Did the Pope say non-Catholics cannot be saved?

Apologist friends,

I need clarification regarding the Holy Father’s comments to the youth at the Greek Melkite Cathedral of Damascas. He states, “you cannot be a Christian if you reject the Church founded by Jesus Christ.” Protestant Author Rick Jones’s (www.chick.com) “Understanding Catholicism” cuts and paste’s this sentence and uses it to support his position that Catholics have “always” taught that only Catholics can go to heaven. I know this is not true, he also uses paragraphs 816 and 846 in the Catechism to support his position without quoting paragraph 847 therefore misrepresenting the Catholic Church’s position on salvation for non-Catholics. Please help me to understand our Holy Father’s comments in their truest context. God Bless.


Pope John Paul II’s remark is consistent with the constant teaching of the Catholic Church. Notice that he uses the word “reject” which, in context, means making a conscious decision against the Church that one knows to be founded by Jesus Christ.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) text cited by Rick Jones confirm this: “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” (CCC 846, emphasis added).

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