Salvation Outside the Catholic Church

Since they really haven’t been confronted with Scripture in this way, and the protestants provide their verses to “back-up” these beliefs(which are in fact taken out of context), they begin to accept all sorts of other wild misinterpretations based on the same proof-texting methods they used to support the other beliefs. So Bible-study is not about finding out the truth of God but rather substantiating Protestantism.

The Bible alone cannot be the sole rule of faith because the Bible, no matter how much protestants argue this, is not a self-authenticating or self-interpreting authority. The Bible requires an authoritative interpreter to authoritatively say what Scripture means when there is a question regarding faith and morals. That’s why the Bible says that the Church is the “pillar and bulwark or the truth.”

So, the point of all this is this, does someone who leaves the Church for another denomination objectively violate the truth of the Church? Yes.

Is it possible that someone, through “prayer” can deceive themselves by claiming to be “following God” while abandoning the Church? Yes.

Is it possible that someone can study the Bible and at the same time in fact be wrong about God by misinterpreting it and following false doctrines and thus objectively jeopardizing their salvation? Yes.

Objectively speaking, they have abandoned the Church.

Where it gets a little more murky is the intent and the circumstances regarding his abandonment.

Did he intend to leave what he knew to be the true Church? Did he not know that the Church is the true Church? If he knew that the Church was the true Church, but that he just didn’t find the Church agreeable, then it follows that he is most assuredly culpable. If he didn’t know that the Church was the true Church, why not? And is or is not the onus on him to find out before he makes the choice to abandon her?

Then there’s the circumstances that lead him to abandon the Church. Are mediocre liturgies, stale homilies, or the bad example of other Catholics sufficient cause to abandon the Church? Is the bad council of a confessor/priest sufficient cause to abandon the Church? Is there any circumstance which is sufficient cause to abandon the Church?

I would argue “no”. But apparently many think otherwise.

I would argue that anyone who leaves the Church cannot be in invincible ignorance because they at least KNOW about the Church, implicitly if not explicitly.

I was never aware of the Catholic Church until I met my wife. Before that I had been an evangelical protestant and after that an atheist. So it can be said, up to the point that I met my wife, that I was truly “invincibly ignorant”. But God obviously arranged my life so that my ignorance could not possibly last; I was in fact confronted with the choice of the Church.

I wonder if God arranges everyone’s lives such as He did mine, so that all people, at one point or another, become aware of the existence of the Church, and from that they are left to make a choice; either for God and His Church, or against it. As to that I can only speculate.

But I do think that for those of us in the Church, we simply cannot claim to have the excuses that others may claim.

After discovering the truth of the Church I could never leave her, no matter what the circumstances.

If the Church IS the Body of Christ, there cannot be any other. Therefore if there is anyone outside the Church, they are only saved through the Church, through her prayers and her work, which is the prayer and work of Christ. Still anyone outside of the Church is putting their soul in grave jeopardy because they do not have the assurance and access to the grace that those of us within the Church have. That is what the Church has always taught.

I quake for anyone who, like in Matt 22, have in fact been invited to the marriage feast, who arrive without their wedding garment, or(as in Matthew 25) have neglected to make sure that they had sufficient oil and yet arrive too late to be allowed in when the Bridegroom comes.

dtreimer #38
I don’t see the pressing need to assist in their re-conversion.

This quote from Blessed John Paul II in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 1984 (on Reconciliation and Penance in the mission of the Church today) is most relevant.
“Authentic dialogue, therefore, is aimed above all at the rebirth of individuals, through interior conversion and repentance, but always with profound respect for consciences and with patience and at the step-by-step pace indispensable for modern conditions.

“As the basis for this dialogue with the other Churches and Christian communities and with the other religions, and as a condition of Her credibility and effectiveness, there must be a sincere effort of permanent and renewed dialogue within the Catholic Church Herself.” (Ibid. #25)
tinyurl.com/3m2zv

“Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life - that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. **For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. **We believe that Our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God. This people of God, though still in its members liable to sin, is ever growing in Christ during its pilgrimage on earth, and is guided by God’s gentle wisdom, according to His hidden designs, until it shall happily arrive at the fullness of eternal glory in the heavenly Jerusalem.”

