The Catholic Church teaching on No Salvation outside the church is a controversial doctrine to many people. In the latest catechism, the magisterium's understandiing of the doctrine is spelled out here:

CCC 846 - Outside the Church there is no salvation. How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: 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. LG 14

CCC 847 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. LG 16:

There are many on both sides of the equation who do not accept this teaching. Protestants do not accept that Christ set up a church as the means necessary for salvation. In this paper, I will rebut the errors of Father Feeney, who taught that if one who is not a baptized member of the Roman Catholic Church, that person has no chance of salvation. They see former dogmatic statements from Church Councils as determining exactly this. They see the latest Catechism on this issue as a departure from the long held truth that no one can be saved unless they are baptized Roman Catholics. There are no exceptions not only for those of other religions, or Protestants, but there is no salvation for those who die without baptism as Catechumens, or even if one is martyred for Christ without water baptism.

If one does look at some of the statements made by Church Fathers and the magisterium, there may seem to be some support for the position of Father Feeney. However, when we go back in history, we see that many of the same Church Fathers who seem to make Feeneyite statements, at the same time make statements that give a broader understanding of salvation. We also see even during the dogmatic definitions of the doctrine (in 1208 and 1215), the reigning pope, Pope Innocent III understood salvation to be extended to those who desired baptism, but died before receiving it. We also see the Council of Trent affirming baptism of desire, and if there were any questions at all, the Trent catechism affirms the salvation of adults who died before receiving water baptism. In fact, in the three Catechisms promulgated by the magisterium (Council of Trent Catechism, Pius X Catechism, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church), all three of them in effect categorically deny the Feeneyite view of salvation. There are no Catechisms produced by the magisterium of the Catholic Church that affirms the Feeneyite view. :

What I intend to do here is show that the above definition (CCC 846-847) in the New Catholic Catechism is not to be ignored. This definition is not irreconcilable with past definitions of the magisterium and those who are faithful Catholics must agree with this definition. First I intend to show the authority of the above interpretation of No Salvation Outside the Church. Next I will show how the Church Fathers recognize both baptism of blood, and desire, while at the same time affirming No Salvation Outside the Church. Then I will quote texts from Trent, the view of justification and salvation, and the Trent Catechism affirming baptism of desire being sufficient for salvation. Following that, I will show papal and magisterial documents showing the Feeneyite view is irreconcilable not only with Pope John Paul II and Pius XII, but with many past popes, including Pope Innocent III, who made the first dogmatic decrees from the magisterium in 1208 and 1215. Finally, after a short commentary, I will present the total context of the letter that excommunicated Father Leonard Feeney. The purpose of the letter is not to argue on the validity of the excommunication (which Feeneyites will often attempt to sidetrack one to), but on the doctrinal errors of Father Feeney.

In this paper, there will be five parts:

I. The Authority of Vatican II and
the Ordinary Magisterium on the Issue

II. Church Fathers
III. The Council of Trent
IV. Magisterial Pronouncements and Early Popes
V. Father Feeney, Extra Ecclesiam

I. The Authority of Vatican II
and the Ordinary Magisterium on the Issue

When we see the next part on the Church Fathers, we see that the current teaching on No Salvation Outside the Church is is indeed in concert with many Church Fathers. In relation to the magisterium, this is no doubt a development of doctrine (as affirmed by St. Pius IX, SINGULARI QUIDEM, 1856). "8. We should not conclude that religion does not progress in the Church of Christ. There is great progress! But it is truly the progress of faith, which is not change. The intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge of everybody should grow and progress, like that of the whole Church of the ages. In this way we might understand more clearly what we used to believe obscurely.)" The only authentic interpreter of past magisterial statements are not individuals, but the living magisterium, as affirmed by the DOGMATIC (not merely pastoral) CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION.: "10. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort. But THE TASK OF AUTHENTICALLY INTERPRETING THE WORD OF GOD, WHETHER WRITTEN OR HANDED ON, HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED EXCLUSIVELY TO THE LIVING TEACHING OFFICE OF THE CHURCH whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed." The magisterium is thus the only authentic interpreter of past magisterial documents.

What about the authority of Vatican II, which was the foundation for the recent Catechism. Was it merely pastoral? If that is so, does that mean that we can ignore its teachings on the issue of salvation? Do we only affirm what we believe to be in view of the past tradition, and use our own interpetations of past papal and magisterial documents?

We must first examine some statements of Vatican I, which taught of papal infallibility, but also papal authority. Did Vatican I give us the freedom to dissent from papal teaching on doctrine, if we interpret the current pope as departing from the truth on doctrine? This is after all, the claim of Feeneyites. Vatican 1 in session 3, chapter 3 says:

8. Wherefore, by divine and Catholic faith all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ordinary and universal magisterium.

In Session 4, chapter 3, Vatican I says
2. Wherefore we teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman Church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other Church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman Pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchical subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters concerning faith and morals, but also in those which regard the discipline and government of the Church throughout the world.

Further down this same session says:
8. Since the Roman Pontiff, by the divine right of the apostolic primacy, governs the whole Church, we likewise teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, and that in all cases which fall under ecclesiastical jurisdiction recourse may be had to his judgment. The sentence of the Apostolic See (than which there is no higher authority) is not subject to revision by anyone, nor may anyone lawfully pass judgment thereupon. And so they stray from the genuine path of truth who maintain that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman pontiffs to an ecumenical council as if this were an authority superior to the Roman Pontiff. 9. So, then, if anyone says that the Roman Pontiff has merely an office of supervision and guidance, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in those which concern the discipline and government of the Church dispersed throughout the whole world; or that he has only the principal part, but not the absolute fullness, of this supreme power; or that this power of his is not ordinary and immediate both over all and each of the Churches and over all and each of the pastors and faithful: let him be anathema.

Before we even get to Vatican II, we see that Vatican I, which the Feeneyites hold as absolutely true, as destroying the ground that Feeneyites work from. Those items which are to believed are not only those ones that are defined excathedra. We must also believe and hold those items that are of the ordinary magisterium. One is bound to submit to the teaching of the Roman Pontiff in matters of faith and morals. The teaching on salvation is of the level of the ordinary magisterium, as we will see, and one must submit to that teaching. The judgments of the Pontiffs are to be submitted to, and one can not appeal to ecumenical councils instead. The context is about appealing to a current ecumenical council over the current pope. Nevertheless, this implicitly condemns also the Feeneyite attempt to appeal to their own interpretation of past ecumenical councils (i.e. Florence,) over the judgments of the pope.

