Let’s say you have a choice to take one of two airplanes to take to a distant city, lets call it “Heavenly City.” The one plane (Church Airlines) gets there 100% of the time. The other plane (Alsoran Airlines) gets there sometimes, but other times it is in disrepair, or  it lands in the wrong city, or at still other times it crashes. OK, which plane are you going to take?

Now I am not going to tell you that only Church Airline riders  get to Heavenly City. A few people on the other plane do sometimes get there, but its a pretty uncertain ride. At least with Church Airlines the plane is certain to get there: it won’t crash, get lost or fail to take off. So, choose your airline!  But remember that Church Airlines has a 100 % record, Alsoran Airlines can make no such claim. When it comes to flying even 99 1/2 won’t do, gotta make a 100!

 The simple fact is that the world and other inferior brands might not get you there.  Untested spiritualities and the latest trends won’t cut it. Only Jesus and the Catholic Church he founded are up to the job 100% of the time. Now be careful though. You have to stay on the plane for the whole journey. Don’t get off at a connecting city (such as Sin City) or  any such thing. Stay the course to Heavenly City. The Catholic Church alone (aka Church airlines)  is 100% reliable by Jesus’ own promise.  It’s a pretty good reason to get on board before the door closes and walkway swings back. There is a mid-flight meal, (called the Eucharist), and an in-flight movie, “The Greatest Story Ever Told (aka the Scriptures) included in the price of your ticket which is, by the way, free.

The Church is Indefectible- There are very few certainties in this world about anything but one thing is for sure: The Church will prevail, the Church will be here to infallibly lead us to the end of days. “How arrogant!” you might say. And yet,  I did say it. Why? Not because of any human guarantee, but based rather on the firm promise of Jesus himself: 

The place is Ceasarea Phillipi and Jesus is speaking to Simon Peter who had just confessed him to be the Christ and the Son of  the Living God. Now Jesus speaks and says, You are Peter (Rock), and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of hell  shall not prevail against it.  (Matt 16:18) The Church will surely be hated, attacked and persecuted but Hell will never prevail, never defeat the Church Jesus founded.  Now I want to emphasize that this power of the Church to endure to the end is no human power. It is not based on brilliant or perfect human leaders. It is based solely on Jesus’  promise. So it is not arrogant to make this claim, it is simply biblical and a matter of faith in Jesus.

This prevailing power of the Church means that the Church will be here to the end.  Count on it since Jesus promised it. This is what is meant by the “indefectibility” of Church.

The Church is Infallible - Christ promise also means that the Church cannot mislead us or teach falsely in a matter of faith and morals. This is what is meant by the “infallibility” of the Church in matters of faith and morals definitively taught.  Here is the way the catechism puts it.

In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…It is this Magisterium’s task to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates. To fulfill this service, Christ endowed the Church’s shepherds with the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals. The exercise of this charism takes several forms: “The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful – who confirms his brethren in the faith he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals. The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter’s successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 889-891)

Now some object to this claim of the infallibility of the Church. But reason with me for a minute. Jesus promised that the gates of Hell could not prevail against the Church. But if the Church could formally teach error about faith and morals, and if the Church could mislead people about what was necessary for their eternal salvation, then it would be a fact that the gates of Hell HAD prevailed. But since Jesus promised it could never happen, then, by God’s grace, the Church is protected from formally teaching falsely on matters of faith and morals. Do you trust Jesus and believe his word? Then the Church is unsinkable and infallible regarding faith and morals.

 There are many other gifts given to the Church and Fr. Barron speak of them here:

43 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    Israel is eternal and the Church is the New Israel. It’s the paradox of the Church’s incorruptibility.

  2. Denise says:

    As a lifelong Catholic, I believe that the Church cannot lie, and is infallible… I will ALSO say that her people are fallible and that includes our clergy. So, even though the CCC or the Bible or other Church documents state the Truth, what’s often taught in the parishes is a far cry from the truth. Abuses DO abound, unfortunately.

