"In every age of the Church there has been one portion of Christian doctrine which men have been especially tempted to misconstrue or to deny. In our own times it is the part of Catholic truth which was brought out with special force and clarity by St. Peter in his first missionary sermon in Jerusalem. It is somewhat unfashionable today to insist, as St. Peter did, that those who are outside the true Church of Jesus Christ stand in need of being saved by leaving their own positions and entering the ecclesia. Nevertheless, this remains a part of God's Own revealed message.
"It is a part of Catholic doctrine that entrance into the Church (actually by becoming a member of the Church; and, when this is impossible, by at least an implicit though sincere desire or intention) is a part of the process of salvation. It is equally a part of Catholic teaching, however, that this is by no means the only part. A man is saved from the evil of belonging to the kingdom of Satan by his entrance into the Church, but this entrance in no way constitutes a guarantee that he will actually enjoy the Beatific Vision for all eternity. The process of salvation is not fully completed, a man cannot be said to be 'saved' in the full sense of the term, until he has attained the Beatific Vision itself."
In this installment we will learn about the process of transferring from a state of ruin to a state that will ultimately end in eternal bliss. Every single human being in the history of the earth (apart from our Lady and our Lord) was conceived in a state of Original Sin, a state of ruin, a state where had they died under that circumstance they would have been deprived of the Beatific Vision for all eternity. Each and every rational being that has ever existed, exists now, and will exist belongs to one of two kingdoms; the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Satan.
Every living human being who is not within the Church, at least by desire, is a member of the Kingdom of Satan, and if he were to die in this state he will be lost for all eternity. (Obviously the unbaptized who have not reached the age of reason go to Limbo.)
Keep this in mind when pondering over the idea of committing a mortal sin "just this once, since you can confess it any time." Understand that if you have any habitual sins this habit will be with you on your death bed at a time when Satan will assault you the most with temptations catered toward your weaknesses. Consider carefully the sad state souls who receive the Last Rites worthily and confess sincerely and are absolved but fall into mortal sin before they die as a result of habitual sins they have never overcome when desiring to hold on to a habit that is objectively a mortal sin "just a little longer."
THE CONCEPT OF SALVATION
The concept of eternal salvation runs throughout the entire New Testament. It is one of the basic notions of the teaching which Our Lord preached as the divine message He had received from His Father. He described Himself as coming to save what was lost. "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." [Matt., 18: 11; see also Luke, 19: 10.] Christ is Our Saviour. His work is preeminently that of our salvation.
Now, the term "to save," employed in sacred theology and in the English translations of the New Testament as the equivalent of the Latin "salvare" and the Greek "ow?elv," [That is as close as the English alphabet comes to looking like the Greek word, the "?" takes the place of a letter that has no close representative in English - J.G.] designates the process by which a person is removed from a condition in which he is destined for ruin or death and is transferred to a condition in which he may live and prosper. Basically, that is the meaning expressed by the expression "saving someone," employed in ordinary terminology. Thus, years ago, when we frequently read in the newspapers about the feats of the then young first officer of the steamship America (later Commodore Harry Manning) in saving the lives of the crews of several fishing boats that had been swamped in Atlantic storms, we all understood that this man and the mariners under his command had taken the victims off the wrecked boats to which they were clinging and had brought them to the safety of the ocean liner to which he was assigned.
The men were saved, in the sense that they were transferred from positions in which they would inevitably have drowned very soon into the security of the liner, and eventually to the shores of their own countries. Men who were transferred at sea from one seaworthy vessel to another could never have been described as "saved."
The salvation of men, described in divine public revelation, is a salvation in the strict or proper sense of the term. It is a process by which men are removed from a condition or status which would involve them in everlasting death if they remained within it, to a condition in which they may enjoy eternal life and happiness.
