Sunday, February 17, 2008

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

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Fr. Michael Müller, Bishop George Hay, and Orestes Brownson explain the dogma of No salvation outside the Church perfectly well. Many other authors have missed the mark.

A review of the authors' statements below. As far as possible, the benefit of the doubt will be given and distinctions will be drawn.

What tragedy to see a dogma contradicted when a writer has written extremely well on so many other dogmas and doctrines! "A little leaven corrupteth the whole lump" (Galatians 5:9).

"For, the doctrine of faith which God revealed has not been handed down as a philosophic invention to the human mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine deposit to the Spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding. Therefore […] let the understanding, the knowledge, and wisdom of individuals as of all, of one man as of the whole Church, grow and progress strongly with the passage of the ages and the centuries; but let it be solely in its own genus, namely in the same dogma, with the same sense and the same understanding.'' [Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium, 23, 3]" - Vatican I, Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Filius"

The dogma is irreformable, i.e., final and irreversible - it has been infallibly defined by the organ representing God on earth as a truth revealed by God and its substance, its objective meaning, cannot be "taken back." If the dogma says "A" and someone else says, at the same time in the same sense, "not A" (a real contradiction), don't listen to that someone else! But there may be no real, but only an apparent, contradiction. In that case, the interpretation alleging a true contradiction is not the correct interpretation of the statement.

The following truths are apparent from the dogmatic definitions, the perennial ordinary magisterium, and the most reliable writings of the saints and doctors and theologians of happy memory on the dogma:

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (1 Cor 14:8).

"Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." -- Ven. Pope Pius XII, Encylical Humani Generis §27

Msgr. Joseph Pohle, "Predestination," The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 12 (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911):
The notion of predestination comprises two essential elements: God's infallible foreknowledge (præscientia), and His immutable decree (decretum) of eternal happiness. The theologian who, following in the footsteps of the Pelagians, would limit the Divine activity to the eternal foreknowledge and exclude the Divine will, would at once fall into Deism, which asserts that God, having created all things, leaves man and the universe to their fate and refrains from all active interference. Though the purely natural gifts of God, as descent from pious parents, good education, and the providential guidance of man's external career, may also be called effects of predestination, still, strictly speaking, the term implies only those blessings which lie in the supernatural sphere, as sanctifying grace, all actual graces, and among them in particular those which carry with them final perseverance and a happy death. Since in reality only those reach heaven who die in the state of justification or sanctifying grace, all these and only these are numbered among the predestined, strictly so called. From this it follows that we must reckon among them also all children who die in baptismal grace, as well as those adults who, after a life stained with sin, are converted on their death-beds. The same is true of the numerous predestined who, though outside the pale of the true Church of Christ, yet depart from this life in the state of grace as catechumens, Protestants in good faith, schismatics, Jews, Mahommedans, and pagans. Those fortunate Catholics who at the close of a long life are still clothed in their baptismal innocence, or who after many relapses into mortal sin persevere till the end, are not indeed predestined more firmly, but are more signally favoured than the last-named categories of persons.

Fr. Matthias Scheeben (Scannell, and Wilhelm),
2. It is an open question whether, after Christ's coming, Faith in the Christian economy is not indispensable. Many texts in Holy Scripture seem to demand Faith in Christ, in His death and resurrection, as a necessary condition of salvation. On the other hand, it is not easy to understand how eternal salvation should have become impossible for those who are unable to arrive at an explicit knowledge of Christian Revelation. The best solution of the difficulty would seem to be that given by Suarez (De Fide, disp. xii., sect. iv.). The texts demanding Faith in Christ and the Blessed Trinity must not be interpreted more rigorously than those referring to the necessity of Baptism, especially as Faith in Christ, Faith in the Blessed Trinity, and the necessity of Baptism are closely connected together. The Faith in these mysteries is, like Baptism, the ordinary normal means of salvation. Under extraordinary circumstances, however, when the actual reception of Baptism is impossible, the mere implicit desire (votum) suffices. So, too, the implicit desire to believe in Christ and the Trinity must be deemed sufficient. By "implicit desire" we mean the desire to receive, to believe, and to do whatever is needful for salvation, although what is to be received, believed, and done is not explicitly known. The implicit wish and willingness to believe in Christ must be accompanied by and connected with an explicit Faith in Divine Providence as having a care of our salvation ; and this Faith implies Faith and Hope in the Christian economy of salvation (see St. Thom., 2a, 2æ, q. 2, a. 7).

