How does the Catholic Church view other religions?

In Youcat the commentary about “How does the Catholic Church view other religions?” says

“the Church teaches that all men who by no fault of their own do not know Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and follow the voice of their conscience can attain eternal salvation. However, anyone who has recognized that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life” but is unwilling to follow him cannot find salvation by other paths.”

What about people who get to learn about Jesus and do not recognize that Jesus is the way…? This commentary would suggest that since they are still sincerely following their conscience they would also attain salvation, eventhough they rejected Jesus Christ.

To add to your question,

Specifically, who is “anyone”? A fully educated, believing Catholic who later moves to another Christian community because he thinks he’s following the truth? Or any educated, believing Christian, who converts to another religion because he thinks he’s following the truth?

Well, at least this is a little more clear than the Catechism (however, I’m not sure I believe the youcat’s phrasing over the Catechism). The Catechism makes it seem as if anyone who simply knows of Christ can’t be invincibly ignorant but I’m not sure if that is the intended meaning. This, though, makes it explicit that you have to have at least believed in him before. However, I’ll leave the judgment of souls to God and preach Catholicism not because it is required to stay out of Hell, but because it is true.

I found this discussed on another Catholic forum

"In relation to the issue of the 841-848 Section of the Catechism regarding non-Catholics being somehow involved in the plan of salvation I say that that statement is completely FALSE

One point we must all firstly understand and agree on is that the Catechism is not Dogmatic, it is Doctrine. What is in the Catechism is only based on Dogma.
I am a traditional Tridentine Catholic, and believe that the produce of Vatican II ‘watered down’ aspects of the Mass and Doctrine due to ambiguous text which was the work of Protestant and Freemason Bishops (which is a whole other story) in the hope to form ‘unity’ between Christians, weaken our faith, to modernize and to promote a sense of inclusiveness to peoples of other faiths.

This ‘watering down’ is evident in the 841-848 sections of the 1983 Catechism proceeding Vatican II.

To believe that Muslims, Jews schismatics, heretics or the pagans can enter the Kingdom of God is directly contradicting and challenging Ex Cathedra and Church Dogma which has been reinforced time and time again by numerous Popes. If you do not agree with Church Dogma or oppose Ex Cathedra then you are a Heretic. He is Papally Infalliable and if you do not believe that then you might aswell leave the church and go join some Eastern Orthodox rite.

“The most Holy Roman Catholic 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 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 [the Catholic Church]. Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Bull Cantate Domino, 1441

Pope Eugene IV spoke as Ex Cathedra which we all know falls under Papal Infallibility meaning that what he said was inspired directly by the Holy Spirit therefore being absolutely correct.

Other examples include;
“With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved.” Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.

“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this (Church) outside which there is no salvation nor remission of sins” Pope Boniface VIII, Bull Unam Sanctum, 1302.

This point is further supported by ALL the Early Church Fathers including Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Alexandria and Cyprien of Carthage. Apart from Church Fathers it is also adamantly reinforced by the great Church Doctors and Saints including St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Jerome, St. Augustine St. Peter Julian Eymard, St. John Vianney and St. Prosper of Aquitaine.


  1. What is the meaning of the affirmation “Outside the Church there is no salvation”?


This means that all salvation comes from Christ, the Head, through the Church which is his body. Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her. At the same time, thanks to Christ and to his Church, those who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ and his Church but sincerely seek God and, moved by grace, try to do his will as it is known through the dictates of conscience can attain eternal salvation.

The catechism says "would refuse to enter her or remain in her.

Now, what is the real meaning of the words beforehand"Hence they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation," One can dispute the meaning of knowing. Does it mean agreeing or just knowing intelectually like having been told…?

JESUS is the way regardless what some people believe, whether they believe He is the way or not, that does not change that principle: “He is still the way”.

Now those who do not believe, would spend more time in the purgatory till they realize they were wrong…

"Now those who do not believe, would spend more time in the purgatory till they realize they were wrong… "

This is based on what?

Purgatory comes after particular judgement, why on earth (or purgatory), would you not know why you are there after having had a heart to heart with God about being there? :shrug:

OP- the phrase you used in the OP is nothing more than a simplification of Lumen Gentium 16, which is entirely dependent on 14-17:

All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation.

  1. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.”(12*) All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.(13*)

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

  1. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.
  1. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohammedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”,(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.
  1. As the Son was sent by the Father,(131) so He too sent the Apostles, saying: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”.(132) The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth.(133) Wherefore she makes the words of the Apostle her own: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel”,(134) and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the infant churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelizing. For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God’s plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man. The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his state.(21*) Although, however, all the faithful can baptize, the priest alone can complete the building up of the Body in the eucharistic sacrifice. Thus are fulfilled the words of God, spoken through His prophet: “From the rising of the sun until the going down thereof my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place a clean oblation is sacrificed and offered up in my name”.(135)(22*) In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe.


Kinda relativistic, eh? Hence, my signature which takes CCC#841 into a different perspective.

From Vatican II document “Nostra Aetate”:

"…Religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men…

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men…" (Nostra Aetate)

The official teaching of the Catholic Church is that there is divinely inspired truth in all religions, and that Catholics should look for and respect the “ray of light” that we find in other religions, so as to promote interfaith harmony and world peace. We believe that other religions are somehow incorporated into the divine plan of salvation through Christ, and that through the extraordinary grace of God these religions can be genuine vehicles of salvation for their followers through their holy books and teachings - albeit still through the grace of Christ mystically present in their respective religions, since whatever truth they have they receive from Him. We believe that the Holy Spirit is present throughout all religions and cultures, irrespective of faith. And we believe in one, primordial religion (aka St Augustine and Nicholas of Cusa) which encompasses the “diversity” of faiths, and which all genuinly good, well-meaning people who are hungering after the transcedent are spiritual and substantial (although not physical or formal) members thereof - and this religion is the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. All who are invincibly ignorant of the truth of Christ and do not realize nor understand that Jesus is the Way and that the Church is the true religion, are baptized into the Church through implicit baptism of desire which consists of following the Will of God as known to the dictates of one’s conscience. They thus receive salvation in Christ by embracing this truth known to their conscience and aided by the light of their respective religious and cultural values. Since Jesus is the Logos, he is present to the conscience of every single person and enlightens all.

However if they come to knowledge of the Truth and realize that the Catholic Church is the true Church necessary for salvation, then they must become Catholics because no one can wilfully and knowingly reject her divine authority nor separate himself from Her because, "Outside/without the Catholic Church there is no salvation".

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