Eastern Orthodox and Catholic views on EENS

I would like to compare and contrast what EO and CC believe about EENS, and how it relates to those outside the Church.

I am not interested one bit how an EO interprets the CC teaching, nor am I interested one bit on how a CC interprets EO teaching. I want to do the interpreting myself to see who is the most consistent. So, EO, please restrict your comments to what your Church believes and teaches. Likewise, Catholics, please restrict your comments to what your Church believes and teaches.

If at all possible, I would like Magisterial sources, please, not the opinions of individual theologians.


In Christ,

I have no idea what EENS stands for :confused:

Dcointin, its the Latin acronym for “outside the Church there is no salvation.” I don’t want to misspell the actual latin statement (which I know I would if I tried :D).

In Christ,

Why do you think Orthodox would have any particular view on a Catholic document? :confused:

It’s not a Catholic document, per-se, but it is a teaching of both churches. It stems from the Councils I believe. I am not sure, however, if it’s a teaching of the Orientals (it may have been set at a later council). You’d be our best source for that info, dzheremi.

In Orthodoxy it was explained to me basically being a different way of saying our teaching on whether there’s grace in the Sacraments of nonodox churches; God’s Grace is delivered, 100% without a doubt through those Sacraments performed by a priest who is in union with The Church. Outside of The Church we cannot make any guarantees.

The Orthodox interpretation would be almost like being able to replace “salvation” with the word “grace” in EENS. We do not deny that God may save anyone (a common saying in Orthodoxy is “The Spirit blows where He wills”) but we cannot speak to the salvation of those outside Holy Church.

"Concerning this doctrine the Pope of Vatican I, Pius IX, spoke on two different occasions. In an allocution (address to an audience) on December 9th, 1854 he said:

We must hold as of the faith, that out of the Apostolic Roman Church there is no salvation; that she is the only ark of safety, and whosoever is not in her perishes in the deluge; we must also, on the other hand, recognize with certainty that those who are invincible in ignorance of the true religion are not guilty for this in the eyes of the Lord. And who would presume to mark out the limits of this ignorance according to the character and diversity of peoples, countries, minds and the rest?

Again, in his encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore of 10 August, 1863 addressed to the Italian bishops, he said:

It is known to us and to you that those who are in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, but who observe carefully the natural law, and the precepts graven by God upon the hearts of all men, and who being disposed to obey God lead an honest and upright life, may, aided by the light of divine grace, attain to eternal life; for God who sees clearly, searches and knows the heart, the disposition, the thoughts and intentions of each, in His supreme mercy and goodness by no means permits that anyone suffer eternal punishment, who has not of his own free will fallen into sin."


The most relevant part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is this:


I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. I was not thinking straight when I typed “document”. The phrase itself is from St. Cyprian of Carthage. However, whenever I have seen it referenced by Catholics it has always been with regard to one of their own councils or bulls, which have said as much but take on a new meaning in post-schism times (when “the church” is taken to mean “the Roman communion”). It is not referenced to mean the early, undivided church as it would have meant in St. Cyprian’s time. This is what creates the, shall we say, evolving view of the meaning of this idea, such that we can have bulls like “Unam Sanctam” (1302) that talk about the necessity of all being under the Roman Pontiff, compared to today’s understanding that all salvation comes through the church (meaning, I suppose, that salvation can come to those outside of it in some ways, but always still through it).

I am not sure, however, if it’s a teaching of the Orientals (it may have been set at a later council). You’d be our best source for that info, dzheremi.

No, I wouldn’t be. Ask Mardukm, or better Fr. Kyrillos, if he’s still around here. I haven’t heard anything on this one or way or another because I haven’t asked about it.

I don’t know the good Father, but if I want Oriental teaching on something I’m going to go to Oriental Orthodox, and you’re the closest thing I knew of to that on this forum. S’why I said what I did.

