"To attempt anything like a full performance of this noblest work of sacred theology with reference to the Catholic teaching about the Church's necessity for the attainment of salvation would require a literary production of great size. Such an attempt lies far outside the purpose of this little book. But, even in a volume as small as this, it is necessary to investigate, however briefly, what Sacred Scripture has to say about the nature of salvation itself and about the constitution of the true Church of Jesus Christ according to the dispensation of the New Testament. And, in the light of that teaching, we shall be able to see with a clarity otherwise unattainable, the true and basic meaning of the dogma about the necessity of the Church for salvation."
Baptism of water (sacramental Baptism) is necessary with a "necessity of precept" as well as with a "necessity of means". "Necessity of means" can be necessary with absolute or relative necessity. Sacramental Baptism is necessary with a necessity of means that is relative, not absolute or intrinsic. This means Sacramental Baptism or its substitute[s] [baptism of blood and baptism of "desire", properly known as the baptism of the Holy Ghost or of "repentance"] is absolutely or intrinsically necessary for salvation to be possible. That is no one at all can be saved apart from sacramental Baptism or its two replacements i.e. baptism of desire or baptism of blood.
The Catholic Encyclopedia shows how faith is necessary with an absolute necessity of means while sacramental baptism is necessary with a relative necessity of means as follows:
Again, in relation to the means necessary to salvation theologians divide necessity into necessity of means and necessity of precept. In the first case [necessity of means] the means is so necessary to salvation that without it (absolute necessity) or its substitute (relative necessity), even if the omission is guiltless, the end cannot be reached. Thus faith and baptism of water are necessary by a necessity of means, the former absolutely, the latter relatively, for salvation. In the second case [necessity of precept], necessity is based on a positive precept, commanding something the omission of which, unless culpable, does not absolutely prevent the reaching of the end.
When speaking of the "end" above we are speaking about the Beatific Vision or going to Heaven.
Necessity of precept - based on a positive precept, commanding something the omission of which, unless culpable, does not absolutely prevent the reaching of the end. (The formula and water used in sacramental Baptism - sacramental Baptism cannot take place apart from the minimum formula and water. It is a necessity of precept because Jesus instituted it whereas before He did so some words spoken and water poured on the head would not do anything other than perhaps annoy the person the water was being poured on)
Contumacious refusal to enter the Church or to remain within it is mortally sinful. Any person who knows the Church to have been divinely instituted by Our Lord and yet refuses to enter it or to remain within it cannot attain eternal salvation. (Fenton regarding necessity of precept)
Necessity of means - without the necessity in question (absolute necessity) or its substitute (relative necessity), even if the omission is guiltless, the end cannot be reached. (Faith = absolute necessity - sacramental Baptism = relative necessity)
No one at all can be saved unless he dies either as a member of the Church or with a genuine and sincere desire - either explicit or implicit - of entering the Church and remaining within it. (Fenton regarding the necessity of means by which one must die within the Church for salvation to be possible)
Intrinsic or absolute necessity - God can never grant salvation without the particular necessity being spoken of. There is no replacement or substitute for what is required intrinsically. A desire for that which is absolutely necessary, no matter how earnest and sincere, cannot replace or substitute for it. (Faith, Hope, Charity [Sanctifying Grace]). (Emphasis mine throughout.)
It is funny without a Pope we get self-appointed Popes who interpret and dictate Catholic teaching that is either to the "right" or to the "left" of Catholic teaching. Note: "Right" and "left" are used to appeal to our modern sense of thinking when, in reality, we only have truth or error. We have the heresy of universal salvation and an "equal and opposite heresy" of "no salvation apart from water".
We see this with Feeneyism and "NFP". The teaching to the right of Catholic teaching tends to be more appealing to good willed traditional Catholics and that is how the Devil gets the rest of us who have not succumbed to the V2 nonsense.
The intro to the second part of this book, which I hope helps alleviate those who tend to accept error to the "right" of Truth, is short. Therefore before entering the second part of this book I thought I would summarize (with direct quotes from the book) the official teachings of the Church addressed in this book for review:
THE FOURTH OECUMENICAL COUNCIL
OF THE LATERAN
"There is, then, one universal Church of the faithful (una . . . fidelium universalis ecclesia), outside of which no one at all is saved (extra quam nullus omnino salvatur)." [Denz., 430.]
