The Faithful Scribbler

A Catholic Mother In A Secular World

Catholic Teaching On Salvation of Others

on May 7, 2010

This comes up a lot in the comments, and in discussions with readers who email.  I just recieved in my inbox this morning, another fantastic nugget of info from Pat (who is about to recieve an offical “Faithful Scribbler Byline” for his frequent and much appreciated contributions!!!).  I believe God planted Pat (and many others) right in my path for a significant reason!  I’ll be sharing all that with you later this afternoon (when the Auditor comes home from work to wrangle the Little Scribbler, thus allowing me enough uninterupted computer time to compose my thoughts in a coherent fashion!).

So anyway– many MANY people have misconceptions about what the Catholic Church teaches about the salvation of others.  I think many of you (Catholics included!) might just be surprised to read the following!   (Ok  from this point forward, it’s all Pat– and the catechism of course :))


All SALVATION flows Through the CC
From the Catholic catechism
# 818 “However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.”
# 819 “Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.”
# 838 “The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter.” Those “who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.” With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound “that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist.”
843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”

845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood
846 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.

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.


3 responses to “Catholic Teaching On Salvation of Others

  1. Jenni says:

    Girl, you know I have so much to say about all of this, but I don’t have the cotton pickin’ time! LOL I have this thing called motherhood that keeps me from getting into all the online discussions that peak my interest! :) Sigh. I love it that you are blogging about meaty stuff. I just wish I had the time to dig into it with you. <3

  2. Andi says:

    OK, very basic question… But what is “the church” exactly? I’m not being stupid, I seriously don’t get it. Is “the church” believed to be an actual person, the personification of Jesus on earth, a physical place, a physical being, a way of living, a belief or all of those? (The part about “pilgrim on earth” confused me!)

    Wish Jenni weren’t so busy! :-p

  3. Kristy says:

    “the church” is a formal organization, with a hierarchical structure, headed by the pope, encompassing the clergy and those called to formal religious life, and the body of the Faithful (the members).

    As far as who writes the catechism and/or who makes theological decisions, well thats a very meaty question you’ve asked :) I’ll give you the short version (and you can always email Pat if you have more specific questions! he’s a guru!)

    The Pope and the Magesterium (advisors) set the teachings regarding theology. Typically, these theological decisions don’t occur over night– they are years and years in making (study, reflection, prayer, etc).

    The Pope is the sort of the mouth of God on earth (with regards to theology only– this is more complicated than how I’m describing it, I’ll email you some references if you really want to know). There is scriptural basis for this as well– Jesus created Peter, his apostle, the first pope, and entrusted him with leading the Christian church after His death (Jesus’ that is!). Subsequent popes have convened councils to settle theological issues, interpret scripture, and solve logistical problems– the msot recent council being the SecondVatican Council.

    The Catechism is examined, amended, etc at these councils, as is the Code of Canon Law.

    Because the Pope (all popes dating back to St. Peter himself, set into the position of Pope by Jesus himself) is the voice of God on early, and enjoys papal infallibility, and also the ability to “bind and loose”, we (the rest of the church) are morally obligated to follow his teachings. We can not be led astray on matters of theology, because Jesus has made it so, by establishing the succession of the popes.

    That Jesus insituted the office of Pope is verifyable, undisputable fact. It’s not any person’s “belief”.

    I am aware the Protestants frequently refer to “the church”, meaning, a general body of all believers, and not a tangible, hierarchical organization. I believe (although I am not certain, perhaps Pat knows?) that referring to the general body of believers as “the church” is a fairly recent occurence– within the last 20 years or so. Up until that point, people consistantly referred to their own specific denominations as “the church”– meaning, Lutherans had an organizational structure analogous to the Catholic structure, and referred to that hierarchy as the “church”, NOT referring to a general body of christian believers as such.

    I could say more but I forget exactly what it was you wanted to know….

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