Extra ecclesiam nulla salus / There is no salvation besides the Church!

john paul ii be not afraid

On the Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August 2000, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith promulgated with the ratification of Saint Pope John Paul II the Declaration Dominus Iesus, on the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. The raging debate has always been about the understanding of the word “extra”.

  • Does “extra” mean merely what most all would grant, that, outside of Christ in His Church, there is no other Savior, such as some martian in a space ship?
  • Does “extra” refer, for instance, to a legal application of positive divine law regarding baptism, indeed, even baptism done within the Catholic Church, so that no other Christians could ever be found in heaven no matter what?

Dominus Iesus is an important doctrinal document meant to be a teaching document settling controversies. It is brief, to the point. Most extraordinary. Well worth the read. There is a paragraph at the end which is interesting:

In treating the question of the true religion, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council taught: “We believe that this one true religion continues to exist in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus entrusted the task of spreading it among all people. Thus, he said to the Apostles: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you’ (Mt 28: 19-20). Especially in those things that concern God and his Church, all persons are required to seek the truth, and when they come to know it, to embrace it and hold fast to it”

Obviously there are more refined questions about the phrase “continues to exist” blah blah blah. But I’ll tell you this, if one accepts what is written in that document, there is no way that one could say that Islam has anything whatsoever to do with any kind of religion, even while the revelation which both Jews and Catholics have received is precisely the same in all ages (Aquinas, Siri et al.).

And let’s get this right: religion is part of the virtue of justice, so that one is to render to God that which is His due, which is proper worship, which can only be done through, with and in Jesus, to the greater glory and honor of God in the unity of the Most Holy Spirit. And remember, Christ Jesus, the Son of the Immaculate Conception, will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

3 Comments

Filed under Interreligious dialogue, Jesus, Jewish-Catholic dialogue, John Paul II

3 responses to “Extra ecclesiam nulla salus / There is no salvation besides the Church!

  1. Amen to your last paragraph Father. Thank you for this post and also thank you to elizdelphi for her comment referencing Dominus Iesus. This is helpful to me.

  2. elizdelphi

    I met with my spiritual director today and we talked about greater discipline in my internet use and the value of sacrificing even things that are good. I have permission to read on Saturday two blogs by priests, ie this one and Father Z’s. So I shall see you all then and if you see me before then you will know it is a venial sin.

  3. sanfelipe007

    I will avert my eyes from any of your rebellious comments, Elizabeth, so as not to compound your transgressions! ;-)

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