Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus

I am new and was interested in seeing some opinions on the Church’s doctrine Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church there is no salvation). While I assert that the faithful have no right to interpret that which the Church has already defined (and I maintain that the Church has spoken on this issue), I want simply want to see the amount of knowledge that anyone has on this subject and the way that it is portrayed or taught in typical parishes (if at all). Please leave your comments. For now, I will post the Church’s three infallible decrees on the matter. I feel that these decrees are a good starting point but the writings of the Popes and Fathers would be good for expanding the context of the issue. I have several of these writings as well, but I will leave only the three decrees until discussion has begun. God bless.

There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved. Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.

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. Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.

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 and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church. (Pope Eugene IV, Ecumenical Council of Florence, from the Bull *Cantate Domino, *1441.)

It’s all true.

As written in the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:

“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.”

[quote=amarkich]I am new and was interested in seeing some opinions on the Church’s doctrine Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (Outside the Church there is no salvation). While I assert that the faithful have no right to interpret that which the Church has already defined (and I maintain that the Church has spoken on this issue), I want simply want to see the amount of knowledge that anyone has on this subject and the way that it is portrayed or taught in typical parishes (if at all).
[/quote]

I am not Catholic, but my wife’s family is. At their parish, the priest teaches that EENS means that there is no salvation outside of Christ, but that Christ is in all religions to some degree, therefore people can be saved in various religions, not just Catholicism. Obviously, this would be a fairly liberal interpretation of the doctrine.

ken

After much discussion on DCF, here is a basic summary that was fairly well accepted by most sides on the matter

Catholics are required to hold that only members of the Catholic Church will be saved.

Catholics are required to hold that a form of membership in the Catholic Church is membership through baptism, whether by by water, blood, or desire.

Catholics are required to hold that only God’s mercy allows salvation and that no human being can know with infallible certainty whether or not God has extended that mercy to any particular human being unless a particular human being has been properly canonized.

Catholics may speculate that baptism by blood or desire can be obtained by those who have no explicit knowledge of the Church, and such individuals may include those who have an utterly distorted knowledge of the Church.

I should have added that clergy are likewise bound by the Church’s teaching and cannot invent their own understanding of a doctrine. That is certainly heresy, but we can look to the Church’s decrees concerning what constitues as being the Church in clarification on this issue. We see that Our Lord teaches that “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot be saved.” In other words, to be in the Church, Baptism is necessary. The Council of Trent clarifies what Baptism is, saying, “If any one saith, that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism, and, on that account, wrests, to some sort of metaphor, those words of our Lord Jesus Christ; Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost; let him be anathema.” (c.f., Canon II, Decrees on Baptism), emphasis added. This is the means by which we can understand what Baptism actually is. We know that Baptism is necessary to be a member of the Church and that the Church is necessary for salvation, but many have misconceptions about what constitues as Baptism. The Council of Trent gives us the infallible decree on the matter–Baptism by “water and the Holy Ghost” and not by a metaphor. God bless.

I am glad, at least, that none of those concerned held that “Baptism of Blood” and “Baptism of Desire” are in some way Church teaching, but my concern is that Catholics should not and cannot speculate on this issue once the Church has spoken definitively. If this is acceptable, then it is also acceptable to speculate whether Anglican Orders are valid or whether Protestant “consecrations” are valid. God bless.

EENS,
Adam

To me, to err on the safe side says you had better be Catholic. Looking at my own journey, to reject Catholicism, no matter how good a Protestant I was after that point would have been disobedience to Christ and thus I feel I would have placed my salvation in great perril.

God’s mercy is His matter to decide. ALL SALVATION is through the Church. When I mean “speculate” above, one might say that God’s mercy can extend to many of those with no knowledge or an utterly distorted knowledge of Catholicism. I think that would be in line with a merciful God but I am NOT God so that would merely be speculation on MY part.

To teach the speculative as if it is truth is a dangerous proposition because it lessens the necessity of the Church itself and borders on indifferentism and likely conveys to the faithful a belief in indifferentism.

Being Catholic is important. Let that truth not be lost in this discussion.

The Council of Trent defines the “Justification of the impious” as, “being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

Here’s a good text from Pius IX (Quanto conficiamur moerore) which sums things up:

“God . . . in His supreme goodness and clemency, by no means allows anyone to be punished with eternal punishments who does not have the guilt of voluntary fault. But it is also a Catholic dogma, that no one outside the Catholic Church can be saved, and that those who are contumacious against the authority of the same Church [and] definitions and who are obstinately [pertinaciter] separated from the unity of this Church and from the Roman Pontiff, successor of Peter, to whom the custody of the vineyard was entrusted by the Savior, cannot obtain eternal salvation.”

This text has both the broad Catholic Church which those ignorant of truth can be a member of, as well as a strict interpretation for those who know the truth.

read Fr. Most’s treatment here: catholicculture.org/docs/most/getchap.cfm?WorkNum=232&ChapNum=28

God Bless,
Stylite

I think the safest thing to do on this matter is to present to someone the minimum information without trying to slant it to your own particular take on the matter. That is why I have kept the text above. It is a quick summary and it clarifies, for the most part, what is required to believe and what falls outside of that. Outside of that, we just don’t know.

