The Catholic Encyclopedia on "Outside the Church, No Salvation"
#1

From the Catholic Encyclopedia's entry "The Church" (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03744a.htm):



The necessary means of salvation

In the preceding examination of the Scriptural doctrine regarding the Church, it has been seen how clearly it is laid down that only by entering the Church can we participate in the redemption wrought for us by Christ. Incorporation with the Church can alone unite us to the family of the second Adam, and alone can engraft us into the true Vine. Moreover, it is to the Church that Christ has committed those means of grace through which the gifts He earned for men are communicated to them. The Church alone dispenses the sacraments. It alone makes known the light of revealed truth. Outside the Church these gifts cannot be obtained. From all this there is but one conclusion: Union with the Church is not merely one out of various means by which salvation may be obtained: it is the only means.

This doctrine of the absolute necessity of union with the Church was taught in explicit terms by Christ. Baptism, the act of incorporation among her members, He affirmed to be essential to salvation. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Any disciple who shall throw off obedience to the Church is to be reckoned as one of the heathen: he has no part in the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:17). St. Paul is equally explicit. "A man that is a heretic", he writes to Titus, "after the first and second admonition avoid, knowing that he that is such a one is . . . condemned by his own judgment" (Titus 3:10 sq.). The doctrine is summed up in the phrase, Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. This saying has been the occasion of so many objections that some consideration of its meaning seems desirable. It certainly does not mean that none can be saved except those who are in visible communion with the Church. The Catholic Church has ever taught that nothing else is needed to obtain justification than an act of perfect charity and of contrition. Whoever, under the impulse of actual grace, elicits these acts receives immediately the gift of sanctifying grace, and is numbered among the children of God. Should he die in these dispositions, he will assuredly attain heaven. It is true such acts could not possibly be elicited by one who was aware that God has commanded all to join the Church, and who nevertheless should willfully remain outside her fold. For love of God carries with it the practical desire to fulfill His commandments. But of those who die without visible communion with the Church, not all are guilty of willful disobedience to God's commands. Many are kept from the Church by ignorance. Such may be the case of numbers among those who have been brought up in heresy. To others the external means of grace may be unattainable. Thus an excommunicated person may have no opportunity of seeking reconciliation at the last, and yet may repair his faults by inward acts of contrition and charity.

It should be observed that those who are thus saved are not entirely outside the pale of the Church. The will to fulfill all God's commandments is, and must be, present in all of them. Such a wish implicitly includes the desire for incorporation with the visible Church: for this, though they know it not, has been commanded by God. They thus belong to the Church by desire (voto). Moreover, there is a true sense in which they may be said to be saved through the Church. In the order of Divine Providence, salvation is given to man in the Church: membership in the Church Triumphant is given through membership in the Church Militant. Sanctifying grace, the title to salvation, is peculiarly the grace of those who are united to Christ in the Church: it is the birthright of the children of God. The primary purpose of those actual graces which God bestows upon those outside the Church is to draw them within the fold. Thus, even in the case in which God saves men apart from the Church, He does so through the Church's graces. They are joined to the Church in spiritual communion, though not in visible and external communion. In the expression of theologians, they belong to the soul of the Church, though not to its body. Yet the possibility of salvation apart from visible communion with the Church must not blind us to the loss suffered by those who are thus situated. They are cut off from the sacraments God has given as the support of the soul. In the ordinary channels of grace, which are ever open to the faithful Catholic, they cannot participate. Countless means of sanctification which the Church offers are denied to them. It is often urged that this is a stern and narrow doctrine. The reply to this objection is that the doctrine is stern, but only in the sense in which sternness is inseparable from love. It is the same sternness which we find in Christ's words, when he said: "If you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin" (John 8:24). The Church is animated with the spirit of Christ; she is filled with the same love for souls, the same desire for their salvation. Since, then, she knows that the way of salvation is through union with her, that in her and in her alone are stored the benefits of the Passion, she must needs be uncompromising and even stern in the assertion of her claims. To fail here would be to fail in the duty entrusted to her by her Lord. Even where the message is unwelcome, she must deliver it.

