Problems with ITC Document; Want Resolutions

Hi everyone,

Some of you may be aware of document issued by the International Theological Commission (henceforth, ITC), called Christianity and the World Religions, which can be found here:

In this document it says:

Some theologians adopt the tripartite division exclusivism, inclusivism, pluralism, which is seen as parallel to another: ecclesiocentrism, Christocentrism, theocentrism. §9

Exclusivist ecclesiocentrism—the fruit of a specific theological system or of a mistaken understanding of the phrase extra ecclesiam nulla salus—is no longer defended by Catholic theologians after the clear statements of Pius XII and Vatican Council II on the possibility of salvation for those who do not belong visibly to the Church (cf, e.g., LG 16; GS 22). §10

Christocentrism accepts that salvation may occur in religions, but it denies them any autonomy in salvation on account of the uniqueness and universality of the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. This position is undoubtedly the one most commonly held by Catholic theologians, even though there are differences among them. It attempts to reconcile the universal salvific will of God with the fact that all find their fulfillment as human beings within a cultural tradition that has in the corresponding religion its highest expression and its ultimate foundation. §11

**A polytheistic prayer may be directed to the true God, since a salvific act may occur through an erroneous mediation. But this does not mean that this religious mediation is objectively recognized as a salvific mediation, although it does mean that this authentic prayer was enkindled by the Holy Spirit **(Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, “Dialogue and Proclamation: Reflections and Orientations on Interreligious Dialogue and the Proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” [1991], 27). §17

**The inclusivist position no longer considers mission as a task undertaken to prevent the damnation of those who have not been evangelized (exclusivist position). ** §24

The bolded parts I have a problem with. How do you reconcile §17 with Wis. 13:1-9:

1 Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God,

and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is,*

and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;a

2 Instead either fire, or wind, or the swift air,

or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water,

or the luminaries of heaven, the governors* of the world, they considered gods.b

3 Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods,

let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these;

for the original source of beauty fashioned them.c

4 Or if they were struck by their might and energy,

let them realize from these things how much more powerful is the one who made them.d

5 For from the greatness and the beauty of created things

their original author, by analogy, is seen.

6 But yet, for these the blame is less;*

For they have gone astray perhaps,

though they seek God and wish to find him.

7 For they search busily among his works,

but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair.

8 But again, not even these are pardonable.

9 For if they so far succeeded in knowledge

that they could speculate about the world,

how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Also, it would seem that many great saints throughout history has evangelized to save the souls of unbelievers. I understand that some who are inculpably ignorant can be saved by implicit faith, hope and charity, but we still are not told to entertain unfounded hope of the salvation of those outside the Church.

Also, I feel I should mention; I deeply respect the authority of the Church; I don’t want any criticism of the “Vatican II Church” etc. I really want to see a resolution to this. Also, if I am correct, the ITC doesn’t have Magisterial authority, but still, it’s not to be taken lightly.


Benedicat Deus,

General discussion on this theme took place during several meetings of the subcommission and in the plenary sessions of the International Theological Commission held at Rome in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

  1. In this situation, a Christian theology of religions is faced with different tasks. In the first place Christianity will have to try to understand and evaluate itself in the context of a plurality of religions; it will have to think specifically about the truth and the universality to which it lays claim. In the second place it will have to seek the meaning, function and specific value of religions in the overall history of salvation. Finally, Christian theology will have to study and examine religions themselves, with their very specific contents, and confront them with the contents of the Christian faith. For that reason it is necessary to establish criteria which will permit a critical discussion of this material and a hermeneutics for interpreting it.

  1. John Paul II and the approach to other religious traditions

In his address to the Roman Curia after the World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Pope John Paul II stressed once more the universal presence of the Holy Spirit, stating that “every authentic prayer is called forth by the Holy Spirit, who is mysteriously present in the heart of every person,” Christian or otherwise. But again, in the same discourse, the Pope, going beyond an individual perspective, articulated the main elements which together can be seen as constituting the theological basis for a positive approach to other religious traditions and the practice of interreligious dialogue.


It seems to me the question is “unfounded hope”

The way I understood Latinitas statement, we are not to presume the salvation of those outside the Church, because I could see that as unfounded hope.