It is highly important to understand that this process is quite complex. The terminus a quo, the undesirable condition, from which men are removed in the process of salvation is basically sin, the status of aversion from almighty God. A man is said to be saved, absolutely and simply, when he is taken out of the condition of original or mortal sin and brought into the status of the eternal and supernatural life of grace. Ultimately that process is achieved and perfected when the person saved comes to possess the life of grace eternally and inamissibly, ["amissible" is a word that is correctly spelled and found in Webster's dictionary and means "capable of being lost", therefore I believe Monsignor Fenton correctly spells and uses the word "inamissibly" which would mean "incapable of being lost" - J. G.] in the everlasting glory of the Beatific Vision. There is genuine salvation, however, when the man who has hitherto been in the state of original or mortal sin is brought into the life of sanctifying grace, even in this world, when that life of grace can be lost through the man's own fault.
There is, however, a definitely social aspect to the process of salvation. In the merciful designs of God's providence, the man who is transferred from the state of original or mortal sin into the state of grace is brought in some way "within" a social unit, the supernatural kingdom of the living God. In Heaven that community is the Church Triumphant, the company of the elect enjoying the Beatific vision. On earth it is the Church Militant. Under the conditions of the new or the Christian dispensation, that community is the organized or visible religious society which is the Catholic Church, the Mystical body of Jesus Christ on earth.
We must not lose sight of the fact that people in the condition of aversion from God, in the state of original or mortal sin, belong in some way to a kingdom or an ecclesia under the leadership of Satan, the moving spirit among the spiritual enemies of God. Hence the process of salvation involves necessarily the transfer of an individual from one social unit or community to another, from the kingdom of Satan to the true and supernatural kingdom of the living God.
The opening paragraphs of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical against Freemasonry, the letter Humanum genus, brings out the relations between these two communities with unmatched clarity and accuracy.
The race of man, after it miserable fall from God, the Creator and the Giver of heavenly gifts, "through the envy of the devil," separated into two diverse parts, of which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other for those things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God on earth, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it so as to gain salvation must of necessity serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.
This two fold kingdom St. Augustine keenly discerned and described after the manner of two cities, contrary in their laws because striving for contrary objects; and with subtle brevity he expressed the efficient cause of each in these words: "Two loves formed two cities: the love of self, reaching even to contempt of God, an earthly city; and the love of God, reaching even to contempt of self, a heavenly one." At every period of time each has been in conflict with the other, with a variety and multiplicity of weapons and of warfare, although not always with equal ardor and assault. [This passage is found in Father Wynne's edition of The Great Encyclical Letters of Pope Leo XIII (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1903), p. 83.]
This intrinsically social aspect of salvation is brought out in the account, in the Acts of the Apostles, of the end of St. Peter's sermon on the first Christian Pentecost and of the results of that sermon.
Now when they had heard these things, they had compunction in their heart and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles: What shall we do, men and brethren?
But Peter said to them: Do penance: and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins. And you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call.
And with very many other words did he testify and exhort them, saying: Save yourselves from this perverse generation.
They therefore that received his word were baptized: and there were added in that day about three thousand souls.
And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communication of the breaking of bread and in prayers. [Acts 2: 37-42.]
According to the inspired word of God in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter exhorted the men who listened to him on that first Christian Pentecost to "save themselves from this perverse generation." Furthermore, we are told that the individuals who "received his word" received the sacrament of baptism, and that they were "added" to the number of the disciples of Christ who had been with St. Peter and the other apostles before he delivered his sermon. The society of the disciples of Jesus Christ, the organization which we know now as the Catholic Church, continued, with this great number of new members, to do exactly what it had been doing since the day of Our Lord's ascension into Heaven.
We read that the group, composed as it was of these new converts who had come into the Church as a result of St. Peter's Pentecost sermon and of the disciples who had entered the group during Our Lord's public life, was "persevering in the doctrine of the apostles and in the communication of the breaking of bread and in prayers." And we read the same sort of account of the activity of the original band of disciples that returned to Jerusalem immediately after the Ascension.
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount that is called Olivet, which is nigh Jerusalem, within a Sabbaths day's journey.
And when they were come in they went up into an upper room, where abode Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes and Jude the brother of James.
All these were persevering with one mind in prayer, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. [Acts 1: 12-14.]
Both the text and the context of the Acts of the Apostles assure us that the people who heeded St. Peter's injunction to save themselves from this perverse generation entered the true Church of God, the kingdom of God on earth. They entered the Catholic Church.