Another test of the issue is whether the teaching of Vatican II's Lumen Gentium, which laid the groundwork for the teaching of the Catechism, is part of the ordinary magisterium. If it is, then all Catholics MUST submit to the doctrinal teaching on salvation, precisely according to the definition of Vatican I.

First, it must be admitted that there are some parts of Vatican II that are purely disciplinary in nature, and admitted to be so (i.e. Constitution on Liturgy and the Decree on the Media for Communication, said (Osservatore Romano Nov.30,1963.p.3): "The schemas which are to be voted and promulgated the next Dec.4 are of a solely disciplinary nature." Nevertheless, the doctrinal value of the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium is spelled out here:

(6)Doctrinal Commission on Lumen Gentium: Nov 16.1964. The Commission was asked about the doctrinal note of LG. It referred the questioner back to its own declaration of March 6,1964: "Considering the Conciliar custom and the pastoral goal of this Council, this Holy Synod defines that only those things about matters of faith and morals are to be held by the Church which it will have declared clearly as such. As to other things which the Holy Synod proposes as the doctrine of the Supreme Magisterium of the Church, all and individual faithful persons must accept and embrace them according to the mind of the Holy Synod itself, which becomes known either from the subject matter or from the manner of speaking, according to the norms of theological interpretation."

(7)Paul VI, opening speech to Third Session (AAS 56,808-09), referring to coming work on the Constitution on the Church: "In this way the doctrine which the Ecumenical Council Vatican I had intended will be completed.... It is proper for this solemn Synod to settle certain laborious theological controversies about the shepherds of the Church, with the prerogatives which lawfully flow from the episcopate, and to PRONOUNCE A STATEMENT ON THEM THAT IS CERTAIN. We must declare what is the true notion of the hierarchical orders and to decide with authority and with a certainty which it will not be legitimate to call into doubt [emphasis added]." From the underlined words, it seems there was an intention to be definitive, and so, infallible, even without the solemn form of a definition.

Later statements: (1)Paul VI: General audience of Jan 12,1966: "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided us teaching with THE AUTHORITY OF THE ORDINARY MAGISTERIUM, which must be accepted with docility...."

(2)Paul VI, Allocution to Consistory of Cardinals, May 24,1976 (Osservatore Romano, English, June 3,l976), complained: "It is even affirmed that the Second Vatican Council is not binding."

We thus see that Vatican II is proclaiming the doctrine in Lumen Gentium to be binding on all believers. It is on the level of the ordinary magisterium as proclaimed by the Pope. Again, Vatican I had said "all those things are to be believed which are contained in the word of God as found in Scripture and tradition, and which are proposed by the Church as matters to be believed as divinely revealed, whether by her solemn judgment or in her ORDINARY AND UNIVERSAL magisterium". Those who stray from the doctrinal authority of this DOGMATIC constitution are thus at variance with the church.

Does Pope John Paul II downplay the doctrinal authority of the Catechism that he issued? On the contrary, he writes: "The Catechism of the Catholic Church, is a statement of the Church's faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church's Magisterium. I declare it to BE A SURE NORM FOR TEACHING THE FAITH and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!" Signed, John Paul II

We see just at this level, then, before we even get to the specifics of the issue, the Feeneyites as departing from the authority of the church, while claiming themselves to hold to the truth.

II. Church Fathers

Some of those who follow Father Feeney believe that their interpretation must be believed because it is the one always believed everywhere by all. However, even their own publication admits this: They list Church Fathers who disagree with their interpretation of these dogmas --- "Tertullian, St. Cyprian, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Ambrose, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, St. Prosper of Auitaine, St. Fulgentius, St. Bede" [Bro. Robert Mary, M.I.C.M. Tert.; "Father Feeney and the Truth about Salvation", p.78 & 135 - A "From the Rooftops" Publication]

In this section, there will not be so much commentary, but statements from the doctors and fathers of the church, to show that the current understanding of Extra Ecclesiam is not a novel doctrine to be ignored. For me, the citations are self explanatory, that the Feeneyite position is not historically valid, and their citations of these very church Fathers are highly selective. I must admit that these citations are indeed selective as well, but the point here is to establish the fact that the Feeneyite view is not the one held by most Church Fathers. If one wants to have both extensive commentary on all the quotes of Church Fathers (including the ones that Feeneyites like to cite) and magisterial statements on the issue, Father Most has commented here: Click Here Another commentary and citations can be found by clicking here I borrowed some citations from these files, and found other citations at various sites.

Let us read St. Fulgencius of Ruspe, who Feeneyites love to partially quote: "No one can, without the sacrament of Baptism, EXCEPT THOSE WHO, IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, WITHOUT BAPTISM, POUR OUT THEIR BLOOD FOR CHRIST, receive the kingdom of heaven and life eternal." (The Rule of Faith 43)., 523-526 AD. (It shows even here that he believes in blood baptism)

St. Fulgentius' citations are indeed confirmed in later decrees on the issue. Nevertheless, although he believed in blood baptism as replacing the necessity of baptism, it is in fact that he did err on the issue of water baptism. Trent thus shows his error:

St. Fulgentius of Ruspe, , to Peter 36.79: "Baptism can exist... even among heretics... but it cannot be beneficial outside the Catholic Church."

Trent, Seventh Session, Canon 5 on baptism - If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema.

Following are some church Fathers who either teach in some way either Baptism of Blood, Desire, and/or a broader, spiritual sense of the church, in addition to the visible church. These are often the very Church Fathers that Feeneyites love to quote. Many of these same Fathers will at the same time affirm the doctrine No Salvation outside the church. This shows that their understanding of this doctrine can not be reconciled with the Feeneyite view. These Fathers are cited chronologically.

St. Justin Martyr, 1.46 (c. 150 AD): "We have been taught that Christ is the first-begotten of God, and we have declared him to be the Logos of which all mankind partakes [John 1:9]. Those, therefore, who lived according to reason [Greek, logos] were really Christians, even though they were thought to be atheists, such as, among the Greeks, Socrates, Heraclitus, and others like them. . . . Those who lived before Christ but did not live according to reason [logos] were wicked men, and enemies of Christ, and murderers of those who did live according to reason [logos], whereas those who lived then or who live now according to reason [logos]are Christians. Such as these can be confident and unafraid" 2.10:" Christ... was and is the Logos who is in everyone, and foretold through the prophets the things that were to come, and taught these things in person after becoming like to us in feeling."

14.2 (prob. c 150 A.D. ): "The books of the prophets and the apostles [say] that the Church is not [only] now, but from the beginning. She was spiritual, like also our Jesus. She was manifested in the last days to save us."