In the Firmiter, the first chapter of the doctrinal declarations of the Fourth Lateran Council, we find the following declaration: "There is, then, one universal Church of the faithful (una . . . fidelium universalis ecclesia), outside of which no one at all is saved (extra quam nullus omnino salvatur)." [Denz., 430.]
This formula bears a singular resemblance to one contained in the profession of faith prescribed by Pope Innocent III in 1208 for the Waldensians who wished to return to the Catholic Church: "We believe in our hearts and we profess orally that there is one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic [Church], outside of which we believe that no one will be saved." [Denz., 423.]
Each of these documents presents three distinct statements as truths actually revealed by God, and consequently as doctrines which men are obliged to accept with the assent of divine faith itself. By immediate and necessary implication, they condemn as heretical the teachings contradictory to these three dogmas of the Catholic faith. They assert that:
1. It is a divinely revealed truth that there is only one true ecclesia or Church of God.
2. It is divinely revealed truth that this one true ecclesia is the Roman Catholic Church, the social unit properly termed "the universal Church of the faithful."
3. No one at all, according to God's Own revelation, can be saved if, at the moment of his death, he is "outside" this society.
Thus, according to the infallibly true teaching of this section of the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council, we may draw the following conclusions:
1. At the moment of death a man must be in some way "within" the Catholic Church (either as a member or as one who desires and prays to enter it) if he is to attain to eternal salvation.
2. There is absolutely no exception to this rule. Otherwise the statement that "no one at all (nullus omnino)" is saved outside of the one universal Church of the faithful would not be true. And that statement is true. It is an infallible dogmatic pronouncement of an Oecumenical Council of the Catholic Church.
3. Any attempt to explain the Church's necessity for salvation by claiming that it is only the "ordinary" means, or by imagining that it is requisite only for those who are aware of its dignity and position, is completely false and unacceptable.
THE BULL UNAM SANCTAM
We are bound by the obligation of faith to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, and we firmly believe and sincerely profess this [Church] outside of which there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins (extra quam nec salus est, nec remissio peccatorum). Thus, the spouse in the Canticle proclaims: "One is my dove: my perfect one is but one. She is the only one of her mother, the chosen of her that bore her." This signifies (repraesentat) the one Mystical Body, of which Christ is the Head, and God [is the Head] of Christ. In this [dove and perfect one] there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." Certainly there was one ark of Noe at the time of the deluge, and it prefigured the one Church. The ark, which was finished in one cubit, has one ruler and commander, namely Noe. We read that all things that subsisted on the earth and which were outside of the ark were destroyed. And we venerate this [Church] as the only one, since the Lord says in the Prophet: "Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword: my only one from the hand of the dog." The Lord prayed for the Soul - that is, for Himself the Head - and at the same time for the body. He called the only Church a body because of the unity of faith, the unity of the sacraments, and the unity of charity of the Church, the Spouse. This [Church] is the Lord's seamless robe which was not cut, but for which lots were cast. Therefore there is one body, one Head, of the only Church, not two heads like a monster; Christ and Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and Peter's successor, since the Lord said to Peter himself: "Feed My sheep." He says "My" [sheep] universally, and not "these" or "those" in particular, and thus it is understood that He entrusted all [His sheep] to Him. If, therefore, the Greeks or others say that they have not been entrusted to Peter and to his successors, they necessarily admit that they are not of the sheep of Christ, since the Lord says, in John, that there is one fold and one shepherd. [Denz., 468.]
1. The Church is necessary, not only for the attainment of salvation itself, but for the forgiveness of sins, which is inseparable from the granting of the supernatural life of sanctifying grace.
2. The Church is necessary for the attainment of salvation and of the life of grace precisely because it is the Body and the Spouse of Jesus Christ.
3. Attainment of salvation in the Church involves union with the Bishop of Rome.
4. The dogma of the Church's necessity for the attainment of eternal salvation cannot be explained accurately in terms of any "invisible Church."