Fr. Stephen Keenan, Doctrinal Catechism, 322-323

Fr. Bertrand L. Conway, C.S.P.

Fr. Stephan Harent, S.J.

Fr. Francis Spirago (1862-1942), The Catechism Explained (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1899), 246:

"If, however, a man, through no fault of his own, remains outside the Church, he may be saved if he lead a God-fearing life; for such a one is to all intents and purposes a member of the Catholic Church."


Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P. (1877-1964),

Francesco Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani (1871-1951)
, Letter of the Holy Office Suprema Haec Sacra on 8/8/1949 footnoted in Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 16 n. 19* and Catechism of the Catholic Church §847 n. 337:
In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the sacrament of regeneration and in reference to the sacrament of penance (Denzinger, nn. 797, 807).

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.
These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, (AAS, Vol. 35, an. 1943, p. 193 ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as members, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.
Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is-composed here on earth, the same august Pontiff says: "Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed."

Toward the end of this same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions those who "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but on the other hand states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure of their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church" (AAS, 1. c., p. 243). With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution, , in Denzinger, n. 1641 ff.; also Pope Pius IX in the encyclical letter, , in Denzinger, n. 1677).

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap. 8): "Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" (Denzinger, n. 801).

Bishop Louis Gaston de Ségur (1820-1881), Short Answers To Common Objections Against Religion, trans. E.S.M. Young (London: Richardson & Son, 1854), :

Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman, C.O. (1801-1890), Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching, vol. 2 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1891), 334-336:
One of the most remarkable instances of what I am insisting on is found in a dogma, which no Catholic can ever think of disputing, viz., that "Out of the Church, and out of the faith, is no salvation." Not to go to Scripture, it is the doctrine of St. Ignatius, St. Irenæus, St. Cyprian in the first three centuries, as of St. Augustine and his contemporaries in the fourth and fifth. It can never be other than an elementary truth of Christianity; and the present Pope has proclaimed it as all Popes, doctors, and bishops before him. But that truth has two aspects, according as the force of the negative falls upon the "Church" or upon the "salvation." The main sense is, that there is no other communion or so called Church, but the Catholic, in which are stored the promises, the sacraments, and other means of salvation; the other and derived sense is, that no one can be saved who is not in that one and only Church. But it does not follow, because there is no Church but one, which has the Evangelical gifts and privileges to bestow, that therefore no one can be saved without the intervention of that one Church. Anglicans quite understand this distinction; for, on the one hand, their Article says, "They are to be had accursed (anathematizandi) that presume to say, that every man shall be saved by (in) the law or sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that law and the light of nature;" while on the other hand they speak of and hold the doctrine of the "uncovenanted mercies of God." The latter doctrine in its Catholic form is the doctrine of invincible ignorance—or, that it is possible to belong to the soul of the Church without belonging to the body; and, at the end of 1800 years, it has been formally and authoritatively put forward by the present Pope (the first Pope, I suppose, who has done so), on the very same occasion on which he has repeated the fundamental principle of exclusive salvation itself. It is to the purpose here to quote his words; they occur in the course of his Encyclical, addressed to the Bishops of Italy, under date of August 10, 1863.

"We and you know, that those who lie under invincible ignorance as regards our most Holy Religion, and who, diligently observing the natural law and its precepts,  which are engraven by God on the hearts of all, and prepared to obey God, lead a good and upright life, are able, by the operation of the power of divine light and grace, to obtain eternal life."

Who would at first sight gather from the wording of so forcible a universal, that an exception to its operation, such as this, so distinct, and, for what we know, so very wide, was consistent with holding it?

Fr. Patrick Power (1862-1951), Catechism : doctrinal, moral, historical, and liturgical : with answers to the objections drawn from the sciences against religion, vol. 1, 8th ed. (London: Burns & Oates), 428:
Every Catholic who is well instructed in his religion, must firmly hold that all persons out of the Church of Christ cannot be saved. If asked, whether or not a Protestant invincibly ignorant of the true religion, but yet a faithful observer of the commands of God, will be saved, the answer can be given in the affirmative, provided there be real "invincible" ignorance, that is, that the Protestant has in the first place a real and sincere desire of knowing the truth ; secondly, that he is sincerely resolved to embrace the truth, wherever he may find it, and whatever it may cost him ; and thirdly, that he sincerely use his best endeavours to know his duty, and particularly that he recommend the matter earnestly to God, and pray for light and direction from Him. If one has not these dispositions, his ignorance is not "invincible," it is voluntary and culpable, and if he die without being reconciled to the Church, he cannot be saved.

Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton (1906-1969), The Catholic Church and Salvation in Light of Recent Pronouncements by the Holy See (Westminster, MD: The Newman Press, 1958). These passages from Msgr. Fenton were found quoted in the work of someone who has separated himself from the unity of the Church by his sedevacantism; let us pray to the Mother of God, Exterminatrix of All Heresies, for his swift return!
"But, in order that faith may exist, there certainly must be some minimum of teachings which are grasped distinctly by the believer and within which theology holds that it is possible to have genuine divine faith when two, or, according to some writers, four, of these revealed truths are believed distinctly and explicitly.  There can be real divine faith when a man believes explicitly, on the authority of God revealing, the existence of God as Head of the supernatural order, the fact that God rewards good and punishes evil, and the doctrines of the Blessed Trinity and of the Incarnation" (69).
"The non-members of the Church who have no explicit intention of joining or entering it can have the life of grace, but only if they are ordered or disposed toward the Church by a certain unconscious intention or desire" (87).
"Pope Pius XII asserts true Catholic doctrine by teaching that a non-member of the Church who is within the Church only in the sense that he has an unconscious or implicit desire of entering it as a member can possess the supernatural life of sanctifying grace" (87).
"The only method by which the dogma can be explained satisfactorily is that employed in the Suprema haec sacra" (128).

Servant of God Charles Cardinal Journet (1891-1975), The Church of the Word Incarnate
84 We should not speak of a soul of the Church which extends beyond the body. Above all, we must not say that the just "without" belong to the invisible Church. Say rather, if you will, that they belong invisibly to the visible Church. It is difficult to think, however, that their supernatural charity is altogether without outward sign, and in this sense their membership of the Church is not wholly invisible. It could be said to be invisible simpliciter, but visible secundum quid.