St. Irenaeus, 4.28.2: (c. 140-202 AD): "There is one and the same God the Father and His Logos, always assisting the human race, with varied arrangements, to be sure, and doing many things, and saving from the beginning those who are saved, for they are those who love and, according to their generation (genean) follow His Logos." Ibid. 4.6.7: "For the Son, administering all things for the Father, completes [His work] from the beginning to the end... For the Son, assisting to His own creation from the beginning, reveals the Father to all to whom He wills." Ibid. 4. 22. 2: "Christ came not only for those who believed from the time of Tiberius Caesar, nor did the Father provide only for those who are now, but for absolutely all men from the beginning, who, according to their ability, feared and loved God and lived justly... and desired to see Christ and to hear His voice."

Tertullian - We have indeed, likewise, a second font, (itself withal one with the former,) of blood, to wit; concerning which the Lord said, "I have to be baptized with a baptism," just as John has written; that he might be baptized by the water, glorified by the blood; to make us, in like manner, called by water, chosen by blood. (On Baptism, 16)

Cyprian of Carthage, 252 "The catechumens who suffer martyrdom receive the glorious and most sublime blood-Baptism". Epistle, 73, 22.

Cyprian of Carthage, 252 Epistle, 73, 22. Catechumens- asking if any one of these, before he is baptized in the church should be apprehended and slain on confession of the name, whether he would lose the hope of salvation and the reward of confession, because he had not previously been born again of water?...Those catechumens are certainly not deprived of ;the sacrament of baptism who are baptized with the most glorious and greatest baptism of blood, concerning which the Lord also said, that he had "another baptism to be baptized with." (Luke 12:50). but the same Lord declares in the Gospel, that those who are baptized in their own blood, and sanctified by suffering, are perfected and obtain the grace of the divine promise, when he speaks to the thief believing and confessing in his very passion, and promises that he should be with himself in paradise.

Cyprian of Carthage, the very one who phrased no Salvation outside the Church wrote of Blood Baptism: For three bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one; that we may gather from these words both that water is wont to confer the Spirit, and that MEN'S OWN BLOOD IS WONT TO CONFER THE SPIRIT, and that the Spirit himself also is wont to confer the Spirit. For since water is poured forth even as blood, the Spirit also was poured by the Lord upon all who believed. Assuredly both in water, and NONETHELESS IN THEIR OWN BLOOD, and then especially in the Holy Spirit, MEN MAY BE BAPTIZED. (Treatise on ReBaptism, 15)

Origen, 2.11-12: (c. 240 AD): "Do not think I speak of the spouse or the Church [only] from the coming of the Savior in the flesh, but from the beginning of the human race, in fact, to seek out the origin of this mystery more deeply with Paul as leader, even before the foundation of the world."

Origen, , 9-10:(after 244 AD) [the law was written on hearts: Cf. Rom 2:14-16] "that they must not commit murder or adultery, not steal, not speak false testimony, that they honor father and mother, and similar things... and it is shown that each one is to be judged not according to a privilege of nature, but by his own thoughts he is accused or excused, by the testimony of his conscience."

Origen, Homily on Numbers 16.1: (after 244 AD): "Since God wants grace to abound, He sees fit to be present... . He is present not to the [pagan] sacrifices, but to the one who comes to meet Him, and there He gives His word [Logos]."

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 7.17, 1.5)"From what has been said, I think it is clear that there is one true Church, which is really ancient, into which those who are just according to design are enrolled." Similarly: "Before the coming of the Lord, philosophy was necessary for justification to the Greeks; now it is useful for piety . .. for it brought the Greeks to Christ as the law did the Hebrews."

Clement of Alexandria (Stromata 1.20.99) Philosophy of itself made the Greeks just, though not to total justice (ouk eis ten katholou de dikaiosynen); it is found to be a helper to this (perfect justice), like the first and second steps for one ascending to the upper part of the house, and like the elementary teacher for the (future) philosopher.

Hegemonius 28: (c. 325-50 AD): "From the creation of the world He has always been with just men... .Were they not made just from the fact that they kept the law, 'Each one of them showing the work of the law on their hearts... '[cf. Rom 2.14-16] For when someone who does not have the law does by nature the things of the law, this one, not having the law, is a law for himself... . For if we judge that a man is made just without the works of the law... how much more will they attain justice who fulfilled the law containing those things which are expedient for men "

Arnobius, 2.63:(c. 305 AD): "But, they say :If Christ was sent by God for this purpose, to deliver unhappy souls from the destruction of ruin - what did former ages deserve which before His coming were consumed in the condition of mortality? ... .Put aside thee cares, and leave the questions you do not understand; for royal mercy was imparted to them, and the divine benefits ran equally through all. They were conserved, they were liberated, and they put aside the sort and condition of mortality."

Eusebius of Caesarea, 1.1.4:(c. 311-25 AD): "But even if we Christians] are certainly new, and this really new name of Christian is just recently known among the nations, yet our life and mode of conduct, in accord with the precepts of religion, has not been recently invented by us; but from the first creation of man, so to speak, it is upheld by natural inborn concepts of the ancient men who loved God, as we will here show... . But if someone would describe as Christians those who are testified to as having been righteous, [going back] from Abraham to the first man, he would not hit wide of the mark."

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 18.5 [at funeral of his father, a convert]:(c. 374 AD): " He was ours even before he was of our fold. His way of living made him such. For just as many of ours are not with us, whose life makes them other from our body (the Church), so MANY OF THOSE OUTSIDE BELONG TO US, who by their way of life anticipate the faith, and need (only) the name, having the reality (ergon).

St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Oration 8) "Her whole life was a purification for her, and a perfecting. She had indeed the regeneration of the Spirit, and the assurance of this from her previous life. And, to speak boldly, the mystery (baptism) was for her practically only the seal, not the grace."

St. John Chrysostom - Do not be surprised that I call MARTYRDOM A BAPTISM; FOR HERE TOO THE SPIRIT COMES IN GREAT HASTE AND THERE IS A TAKING AWAY OF SINS AND A WONDERFUL AND MARVELOUS CLEANSING OF THE SOUL; and just as those being baptized are washed in water, so too those being martyred. (Pannegyric on Saint Lucian, 2).

St. John Chrysostom, . 5: (c. 391 AD): "For this reason they are wonderful, he [Paul, in Romans 2:14-16] says, because they did not need the law, and they show all the works of the law... . Do you not see how again he makes present that day [Judgment in 2.16] and brings it near... and showing that they should rather be honored who without the law hastened to carry out the things of the law? ... Conscience and reasoning suffice in place of the law. Through these things he showed again that God made man self-sufficient in regard to the choice of virtue and fleeing evil... . He shows that even in these early times and before the giving of the law, men enjoyed complete Providence. For 'what is knowable of God' was clear to them, and what was good and what was evil they knew."