Now, if St. Peter's words on this occasion meant anything at all, they signified that the individuals to whom he was speaking were in a situation which would lead them to eternal ruin if they continued in it. They were described as belonging to a "perverse generation." They were told to save themselves by getting out of it. The institution into which they would enter by the very fact of leaving "this perverse generation" was none other than the society of Our Lord's disciples, the Catholic Church itself.
The clear implication of St. Peter's statement is that the Church, the kingdom of God, was the only institution or social unit of salvation. Not to be within this society was to be in the perverse generation within which a man was faced with eternal and entire spiritual ruin. To leave the perverse generation was to enter the Church.
In other words, the clear teaching of this section of the Acts of the Apostles is precisely that given by Pope Leo XII in the opening passages of his encyclical Humanum genus. The central point of this teaching is that the entire human race is divided between the kingdom of God, the ecclesia, and the kingdom of Satan. To be saved from the kingdom of Satan is to enter the kingdom of God. In this context it is not difficult to see how, by God's institution, the Catholic Church, the one and only supernatural kingdom of God on earth, is presented as a necessary means for the attainment of salvation. By God's institution the process of salvation itself involves a passage from the kingdom of Satan into the ecclesia.
Now, for the proper understanding of this doctrine, especially in view of the teaching on this subject contained in some recent books and articles, it is imperative to understand the religious condition of the people to whom St. Peter delivered his sermon on the first Christian Pentecost. Again, the Acts of the Apostles contains essentially important information.
This book describes them in general with the statement that "there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men out of every nation under Heaven." The homelands of these men are enumerated in the statement attributed to the multitude itself.
And they were all amazed and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these that speak, Galileans?
And how have we heard, every man, our own tongue wherein we were born?
Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Jedea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,
Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome,
Jews also and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians: we have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. [Acts 2: 7-11.]
According to the text of the Acts, a great many of these people were pilgrims, men and women who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the great Jewish feast of Pentecost. Our Lord had died on the Cross only a little over seven weeks before St. Peter delivered that sermon, and many of the people who listened to St. Peter must have been on their way to Jerusalem at the very time Our Lord died. They had begun their pilgrimage as an act of worship in the Jewish religion at the very time when the Jewish religion was the one approved especially by God and when the Jewish politico-religious commonwealth was actually the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, the ecclesia of the Old Testament.
These people as individuals probably had nothing whatsoever to do with the persecution and the murder of the Incarnate Word of God. They had started on their journey as members of God's chosen people, the people of His covenant. Their journey to Jerusalem was made precisely in order to worship and honor God. They were truly devout individuals.
Yet, seven weeks before, the religious body to which they belonged had ceased to be God's ecclesia. The Jewish politico-religious social unit had definitively rejected Our Lord, the Messias promised in the Old Testament. This company had hitherto enjoyed its position as God's ecclesia or His congregation fidelium by virtue of the fact that it had accepted and professed its acceptance of the divine message about the promised Redeemer. In rejecting the Redeemer Himself, this social unit had automatically rejected the teaching God had given about Him. The rejection of this message constituted an abandonment of the divine faith itself. By manifesting this rejection of the faith, the Jewish religious unit fell from its position as the company of the chosen people. It was no longer God's ecclesia, His supernatural kingdom on earth. It became part of the kingdom of Satan.
While the great Jewish social unit was rejecting Our Lord and thus repudiating its acceptance of the divinely revealed message about Him, the little company of the disciples, organized by Our Lord around Himself, retained its faith. It continued to accept and to obey Our Lord and to believe the divinely revealed message that centered around Him. Thus, at the moment of Our Lord's death on Calvary, the moment when the old dispensation was ended and the Jewish religious association ceased to be the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord's disciples began to exist as the Ecclesia or the kingdom.
This society was the true continuation of Israel. The men who were within it were the true sons of Abraham, in that they had the genuine faith of Abraham. This society was the new association of the chosen people. Its members were, as St. Paul called them, the elect or the chosen of God.
It must be understood, incidentally, that this society was actually God's supernatural kingdom on earth in a much more complete and perfect sense than the old Jewish commonwealth had ever been. The old Israel had constituted the people of the covenant. According to God's unfailing promise, the Redeemer was to be born within that company. Yet conditions had never been such that a man had to be within this company in order to attain to eternal salvation.