The mission is to inculturate the full teaching of Christianity, working from their existing state of having some elements of the Church, through which the Holy Spirit is currently working. That is why the document form ITC states:49 e. Since Jesus is the only mediator, who carries out the saving plan of the one God the Father, salvation is one and the same for all human beings: full conformity to Jesus and communion with him in participation in his divine sonship. Consequently one must rule out the existence of different economies of salvation for those who believe in Jesus and those who do not believe in him. There can be no roads leading to God that do not converge in the only road which is Christ (cf. Jn 14:6).
There is a simple way to view the Church membership, consistent with the teaching of the Church. All those that are saved are in the Church of Jesus Christ. Those that are saved are the dead and the living. Outside the visible structure of the Catholic Church there only exist elementa Ecclesiae, elements of that same Church, which tend and lead toward the Catholic Church. Some of the living that are saved are not in the visible structure of the Catholic Church.

See the statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (that has authority):

Also, Baltimore Catechism168. How can persons who are not members of the Catholic Church be saved?

Persons who are not members of the Catholic Church can be saved if, through no fault of their own, they do not know that the Catholic Church is the true Church, but they love God and try to do His will, for in this way they are connected with the Church by desire.

Also in the ITC document you posted Christianity and the World Religions:
66. In his encyclical Mystici Corporis, Pius XII addresses the question, How are those who attain salvation outside visible communion with the Church related to her? He says that they are oriented to the mystical body of Christ by a yearning and desire of which they are not aware (DS 3821). The opposition of the American Jesuit Leonard Feeney, who insisted on the exclusivist interpretation of the expression extra ecclesiam nulla solus, afforded the occasion for the letter of the Holy Office, dated 8 August ,1949, to the archbishop of Boston, which rejected Feeney s interpretation and clarified the teaching of Pius XII. The letter distinguishes between the necessity of belonging to the Church for salvation (necessitas praecepti) and the necessity of the indispensable means of salvation (intrinseca necessitas); in relationship to the latter, the Church is a general help for salvation (DS 3867—69). In the case of invincible ignorance the implicit desire of belonging to the Church suffices; this desire will always be present when a man aspires to conform his will to that of God (DS 3870). But faith, in the sense of Hebrews 11:6, and love are always necessary with intrinsic necessity (DS 3872).

I’m not sure I understand the term ‘unfounded hope’ and, thus, asked for a reference (source).

CCC1821 We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will.92 In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere "to the end"93 and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. **In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.”**94 She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.95

If we look at “unfounded”

Does hope change that?

From your definition and from a bit of studying, hope can be unfounded after the fact. Salvation, however, is not a fact, at this time and space. Hope cannot, therefore, be unfounded, until God’s plan for us is completed. Can the ‘umbrella’ of the Church cover all men? I don’t see why it could not. Even, though, a part of my reasoning says that there will be some who will reject the mercy of God, but, then, human reasoning can be deceived.

I haven’t been able to find anything from the Church that states what the OP said, “but we still are not told to entertain unfounded hope of the salvation of those outside the Church.”

I would, still, like to know where this idea comes from.

Bottomline, I think what you’re saying is, never give up hope. And I agree.

However, there are teachings from scripture and the Church that we can’t ignore… That could be what the OP was refering to in a paraphrased way.

For example,

2 questions could be asked Re: outside the Church there is no salvation[LIST=1]
*]is “outside the Church there is no salvation” true, and where does that teaching come from?
*]knowing that, when is hope in their salvation (those outside the Church) unfounded?
[/LIST]I eliminated outright from consideration, the Feeneite understanding of outside. That is, everyone outside the Church in a wooden literal understanding of outside, is hosed no matter what…

The answer to #1 is yes and it comes from scripture and the Church

Scripture reference: (emphasis mine)

“Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, **dissension ** διχοστασίας, ] party spirit, 21 envy,a] drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” [/FONT]Galatians 5:19-21

The Greek word used there διχοστασίας dichostasia = division / dissension / factions /sedition,(depending on one’s translation) from the Church. The consequences for the one who dies in that sin, they will not inherit heaven as in they go to hell.

Note there is no expiration date to that warning.

As we know, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to teach us that.