    And the average lay person is more than likely not very well catechized. They trust in what their local shepherds (their priests and even bishops) tell them, which sometimes does lead her people astray to the detriment of their salvation.

    Because of this and other abuses (ie: secularized Masses – and no, I don’t believe the EF is the answer, lack of proper catechesis, etc), many are leaving the Roman Rite. Some are simply going to Anglican Use, or to an Eastern Rite. But some have left for Orthodoxy or even, unfortunately, protestantism. The argument that the RCC is the ‘one and only true Church’ doesn’t hold water for a people who are starving to be fed and have difficulties locating a theologically sound parish.

    I know that no Catholic likes to hear any criticism about their Church. I know I sure don’t! But I do believe this Church that I love deeply should cease hiding behind her infallibility as a way of … well using it as a loophole. ‘That priest misled people, the Church didn’t’. When normal lay people do not see the difference between the two. And they SHOULDN’T! If they do, then all authority, all respect for hierarchal figures (priests, bishops, etc.) will dissipate. And we don’t want that either.

    Insofar as the Church’s incorruptibility, I do believe the gates of Hell will not prevail. I also believe the Church, who is appearing a little war torn right now, will get much smaller in the days to come, and not all of it due to the infidelity of the laity.

    Today, in the Eastern Catholic Churches, is the feast of St Mary of Egypt. Let us pray fervently for the intercession of this great penitent. And let us commend ourselves again to the Lord during this time of great fasting of Lent, that we come to Him in humility and repentance.

  3. Joseph DePrisco says:

    “A few people on the other plane do sometimes get there…” What happened to “Outside of the Church there is NO SALVATION?” What part of “no” don’t you understand? The correct teaching is that absolutely no one on the other plane will get there.

    • Well Joseph, the teaching is a bit more nuanced that you present it. I might refer you to the Catechism #s 836-848 which sets forth an understanding of the doctrine “Nulla Salus…” which is inclusive of those who may be outside visible unity with the Catholic Church.

      • Geisteswissenschaften says:

        to paraphrase the big guy in the Bible (which, contrary to the way some people think, is a product of Church teaching):

        “Those under the law will be judged by the law, those who have Jesus Christ will be judged by their faith, and those who have neither law nor faith will be judged by their consciences.”

        Why judgment if no opportunity for salvation? It would contradict. There can be found salvation for those outside of the Church. In fact, I tell you it is even easier for them for we are bound to faith where they are bound only to the law.

        But, again, I tell you that the law is in itself no means of salvation. For if it were, then Christ would have no need to have come at all.

        So:
        1. The law is dead.
        2. It is the Holy Spirit that gives life, not the law. And it was Jesus Christ who destroyed death and makes life possible.
        3. “those who are still under the law will be judged by the law” etc.

        So, how to reconcile the two notions? I have no idea. Maybe the monsignor knows that answer.

  4. Geisteswissenschaften says:

    I love my Church as much as anyone can ever say they do. I love my Church like the Saints love being in heaven. But, unfortunately, we are not 100% reliable as the old monsignor put it. We are far from 100%.

    And don’t fall into the Protestant trap of having guaranteed salvation. Don’t rely on the Church to get you in the front door. Like Mary was a vehicle for bringing God into our lives, so the Church is a vehicle for bringing us into the presence of God. But there is this old trap of “do as they say, not as they do.”

    Sometimes, the Church is responsible for directing people away from God. You only have to look at all of the sex scandals to realize that we are not 100%. Anyone who says, “well, that is not the Church,” deludes themselves. For those children, those small tokens of heaven, IT IS the Church. If it was one member of our hierarchy who failed, then it was all. There is plenty of precedent for that, you only have to read the Old Testament to see how God holds the entire Church accountable for the actions of a few.

    Is there salvation through the Church? Yes. There definitely is. Can it be guaranteed by the Church? Only if you hold yourselves to the highest possible personal accountability.

    Now, we all fall short of the glory of heaven, short of perfection. And no other religion has the capacity to fully reveal God’s Truth here on earth. The poor Protestants are even further from Truth than even the Mohammedans because they had Truth, they had Communion, and they let it go. They consistently teach false doctrines and heresies too.

