1. What are the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on the subject of salvation? Is there salvation outside the Catholic Church? If so, does such a teaching not oppose the pre-Vatican II era teachings of the Catholic Church? To answer these questions, it is necessary to review some of the historical documents of the Catholic Church on the matter of salvation.
2. Going back in time as early as the days of the Athanasian Creed, it was taught then that "Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity." (Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 39)
3. About 585 A.D., Pope Pelagius II infallibly stated, "If anyone, however, either suggests or believes or presumes to teach contrary to this faith, let him know that he is condemned and also anathematized (means excommunicated) according to the opinion of the same Fathers... Consider (therefore) the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church, cannot have the Lord. [Gal. 3:7]" (Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 246)
It is important to note here than an emphasis has been placed on both, the "peace" and the "unity" of the Church.
4. In 1208 A.D., Pope Innocent III infallibly stated, "By the heart we believe and by the mouth we confess the one Church, not of heretics but the Holy Roman, catholic, and Apostolic (Church) outside which we believe that no one is saved." (D.E.S.; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 423)
5. In 1215 A.D., Pope Innocent III infallibly stated, "One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved..." (D.E.S.; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 430)
6. In 1302 A.D., Pope Boniface VIII infallibly stated, "With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this (Church) outside which there is no salvation nor remission of sins..." (D.E.S.; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 468)
7. Here, it is important to note that outside the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, there is "no remission of sins." This infallible teaching means that:
(A) no one can confess his sins directly to God in order to receive his righteousness,
(b) no one can confess his sins to a priest who is not a member of the Catholic Church, and/or
(c) no one can confess his sins to a priest who does not have permission (the faculty) to hear confessions from the Bishop of his jurisdiction.
8. In 1302 A.D., by the power invested in him, Pope Boniface VIII infallibly stated, "...we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff." (D.E.S.; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 469)
9. In 1442 A.D, Pope Eugenius IV, 1442, at the Council of Florence, reaffirmed this truth. "It 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 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. (D.E.S.; The Sources of Catholic Dogma; 30th edition, # 714)
10. The same truth regarding the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation was reaffirmed by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 A.D.; Pope Pius IX in 1854 A.D.; Pope Pius IX in 1863 A.D.; Pope John XXIII on June 29, 1961 A.D.; Pope John Paul I, on August 27, 1978; Pope John Paul II on October 21, 1981, etc...
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
11. Since the release of the English Version of the 1995 Catechism of the Catholic Church, many of the faithful have become confused regarding the teachings of the Catholic Church on the subject of salvation. Why is that so? It is because some of the paragraphs within the Catechism imply that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church, this appearing to oppose all the past teachings of the Holy Church. In all fairness, prior to addressing the subject of salvation, a few moments should be taken to review some of those teachings that are found within the Catechism.
THE FULLNESS OF THE MEANS OF SALVATION
12. Under paragraph # 816 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read, "The Second Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism explains: 'For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant, in order to establish on earth the one Body of Christ into which all those should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the People of God.'" (C.C.C. # 816)
As stated, not only is salvation found in the Catholic Church, but also the "fullness of the means" of salvation.
OUR SEPARATED BROTHERS AND SISTERS
13. Speaking of the separation of our brothers and sisters, paragraph # 818 states, "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these community [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." (C.C.C. # 818)
ADMISSION INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST
14. The above quote is not implying that all religions are equal. It teaches a number of things:
(A) First of all, individuals have a free will to choose their faith.
(B) Secondly, today's members of the worldwide separated Churches cannot be held guilty for the Church division that their ancestors have caused.
(C) Thirdly, through faith in Jesus and the proper administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, our separated brothers and sisters are justified (reconciliated with God by the Blood of Christ), their past sins having been erased forever. As such, although they are not members of the physical Catholic faith, they meet the conditions to be admitted into the spiritual Body of Christ.
15. During the new birth that takes place through faith in Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, are admitted into the spiritual Body of Christ, at that moment they receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit as their "first instalment" [Eph. 1:13-4; 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5] towards the inheritance of salvation in the Kingdom of God. The Sacrament of Baptism does not guarantee one's salvation; it is the door into the spiritual Body of Christ that leads towards salvation.