The Church reference: (emphasis mine)

[FONT=Calibri][FONT=Arial]846 [/FONT]How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.[/FONT]

The answer to #2
When does entertaining hope in ones salvation in this, become unfounded?

they could not be saved Once someone "knows that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

Therefore I think one can ask, is it unfounded hope to hope, THAT result is NOT a reality? One might hope a person in the last second of life recanted, however that’s not in the examples above. The example is, One died in that sin.

Your Church reference comes from Lumen Gentium 14, which states,

This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful.

This is what the statement “no salvation outside the Church” is addressed to.

I will have to study Paul more closely before responding to that part of your post.

Galatians 5:16 - I say then, walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

It would appear that the intent is the same as Lumen Gemtium 14, to those already in the Church. We must be careful not to take things out of context and use them in a way they were not intended to be used.

1 Timothy 4:10 - For therefore we labor and are reviled, because we hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, especially of the faithful.

It doesn’t stop there.

And bringing that back to the point raised, it means division / dissension / sedition etc is an obvious lust of the flesh as Paul said. It is also an offense against charity (love) towards God and our neighbor. Therefore, It breaks both of the 2 Great commandments Matthew 22:38

LG14 comes under the heading of “**ON THE PEOPLE OF GOD” **which encompasses LG 9 to LG 15


EVERYONE on the planet is called to be Catholic in the Catholic Church and remain so. THAT’S what Jesus wants. PERFECT UNITY and remain in perfect unity. John 17:20-23in what He wants and what He established

Satan divides. That’s what he does. He has found huge numbers in history of willing participants to do his will rather than do Jesus will.

Oh I agree

Jesus made a conditional statement John 14:15 . Therefore we can’t just say we love Jesus and have that effective… Our love for Him depends on our doing everyrthing He says. We are called to have obedience to the ONE faith given once and for all to the saints.

It should be noted that the ITC papers are not to be considered the doctrine of the Church.

Regarding the polytheistic prayer, the true God may be worshiped among many. St. Thomas notes this in his commentary on John, where it is said those that do not know Christ do not know God. He reconciles this with the idea in Romans that God can be and was known from looking at creation:

[quote=St. Thomas]But this seems to conflict with Romans (1:19) “For what can be known about God is plain to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” We should say to this that knowledge is of two kinds: one is speculative, and the other affective. Through neither of these ways did the world know God completely. Although some Gentiles knew God as having some of those attributes which are knowable by reason, they did not know God as the Father of an only begotten and consubstantial Son ‑ and our Lord is talking about knowledge of these things.

Again, if they did have some speculative knowledge of God, this was mixed with many errors: some denied his providence over all things; others said he was the soul of the world; still others worshipped other gods along with him. For this reason they are said not to know God.

St. Thomas also made popular the saying that any truth is spoken by the Holy Spirit. St. Justin Martyr, much earlier, discusses the seeds of the Word found in other religions:

[quote=St. Justin]For each man spoke well in proportion to the share he had of the spermatic word, seeing what was related to it. But they who contradict themselves on the more important points appear not to have possessed the heavenly wisdom, and the knowledge which cannot be spoken against. Whatever things were rightly said among all men, are the property of us Christians. For next to God, we worship and love the Word who is from the unbegotten and ineffable God, since also He became man for our sakes, that becoming a partaker of our sufferings, He might also bring us healing. For all the writers were able to see realities darkly through the sowing of the implanted word that was in them. For the seed and imitation impacted according to capacity is one thing, and quite another is the thing itself, of which there is the participation and imitation according to the grace which is from Him.

Regarding the part about the mission, that is contradicted by the Church in her authoritative documents:

The CDF note on evangelization specifically says:

[quote=CDF]The primary motive of evangelization is the love of Christ for the eternal salvation of all…The mission of the Apostles and its continuation in the mission of the early Church remain the foundational model of evangelization for all time.

Finally, from Pope St. John Paul II–the missions are for salvation:

[quote=Pope St. John Paul II]2. What I have said above, however, does not justify the relativistic position of those who maintain that a way of salvation can be found in any religion, even independently of faith in Christ the Redeemer, and that interreligious dialogue must be based on this ambiguous idea. That solution to the problem of the salvation of those who do not profess the Christian creed is not in conformity with the Gospel. Rather, we must maintain that the way of salvation always passes through Christ, and therefore the Church and her missionaries have the task of making him known and loved in every time, place and culture. Apart from Christ “there is no salvation”.


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