    Heaven on earth is Communion with God and Man. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand the virtue of putting aside vain theological teaching in order to become One with God and also One with each other. This is the Commandment of Jesus Christ and a handful of apostles too.

    But only the Catholic Church has 100% of the POTENTIAL to get you to heaven. That is fact.

    But look at the US Church in 2001 and for the last 50 years. Look at Ireland for the last 40 years and today……We continue to fail as a Church to protect the sanctity and dignity of human life despite that at least some American Catholics can dis-claim abortion as their own, but the other sins, the paedophile sins, the gay sins, the watering down of the Gospel, these we must own.

    And have we learned our lesson? No. No we have not. We have not improved. The Vatican response to Ireland is so far, ineffectual. It’s just a bunch of talk just like it was here in America.

    Sometimes you’ll notice that those who build there little ‘wall of ethos’ just so perfectly are the ones secretly doing the most damage. In fact, they thrive on it. BEWARE OF THOSE WHO HOLD TIGHTLY TO THEIR AUTHORITY.

    Real authority, authored by Jesus Christ, comes through humility and only through humility. They are not true apostles if they do not keep their humility even if they were ordained – it should be called illicit – but nevermind that, it is an ineffective word anyway.

    • As for the 100% being a guarantee of salvation, I did not say that. Remember I told you, you have to stay on the plane and not get off at sin city etc.

      As for your other poiint, indefectability and infallibility are not the same as impecability which the Church has never claimed. Jesus himself said that scandals would inevitably arise

      I would not totally disagree with your phrase that But only the Catholic Church has 100% of the POTENTIAL to get you to heaven.

      I had to edit some of your comment since you make charges against certain specific Catholic orders etc that I am not sure can be verified and I cannot allow the comments on a blog of this sort to pass on such accusations that may be unjustified.

      • Geisteswissenschaften says:

        I like this topic. But I have to ask: If you’re not saying 100% guarantee of salvation (the plane that gets there), and you’re also not saying there is 100% of potential (as long as you stay on the plane), then what does the 100% mean if not that? It’s confusing then.

        As for the religious orders: I named them purposefully. I get emails from people very often asking me to break a story for them. As someone who was once a postulant too, I can verify my own claims of sexual deviance among both the clergy and the seminarians.

        And I can tell you specifically of a story that I am trying to help mediate so that it does not break wide open. Monsignor – it would be devastating and bring the whole sex scandal ordeal full circle.

        We haven’t learned our lessons about this whole ‘keep it in the church first’ backward way of doing things. And what hurts the most right now is that the ones I know who are going through contemporary tragedies of failure by the clergy are not the only ones suffering, we are a communion. So when one suffers, we all suffer.

      • Oh the plane is definitely getting there. Just like the Ark of old did. But you gotta get on and stay on.

        As per your concerns for the abuse scandal, it remains a sad chapter in our story. But Again, to one an all: I do not argue in this post for the impecability of the Church.

  5. Terence Filmore says:

    I agree with your central point, Msgr., but let me present a couple of common rebuttles using your (very apt) plane analogy.

    1. Some of the pilots and cabin crew on Church Airlines abuse their passengers – and cover it up. Of course, Alsoran Airlines and every other airline has staff who do this too; but Church Airlines has always set itself apart as the No 1 in passenger treatment and so gets the lion’s share of the negative publicity. Now many passengers are cancelling their bookings, telling their friends to do so, and even spreading the word that you don’t really need to make that journey afterall.

    2. Church Airlines has very ornate and expensive planes, filled with what many others consider unessential add-ons. Other “no frills” airlines, like Alsoran Airlines, point out that if Church Airlines really cared about its passengers, it would cut out these frills and make passengers’ tickets cheaper. Some use the fact that the President of Church Airlines and many of his senior Vice Presidents live in palatial housing, have servants, and seem to live lives at odds with many of their passengers.

    These are two that I see a lot in the media and elsewhere. Regards.