To reconcile the axiom "Outside the Church, no salvation", with the doctrine of the possible salvation of those who remain ignorant of the Church in all good faith, there is no need to manufacture any new theory. All we have to do is to apply to the Church the traditional distinction made in connection with the necessity of Baptism, the door by which the Church is entered. To the question: Can anybody be saved without Baptism? St. Thomas, who here draws on the thought of St. Ambrose, replies that those who lack Baptism re et voto, that is to say who neither are nor want to be baptized, cannot come to salvation, "since they are neither sacramentally nor mentally incorporated into Christ, by whom alone is salvation". But those who lack Baptism re, sed non voto, that is to say "who desire Baptism, but are accidentally overtaken by death before receiving it, can be saved without actual Baptism, in virtue of their desire for Baptism, coming from a faith that works by charity, by which God, whose power is not circumscribed by visible sacraments, sanctifies man interiorly".[85] Conformably with this distinction we shall say that the axiom "No salvation outside the Church" is true of those who do not belong to the Church, which in herself is visible, either visibly (corporaliter) or even invisibly, either by the sacraments (sacramentaliter) or even in spirit (mentaliter); either fully (re) or even by desire (voto); either in accomplished act or even in virtual act.[86] The axiom does not concern the just who, without yet belonging to the Church visibly, in accomplished act (re), do so invisibly, in virtual act, in spirit, by desire (mentaliter, voto), that is to say in virtue of the supernatural righteousness of their lives, even while, through insurmountable ignorance, they know nothing of the sanctity, or even of the existence, of the Church.[87]
85 III, q. 68, a. 2
86 Speaking of the way in which one can be deprived of Baptism, St. Thomas opposes the terms re and voto; cf. III, q. 68, a. 2. Speaking of the way in which one can be incorporated in Christ, he opposes the words sacramentaliter and mentaliter (ibid.) or corporaliter and mentaliter: "Adulti prius credentes in Christum sunt ei incorporati mentaliter; sed postmodum, cum baptizantur, incorporantur ei quodammodo corporaliter, scilicet per visibile sacramentum, sine cujus proposito nec mentaliter incorporari potuissent" (III, q. 69, a. 5, ad. 1).
87 It is in fact to these distinctions made by St. Thomas in connection with the necessity of Baptism that St. Robert Bellarmine and later theologians have recourse to explain the axiom "outside the Church, no salvation", St. Robert Bellarmine, speaking of catechumens, begins by saying that they are of the Church, not "actu et proprie, sed tantum in potentia, quomodo homo conceptus sed nondum formatus et natus non dicitur homo nisi in potentia", and it is easy to see from this example—borrowed, he believes, from St. Augustine—that the in potentia of St. Robert Bellarmine is equivalent to what we have called a virtual act: the man already conceived but not brought forth, although not man in accomplished act, is man in act begun. St. Robert continues: "Quod dicitur: Extra Ecclesiam neminem salvari, intelligi debet de iis qui neque re ipsa, nec desiderio sunt de Ecclesia, sicut de baptismo communiter loquuntur theologi. Quoniam autem catechumeni, si non re, saltem voto sunt in Ecclesia, ideo salvari possunt" (De Ecclesia Militante, lib. III, cap. 3) Suarez has the same doctrine: "Melius ergo respondendum juxta distinctionem datam de necesitate in re vel in voto ita enim nemo salvari potest, nisi hanc Christi Ecclesiam vel in re, vel in voto saltem et desiderio ingrediatur" (De Fide disp. 12, sect. 4, no. 22) Billuart notes that catechumens "non sunt re et proprie in Ecclesia"; yet when they have charity, they are in the Church proxime et in voto as if one should say that a man under the porch was already in the house, they belong to the Church "inchoative et ut aspirantes.... et ideo salvari possunt. Nec obstat quod extra Ecclesiam non sit salus; id namque intelligitur de eo qui nec re, nec in voto est in Ecclesia" (De Regulis Fidei, dissert. 3, a. 2, 3) See on this point E. Dublanchy, art. "Eglise", Dict. de theol. cathol., cols. 2163-2165
What is to be gained by substituting some new explanation of the axiom: Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus for this traditional exegesis? "The result is that the apologists are out of accord with the theologians and deviate from the traditional teaching. When it is introduced simply as it stands into the formula 'outside the Church, no salvation" the distinction between the body and soul of the Church might easily falsify its meaning.... When the Fathers and the Councils made use of this formula, they did so to convey that all who would be saved must not only belong to the soul of the Church but must enter the external communion. It was without any detriment to the truth of the formula that the theologians reconciled it with the universality of grace and the universal possibility of salvation. They distinguished, like their predecessors, a real adhesion and an implicit adhesion to the visible Church" (L. Caperan, Le probleme du salut des infideles, essai historique, vol. I, p. 477) Happily, not all the apologists are here incriminated. In his 36th conference at Notre Dame de Paris, for example, Pere de Ravignan made admirably clear that the dogma "outside the Church, no salvation" condemns those who live in "voluntary and culpable error", but not those who have at least "The implicit aspiration and desire for the Church and for Baptism."
In his very stimulating book on the Church A. D. Sertillanges, O. P., more perspicacious than the apologists here criticised, clearly sees what is in fact obvious to every Thomist, that the soul and body of the Church must be coextensive, but to reconcile this truth with the doctrine of the possible salvation of those in Invincible ignorance of the Church, he looks in a direction which seems at first sight contrary to that followed here. He does not reduce the soul of the Church to the dimensions of its normal body by the distinction between grace simply sanctifying, which certainly overflows this normal body, and the sanctifying grace that comes of the sacramental power and is ruled by the jurisdictional power, which is the very soul of the Church, conformed to her normal body. On the contrary he leaves the expression "soul of the Church" an undifferentiated and universal significance, and enlarges the concept of the body of the Church so as to make it universal like the soul. "In the measure in which these organizations [pagan religions] favoured not vice and error as they did too often, but virtue and true religious feeling, they were, through God and His Christ, salutary; they were so to speak occasional uncovenanted supports for the universal soul of the Church." And again: "Just as the soul of our Catholic Church envelops all souls that belong to God no matter where they live, so does her body envelop as extrinsic dependencies, all other religious forms [dissident religions are here meant] which in themselves are her antagonists, but also partially, and n the way I have just described, her servants" (L'Eglise, 1917, vol. II, pp. 112 and 119. My italics) These views should surely be made more precise. What has to be determined is this: what is there of the soul of the Church outside the Church, and what is there of the body of the Church outside the Church?