St. John Chrysostom Homilies on John 8.1: ( c. 389 AD): "Why, then, the gentiles accuse us saying: What was Christ doing in former times, not taking care...? We will reply: Even before He was in the world, He took thought for His works, and was known to all who were worthy."

St. Ambrose . When he talked of Emperor of Valentine II, who died without Baptism . "Tell me, what else could we have, except the will to it, the asking for it? He too had just now this DESIRE; and after he came into Italy it was begun, and a short time ago he signified that he wished to be baptized by me. Did he, then, not have the GRACE WHICH HE DESIRED? Did he not have what he eagerly sought? CERTAINLY, Because sought it, he received it. What else does it mean: "Whatever just man shall be overtaken by death, his soul shall be at rest (Wis. 4:7)? (Sympathy at the Death of Valentinian, 51. AD 392)

St. Augustine, 18.47: (413-26 AD): "Nor do I think the Jews would dare to argue that no one pertained to God except the Israelites, from the time that Israel came to be... they cannot deny that there were certain men even in other nations who pertained to the true Israelites, the citizens of the fatherland above, not by earthly but by heavenly association."

St. Augustine, 1.13.3: (426-27 AD): "This very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, nor was it lacking from the beginning of the human race until Christ Himself came in the flesh, when the true religion, that already existed, began to be called Christian."

St. Augustine - That the place of Baptism is sometimes supplied by suffering is supported by a substantial argument which the same Blessed Cyprian draws from the circumstance of the thief, to whom, although NOT BAPTIZED, it was said: "Today you shall be with me in paradise (11). "Considering this over and over again, I find that not only SUFFERING FOR THE NAME OF CHRIST CAN SUPPLY FOR THAT WHICH IS LACKING BY WAY OF BAPTISM, but EVEN FAITH AND CONVERSION OF HEART, if perhaps, because of the circumstances of the time, recourse cannot be had to the celebration of the Mystery of Baptism. (On Baptism 4:22, 29)

St. Augustine - Those who, though THEY HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE WASHING OF REGENERATION, DIE FOR THE CONFESSION CHRIST, - IT AVAILS THEM JUST AS MUCH FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS AS IF THEY HAD BEEN WASHED IN THE SACRED FONT OF BAPTISM. For He that said: 'If anyone is not reborn of water and the Spirit, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven/" MADE AN EXCEPTION for them in that other statement in WHICH HE SAYS NO LESS GENERALLY: "Whoever confesses me before men, I too will confess him before my Father, who is in heaven.'(Matt. 10:32) City of God, 13:7

St. Augustine - "I do not hesitate to put the Catholic catechumen, burning with divine love, before a baptized heretic. Even within the Catholic Church herself we put the good catechumen ahead of the wicked baptized person. . . . . For Cornelius, even before his baptism, was filled up with the Holy Spirit [Acts 10:44-48], while Simon [Magus], even after his baptism, was puffed up with an unclean spirit [Acts 8:13-19]" ((On Baptism, Against the Donatists 4:21[28]).

St. Augustine - "When we speak of within and without in relation to the Church, it is the position of the heart that we must consider, not that of the body . . . All who are within [the Church] in heart are saved in the unity of the ark" (ibid., 5:28[39]).

St. Prosper of Aquitaine, 2.5: (c. 450 AD): "... according to it [Scripture] ... we believe and devoutly confess that never was the care of divine providence lacking to the totality of men... . To these, however [who have not yet heard of Christ] that general measure of help, which is always given from above to all men, is not denied."

St. Nilus, . 154:(perhaps c. 430 AD): "In every nation the one who fears God and does justice is acceptable to Him. For it is clear that such a one is acceptable to God and is not to be cast aside, who at his own right time flees to the worship of the blessed knowledge of God."

St. Cyril of Alexandria, 3.107: (433-41 AD): "For if there is One over all, and there is no other besides Him, He would be Master of all, because He was Maker of all. For He is also the God of the gentiles, and has fully satisfied by laws implanted in their hearts, which the Maker has engraved in the hearts of all [cf. Rom 2.14-16]. For when the gentiles, [Paul] says, not having the law, do by nature the things of the law, they show the work of the law written on their hearts. But since He is not only the Maker and God of the Jews [cf. Rom 3.29] but also of the gentiles... He sees fit by His providence to care not only for those who are of the blood of Israel, but also for all those upon the earth."

Theodoret of Cyrus, 2.14-16:(425-50 AD): "For they who, before the Mosaic law, adorned their life with devout reasonings and good actions, testify that the divine law called for action, and they became lawgivers for themselves... . He [St. Paul] shows that the law of nature was written on hearts... . According to this image, let us describe the future judgment and the conscience of those accepting the charge and proclaiming the justice of the decision."

Primasius, Bishop of Hadrumetum, 2.14-16:(c. 560 AD): "'By nature they do the things of the law... . ' He [Paul] speaks either of those who keep the law of nature, who do not do to others what they do not want to be done to themselves; or, that even the gentiles naturally praise the good and condemn the wicked, which is the work of the law; or, of those who even now, when they do anything good, profess that they have received from God the means of pleasing God... . 'And their thoughts in turn accusing or even defending, on the day when God will judge the hidden things of men.' He speaks of altercations of thought... . and according to these we are to be judged on the day of the Lord."

St. John Damascene, 11:(late 7th cent. to 754 AD): "The creed teaches us to believe also in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic church of God. The Catholic Church cannot be only apostolic, for the all-powerful might of her Head, which is Christ, is able through the Apostles to save the whole world. So there is a Holy Catholic Church of God, the assembly of the Holy Fathers who are from the ages, of the patriarchs, of prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, to which are added all the gentiles who believe the same way."

Haymo, Bishop of Halberstadt (c. 853) (on Romans, 2) "They show surely that they have the natural law written on their hearts, and they are the law for themselves: because they do the things that the law teaches, even though it was not given to them. For example, the Saracens who have neither the law of Moses nor of the Gospel, while by nature they keep the law, do not commit murder, or commit adultery, or other things, which the law written within them contains; they are a law to themselves. . . . In the second way: When the gentiles . . . naturally do the things . . . because they have the same law of Moses written on their hearts by the inspiration of Almighty God . . . "their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts in turn accusing or even defending." And when will this be? "On the day when the Lord will judge the hidden things of men" according to my Gospel."

