Salvation And The Roman Church

No Salvation Outside the Church of Rome


Pope Boniface VIII (1302 A.D.)

So, when the Greeks and others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they must confess that they are not of Christ’s sheep, even as the Lord says in John, ‘There is one fold and one shepherd’… Furthermore, that every human creature is subject to the Roman pontiff,—this we declare, say, define, and pronounce to be altogether necessary to salvation (From the Bull Unam Sanctam. Found in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1910), Volume VI, pp. 25-27).

The Council of Florence

The sacrosanct Roman Church…firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart ‘into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41), unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock; and that the unity of ecclesiastical body is so strong that only to those remaining in it are the sacraments of the Church of benefit for salvation, and do fastings, and almsgiving, and other functions of piety and exercises of Christian service produce eternal reward, and that no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church (44Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma (London: Herder, 1954), p. 230, #714).

Pope Innocent III (1198-1216 A.D.)

By the heart we believe and by the mouth we confess the one Church, not of heretics but the Holy Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic (Church) outside which we believe that no one is saved (From the letter Eius exemplo. Found in Denzinger, p. 166, #423).

Pope Clement VI (1342-1352 A.D.)

No man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved (From the letter Super quibusdum. Found in Denzinger, p. 204, #570b).

Pius IX (1846-1878 A.D.)

For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God…But the Catholic dogma that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church is well- known; and also that those who are obstinate toward the authority and definitions of the same Church, and who persistently separate themselves from the unity of the Church, and from the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, to whom ‘the guardianship of the vine has been entrusted by the Savior,’ cannot obtain eternal salvation (From the Allocution, Singulari quadem. Found in Denzinger, pp. 416, 425; #1647, 1677).

The Council of Trent

Seventh Session: Decree Concerning the Sacraments

For the completion of the salutary doctrine on Justification…it hath seemed suitable to treat of the most holy Sacraments of the Church, through which all true justice either begins, or being begun is increased, or being lost is repaired. After this Catholic doctrine on justification, which whosoever does not faithfully and firmly accept cannot be justified.

Canon I: If anyone saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or that they are more, or less, than seven, namely, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order and Matrimony; or that any of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament: let him be anathema.

Canon IV: If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification; – though all (the sacraments) are not necessary for every individual: let him be anathema.

Canon VIII: If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace: let him be anathema (The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, in Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1919 ed.), pp. 118-121).

Vatican I

Further, all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed. And since, without faith, it is impossible to please God, and to attain to the fellowship of his children, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will any one obtain eternal life unless he shall have persevered in faith unto the end…The first condition of salvation is to keep the rule of the true faith.

If any one, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible Head of the whole Church militant; or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.

If, then, any should deny that it is by institution of Christ the Lord, or by divine right, that blessed Peter should have a perpetual line of successors in the Primacy over the universal Church, or that the Roman Pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy: let him be anathema.

We teach and define that it is a dogma divinely revealed: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of pastor and doctor of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith and morals to be held by the universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine redeemer willed that his Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals; and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.But if any one—which may God avert—presume to contradict this our definition: let him be anathema.

This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and salvation (Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (New York: Harper, 1877), Dogmatic Decrees of the Vatican Council, On Faith, Chapter III; Chp. 4, pp. 266-71).

Vatican II

This sacred Synod turns its attention first to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon sacred Scripture and tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. For Christ, made present to us in His body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique Way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn. 3:5) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by God through Jesus Christ, would refuse to enter her or to remain in her could not be saved.

The mission of the Church concerns the salvation of men, which is to be achieved by belief in Christ and by His grace. Hence the apostolate of the Church and of all her members is primarily designed to manifest Christ’s message by words and deeds and to communicate His grace to the world. This work is done mainly through the ministry of the Word and of the sacraments, which are entrusted in a special way to the clergy (The Documents of Vatican II (Chicago: Follett, 1966), Walter M. Abbott, S.J., General Editor.

The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism

401. Why did Christ establish the Church?

Christ established the Church as a universal sacrament of salvation.

402. How is the Church the universal sacrament of salvation?

The Church is the universal sacrament of salvation as the divinely instituted means of conferring grace on all the members of the human family.

403. How does the Church communicate divine grace to mankind?

The Church communicates grace to mankind by her teaching of revealed truth, her celebration of Mass and administration of the sacraments, her prayers and the practice of virtue by her members, and her guidance and government of the faithful according to the will of God.

404. Is the Church necessary for salvation?

Yes, the Church is necessary for salvation. Christ himself declared that no one can be saved except through faith and baptism.

405. For whom is there no salvation outside the Church?

There is no salvation for those who, though incorporated into the Church by baptism, fail to persevere in sanctifying grace and die in the state of mortal sin. Those also are not saved who realize what they are doing but refuse to be baptized and accept the Church’s means of salvation.

406. What does the Catholic Church believe about the forgiveness of sins?

She believes it is God’s will that no one is forgiven except through the merits of Jesus Christ, and that these merits are uniquely channeled through the Church he founded. Consequently, even as the Church is the universal sacrament of salvation, she is also the universal sacrament of reconciliation.

407. How does the Church communicate the merits of Christ’s mercy to sinners?

The Church communicates Christ’s mercy to sinners through the Mass and the sacraments, and all the prayers and good works of the faithful.

408. What is the Church’s role in the reconciliation of sinners to God?

The Church reconciles sinners to God mainly by her exercise of God’s mercy, through the sacraments which he instituted.

409. Are the sacraments necessary for salvation?

According to the way God has willed that we be saved, the sacraments are necessary for salvation(John Hardon, The Question and Answer Catholic Catechism(Garden: Image, 1981).