  6. Patrick says:

    Monsignor,
    In all due respect, this article, I am afraid is misleading:
    1st of all, if one is to use the plane flight metaphor, one must mention the layover in Purgatory. This dogma has of late seemingly been forgotten in modern Catechesis.
    2) The Church does not teach universal salvation of Catholics. Quite the contrary, some of history’s greatest villains have been baptized Catholics (now whether they are part of the invisible Body of Christ- quite another matter)
    3) Joseph, I am afraid, brings up another uncomfortable point. It was once dogma that “it was absolutely necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff” (Unam Sanctam. 12th c (criteria met for an infallible statement by a Pope), and reaffirmed by Pius IX in the “Syllabus of Errors”). This doctrine changed in the 20th Century with JohnXXIII and JPII’s famous statement that “all Christians walk in the Light of Christ”.
    4) Church teaching was declared in Councils from the very beginning (see Acts), and the case that dogma can be declared as “executive order” is a difficult one (one of course that has been made by people smarter than I of course!) Peter was, after all, not only the 1st Bishop of Rome, but also of Antioch. He established Churches and laid on Hands in Asia Minor (1Pet 1:1) and Jerusalem, and his only declared Spiritual Son (John Mark) became 1st Bishop in Egypt. Let us therefore, return to the Conciliar Format (including above all the East), let the Pope resume his role as President rather than king (more firmly rooted in Tradition, by the way), and let the Church of Christ be One in all it’s fullness.

    Pax Christi

    • As to # 1. I did not mention purgatory in this article but I am well known for teaching and defending the dogma in many articles on this blog.
      As to # 2 I think I taught what you are saying here in the article very clearly and if you review if you will find that (eg gotta stay on the plane)
      As to # 3 The Nulla salus doctrine has had nuances from the beginning when the Church Fathers like Cyprian and Origen wrestled with it. It is not a doctrine that easily reduced to short slogans or statments.
      As to # 4 The expereince of the Orthodox Churches who use your format is poor to say the least. Such a move would not only be unwise but unbiblical .

      • Patrick says:

        Monsignor,
        1) I don’t mean to imply that you have not been a firm teacher of the Doctrine of Purgatory; just that it’s recently been downplayed in much lay Catholic teaching (ie RCIA, CCD)
        2) My question about universal salvation of Catholics pertains most of all those who remain on the Church airplane, but yet live their lives as if they are in Sin City. (Those who are in the Church but not of the Church, so to speak). If your point is that one must be always “in” and “of”, there is no argument. Again, I just found the metaphor misleading (but perhaps only to an ignoramus like me :)
        3) I never found Unam Sanctam to be nuanced, but once again, I am an ignoramus, and would not be even able to read the original Latin.
        4) Ecumenical Councils were the primary source of ratification of Doctrine for the Roman Catholic Church for 1600 years, and again in the 19th century. I am perplexed by the modern denigration of Councils as no longer necessary or authoritative. The RCC benefits greatly from having a strong executive, and the Orthodox suffer for not having one as strong. However, history has long demonstrated the benefits of having a “balance of powers” so to speak between an executive and a legislative (Conciliar) branch. Again, much better exegetes than I have argued persuasively for both the monarchical and the conciliar systems.

  7. Steve says:

    Unfortunately, even though what you said has some truth to it, what really matters is not the brand of airline you take, but…. “I was hungry and you fed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was alone and you comforted me.” In fact, at the end of Matthew’s Gospel that is the only criteria Jesus uses when the final separation happens for all eternity. Have a safe flight.

    • Margaret OConnor says:

      Just before I got to your comment I said to myself “All these fancy words. Hmph! It’s still Mt. 25 . The final judgment. When I was hungry you fed me etc. Hooray! I agree. We make being a Christian Catholic too complicated. And Jesus said “The greatest gift of all is LOVE”. Peace, and go love one another by living out Mt. 25. Thanks Steve for confirming my beliefs.