It is instructive to observe that this doctrine has been proclaimed at every period of the Church's history. It is no accretion of a later age. The earliest successors of the Apostles speak as plainly as the medieval theologians, and the medieval theologians are not more emphatic than those of today. From the first century to the twentieth there is absolute unanimity. St. Ignatius of Antioch writes: "Be not deceived, my brethren. If any man followeth one that maketh schism, he doth not inherit the kingdom of God. If any one walketh in strange doctrine, he hath no fellowship with the Passion" (Philadelphians 3). Origen says: "Let no man deceive himself. Outside this house, i.e. outside the Church, none is saved" (Hom. in Jos., iii, n. 5 in P.G., XII, 841). St. Cyprian speaks to the same effect: "He cannot have God for his father, who has not the Church for his mother" (Treatise on Unity 6). The words of the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215) define the doctrine thus in its decree against the Albigenses: "Una est fidelium universalis Ecclesia, extra quam nullus omnino salvatur" (Denzinger, n. 357); and Pius IX employed almost identical language in his Encyclical to the bishops of Italy (10 August, 1863): "Notissimum est catholicum dogma neminem scilicet extra catholicam ecclesiam posse salvari" (Denzinger, n. 1529).


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#2
I've never had any objections to "baptism of desire" but I do have trouble with the notion of someone being saved who does not somehow, in  some  way does not explicitly make an act of Faith in Jesus Christ. I maintain that a man could, on his deathbed, receive some sort of a divine vision interiorly that would lead him to make an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ and thus be justified but I really have trouble with the idea that someone can die without even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jesus Christ and still be saved.  Father Brian Harrison on the Roman Theological Forum website and on a talk given at a conference at the St Benedict Center (I know, but he's NOT a so called "feenyite) lays out well a defense of baptism of desire and does a good job showing how it must be eventually tied in with an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ. The reason we cannot judge what happens to any man even if he's outwardly a heretic or a pagan is because he could (and we should pray that he does, in the case of the pagan) be given that interior vision of Jesus Christ as savior that he can, in a way hidden to those at bedside, accept explicitly.
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#3
Thank you for this, Vox.
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#4
EENS, and BOD, and BOB, do not contradict each other. We can not see hearts (intentions) and outside of a basic understanding of the BOD, and BOB, do we really need to dissect the words, coming at it from our own pre-conceived notions ? Is it not better to accept it and know we do not know exactly what God does in these situations but have hope for those souls ? If you love Me you'll keep my commandments, which should mean for us to be shining examples of obedience and bring the Light of Christ out into this depraved world.

tim
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#5
(02-14-2014, 08:42 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: I've never had any objections to "baptism of desire" but I do have trouble with the notion of someone being saved who does not somehow, in  some  way does not explicitly make an act of Faith in Jesus Christ. I maintain that a man could, on his deathbed, receive some sort of a divine vision interiorly that would lead him to make an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ and thus be justified but I really have trouble with the idea that someone can die without even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jesus Christ and still be saved.  Father Brian Harrison on the Roman Theological Forum website and on a talk given at a conference at the St Benedict Center (I know, but he's NOT a so called "feenyite) lays out well a defense of baptism of desire and does a good job showing how it must be eventually tied in with an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ. The reason we cannot judge what happens to any man even if he's outwardly a heretic or a pagan is because he could (and we should pray that he does, in the case of the pagan) be given that interior vision of Jesus Christ as savior that he can, in a way hidden to those at bedside, accept explicitly.

But yet an infant who is baptized with water cannot make an act of faith.  I suppose the parents make an act of faith on behalf of the child and promise to raise them in the Church but how many times is that actually sincere?
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#6
IMO these sorts of things boil down to how we really know and understand God.

If we understand God as being restrictive, or laying in wait for justice, then one can take a view that any non-Catholic is doomed.

If we understand as God as wanting no sinner to perish, then we understand that there are openings to His will and life.

