The Catholic Dogma: Extra Ecclesiam Nullus Omnino Salvatur
|The Catholic Dogma: Extra Ecclesiam Nullus Omnino Salvatur (1888)
|Chapter I →|
|Published in 1888|
The Catholic Dogma: Extra Ecclesiam Nullus Omnino Salvatur
Preface. Necessary to be Read. [every dogma admits of no interpretation contrary to that which it has received from the beginning.]
www.vaticancatholic.comOUTSIDE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SALVATION (EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS)
The Chair of St. Peter on Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation - The following statements on Outside the Catholic Church There is No Salvation are from the highest teaching authority of the Catholic Church. They are ex cathedra Papal decrees (decrees from the Chair of St. Peter). Therefore, they constitute the teaching given to the Catholic Church by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Such teachings are unchangeable and are classified as part of the solemn magisterium (the extraordinary teaching authority of the Catholic Church). Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved...” Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra: “With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by absolute necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.” Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, Decree # 30, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: “... there is... one universal Church, outside of which there is no salvation, for all of whom there is one Lord, one faith, and one baptism…” Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity.” Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, ex cathedra: “The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council, Session 11, Dec. 19, 1516, ex cathedra: “... one universal Church, outside of which no one at all is saved, and they all have one Lord and one faith.” Pope Pius IV, Council of Trent, “Iniunctum nobis,” Nov. 13, 1565, ex cathedra: “This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved… I now profess and truly hold…” Pope Benedict XIV, Nuper ad nos, March 16, 1743, Profession of Faith: “This faith of the Catholic Church, without which no one can be saved, and which of my own accord I now profess and truly hold…” Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Session 2, Profession of Faith, 1870, ex cathedra: “This true Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold…”
2. Other Popes on Outside the Church There is No Salvation - In addition to the ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) proclamations of the popes, a Catholic must also believe what is taught by the Catholic Church as divinely revealed in her Ordinary and Universal Magisterium (Magisterium = the teaching authority of the Church). Pope Pius IX, Vatican I, Sess. III, Chap. 3, ex cathedra: “Further, by divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed.” The teaching of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium consists of those doctrines which popes, by their common and universal teaching, propose to be believed as divinely revealed. For instance, in their common and universal teaching, approximately 10 popes have denounced the heretical concept of liberty of conscience and worship as contrary to revelation. A Catholic cannot reject that teaching. The teaching of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium can never contradict the teaching of the Chair of Peter (the dogmatic definitions), of course, since both are infallible. Thus, the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium does not actually have to be considered at all in regard to Outside the Church There is No Salvation, because this dogma has been defined from the Chair of Peter and nothing in the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium can possibly contradict the Chair of Peter. So beware of those heretics who try to find ways to deny the Church’s dogmatic teaching on Outside the Church There is No Salvation by calling fallible, non-magisterial statements which contradict this dogma, part of the “Ordinary and Universal Magisterium,” when they aren’t. This is a clever ploy of the heretics. The following quotations from many popes are reaffirmations of the dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation. These teachings of the popes are part of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium – and are therefore infallible – since they reiterate the universal teaching of the Chair of St. Peter on the Catholic dogma Outside the Church There is No Salvation. Pope St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Summo Iugiter Studio, 590-604: “The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.” Pope Innocent III, Eius exemplo, Dec. 18, 1208: “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 of which we believe that no one is saved.” Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351: “In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience to the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.” Pope St. Pius V, Bull excommunicating the heretic Queen Elizabeth of England, Feb. 25, 1570: “The sovereign jurisdiction of the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no salvation, has been given by Him [Jesus Christ], unto Whom all power in Heaven and on Earth is given, the King who reigns on high, but to one person on the face of the Earth, to Peter, prince of the Apostles... If any shall contravene this Our decree, we bind them with the same bond of anathema.” Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum (# 14), May 5, 1824: “It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members… by divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptism… This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.” Pope Leo XII, Quod hoc ineunte (# 8), May 24, 1824: “We address all of you who are still removed from the true Church and the road to salvation. In this universal rejoicing, one thing is lacking: that having been called by the inspiration of the Heavenly Spirit and having broken every decisive snare, you might sincerely agree with the mother Church, outside of whose teachings there is no salvation.” Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 13), Aug. 15, 1832: “With the admonition of the apostle, that ‘there is one God, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. 4:5), may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that ‘those who are not with Christ are against Him,’ (Lk. 11:23) and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore, ‘without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate (Athanasian Creed).” Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio (# 2), May 27, 1832: “Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life.” Pope Pius IX, Ubi primum (# 10), June 17, 1847: “For ‘there is one universal Church outside of which no one at all is saved... who all profess one Lord, one faith and one baptism.” Pope Pius IX, Nostis et Nobiscum (# 10), Dec. 8, 1849: “In particular, ensure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation. (This doctrine, received from Christ and emphasized by the Fathers and Councils, is also contained in the formulae of the profession of faith used by Latin, Greek and Oriental Catholics).” Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Modern Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 - Proposition 16: “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.” – Condemned Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi futura prospicientibus (# 7), Nov. 1, 1900: ”… Hence all who would find salvation apart from the Church, are led astray and strive in vain.” Pope St. Pius X, Iucunda sane (# 9), March 12, 1904: “Yet at the same time We cannot but remind all, great and small, as Pope St. Gregory did, of the absolute necessity of having recourse to this Church in order to have eternal salvation…” Pope St. Pius X, Editae saepe (# 29), May 26, 1910: “The Church alone... confers on mankind suitable and necessary means of salvation.” Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 11), Jan. 6, 1928: “The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation.” 3. The Sacrament of Baptism is the only Way into the Church and is necessary for salvation - The Catholic Church has always taught that receiving the Sacrament of Baptism is the only way into Christ’s Church, outside of which there is no salvation. Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Holy baptism, which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church. And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5]. The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.” Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (# 22), June 29, 1943: “Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration [water baptism] and profess the true faith.” To show that the Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for salvation, I will quote numerous other infallible statements from the Chair of St. Peter. Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, ex cathedra: “If anyone says that baptism [the Sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn.3:5): let him be anathema.” Every single dogmatic definition that the Catholic Church has issued dealing with Our Lord’s words in John 3:5 understands them literally, exactly as they are written. And just in case anyone argues that one can receive the Sacrament of Baptism without water, I will quote the Council of Trent’s definition in Can. 2. Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Session 7, 1547, ex cathedra: “If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.” Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “But the sacrament of baptism is consecrated in water at the invocation of the undivided Trinity – namely, Father, Son and Holy Ghost – and brings salvation to both children and adults when it is correctly carried out by anyone in the form laid down by the Church.” Pope Benedict XIV, Nuper ad nos, March 16, 1743, Profession of Faith: “Likewise (I profess) that baptism is necessary for salvation, and hence, if there is imminent danger of death, it should be conferred at once and without delay, and that it is valid if conferred with the right matter and form and intention by anyone, and at any time.” Pope Pius XI, Quas Primas (# 15), Dec. 11, 1925: “Indeed this kingdom is presented in the Gospels as such, into which men prepare to enter by doing penance; moreover, they cannot enter it except through faith and baptism, which, although an external rite, yet signifies and effects an interior regeneration.” 