THE DECREE FOR THE JACOBITES
It [the sacrosanct Roman Church, established by the voice of Our Lord and Saviour] firmly believes, professes, and teaches that none of those who do not exist within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but Jews, heretics, and schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but that they are going into the everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they become associated with it (nisi . . . eidem fuerint agregati) before they die. And [it firmly believes, professes, and teaches] that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such value that the Church's sacraments are profitable unto salvation, and that fastings, almsgivings, and the other duties of piety and exercises of the Christian militancy, bring forth eternal rewards only for those who remain within it [the unity of the ecclesiastical body]: and that, however great his almsgiving may be, and even though he might shed his blood for the name of Christ, no one can be saved unless he remains within the embrace and the unity of the Catholic Church. [Denz., 714.]
1. All of those outside the Church, even individuals who have committed no sin against the faith itself, are in a position in which they cannot be saved unless they in some way enter or join the Church before they die.
THE ALLOCUTION SINGULARI QUADAM
2. The alternative to eternal and supernatural salvation is deprivation of the Beatific Vision. In the case of those who are guilty of mortal sin which remains unrepented, this includes both the penalty of loss and the penalty of sense in hell.
3. The spiritual condition of one who is not "within" the Church at least by an act of implicit desire is incompatible with the reception of the life of sanctifying grace.
Not without sorrow have we seen that another error, and one not less ruinous [than the error of crass rationalism dealt with in the previous section of the allocution], has taken possession of certain portions of the Catholic world, and has entered into the souls of many Catholics who think that they can well hope for the eternal salvation of all those who have in no way entered into the true Church of Christ. For that reason they are accustomed to inquire time and time again as to what is going to be the fate and the condition after death of those who have never yielded themselves to the Catholic faith and, convinced by completely inadequate arguments (vanissimisque adductis rationibus), they await a response that will favor this evil teaching. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume to establish limits to the divine mercy, which is infinite. Far be it from Us to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsels and judgments of God, which are "a great deep," and which human thought can never pen[e]trate. In accordance with Our apostolic duty, We wish to stir up your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to drive out of men's minds, to the extent to which you are able to use all your energies, that opinion, equally impious and deadly, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion (quavis in religion reperiri posse aeternae salutis viam). With all the skill and learning at your command, you should prove to the people entrusted to your care that this dogma of the Catholic faith is in no way opposed to the divine mercy and justice.
Certainly we must hold it as of faith that no one can be saved outside the apostolic Roman Church, that this is the only Ark of salvation, and that the one who does not enter it is going to perish in the deluge. But, nevertheless, we must likewise hold it as certain that those who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if that [ignorance] be invincible, will never be charged with any guilt on this account before the eyes of the Lord. Now, who is there who would arrogate to himself the power to indicate the extent of such [invincible] ignorance according to the nature and the variety of peoples, regions, talents, and so many other things? For really when, loosed from these bodily bonds, we see God as He is, we shall certainly understand with what intimate and beautiful a connection the divine mercy and justice are joined together. But, while we live on earth, weighed down by this mortal body that darkens the mind, let us hold most firmly, from Catholic doctrine, that there is one God, one faith, one baptism. It is wrong to push our inquiries further than this.
For the rest, as the cause of charity demands, let us pour forth continual prayers to God that all nations everywhere may be converted to Christ. And let us do all in our power to bring about the common salvation of men, for the hand of the Lord is not shortened and the gifts of heavenly grace will never be lacking to those who sincerely wish and pray to be comforted in this light. Truths of this kind must be deeply implanted in the minds of the faithful so that they may not be corrupted by the false doctrines that tend to encourage the religious indifference (doctrinis eo spectantibus, ut religionis foveant indifferentiam) which we see being spread abroad and strengthened to the ruination of souls. [Denz., 1646-48]
THE ENCYCLICAL QUANTO CONFICIAMUR
1. It is a ruinous error to imagine that one can have grounds of hope that people now dead, and who had not entered into the Church in any way during the course of their lives, are saved.
2. The dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is in no way opposed to the truth that God is all-merciful and all-just.
3. The doctrine that no one is saved outside the Catholic Church is a truth revealed by God through Jesus Christ, and a truth which all men must believe with the assent of divine faith. It is a Catholic dogma.
4. Invincible ignorance, of the true Church or of anything else, is not considered by God as a sin. The dogma that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church in no way implies that invincible ignorance is sinful.
5. It is an impious and deadly error to hold that salvation may be attained in any religion.
6. It is not within the field either of our competence or of our rights to search out the way in which God's mercy and His justice operate in any given case of a person ignorant of the true Church or of the true religion. We shall see how these divine attributes have operated in the light of the Beatific Vision itself.
