s Body – here we must distinguish heresy, apostasy, and schism270 – 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. Origen

818 “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.”272

819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth”273 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.”274 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,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”276

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10 Responses

  1. Is this a True statement according to the Church? :

    Outside the Church, they will be saved – provided that – they are not in mortal sin. (Condition: One must know what defines mortal sin.)

    • Here is what the Catholic Church officially teaches regarding other religions and salvation. This is the pre and post Vatican Council II teaching of the Magisterium according to Church document texts.

      1. All Jews and other non Catholics need to convert into the Catholic Church with no exception, to go to Heaven. They include Orthodox Christians and Protestants who need ‘Catholic Faith’ for salvation.

      Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door.-Ad Gentes 7,Vatican Council II
      Note: All need the baptism of water for salvation and Catholics only give baptism to adults with Catholic Faith. So Ad Gentes 7 is saying that all people need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation.

      2. All Muslims, including the Prophet, are lost. The Prophet knew about Jesus and the Church, the Quran shows. Those Muslims who give their life for Jesus and the Church as martyrs can be saved. Muslims need to convert for salvation.

      Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it.”-Ad Gentes 7

      Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it.”-Lumen Gentium 14, Vatican Council II.

      3.Salvation is open for all however to receive this salvation they need to enter the Church.

      This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.-Dominus Iesus 20

      845.To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.-Catechism of the Catholic Church n.845 Catechism of the Catholic Church

      “Outside the Church there is no salvation”
      846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

      Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.-Catechism of the Catholic Church 846 (Note : ‘which men through Baptism as through a door’ was a term used by the Church Fathers for the rigorist interpretation of outside the church there is no salvation).

      The Catechism of the Catholic Church n.846 (Outside the Church No Salvation). N.846 says everyone needs to enter the Church‘s through a door.’ CCC 846 is saying everyone needs to enter the Church formally. Extra ecclesiam nulla salus. This is the rigorist interpretation of the dogma.

      This is not contradicted by the earlier paragraph of CCC 846 which says all salvation comes through Jesus and the Church. Since those saved implicitly (baptism of desire etc) are known only to God. De facto we do not know any case of implicit salvation.

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  3. Thank for this, it is both clarification and will aid me deeply in Catholic apologetics.

  4. Wednesday, May 18, 2011
    THE HOLY FATHER POPE BENEDICT XVI IS A CUSHINGITE
    Our pope is a Cushingite?
    Cushingism says there can be people saved in invincible ignorance or the baptism of desire in the present times and we can know these specific cases. So it contradicts the ex cathedra dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus (Cantate Domino, Council of Florence).
    Cushingism gets its name from the former Cardinal Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing.
    A Cushingite says everyone need not enter the Church for salvation. There can be exceptions (invincible ignorance etc).
    Cushinghism is irrational since we can never know cases of persons saved in invincible ignorance or with the baptism of desire. They are known only to God.
    Only in principle, as a concept that we can accept that there could be non Catholics saved as such. In reality we can never know any such case.
    Cushingism implies that de facto (in reality, we can know such cases).
    Pope Benedict XVI tells Peter Seewald in Light of the World (Ignatius) that there is only one way of salvation not two. i.e. those who are saved are saved by Jesus and the Church.
    Correct, but without a clarification it is Cushingism.
    There is only one way of salvation and everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church especially is the centuries- old teaching on extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The pope never says this.

    Even if everyone who is saved is saved through Jesus and the Church, everyone with no exception needs to enter the Church for salvation.
    The pope is throwing out Cantate Domino, Council of Florence, Council of Trent, Vatican Council II (Ad Gentes 7), Dominus Iesus 20 etc.
    The Holy Father then tells Seewald that Jews do not have to convert in the present times.
    As cardinal Ratzinger the people saw Cushingism go unchallenged in the church and the secular media (Reuters, Times etc).
    Even today see the errors in the Wikipedia entries on extra ecclesiam nulla salus and Fr. Leonard Feeney. No cardinal or bishop makes the correction on the Internet.
    Pope Benedict has the same position as Wikipedia when they suggest that some persons can be saved in invincible ignorance etc, so everyone does not have to enter the Church for salvation.
    His former German colleague Fr. Hans Kung claimed Vatican Council II (LG 16) rejects the centuries- old dogma .He implied that we can know cases of those saved in invincible ignorance in the present times,. This is irrational but was convenient for the dissident priest.
    Pope John Paul II it would seem, would want to contain this dissent. In Dominus Iesus 20 he said that though salvation is open for all, to receive it, one needed to enter the Church.
    Pope Benedict XVI on the contrary says Jews do not have to convert in the present times and suggests everyone with no exception need not enter the Church .

    Note: Cushingites suggest everyone with no exception so not have to enter the Catholic Church for salvation. The Feeneyite claims the text of the dogma indicates just that!
    So how do you interpret the Catechism of the Catholic Church? With Cushingism or Feeneyism?
    Pope Benedict it was reported said the Society of St. Pius X could accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church and they could be accepted, even if they directly did not accept Vatican Council II.
    So would they have to accept the Catechism according to Cushingism? Or, according to Feeneyism, in accord with the dogma,, Ad Gentes7 and Dominus Iesus 20.
    The SSPX is also hit by the Cushingite virus.
    CCC 845 is Feeneyism. It says the Church is the only Ark of Salvation that saves in the Flood and everyone needs to enter it. God the Fathers wants all people to be united in the Catholic Church.
    CCC 846 begins with Cushingism. All salvation comes from Jesus and the Church. It is left vague.
    Then there is a quote from Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II which is Feeneyism. It says everyone needs to enter the Church as through a door. As through a door was the phrase used by the Church Fathers for outside the Church there is no salvation.
    This is no problem for the Feeneyite. Since it does no contradict the dogma. That all salvation comes from Jesus and the Church does not contradict the teaching that everyone with no exception needs to enter the Church to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.The Cushingite of course reads it differently.
    Cushingism is a break from Tradition. It’s a new doctrine. Its not part of the Deposit of the Faith.
    Always ask a Cushingite if he knows of people saved in invincible ignorance or the baptism of desire in the present times.
    Remember this – then next time you meet the pope, who could be a Cushingite unintionally.-Lionel Andrades
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2011/05/holy-father-pope-benedict-xvi-is.html

    • So, you think Pope Pius XII was a Cushingite too?