Oecumenius (On Romans, 2, 990 AD)"They do the things of the law" using the reasonings of nature for just actions. These are wonderful, not needing a teacher, being their own lawgivers and fulfillers of the legislation. . . . "Their conscience bearing witness to them," for it is enough in place of the law to have their own conscience testifying for them. . . . At that judgment we do not need external accusers or witnesses . . . but each one's own reasonings and conscience either accuses or defends.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Summa Theologica
Third Part
Question 68
Article 2
Whether a man can be saved without Baptism?
Objection 1. It seems that no man can be saved without Baptism. For our Lord said (John 3:5): "Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." But those alone are saved who enter God's kingdom. Therefore none can be saved without Baptism, by which a man is born again of water and the Holy Ghost.

Objection 2. Further, in the book De Eccl. Dogm. xli, it is written: "We believe that no catechumen, though he die in his good works, will have eternal life, except he suffer martyrdom, which contains all the sacramental virtue of Baptism." But if it were possible for anyone to be saved without Baptism, this would be the case specially with catechumens who are credited with good works, for they seem to have the "faith that worketh by charity" (Gal. 5:6). Therefore it seems that none can be saved without Baptism.

Objection 3. Further, as stated above (1; 65, 4), the sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation. Now that is necessary "without which something cannot be" (Metaph. v). Therefore it seems that none can obtain salvation without Baptism.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Super Levit. lxxxiv) that "some have received the invisible sanctification without visible sacraments, and to their profit; but though it is possible to have the visible sanctification, consisting in a visible sacrament, without the invisible sanctification, it will be to no profit." Since, therefore, the sacrament of Baptism pertains to the visible sanctification, it seems that a man can obtain salvation without the sacrament of Baptism, by means of the invisible sanctification.

I answer that, The sacrament or Baptism may be wanting to someone in two ways. First, both in reality and in desire; as is the case with those who neither are baptized, nor wished to be baptized: which clearly indicates contempt of the sacrament, in regard to those who have the use of the free-will. Consequently those to whom Baptism is wanting thus, cannot obtain salvation: since neither sacramentally nor mentally are they incorporated in Christ, through Whom alone can salvation be obtained.

Secondly, the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill-chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism, which desire is the outcome of "faith that worketh by charity," whereby God, Whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly. Hence Ambrose says of Valentinian, who died while yet a catechumen: "I lost him whom I was to regenerate: but he did not lose the grace he prayed for."

Reply to Objection 1. As it is written (1 Kgs. 16:7), "man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord beholdeth the heart." Now a man who desires to be "born again of water and the Holy Ghost" by Baptism, is regenerated in heart though not in body. thus the Apostle says (Rm. 2:29) that "the circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of men but of God."

Reply to Objection 2. No man obtains eternal life unless he be free from all guilt and debt of punishment. Now this plenary absolution is given when a man receives Baptism, or suffers martyrdom: for which reason is it stated that martyrdom "contains all the sacramental virtue of Baptism," i.e. as to the full deliverance from guilt and punishment. Suppose, therefore, a catechumen to have the desire for Baptism (else he could not be said to die in his good works, which cannot be without "faith that worketh by charity"), such a one, were he to die, would not forthwith come to eternal life, but would suffer punishment for his past sins, "but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire" as is stated 1 Cor. 3:15.

Reply to Objection 3. The sacrament of Baptism is said to be necessary for salvation in so far as man cannot be saved without, at least, Baptism of desire; "which, with God, counts for the deed" (Augustine, Enarr. in Ps. 57).

III. The Council of Trent

Trent - 7th Session, canon 4 - If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation but are superfluous, and that without them or without the DESIRE OF THEM men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification, though all are not necessary for each one, LET HIM BE ANATHEMA.

Trent, Session 6, Chapter 4 - In which words is given a brief description of the JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER, AS BEING A TRANSLATION FROM THAT STATE IN WHICH MAN IS BORN A CHILD OF THE FIRST ADAM, to the state of grace and of the adoption of the sons of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior. This translation however cannot, since the promulgation of the Gospel, be effected except THROUGH THE LAVER OF REGENERATION OR ITS DESIRE, as it is written: Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

The Church is never in a hurry to baptize adults; she takes her time. This delay does not carry with it the same danger that we saw in the case of infants, for if any unforeseen accident should deprive adults of baptism, their intention to receive it and their repentance for past sins will avail them to grace and righteousness. ( , #36).

Trent, Session 7, Chapter 7 This disposition or preparation is followed by JUSTIFICATION itself, WHICH IS NOT ONLY A REMISSION OF SINS BUT ALSO THE SANCTIFICATION AND RENEWAL OF THE INWARD MAN through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an UNJUST MAN BECOMES JUST and from being an enemy becomes a friend, that he may be AN HEIR ACCORDING TO HOPE OF LIFE EVERLASTING.

Trent, Session 6, Chapter 8...When the apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely that we are said to be JUSTIFIED by faith, because faith is THE BEGINNING OF ALL SALVATION, the foundation and root of all JUSTIFICATION, without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the fellowship of his sons; and we are therefore said to BE JUSTIFIED gratuitously, because none of those things that precede JUSTIFICATION, whether faith or works, merit the GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION.

Trent, Session 6, Chapter 5- It is furthermore declared that in adults the beginning of that justification must proceed from the predisposing grace of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby, without any merits on their part, they are called; that they who by sin had been cut off from God, may be disposed through his quickening and helping grace to CONVERT THEMSELVES TO THEIR OWN JUSTIFICATION by freely assenting to and cooperating with that grace;

Trent, Session 6, Chapter 5- Causes of Justification.... The cause of this Justification are: the final cause is the glory of God and of Christ and LIFE EVERLASTING; ... meritorious cause is... our Lord Jesus Christ... merited for us JUSTIFICATION by his most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father... INSTRUMENTAL is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever JUSTIFIED FINALLY.

Trent, Session 6, Chapter 14 Those who through sin have forfeited the received GRACE OF JUSTIFICATION, can again be JUSTIFIED when, moved by God, they exert themselves to obtain through the sacrament of penance the recovery, by the merits of Christ, of the GRACE lost. For THIS MANNER OF JUSTIFICATION IS RESTORATION FOR THOSE FALLEN, which the holy Fathers have aptly called a second plank after the shipwreck of grace lost.