7. It is the business of the Church to work and to pray that all men will attain salvation in the Church.
9. God is never outdone in generosity. The person who tries to come to Him will never be forsaken. As a matter of fact, the movement toward God, like all good things, originates from God Himself.
And here, Our Beloved Sons and Venerable Brethren, We must mention and reprove a most serious error into which some Catholics have fallen, imagining that men living in errors and apart (alienos) from the true faith and from the Catholic unity can attain to eternal life. This, of course, is completely opposed to Catholic doctrine. It is known to Us and to you that those who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion, and who, carefully observing the natural law and its precepts which God has inscribed in the hearts of all, and who, being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, through the working of the divine light and grace, attain eternal life, since God, who clearly sees, inspects, and knows the minds, the intentions, the thoughts, and the habits of all, will, by reason of His goodness and kindness, never allow anyone who has not the guilt of willful sin to be punished by eternal sufferings. But it is a perfectly well known Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church, and that those who are contumacious against the authority of that same Church, and who are pertinaciously separated from the unity of that Church and from Peter's successor, the Roman Pontiff, to whom the custody of the vineyard has been entrusted by the Saviour, cannot obtain eternal salvation.
God forbid, however, that the children of the Catholic Church should in any way ever be the enemies of those who are in no way joined to us in the same bonds of faith and of charity. But let them [the Catholics] rather strive always to take care of these people when they [those outside the Church] are poor or sick or afflicted by any other ills. Primarily, let them strive to take these people out of the darkness of error in which they unfortunately live, and bring them back to the Catholic truth and to the loving Mother Church that never ceases to hold out its maternal hands affectionately to them, and to call them back to its embrace so that, established and strengthened in faith, hope, and charity, and bringing forth fruit in every good work, they may attain eternal salvation. [Denz., 1677 f.]
1. It is a very serious error to hold that men who live apart from the true faith and Catholic unity can attain eternal life if they die in this condition.
THE ENCYCLICAL MYSTICI CORPORIS CHRISTI
2. The person who is invincibly ignorant of the true religion, and who sedulously obeys the natural law, lives an honest and upright life, and is prepared to obey God, can be saved through the workings of divine light and grace.
3. Such a person has already chosen God as his ultimate End. He has done this in an act of charity. He is in the state of grace, and not in the state of original or mortal sin. In this act of charity there is involved an implicit desire of entering and remaining within God's true supernatural kingdom. Such a person has had his sins remitted "within" the true Church of Jesus Christ.
4. The Church is requisite for the attainment of eternal salvation with both the necessity of means (no one at all can be saved unless he dies either as a member of the Church or with a genuine and sincere desire - either explicit or implicit - of entering the Church and remaining within it), and with the necessity of precept (contumacious refusal to enter the Church or to remain within it is mortally sinful).
5. It is the duty of Catholics to help the needy outside the fold, and it is primarily their duty to bring these people to the acceptance of God's revealed truth insofar as they are able to do so.
Only those who have been baptized, who profess the true faith, who have not miserably separated themselves from the fabric of the Body and who have not, by reason of very serious crimes, been expelled by legitimate authority, are actually to be counted as members of the Church. The Apostle says: "For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." Therefore, just as, in the true assembly of Christ's faithful, there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one baptism, so there can be only one faith. Consequently, the one who would refuse to hear the Church is, by the Lord's command, to be considered as the heathen and the publican. Hence those who are in various ways separated [from the Church] in faith or rule cannot be living in one Body of this kind and cannot be living by its divine Spirit. [Denz., 2286; AAS. XXXV, 202 f.]
And since, as We have said above, the social Body of Christ, according to the intention of its Founder, ought to be something visible, the union (conspiratio) of all its members must likewise be outwardly manifested by the profession of the same faith, the communion of the same sacraments, the sharing of the same sacrifice, and finally by the actual observance of the same laws. Moreover, it is entirely necessary that there should be a supreme head, visible to all, by whom the mutually helpful labors of all may be effectively directed to the attainment of the end proposed [for the society]. We call this visible head the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth. For, just as the Divine Redeemer sent the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, to take care of the invisible government of the Church, He likewise commissioned Peter and his successors to conduct the visible government of the Church in His Name.