Oops. Re-reading the OP see I have misunderstood a bit what you’re looking for. Sorry, Greg. I take appeals to “magisterial sources” to mean “we should all look at Catholic documents”, since the magisterium is the teaching authority of the Roman Catholic Church (hence my original reply to the OP, which seems weird now; again, sorry! I promise my stupidity and illiteracy are entirely uintentional). I don’t have a problem doing that, but of course since the OC don’t exactly have a magisterium, it’s a bit of a different setup on their side, I would think. There are probably plenty of conciliar references to the idea, though. I’ll leave that to the CAF EO.

Here’s a pretty interesting transcription of one of JPII’s audiences that talks about it, though. I think it sums up the modern Catholic position quite well.

Oh, I know. I just meant I really don’t know because I’ve never thought to ask (I can, though, if you want). I imagine Mardukm would have a general sense of the Oriental stance (if there is one that is particular to them), since he grew up in the COC before becoming Catholic, and Fr. Kyrillos even more so, because he is an actual priest in the COC (in one of the Los Angeles churches, if I remember correctly; he hasn’t posted here in many moons, though).

Oh I’m sorry too greg, I didn’t see the part where you requested “magesterial sources”. Dzheremi is right though - there’s no such thing as the “magesterium” in Orthodoxy. The closest thing we would have is the Canons of the Ecumenical Councils. If you like I can try and find where they speak about EENS?

Dzheremi, about my curiosity regarding EENS in OO, it was more for the sake of greg. He may desire you to ask though.

Correction to my self-correction: Greg requested “magisterial sources”, not “documents” (that was my misquote of his post, which I just fixed in my reply). I’m not really sure that it makes a difference, but since I posted the text of an audience, rather than a particular bull or what have you, I assume there is a little more leeway with sources. :shrug: (read: they’d essentially say the same thing, but there are probably more transcripts of audiences than there are official bulls.)

The confusing part for me was the “magisterial” part, anyway!

I would personally summarize the Catholic position as affirming both the negative formulation of the doctrine, that outside the Church is no salvation and everyone outside Her perishes eternally, and also the positive formulation of the doctrine, that all who find salvation do so in some way through the Church. These are two sides of the same coin and must be interpreted in light of each other.

If anyone is saved outside the visible bounds of the Catholic Church, it would therefore be through some sort of real corporate union with Her, even if this union is not fully known by the individual. Such union might exist in cases in which a person is ignorant of their obligation, or even opportunity, to join the Catholic Church yet seeks to love and serve God to the best of his or her knowledge. This idea might connect in some way to the idea of “baptism of desire.” The early Christians believed that catechumens who died before receiving baptism could well have been saved because of their desire for baptism. This sets a precedent for the idea of God granting remission of both Original and personal sins and therefore reconciling a person with Himself outside the setting of the seven sacraments, or at least outside of the ordinary way in which they are administered.

This idea, supplemented by a conviction that God would not allow someone to suffer the torments of hell through no fault of their own, has led many to believe salvation may in some mysterious way may be granted to people who do not seem to have ever desired baptism explicitly, but who loved and served God to the best of their knowledge and who would have desired baptism had they been aware of what it is. It’s important to recognize though that if baptism of desire stretches this far nevertheless those who receive it become true members of the Catholic Church at least in the sacramental sense; they are not being saved outside it.

We should note before leaving this subject that, if I’m not mistaken, Church documents generally seem to use cautious language to describe this possibility. If this sort of baptism by implicit rather than explicit desire happens at all, it happens in a sort of hidden way. We therefore can’t say with certainty that it ever has or ever will occur; we can only express what we suspect happens.

Finally, we must note the situation of the apostates, heretics, and schismatics. These people are baptized and therefore in a sacramental sense members of the Church, yet if morally responsible for their apostasy, heresy, or schism have separated themselves from the fullness of Catholic unity (and therefore from God who meets man in the Catholic Church) and so also cannot be saved. Nevertheless, we can recognize the possibility of someone objectively holding opinions incompatible with Church doctrine or being a member of a schismatic Church or ecclesial community, yet honestly, through no moral fault of their own, believing themselves to be faithful to the fullness of the Christian faith and a member of the Church that Christ founded. If this is the case, it would not appear the person is subjectively responsible for or conscious of their external disunity with the Church of Christ, and so internally, morally and spiritually, they are faithful Catholics (under whatever other name), as well as sacramentally a member of the Catholic Church. Being materially but not formally separated from the communion of the Church is not a moral fault and so could not affect the salvation of someone who has been reconciled to God in baptism. Again, whether this situation ever occurs in real life is subject to dispute; we can only voice what we suspect to be the case.