On the contrary, the new and faithful Israel was completely identical with the supernatural kingdom of God on earth. It was the true ecclesia or company of the faithful in the sense that no man could attain to eternal salvation unless he passed from this life "within" it. This organized society, within which unworthy members would be intermingled with the good until the end of time, was actually Our Lord's Own Mystical Body.
So it was that when St. Peter spoke to the crowd on the first Christian Pentecost, the society of which he had been constituted the visible head was actually the ecclesia Dei, the necessary terminus of the process of salvation. His hearers who, a few weeks before, had belonged to God's supernatural kingdom on earth by reason of their membership in the old Israelitic commonwealth, now actually found themselves in the "perverse generation" precisely by reason of that same membership. When St. Peter first spoke to them, they were in a position from which they needed to be saved. They were no longer members of the chosen people.
By heeding and obeying the words of St. Peter they regained the position they had formerly possessed, and their new possession of the dignity of membership in the ecclesia was much more perfect and complete than that which they had formerly enjoyed. Previously they had been within a company which had been God's congregation fidelium by reason of the profession of its acceptance of the divine message that centered around the promise of a Redeemer. When they accepted St. Peter's teaching, performed their duty of penance, and, by their reception of the sacrament of baptism, were "added" to the society of Our Lord's disciples, they entered the supernatural kingdom of God which enjoyed its status by reason of its acceptance of the divinely revealed teaching about the Redeemer who had become incarnate and had died to reconcile them with God.
It is extremely important for us to remember, however, that the people St. Peter urged to save themselves from the perverse generation in which they were living at the time were definitely not men of no religion at all. They were devout members of the establishment which had been, less than eight weeks before, God's supernatural kingdom on earth. In that establishment they had learned love for God and zeal in His service. Many of them were so moved by zeal for the service of God that they were willing to travel very considerable distances and to undergo serious hardships in order to assist at the temple sacrifices in Jerusalem during the days of the great religious festivity of Pentecost.
St. Peter did not recommend the Church to these people merely as something far more perfect than the religious affiliation they already possessed. He did not in any sense imply that, in entering the ecclesia, they would be simply passing to a better religious community. Quite on the contrary, he made it clear that it was necessary for them to transfer themselves from the "perverse generation" in which they then existed to a condition of salvation. The acceptance of his teaching was in fact an entrance into the Church. It is in line with this teaching that St. Paul, in his epistles, refers to those within the Church as "saved." The Epistle to the Ephesians tells us that God, "even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together in Christ (by whose grace you are saved)." [Eph. 2: 5.] And it explains that "by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God." [Eph. 2: 8.] The entire context of the New Testament brings out the fact that by entering the Church, men are actually being saved from the dominion of Satan, the prince of this world.
This is the basic social aspect of the process of salvation. In that process there is always involved a passage or a transitus from the kingdom of God's spiritual enemy into the actual kingdom of God Himself, His ecclesia. St. Peter made it clear that, in entering the Church, the people to whom he was speaking on that first Christian Pentecost were really being saved.
We must not lose sight of the fact that in our own day there is sometimes a tendency to imagine that persons who are in a position comparable with that of the people to whom St. Peter's sermon was addressed are really in an acceptable position. The people who encourage this tendency are careful to state that the Catholic Church is more advantageously placed than other religious bodies in this world. They assert that the Church has the fullness of God's revealed message; but, at the same time, they likewise insist that other religions are really from God, and that they constitute the plenitude of God's teaching for those whom He does not call to the higher position of Catholicism. The Modernist Von Hugel brought out this teaching in a volume recently republished in this country. According to Von Hugel:
The Jewish religion was not false for the thirteen centuries of the pre-Christian operations; it was, for those times, God's fullest self-revelation and man's deepest apprehension of God; and this same Jewish religion can be, is, still the fullest religious truth for numerous individuals whom God leaves in their good faith; in their not directly requiring the fuller, the fullest, light and aid to Christianity. What is specially true of the Jewish religion is, in a lesser but still very real degree, true of Mohammedanism, and even of Hinduism, of Parseeism, etc. [Letters from Baron Friedrich Von Hugel to a Niece (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1955), p. 115]
Von Hugel, like others of his class, was careful to insist that "it is not true that all religions are equally true, equally pure, equally fruitful." But, as a matter of fact, no one but the most militant and ignorant atheist ever claimed that they were. His own position is completely incompatible with the teaching of St. Peter in his sermon on the first Christian Pentecost. He depicted non-Catholic religions as acceptable, even though less perfect than Catholicism. If his contention had been in any way true, then St. Peter would have been guilty of seriously deceiving the people to whom he spoke on that Pentecost morning. Very definitely it is not true to say that a man is saved when he is transferred from a less perfect to a more perfect condition. He is saved only be being transferred from a ruinous position into a status wherein he can live as he should.