But to these juridical bonds, which are sufficient in their own line (quae iam ratione sui sufficiunt), in such a way that they far surpass the bonds of any other human society, even the highest, it is necessary to add another factor of unity by which we are most intimately joined together among ourselves and which God by reason of the three virtues, Christian faith, hope, and charity. [AAS, XXXV, 227.]
As you know very well, Venerable Brethren, from the beginning of Our Pontificate, We have entrusted even those who do not belong to the visible structure (compagem) of the Catholic Church to the heavenly protection and direction, solemnly asserting that, following the example of the Good Shepherd, We wanted nothing more than that they should have life and have it more abundantly. Begging the prayers of the entire Church, We wish to repeat Our solemn declaration in this encyclical letter in which We have praised the great and glorious Body of Christ, most affectionately inviting each and every one of them [those who are not members of the Church] to co-operate generously and willingly with the inward impulses of divine grace and to take care to extricate themselves from that condition in which they cannot be secure about their own eternal salvation. For even though they may be directed towards the Redeemer's Mystical Body by a sort of unconscious desire and intention (etiamsi inscio quodam desiderio ac voto ad mysticum Redemptoris Corpus ordinentur), they still lack so many and such great heavenly helps and aids that can be enjoyed only in the Catholic Church. [Ibid., 243.]
And for us today, who linger on this earthly exile, He is still the Author of our faith as, in our heavenly fatherland, He will be the One who completes it. It is He who imparts the light of faith to the faithful. It is He who enriches pastors and teachers, and above all His Vicar on earth, with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of the faith, defend it vigorously, and explain and confirm it with reverence and devotion. Finally it is He who, though unseen, presides over the Councils of the Church and guides them. [AAS, XXXV, 216.]
May they then enter into Catholic unity, and, united with us in the one association (compagine) of the Body of Jesus Christ, may they hasten to the one Head in the society of the most glorious love. With persevering prayer to the Spirit of love and truth, with open arms We wait for them to come back, not to a stranger's house, but to the house of their own Father.
But while We want this unceasing prayer that all of those who have wandered away may enter as soon as possible into one fold of Christ to rise up to God from the entire Mystical Body, yet We declare that it is absolutely necessary that this be done freely and without compulsion, since no one may believe unless he wills to believe. Hence they are most certainly not genuine Catholics (Christifideles) who, not believing, are forced to enter a Church building, to approach the altar, and to receive the sacraments, for the faith "without which it is impossible to please God" is an entirely free service of intellect and will. [AAS, XXXV, 243.]
1. The conditions for being "within" the Church in such a way as to be able to attain salvation in it are not objectively and completely identical with the conditions requisite for membership in this society.
THE HOLY OFFICE LETTER SUPREMA HAEC SACRA
2. It is possible for a man to attain salvation "within" the Church if he has merely an implicit desire to be in it.
3. The condition of a man who is "within" the Church merely by desire is strikingly inferior to that of a man who is actually a member of the true Church.
4. It is the duty of all members of the Church to work and to pray for the conversion to the Church of all who are not members.
5. The visible Roman Catholic Church is identical with the social unit designated as the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ.
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, 1949, 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 proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office (magisterium).
Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach there is also contained that infallible statement by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church.
However, this dogma must be understood in the sense in which the Church itself understands it. For Our Saviour gave the things that are contained in the deposit of faith to be explained by the ecclesiastical magisterium and not by private judgments.
Now, in the first place, the Church teaches us that in this matter we are dealing with a most strict precept of Jesus Christ. For He explicitly ordered His apostles to teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever He Himself had commanded.
Now, not the least important among the commandments of Christ is that one by which 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 governs the Church on earth in a visible manner.
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.
The Saviour not only gave the precept that all nations should enter the Church, but He also established the Church as a means of salvation, without which no one may be able to 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 towards man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, can also be obtained in certain circumstances when these helps are used only in intention or desire (ubi voto solummodo vel desiderio adhibeantur). This we see clearly stated in the Sacred Council of Trent, both with reference to the sacrament of regeneration and with reference to the sacrament of penance.
In its own way, the same thing must be said about the Church, insofar as the Church itself is a general help to salvation. Therefore, in order that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is required that at least he be united to it by intention and desire.
However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but, when a person is involved in invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit intention (votum) which is so called because it is included in that good disposition of the soul whereby a person wishes his 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." For in this letter the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are really (in re) incorporated into the Church as members and those who are joined to it only in intention (in voto).