Again, this is only my personal take on the matter as an individual lay Catholic.

Better to ask Father Kyrillos.

BTW, where has he been? Tired of us already?

This is how it was explained to me as well, so I second what Rawb wrote. :thumbsup:

I agree with this. Adding a little bit to this idea, another phrase that is commonly used to reflect the Orthodox position is, “we know where salvation is, but we cannot know where salvation is not.” Orthodoxy does not presume to know who is excluded from salvation, only where salvation can be found with certainty (within the Church, and even so, your mileage will vary, as being a member of the Church is no guarantee of salvation, no sola fide for us). Likewise, we also cannot deny that God’s Grace exists outside of the Church, because If those outside of the Church are totally deprived of God’s Grace, then there would be nothing which would draw them to the Church in the first place; we can, however, conclusively state that God’s Grace in its completeness and fullness exists only within the Church.

This should not, however, be confused with the modern thought-child of ecumenism that those outside of the Visible Church are somehow included within the “Invisible Church.” For us, the Invisible Church only refers to the membership of the Church outside of the confines of this temporal existence, which would include the the unborn, the angels, the saints (named and unnamed), and the Most Holy Theotokos. To say that we cannot conclusively determine whether salvation exists outside of the Visible Church does not mean that those who hypothetically may be saved but are outside of the Visible Church are therefore part of the Invisible Church. They might become part of the Invisible Church after death; that is quite possible, but in this temporal existence there is only the Visible Church, and they are not in it.

Greg, by now you might’ve noticed that Orthodox do not post documents or sources when they’re telling what their faith teaches, lol :smiley:

Our Church is passed on through speech, not through books like Catholicism (not that one is better than the other, there are pluses and minuses to both styles. Also not that this can’t be done in Catholicism, but it’s a different mindset) but that’s how we are. As such when you ask an Orthodox for a ‘source’ they’re more likely to say “My Spiritual Father told me”, which is considered perfectly acceptable (in Orthodoxy anyway, it may not be to you).

Orthodoxy feels the community is very important. Orthodoxy is very, very relational. We learn the faith from other people; it helps us to become incorporated into the community and truly become brothers and sisters. We tell stories about the saints to one another, or we learn something from someone and we pass it on to others. It’s very common to say “I visited such-and-such parish while I was on vacation last week, two states over” and someone to reply “Oh my Godmother’s sister goes there! How’s Father George?” The Orthodox world is very small. You’ll notice often after an Orthodox writer’s byline on an article they’ve written, it will tell you the parish they attend.

The truly startling thing is how little gets lost as it travels the grapevine. I, dcointin, and Cavaradossi have all told how we’ve been taught the same thing even though we aren’t anywhere near each other in the fleshy-world (I think. I actually don’t know where they are) We attribute this to the Holy Spirit.

So while you ask for sources, as I said before, there really aren’t any, besides ourselves. The people are the sources in Orthodoxy. :shrug:

Can I also agree with you guys?! I mean…I’m in Northern California…chances are you are not… :stuck_out_tongue:

Sacramento? Humbolt? I’m jealous - is it as hot there as it is here in central California? In the last half hour it’s climbed from 74 to 80 and it’s not even noon yet!

No, no…north north! Sonoma county, about 70 miles north of the bay/SF.

Yesterday and today been great (75-80), but Wednesday and before (since the end of the storms) were awful. Tuesday it was in triple digits during the day, and “cooled” off to 87 at night (and stayed there until at least 3 am; I know because the heat kept me up until then), with only gusts of hot wind to break up the monotony. I like to think it’s God’s way of preparing me for living in the desert (Albuquerque, NM). [Thank you, Lord…please bless me with an air conditioner, if it is not too much to ask!]

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