It is hard to draw an indifferentist conclusion from the facts without twisting your own optimism into the mix and most Protestant converts will, given that they know many great examples of Christian living within their previous associations.

It is also difficult to state definitively that children who die in the womb, those unreached by the gospel and other difficult cases are severed from the arms of God when we know He loves them. We presume a provision exists based on our understanding of what God did in special cases (the good thief for example) although we are not certain of how God does it.

Our ignorance of the specifics of that provision is something that keeps us very much concerned for the faith of our seperated brethren. The fact of the matter is, the only thing we do know is that they would be better off IN the Catholic Church.

Help-

I too am caught in this one:
This is my first time here.

As a faithful Roman Catholic, how do I reconcile Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, Papal inafllability and the New Catechism?

The problem arose at our home prayer center when a member sited EENS and I and another member quoted catechism.

[font=Arial]EENS sampler:
Pope Boniface VIII in his Bull Unam Sanctam in 1302:
“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.”

Pope Innocent III had declared ex cathedra:

“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all is saved.” (Lateran Council IV, 1215)

Catechism sampler:

On page 224, under a heading, Outside the Church there is no salvation, paragraph #846 begins:

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:

… Hence 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." (Lumen Gentium 14)

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."

#1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny … we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Gaudium et spes 22, #5] Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

And this doen’t even touch on baptism by blood or desire?

HELP.[/font]

It is a dilema, isn’t it. I am glad that we are blessed to have the CCC to teach us some ot the things that we find difficult to understand. In this area, I will cling to the interpretation of “Outside the Church there is no salvation” offered in the catechism, rather than believe the stricter interpretation offered by some.

I will offer one parallel. Jesus said no man comes to the father but through him. Yet we know that many come to God, who never knew Jesus. The book of Hebrews mentions them by name. Did the faithful of Israel prior to the birth of Christ know him? No. They were outside Christ and his church. But they still came to salvation, though Jesus even though they lacked understanding of how.

I am glad, at least, that none of those concerned held that “Baptism of Blood” and “Baptism of Desire” are in some way Church teaching, but my concern is that Catholics should not and cannot speculate on this issue once the Church has spoken definitively.

I have a question: I cannot be baptized until I’m finished with RCIA next Easter. Since there’s a possibility I could get in a car accident and die before then, wouldn’t it be preferable if I just disobey my parish priest and have someone else baptize me right now? Easter Vigil seems a long way from now.

Abp,

Don’t listen to much of what this thread says, except the quotes from the current Catechism. Since the current Catechism doesn’t seem to satisfy them, I’ll quote the Baltimore Catechism:

157. Q. How many kinds of Baptism are there?

A. There are three kinds of Baptism: Baptism of water, of desire, and of blood.

158. Q. What is Baptism of water?

A. Baptism of water is that which is given by pouring water on the head of the person to be baptized, and saying at the same time: I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

159. Q. What is Baptism of desire?

A. Baptism of desire is an ardent wish to receive Baptism, and to do all that God has ordained for our salvation.

160. Q. What is Baptism of blood?

A. Baptism of blood is the shedding of one´s blood for the faith of Christ.

161. Q. Is Baptism of desire or of blood sufficient to
produce the effects of Baptism of water?

A. Baptism of desire or of blood is sufficient to produce the effects of the Baptism of water, if it is impossible to receive the Baptism of water.

Don’t go get baptized early; you’re doing fine.

Feeneyites…grrrr!

John

[quote=John Higgins]Abp,

Don’t listen to much of what this thread says, except the quotes from the current Catechism. Since the current Catechism doesn’t seem to satisfy them, I’ll quote the Baltimore Catechism:

Don’t go get baptized early; you’re doing fine.

Feeneyites…grrrr!

John
[/quote]

Yes, I’m aware of that and was thinking the same thing. Thanks anyway. I was just wondering what amarkich’s answer would be.

[quote=Justus]Help-

I too am caught in this one:
This is my first time here.

. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, Papal inafllability and the New Catechism?

The problem arose at our home prayer center when a member sited EENS and I and another member quoted catechism.

[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial][/font]
[font=Arial]1. it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff."

Pope Innocent III had declared ex cathedra:

2. "There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all is saved." (Lateran Council IV, 1215)

Catechism sampler:

Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

3… ***Hence 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.***" (Lumen Gentium 14)

4. 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."

  1. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

HELP.[/font]

[/quote]

Justus,

I reworked your post a bit. I put all the statements together, to show that they really don’t conflict but are consistant.

  1. If a person “knows” the Catholic Church is the one Church, then they are culpable for their actions if they don’t become Catholic or remain Catholic. If they are ignorant of this fact, then their fault is mitigated by God depending on how ignorant they really are.

  2. Notice that “may” and “can” be saved, are used not “will”. It is a very pastoral way to explain the teaching, without watering down the teaching, or giving someone outside the Church a false sense of confidence, indifferentism, or despair.

.

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