Under what circumstances can non-Catholics be saved?


#1

I don’t really understand how some of the Church’s past teachings on the subject of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) can be reconciled with the Church’s current stance. Can someone please explain to me…USING ONLY PRE-VATICAN 2 SOURCES…how non-Catholics can attain salvation? It seems as though Vatican 2 diverted from the Church’s traditional teaching, so in order to show that it didn’t, that’s the only request that I make. In particular,

What makes someone “invincibly ignorant”?

Is the operative word in the Catechism “knowing” or “may”?

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. (846)

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation. (847)

What does the CCC mean when it says “knowing that the Catholic Church…”? Is it simply a knowledge that that’s what the Church teaches? Is it a conviction that this teaching is indeed true? If the latter situation is the case, I don’t think that anyone would ever leave the Church and this dogma is pointless.

Does baptism of desire mean that that person was already planning on becoming Catholic or does it mean that after death they are presented with the Truth and then have the chance to choose (isn’t it obvious what they would choose if the latter is the case)?

Can a non-Catholic have committed a mortal sin in their lifetime and still attain salvation even though they have no means of receiving absolution?

Since (mostly all) Protestants have valid baptisms, how do they attain salvation since baptism of blood/desire are irrelevant with them?

Thanks! :thumbsup:


#2

I honestly believe that God distributes enough grace for all non-Catholics to become Catholic as long as they have the ability to do so (obviously this was not the case for the Indians before the discovery of the New World). So, if someone dies without entering the Church, it was their rejection of God’s grace that prevented them from becoming Catholic and everyone knows where rejecting God’s grace gets you! :bigyikes: That is how I understand the salvation of non-Catholics and why there is no salvation outside the Church.


#3

OK. I found the thread. Should be a good one. Thanks for opening it up.


#4

I think you are on to something here. The CCC does not say they will attain salvation, rather there is the possibility of salvation. Those who have not heard the full gospel of the RCC have the *possibility * of salvation.


#5

[quote=St.Eric]I think you are on to something here. The CCC does not say they will attain salvation, rather there is the possibility of salvation. Those who have not heard the full gospel of the RCC have the possibility of salvation.
[/quote]

Yes. I think that “may” is the more important word especially considering past teachings and that the Catechism then goes on to stress the importance of evangelization. I didn’t really think about the importance of the word “may” until Marcus Grodi on the Journy Home said that he understood it to be the operative word in the Catechism on the topic of EENS. This also goes along with Pius IX’s condemnation of the statement that:

Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.

I guess that we should assume the worst and evangelize to stay on the safe side.


#6

Am I understanding the question correctly and the subsequent responses? Basically, if you are not Catholic, you cannot obtain salvation and you will ultimately go to Hell? Did I understand this correctly?


#7

[quote=mikew262]Am I understanding the question correctly and the subsequent responses? Basically, if you are not Catholic, you cannot obtain salvation and you will ultimately go to Hell? Did I understand this correctly?
[/quote]

I am trying to understand the dogma myself! As for going straight to Hell, all I can say is that the Council of Florence defined, in Session VI, the following:

“The souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’” (John 3:3)

Hence the absolute necessity for baptism to attain salvation whether it be by water, blood, or desire.

I’m sorry if you don’t like it. It’s from the Mouth of God.


#8

Remember that the 3 conditions have to be met before they are guilty of mortal sin- grave matter, FULL consent of the will, and knowledge that the matter is grave. It is unlikely that a protestant would qualify on all 3 conditions. I know, it seems unfair for us Catholics but with knowledge comes more responsibility.


#9

[quote=JSmitty2005]Yes. I think that “may” is the more important word especially considering past teachings and that the Catechism then goes on to stress the importance of evangelization. I didn’t really think about the importance of the word “may” until Marcus Grodi on the Journy Home said that he understood it to be the operative word in the Catechism on the topic of EENS. This also goes along with Pius IX’s condemnation of the statement that:

Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.