It is through Christ’s Church alone, which is the general means of salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained, and that same Catholic Church “has been endowed with all divinely revealed truth and with all the means of grace.” (Vatican II, Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, 4.). Mysterium Ecclesiae, SCDF, 1973. My emphasis].

U.R. #11: “Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.
At the same time, the Catholic faith must be explained more profoundly and precisely, in such a way and in such terms as our separated brethren can also really understand.”

“The objective fullness of Christ’s heritage to the Church – totality of His revelation, totality of His sacraments, and totality of authority to rule the people of God in His name – resides in the Catholic Church, of which the bishop of Rome is the visible head.” [Fr John A Hardon, S.J., *The Catholic Catechism, Doubleday 1975, p 213]

Such a Catholic would NOT be considered invincibly ignorant.

Why are so many looking for a get out of jail free card?

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.”**274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”**276

Amandil, thank you for putting so much thought into this answer. I agree with so much of what you said. The crux seems to be the following:

"Did he intend to leave what he knew to be the true Church? Did he not know that the Church is the true Church? If he knew that the Church was the true Church, but that he just didn’t find the Church agreeable, then it follows that he is most assuredly culpable. If he didn’t know that the Church was the true Church, why not? And is or is not the onus on him to find out before he makes the choice to abandon her?

Then there’s the circumstances that lead him to abandon the Church. Are mediocre liturgies, stale homilies, or the bad example of other Catholics sufficient cause to abandon the Church? Is the bad council of a confessor/priest sufficient cause to abandon the Church? Is there any circumstance which is sufficient cause to abandon the Church?

I would argue “no”. But apparently many think otherwise."

I fear that so many have left not knowing of Her Truth and thereafter not really devoting time to discover whether She possesses Truth.

But that begs the question. They don’t perceive that they’re looking to get out of jail. In fact, many likely perceive that their Catholic upbringing WAS the jail from which they’ve escaped into life “in Christ.” Now who’s judging who’s heart?

Yes, I’ve read these. But they don’t appear to be relevant to the hypothetical of this thread; namely, one who was born into, but left, the Catholic Church.

There are absolutely no circumstances that justify a Catholic turning their back on the Church. Any Catholic who walks away from the Church puts themselves in a state of mortal sin. Remember there is no such thing as an ex-Catholic or former Catholic. There are only two types of Catholic - those in a state of grace and those in a state of mortal sin. Anyone walking away from the Church falls into the latter.

Respectfully, the application of the Church’s teaching appears to be way more nuanced than that. Even you (in your first thread) expressed a scenario where one could leave the Church and still find salvation. Though you called your own example “silly,” I would submit that there are circumstances that apply.

The problem is that I don’t think that is a matter of ignorance, rather a matter of impatience. They have/had an objective moral obligation to take the time to examine that fact.

Did they even ask themselves the question, “why am I not being ‘fed’?” Because the thing about any sort of thing we participate in is that we get out of it what we put into it.

Were they actively participating in Mass? Were they following the readings in the Liturgy of the Word, and were they following along with the prayer during the Liturgy of the Eucharist?

Were they participating in the life of the Parish? Or did they expect the Parish to come to them.

Not to sound to harsh, but frankly people often take a rather egocentric view of “church” as something that’s suppose to serve them instead of taking in the fact that they are also the Church and have a responsibility to use their varied talents and gifts to serve others.

