I am afraid that you are mistaken. The Church has not taught that only those physically in the Church can be saved. All SHOULD join Christ’s Church but the Church has often held out hope that God will have mercy on the invincibly ignorant. My 1929 Baltimore Catechism teaches this.
God called Abraham to be the father of a nation that would lead to the salvation of all nations. God’s promises to this faithful man and his children is the covenant that St. Paul made reference to when he wrote:
In respect to their election [by God], they [the Jews] are beloved because of the patriarchs. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.–Romans 11:28-29.
It is on the basis of this covenant with Abraham that the Gentiles can be saved via Christ because:
Scripture, which saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, “Through you shall all the nations be blessed.”–Galatians 3:8.
This covenant which saves Gentiles through Christ makes Gentiles part of the holy nation of Israel–the New Israel. As it is written:
You [Gentiles] were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree [nations not in a covenant relationship with God], and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated one [the nation of Israel].–Romans 11:24.
You do not support the root [the Patriarchs and the Jews who first accepted Christ]; the root supports you [Gentiles].–Romans 11:18.
This doesn’t mean that Christ plays no part in the salvation of Israel. Exactly how this happens is yet to be seen. But this does not negate the covenant that now saves Gentiles through Christ, because if the covenant of promise to Abraham is no longer in effect you who are Gentile believers inherit nothing.
For to the Jews “belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises…and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah.” (Romans 9:4-5)
Again if the covenant is not in effect your share in the promises is no share at all. But this is not so for the reason you can count on this is that “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”–Romans 11:2.
The Church teaches that Christ is the Savior of the world, of you and me, Gentile and Jew: “All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.”–Romans 3:23-24.
What you may be thinking about is the Mosaic Law covenant. It is not binding on any Christian, Jew or Gentile. But that is not the same as the covenant between Abraham and his children who now include all nations. That is still in effect.
The promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us as it is written, “I have made you father of many nations.”–Romans 4:16, 17.
The Mosaic Law is not binding or obligatory for Christians. There is a difference between what is obligatory and what is no longer in effect.
The New Law or Law of Christ is built upon the Mosaic Law. While many of the ceremonial requirements are not obligatory to Christians the Moral Law within still binds. (For more information on this see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1950-86.) In this sense the Law has not fully passed.–Compare Matthew 5:17-19.
However, like the first century Jews who accepted Christ, Hebrew Catholics are not required to assimilate and abandon customs which are part of the Law of Moses. While the Law is not obligatory for any Christian, their ethnic identity is tied in closely. It is not uncommon for these to observe kosher, hold Seders, etc. But not all Jews, secular, religious, or converts to Catholicism keep the Law as they did in the first century.
So if there are a hypothetical community of Jews living on an island somewhere, and this community has not communicated with anyone from the outside world since 1st century bce, would god still keep his covenant with them based on the mosaic law? They know nothing about what has taken place in the outside world in the last 2000 years.
The Abrahamic covenant is not and never has been dependent on the Mosaic Law. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Patriarchs with whom the covenant under discussion in this thread, were never under the Mosaic Law. Thus God does not keep the covenant with the Jews alive on the basis of it.
It’s an interesting hypothetical question, but it hasn’t historically occurred and wouldn’t. The entire testimony of the Jewish nation in its Scriptures is that God is a God of communication and revelation. Such a situation would not occur because it is not the way of the God of Abraham to keep silent in the way you mention. For it is written:
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household in the future to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may put into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him.–Genesis 18:17-19.
The whole belief of Catholicism is that we worship a God who is not hidden, who communicates his will to those he loves and even to those who do not yet know him.
And even if such a hypothetical situation as you envision did occur, the official Church teaching on this matter is as follows:
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.–Catechism of the Catholic Church, 847.
So when Christ said that the only way to the Father is through me, he really meant except for the Jews? He also seemed pretty explicit about the needing of Holy Communion in order to be saved, and Baptism.
I was always told that Christ didn’t break the covenant, he fulfilled it and therefore it was ended and the new covenant began.
I believe all this dual covenant ideology is just a way to be politically correct and not try to convert people.
And for the record the idea that someone could be saved outside of the Church was only defined in… 1870? This only confirms that God, in his mercy, can reach out and save someone who is outside of the Church.
This in no way means we can stop converting people, as the saving grace of the sacraments can make someone who would otherwise be damned to hell a saint. We do not know who he will save, if any, and it is a grave error to assume he will.