I have written on the issue of the meaning of No Salvation Outside the Church, called "The Case Against Father Feeney And For Baptism Of Blood And Desire." I have received emails from some who do not believe that it is possible for a non-Catholic to be saved. The person who feels that only baptized Roman Catholics can be saved is in Red. My response is in blue. This includes analysis of Ex-Cathedra Statments on the issue. Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus is the Latin phrase for 'No Salvation Outside the Church," and will be abbreviated as EENS on occasion.
I align myself closely with the
teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church because the Church teaches it. Still, in light of Vatican II teachings, I cannot shut the door without making sure the Church's foot is not in the way! I submit myself to all Church teachings. I am not SSPX or Traditionalist. Just plain ol'Catholic. Let me know what you think of the following
Hi there, and I appreciate you taking the time to express your thoughts on the issue. Now I disagree with some parts of it, but you express yourself well.
1. ...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
2. 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.
The person in the second sentence maintains an implicit desire for heaven,
because he is not fully aware of what he wants. Correct? So if the
firstsentence is true, this desire cannot save him. Contradictions like this is why there is a controversy in the first place.
No, what is being said is that there must be a real desire to follow God. Not just a passing, implicit desire. The second person is going beyond an implicit desire. He really is attempting to follow God, although the message of the gospel has not been preached to him.
Here are some legitimate questions:
Why did the Church make three very strong de fide statements that there is
no salvation outside the Church; and that "no one" is saved who does not
submit to Her pope?
I think the context of those 3 de fide statements must be taken into consideration. I would say all these statements take as a premise, that they have heard the gospel of Christ. I believe the statement about the pagans, Jews, etc. take as a starting assumption that they have heard the message of Christ's gospel. After hearing the gospel, they have rejected it, so anybody who stays a pagan, Jew, etc. are indeed condemned to hell. The ones that these decrees are mentioning are those that have heard the message. Back then there were not the tons of denominations that exist now in Protestantism. If they had heard the message and obstinately stay outside the Church, they can not be saved. Notice that in none of the decrees does it say, "Well, if those pagans and Jews, etc. have never heard of the gospel, they can not be saved." In order for the strict EENS view to be correct, it would need to say that. It did not. It is assuming these people have heard the message, and stay whatever they are. They are thus condemned unless they physically become members of the Church.
We must note, and not ignore, that prior to that Bull, there are many
Church Fathers, who taught differently from what you believe, as shown in
my original piece. Even the Pope who originally issued the first
infallible decree, Pope Innocent III, said someone could be saved before
getting water, and achieve salvation, as I showed. Notice that there is
nothing either before or after the decree, or any context in any of the three de fide statements,
declaring any of them to be wrong. We know that Popes have
corrected saints like Augustine by name, when they declared them wrong on
some matter. It is strange that people like Augustine, Justin Martyr, or
even Pope Innocent III, etc., are never 'corrected' on the issue if their
prior writings (which taught salvation by baptism of desire) were in fact
We also know that after Canatate Domino (15th Century de fide statement), as shown in my piece, the Council of Trent, showed that ones would get their sins forgiven, and
justified, by desire for baptism (Session 6, Chapter 4, , canon 4 (canon on Sacraments) (at the same time Trent declared baptismís necessity (canons 2 &5, baptism), and in fact the desire and contrition (Chapter 4, 14th Session, Sacrament of Penance). Those are de fide statements that must be listened to as well. We canít be selective about de fide statements. If one dies in the state of justification, one is saved, despite Feeneyite (rigorist?) attempts to wiggle out of it. There is absolutely no decree from any Council which says that if one is justified (by desire, and in a state of grace), as shown by Trent) that person must get water in order to achieve salvation. After all, if you die when your sins are forgiven, you don't go to hell, now do you?
> Why did Jesus found a visible Church with visible sacraments and a visible
Head if visibility doesn't matter in determining where salvation lies?
How can one be sure if he's in or out, without a demonstrable Church to
I didnít say visibility doesnít matter. It does matter a great deal in fact. The sacraments are important and I donít try to play down their importance. It is in fact hard for those outside Christís Church (the farther they are away from the Church, the harder it is) to achieve salvation, especially without the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. They can not be sure, (even though many think they are), and I never said that they would be sure, and they need perfect contrition. It is still possible, nonetheless.
How else can we demonstrate to those who are outside that they are "outside"
and that they should come "in"? How can people be "in" the soul of the
Church without being one in the body? How can someone be "in" the Church if
they do not receive the body of Christ who is one body with that same
By showing them that Christ did indeed establish a visible Church. The more light they are shown, the more responsible they are for their beliefs. That does not require you to tell them, ďOnly baptized Roman Catholics are to be saved.Ē There are plenty of reasons that point to Christís Church.