WHAT IS MEANT BY CHURCH?
16. When a reference is made to the "Church," it is necessary to understand the usage of the word. While it is true that the spiritual Body of Christ is the Church of Christ and that the physical Catholic Church is also the Church of Christ, the membership of these two bodies varies greatly. Allow me to explain!
17. To become a member of the spiritual Body of Christ, a person, Catholic or non-Catholic, is required:
(A) to repent of his sins,
(B) to have faith in the Lord Jesus, and
(C) to receive the Sacrament of Baptism.
Through these requirements, the believer becomes "a new creation," [2 Cor. 5:17] this qualifying him to receive his free membership in the spiritual Body of Christ. These requirements are not the same as the gift of salvation. These requirements provide the believer with his "first instalment" [Eph. 1:13-4; 2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5] towards the inheritance of salvation in the Kingdom of God.
18. To become a member of the physical Catholic Church, also known as the Church of Christ, a person joins the Catholic faith by:
(A) repenting of his sins,
(B) having faith in the Lord Jesus, and
(C) receiving the Sacrament of Baptism.
Through these requirements, the believer becomes "a new creation" [2 Cor. 5:17], such qualifying him to be admitted into the Catholic faith. The believer's free membership in the Catholic faith is not an assurance of salvation; it is the "first instalment" towards the inheritance of salvation in the Kingdom of God.
19. When Jesus instituted His Church, He instituted the spiritual Body of Christ and its physical counterpart, the Catholic Church. This is not implying that Jesus instituted two Churches. In truth, He instituted one Church, the physical Catholic Church being a reflection of the spiritual Body of Christ. To affirm this truth, Jesus said, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." [Mt. 16:17-9]
20. In other words, Jesus said, "And I tell you, upon your person I will build My spiritual Body (of Christ), and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of My spiritual Body (also known as the Kingdom of Heaven), and whatever you bind in the physical Catholic Church will be bound in the spiritual Body (of Christ), and whatever you loose in the physical Catholic Church will be loosed in the spiritual Body (of Christ.)"
21. When Jesus instituted His Church, as previously indicated, He simultaneously (at the same time) instituted its spiritual and its physical counterparts, these being inseparable. To receive and maintain membership in the spiritual Body of Christ, believers would be required to enter the door through the physical Catholic Church.
22. This truth is affirmed in the characteristics of both, the spiritual and the physical counterparts of the Church of Christ. Both are characterized as being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. Without getting into too many particulars, it is sufficient to say that in order for a believer in Jesus to maintain his membership in the spiritual Body of Christ, he must maintain his righteousness. To maintain his righteousness, he must have access to the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist, over and above being of one mind with the Catholic faith.
23. Being of one mind means being in full unity with all of the teachings of the Catholic faith that was instituted by Jesus on earth as the Church of Christ. On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus prayed to the Heavenly Father for the unity of His Church. He stated, "The glory that you have given Me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become completely one..." [Jn. 17:22-3]
24. Naturally, it can be concluded that those who fail to be of one mind with Christ and the members of His one Church, by their rejection of the Catholic doctrines, they are rejecting Jesus who has instituted the Catholic Church. As such, although they presently are members of the Body of Christ through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, they shall not receive their final instalment, the inheritance of salvation into the Kingdom of God.
25. Therefore, while the spiritual Body of Christ may presently embrace our brothers and sisters in Christ who are members of hundreds of different Christian faiths, the present membership of the spiritual Body of Christ is not a true reflection of the eternal membership of the Body of Christ. On Judgment Day, many "Christians" shall be removed from the Body of Christ because they were unable to maintain the righteousness that they absolutely required in order to remain in the Body of Christ, the eternal Kingdom of God.
THE NECESSITY OF THE CHURCH
26. "Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. 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." (C.C.C. # 846)
27. "Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism." (C.C.C. # 1277)
THE SACRAMENTS, THE TOOLS TOWARDS SALVATION
28. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, Catholics are admitted into the Catholic Church, the visible Body of Christ that is a reflection of the invisible Body of Christ. Their admission into the Body of Christ is based on:
(A) their faith in Jesus as Saviour,
(B) their being born again as new creations, and
(C) their newly found righteousness.