89 Here, without wishing to proscribe their use everywhere, I avoid of set purpose such phrases as salvation of infidels, pagans, or heretics in good faith. Infidels are saved in so far as they are among the faithful, pagans and heretics by that in them which is neither heretical nor pagan.
One grown to manhood in the forests, away from the company of men, and suddenly illumined by an inner inspiration showing him what to believe, would be in a similar position.[96] In these two cases, and others like them, the desire that saves these men, though it springs from a faith vitalized by charity, is not always accompanied by explicit knowledge of Baptism or of the Church, nor even perhaps of the Incarnation and the Trinity: the explicit content of faith then amounting to two points which, in the supereminent mystery of their riches, contain all the articles of the creed: namely that "God is, and rewards those who seek after Him" (Heb. xi. 6).
96 id., De Veritate, q. 14, a. 11, ad. 1
Conceded: (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, q. 2, art. 6).
Denied: That a man can have Catholic faith by believing merely in these two points (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II, q. 2, art. 8, ad 1 and Denzinger , 1000, ).

The third attitude is that of men who are aware of the existence and activity of the Church, but who, far from seeming to move towards her, show themselves ill-disposed, perhaps oppose her with all their conscious powers, even persecute her; and yet do this because of insurmountable errors for which God does not hold them responsible, sincerely convinced as they are that they work for justice and truth. Their hostility to the Church can coexist with an authentic movement of faith working by charity, which attaches them closely to the very Church that they detest, but whose sons they already are. Newman had long given up "choosing his way" and was content to be led by the divine light; yet still the Church of Rome seemed to him to be allied with Antichrist. There are more things in a man's heart than are dreamt of in his philosophy; or even, often enough, in his theology.
Conceded: That a person with this attitude can be among the predestined and "that God can in an instant convert the most obdurate heart, either to the true faith, or to repentance" [George Hay, The Sincere Christian, vol. 2, ed. Bishop John Manzies Strain (Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871), q. 29, 323]; cf. 1 Timothy 1:12-13: "I am grateful to Him Who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry. I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief."
Denied: That a person with this attitude already has Catholic faith and charity and is joined to the Church and would go to Heaven dying in this state; cf. the 2nd error of John Huss condemned in Session 15 of the Council of Constance, which condemnation was ratified by Pope Martin V: "Paul never was a member of the devil, although he did certain acts similar to the acts of those who malign the Church" [Denzinger 628].
98 In so far as this is so, it is by reason precisely of what they have taken from the true Church or received from the loving kindness of the Holy Spirit, never by reason of the principle of their dissidence, but in spite of it.

E. Sylvester Berry, The Church of Christ: An Apologetic and Dogmatic Treatise (, 1955)
138: A person who knowingly and willingly remains outside of the Church and dies in that condition, cannot hope for salvation; he has rejected Christ by rejecting His Church: "He who hears you, hears me."<52> But a person who is out of the Church through no fault of his own, can obtain salvation by an act of perfect contrition, or perfect love of God and, at least, an implicit desire to belong to the Church. He is then a member of the Church, both of the body and of the soul, not in fact but in desire,--non in re sed in voto. The desire to belong to the Church is implicitly contained in the general desire to do all that Christ commands, even though the person never heard of the Church or actually rejects it through ignorance of its real character.
Conceded: That all who belong to the Church belong to both "the body and ... the soul" of the Church and that the body and soul of the Church are co-extensive and that "attachment to both [is] necessary with the necessity of means" [Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, "The Meaning of the Church's Necessity for Salvation," American Ecclesiastical Review, February, 1951].
The body of the Church is:
The soul of the Church is:
Denied: That an adult who has "never heard of the Church or actually rejects it" for any reason can belong to the Church either: 
All men are bound to belong to the true Church of Christ, because He has so commanded, and also because it is the means established by Him for our salvation. Therefore, it is absolutely wrong to maintain that it matters not to what Church a man belongs, provided he accept Christ as his personal Saviour and lead a virtuous life. Even those in good faith, sincerely believing that they really belong to the true Church, are far less secure of their salvation than they would be in the Church with the use of the sacraments and other means of salvation found there.
139: As all men are bound to belong to the true Church of Christ, so also are they bound to use all possible efforts to find and embrace it, despite any temporal losses that may ensue. The amount of effort necessary will depend upon each one's ability and the opportunity presented for study and investigation. Investigation is impossible for the person who sincerely and firmly believes that he already possesses the true Church, but the moment a doubt or suspicion arises in his mind, he is bound to use all means at his command to discover the truth. If a sincere and serious effort fails to bring him to the truth, he is still in invincible ignorance and, therefore, guiltless of his errors before God.

