Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. This is the constant teaching of the Church: outside the Church there is no salvation. Today, many Catholics seem to think that it is fairly easy to obtain salvation outside the visible Church, but in light of such infallible declarations as the following (and to my knowledge they constitute infallible declarations, someone correct me if they are not), I question how many shall be saved outside visible bounds of the Church.

"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, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; … no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
Pope Eugene IV

"We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."
Unam Sanctam
Pope Boniface VIII

My problem is this. If you take their words at face value, these popes didn’t seem to allow for the possibility of salvation outside the Catholic Church proper. It almost seems that we must twist their words to make it fit with the infallible declaration of Vatican II. I can see how both statements can be true…but with this line: no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church seems very hard to reconcile with the concept of most (or at least many) Protestants and Orthodox being saved. He does, after all, say ‘no one’.

Excellent point, twf. I too have wondered about these papal declarations. I’m curious to see what the apologists have to say about this. Apologists, please try not to distort these popes’ words to fit Vatican II. Truth need not be twisted to fit with itself.

Vatican II merely made explicit an exception to the rule that was implicit in the earlier pronouncements, an exception concerning those “invincibly ignorant” of Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

847. This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

The real question, then, becomes who is outside of the Church?

I’m going to ask that moderators put this topic on the banned topic list for a while. This has been asked and answered forever. There are rigorists and those who follow the current catechism.

Just do a search on “Salus”, as of now, there are 56 topics.

John

TWF:

Several Popes and Councils have made this declaration, but it’s always been with the understanding that baptism may be achieved extra-sacramentally by a) martyrdom or b) desire; and that, furthermore, this desire may be explicit or implicit.

During the council of Florence, when Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus was first proclaimed, their was only one Church.

I think the question is not only who is outside the Church, but what does “outside the Church” mean?

Do we place limits on God according to our puny understanding of salvation, and fit His salvation criteria into cute little formulas?

Since when is “in or out of the Church” confined to this life, and only this life? Consider Job, who was probably a Babylonian, not Hebrew, and read the first verse. Consider the servant of the centurian, who received healing (salvum) and never heard of or met Jesus.

Vatican II did not counter or cancel previous proclamations, the Church expanded what was already there.

Jesus did not counter or cancel the Torah, He expanded what was already there.

John Paul II talked about the subject of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
(I’m sure that the holy father is well aware of the Council of Florence teachings on salvation. He makes some interesting comments.)

In the chapter titled, “Is Only Rome Right?”, John Paul II speaks about salvation and its relation to the Church. His teaching on this subject rejects the exclusivist position held by some people here on beliefnet. Also, he affirms the constant teaching of the Church that It is the instrument of salvation instituted by Christ, and he speaks of how all of this fits together.

First JPII explains:
the Christian doctrine of salvation and of the mediation of salvation, which always originates in God. “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, / Christ Jesus, himself human” (1 Tm 2:5). “There is no salvation through any other name” (Acts 4:12).”

He then affirms:
It is therefore a revealed truth that there is salvation only and exclusively in Christ. The Church, inasmuch as it is the Body of Christ, is simply an instrument of this salvation.

John Paul II then explains what this means:
Man is saved in the Church by being brought into the Mystery of the Divine Trinity, into the mystery of the intimate life of God…
Thus, the Council is far from proclaiming any kind of ecclesiocentrism. Its teaching is Christocentric in all of its aspects, and therefore it is profoundly rooted in the Mystery of the Trinity.

JPII also affirms the council teaching of Vatican 2 affirming the necessity of the Church:
men cannot be saved who do not want to enter or remain in the Church, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded by God through Christ as a necessity" (Lumen Gentium 14).”

Then JPII goes on to explain exactly what Lumen Gentium is talking about in regards to their relation to the Church.
People are saved through the Church, they are saved in the Church, but they always are saved by the grace of Christ. Besides formal membership in the Church, the sphere of salvation can also include other forms of relation to the Church (emphasis mine). Paul VI expressed this same teaching in his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, when he spoke of the various circles of the dialogue of salvation (cf. Ecclesiam Suam 101-117), which are the same as those indicated by the Council as the spheres of membership in and of relation to the Church. This is the authentic meaning of the well-known statement “Outside the Church there is no salvation.”

He then expresses that there are exclusivists who have gotten confused as to what the Church teaches. He says:
It would be difficult to deny that this doctrine is extremely open. It cannot be accused of an ecclesiological exclusivism. Those who rebel against claims allegedly made by the Catholic Church probably do not have an adequate understanding of this teaching.

JPII then relates what the Council (Vatican 2) means in its relation to the Church with other Christian communities:
Although the Catholic Church knows that it has received the fullness of the means of salvation, it rejoices when other Christian communities join her in preaching the Gospel. This is the proper context for understanding the Council’s teaching that the Church of Christ “subsists” in the Catholic Church (cf. Lumen Gentium 8; Unitatis Redintegratio 4).

These are the pope’s words. It speaks pretty plainly as to how he views the subject of E.E.N.S.