    • Your reduction of the Christian life to ONLY caring for the poor is unbiblical. There are plenty of places where Jesus and the Apostles warn of other things as excluding one from the Kingdom of God to include denying Christ before others, refusing to forgive others, fornication, adultery, incest, vengeful anger, absenting oneself from the eucharist, schism, refusal of the cross and on and on. I wrote my Master’s thesis on the passage you are quoting (Mat 25:41ff) and it must be said that there are varying theories as to that particualr list (eg that it is a Christian version of Noaritic Law etc). But very few commentators would agree with you that this is the exhaustive list, any more than Jesus Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5 in particular) is the exhaustive live, or that Paul’s list of the sins of the flesh in Gal 5 is exhaustive. I accept the fact that care for the poor is an essential element in the Christian life but it is not the only element. I work very hard with the Wasshington Interfaith network to secure Justice for the poor (WIN is an IAF organization) and am a leader in that group so I am not unfamiliar with the importantance an essential quality of that work. But I would never go so far as to say that is all I had to do and that living chaste, curbing my anger, praying daily and fulfilling the mandate to worship God on Sunday etc were unnecessary. The Apostles were clear to insist on sound doctrine as an essential demand upon the Christian and that they should reject any departure from the apostolic teaching handed on to them. There is more to the Christian life than care for the poor.

      • Steve says:

        Dearest Monsignor, it not reductionist at all. Your article is misleading to say the least. The tension here is between the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation and, that God wills salvation for all. Most of the people who have ever lived have not been baptized. Yes, the Catholic Church is necessary for salvation, but is not absolutely necessary. There are other criteria at God’s disposal, and as everyone knows, nothing that God has established can ever act as a limitation upon God. Yes, care for the poor does not exhaust the Church’s mission, but they come first because they hurt the most. Your interpretation of the airline motif renders all other Catholic teaching practically nugatory. Your article gives the impression that God loves Catholics more than Protestants, a forgiveable example of exuberance, but an incorrect impression nonetheless.

        • Nugatory ??

          There is nothing in my article that God loves Catholics more than Protestants. The article is on the nature of the Church as a instrument of Salvation and does not address who God loves more, which is an absurd comment. Again, you have failed to read the other comments appraently because you would know that I am not arguing what you seem to think I am and in fact I am also under attack from those who say I am not towing tight enough line on Nulla Salus extra ecclesiam. I don’t know who you’re arguing with but it isn’t me. I DO stand my what I said earlier however, that you cannot rduce the entire gospel to Matt 25:41ff, it is simply wrong and reductionistic to do this.

          • Steve says:

            Thank you, Monsignor for your reply. Your article implies, if not outright states that few, if any, Protestants or non-catholics will attain salvation if they fly Alsoran. So you do not accept Baptism under the Trinitarian formula as valid and constitutive of salvation for non-Catholics, Baptism being necessary for salvation. There is an implied Divine preference for Catholics. Again, most of the people who have ever lived have not been baptized Catholic or otherwise. Are they lost? I don’t imagine that to be the case. Further, your statement that the Church is infallible is misleading. It is the Magisterium of the Church that is infallible, not the Church that is made up of mostly non-clerics or lay persons. The Magisterium is not the sum total of the Church. Your approach to salvation is minimalistic, implying that mere membership and its attendant minimal duties suffice, even if you say sin must be avoided. Just get on the plane and leave the flying to the clergy, and avoid that other airline. You did not address the tension between the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation and God willing salvation for all. Thank you for listening.

            • Goin round in circles. You can see I’m fighting both extremes in these comments. Your, indifferentist one and the extreme interpretation of Nulla Salus. I think it is time to end this becuase you don’t seem to want to accept what my article said. I will say that the Lord founded the Catholic Church. Hence it seems He would prefer us all to be in the one Church he founded. It does not foillow that he loves catholics more orprefers some of his children over others. This is your issue. It is not mine. I do not know how many ways more I can tell you this.

              • Steve says:

                I agree it’s time to end this, Monsignor. However, every single human being who ever lived is redeemed on the merits of the Paschal Mystery, their salvation being known only to God. I would humbly suggest some respect for others who are not fortunate by history or birth to become Catholic.