I guess that we should assume the worst and evangelize to stay on the safe side.
[/quote]

I think you are begining to wrap your arms around this issue. As far as invicible ignorace here is a piece from the New Advent - pre vatican:

So far as fixing human responsibility, the most important division of ignorance is that designated by the terms invincible and vincible. Ignorance is said to be invincible when a person is unable to rid himself of it notwithstanding the employment of moral diligence, that is, such as under the circumstances is, morally speaking, possible and obligatory. This manifestly includes the states of inadvertence, forgetfulness, etc. Such ignorance is obviously involuntary and therefore not imputable. On the other hand, ignorance is termed vincible if it can be dispelled by the use of “moral diligence”. This certainly does not mean all possible effort; otherwise, as Ballerini naively says, we should have to have recourse to the pope in every instance. We may say, however, that the diligence requisite must be commensurate with the importance of the affair in hand, and with the capacity of the agent, in a word such as a really sensible and prudent person would use under the circumstances. Furthermore, it must be remembered that the obligation mentioned above is to be interpreted strictly and exclusively as the duty incumbent on a man to do something, the precise object of which is the acquisition of the needed knowledge. In other words the mere fact that one is bound by some extrinsic title to do something the performance of which would have actually, though not necessarily, given the required information, is negligible. When ignorance is deliberately aimed at and fostered, it is said to be affected, not because it is pretended, but rather because it is sought for by the agent so that he may not have to relinquish his purpose. Ignorance which practically no effort is made to dispel is termed crass or supine.

Here is the link:

newadvent.org/cathen/07648a.htm


#10

[quote=St.Eric]Remember that the 3 conditions have to be met before they are guilty of mortal sin- grave matter, FULL consent of the will, and knowledge that the matter is grave. It is unlikely that a protestant would qualify on all 3 conditions. I know, it seems unfair for us Catholics but with knowledge comes more responsibility.
[/quote]

I don’t think that full consent of the will is what will exclude their actions from being guilty of mortal sin. Most people choose (an act of the will) to do something and know that they’re choosing to do it. I think that the only exception to the condition of full consent of the will would be someone that has become habitual in their vice or are addicted to it (ie - substance abuse, sexual immorality, etc.)

In my opinion, knowledge that the matter is grave will more likely be the condition that Protestants will not meet especially in the case of something like contraception.


#11

[quote=JSmitty2005]I don’t think that full consent of the will is what will exclude their actions from being guilty of mortal sin. Most people choose (an act of the will) to do something. I think that the only exception to the condition of full consent of the will would be someone that has become habitual in their vice or are addicted to it (ie - substance abuse, sexual immorality, etc.)

In my opinion, knowledge that the matter is grave will more likely be the condition that Protestants will not meet especially in the case of something like contraception.
[/quote]

I tend to agree with you. Before I converted to the RCC, I was of the belief that a sin was a sin was a sin and there was no difference in the gravity. I now see the difference. And yes, the force of habit or addiction can reduce the gravity of a sin as can deficient mental capacity.


#12

Okay, even though we have that cleared up, we still haven’t answered whether or not a non-Catholic can commit a mortal sin in their lifetime and still attain salvation.


#13

[quote=JSmitty2005]explain to me…USING ONLY PRE-VATICAN 2 SOURCES…how non-Catholics can attain salvation?
[/quote]

Pope Pius IX, Allocution Singulari Quadam, 1854: "Another error, equally destructive, has taken hold of some parts of the Catholic world, as we see to our sorrow. It has sunk deep into the minds of those Catholics principally who think there is good hope for the eternal salvation of all those who in no wise live in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are in the habit of frequently asking what will be the future lot and condition after death of those who in no way have given adherence to the Catholif faith. Advancing the flimsiest of arguments, they expect a reply that will support this erroneous opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to dare set limits to the divine mercy, which is infinite. Far be it from Us to want to penetrate the secret plans and judgments of God, which are a great abyss (see Ps. 35:7), impenetrable to human thought. But according to Our apostolic office, We want your episcopal care and vigilance to be on the alert to keep away from men’s minds, with all possible effort, that opinion that a way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatever. With all the learning and ingenuity that is yours, teach the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are not in the slightest opposed to the mercy and justice of God. It must, of course, be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, lands, native talents, and so many other factors? Only when we have been released from the bonds of this body and see God just as he is (see 1 John 3:2) shall we really understand how close and beautiful a bon joins divine mercy with divine justice. But as long as we dwell on earth, encumbered with this soul-dulling mortal body, let us tenaciously cling to the Catholic doctrine that there is one God, one faith, one baptism (see Eph. 4:5). To proceed with further investigation is wrong. Nevertheless, as charity demands, let us pray continually for the conversion to Christ of all nations everywhere. Let us devote ourselves to the salvation of all men as far as we can, for the hand of the Lord is not shortened (see Isa. 59:1). The gifts of heavenly grace will assuredly not be denied to those who sincerely want and pray for refreshment by the divine light. These truths need to be fixed deeply in the minds of the faithful so that they cannot be infected with doctrines tending to foster the religious indifferentism which We see spreading widely, with growing strength, and with destructive effect upon souls.”


