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  #1  
Old 10th July 2008, 12:11 AM
mort mort is offline
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Default No salvation outside of the Church

Peace be with you,

I've had a difficult time trying to reconcile some contemporary teachings with with the dogmatic declaration, "There is no salvation outside of the Church." I understand this to mean that only the Catholic Church has the power to save a human being however, in recent years there has been an expression to the effect of, some non-Catholic denominations are "instruments of salvation." How are to understand groups outside of the visible bounds of the Church serving as instruments for salvation?

Thanks,
Mort
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  #2  
Old 10th July 2008, 12:26 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

The teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church is true, if one understands the full extent of the Church. All persons in a state of grace are members of the Church in some sense. They are not all that they ought to be as members, but they are sufficiently members of the Church to be saved. The true Church is very broad, including persons who have explicitly rejected Catholicism, but who have unknowingly accepted core teachings of the Faith, such as love of neighbor.

Where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Church. The Holy Spirit is actively working in the lives of all who are willing, despite their many sins and failings.

They err seriously who, in saying that there is no salvation outside the Church, narrow the meaning of Church to refer only to those who are explicitly members of the visible Church, the Roman Catholic Church, as if all Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and others go to Hell. This idea is a heresy (Feeneyism) found sometimes among ultra conservative Catholics, who are themselves also schismatics (they think that the Popes and Bishops have gone astray since Vatican II).

Now the Catholic Church is the foundation and source of the salvation of those persons who are in some sense members of the Church without adhering to the visible Church. An atheist who has rejected the idea of God (but not to the extent of an actual mortal sin) may well be in a state of grace due to his honesty, love of neighbor, etc. But he would not be saved at all if the Church did not exist.

The Catholic Church prayers for the whole human race, offers sacrifices and blessings for everyone, and the whole human race benefits from the graces obtained by the Church from the side of Christ on the Cross. Without the Church itself, those who are on the outskirts of the Church and are barely members in some sense, they would not be saved at all.
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  #3  
Old 10th July 2008, 12:53 AM
mort mort is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
The true Church is very broad, including persons who have explicitly rejected Catholicism, but who have unknowingly accepted core teachings of the Faith, such as love of neighbor.

I understand that someone can receive the grace of baptism without the sacrament itself, i.e. via "baptism of desire" and "baptism of blood." Even the pagan who never heard of the gospel, can make it to heaven through an implicit desire, if she lives according to the graces given to her. But I'm not sure I understand your quoted statement. It seems to me there are certain beliefs which are so necessary for salvation that rejecting them puts you outside of the pale no matter what you do. There is one statement by Pope Eugene IV in Cantate Domino (1441) which emphasizes this:

"The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the "eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41), unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church."

An explicit rejection of Catholicism would seem to end someone's chance of salvation, unless perhaps that person rejected Catholicism because of their upbringing.

God bless
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  #4  
Old 10th July 2008, 02:01 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Explicit rejection of Catholicism, of Christianity, of any required belief of the Catholic Christian faith, is an objective mortal sin. But the individual might still be saved, if there is some reduction of culpability so that the objective mortal sin is not an actual mortal sin. This can occur because the world convinces so many people that truths are not absolute, that Catholicism is not the truth, and many other errors. It then becomes hard for the sincere person, who is also affected by original sin and personal sin to some extent, to discern the truth.

So it is that someone can reject Catholicism, and still retain the state of grace, because they have avoided actual mortal sin.

Also, if someone is in a state of actual mortal sin, I believe that they can be forgiven through implicit repentance by a full cooperation with God's grace, which is often accompanied by some heroic external act, such as selfless service to others or even risking one's life for others.

Articles on salvation:
http://www.catholicplanet.com/RCC/index.htm

Thread on sin:
http://catholicplanet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=2400

The quote you give must be interpreted in the light of all the other teachings of the Church. So remaining in unity with the Church at least means retaining or returning to a state of grace. Also, offending in this way, by rejecting unity with the Church, is an objective mortal sin, but not always an actual mortal sin.

Good question though.
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  #5  
Old 10th July 2008, 03:18 PM
St. Thomas More St. Thomas More is offline
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Default Without the Catholic Church

Might it be better phrased, or understood as, "There is no salvation without the Catholic Church" rather than "outside" of it. "Outside" connotes a requirement of membership, which is not strictly required. "Without" means that the Church is necessary for salvation, but not sufficient, and membership is not necessarily required, depending on other factors.
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  #6  
Old 10th July 2008, 05:59 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Thomas More View Post
Might it be better phrased, or understood as, "There is no salvation without the Catholic Church" rather than "outside" of it. "Outside" connotes a requirement of membership, which is not strictly required. "Without" means that the Church is necessary for salvation, but not sufficient, and membership is not necessarily required, depending on other factors.

Not correct.

1. The Church has been teaching this doctrine for many centuries. It most probably falls under the Universal Magisterium, which is infallible. This is the ancient teaching of the Church, that outside the Church there is no salvation. It does not need to be reworded or reimagined, it need be only properly understood.

2. The papal bull Unam Sanctam teaches this same doctrine:
We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins
http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Bon08/B8unam.htm

3. Membership is strictly required, but being in a state of grace constitutes, at its most basic level, membership in the Church. For the state of grace necessarily includes the theological virtues of love, faith, hope and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

4. Membership by externals only, such as attending Mass and reciting certain prayers and even intellectually assenting to particular truths, is empty and ineffective to save anyone without being accompanied by the state of grace. Such persons are not true members of the Church.
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  #7  
Old 10th July 2008, 06:35 PM
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In other words, one can be a true member without being an official member.

And one can be an official member without being a true member.
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  #8  
Old 10th July 2008, 07:10 PM
mort mort is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
3. Membership is strictly required, but being in a state of grace constitutes, at its most basic level, membership in the Church. For the state of grace necessarily includes the theological virtues of love, faith, hope and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Ron, how are these individuals outside the visible Church obtaining a state of grace? Baptism or it's substitute is absolutely required.
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Old 10th July 2008, 07:18 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiAZ216 View Post
In other words, one can be a true member without being an official member.

And one can be an official member without being a true member.

Well said and very succinct. I like this formulation.
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  #10  
Old 10th July 2008, 07:25 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mort View Post
Ron, how are these individuals outside the visible Church obtaining a state of grace? Baptism or it's substitute is absolutely required.

Protestant Baptism is generally valid, except for those sects that lack a belief in Baptism (Jehovah's Witnesses) or who substantially distort the doctrine of the Trinity (Mormons).

As for non-Christians, they can obtain a non-formal Baptism (mystical Baptism). This doctrine is in need of further development, as concerns its extent, and also as concerns those who are too young to have the use of reason. The concpets of Baptism of desire and Baptism of blood are well-accepted, but their limits have never been defined.

This article discusses the possible extent of non-formal Baptism:
http://www.catholicplanet.com/RCC/mystical-baptism.htm

And this article discusses possible forgiveness without the Sacrament of Confession for those who are non-Catholics (or even for Catholics in some circumstances) :
http://www.catholicplanet.com/RCC/im...repentance.htm

In summary, they obtain a state of grace by a full cooperation with God's grace, typically accompanied by an external act of love of God or love of neighbor.
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