Salvation for non-Catholics prior to Vatican ll?


Where there any differences as to what the Catholic Church taught in regards to salvation for non-Catholics prior to Vatican ll as compared to after Vatican ll?


Read the old Baltimore Catechism for a good example of the phrasing used 100 years ago.


My niece has a Douay Rheims Bible that uses the footnotes that are fairly old, and whilst it says that baptism is necessary for salvation, it does not say that non Catholics are damned. The Catholic Encyclopedia seems to imply that Non-Catholics, can, under certain circumstances, be saved.


Nope. Not at all.


I don’t think so. See, for example, this letter from the Holy Office in 1949, reproving those with a more restrictive view:


The Church taught that individual non Catholic Christians could be saved, though if they knew the RCC had the more direct means of facilitating God’s salvation, they should join it
What’s new since Vatican 2 is the Catholic recognition of Protestant groups as in themselves “ecclesial communions” - not churches, but offering some value other than just keeping out the rain.


The teaching as a whole is the same, but the way the teaching is understood has evolved.

The teaching used to tend to be viewed in a much stricter and narrow sense, whereas today it tends to be viewed more loosely and dynamically.

I think all the centuries on the Church reflecting on her past caused her to see that it was often from her own bosom where a lot of sin was coming from, from her own children, and so she came to understand that she is just as susceptible to sin and evil as those outside her walls, so she should be more restrained when speaking about them.


The Church has understood the role of “invincible ignorance” for centuries, where a person, through no fault of their own, cannot know the gospel, and yet can be saved.


I don’t think this is new per se, although you didn’t see the underlying doctrines synthesized as often. It is simply an acknowledgment that they have received the means of salvation they have in community. Baptism is necessarily received in community. So is faith in Christ itself usually (faith comes through hearing). So is matrimony. Other communities have even more means of salvation (like the EOs)–all the sacraments are administered in community, for example.

People in good faith can partake fruitfully of the means and helps of salvation these communities took with them when the separated. The value they provide is the value they have retained from the Church which, in the words of Vatican II, derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.


And to be fair, social dynamic changes over time.

When the Reformation was happening, people had to make a conscious choice to leave the RCC or to stay. And they made this choice on a variety of factors I won’t get into here. But these choices had moral and eternal consequences for the choser.

But let a few generations pass, and most Protestants have not made a conscious choice in the way their ancestors did. They were never raised Catholic, maybe didn’t ever know too many Catholics, maybe had even been taught that turning Catholic meant rejecting Jesus (a la Jack Chick). So if they loved Jesus, they wouldn’t want to become Catholic or risk Hell. And it wasn’t their fault (please no flames over this phrasing :smirk:) that they were Protestant…


It’s also the fact the guilt for the separation is less as generations pass. In the 1800s, for example, the famous Cardinal Manning said the following of Anglicans, in the context of how many were likely in good faith and could be saved:

Every successive generation was still less culpable, in proportion as they were born into a greater privation, and under the dominion of a tradition of error already grown strong. For three centuries they have been born further and further out of the truth, and their culpability is perpetually diminishing; and as they were passively borne onward in the course of the English separation, the moral responsibility for the past is proportionately less.

(From the Workings of the Holy Spirit in the Church of England)

We’re even farther removed from the original separation since then.


It’s also the fact the guilt for the separation is less as generations pass.
Prior post
You could look at the main line liberal denominations, and argue the reverse

Some denominations that were pretty solidly orthodox in 1960 have taken public positions I would describe as evil. Not just different from the Catholic faith, but diverging from basic human morality. So the person who remains in that denomination today may be actually contributing to harm. He is culpable, his grandfather in 1960, not really.



Salvation for humankind has been the same ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve. Any soul that is saved is by grace, through faith.

There is no other name under heaven, other than Jesus, by which humans can be saved. He created a Church as the vehicle through which anyone who is saved comes to heaven.

What changed at Vatican II is how we are to understand “outside the Church there is no salvation”. We are to recognize that only God knows those who are His, and that His Body is larger than those who are visibly Catholic.

Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus to discuss His upcoming departure. We believe they are with Him in heaven, though the Catholic Church had not yet been established. They, along with all the other Holy Souls that preceded Christ, awaited His coming. Those are they to whom He preached the gospel and released from the bosom of Abraham.


From the Baltimore Catechism, which was used in the United States extensively prior to Vatican II;

Q. 510. Is it ever possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?

A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person:

1.(1) Has been validly baptized;

2.(2) Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and

3.(3) Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul.


Source quote please.

Sounds like mere polemical semantics to me. I doubt that the Churches not in full Communion with the Catholic Church define Church in the same way.
Obviously if one defines “Church” as that denomination which recognises Papal authority then your assertion is but a cult like in house vocab or logical tautology that provides zero assistance in allowing objective discussion or reconciliatory dialogue to advance.


The V2 document on ecumenism. BTW, the RCC does recognize EO as “church”.


Quote please not a vague nod to 2000 pages worth of documentation!


What about those who were not baptised?



Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?


According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery[19] cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense[20].

The Fourth Question is about why the EOs can be called Churches.

A particular Church is simply a bishop and his flock sharing a common Eucharist. Those communities without a valid epsicopate and Eucharist simply are not Churches, properly so-called. Note, there can only be a plurality of churches at the “particular” or local level. There can be only one Church at the universal (catholic) level. That is the Catholic Church alone.


Quote from the Ecumenical Council please…not an interpretative brief from a lesser arm of fallible Vatican bureaucracy.

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