4. The One Church of the Faithful - Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, ex cathedra: “THERE IS INDEED ONE UNIVERSAL CHURCH OF THE FAITHFUL, outside of which nobody at all is saved in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.” The first dogmatic definition from the Chair of Peter on Outside the Church There is No Salvation (from Pope Innocent III) taught that the Catholic Church is the one Church “of the faithful,” outside of which no one at all is saved. But who are “the faithful”? Can one who has not been baptized be considered part of “the faithful”? If we look to Catholic Tradition, the answer is a resounding “no.” As many of you know, the Catholic Mass is divided into two parts: the Mass of the Catechumens (those preparing to be baptized) and the Mass of the Faithful (those baptized). In the early Church, the unbaptized catechumens (i.e., those who had not received the Sacrament of Baptism) had to leave after the Mass of the catechumens, when the faithful professed the Creed. The unbaptized were not allowed to stay for the Mass of the faithful, because it is only by receiving the Sacrament of Baptism that one becomes one of the faithful. This is the teaching of Tradition. This means that no unbaptized person can be saved, because Catholic dogma has defined that no one is saved outside the one Church of the faithful. The Catholic Encyclopedia, “Faithful,” Vol. 5, p. 769: “St. Augustine (says): ‘Ask a man: are you a Christian? If he be a pagan or Jew, he will reply: I am not a Christian. But if he say: I am a Christian, ask him again: are you a catechumen, or one of the faithful?’” Dr. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Membership in the Church, p. 309: “The Fathers draw a sharp line of separation between Catechumens and ‘the faithful.’” St. John Chrysostom (Hom. in Io. 25, 3), (4th Century): “For the Catechumen is a stranger to the Faithful… One has Christ for his King; the other sin and the devil; the food of one is Christ, of the other, that meat which decays and perishes… Since then we have nothing in common, in what, tell me, shall we hold communion?… Let us then give diligence that we may become citizens of the city above… for if it should come to pass (which God forbid!) that through the sudden arrival of death we depart hence uninitiated [unbaptized], though we have ten thousand virtues, our portion will be none other than hell, and the venomous worm, and fire unquenchable, and bonds indissoluble.” The unbaptized do not belong to the one Church of the faithful. This is part of the ancient Catholic Faith. And obviously this fact is not proven to be part of the ancient Catholic Faith simply because an early Church father stated it – for a statement from an early Church father doesn’t prove this definitively; but rather it is proven because the testimonies of the aforementioned saints are in perfect harmony with the clear teaching of Catholic liturgical worship, which divides the Mass of Catechumens from the Mass of the faithful. It is therefore, the teachings and rule of Catholic worship that no unbaptized person is to be considered part of the faithful. This is why all who died without the Sacrament of Baptism were refused Christian burial everywhere in the universal Church since the beginning. Besides these clear testimonies against the idea of baptism of desire, perhaps most striking is the fact that in the history of the Catholic Church there is not a single tradition that can be cited for praying for – or giving ecclesiastical burial to – catechumens who died without baptism. The Catholic Encyclopedia (1907) had the following to say about the actual Tradition of the Church in this regard: “A certain statement in the funeral oration of St. Ambrose over the Emperor Valentinian II has been brought forward as a proof that the Church offered sacrifices and prayers for catechumens who died before baptism. There is not a vestige of such a custom to be found anywhere… The practice of the Church is more correctly shown in the canon (xvii) of the Second Council of Braga (572 AD): ‘Neither the commemoration of Sacrifice nor the service of chanting is to be employed for catechumens who have died without baptism.’” There you have the teaching of Catholic Tradition! No catechumen who died without the Sacrament of Baptism received prayer, sacrifice or Christian burial! Pope St. Leo the Great and Pope St. Gelasius had earlier confirmed the same Church discipline – which was the universal practice – forbidding Catholics to pray for unbaptized catechumens who had died. This means that the belief in the early Church was that there was no such thing as baptism of desire. The theory of baptism of desire didn’t become a widespread belief until the middle ages, when St. Thomas Aquinas and some other eminent theologians made it their own, which caused many theologians to subsequently adopt that position out of deference to them, a position on the possible salvation of catechumens who died without baptism which was contrary to the overwhelming belief and liturgical tradition of the early Church, not to mention the Church’s later infallible teaching on the scripture John 3:5.