      You are a Feenyite? I reject your false dichotomy that one must choose between Cushing and Feeney.

      I choose a merciful God who will judge us on what we knew and how we responded to it.

      The assertion that one must be Catholic or they are going to Hell would not align with a merciful God who sends everyone to Hell who lived on the American continent for all the centuries before Christianity was brought here.

      • bhu asks:So you think Pope Pius XII was a Cushingite too ?
        Lionel: No. Since he no where ‘reasoned’ that we know cases of invincible ignorance or the baptism of desire in the present times and so it contradicted the dogma Cantate Domino.

        One must choose between Cushingism and Feeneyism?

        Yes. Since there is no middle ground. There is no Magisterial text that supports a middle-position. You either affirm the dogma or deny it.

        The Gospel Reading last Sunday said go out into the world and proclaim the Good News those who do not believe will be condemned'(Mk.16:16). Jesus has also said that the road to Hell is wide and most people take it. There are many references to Hell in the New Testament.A Hell with fire.

        Jesus is the unique Saviour in a unique Church to save those who respond, with Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water, from going to Hell.

        All the centuries before Christianity?
        They were waiting for the coming of the Messiah. They were all waiting in ‘Abraham’s bosom? so to speak. All the prophets and good people were taken up to Heaven after the Resurrection of Jesus.

        • I see you avoided responding to my question about all the people on the American Continent after Christ but before the Catholic missionaries arrived.

          • bfhu

            The dogma Cantate Domino, Council of Florence 1441 and Vatican Council II (Ad Gentes 7) indicate that millions of non Catholics are on the way to Hell.
            The ordinary way of salvation is Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water. If there are exceptions it will be known only to God.
            So apply this to the American Continent and the rest of the world.

  5. Monday, May 30, 2011
    CAN CATHOLICS IN GOOD CONSCIENCE SEND DONATIONS TO CATHOLIC CULTURE ?
    I was trying to trace a Reuters report when I came across a report by Catholic Culture criticizing the Society of St. Pius X for not accepting Vatican Council II.

    Some months back (Sept.2010) I was communicating with the President of Catholic Culture who would not affirm the ex cathedra dogma Cantate Domino, Council of Florence on extra ecclesiam nulla salus. He said that it was all changed with Vatican Council II. I asked him to cite the exact text in Vatican Council II which contradicted the dogma. There never was a reply.

    1. It is common sense that we do not know any case of a person saved in invincible ignorance in the present times. So Lumen Gentium 16 does not contradict what the media calls ‘the rigorist interpretation ‘of extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    2.No where in Vatican Council II is it said that we know of specific cases of persons saved in the present times with the baptism of desire or invincible ignorance. So Vatican Council II does not contradict the dogma Cantate Domino, Council of Florence. There is no such text.

    So Jeffrey Mirus, President of Catholic Culture repeats the lie about Vatican Council II.

    The website CatholicCulture.org says in this report

    Salvation for Non-Catholics : Not a New Idea :-By Dr. Jeff Mirus August 05, 2010

    The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) cites St. Paul’s letter to the Romans when it asserts the possibility for salvation for non-Catholics and even for non-Christians…

    Now, from the quoted passage in this Dogmatic Constitution, we see the Church asserting again that even non-Christians can be saved
    We accept the possibility of salvation for non Catholics in ‘certain circumstances’(Letter of the Holy Office 1949 to the Archbishop of Boston) however this does not conflict with Ad Gentes 7 and the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus which says everyone needs to enter the Church with no exception for salvation.Objectively everyone needs to enter the Church.

    If we knew of actual cases mentioned by Dei Verbum of non Catholics saved, it would contradict the dogma which says everyone with no exception needs Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation.

    So in principle (de jure) it is possible that God can save a non Catholic as mentioned in Dei Verbum and it would be known only to God. In reality (de facto) we do not know a single case. We cannot know a single case defacto or dejure. So how can it contradict the dogma?

    Everyone with no exception needs to enter the Church ‘as through a door’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 846, Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council 2).

    Catholic Culture is criticizing the teaching of the Magisterium and spreading errors.

    Can one just spread false information about the Catholic Church and there is no one to check you?

    The position of Catholic Culture is not supported by texts from Vatican Council II. Objectively it is in error.

    Ad Gentes 7 instead is in accord with the text of Cantate Domino, Council of Florence on extra ecclesiam nulla salus.Ad Gentes 7 says all need the baptism of water for salvation. Catholics only give the baptism of water to adults who have Catholic Faith.

    When will Catholic Culture itself accept Vatican Council II?

    How can Jeffrey Mirus receive the Eucharist at Mass when he rejects the ex cathedra dogma and Vatican Council II even after being informed in 2010?

    Knowing all this how can Catholics in good conscience send donations to Catholic Culture?

    Catholic Culture could clarify that this is their political position as that of the Jewish Left and that it has no textual basis in Vatican Council II.
    http://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2011/05/can-catholics-in-good-conscience-send.html

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