      • There is nothing in my article that God loves Catholics more than Protestants. The article is on the nature of the Church as a instrument of Salvation and does not address who God loves more, which is an absurd comment. Again, you have failed to read the other comments appraently because you would know that I am not arguing what you seem to think I am and in fact I am also under attack from those who say I am not towing tight enough line on Nulla Salus extra ecclesiam. I don’t know who you’re arguing with but it isn’t me. I DO stand my what I said earlier however, that you cannot rduce the entire gospel to Matt 25:41ff, it is simply wrong and reductionistic to do this. ***

  8. Thomas says:

    Monsignor,

    You’ve made an excellent point, and an important one. In this day and age, we have very poor catechesis, and an even poorer understanding of the dogma, “Extra Ecclesiam, Nulla Salus.” Some people (such as Fr. Feeney) went too far to one extreme, declaring that salvation was impossible without being a visible, practicing Catholic. Others took to the opposite extreme, and teach the heresy of universal salvation. This renders the Church and the Sacraments essentially useless. It is an age of relativism, after all.

    I tend to think that we must be very careful with either extreme. The Catholic Church is the Church established by Christ, and within it subsists the fullness of the means of salvation. Christ taught his Apostles to baptize the world and teach all nations to observe his commandments, so this is the intended means of salvation. The Sacraments are the ordinary means by which one obtains salvation, but as God is not bound by the Sacraments, there may be other, extraordinary means used in cases of dire necessity that is solely within the realm of God’s action and Divine Mercy. It is uncertain trusting in extraordinary means that we’re not even aware of, however. Furthermore, for these extraordinary means to salvation to come into effect, one must have striven with not only with perfect invincible ignorance, but also lived with a desire to be conformed to the will of God, and in accordance with the natural moral law. In this day and age, perfect invincible ignorance is nearly impossible since information on Catholicism is easily obtained, a Catholic parish is usually not difficult to find, priests are easily contacted, and so forth. Not doing so out of spiritual sloth is not excused, as this in and of itself is a sin. Besides which, even with invincible ignorance, the desire to be conformed to the will of God implies contrition and observance of natural moral law, which is very difficult to do without the graces and aid of the means of salvation in the Church. If it were simple, then there would be no need for the Church; but as it is, even those within the Church have a difficult time attaining salvation. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

    In other words, the odds of being eligible for God’s “extraordinary means of salvation” are very slim, especially in our day and age. Much better to be certain of one’s potential salvation and place ourselves in perfect communion with the Body of Christ.

    • Thanks Thomas for an excellent reply that articulates well the need for balance.

      • Michael says:

        Msgr, how do you reconcile the statement made by Jesus when He said that NO ONE comes to the Father but through Me, Jesus? He makes the same exclusive statement when talking about baptism and eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Doesn’t that seem clear cut that there is not extraordinary ways to the Father? If there is another way, then Jesus was a) a liar, b) ignorant of the process, but since He is Truth, then he must have been c) telling the truth. I don’t know about you, but I would not dare choose a or b. I understand “invincible ignorance” but I find it very hard to not take such a hard lined stance on this topic. How do you explain this away without making Jesus a false prophet or a liar?

        In Christ,
        Michael

  9. John M. says:

    Monsignor,

    I like your article, but would have liked to see a little different language when discussing the “alsoran airlines”. For example, instead of saying “The other plane (Alsoran Airlines) gets there sometimes”, perhaps you could have said that it gets there only on the rarest of occasions. As you have stated, the phrase “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” is prone to being oversimplified and used as a slogan, but it must be emphasized that non-Catholics will only get to Heaven by way of invincible ignorance. And even in this case chances are very slim, for as Thomas points out in the post above, “conform(ing) (oneself) to the will of God implies contrition and observance of natural moral law, which is very difficult to do without the graces and aid of the means of salvation in the Church.

