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Joel Gibbons wrote:

Hi, guys —

I just found your web site, and as I paged through it, came to the topic of Salvation and the Church. The dictum is rendered, in brief:

"No Salvation outside the Church".

That is a mistranslation of the Latin, which refers to Extra Ecclesio. "Outside the Church" would be rendered "Ultra Ecclesio".

As I understand it, from my theology at Georgetown University back in Vatican II days,
the doctrine means that the Church embodies all that is necessary for salvation: it is the
complete path. It also means that there would be no salvation for anyone had the Church not
been instituted. It does not mean that only Catholics can be saved.

Moses and Abraham and the prophets, to name just a few, were saved but were not aware of being Catholics. They were saved because they participated in the coming of the Messiah and the promulgation of his Law to the world.

This is the work of the Church, and it is precisely the work of the Church without which there is no salvation.

  • Do you agree with my understanding?


Joel Gibbons
  { Do you agree with my understand of the teaching — Outside the Church there is no salvation? }

John replied:

Dear Joel,

You are quite correct in your understanding that there are those outside the visible walls of the Church that can be saved. If you notice, the mission statement of our site is that we are loyal to all the teachings of he Church, Her Magisterium and the Holy Father. We also recognize the validity of every council from Nicea to Vatican II.

I would however have to say that everyone who is saved, is ultimately saved by Christ and therefore in some way, no matter how imperfect, is part of the Mystical Body of Christ;
the Catholic Church. In that sense, all those who are saved, are Catholics one way or another.

This does not mean they know it, or even admit it!

Under His Mercy,

John C. DiMascio

Mike replied:

Dear Joel,

First, what we think or how we interpret this doctrine of the Church is not important. We just pass on what the Church teaches and how the Church interprets this doctrine.

No, I don't totally agree with your understanding of how the Church interprets this teaching.
Here is a simplified version of how to interpret this doctrine:

All three have to be mentioned when explaining this important doctrine of the Church correctly.

  1. those who through no fault of their own, don't know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but seek Him and His Church with a sincere heart can be saved.
  2. those who know the Church to be the True Church, yet refuse to enter it, cannot be saved.
  3. All people are obligated to form their conscience and grow in knowledge of:
    • their own faith
    • the historical nature of their congregation and faith, and
    • what the Church believes: the only Church Our Lord established on St. Peter
      and his successors in 33 A.D., the Catholic Church.

In doing so, they confirm they belong to the one Church Jesus established on
St. Peter and His successors, or many times, through no fault of their own, belong to a congregation that was founded by a mere man's version of Christianity.

Many times, Catholic faith-sharers, apologists, and even teachers, will leave one of these three criteria for understand out of their explanation when explaining this doctrine of the Church.
When they do, they confuse, not only Catholics, but sincere seeking Protestants who want to know more about what Catholics believe.

I can personally attest to the last portion of my last statement.

I used to run a free program that sent Catechisms to seeking Protestants and non-Christians but no longer have the financial or operational means to do this anymore. Nevertheless, if you wish to go deeper, consider buying a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to learn everything we believe as Catholics.

We owe them the full truth on any of the Church's teachings and the Catechism will provide a clarity to difficult-to-understand but important Catholic teachings like the one you have raised.

You said:
That is a mistranslation of the Latin, which refers to "Extra Ecclesio." "Outside the Church" would be rendered "Ultra Ecclesio."

I checked with a priest-friend of mine who is fluent in Latin and he said:

I think "extra" has always been accepted as meaning "outside."

Finally note. You said:
This is the work of the Church, and it is precisely the work of the Church without which there is no salvation.

  • What is the work of the Church Joel?

    To sit back and state, "There is no salvation outside the Church" and there is no real important reason to become a Catholic, because one church is just as good as another?

No! I've been a Catholic all my life and truly believe people don't know what they are missing out on. To a great extent, this is because we have not been catechized correctly. Once you understand the riches in the Church, your life and family will change for the better. The heads of families have an obligation to at least look into what the Church truly teaches and why.

  • What does Our Blessed Lord say on this issue?

The Scriptures say:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 28:18-20

The work of the Church is to evangelize across America:

  • through the print media
  • web media
  • social media, like Face book and Twitter, as well as
  • iPods, iPhones, YouTube and other forms.
That's what the Pope is doing!
His web site:
Vatican web site
His news site
Vatican News site
His Face book page
Pope Benedict XVI on Face book
His YouTube site
Vatican YouTube
His Pope2You site that has an iPhone App.
Pope2You site

We are called today to give good, holy reasons to become a Catholic, like these and these.

The sad days of Just-believe-it-and-don't-ask-questions, are over! or should be.

The Catholic Church and practicing Catholic evangelists and apologists have answers to anyone's questions. If we don't know the answer to your question, we use our local Catholic support group to research, study and find an answer. This is a manifestation of our Eucharistic team work with Christ, Our Lord.

We are not an exclusive country club. We welcome everyone on the face of the earth to become a Catholic. That is God's will for everyone.

Your brother in prayer, your brother in Christ,

Mike Humphrey

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
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