Shouldn't your studies and apologetics attempt to bolster de fide statements
regarding no salvation outside the Church, rather than using popes, saints
and councils to prove them untrue or empty? De fide statements do say "no
I donít think one can call it ďbolsteringĒ de fide statements when that view was not meant in the way you mean it. As shown before, giving the context of the time and papal understanding during that time and de fide statements from Trent after shows that your understanding is not necessarily really bolstering. This is especially true when oneís understanding is at odds with the living magisterium.
To whom do you direct your page of views on the subject? If it's to
non-Catholics, then why should anyone join the Church upon hearing that they
can obtain salvation without the Church if they live a good life and love
God? Good will and love for God (in their mind) is plenty enough for them! If you say
they should become Catholic "because it matters", you've made the case for
no salvation outside the Church.
In regards to Protestants, About 90% of my web page gives Scriptural reasons why Catholicism is correct, and thus, by inference, Protestantism is wrong (or at least the part that differs from Catholicism). That is not the problem. Many of them think one is saved by Faith Alone, primarily. Much of my page on salvation shows that this view is wrong. Much of the rest of my webpage indeed shows that Catholicism and Jesusí sacraments (I have separate pages on the Eucharist and Baptism, and their efficaciousness) are indeed Christís way. Just because I teach what the magisterium teaches on EENS, does not mean that it doesnít matter. Without the grace of the sacraments it is much harder to achieve salvation. I have no qualms in saying that at all; nevertheless, the Church only echoes St. Thomas, who said that God is not limited by the Sacraments.
Alternately, if your page is directed toward Catholics, then, so what?
Catholics who believe no one is saved outside the Church do not send people
to hell by believing outsiders can't make it. However, believing people are
saved outside the Church, even slightly more liberally than what God
intended is dangerous! It is the statements declaring there is no salvation outside the
Church which give teeth to authentic authority of the Church and which
encourage Catholics to do everything in their power to spread the truth and
urge friends and relatives to partake of Her necessary, grace-filled
Well, this is aimed at primarily Catholics because by my agreement with what the Pope teaches, I have been termed a heretic. I decided to investigate, about the Church Fathers, the magisterium, because I was challenged by Feeneyites (Rigorists?). Some have condemned me to hell, unless I believe EENS the way Father Feeney taught it. My study helped to show me that indeed Father Feeney was wrong on the issue. Those 3 de fide statements must be looked at in the way that they were interpreted by, and this context shows Father Feeneyís interpretation was not correct then, or now. Besides that the living magisterium is not in error. I donít think that the way to demonstrate the teaching authority is by ignoring that teaching authority. The Churchís authority can have enough teeth by showing how Scripture, tradition, and history vindicates Christís Church.
Insisting Catholics believe that true hope exists elsewhere turns believers
into fence sitters. Many have already become frightfully comfortable and
lazy regarding their duty to evangelize. I've heard many, many Catholics
say, ďthis or that person is truly good, and although non-Catholic, God can save
them because God wants everyone to go to heaven." With statements like
this, certain Catholics declare a decision not to evangelize because they
know God has it all handled invisibly! Such scandalous mentality fuels
today's crisis of Faith!
I donít say that true hope exists elsewhere. It only exists in Jesus Christ. Ultimately, one is only saved through Jesus Christ, and indeed his Church. However, one can be linked by desire. That does not mean they do not need to come to Christís Church. The closer one gets to the Sacraments that Christ established, the more possible their salvation. We can also proclaim, that Protestants are responsible for all the light they were given. I agree that we should give them as much of the light as possible, to convince them of the necessity of the Church.
Humanity is swimming in an ocean of grace--freely given by God. He calls
all people to Himself with it. So, how is it people do not come to Him?
--Through malice, by refusing that grace!
So prior to the 1500s, before Columbus came, you can say that every single individual in the Americas were full of malice? That is kinda hard to swallow. How can you make such a sweeping generalization!!! What about the many in some parts of Asia and Africa who were never evangelized until fairly recently. How in the world can you say they were all full of malice and rejected grace? Not one of them had a chance for salvation? Now I do agree that without Christ, and his grace-filled sacraments, it is much harder. However, Godís grace is so good, that he at least made it possible for those to achieve salvation.
True ignorance is something no one can claim. If they claim it, they
already don't have it. If they can't claim it, (mentally incapable) how is
it that they can get to heaven
when the Church teaches that not even innocent unbaptized babies go to
heaven? (de fide)
It is not a question of whether they can claim it or not, so that point is irrelevant. The question is whether they really seek God, and whether they respond to whatever grace God has given them. When they are of the age of reason, they can thus seek to follow God (Rom. 2:14-15), whereas unbaptized babies can not.
