Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.


Vatican II did not withdraw the infallible dogma “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” In fact, Vatican II’s document Lumen gentium reaffirmed this dogma, and its document Dignitatis humanae teaches that Catholicism is the only true religion.

There is a tremendous need for Catholics to emphasize the two above truths during this time of confusion in the human elements of the Church. We must also combat the error of indifferentism (the idea that all religions are equally true or good), and we must make serious efforts to spread the true Faith to all non-Catholics.

*Baltimore Catechism No. 3 *has an excellent explanation of “Outside the Church there is no salvation” in the answer to question 167:

"When we say, ‘Outside the Church there is no salvation,’ we mean that those who through their own grave fault do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church or, knowing it, refuse to join it, cannot be saved."

Keep and spread the Faith.


Hello Steve,

I am discussing with a friend as to whether or not there is “no salvation outside the Church” when the Church puts a member outside the bosom of the Church in Church anathema. “**we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth,” **In a situation where the member does not repent and the Church anathema is not loost, of course.

What are your thoughts?

“To understand the word anathema”, says Vigouroux, “we should first go back to **the real meaning of herem of which it is the equivalent. Herem comes from the word haram, to cut off, to separate, to curse, and indicates that which is cursed and condemned to be cut off or exterminated, **whether a person or a thing, and in consequence, that which man is forbidden to make use of.”…

…but anathematized, and that he may be stricken by the sword of Heaven"…

…“Know that Engeltrude is not only under the ban of excommunication, which separates her from the society of the brethren, but under the anathema, which separates from the body of Christ, which is the Church.”…

…“If, after having been deposed from office, he is incorrigible, he should first be excommunicted; but if he perseveres in his contumacy he should be stricken with the sword of anathema; but if plunging to the depths of the abyss, he reaches the point where he despises these penalties, he should be given over to the secular arm.”…

…**In passing this sentence, the pontiff **is vested in amice, stole, and a violet cope, wearing his mitre, and assisted by twelve priests clad in their surplices and holding lighted candles. He takes his seat in front of the altar or in some other suitable place, amid pronounces **the formula of anathema **which ends with these words: Wherefore in the name of God the All-powerful, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, of the Blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and of all the saints, in virtue of the power which has been given us of binding and loosing in Heaven and on earth, we deprive N-- himself and all his accomplices and all his abettors of the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord, we separate him from the society of all Christians,

(here is the part in question)

**we exclude him from the bosom of our Holy Mother the Church in Heaven and on earth, **

**we declare him excommunicated and anathematized and we judge him condemned to eternal fire with Satan and his angels and all the reprobate **, so long as he will not burst the fetters of the demon, do penance and satisfy the Church; we deliver him to Satan to mortify his body, that his soul may be saved on the day of judgment."

He who dares to despise our decision, let him be stricken with anathema maranatha, i.e. may he be damned at the coming of the Lord, may he have his place with Judas Iscariot, he and his companions.

Quoted from: New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia - Anathema


Given this official declaration, I think most people will go to Heaven…It is sooooo broad!

Prayers and petitions,


On my BLOG, I have a link to Father Hardon’s explanation of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. For all articles, scroll down the page.

Yes, shameless self-promotion. LOL!!! My only defense is that most of this stuff wasn’t written by me!

Anyway, this Dogma needs to be revisited and understood so that we can differentiate true ecumenical dialogue from Indifferentism. Father Hardon’s explanation of this dogma is one of the best I’ve ever come across. That’s why I reprinted his explanation, taken as an exerpt from his Catechism.


God Bless!


Even when the Church uses her God-given authority to exclude a Catholic from membership in the Mystical Body of Christ, she is not making a pronouncement on the salvation or damnation of the person being punished. Such a decision belongs to God alone, and is based on the condition of the person’s soul at death–a condition that God alone can judge, as Vatican II teaches in Gaudium et spes, section 28.

Excommunications, interdicts, and other penalties imposed by the Church are merely warnings
–but warnings that must be taken with the utmost seriousness.

The fundamental points involved in the dictum “Outside the Church there is no salvation” are these three:

  1. No one can be saved–and this includes non-Catholics–without some kind of relationship (known at least to God) with the Catholic Church. The Church is the only Ark that can save people from the deluge.

