Salvation in Cantate Domino (Pope Eugene IV)


Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino (1441): “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.”

Can someone please explain to me how this fits with the believe that non-Catholics may be saved and that even non-Christians, if they honestly seek God and are ignorant of the Gospel, may attain salvation?

Thank you.


Cantate Domino seems to take for granted that the provisions of Session 19 of the Council of Basel, mentioned below, had already been put into effect so that the gospel was regularly preached and expounded in the places where they live with such clarity and with such charity that no pagan, Jew, heretic, or schismatic at that time in history could justly claim invincible ignorance of Christ and his Church.It therefore decrees that all diocesan bishops should depute persons well trained in scripture, several times a year, in the places where Jews and other infidels live, to preach and expound the truth of the catholic faith in such a way that the infidels who hear it can recognise their errors. … But the bishops and the preachers should behave towards them with such charity as to gain them for Christ not only by the manifestation of the truth but also by other kindnesses.


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