Von Hugel described the religious condition of the people to whom St. Peter spoke as "still the fullest religious truth for numerous individuals whom God leaves in their good faith; in their not directly requiring the fuller, the fullest, light and aid to Christianity." St. Peter asserted that these individuals were in a perverse generation, and told them to save themselves from it. There is no possibility of any agreement between these two positions.
In every age of the Church there has been one portion of Christian doctrine which men have been especially tempted to misconstrue or to deny. In our own times it is the part of Catholic truth which was brought out with special force and clarity by St. Peter in his first missionary sermon in Jerusalem. It is somewhat unfashionable today to insist, as St. Peter did, that those who are outside the true Church of Jesus Christ stand in need of being saved by leaving their own positions and entering the ecclesia. Nevertheless, this remains a part of God's Own revealed message.
It is a part of Catholic doctrine that entrance into the Church (actually by becoming a member of the Church; and, when this is impossible, by at least an implicit though sincere desire or intention) is a part of the process of salvation. It is equally a part of Catholic teaching, however, that this is by no means the only part. A man is saved from the evil of belonging to the kingdom of Satan by his entrance into the Church, but this entrance in no way constitutes a guarantee that he will actually enjoy the Beatific Vision for all eternity. The process of salvation is not fully completed, a man cannot be said to be "saved" in the full sense of the term, until he has attained the Beatific Vision itself.
St. James, writing to men who are already Christians, members of the true Church, warns them to "receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls." [James 1: 21.] He was setting forth God's Own teaching when he reminded those within the Church that they were still obliged to work, under the direction of the divine doctrine, for the salvation of their own souls. It remains possible for a man to be within the Church and to be disloyal to God. Such a man constitutes himself as an unworthy member of the Church and, unless he repents of his sins, he will be cut away from the kingdom of God for all eternity when he dies. And, if the sinner within the Church turns again toward God, he is being saved by the power of Jesus Christ, working through the sacrament of penance. Obviously he cannot be saved other than in and through the Catholic Church.
Thus, despite the fact that it is possible for a man to be within the Church and to lose his soul, salvation is in itself a process which involves a social aspect. Everyone who has been born since the sin of Adam, with the exception of our Lord and of His Blessed Mother, has come into the world or begun his existence as a member of the fallen family of Adam, and thus as one who belongs to what St. Peter designated as the "perverse generation" and what Pope Leo XIII called the "kingdom of Satan."
He has likewise begun his existence as a human being in the state of original sin and has very frequently increased his aversion from God by the force of his own mortal sins. The process of salvation is the process by which such men have been brought from that condition of aversion from God into the final and inadmissible possession of His friendship and the enjoyment of the Beatific Vision. Involved in that process, by God's Own institution, is a transfer from the kingdom of Satan into the one supernatural kingdom of God on earth. Since the moment of Our Lord's death on the Cross, that kingdom has been, again by God's Own institution, the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ on earth.
Thus, if we examine the actual concept of salvation, we find that the Church as God's kingdom on earth is actually involved in it. Thus, in this process, the Church is not merely an extraneous factor which has been somehow introduced into the Christian teaching about eternal salvation. It is, in the social aspect of salvation, the necessary terminis ad quem of that transfer by which men are brought from sin to grace, by being changed from apposition of belonging to the kingdom of Satan, the dominion of "the prince of this world," into the one and only supernatural kingdom of God on earth.