Well stated. I myself left the Church because I “wasn’t being fed” and felt no emotional connection with the liturgy. I went searching for “the right church” in which to be fed and in which to grow in my walk with the Lord. I then experienced some incredible relationships with non-Catholic Christians who at least appeared to be living the Gospel in a much more tangible and impactful way. I then started attending a non-denominational church (which my mother lovingly called “the Church of What’s Happening Now”) and dove head-first into Scripture. Protestant theology and ideology then followed and for quite some time, I was hooked. But in His grace, I was given the free time to begin exploring for Truth again – a luxury not everyone possesses. After a couple of years of real searching/researching/praying, I discovered Truth again. But, had I not had the luxury of time for this search, I would probably still be church hopping and looking for the right mix of worship music, pastoral integrity and talent and ministry opportunities. Candidly, I think the Church needs to do a better job of reaching out to fallen away sheep and providing credible witness and evidence that they have fallen out of the Ark. I appreciate your input in this thread, Amandil. Peace of Christ to you.

When coming back to the Christian faith from atheism I wasn’t sure if I had the time either, until I made the conscious decision to make the time.

I began my search with the deep seeded desire to know nothing but the truth for its own sake, and to follow it no matter where it led me.

Last year I became part of an initiative begun by our archbishop called the Lay Formation Program. Its a six-year commitment where we are firmly ground in the Faith and in discerning our gifts and the prompting of the Spirit we then take our experience back to our parish where we use what we have been given to build up the parish community. I’ve found myself often being directed to such a thing in regards to evangelizing Catholics in the parish who may be contemplating or have actually left the Church.

The only problem is that admittedly I lack a good deal of understanding or identity with anyone who is deciding or has decided to leave the Church. Is a choice I have a problem really understanding, so my ability to empathize with those in such a circumstance is severely limited. And I’m afraid that that lack of empathy may hamper or impede any attempt at evangelization.

I think that the challenge is that we have to get them to see the truth of the Church by appealing to the goodness and beauty of the Church first. But that can only be possible after they have removed the colored lenses of protestantism/non-denominationalism as well as alleviating whatever biases or prejudices that they have against the Church to begin with.

Its a daunting task to say the least.

You obviously did not read my post carefully. I did not say (my silly example) was someone leaving the Church. I said said that example might be considered invincible ignorance. That is different to a Catholic leaving the Church.

thistle #48
There are absolutely no circumstances that justify a Catholic turning their back on the Church. Any Catholic who walks away from the Church puts themselves in a state of mortal sin. Remember there is no such thing as an ex-Catholic or former Catholic. There are only two types of Catholic - those in a state of grace and those in a state of mortal sin. Anyone walking away from the Church falls into the latter.

(Edited)

“Neither can any person be saved if, having once entered the Church, he forsake it through heresy or schism or apostasy.”
Apologetics and Catholic Doctrine, Archbishop Michael Sheehan, revised by Fr Peter Joseph, the saibnt Aistuin Press, 2001, p 143].

Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Heresy: The disbelief must be morally culpable, where a nominal Christian refuses to accept what he knows is a doctrinal imperative.** Subjectively a person must recognize his obligation to believe.**

**Schism: **A willful separation from the unity of the Christian Church….St. Augustine, “heretics wound the faith; by sinful dissensions schismatics deviate from fraternal charity, although they believe what we believe.”

Apostasy: The total rejection by a baptized person of the Christian faith he once professed.
therealpresence.org/cgi-bin/getdefinition.pl

The whole position is summed up in the ordinary Catholic Catechism for children by the statement that** no one outside the Catholic Church “through his own fault” can be saved.**radioreplies.info/radio-replies-vol-4.php?t=97&n=1595

Catholics, therefore, to the original axiom “Outside the Church there is no Salvation”, add the qualifying clause: “provided their being outside the Church is through no fault of their own.”
radioreplies.info/site-search.php?