5. Subjection to the Church/Roman Pontiff - The second definition from the Chair of Peter on Outside the Church There is No Salvation came from Pope Boniface VIII in the Bull Unam Sanctam. Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, ex cathedra: “With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” All human creatures become subject to the Roman Pontiff by their baptism into the one Church of Christ, of which the Roman Pontiff is the head. Pope Leo XIII, Nobilissima (# 3), Feb. 8, 1884: “The Church... bound to watch keenly over the teaching and upbringing of the children placed under its authority by baptism…” Thus, by their baptism they are made subject to the Roman Pontiff, since the Roman Pontiff possesses supreme authority in the Church (First Vatican Council, de fide). This proves that baptism is actually the first component in determining whether or not one is subject to the Roman Pontiff. If one has not been baptized, then one cannot be subject to the Roman Pontiff, because the Church exercises judgment (i.e., jurisdiction) over no one who has not entered the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism (de fide). Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, On the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, Sess. 14, Chap. 2, ex cathedra: “… since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not previously entered it by the gate of baptism.” It is not possible, therefore, to be subject to the Roman Pontiff without receiving the Sacrament of Baptism, since the Church (and the Roman Pontiff) cannot exercise judgment (jurisdiction) over an unbaptized person (de fide, Trent). And since it is not possible to be subject to the Roman Pontiff without the Sacrament of Baptism, it is not possible to be saved without the Sacrament of Baptism, since every human creature must be subject to the Roman Pontiff for salvation (de fide, Boniface VIII).
6. There is only One Baptism, Not Three - It is defined Catholic dogma that there is only one baptism. This is why the dogmatic Nicene Creed, historically professed every Sunday in the Roman Rite, reads: “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins.” And this dogma that there is one baptism for the remission of sins comes from Our Lord and the Apostles. It is affirmed by St. Paul in Ephesians 4:5: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Could it be possible that there is more than one baptism for the remission of sins when Catholics have prayed and believed for 2000 years that there is only one? No. Pope Clement V, Council of Vienne, 1311-1312, ex cathedra: “Besides, one baptism which regenerates all who are baptized in Christ must be faithfully confessed by all just as ‘one God and one faith’ [Eph. 4:5], which celebrated in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...” Here Pope Clement V defines as a dogma that ONE BAPTISM must be faithfully confessed by all, which is celebrated in water. This means that all Catholics must profess one baptism of water, not three baptisms: of water, blood and desire. To confess “three baptisms,” and not one, is to contradict defined Catholic dogma. Did those who believe that there are three baptisms (water, blood and desire) ever wonder why countless popes have professed that there is only one baptism, and not a single one of them bothered to define the so-called “other two”?
7. Catholics must believe and profess that the Sacramental System as a whole is necessary for salvation - Pope Pius IV, “Iniunctum nobis,” The Council of Trent, Nov. 13, 1565, ex cathedra: “I also profess that there are truly and properly seven sacraments of the New Law instituted by Jesus Christ our Lord, and necessary for the salvation of mankind, although all are not necessary for each individual…” Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Sess.2, Profession of Faith, ex cathedra: “I profess also that there are seven sacraments of the new law, truly and properly so called, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and necessary for salvation, though each person need not receive them all.” The reader must notice that the Councils of Trent and Vatican I infallibly define here that “the sacraments” as such (i.e., the sacramental system as a whole) are necessary for man’s salvation. Both definitions add the qualification that all seven sacraments are not necessary for each individual. This is very interesting and it proves two points: 1) It proves that every man must receive at least one sacrament to be saved; otherwise, “the sacraments” as such (i.e. the sacramental system) couldn’t be said to be necessary for salvation. Hence, this definition shows that each man must at least receive the Sacrament of Baptism in order to be saved. 2) Notice that the Council of Trent and Vatican I made it a special point when defining this truth to emphasize that each person does not need to receive all of the sacraments to be saved! This proves that where exceptions or clarifications are necessary in defining truths, the councils will include them. (That is why the Council of Trent declared that Our Lady was an exception to its Decree on Original Sin). Thus, if some men could be saved without “the sacraments” by “baptism of desire,” then the council could have and would have simply said that; but it didn’t. Also, the first infallible definition stating that the elect see the Beatific Vision immediately after death was from Pope Benedict XII in Benedictus Deus. It is interesting to examine what he infallibly declares about the saints and martyrs who went to Heaven. Pope Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus, 1336, ex cathedra, on the souls of the just receiving the Beatific Vision: “By this edict which will prevail forever, with apostolic authority we declare… the holy apostles, the martyrs, the confessors, virgins, and the other faithful who died after the holy baptism of Christ had been received by them, in whom there was nothing to be purged… and the souls of children departing before the use of free will, reborn and baptized in the same baptism of Christ, when all have been baptized… have been, are, and will be in heaven…” In defining that the elect (including the martyrs) in whom nothing is to be purged are in Heaven, Pope Benedict XII mentions three times that they have been baptized. Obviously, no apostle, martyr, confessor or virgin could receive the Beatific Vision without having received Baptism according to this infallible dogmatic definition.