Continuing in Session 6, Chapter 14 is: For on behalf of those who fall into sins after baptism, Christ Jesus instituted the sacrament of penance when He said: _Receive ye the Holy Ghost, whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained_. Hence, it must be taught that the repentance of a Christian after his fall is very different from that at his baptism, and that it includes not only a determination to avoid sins and a hatred of them, or _a contrite and humble heart_, but also the sacramental confession of those sins, AT LEAST IN DESIRE, to be made in its season, and sacerdotal absolution, as well as satisfaction by fasts, alms, prayers and other devout exercises of the spiritual life, not indeed for the eternal punishment, which is, together with the guilt, remitted either by the sacrament or by the desire of the sacrament, but for the temporal punishment, which as the sacred writings teach, is not always wholly remitted, as is done in baptism, to those who, ungrateful to the grace of God which they have received, have grieved the Holy Ghost and have not feared to _violate the temple of God_. Of which repentance it is written: _Be mindful whence thou art fallen; do penance, and do the first works_; and again, _The sorrow that is according to God worketh penance, steadfast unto salvation_; and again, _Do penance, and bring forth fruits worthy of penance_ [Jn 20:22f.; Ps 50:19; Eph 4:30; 1 Cor 3:17; Rev 2:5, 2 Cor 7:10; Mt 3:2, 4:17; Lk 3:8]

Vatican II comments specifically on this area in Trent (Session 6, Chapter 14): "Now just look at the wonder of that statement, a conviction consistent with the preceding 1,500 years of lived Tradition and with the subsequent 400 years of the same. There is good news in there for one and all. For example, not only may the Catholic find solace in the sacrament of Penance, but also in its desire. But the Protestant is covered as well, and the holy Jew, and even the holy pagan. You see, the catch phrase in all of this is "in desire" or "by the desire of the sacrament," both technical statements of hope for the invincibly ignorant, i.e., those who "desire" to be in the Catholic Church but are unaware that this want is the hope in Christ their soul is seeking after. Such was the lot of the holy pagan of the OT who would have entered into her communion if only she would have been in existence visible when he was alive. Such too is the lot of converts to the Catholic faith who were fortunate enough prior to their death to encounter the light of truth in its fullness (_Unitatis redintegratio_, n. 3).

Besides these facts, at a minimum, even if one does not accept Vatican II, the Council of Trent Catechism, which seeks to implement the teaching of the Council of Trent, shows that there was an acceptance of baptism of desire for those who actually desired baptism, but died before they could receive that baptism. The Father Feeney position is that that could not happen. If a person really wants to be baptized, he will be so, and if he dies, he is to be damned, and that means he never really wanted it. Father Feeney says, in Bread of Life,, Saint Benedict Center, 1952, p. 25:

"It is now: Baptism of Water, or damnation! If you do not desire that Water, you cannot be justified. And if you do not get it, you cannot be saved'

However, the Council of Trent Catechism, which stresses that one who is justified who dies, and is unable to make it baptism because of an accident, dies in grace and mercy, and is not damned. The Catechism specifically says:

Ordinarily They Are Not Baptised At Once

On adults, however, the Church has not been accustomed to confer the Sacrament of Baptism at once, but has ordained that it be deferred for a certain time. The delay is not attended with the same danger as in the case of infants, which we have already mentioned; should any unforeseen accident make it impossible for adults to be washed in the salutary waters, their intention and determination to receive Baptism and their repentance for past sins, will avail them to grace and righteousness.

Notice that the Church delays giving the people baptism. If it was baptism or damnation, as Father Feeney says, the Church would endanger to damnation all those it does not baptize. However, the Catechism specifically says that unlike the danger of not baptizing infants, if one has an accident which makes it impossible to be baptized (which can only be death), their desire for baptism will avail them to grace and righteousness, which can only mean that they will achieve salvation. Thus, the Trent Catechism itself shows Father Feeney's teaching to be false.

IV. Magisterial Pronouncements and Early Popes

Pope Innocent II - To your inquiry we respond thus, we assert without hesitation on the authority of the Holy Father's Augustine and Ambrose, that the priest whom you indicated in your letter had died without the water of baptism, because he persevered in the faith of holy mother the church and the confession of the name of Christ, was freed from original sin and attained the joy of the heavenly father land... Question concerning the dead, you should hold the opinion of the learned fathers, and in your church, you should join in prayers, you should have sacrifices offered to God for the priest mentioned. Denzinger

Pope St. Innocent III - A certain Jew, when at the point of death, since he lived only among Jews, immersed himself in water, while saying I baptize myself in the name of the Father, and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.. We respond that since there should be a distinction between the one baptizing and the one baptized, as clearly gathered from the words of the Lord when said "Go baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." The Jew must be baptized again by another. If however such a one had died immediately he would have rushed to his heavenly home without delay because of the faith of the sacrament although not because of the sacrament of faith. Denzinger section 413

Pius IX, By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into, will perish in the flood. NEVERTHELESS equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord. (Denzinger, 1647)

Pius IX 7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. 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.

8. Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom "the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior."[4] The words of Christ are clear enough: "If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;"[5] "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;"[6] "He who does not believe will be condemned;"[7] "He who does not believe is already condemned;"[8] "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."[9] The Apostle Paul says that such persons are "perverted and self-condemned;"[10] the Prince of the Apostles calls them "false teachers . . . who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master. . . bringing upon themselves swift destruction."[11]

9. God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have unhappily fallen and strive to guide them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation.


4. You see, dearly beloved sons and venerable brothers, how much vigilance is needed to keep the disease of this terrible evil from infecting and killing your flocks. Do not cease to diligently defend your people against these pernicious errors. Saturate them with the doctrine of Catholic truth more accurately each day. Teach them that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and to come to the community of His children. There is only one true, holy, Catholic church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded in Peter by the word of the Lord,] outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church. Thus, there can be no greater crime, no more hideous stain than to stand up against Christ, than to divide the Church engendered and purchased by His blood, than to forget evangelical love and to combat with the furor of hostile discord the harmony of the people of God

7. The Church clearly declares that the only hope of salvation for mankind is placed in the Christian faith, which teaches the truth, scatters the darkness of ignorance by the splendor of its light, and works through love. This hope of salvation is placed in the Catholic Church which, in preserving the true worship, is the solid home of this faith and the temple of God. OUTSIDE OF THE CHURCH, NOBODY CAN HOPE FOR LIFE OR SALVATION UNLESS HE IS EXCUSED THROUGH IGNORANCE BEYOND HIS CONTROL. The Church teaches and proclaims that if sometimes we can use human wisdom to study the divine word, our wisdom should not for that reason proudly usurp to itself the right of master. Rather, it should act as an obedient and submissive servant, afraid of erring if it goes first and afraid of losing the light of interior virtue and the straight path of truth by following the consequences of exterior words.[18]