    All in all, I appreciate your post, but wish it would have emphasized a little better the real and extreme danger to one’s soul by being outside of Catholic Church.

    John M.

  10. Betty Lou Kishler says:

    I hate to be the one to inform you all “staunch” Catholics that it doesn’t matter one iota
    what plane you take. All the planes will get you to God. God does not prefer RCC
    or Jews or any other religion. God created us and God will get us to the place.
    Wake up all of you and “smell the roses.”

    • Actually, what I smell is religious indifferentism which is a daughter of sloth. Openess and egalitarian notions about truth based claims (which our faith is) are not compatible. There are not separate tracks but only one narrow gate. That said, I hope I have been clear for you that some who ride other planes do get home. I am not insisting that God can save apart from the VISIBLE means of the Catholic faith. But his best plane by far is the Catholic Church founded by Christ himself.

  11. jpelham says:

    Father,
    Your generous answers to your readers’ comments compel the most heartfelt thanks.

  12. Walt. says:

    There were many more heresies in the history of the early Eastern Churches, Orthodox, even up to the presence time. This is one reason most of them came to Rome to settle their problems. With out the Pope there is no Latin Rite Church. Also remember the Orthodox Churches have valid Sacraments and a valid Mass. Many Eastern Churches are in union with the Pope and their Rites are just as valid as our Latin Rite. Peace and Good.

  13. Irenaeus says:

    I believe Vatican2 clarified the idea of salvation outside the Church in a way that was … well more polite. I personally don’t think it changed. I think it has always been considered possible because anything is possible with God, but the problem is that it is nigh impossible outside the Church and without the sacraments.
    .
    “The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. ……. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. If any one could escape who was outside the ark of Noah, then he also may escape who shall be outside of the Church. The Lord warns, saying, ‘He who is not with me is against me, and he who gathereth not with me scattereth.’
    Cyprian, On Unity, 6 (A.D. 251).
    .
    .
    I take that Noah reference to mean that if you have faith enough to walk on water, then you should have no fear of drowning. Perhaps in that case it is ok to be outside the communion of the Church.

  14. Dan Buckley says:

    The Council of Florence made a definiti8ve statement on salvation and it was further promulgated by Pope Eugene IV in his bull Cantate Domino – no matter how great their penances or great works, even if they should die for the name of Christ, none will be saved who are not members of the Catholic Church. This is a many times defined teaching, infallibly proclaimed. It must be further noted that Vatican I teaches that such defined statements mean exactly and only what was meant by those who defined them. This is why in such language as “in some way known only to Himself” the possibility of the hope of salvation is available to those who die apparantly outside the Church. But it is certain that if they are saved, they are saved as Catholics.

  15. Robertlifelongcatholic says:

    The church is infallible in it’s teachings buteven Peter failed Jesus. The teachings of the chuirch are the Word of God. The head of the church has a job, a duty, not an entitlement. The Church is not the pope, the bishops or the preist. They were assigned a duty to carry out the teachings of the Church. Jesus was a realist and spoke and taught to his followers in their language and on their level of comprehension to enlighten them to the greatness of God’s gifts and love shared in them. Christ didn’t go around pontificating ephemeral sanctimoniums to a separate class of people. Christ shared the commonimity of life and suffering as a realist who spoke in conversations enlightening others to the true potential of the Church in Christ, not some ecclesiastic order of entitled politburo. This is not a blanket statement of the nature of the ecclesia but rather the moral degenerative problem within it.

  16. K Gurries says:

    Dear Father, I think you touch on a very important point — and those who would diminish this truth create a dangerous opening for “rupture theology”:

    http://opuscula.blogspot.com/2009/05/on-rupture-theology.html

  17. John Cowan says:

    Since the Roman Church treats the baptisms, ordinations, absolutions, and other sacraments of the schismatic churches (including the Orthodox, the O-O, the Assyrians, some but not all Anglicans, and the independent Catholics of various kinds) as valid, it must logically also concede that salvation is to be found through such sacraments (with the necessary mental elements, to be sure) no less reliably than through those who are in communion with the Pope.

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