8. The Athanasian Creed - The Athanasian Creed is one of the most important creeds of the Catholic Faith. It contains a beautiful summary of a Catholic’s belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation, which are the two fundamental dogmas of Christianity. Before the changes in the Liturgy, the Athanasian Creed had been used in the Sunday Office for over a thousand years. Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Sess. 8, Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra: “Whoever wishes to be saved, needs above all to hold the Catholic faith; unless each one preserves this whole and inviolate, he will without a doubt perish in eternity. But the Catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in the Trinity, and the Trinity in unity; neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, another of the Holy Spirit, their glory is equal, their majesty coeternal... and in this Trinity there is nothing first or later, nothing greater or less, but all three persons are coeternal and coequal with one another, so that in every respect, as has already been said above,both unity in Trinity, and Trinity in unity must be worshipped. Therefore let him who wishes to be saved, think thus concerning the Trinity. But it is necessary for eternal salvation that he faithfully believe also in the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ... the Son of God is God and man... This is the Catholic faith; unless each one believes this faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.” The above definition of the Athanasian Creed at the ecumenical Council of Florence means that this creed qualifies as a pronouncement from the Chair of St. Peter (an ex cathedra pronouncement). To deny that which is professed in the Athanasian Creed is to cease to be Catholic.
9. Pope St. Siricius - In his letter to the Bishop of Tarragona in the year 385, Pope St. Siricius also shows how the belief in the early Church rejected any concept of baptism of desire. Pope St. Siricius, Letter to Himerius, 385: “As we maintain that the observance of the holy Paschal time should in no way be relaxed, in the same way we desire that infants who, on account of their age, cannot yet speak, or those who, in any necessity, are in want of the water of holy baptism, be succored with all possible speed, for fear that, if those who leave this world should be deprived of the life of the Kingdom for having been refused the source of salvation which they desired, this may lead to the ruin of our souls. If those threatened with shipwreck, or the attack of enemies, or the uncertainties of a siege, or those put in a hopeless condition due to some bodily sickness, ask for what in their faith is their only help, let them receive at the very moment of their request the reward of regeneration they beg for. Enough of past mistakes! From now on, let all the priests observe the aforesaid rule if they do not want to be separated from the solid apostolic rock on which Christ has built his universal Church.” This quotation from Pope St. Siricius is striking in that it again clearly shows how the early Church rejected belief in the concept of baptism of desire. He begins by affirming that the observance of Paschal time should not be relaxed. (He is referring to the fact that Baptisms were historically performed during Paschal time.) After affirming that this tradition should be maintained, he warns that infants and those in any necessity or danger should be baptized immediately, lest they are “deprived of the life of the Kingdom for having been refused the source of salvation which they desired.” In other words, the man who desires water baptism and begs for regeneration will still be denied Heaven if he does not receive it! Nothing could more clearly reject the concept of baptism of desire! (This also proves that the delay in baptizing adults is for the instruction and the testing of the catechumens, not because it was held that these catechumens could be saved without baptism.) 