8. We should not conclude that religion does not progress in the Church of Christ. There is great progress! But it is truly the progress of faith, which is not change. The intelligence, wisdom, and knowledge of everybody should grow and progress, like that of the whole Church of the ages. In this way we might understand more clearly what we used to believe obscurely; in this way posterity might have joy of understanding what used to be revered without understanding. In this way the precious stones of divine dogma might be worked, adapted exactly and wisely decorated, so that they increase in grace, splendor, and beauty--but always in the same fashion and doctrine, in the same meaning and judgment, so that we can speak of a new manner rather than new substance.[19]

Notice what Pius says. Back in section 4 he says outside the church, no salvation. However, he says that it specifically refers to those who have abandoned the church. Similarly, as in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, where he says those people who obstinately fight the pope have no hope of salvation. He writes in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore that one who is invincibly ignorant can achieve eternal life. Likewise, in this encyclical, in section 7 he writes "nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.". So therefore, those who are ignorant beyond their control CAN hope for salvation

Pope St. Pius X Catechism, Question 132 - Will a person outside the Church be saved? It is a most serious loss to be outside the Church, because outside one does not have either the means which have been established or the secure guidance which has been set up for eternal salvation, which is the one thing truly necessary for man. A person outside the Church by his own fault, and who dies without perfect contrition, will not be saved. But he who finds himself outside without fault of his own, and who lives a good life, can be saved by the love called charity, which unites unto God, and in a spiritual way also to the Church, that is, to the soul of the Church.

Pope St. Pius X Catechism, Question 280 - If Baptism is necessary for all men, is no one saved without Baptism? - Without Baptism no one can be saved. However, when it is impossible to receive Baptism of water, the Baptism of blood suffices, that is, martyrdom suffered for Jesus Christ; and also the Baptism of desire suffices, which is the love of God by charity, desiring to make use of the means of salvation instituted by God.

Pope Pius XII, (1943: DS 3821): "They who do not belong to the visible bond of the Catholic Church... [we ask them to] strive to take themselves from that state in which they cannot be sure of their own eternal salvation; for even though THEY ARE ORDERED TO THE MYSTICAL BODY OF THE REDEEMER BY A CERTAIN DESIRE AND WISH of which they are not aware [implicit in the general wish to do what God wills], yet they lack so many and so great heavenly gifts and helps which can be enjoyed only in the Catholic Church."

Vatican II, #16: (1964 AD) For they who without their own fault do not know of the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but yet seek God with sincere heart, and try, under the influence of grace, to carry out His will in practice, known to them through the dictate of conscience, can attain eternal salvation." .

Pope Paul VI - 1968 - THE CREDO OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD - 23 -We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ, who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present for us in His body which is the Church.[33] But the divine design of salvation embraces all men, and those who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation.

John Paul II, #10 (Dec. 7, 1990): "The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or to enter the church... . For such people, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the church, does not make them formally a part of the church, but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation."

Pope St. Gregory the Great, . 15: (540-604 AD): "When He descended to the underworld, the Lord delivered from the prison only those who while they lived in the flesh He had kept through His grace in faith and good works."

Pope St. Clement I, 7.5-7 (c. 95 AD): "Let us go through all generations, and learn that in generation and generation the Master has given a place of repentance to those willing to turn to Him. Noah preached repentance, and those who heard him were saved. Jonah preached repentance to the Ninevites; those who repented for their sins appeased God in praying, and received salvation, even though they were aliens [allotrioi] of God."

Pope St. Gregory the Great : (540-604 AD ) 2.3: "The passion of the Church began already with Abel, and there is one Church of the elect, of those who precede, and of those who follow.. They were, then, OUTSIDE, BUT YET NOT DIVIDED FROM THE HOLY CHURCH, because in mind, in work, in preaching, they already held the sacraments of faith, and saw that loftiness of Holy Church."

Pope St. Leo the Great, 23.4: (440-61 AD): "So God did not take care of human affairs by a new plan, or by late mercy, but from the foundation of the world He established one and the same cause of salvation for all. For the grace of God by which the totality of the saints always had been justified was increased when Christ was born, but did not begin [then]."

In addition to this caution against naively interpreting a particular passage from the body of writings of the Fathers of the Church, Fr. Most points also to a number of other passages among the writings of the Early Fathers which give a much broader conception of membership in the Church.

It should be obvious from this statement that the Church is being portrayed as a mystery, with much more to it than meets the eye. A door has been opened for a sense of real, though perhaps unacknowledged, membership in this saving body. This notion of the pre-existence of the Church is also apparent in the so-called Second Letter of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, which has been dated to the mid-second century. The anonymous author states that the Books [Old Testament writings] and the Apostles [New Testament writings] declare that the Church belongs not to the present, but has existed from the beginning. She was spiritual, just as was our Jesus; but He was manifested in the last days so that He might save us. And the Church, being spiritual, was manifested in the flesh of Christ (Jurgens, vol. 1, p. 43).

This statement seems to be a very clear example of what St. Paul must have meant when writing to the Romans a century earlier: For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people's hidden works through Christ Jesus (Romans 2:14-16).

Thus, according to the thought of St. Paul, if a person obeys the law of God written on his heart, he is obeying Christ the Logos and is essentially accepting the Spirit of Christ, even if he is not fully aware of this. Following Romans 8:9 ("you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Who ever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him."), it seems reasonable to conclude that a "just pagan" like Socrates belongs to Christ and in some way shares in the membership of His Body, the Church, even without a formal awareness or an outward, visible manifestation of this fact.

V. Father Feeney, Extra Ecclesiam

On August 8, 1949, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office issued the Protocol , specifically condemning the doctrines of "the Cambridge group" as presented in From the Housetops, vol. 3. Father Feeney charged the Protocol was invalid, since it had not yet been published in the official . The irony of this criticism is that according to John Cardinal Wright in a March 1976 article in , His Holiness Pope Pius XII personally wished to supervise and, indeed, make the official English translation which would be sent to the Archbishop of Boston for promulgation in the battle zone." Wright admits being struck by Pius' concern for the matter: "I shall never forget how painstaking, precise and scholarly was the Chief Shepherd of Christendom as he labored on a document to restore peace to a relatively small corner of the Christian World" (John Cardinal Wright, "Pope Pius XII: A Personal Reminiscence," , English Edition, March 11, 1976, p. 3, quoted in Pepper, p. 34). Eventually, after repeatedly refusing several summons to Rome, he was excommunicated for persistent disobedience to legitimate Church authority by the authority of the Holy See on February 13, 1953, the decree of which was subsequently published in the His followers maintain to this day that his excommunication was invalid, and, while a clever canonist might very well be able to make a claim that the case was at least poorly handled, there is little doubt that as far as Pope Pius XII was concerned, Father Feeney was, in fact, .