Of course, if we understand God as not giving a hoot, then we run into universalism.
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#7
(02-14-2014, 08:42 AM)formerbuddhist Wrote: I've never had any objections to "baptism of desire" but I do have trouble with the notion of someone being saved who does not somehow, in  some  way does not explicitly make an act of Faith in Jesus Christ. I maintain that a man could, on his deathbed, receive some sort of a divine vision interiorly that would lead him to make an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ and thus be justified but I really have trouble with the idea that someone can die without even the most rudimentary knowledge of Jesus Christ and still be saved.  Father Brian Harrison on the Roman Theological Forum website and on a talk given at a conference at the St Benedict Center (I know, but he's NOT a so called "feenyite) lays out well a defense of baptism of desire and does a good job showing how it must be eventually tied in with an explicit act of Faith in Jesus Christ. The reason we cannot judge what happens to any man even if he's outwardly a heretic or a pagan is because he could (and we should pray that he does, in the case of the pagan) be given that interior vision of Jesus Christ as savior that he can, in a way hidden to those at bedside, accept explicitly.

Harrison has a good article on this on the RTF site.  He makes the point that nowhere has the Magisterium said otherwise. He notes that the only place where it appears to be taught otherwise is in a line of JPII's Redemptoris Missio, however he notes it technically doesn't say otherwise. JPII actually clarified this line in a later allocution.  After quoting that passage from RM, he says:

Bl. John Paul II Wrote:What I have said above, however, does not justify the relativistic position of those who maintain that a way of salvation can be found in any religion, even independently of faith in Christ the Redeemer, and that interreligious dialogue must be based on this ambiguous idea. That solution to the problem of the salvation of those who do not profess the Christian creed is not in conformity with the Gospel. Rather, we must maintain that the way of salvation always passes through Christ, and therefore the Church and her missionaries have the task of making him known and loved in every time, place and culture. Apart from Christ "there is no salvation." As Peter proclaimed before the Sanhedrin at the very start of the apostolic preaching: "There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12).

For those too who through no fault of their own do not know Christ and are not recognized as Christians, the divine plan has provided a way of salvation. As we read in the Council's Decree Ad Gentes, we believe that "God in ways known to himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel" to the faith necessary for salvation (AG 7).
http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_p...531en.html

That last sentence is the key for the invincibly ignorant.

Also, the CCC says the same:

161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. "Since "without faith it is impossible to please [God]" and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life 'But he who endures to the end.'"


The debate is somewhat academic as all agree God provides the necessary means if lacking through accident, even if some dispute the bare minimum means.
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#8
Indeed the debate is academic but I think it's important to be clear that faith in Jesus Christ--explicit faith--is necessary for salvation. If that is affirmed over and over it will help mitigate the effects of so much false ecumenism that says one can be saved in any religion or none simply by following the voice of conscience, as if a sincere atheist or Hindu can die as a sincere atheist or as a sincere Hindu and be saved as an atheist or as a Hindu. Baptism of desire, even the so called implicit kind, probably means that God sees the good dispositions of men who have never known Him and eventually gives them some opportunity.even as an internal interior vision, to make an explicit act of faith.
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#9
(02-14-2014, 01:11 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: Indeed the debate is academic but I think it's important to be clear that faith in Jesus Christ--explicit faith--is necessary for salvation. If that is affirmed over and over it will help mitigate the effects of so much false ecumenism that says one can be saved in any religion or none simply by following the voice of conscience, as if a sincere atheist or Hindu can die as a sincere atheist or as a sincere Hindu and be saved as an atheist or as a Hindu. Baptism of desire, even the so called implicit kind, probably means that God sees the good dispositions of men who have never known Him and eventually gives them some opportunity.even as an internal interior vision, to make an explicit act of faith.
The question is why, if such people existed, there are no stories of their conversion before death. If a holy man invincibly ignorant of the Church and Christ had an internal vision in which Christ would appear, then it would most probably make his closest environment convert as well. As far as I know there were no such events and balance of probabilities would suggest there should have been a few at least. Naturally it's for God to decide and asking questions such as mine may be seen as demanding an explanation from Him, but still if someone made an explicit act of faith in Christ while conscious, before the apparent death, wouldn't it be fruitful?
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#10
Thank you Vox.  I have had a lot of questions on Baptism of Desire in the past.  Your post from the Catholic Encyclopedia will be a good resource for them :)

-Martin
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