10. All True Justification Meets up with the Sacraments - In the Foreword to Sess. 7 of the Council of Trent’s Decree on the Sacraments there is a very important statement. Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 7, Foreword, ex cathedra: “For the completion of the salutary doctrine of Justification… it has seemed fitting 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 restored.” The Council of Trent here defines that all true justice (sanctifying grace) either begins or is increased or is restored at the sacraments. But the baptism of desire theory is that some persons can have a true justice (sanctifying grace) that is none of the above three! They argue that some persons can have true justice that is: 1) not begun at the sacraments, but before; and also 2) not increased at the sacraments (since the person dies before getting to the sacraments); and 3) not restored at the sacraments (for the same reason as #2). Thus, the “baptism of desire” theory posits a true justice which is neither begun nor increased nor restored at the sacraments. But such an idea is contrary to the above teaching of Trent, and therefore such a “true justice” which they posit cannot be true justice. This shows again that baptism of desire is not a true teaching, but a false teaching littered with contradictions against infallible truths such as that above. So why does God allow confusion on this topic? The answer is that there must be heresies. 1 Cor. 11:19: “For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be manifest among you.” God allows heresies to arise in order to see who will believe the truth and who will not, to see who will look at the truth sincerely and who will pervert things to suit his own heretical desires. God never allows His councils, such as Constantinople and Trent, to teach any error, but He can allow the truth to be stated in ways that give people the opportunity to twist and pervert the meaning of the words used if they so desire (no pun intended), as the Eastern Schismatics did in regard to Constantinople’s omission of the phrase: and the Son.
11. Pope St. Leo the Great ends the debate - We have seen how Tradition doesn’t teach baptism of desire and how the infallible teaching of the Church on the Sacrament of Baptism and John 3:5 excludes it. And we have seen how this error was perpetuated in the middle ages through flawed passages in the fallible texts of Churchmen. I will now discuss perhaps the most interesting pronouncement on this issue, the dogmatic letter of Pope St. Leo the Great to Flavian, which excludes the exact concept of baptism of desire and baptism of blood. Pope St. Leo the Great, dogmatic letter to Flavian, Council of Chalcedon, 451: “Let him heed what the blessed apostle Peter preaches, that sanctification by the Spirit is effected by the sprinkling of Christ’s blood (1 Pet. 1:2); and let him not skip over the same apostle’s words, knowing that you have been redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your fathers, not with corruptible gold and silver but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without stain or spot (1 Pet. 1:18). Nor should he withstand the testimony of blessed John the apostle: and the blood of Jesus, the Son of God, purifies us from every sin (1 Jn. 1:7); and again, This is the victory which conquers the world, our faith. Who is there who conquers the world save one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? It is He, Jesus Christ, who has come through water and blood, not in water only, but in water and blood. And because the Spirit is truth, it is the Spirit who testifies. For there are three who give testimony – Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. (1 Jn. 5:4-8) IN OTHER WORDS, THE SPIRIT OF SANCTIFICATION AND THE BLOOD OF REDEMPTION AND THE WATER OF BAPTISM. THESE THREE ARE ONE AND REMAIN INDIVISIBLE. NONE OF THEM IS SEPARABLE FROM ITS LINK WITH THE OTHERS.”