234. Can the axiom he said to apply only to baptised Catholics who have deliberately cut themselves off from the Catholic Church?
In general, the distinction is between those who are outside the Catholic Church through their own fault, and those who are outside it through no fault of their own. The axiom does not apply to the latter class. As regards the former class, it could apply to those who have been well-instructed Catholics but who, by their own deliberate choice, have abandoned their faith; or it could apply to those who have never been Catholics but who, having become convinced of the truth of the Catholic Church, have refused to obey their conscience and join it; or who, having adverted for good reasons to the possibility that it might be true, have refused to inquire further for fear that they might actually become convinced and converted — a step which, for motives of convenience under one form or another they want to avoid. Obviously, such people are not in good faith. Forfeiture of salvation always supposes, of course, that such people die without having received and corresponded with the grace of final repentance.
radioreplies.info/site-search.php?q=Outside+of+the+Church+there+is+no++salvation&db=5

How could “a poorly catechized Catholic who leaves the Church” be expected to “know” that he/she should not have left the Church, and how would they know that they should have admitted their errors, returned and confessed?
Who are we to judge a person’s conscience?

The rule from Christ is:
“Judge not that you be not judged.” (Mt 7:1) We may not judge motives, intentions, and guilt before God but are commanded to judge actions, speech, writing against truth and in this way we can help others by offering truth.

We are commanded not to judge the guilt of anyone before God.

**“Such a pompous attitude ignores the reality of Catholic teaching for selfist ideas.”
**
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!! I think you should look in the mirror.

I repeat. There is no justifiable reason for anyone to turn their back on the Church. It is incumbent on all Catholics to learn what the Church teaches and if they know what the Church teaches then to understand that teaching. If at the end they do not understand a teaching then they simply have to accept that the Church is correct because the Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals.
A Catholic who has not learned all Church teachings can be called vincibly ignorant but certainly not invincibly ignorant. Catholics are not invincibly ignorant. Non-Christians can be invincibly ignorant.
All Catholics who walk away from the Church are putting their immortal souls in danger and it seems from the comments are looking for loopholes to do whatever they want.

[quote=Abu]Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Heresy: The disbelief must be morally culpable, where a nominal Christian refuses to accept what he knows is a doctrinal imperative.** Subjectively** a person must recognize his obligation to believe.

How could “a poorly catechized Catholic who leaves the Church” be expected to “know” that he/she should not have left the Church, and how would they know that they should have admitted their errors, returned and confessed?
Who are we to judge a person’s conscience?

We are commanded not to judge the guilt of anyone before God.
[/quote]

:thumbsup: It is always a serious error of judgment whenever anyone presupposes an automatic mortal sin to the consciences of others. Especially in this area of the forum where many of different faiths come to read and learn. We must be critically aware that voicing such absolutes as “mortal sin” are subjective, for nobody can know the heart of another and with all the mitigating circumstances that took place to arrive at their decision.

None of that is invincible ignorance. Apart from my extreme example (which I don’t think actually exists) of how a Catholic possibly could be invincibly ignorant Catholics cannot be invincibly ignorant. They can be vincibly ignorant.
Too many people looking for an easy way out by attacking the Catholic Church. The typical excuse is “oh dear. I don’t know or understand the Church teachings so I’m walking away from the Church because I am invincibly ignorant”!!
No Catholics should be encouraging, supporting or trying to justify a Catholic walking away from their faith. We should be doing all we can to stop them leaving and encouraging them to stay but it seems some people don’t seem to care about that.

You’re question begging yet again. You say “if at the end they do not understand a teaching then they simply have to accept that the Church is correct because the Church cannot err in matters of faith and morals.” But if this sincere seeker does not believe or accept that the Church cannot error – perhaps because they’ve become convinced through their own reading of Scripture that the church is an amorphous body of believers who confess simply Christ crucified for redemption, and that Church “infallibility” is not supported by Scripture, then they are not turning their back on Christ’s Church – at least not in their mind and heart. I agree with Abu and Sirach2 that you’re demonstrating a narrow-mindedness which, frankly and respectfully, challenges the limitlessness of God’s mercy and justice.

Is there a “LIKE” button on here somewhere?:thumbsup:

Thanks so much for these insights, Abu.

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