29. To receive the free gift of salvation, Catholics must until their last breath, maintain the righteousness that they received during the Sacrament of Baptism. Ongoing righteousness is maintained through the reception of the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist. While belonging to the invisible Body of Christ, Catholics recognize that they absolutely need the Sacraments of the visible Body of Christ, the Catholic Church, as their assurance of righteousness and salvation. Hence, believers require the Catholic Church as the "fullness of the means of salvation."
30. In the case of non-Catholics, while through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, they are admitted into the invisible Body of Christ as their first instalment towards salvation, once they have committed mortal sins, they possess no means of reinstating the righteousness that they had originally received during the Sacrament of Baptism. Such a status holds serious consequences, the unrighteous sinners being unable to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
31. Within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, it states, "If (mortal sin) is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back." (C.C.C. # 1861)
EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
32. While Jesus has instituted the Sacraments of the Catholic Church as an absolute necessity to maintain one's righteousness and as an assurance of the free gift of salvation, God is not bound by His Sacraments. He can and does make exceptions under certain circumstances.
33. "The Lord himself affirmed that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commanded his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments." (C.C.C. # 1257)
34. "Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam's sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the 'death of the soul.' Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin." [Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512] (C.C.C. # 403)
35. Should a Catholic or a non-Catholic infant die after having received the Sacrament of Baptism, he/she is assured salvation. The same applies to baptized infants who died weeks or months later from Sudden Infant Death (SID).
36. "Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also have need of the new birth in Baptism to be freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God, to which all men are called. The sheer gratuitousness of the grace of salvation is particularly manifested in infant Baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer Baptism shortly after birth." (C.C.C. # 1250)
37. "As regards children who have died without Baptism, non- Catholics or those from Catholic families, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus' tenderness toward children which caused him to say: 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,' allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism." (C.C.C. # 1261)
38. In other words, non-baptized infants, Catholic or not, have no assurance of being saved, the status of their salvation being left to the great mercy of God.
ABORTIONS AND MISCARRIAGES
39. The Catholic Church teaches that human life begins at the moment of conception. From that moment, the individual "must be treated as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being." (C.C.C. # 2274)
40. Therefore in cases of abortions or miscarriages (embryo/fetus), keeping in mind the teachings of the Catholic Church regarding the death of unbaptized infants, the salvation of these individuals, Catholic or non-Catholics, who have not yet reached the stage of birth can only be entrusted to the mercy of God. (C.C.C. # 1261)
41. The view that aborted souls are as little angels in Heaven does not reflect a Catholic teaching. The Catholic Church does not know the exact status of those who are aborted because it cannot speak on behalf of God regarding the final judgment of individuals.
PRIOR TO THE AGE OF REASON
42. In accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church, a minor who has not completed the seventh year of age is called an infant and is considered incapable of personal responsibility; on completion of the seventh year, however, the minor is presumed to have the use of reason. (Canon Laws # 11 and 97.2)
43. Prior to the completion of the seventh year of age, an infant, not having sufficient knowledge to understand the difference between right and wrong, is incapable of committing a sin. As such, a baptized child, Catholic or non-Catholic, who dies prior to reaching the age of reason, is assured salvation. The same cannot be said regarding an unbaptized child who dies prior to reaching the age of reason.
CHILDREN WHO HAVE REACHED THE AGE OF REASON
44. A baptized Catholic child who:
(A) has reached the age of reason, and
(B) who is in a state of grace because he/she
(C) has received the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis and
(D) received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist during Sunday attendance at the Holy Mass as required by the Precept of the Church, (Canon Law # 1247)
will be assured salvation upon death.
45. The same cannot be said regarding:
(A) a baptized Catholic child who has not maintained his/her righteousness through the Sacraments;
(B) a baptized non-Catholic child who belongs to a religion that does not enjoy the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion;
(C) an unbaptized child who has reached the age of reason.
THE STATUS OF ADULTS
46. A baptized Catholic adult who:
(A) who is in a state of grace because he/she
(B) has received the Sacrament of Confession on a regular basis and
(C) who received the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist during Sunday attendance at the Holy Mass as required by the Precept of the Church, (Canon Law # 1247)
is assured salvation upon death.