#14

[quote=doomhammer]Pope Pius IX, Allocution Singulari Quadam, 1854
[/quote]

Thanks! :thumbsup: That was very helpful. :slight_smile:


#15

[quote=JSmitty2005]Okay, even though we have that cleared up, we still haven’t answered whether or not a non-Catholic can commit a mortal sin in their lifetime and still attain salvation.
[/quote]

I would say that some mortal sins would be a no brainer, but maybe not, since like I said I used to profess all sins were equal. Though I suppose in my heart I really knew these, for example, were more serious than say, swearing:

Murder
adultery
idolatry
magick/divination/necromancy
Rape

those are a few sins that are of grave matter and kind of a “universal” partial list for Christians on the really serious scale.


#16

[quote=JSmitty2005]Thanks! :thumbsup: That was very helpful. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

you are welcome! it was not easy to find it. but it worth the effort!
geocities.com/prakashjm45/singulari_quadam.html


#17

Smitty, ya messed up already… :smiley:
The CCC that you are discussing is a post Vatican 2 document.
Pax tecum,


#18

Here is an encyclical by Blessed Pius IX (one of my favorite saints) saying the same thing:

Quanto Conficiamur Moerore (On Promotion of False Doctrines) August 10, 1863

There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.


#19

Here is Pius XII,

Mystici Corporis (The Mystical Body of Christ, the Church) June 29, 1943

  1. As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church, solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it more abundantly. 194] Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We have proclaimed the praises of the “great and glorious Body of Christ,” 195] and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. 196] For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic God of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head in the Society of glorious love. 197] Persevering in prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched arms to come not to a stranger’s house, but to their own, their father’s home.

He goes on to admit that it is difficult to find the true Church today as the visible lines have been blurred:

  1. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.

#20

Remember, only God can judge whether non-Catholics are mortally guilty of the sins of schism, heresy and apostacy. Also, we believe in Baptism by desire (both explicit and implicit, as described by Pius XII above).

Here, Pope Benedict XII infallibly defines that all the Baptised who are not in a state of mortal sin go to Heaven:

Benedictus Deus (On the Beatific Vision of God)1336

By this Constitution which is to remain in force for ever, we, with apostolic authority, define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints who departed from this world before the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and also of the holy apostles, martyrs, confessors, virgins and other faithful who died after receiving the holy baptism of Christ- provided they were not in need of any purification when they died, or will not be in need of any when they die in the future, or else, if they then needed or will need some purification, after they have been purified after death-and again the souls of children who have been reborn by the same baptism of Christ or will be when baptism is conferred on them, if they die before attaining the use of free will: all these souls, immediately (mox) after death and, in the case of those in need of purification, after the purification mentioned above, since the ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into heaven, already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment, have been, are and will be with Christ in heaven, in the heavenly kingdom and paradise, joined to the company of the holy angels. Since the passion and death of the Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and see the divine essense with an intuitive vision and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature by way of object of vision; rather the divine essence immediately manifests itself to them, plainly, clearly and openly, and in this vision they enjoy the divine essence . Moreover, by this vision and enjoyment the souls of those who have already died are truly blessed and have eternal life and rest. Also the souls of those who will die in the future will see the same divine essence and will enjoy it before the general judgment.

Such a vision and enjoyment of the divine essence do away with the acts of faith and hope in these souls, inasmuch as faith and hope are properly theological virtues. And after such intuitive and face-to-face vision and enjoyment has or will have begun for these souls, the same vision and enjoyment has continued and will continue without any interruption and without end until the last Judgment and from then on forever.

(On hell and the general judgment)

Moreover we define that according to the general disposition of God, the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into hell immediately (mox) after death and there suffer the pain of hell. Nevertheless, on the day of judgment all men will appear with their bodies “before the judgment seat of Christ” to give an account of their personal deeds, “so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (2 Cor. 5.10).


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.