Do not be so ready to condemn people of other religions as being damned, for if they are good willed they can be within the Church by desire much as the Jews who were being faithful to Old Covenant shortly after it ceased and became a false religion were, until it was made known to them that they must be baptized and join the Catholic Church. If the faithful Jews on pilgrimage to Jerusalem shortly after Christ had died on the cross had died on the way to Jerusalem during their pilgrimage they would have been saved within the Church. They had an effective desire to do the will of God as can be shown by the long pilgrimage they took to worship God. On Judgment Day God does not check for the character of baptism like an I.D. card but looks into the soul to see if it is in a state of sanctifying grace. It is the constant teaching of the Church, and in fact a very elementary teaching, that anyone who dies in a state of sanctifying grace obtains the Beatific Vision despite those who prefer to insist on the contrary.
Contrary to what the Feeneyites exclaim, the doctrine of Baptism of the Holy Ghost or repentance which is known as "baptism of desire" does not render sacramental Baptism optional. Baptism of desire applies to those who are not aware of the necessity of Baptism as well as those who are aware of the necessity but are unable to receive it before death, like some catechumens and martyrs, (with the necessity of Divine precept and a necessity of means though not by intrinsic necessity) and who are not culpable of not being aware of the necessity of Baptism. And it applies to such people only if present with the other requisites [supernatural Faith, perfect charity] necessary to make salvation possible as explained above. Sacramental Baptism is very necessary, as in essential, for those aware of its necessity and who don't unexpectedly die before being baptized. The Feeneyite who claims those who teach the Catholic doctrine of baptism of desire render the necessity of water Baptism optional need to come up with another objection. They make themselves appear to be intellectually dishonest by coming up with such a claim. For water baptism being "optional" would be taught as being optional to potential converts if it was optional. The Church and Christ insist on water baptism for those who join the Church as the only possible means to be members of that Church. But neither the Church nor Christ insists on the impossible as the Feeneyites seem to believe. And that is precisely what Christ would be doing if he damned the good willed attached to the Church by desire, merely for their invincible ignorance on the necessity of baptism.
We are presenting Church teaching in these installments.
If those of the Feeneyite persuasion will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican. (Matthew 18:17)
Verse. 17. Tell the church. This not only shews the order of fraternal correction, but also every man's duty in submitting to the judgment of the Church. (Witham) --- There cannot be a plainer condemnation of those who make particular creeds, and will not submit the articles of their belief to the judgment of the authority appointed by Christ. (Haydock)
For your own sakes please heed this warning dear followers of Feeney.
As we have seen throughout this series, Father Fenton collects all the teachings by orthodox theologians throughout the Church's history along with all the infallible teachings of Popes and councils and shows how the teaching on the Church and salvation started to veer slightly off track in theology manuals published by otherwise orthodox theologians in recent centuries as they started using the term "soul", a term Bellarmine used to describe the "inner bonds of unity" within the Church, to actually describe the Church itself in a way that was distinct or broader than the mystical body of Christ, thus teaching the exact opposite of what Bellarmine taught while teaching what they believed he taught.
Saint Robert Bellarmine taught that members of the Church were those who professed the faith, partook of the sacraments and submitted to legitimate ecclesiastical authority. He taught that Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same. He taught that there were inner bonds of unity and outward bonds of unity within this Church.
He, with the Catholic Church, teaches that members of the Church can lack the inner bonds of unity essential for salvation such as sanctifying grace. He in union with the Catholic Church teaches that non-members of the Church who lack one or more of the outer bonds of unity can partake of the inner bonds of unity necessary for salvation such as sanctifying grace and be saved.
Understanding the above is the key to understanding the Catholic Church's teaching on her necessity for salvation. Non-members of the Church who share in her inner bonds of unity can be saved within the Church. The Dogma teaches that there is no salvation outside the Church. Non-members of that Church who partake of the inner bonds of unity can be saved within the Church despite not being members of that Church.
If I was forced to pick one or the other I would much prefer to be a non-member who dies in a state of sanctifying grace than to die as a member not in a state of sanctifying grace. How about you?
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