I read the following on a web site and wondered if it be true that the Roman Catholic Church teaches or is it something that is no longer held to be true?
The Second Vatican Council’s Decree on
Ecumenism explains: `For it is through Christ’s
Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained.
Verification: Pg. 215, #816
Are they saying through the Catholic Church alone can salvation be obtained? I noticed the phrase “fullness of the means” I am not sure just what that means.
Are they saying only complete salvation is obtainable though the Church? If so, is there some salvation that is less than complete or not in the fullness.
I think they are saying that the fullness of the means of salvation reside in the Catholic Church. The means of salvation here would be–all the sacraments, which are all means of grace, especially the Eucharist, and confession for forgiveness of sins. Numerous means of grace are available through the Church which are not available outside the Church.
As for salvation, the Church is necessary for salvation, in the sense that everyone who is saved, is saved by in some way being incorporated into Christ through his Church. Those who are not aware of this necessity can still be saved, but their salvation is still through the Church, even if they do not realize it.
Everyone who gets to Heaven does so through Christ.
Christ’s machine for getting people into Heaven is the Catholic Church.
People who are not visibly members of the Catholic Church or who have not heard of Christ in a way that makes sense to them still have a chance to be saved through implicit desire of Christ, and through a spiritual union with the Catholic Church of which they are totally unaware while here on earth.
Obviously, someone who became aware of the need for Christ and His Church would become members of it at their earliest opportunity, here on earth.
I think “the fullness of the means” refers to three things: (1) the seven sacraments, (2) bishops in apostolic succession, and (3) the papacy. Bishops in apostolic succession guarantees valid sacraments and, with the papacy, guarantees that true teaching is preserved.
Protestants have at most only two valid sacraments (baptism & marriage), no apostolic succession, and no papacy. Anglicans have seven sacraments (though only baptism & marriage are valid) but no apostolic succession and no papacy. The Orthodox have seven valid sacraments and apostolic succession but no papacy. Only the Catholic Church has all three things: seven valid sacraments, apostolic succession, and the papacy. So, only the Catholic Church has “the fullness of means” of salvation.
That said, God is not bound by the sacraments and can and may give sacramental graces apart from the sacraments.