Discussing the members of whom the Mystical Body is composed here on earth, the same August Pontiff says: "Only those who have received the laver of regeneration, who profess the true faith, who have not miserably separated themselves from the fabric of the Body or been expelled by legitimate authority by reason of very serious offences, are actually to be counted as members of the Church."
Towards the end of the same encyclical letter, when most affectionately inviting to unity those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church (qui ad Ecclesiae Catholicae compagem non pertinent), he mentions those who are "ordered to the Redeemer's Mystical Body by a sort of unconscious desire and intention," and these he by no means excludes from eternal salvation, but, on the contrary, asserts that they are in a condition in which "they cannot be secure about their own eternal salvation," since "they still lack so many and such great heavenly helps to salvation that can be enjoyed only in the Catholic Church."
With these wise words he reproves both those who exclude from eternal salvation all those united to the Church only by implicit desire and those who falsely assert that men can be saved equally (aequaliter) in every religion.
Nor must we think that any kind of intention of entering the Church is sufficient in order that one may be saved. It is requisite that the intention by which one is ordered to the Church should be informed by perfect charity; and no explicit intention can produce its effect unless the man have supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him." The Council of Trent declares: "Faith is the beginning of 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." [The original Latin text and the official English translation of the Suprema haec sacra appeared in AER, CXXVII, 4 (Oct., 1952), 307-15. The part of the translation quoted above is on pp. 312-14.]
1. The teaching that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church is a dogma of the Catholic faith.
2. This dogma has always been taught, and will always be taught, infallibly by the Church's magisterium.
3. The dogma must be understood and explained as the Church's magisterium understands and explains it.
4. The Church is necessary for salvation with both a necessity of precept and a necessity of means.
5. Because the Church is necessary for salvation with the necessity of precept, any person who knows the Church to have been divinely instituted by Our Lord and yet refuses to enter it or to remain within it cannot attain eternal salvation.
6. The Church is a general and necessary means for salvation, not by reason of any intrinsic necessity, but only by God's Own institution, that is, because God in His merciful wisdom has established it as such.
7. In order that a man may be saved "within" the Church, it is not always necessary that he belong to the Church in re, actually as a member, but it can sometimes be enough that he belong to it as one who desires or wills to be in it. In other words, it is possible for one who belongs to the Church only in desire or in voto to be saved.
8. It is possible for this desire of entering the Church to be effective, not only when it is explicit, but also (when the person is invincibly ignorant of the true Church) even when that desire or votum is merely implicit.
9. The Mystici Corporis reproved both the error of those who teach the impossibility of salvation for those who have only an implicit desire of entering the Church, and the false doctrine of those who claim that men may find salvation equally in every religion.
10. No desire to enter the Church can be effective for salvation unless it is enlightened by supernatural faith and animated or motivated by perfect charity.
THE ENCYCLICAL LETTER HUMANI GENERIS
Some think that they are not bound by the doctrine set forth a few years ago in Our encyclical letter and based on the sources of revelation, [the doctrine] which teaches that Christ's Mystical body and the Catholic Roman Church are one and the same. Others reduce the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to attain to eternal salvation to an empty formula. [The Latin original is in AER, CXXIII, 5 (Nov., 1950), 391.]
No numbered summary is given by Monsignor Fenton. But such a summary on the pertinent part pertaining to Salvation would be as follows:
There will be only two more chapters in these installments as we covered the last chapter of this book in our third installment. Let us go to the intro to the second part of Monsignor Clifford Fenton's "The Catholic Church and Salvation":
Until now we have been considering what various documents of the Church's magisterium have said about the necessity of the Catholic Church for the attainment of eternal salvation. We have found that the teaching according to which there is no salvation outside the Church is a dogma, a truth revealed by God and presented as such by the ecclesia docens. We have seen also that the Holy See rejects and forbids any attempted explanation of this dogma which would represent the statement that there is no salvation outside the Church as an empty formula.
The Holy Office letter Sumprema haec sacra, asserting explicitly and in detail the truths which have been taught in a more general way in other authoritative documents of the ecclesiastical magisterium, has assured us that the Church is necessary for the attainment of eternal life in two distinct ways, with the necessity of precept and with the necessity of means. By God's Own positive institution, the visible religious society over which the Roman Pontiff rules as Christ's Vicar on earth is a necessary means for the attainment of the Beatific Vision, in the sense that a person must be "within" this society at the moment of his death, either as a member or as one who explicitly or implicitly desires to become a member, if he is to be saved forever.
