How could the Church change Her teaching on salvation for non-believers?

This question is so complex it’s making my head spin; basically here is the deal, I started talking to a woman who was way out in the traditional Catholicism, or I should “high church Protestantism”, where they agree with everything the Catholic church teaches **EXCEPT **catechism 1260, along with some other stuff. In the conversation her friend basically damned me to hell for accepting this teaching:

1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, 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.” 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.

From what I can tell the disagreement lies in Baptism of Desire (BOD), they believe that the “modern” understanding of BOD is a total contradiction of most of historical Church teaching. Which has become slowly corrupted; starting with St. Thomas Aquinas (I believe).

In John, Jesus says you need to be born by both the water and the spirit and the Dogma of the Catholic church states that you must be baptized - no exceptions. In fairness, I can see their point, I just need to understand mine.

**I need to know how did the Church arrive at this interpretation of BOD when there is abundant early church fathers that basically taught otherwise?

If the Church has taught for nearly 2000 years that if you’re not baptized you go to hell (exception Catechumenates, age of reason, and disabled), how can the Church change it?
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Much, much, much thanks whoever can give me full understanding on how to answer this object to the faith. BTW, I’m still in RCIA, so this kind of a stumbling block for me right now, so I’m sure you’ll get a gold star in heaven. :slight_smile:

The following links should help answer your question about salvation for the unbaptized. If you have any further questions or concerns that are not answered by these links, please contact Catholic Answers directly.

Recommended Reading:
Baptism of Desire

Can a Mass be said for non-Catholics?
What is invincible ignorance?
Salvation Outside of the Church

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