47. The same cannot be said regarding:
(A) a Catholic adult who was baptized and who has not maintained his righteousness through the Sacraments,
(B) a baptized non-Catholic adult from a religion that does not enjoy the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion, and
(C) an unbaptized adult.
SALVATION OF NON-CATHOLIC ADULTS
48. In a situation where a non-Catholic adult was properly baptized and immediately dies, his salvation is assured because of the righteousness that has been obtained through the Sacrament of Baptism.
"By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin. In those who have been reborn nothing remains that would impede their entry into the Kingdom of God, neither Adam's sin, nor personal sin, nor the consequences of sin, the gravest of which is separation from God." C.C.C. # 1263)
49. A "catechumen" is someone who is receiving instructions in the Catholic Faith in preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism and admission into the Church.
50. "For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament." (C.C.C. # 1259)
51. Although not a Catholic as of "yet," because of the sincere desire of converting to the Catholic faith, the catechumen is assured salvation in Christ.
BAPTISMS OF BLOOD AND DESIRE
52. "The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament." (C.C.C. # 1258) As such, martyrs are saved through their Baptism by blood.
53. The Catholic Church teaches that those who die in a state of mortal sin, including Catholics, shall be excluded from the Kingdom of God. (C.C.C. # 1861) What are these mortal sins that can impede one's entry into the Kingdom of God? Reference to some of these sins are found in the Sacred text of the Holy Bible.
54. In the Letter to the Galatians, we read, "Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-10; C.C.C. # 1852)
55. In the First Letter to the Corinthians, we read, "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers - none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God." [1 Cor. 6:9-10]
56. Two Chapters later, we read, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died." [1 Cor. 11:27-30]
57. In the Gospel of Luke, we read, "And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven: but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven." [Lk. 12:10]
58. In the Revelation to John, we read, "Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death." [Rev. 21:7-8]
59. "Outside (of the Kingdom of God) are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." [Rev. 22:15]
60. These Biblical passages declare that, Catholic or not, those who chose through their free will to turn away from the holy ways, the righteousness of God, because of their mortal sins, they eternally condemn themselves.
IGNORANT OF CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH
61. While affirming that "Outside the Church there is no salvation," (C.C.C. # 846), the Catechism of the Catholic Church further states, "This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
'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.'" (C.C.C. # 847)
62. For someone to have never heard of the Gospel of Christ or His Church, it means that the individual has never had an opportunity to be touched by the grace of God. It means that this individual has never seen a missionary, nor heard of any of the thousands of Christian religions that speak in the name of Jesus. It means that he has never heard of the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops, the priests, religious brothers and sisters, lay missionaries and even of Christians, over and above having never seen a Church or the symbol of the cross.
63. It would also mean that this individual has never heard of Catholic or separate Schools, Catholic Social Services, Catholic charities, the Catholic Church position on the subjects of abortion, divorce and homosexuality, never heard of or even saw a picture of the Virgin Mary or any of the saints, never questioned the origin of religions, etc...
64. We should not overlook the fact that even in countries where communism has ruled for decades, the presence of the Catholic Church has persisted underground. In some cases, such as in China, the communist party organized its own government operated "Catholic Church." In other countries, some governments have made it punishable by death or life imprisonment if anyone was found to be associated with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. In view of these facts, is it not true that these government are promoting the existence of the Roman Catholic Church by condemning it? And as such, how can someone have never heard of Jesus or His Church in a communist country when the people know that it is illegal to belong to it?
65. As can be appreciated from the aforementioned examples, very, very rare are the incidents where through no fault of their own, some sincere hearts, during their entire lives, have never had the opportunity to know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, they trying in their actions to do His Will as they knew it through the dictates of their conscience.
66. The Catechism of the Catholic Church further states, "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery. Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity." (C.C.C. # 1260)
67. This paragraph of the Catechism addresses three issues. The first relates to those who are ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His Church. This has already been addressed above. (C.C.C. # 847)
68. The second issue is that if there exists today someone who has not been called and touched by the grace of God during his entire life, had he known of the necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism for his salvation, he would have desired it. In all fairness, no one can disagree with this statement, if such a case does exist.