Furthermore the Suprema haec sacra has shown us that no one can be "within" the Church even by implicit desire or intention in such a way as to attain the life of grace in it unless he has a true supernatural faith and unless he loves God and his neighbor with the genuine and supernatural affection of divine charity.
It is clearly the function of sacred theology to set forth and to analyze the teachings of the magisterium on the subject it proposes to investigate. Just as clearly, however, this is not the complete work of theology. As Pope Pius XII has reminded us in his encyclical Humani generis, "Pius IX, teaching that the noblest function of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources of revelation, added these words, and with very good reason: 'in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church.'" [AER, CXXIII, 5 (Nov., 1950), 390.]
To attempt anything like a full performance of this noblest work of sacred theology with reference to the Catholic teaching about the Church's necessity for the attainment of salvation would require a literary production of great size. Such an attempt lies far outside the purpose of this little book. But, even in about the nature of salvation itself and about the constitution of the true Church of Jesus Christ according to the dispensation of the New Testament. And, in the light of that teaching, we shall be able to see with a clarity otherwise unattainable, the true and basic meaning of the dogma about the necessity of the Church for salvation.
Furthermore, in order to have a useful presentation of the theological background of our subject, we must take some cognizance of the accidents in the history of Catholic theology which have affected the treatise on the Church as a whole and the teaching on the necessity of the Church in particular. What we may call the scholastic treatise on the Church developed later than most of the other great sections of dogmatic theology. And, unlike most of the other sections of scholastic theology, the tractatus de ecclesia was influenced in its ordering and in its very content by the controversy against the early Protestant heresiarchs. It was in great measure due to these historical accidents that certain well known, influential, and fundamentally inadequate explanations of the Church's necessity for salvation arose and developed.
In this second part I shall attempt to show something of this theological background of our thesis.
I would like to close summarizing the distinctions in regards to the different types of necessities pertaining to salvation in regards to Baptism, dying within the Church, and supernatural Faith regarding the need to believe in (1) God and that (2) God rewards the good and punishes evil, (3) the Incarnation and (4) the Holy Trinity and whether only the first two or all four are necessary beliefs for salvation to be possible as taught by the Church thusly:
Some theologians teach that two truths must be believed with a necessity of means and others teach that four must be believed. Still others teach that four are only required in places where the Gospel has been preached but only two are required in other places. It all depends on how God willed it. He could have willed to require explicit faith in all four truths or only in two, but in either case He will infallibly grant to each soul the opportunity to arrive at explicit faith in these 2 or 4 truths as the case may be. In the Old Testament, clearly explicit faith in the Trinity was not required.
As far as what is intrinsically necessary, this has nothing to do with the question on whether 2 or 4 truths are required to be believed with explicit faith. Intrinsic necessity would apply to whatever truths were so basic that faith would be impossible without them. For example, one clearly cannot have any virtue of faith whatsoever if he did not even believe that God exists, since faith is a firm assent of the intellect to the truths revealed by God. How could one accept a truth revealed by a God whom he denies exists?
The necessity of believing all 4 truths may still be by necessity of means even though not through intrinsic necessity. Baptism is a necessary means of salvation, but it is a relative necessity, i.e. it is a necessary means because God has willed it to be so; it is a means -- not merely a precept -- but a means because willed by God as a means. However, it is not intrinsically necessary so that God could never grant salvation without it. He can make exceptions to His own plan of salvation, i.e. to the ordinary means: Baptism. Similarly, Mary is necessary for our salvation as a necessary means of obtaining grace, but this is a relative necessity, i.e. she is a necessary means of getting to heaven because God has willed it to be so. Her intercession is not intrinsically or absolutely necessary as St. Louis de Montfort explains in True Devotion. However, God makes no exception to the need for Mary's intercession to get to Heaven; He does make exception to the need for Baptism, and possibly He makes exception to the need to know the Trinity (if we follow the opinion of some theologians).
Also, in another opinion, as pointed out in the quote by St. Alphonsus, some theologians apparently regard belief in the Trinity as a precept and not a means of salvation.
