Dogma and non-catcholics


#1

Greeting brothers and sisters!

I was reading just now a list of catholic dogmas on the site below and came across some articles that gave me something to think about.

catholicfirst.com/thefaith/churchdocuments/dogmas.cfm

The articles are:

Baptism by water (Baptismus fluminis) is, since the promulgation of the Gospel, necessary for all men without exception, for salvation. (De fide.)

How does this allow for baptism by desire? Is it because
God is not bound by His sacraments and can confer grace without
the sacraments? But it does say “without exception”…

Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation. (De fide.)

The members of the Church are those who have validly received the Sacrament of Baptism and who are not separated from the unity of the confession of the Faith, and from the unity of the lawful communion of the Church. (Sent. certa.)

Does this mean that those who reject the teachings of the Church are automatically excluded from membership?

For adults the reception of the Eucharist is necessary for salvation with the necessity of precept (necessitate praecepti). (Sent. certa.)

Does this mean that all non-catholics cannot be saved because they don’t receive Holy Communion?

The Sacramental confession of sins is ordained by God and is necessary for salvation. (De fide.)

Same as above.

I know the Church has softened it’s teaching as regards “extra eclesia nulla salus” but the last two articles seem to exclude all non-catholics. Some enlightenment would be appreciated.

God bless,
Noel.


#2

The Church hasn’t “softened” anything that was defined previously.

For the Church’s own explanation of what “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” means, read the appropriate parts of Lumen Gentium or see especially Dominus Iesus.

On the appropriate interpretation of the teaching of Lateran IV, the Holy Office wrote a letter, which says:

Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church.

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly enjoined on His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt. 28: 19-20).

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place by which we are commanded to be incorporated by baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but He also decreed the Church to be a means of salvation without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.

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 (, 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.


#3

That teaching has always been fudged. The Pope has the keys, but with the exception of a few hundred saints, he ums and ahs and never tells anyone whether they are really in or out. Not one person has been definitely declared to be in Hell.


#4

Thanks for the reply Dylan. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of who is actually a member of the Church what about the 2 articles on the Eucharist and confession i.e.

For adults the reception of the Eucharist is necessary for salvation with the necessity of precept (necessitate praecepti). (Sent. certa.)

and

The Sacramental confession of sins is ordained by God and is necessary for salvation. (De fide.)

These would appear to exclude non-catholics. How would you respond to this?

Thanks and God bless you,
Noel.


#5

These are Catholic doctrines which apply to Catholics.
The Church has always recognized such a state as invincible ignorance. (CCC#1735)

Regarding Baptism and the other sacraments:
CCC#1257 “God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments.”

When reading the doctrines of the Church, it’s necessary to read them in the same way we read Scripture. All of the teachings have to be taken into account. The teaching on Baptism has to be understood alongside, and in such a way that it does not contradict, the teaching on ignorance.

Nita


#6

Hello Nita, your fist statement concerns me. Aren’t dogmatic truths universal regardless of one’s faith?

God bless,
Noel.


#7

Not necessarily. Take the following doctrine:
*“For adults the reception of the Eucharist is necessary for salvation with the necessity of precept.” *

This doctrine does not stand alone; it has to be interpreted in conjunction with the following one:

“The Sacrament of the Eucharist can be validly received by every baptised person in the wayfaring state, including young children.”

And also in conjunction with the Church teaching that it is possible not only for non-Catholics to be saved but also non-Christians.

When all of that is taken into account, the reception of the Eucharist (validly consecrated bread and wine) applies to Catholics - except for special exceptions which the Church allows for.

That is what I meant when I said we need to interpret them in the same way as we do Scripture. When you pull one certain verse out of Scripture and hold it up as absolute, without taking into account other Scriptures connected with the same topic, you end up with wrong interpretations such as OSAS, faith alone, etc.

There are probably very, very few doctrines that would have applicatiion only for Catholics - the ones dealing with the Sacraments where it is necessary to be Catholic in order to receive them.

Hope this explains a little.

Of course, God may have His way of upholding each doctrine on its own - eg. miraculous gift of communion in moments before death. Wouldn’t that be lovely, and so like our wonderful God.

Nita


#8

Hello Nita, the last quote says the the Eucharist CAN be received, not MUST. How does this detract from the absoluteness of the the first. Isn’t dogma absolute? Maybe I’m wrong about this! :confused:

This is a teaching, but it isn’t dogmatic is it? Can the Church say for certain that non-catholics can be saved?

God bless,
Noel.


#9
  • **[2)] *“The Sacrament of the Eucharist can be validly received by every baptised person in the wayfaring state, including young children.” (de fide - dogmatic)

Posted by nkelly:
Hello Nita, the last quote says the the Eucharist CAN be received, not MUST. How does this detract from the absoluteness of the the first. Isn’t dogma absolute? Maybe I’m wrong about this!

It shows that it is impossible for the unbaptized to fulfill the first listed doctrine since they are excluded from receiving the Eucharist. *1) “For adults the reception of the Eucharist is necessary for salvation with the necessity of precept.” * (This doctrine by the way, is not dogmatic - de fide) Yet we believe in the possibility of their salvation

It also shows again how a doctrine has to be interpreted in connection with other Church teaching. As the dogma** [2)] **reads, it would seem that non-Catholic baptized Christians are welcome to receive Communion, yet that is not the case. Except for certain specified instances, the dogma is for Catholics only. Perhaps I’m interpreting this wrong. Would appreciate someone letting me know if that is the case; if it does mean that any baptized Christian can validly (but perhaps not licitly) receive Communion.

Regarding the salvation of non-Catholics:

This is a teaching, but it isn’t dogmatic is it? Can the Church say for certain that non-catholics can be saved?

No, I do not believe it is dogmatic. But then, neither is the first one - the doctrine that says we must receive the Eucharist to be saved. I do not know the level of theological certainty accorded the teaching regarding the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics. The teaching is in the CCC #846-848 which cites the conciliar document Lumen Gentium. I believe the encyclical Dominus Jesus also touched on it.

Hope this answers your question.

Nita

(For some reason, I seem to get into this type of question when I’m away from home - which means away from my reference books and software! :frowning: If you have the Vatican II documents you might look up LG and see if they give references for the teaching.)


#10

Hi nkelly,

I should add that I’m taking the level of theological certainty from “Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma” by Dr Ludwig Ott. The doctrine on the necessity of the Eucharist for salvation is given the level of “Sent. certa.” - which is defined as a “doctrine on which the Teaching Authority of the Church has not yet finally pronounced, but whose truth is guaranteed by its intrinsic connection with the doctrine of revelation (theological conclusions)”.

Nita


#11

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