Fr. Martin Jugie, A.A. (1878-1954)

Fr. Donald Attwater

Yves Cardinal Congar, O.P. (1905-1995)

Fr. William Most

Fr. Ludwig Ott (1906-1985)

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991):
From An Open Letter to Confused Catholics (Leominster: Fowler Wright Books, Ltd.), 81:
We must say it clearly: such a concept is radically opposed to Catholic dogma. The Church is the one ark of salvation, and we must not be afraid to affirm it. You have often heard it said, "Outside the Church there is no salvation"--a dictum which offends contemporary minds. It is easy to believe that this doctrine is no longer in effect, that it has been dropped. It seems excessively severe.

Yet nothing, in fact, has changed; nothing can be changed in this area. Our Lord did not found a number of churches: He founded only One. There is only one Cross by which we can be saved, and that Cross has been given to the Catholic Church. It has not been given to others. To His Church, His mystical bride, Christ has given all graces. No grace in the world, no grace in the history of humanity is distributed except through her.
Conceded: All this is true.
Does that mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian's formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” also reject the Creed, “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still catechumens) and baptism of desire.

Baptism of desire can be explicit. Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, “Father, baptize me straightaway because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell.” I told him “No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire baptism, then you already have the grace in you.”

The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church.

The error consists in thinking that they are saved by their religion. They are saved in their religion but not by it. There is no Buddhist church in heaven, no Protestant church. This is perhaps hard to accept, but it is the truth. I did not found the Church, but rather Our Lord the Son of God. As priests we must state the truth.

From Against the Heresies,

From an address at Rennes:

From a sermon "for the first Solemn High Mass of Father Dennis Roch" quoted on an S.S.P.X. website:

We are Catholics, we affirm our faith in the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we affirm our faith in divinity of the Holy Catholic Church, we think that Jesus Christ is the sole way, the sole truth, the sole life, and that one cannot be saved outside Our Lord Jesus Christ and consequently outside His Mystical Spouse, the Holy Catholic Church. No doubt, the graces of God are distributed outside the Catholic Church; but those who are saved, even outside the Catholic Church, are saved by the Catholic Church, by Our Lord Jesus Christ, even if they do not know it, even if they are not aware of it, for it is Our Lord Himself Who has said it. “You can do nothing without Me – nihil potestis facere sine me.” You cannot come to the Father without going by Me. “When I shall be lifted up from the earth,” says Our Lord Jesus Christ, meaning He will be on His cross, “I shall draw all souls to Me.” Only Our Lord Jesus Christ, being God, could say such things. No man here below can speak as Our Lord has spoken, because He alone is the Son of God, He is our God – Tu solus altissimus, tu solus Dominus. He is Our Lord; He is the Most High, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, M.C. (1910-1997),

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. (1918-2008), "Who Can Be Saved?" First Things (February 2008):
Who, then, can be saved? Catholics can be saved if they believe the Word of God as taught by the Church and if they obey the commandments. Other Christians can be saved if they submit their lives to Christ and join the community where they think he wills to be found. Jews can be saved if they look forward in hope to the Messiah and try to ascertain whether God’s promise has been fulfilled. Adherents of other religions can be saved if, with the help of grace, they sincerely seek God and strive to do his will. Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice. God’s saving grace, channeled through Christ the one Mediator, leaves no one unassisted. But that same grace brings obligations to all who receive it. They must not receive the grace of God in vain. Much will be demanded of those to whom much is given.

Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J. (1914-2000)

Fr. Maurice Eminyan, S.J.

Fr. Francis Sullivan, S.J.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, S.S.P.X. (b. 1958), "A Talk Heard Round the World," The Angelus (April 2006), found quoted in the work of someone who must renounce his sedevacantism:
Today, we have so many surprising theories around, and so we must hold fast to what the Church has always taught. And the Church has always taught that you have people who will be in heaven, who are in the state of grace, who have been saved without knowing the Catholic Church. We know this. And yet, how is it possible if you cannot be saved outside the Catholic Church? It is absolutely true that they will be saved through the Catholic Church because they will be united to Christ, to the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Catholic Church. It will, however, remain invisible, because this visible link is impossible for them. Consider a Hindu in Tibet who has no knowledge of the Catholic Church. He lives according to his conscience and to the laws which God has put into his heart. He can be in the state of grace, and if he dies in this state of grace, he will go to heaven.

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