[quote=sweetchuck]A protestant friend of mine is saying that Vatican II’s claim that salvation was possible outside the Catholic Church contradicted “like 6 popes.” Is there some way to refute this, or is this accurate? Was it ever Church doctrine that non-Catholics could not be saved?
thanks for your help.
Buy a Catechism of the Catholic Church and read it! You should know the things that have already been answered by the Church.
How are we to understand this affirmation [outside the Chruch there is no salvation], often repeated by the Chruch Father? [note omitted] Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Chruch which is his Body:[indent]Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, whould refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.[note omitted]
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–ghose too may achieve eternal salvation. [note omitted]
- "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who through no fault of their own, are ignorant of theGospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men. [note omitted]
[/indent]So, yes, the Popes and the Church teach that outside the Church there is no salvation, but this means that one has to knowingly reject the Church. Jesus told the apostles that those who reject their teaching would not be saved. He did not say those ignorant of Him would not be saved.Keep the sayings of the various Popes in context. For example, when the Popes were talking about Protestants they were speaking at a time when only the Catholic Church existed and the Protestants were breaking away from the Church they knew to be the true Church. Thus they were saying in effect, if you leave the Catholic Church you cannot be saved. True then and true now.
Today however many have been raised in a church other than Catholic and they do not know that the Catholic Church is the one true Church. They are not rejecting the Catholic Church because they have not known the Catholic Church. For them salvation is possible but it still comes through the Catholic Church in spite of their ignorance.