Dan-man916,
All of that was very good, but it seems like one area has not been covered. Protestants and Orthodox are not “subject to the Roman Pontiff”. Therefore, according to Pope Boniface VIII, they will have no salvation. However, according to John Paul II, they are in fact in the Church. This seems rather odd… in the Church, yet no salvation.

I guess my question would be, what does the text mean when it says to be subject to the Roman Pontiff?

Does this being “subject” have different meanings that apply to material heretics and schismatics and formal heretics and schismatics?

I don’t have my Ludwig Ott book with me right now, but I think he talks about this difference. I think that material heretics or material schismatics are still considered to be subject to the pontiff, while formal schismatics and heretics are not.

However, I am not sure, so maybe someone can correct me if I am wrong.

[quote=Juxtaposer]Dan-man916,
All of that was very good, but it seems like one area has not been covered. Protestants and Orthodox are not “subject to the Roman Pontiff”. Therefore, according to Pope Boniface VIII, they will have no salvation. However, according to John Paul II, they are in fact in the Church. This seems rather odd… in the Church, yet no salvation.
[/quote]

I can’t, for the life of me, understand why this is so hard for people to understand . . . :rolleyes:

A man who is not Catholic, but is so through no fault of his own, and is otherwise a sincerely God-fearing man, by that very fact has within him at least an implicit desire to be a member of the Church, and so to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

United to the Church by this implicit desire, he may be saved.

[quote=DominvsVobiscvm]I can’t, for the life of me, understand why this is so hard for people to understand . . . :rolleyes:

A man who is not Catholic, but is so through no fault of his own, and is otherwise a sincerely God-fearing man, by that very fact has within him at least an implicit desire to be a member of the Church, and so to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

United to the Church by this implicit desire, he may be saved.
[/quote]

Well said.

To put it a slightly different way, outside the Church there is no salvation. However, it is not left up to us to define who is in the Church and who is not. That’s God’s business.

DaveBj

[quote=DaveBj]Well said.

To put it a slightly different way, outside the Church there is no salvation. However, it is not left up to us to define who is in the Church and who is not. That’s God’s business.

DaveBj
[/quote]

Then why did Pope Boniface VIII have to say that in the first place? For all he knew Philip IV was in the Church.

[quote=DaveBj]Well said.

To put it a slightly different way, outside the Church there is no salvation. However, it is not left up to us to define who is in the Church and who is not. That’s God’s business.

DaveBj
[/quote]

Somebody said (I don’t know who) That there were those whom Christ had, that the Church had not; and there were those whom the Church had, that Christ had not.

I would love to hear an answer to this since I am not part of the Roman Catholic Church, but am a Protestant. I know about the RCC, but just do not agree with their positions. I am a pastor who loves Christ very much. My whole life is devoted to His service and the preaching of the Gospel, but I do not submit to the authrity of the Pope.

I do believe that MANY Roman Catholics do love Christ and that I will share eternal fellowship with them in heaven.
My question about the current stand of the Roman Catholic Church is this: Is it possible for me to have salvation even though I am willingly not a part of RCC?

I would appreciate an honest answer that interprets your coucils through the lense of history and not from an emotional bias.

Thanks for your response,

Michael

I had ignored this thread in hopes it would be locked. However Reverend Michael deserves a non-triumphalist answer.

Here’s from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

[quote=CCC]838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
[/quote]

So, according to current Catholic Church teaching, be not afraid.

As I heard Father Corapi say recently, Michael, “I’m glad you’re in my Church.”

John

[quote=michaelp]I would love to hear an answer to this since I am not part of the Roman Catholic Church, but am a Protestant. I know about the RCC, but just do not agree with their positions. I am a pastor who loves Christ very much. My whole life is devoted to His service and the preaching of the Gospel, but I do not submit to the authrity of the Pope.

I do believe that MANY Roman Catholics do love Christ and that I will share eternal fellowship with them in heaven.
My question about the current stand of the Roman Catholic Church is this: Is it possible for me to have salvation even though I am willingly not a part of RCC?

I would appreciate an honest answer that interprets your coucils through the lense of history and not from an emotional bias.

Thanks for your response,

Michael
[/quote]

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says that Protestant “ecclesial” communities are in “certain, though imperfect” union with the Catholic Church. As far as factual/historical vs. emotional, I must ask you to excuse me if I tell you that this and other passages in the Catechism have allowed me to keep my sanity as a Catholic convert. There are others (few thankfully) who construct “Extra Ecclesium Nula Salus” so narrowly, a la Father Feeney and the Society of Saint Pius X, that they consign my loving, devout and faithful Baptist grandparents to hell. So, for me, I cannot divorce emotion from this discussion.

Thank you both. I do appreciate this response. I promise to never misrepresent the RCC on this matter. I do look forward to speaking of this more with you both in glory.

Michael

[quote=michaelp]Thank you both. I do appreciate this response. I promise to never misrepresent the RCC on this matter. I do look forward to speaking of this more with you both in glory.

Michael
[/quote]

If you get there first, pray for me (and say “hey” to my grans!). If I see Jesus first, by His Mercy and Grace, I will pray for you.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.