JF: I lead our Parish’s RCIA class. I am reading your “The Biblical Basis for the Catholic Faith” book. I use what I learn from your book in our class.
On Page 217 under the subtitle “No salvation outside the Catholic Church” you write “The Church teaches that no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Jesus Christ, refuses to enter it or remain in it……….”. I ask that you furnish me with support for this statement. I certainly am not questioning such statement, but I always give our class “citations” to teachings such as this one.
J. Salza: John, this infallible doctrine has been reiterated by popes and fathers throughout history. I have written a chapter on Nulla salus in my book
The Biblical Basis for the Papacy. Here are some examples:
Pope Pelagius II (A.D. 578 – 590): “Consider the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church cannot have the Lord. …Although given over to flames and fires, they burn, or, thrown to wild beasts, they lay down their lives, there will not be (for them) that crown of faith but the punishment of faithlessness. …Such a one can be slain, he cannot be crowned. …[If] slain outside the Church, he cannot attain the rewards of the Church.” (Denzinger 246-247)
Pope Saint Gregory the Great (A.D. 590 – 604): “Now the holy Church universal proclaims that God cannot be truly worshipped saving within herself, asserting that all they that are without her shall never be saved.” (Moralia)
Pope Innocent III (A.D. 1198 – 1216): “With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved.” (Denzinger 423)
Pope Leo XII (A.D. 1823 – 1829): “We profess that there is no salvation outside the Church. …For the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. With reference to those words Augustine says: `If any man be outside the Church he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for Father since he has not the Church for mother.'” (Encyclical, Ubi Primum)
Pope Gregory XVI (A.D. 1831 – 1846): “It is not possible to worship God truly except in Her; all who are outside Her will not be saved.” (Encyclical, Summo Jugiter)
Pope Pius IX (A.D. 1846 – 1878): “It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood.” (Denzinger 1647)
Pope Leo XIII (A.D. 1878 – 1903): “This is our last lesson to you; receive it, engrave it in your minds, all of you: by God’s commandment salvation is to be found nowhere but in the Church.” (Encyclical, Annum Ingressi Sumus)
“He scatters and gathers not who gathers not with the Church and with Jesus Christ, and all who fight not jointly with Him and with the Church are in very truth contending against God.” (Encyclical, Sapientiae Christianae)
Pope Saint Pius X (A.D. 1903 – 1914): “It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.” (Encyclical, Jucunda Sane)
Pope Benedict XV (A.D. 1914 – 1922): “Such is the nature of the Catholic faith that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole, or as a whole rejected: This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.” (Encyclical, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum)
Pope Pius XI (A.D. 1922 – 1939): “The Catholic Church alone is keeping the true worship. This is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation….Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ, no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.” (Encyclical, Mortalium Animos)
Pope Pius XII (A.D. 1939 – 1958): “By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth.” (Allocution to the Gregorian, October 17, 1953)
Pope Innocent III and Lateran Council IV (A.D. 1215): “One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful outside which no one at all is saved…”
Pope Boniface VIII in his Papal Bull Unam Sanctam (A.D. 1302): “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
Pope Eugene IV and the Council of Florence (A.D. 1438 – 1445): “[The most Holy Roman Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart `into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
In the current age of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, the Church’s infallible dogma nulla salus has been all but ignored. We now often hear that the Catholic Church has only the “fullness” of truth as opposed to being the one and only ark of salvation. We even hear Catholics claim that the Protestant sects are eminently serviceable religions in their own right, instead of calling them what they really are: man-made institutions that are rife with heresy and immorality and which were created in opposition to the one true Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church, the kingdom of God.
Pius IX condemned the notion that those outside the Catholic Church have a good hope of eternal life. Entertaining such an idea undermines the Church’s infallible teaching that outside of her there is no salvation. Such a false view results in a wellspring of indifferentism which has already infected the Church and the world today. Pius XI clarified that those who are invincibly ignorant of the Church may still be saved, but this is a narrow exception to the divine rule. How many are truly ignorant of the claims of Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church? Only God knows, and God alone is the Judge. Pius IX has told us that it is unlawful to proceed to further inquiry about the salvation of those outside the Church. Instead, we continue to labor in the harvest by planting the seed, and leave the growing to God.