  2. Everyone is morally obliged to investigate the Catholic Church and either to join her or to remain in her.

  3. Catholics are morally obliged to make every effort to convert all non-Catholics to the Catholic Faith, which is the only true religion.

Keep and spread the Faith.


Well of course it’s broad. God loves us immensely and wants us to be with Him. When protestants see this, they really get fired up. Here’s a little explanation that’ll calm them down.

 Grace alone is what saves. Protestants and Catholics disagree on how to achieve that grace. Nonetheless, protestants do have grace, just not as much if they were Catholic. The Catholic Church has the fullness of the Truth. Along with that Truth is grace. Since we have the fullness of Truth, we have more grace. Protestants have some of that Truth, so they have some of that grace. A Catholic and protestant can both go to Heaven, only the Catholic generally has more grace. Since they are in Heaven, both are in bliss and don't care how much grace the other has. They're both with God and each other. And yes, we do need to pray, constantly that everyone can have the opportunity to be saved.


1 Cor 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Romans 3:28 says that we are justified by faith, just as the thief on the cross was justified by his faith. He was outside the Catholic church, and according to the Bible is in heaven. Praise God!

God Bless,


The thief on the cross died before the New Covenant took effect — Jesus hadn’t yet risen from the dead. The thief on the cross was still under the Old Covenant.


May I ask, why did you entitle this thread “Outside the CATHOLIC Church there is no salvation,” when in fact the doctrine states, “Outside the Church there is no salvation.” I think mistakes and misunderstandings can result when we take liberties of adding or subtracting words in a doctrinal statement. The doctrine is “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” not “Outside the Catholic Church …” The difference is substantial — people can be within the Church outside of the visible confines of Catholicism.


Well, the Catechism of St. Pius X mentions:

“29 Q: But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?
A: If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation”

There is a distiction between body of the Church and soul of the Church here.

This is only my speculation, but perhaps when a person is anathematized, he is removed from the body (like you said, but “bosom” was instead used) but not the soul. Still being united to the soul I assume allows the possibility of repentance and readmission back into the body of the Church.

I’m just brainstorming here, seems to make sense to me, but obviously I can’t say for sure.


Actually this means that because of their grave fault (of not knowing the truth) most cannot be saved.


The thief on the cross was saved by baptism of desire. As a result, he was in the fold.


That would have been true had the New Covenant been in effect. But since Jesus was still alive, the New covenant wasn’t yet in effect, so baptism wasn’t yet necessary for salvation.


“38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40For he that is not against us is on our part. Mark 9:38”

Also, anyone can be saved because of this scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him shall be saved.” John 3:16


You misunderstand. Nobody is claiming that there are any people who can’t be saved. The point is that there is no salvation outside the church. Two different things.


The Catholic Church is the only true Church of Christ.

This fact is reaffirmed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church is the following sections: 811, 816, 846, 2105.

Even though non-Catholic Christians can be saved through the Catholic Church by making use of the graces that God gives them, these brothers and sisters are not Catholics or members of the one true Church.

We must be absolutely clear about what the Catholic Church teaches.

Keep and spread the Faith.


Armies can have irregulars attached to them who fight alongside the troops but don’t adhere to normal army discipline and may or may not obey orders. Generals tend to dislike such people, but their contributions can be decisive.

However there is still only one Church. “Catholic Church” is simply the ideologically non-controversial label for it. When a schism occurs you do not have two chuches, or a divided Church. You have one church and one other institution or sect.


Another excellent quote from


This explains it even better.

CCC 847 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 – those too may achieve eternal salvation.1

IMO, this says salvation is possible outside of the Catholic Church under these circumstances. A practical example would be a Baptist, while not knowing Christ or his Gospel from a Catholic perspective, **nevertheless seeks 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. **

While acknowledging the Catholic Church is the True Faith, it gives allowance to others that our honestly seeking Christ in their own way.


Yes, we MUST be absolutely clear about what the church teaches, rather than adding words to Church doctrine. The doctrine is “Outside the church there is no salvation,” not “Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.”


Quite true. There is one true church which “subsists in” the Catholic Church (CCC 816). It also extends beyond the visible confines of the Catholic Church to include those partially united with the Catholic Church in baptism (CCC 818). That’s why it is very important not to muddle the words of the doctrine to make it say that which it doesn’t. The correct formulation is, “Outside the church there is no salvation,” not “Outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation.”

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