The closest the Church has ever come to answering whether all four beliefs were necessary was in the reply of a Roman Congregation that said one cannot baptize even a dying person without first instructing them in all four truths. However, theologians agree that this reply was not a definitive answer to the debate but only a norm for practice.
Obviously it is intrinsically or absolutely necessary to die within the Church for salvation to be possible as we have been stating throughout this series.
Further in order to respond to the Feeneyites objection that we can ignore a letter from the holy office because it is not infallible, to reiterate once again that the minimum amount of articles necessary for one to have the supernatural Faith necessary for salvation to be possible, and whether Jews, Muslims and pagans can be saved I answer as follows:
The "authority" who accepts Suprema Haec Sacra included everyone in the Catholic Church at the time except for Fr. Feeney and his followers - Fenton, for example, certainly accepted it, and why shouldn't he? It was a letter from the Holy Office, whose head is the Pope, and Pius XII himself approved the explanation given. All Catholics are obliged to accept authoritative documents, which the letter certainly is, with an interior ascent. To refuse to believe it would be a mortal sin. Further the entire letter is laced with infallible teachings from beginning begging to end in its doctrinal section. For instance the letter teaches that their is no salvation outside the Church. Would the Feeneyites have us reject this teaching because it is "not infallible"?
The question is whether it is possible for Jews, Muslims, and pagans to possess the virtue of Faith. I do not see how it is possible, but from what I recall Bishop Sanborn saying, this was something that was still being disputed among theologians (emphasis mine), at least as far as the details. Please read Fr. Riccardo Lombardi, "The Salvation of the Unbeliever" (1956) and Fr. Maurice Emynian, "The Theology of Salvation" (1960), for a deeper understanding of this issue. Oftentimes these questions are quite thorny and not so easily resolved. There is a reason why the Church commissions specially trained theologians and not just anyone to tackle such questions.
The Suprema Haec Sacra does not say that Jews, Muslims, or pagans can be saved. On the contrary, it suggests that they cannot, inasmuch as it says that supernatural Faith is required for an implicit desire for baptism.
There is NO question that the virtue of Faith is necessary by an absolute i.e. intrinsic necessity of means. That is indisputable.
Lay people are quite welcome to study the distinctions (and we barely touched on a few of the numerous distinctions and vast amount of terminology pertaining to theology) pointed out at the beginning of this article but should not come to conclusions on issues that have not been settled by the Church such as whether there are two or four minimal beliefs we must have in order to have supernatural Faith.
Saint Thomas Aquinas speaks of the need for belief in the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity:
But when dealing with Baptism of [desire] the Spirit he speaks thusly:
In like manner a man receives the effect of Baptism by the power of the Holy Ghost, not only without Baptism of Water, but also without Baptism of Blood: forasmuch as his heart is moved by the Holy Ghost to believe in and love God and to repent of his sins: wherefore this is also called Baptism of Repentance.
The virtue of humility can off-set head-strong people who insist on their opinions above that of the approved theologians, Fathers, Doctors, Saints and Popes. For it is better to trust what a valid Pope teaches than to trust more in our own intellects:
Certainly we must hold it as of faith that no one can be saved outside the apostolic Roman Church, that this is the only Ark of salvation, and that the one who does not enter it is going to perish in the deluge. But, nevertheless, we must likewise hold it as certain that those who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if that [ignorance] be invincible, will never be charged with any guilt on this account before the eyes of the Lord. Now, who is there who would arrogate to himself the power to indicate the extent of such [invincible] ignorance according to the nature and the variety of peoples, regions, talents, and so many other things? For really when, loosed from these bodily bonds, we see God as He is, we shall certainly understand with what intimate and beautiful a connection the divine mercy and justice are joined together. But, while we live on earth, weighed down by this mortal body that darkens the mind, let us hold most firmly, from Catholic doctrine, that there is one God, one faith, one baptism. It is wrong to push our inquiries further than this. (Pius IX Singulari Quadum)
I hope this installment provides a handy resource for correcting your erring Feeneyite brethren.
For Past articles by John, see Archives of John Gregory's FAITHFUL TO TRADTION features
"Catholics who remain faithful to Tradition, even if they are reduced to but a handful, they are THE TRUE CHURCH" Saint Athanasius, "Apostle of Tradition" AD 373