Question about salvation outside the Church


I’m sorry I don’t know where to put this :confused:

I realize this is a difficult topic…

but I have a question…

I found this quote:

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and 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; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)

is it really ex cathedra?

if so, how come it seems to contradict what the Church teaches today?

did Vatican II change this teaching or merely CLARIFY it, saying that yes all people need to be in the Church and that’s the ordinary way to be saved but there’s invinsible ignorance too.


OR, is there more to this quote, is it taken out of context?

what I’ve been taught is that the Church says (right now) that there is only salvation in the Church BUT that God can work outside the rules if a person never got to learn about it or understand it. If they knowingly reject it though, they are rejecting Christ’s Body and so can’t be saved.

thanks :slight_smile:


Vatican II didnt change anything and this Bull, written before there were even protestants to worry about, was directed at a specific set of Catholic heretics.

From the 4th century on the Church has affirmed that it was not necessary to be a member of the Church to be saved. The Church has always taught that baptism of desire could bring about salvation of those those who were ignorant of the truth BUT had faith and were obedient to God.

Vatican II afirmed that even Protestants who had been exposed to the truth but did not accpet it because of invicible ignorance could be saved.

Since Christ is not seperable from his Church all salvation is though the Church as all salvation is through Christ-formal memberhsip in the church, however, is not required.


There is no contradiction. Unless you are on board the Ark of Salvation, the Catholic Church, when the Judge, Jesus Christ, declares you dead, you cannot be saved. I highlighted the key caveat:

And that is why we pray for God to give His grace to all at their “hour of death”. Do you understand? Pray and do penance for all sinners and let God have mercy on whom He will have mercy. God bless.


We still believe that there is no salvation outside the Church. What has been clarified for us is that the Church is often found even among those who are not Catholics, because they are united to her in some way. For example, the Jews are united with the Church as they are the chosen people of God into which we have been included by Christ. We (Jews and Catholics) share in the same covenant, even though there is an imperfect communion between Jews and Catholics.

The Reformation communities (Protestants) did not leave every Catholic teaching behind. They preserve elements that keep them united to the Church through which Jesus Christ can save them.

The same can be said of many other faiths.

The point is that if those who are not physically in communion with the Church faithfully adhere to those Catholic elements in their own ecclesial community, God can save them.

You may want to read John Paul’s enciclycal ET UNUM SINT. He explains it very well. He also points out that it is the role of Peter to find every possible means to salvation for all men and thus he has embarked on this search for the salvation of non Catholics while we work toward a total communion. In other words, as shepherd of God’s people, which includes all of humanity, it is his job to find a temporary means to salvation that is consistent with this dogma, but at the same time, not giving up on a complete eventual communion under the physical Catholic Church.

It’s a tough concept to understand, because it requires some slow thinking through the language. But he actually makes a great deal of sense.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:


As a 60 year old 3 year convert from non-denom evangelical, your answer confirms precisely what I thought.
Well said and GOD bless.


By the way, headin home, you may want to alter your profile a little. It says “Poman Catholic,” rather than “Roman Catholic.”




Oops------- I hope I didn’t join the wrong church.
Oh well, I’m going to have to fire my proof-reader.

Thanx for the heads up.

PS: I’m going to go back to typing ONE letter at a time.

                      GOD bless,


That would be unfortunate . . . :smiley: Sounds like a spoof church “Poman Catholic.” :smiley:

closed #10

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