I realize Vatican II, popes, saints and the teaching magisterium may espouse
a broad view in order to demonstrate God's mercy. Still, within the
confines of the teaching, Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus, we also must abide.
No, Vatican II, popes, saints, and the teaching magisterium espouse the view, not because it is politically correct, but because it is true. EENSís interpretation is for the magisterium, not us to decide.
God's sacraments are grace-filled tools used by Catholics to grow in
holiness in order to get to heaven. The Church is where we physically and
spiritually meet God's mercy. It is the place people find grace to save
their souls! Telling them there is only One True Church and showing them
exactly where that Truth is, is the merciful thing to do.
I agree, but that does not mean that one must have your view of EENS in order to say that.
The Church teaches that Her sacraments (though not every one of them) are
necessary for all men--under pain of anathema! What does "necessary" mean
if it doesn't mean "necessary"?
One thing can be normatively necessary without being absolutely necessary. The Church teaches as such, as shown by her de fide decrees. Let us look at the Eucharist, for example. Jesus said ďUnless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have eternal life. (John 6:53) He doesnít seem to get any ifs, ands, or buts, exactly as you say that EENS should be interpreted. Now as Catholics, we know that when Jesus is speaking here he is talking about the necessity of the Eucharist for salvation. We all interpret John 6 the same way. The Church teaches that the Eucharist is normatively necessary for salvation; however, as you yourself noted (in your paragraph above), the Church does not teach that it is absolutely necessary. Do you charge the Church with watering down the teaching on the Eucharist? Or does it properly teach that the Eucharist is normatively necessary (the normal way to go), but not absolutely necessary. We all know that there are many children in heaven who were baptized, but died before they reached the age of communion.
Jesus said we must believe in him in order to saved (John 3:16). At first glance, he seems to say it absolutely, with no possibility for salvation for those who do not believe. However, is this a normative or absolute necessity? It is obvious, that the Church teaches that even though baptized children, can not believe in Christ, as they are not of the age of reason, indeed can go to heaven before they have the ability to believe in Christ. Is it not on the surface contradictory to say that one must believe to go to heaven, but then say that children who die before the age of reason, who can not believe, can go to heaven because of their baptism without believing? It is obvious that belief in Jesus is normatively necessary, but not absolutely necessary for salvation.
Thus, in the same way, the Church teaches normatively that one must be a member of the Church for salvation, but not absolutely. It is possible that one can achieve salvation, if linked by true desire, even if they did not have the chance to physically join the church. However, their chances are much better when they are within the fold of Christís church.
I don't follow Fr. Feeney or any other man. I follow the Catholic Church.
But, I think it unconscionable anyone should be tagged a Feeneyite, etc.
with a purpose to degrade.
When I used the term I did not mean it in a degrading way. It was only a short term that I could think of. What term would you like me to use? Rigorist?
Fr. Feeney died in the grace of the Catholic
Church upon the removal of a valid excommunication (though no pope or
bishop, only a notary signed it). Without recanting his strict views on the
subject at all, Fr. Feeney was reinstated
to full communion with Mother Church.
Nevertheless, as you note, neither the Pope or the local bishop gave permission for him to be reinstated in the Church w/o him recanting his view. It was a local person who did it who shouldnít have. To call that a full and real reinstatement is a stretch.
That would be impossible if Feeney
were teaching heresy. Beside Fr. Feeney, there are others like Archbishop
George Hay in the late 1700's, early 1800's who taught as strict an
interpretation as anyone. Archbishop Hay wrote several enlightening books
(The Good Christian, The Pious Christian, etc.) covering the subject with
biblical proofs. But, without controversy, who pays attention?
Of course, during that time, his view was possible, but not the only view. He was not the magisterium and did not hold authority over the whole Church then, or now. Others taught differently.
De fide statements are not theological toys and you really can't blame
Catholics for refusing to allow anyone to gut their meaning.
It is a theological toy when people think they have a better understanding than the living magisterium. Showing that a valid interpretation was held by many (including doctors and saints) during that time is not gutting the De Fide statements. Looking at the context is not gutting De Fide statements. Showing that other De Fide statements are at odds with the rigorist view of EENS is not gutting the De Fide statements. Unfortunately, ignoring the living magisteriumís interpretation of these De Fide statements is a gutting of the authority of the Catholic Church.
©1998 CAN THERE BE SALVATION FOR NONCATHOLICS?... Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
Changes last made, Wednesday, November 11, 1998