Friday, December 04, 2009

Forgotten Teachings: No Salvation Outside the Church

EUGENIUS IV (AD 1431-1447)
Ecumenical XVII 
(Union with the Greeks, Armenians, Jacobites) 
Decree for the Armenians  

[From the Bull "Exultate Deo," Nov. 22, 1439]

DS 714 [1351]: [The sacrosanct Roman Church, founded by the voice of our Lord and Savior,] 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.

DS 714 [1351][Sacrosancta Romana Ecclesia, Domini et Salvatoris nostri voce fundata] firmiter credit, profitetur et praedicat, 'nullos extra catholicam Ecclesiam exsistentes (intra cath. E. non exs.), non solum paganos', sed nec Judaeos aut haereticos atque schismaticos, aeternae vitae fieri posse participes; sed in ignem aeternum ituros, 'qui paratus est diabolo et angelis eius' (Mt 25, 41), nisi ante finem vitae eidem fuerint aggregati: tantumque valere ecclesiastici corporis unitatem, ut solum in ea manentibus ad salutem ecclesiastica sacramenta proficiant, et ieiunia, eleemosynae ac cetera pietatis officia et exercitia militiae christianae praemia aeterna parturiant. 'Neminemque, quantascumque eleemosynas fecerit, etsi pro Christi nomine sanguinem effuderit, posse salvari, nisi in catholicae Ecclesiae gremio et unitate permanserit'.


John LeBlanc said...

This is so refreshingly clear, isn't it?

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is probably the most forgotten of all Catholic Truth, and yet really the most important!

Don Paco said...

I wouldn't say it's THE most important Catholic truth (I would say the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation are even more important). But I would certainly agree that it is undeniable and its denial defines our modernist/neo-modernist age.

Claudio Perez said...

Perhaps this quote from "Lumen Gentium" could serve as a spring board for another discussion:
16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126); But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19*) Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature",(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.

Don Paco said...

Sure, Claudio, that could be a worthwhile discussion. Still, what the Council of Florence defined still stands, as it is an unshakable truth, a defined dogma that cannot be reinterpreted in a way different from what the Church has always meant by it. And we must especially be careful not to fall into the error that Pope Pius XII condemns in his encyclical Humani generis: "Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation."

Anonymous said...

"...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."

Without doubting the dogma, may I ask: What is written above appears to imply that one who has sinned mortally against the Faith and also thereby knowingly incurred excommunication, and thus removed himself from the Mystical Body of Christ cannot benefit from the sacrament of Penance. If he cannot benefit from the Sacrament of Penance, then he cannot come back into the Catholic Church.

Daniel Offutt

Don Paco said...

Daniel, the excommunicated can receive absolution from designated clergymen, such as the local Bishop or the Pope.