September 1-4, 2000
volume 11, no. 157-160

NEWS for Labor Day Weekend, September 1-4, 2000

VATICAN, Aug. 31 (

    "No salvation outside the Church"-- that is the theme of a new statement to be published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The new 25-page document, entitled Dominus Jesus, will concern "the uniqueness and universality of salvation through Jesus Christ and the Church." It will be made public by the Congregation on September 5, and made available in translation in seven languages as well as Latin.

    The new document, which has been in preparation for several years, is the Vatican response to a series of theological disputes regarding the role of the Church in salvation. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of the Congregation, will unveil the document at a September 5 press conference in Rome.

    The statement Dominus Jesus is a meditation on the old formula, "nulla salus extra Ecclesiam," which has been formally proclaimed as a doctrine of the Catholic Church. The new Vatican statement seeks to clarify that doctrine. The document reaffirms that Jesus Christ offers the only path to salvation. However, the document states that believers of other faiths may also find salvation through Jesus Christ. Thus, the argument concludes, the formula "nulla salus extra Ecclesiam" should not be taken to mean that non-Catholics cannot obtain salvation.

    While strongly reaffirming the necessary role of the Church in the economy of salvation, Dominus Jesus cautions that some believers may obtain salvation even through they are not formally incorporated into the Catholic Church. On the other hand, the Vatican document issues a strong caution against the tendency to view the true Church as nothing more than the sum of all Christian communities, or to suggest that all Christian churches are essentially equal.

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