In its letter to Archbishop Cushing on the Boston heresy case (the protocol to which Pope Pius XII had so carefully attended), the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office noted that "the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach. . . that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church." (T)his dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it.

For, it was not to private judgments that Our Saviour gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority of the Church ( , in , 1952, vol. 127, pp. 308-15).

Holy Office, Aug 9, 1949, condemning doctrine of Father Feeney (DS 3870): "It is not always required that one be actually incorporated as a member of the Church, but this at least is required: that one adhere to it in wish and desire. It is not always necessary that this be explicit... but when a man labors under invincible ignorance, God accepts even an implicit will, called by that name because it is contained in the good disposition of soul in which a man wills to conform his will to the will of God."

Just two decades later, the Second Vatican Council further clarified the position of the Magisterium: 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 ( , #16).

It is interesting to note that the footnote for this very paragraph from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church refers to , the protocol condemning the Boston heresy, which certainly lays to rest the popular claim among contemporary Feeneyites that the Protocol was simply a letter from one church bureaucrat to another with no particular force behind it.

Here is the text of the letter:
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Archbishop of Boston
8 August 1949: DS 3866-72


>From the Headquarters of the Holy Office

August 8, 1949

Protocol Number 122/49.

Your Excellency:

This Supreme Sacred Congregation has followed very attentively the rise and the course of the grave controversy stirred up by certain associates of "St. Benedict Center" and "Boston College" in regard to the interpretation of that axiom: "Outside Church there is no salvation."

After having examined all the documents that are necessary or useful in this matter, among them information from your Chancery, as well as appeals and reports in which the associates of "St. Benedict Center" explain their Opinions and complaints and also many other documents pertinent to the controversy, officially collected, same Sacred Congregation is convinced that the unfortunate controversy arose from, the fact that the axiom: "outside the Church there is no salvation," was not correctly understood and weighed, and that the same controversy was rendered more bitter by serious disturbance of discipline arising from the fact that some of the associates of the institutions mentioned above refused reverence and obedience to legitimate authorities.

Accordingly, the Most Eminent and Most Reverend Cardinals of this Supreme Congregation, in a plenary session, held on Wednesday, July 27, 1949, decreed, and the August Pontiff in an audience on the following Thursday, July 28, '949, deigned to give his approval, that the following explanations pertinent to the doctrine, and also that invitations and exhortations relevant to discipline be given:

We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are propose by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office (Denzinger, n. 1792). Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.

However, this dogma must be understood in that sense in which the Church herself understands it. For, it was not to private judgments that Our Savior gave for explanation those things that are contained in the deposit of faith, but to the teaching authority' of the Church.

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there is question of a most strict command of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly enjoined on His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded (Matt., 28:19-20).

Now, among the commandments of Christ, that one holds not the least place, by we are commanded to be incorporated by Baptism into the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, and to remain united to Christ and to His Vicar, through whom He Himself in a visible manner governs the Church on earth.

Therefore, no one will be saved who, knowing the Church to have been divinely established by Christ, nevertheless refuses to submit to the Church or withholds obedience from the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth. Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but also decreed the Church to he a means of salvation, without which no one can enter the kingdom of eternal glory.

In His infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved, of those helps to salvation which are directed toward man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when those helps are used only in desire and longing. This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both in reference to the Sacrament of Regeneration and in reference to the Sacrament of Penance (Denzinger, nn. 797, ~o7).

The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church, in as far as she is the general help to salvation. Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when person is involved in invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes will to be conformed to the will of God.

These things are clearly taught in that dogmatic letter which was issued by the Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius XII, on June 29, 1943, "On the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ" (AAS, Vol. 35, an. '943, p. i93ff.). For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are actually incorporated into the Church as albers, and those who are united to the Church only by desire.

Discussing the members of which the Mystical Body is composed here on earth, same August Pontiff says: "Actually only those are to be included as members e Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed."

Toward the end of this same Encyclical Letter, when most affectionately inviting unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church, he mentions who "are related to the Mystical Body of the Redeemer by a certain unconscious yearning and desire," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but the other hand states that they are in a condition "in which they cannot be sure their salvation" since "they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church" AAS, loc. cit., 243).

With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation united to the Church only by implicit desire, and those who falsely assert that men be saved equally well in every religion (cf. Pope Pius IX, Allocution "Singulari quadam," in Denzinger, nn. 1641, ff. also Pope Pius IX in the Encyclical Letter Quanto conficiamur moerore" in Denzinger, n. 1677).

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrew 11:6). The Council of Trent declares (Session VI, chap 8): Faith is the beginning of a man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" (Denzinger, n. 80l).

>From what has been said it is evident that those things which are proposed in the periodical "From the Housetops," fascicle 3, as the genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without.

>From these declarations which pertain to doctrine certain conclusions follow which regard discipline and conduct, and which cannot be unknown to those who vigorously defend the necessity by which all are bound of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and of the Bishops "whom the Holy Ghost has placed . . . to rule the Church" (Acts, 20:28).

Hence, one cannot understand how the St. Benedict Center can consistently claim to be a Catholic school and wish to be accounted such, and yet not conform to the prescriptions of Canons 1381 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law, and continue to exist as a source of discord and rebellion against ecclesiastical authority and as a source of the disturbance of many consciences.

Furthermore, it is beyond understanding how a member of a religious institute, namely Father Feeney, presents himself as a "Defender of the faith," and at the same time does not hesitate to attack the catechetical instruction proposed by lawful authorities, and has not even feared to incur grave sanctions threatened by the sacred canons because of his serious violations of his duties as a religions, a priest and an ordinary member of the Church.

Finally, it is in no wise to be tolerated that certain Catholics shall claim for themselves the right to publish a periodical, for the purpose of spreading theological doctrines, without the permission of competent Church Authority; called the "imprimatur," which is prescribed by the sacred canons.

Therefore, let them who in grave peril are ranged against the Church seriously bear in mind that after "Rome has spoken" they cannot be excused even by reasons of good faith. Certainly, their bond and duty of obedience toward the Church is much graver than that of those who as yet are related to the Church "only by an unconscious desire." Let them realize that they are children of the Church, lovingly nourished by her with the milk of doctrine and the sacraments, and hence, having heard the clear voice of their Mother, they cannot be excused from culpable ignorance, and therefore to them applies without any restriction that principle: submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation.

In sending this letter, I declare my profound esteem, and remain Your Excellency's most devoted

E Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani

A. Ottaviani Assessor

To His Excellency
Most Reverend Richard James Cushing
Archbishop of Boston

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