69. The third issue is since Christ died for all..., "we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."
70. What comes in question here is the impartiality of God. If we are to believe:
(A) that God does not discriminate,
(B) that He calls everybody, without exception, and
(C) that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers of the Paschal mystery,
then we are left with no choice but to conclude that no one is left ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and His Church. Either, "all men are in fact called" (C.C.C. # 1260), without exception, or some are not called. For a "calling" to be present, there must be a "caller," the caller consisting of God or a believer acting as an instrument of God. And if "all men are in fact called," then no one has been neglected by God, everyone having received the opportunity to be guided towards their salvation in "the way, the truth and the life." [Jn. 14:6]
DIVISION WITHIN THE BODY OF CHRIST
71. When Jesus originally established His Church, the spiritual Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church as its physical counterpart, it remained intact for the first thousand years. All the believers knew that the door to the invisible Body of Christ was through the visible Roman Catholic Church.
72. Then in 1054 A.D., the Eastern Orthodox Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church, this action creating a rift in the spiritual Body of Christ. Five centuries later, this was followed by further division, the Lutherans in 1517 A.D. under Martin Luther, the Mennonite in 1525 A.D. under Grebel, Mantz and Blaurock, the Calvinists in 1533 A.D. under John Calvin, the Anglicans in 1534 A.D. under King Henry VIII the Presbyterians in 1560 A.D. under John Knox, the Congregationalists in 1582 A.D. under Robert Brown, the Baptists in 1607 A.D. under John Smyth, the Dutch Reformed Church in 1628 A.D. under Michelis Jones and since then, thousands of new religions that have being instituted by men.
73. Because all the members of the spiritual Body of Christ do not belong to the Roman Catholic Church, their disunity is not because these members of the Body of Christ have not been called. By the mere fact that they do belong to a separate faith, this is an indication that the Holy Spirit has attempted to guide them towards the truth, the way and the life. To know "the way, the truth and the life," [Jn. 14:6] every believer is personally obligated to trace the history of Christianity to its root.
74. Those who have undertaken this research with a sincerity of heart, they have found themselves obligated to convert and to come home to the Roman Catholic faith. It is no wonder that many of the ministers of different Christian faiths, after having done an in- depth study of Christianity, this including the unchanged teachings of the early Church Father, found themselves in a position where they finally had to accept the way, the truth and the life of Christ. For many, the cross was heavy; for their families and friends disown them!
75. While our present separated brothers and sisters are not guilty of the sins of their ancestors who were responsible for the division that is found within the Christian community, it cannot be denied that each generation has been provided with Divine assistance to mend the division that is found within the spiritual Body of Christ. Why is it then that division still persist?
76. In Summary, for someone to be saved, he must,
(A) Have faith in Jesus,
(B) Be properly baptized, and
(C) Die in a state of righteousness.
(D) Have faith in Jesus and the intent of converting to the Catholic faith prior to dying. While he may not have been baptized by water, he would have received the Baptism of blood or of desire.
77. Those who do not immediately die after having been baptized and who have committed mortal sins, their righteousness can only be achieved through the Sacrament of Confession. As such, it is true that the fullness of the means of salvation is only found in the Roman Catholic Church.
78. The Council of Trent affirmed with certainty that all are born afflicted with the original sin that has its roots in the disobedience of Adam, a sin which is the "death of the soul." [Cf. Council of Trent: DS 1512] Because of this affirmed truth, the Roman Catholic Church has never been able to accept as truth that unbaptized infants who have died, are saved.
79. Being unable to affirm the salvation of the cherished unbaptized infants of Catholic families, nor can the Church affirm the salvation of the unbaptized infants of our separated brothers and sisters!
80. Equally, being unable to affirm the salvation of Catholics who die in a state of mortal sins, nor can the Church affirm the salvation of our separated brothers and sisters who die bearing a lifetime of sins because their faith did not enjoy the Sacrament of Confession!
81. Indeed, for Divine Justice to be manifested on earth as it is in Heaven, under exceptional circumstances, there is salvation outside the Catholic Church!
This completed the Bible course "Salvation and the Catholic Church." Now that you have a better understanding of the basic requirements of salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, it is hoped that you will share your newly learned knowledge and understanding with those in your midst.
To COMPLETE the Exam of this course, please click on EXAM