Before I get into the tremendous significance of this pronouncement, I will give a little background on this dogmatic letter. This is Pope St. Leo the Great’s famous dogmatic letter to Flavian, originally written in 449, and later accepted by the Council of Chalcedon – the fourth general council of the Church – in 451 (quoted in Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Georgetown Press, Vol. 1, pp. 77-82). It is one of the most important documents in the history of the Church. This is the famous letter which, when read aloud at the dogmatic Council of Chalcedon, caused all of the fathers of the council (more than 600) to rise to their feet and proclaim: “This is the faith of the Fathers, the faith of the apostles; Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.” The very letter in itself embodies the term ex cathedra (speaking from the Chair of Peter), as proven by the reaction of the fathers at Chalcedon. This dogmatic letter of Pope Leo was accepted by the Council of Chalcedon in its definition of Faith, which was approved authoritatively by Pope Leo himself. And if that were not sufficient to prove that Pope Leo’s letter is without question infallible and dogmatic, consider the fact that it was also approved by Pope Vigilius at the Second Council of Constantinople (553) and by the dogmatic Third Council of Constantinople (680-681). It was also confirmed infallibly by a number of other popes, including: Pope St. Gelasius, 495, Pope Pelagius II, 553, and Pope Benedict XIV, 1743. Because of the tremendous significance of Pope Leo’s letter to the topic at hand, I will quote an extract from Pope St. Gelasius which shows how no one can contradict, in the slightest way, this dogmatic epistle of Pope St. Leo to Flavian. Pope St. Gelasius, Decretal, 495: “Also the epistle of blessed Leo the Pope to Flavian… if anyone argues concerning the text of this one even in regard to one iota, and does not receive it in all respects reverently, let him be anathema.” Here we have Pope St. Gelasius speaking ex cathedra to condemn anyone who would depart, even in regard to one iota, from the text of Pope Leo’s dogmatic epistle to Flavian.
Now, in the section of Pope Leo’s dogmatic letter quoted above, he is dealing with Sanctification by the Spirit. “Sanctification by the Spirit” is the term for Justification from the state of sin. Justification is the state of grace. No one can get to Heaven without Sanctification by the Spirit [Justification], as everyone professing to be Catholic admits. Pope St. Leo affirms, on the authority of the great apostles Sts. Peter and John, that this Sanctification by the Spirit is effected by the sprinkling of Christ’s Blood. It is only by receiving the Blood of Redemption, he proves, that one can be changed from the state of Adam (original sin) to the state of grace(justification/sanctification). It is only by this Blood that Sanctification by the Spirit works. This dogma was also defined by the Council of Trent. It is a divinely revealed truth that no one can be freed from the state of sin and sanctified without the application of the Blood of Redemption to him. Of this no Catholic can doubt. Baptism of desire/blood advocates argue that the Blood of Redemption, which effects the Sanctification by the Spirit, is applied to the soul by the desire for baptism or by his martyrdom, without water baptism. Remember that: baptism of desire/blood advocates argue that the Blood of Redemption, which effects Sanctification by the Spirit, is applied to the soul without water baptism. But this is exactly the opposite of what Pope Leo the Great defines dogmatically! I will quote the crucial portions of his statement again: Pope St. Leo the Great, dogmatic letter to Flavian, Council of Chalcedon, 451: “For there are three who give testimony – Spirit and water and blood. And the three are one. (1 Jn. 5:4-8) IN OTHER WORDS, THE SPIRIT OF SANCTIFICATION AND THE BLOOD OF REDEMPTION AND THE WATER OF BAPTISM. THESE THREE ARE ONE AND REMAIN INDIVISIBLE. NONE OF THEM IS SEPARABLE FROM ITS LINK WITH THE OTHERS.” Pope St. Leo defines that in Sanctification, the Spirit of Sanctification and the Blood of Redemption cannot be separated from the water of baptism! Thus, there can be no Justification by the Spirit and the Blood without the Sacrament of Baptism. This infallibly excludes the very concept of baptism of desire and baptism of blood, which is that sanctification by the Spirit and the Blood without water is possible. In light of this dogmatic letter, as well as the other facts already brought forward, baptism of desire and baptism of blood cannot be held; for these theories separate the Spirit and the Blood from the water in sanctification. And lest someone tries to find fault with this infallible definition by arguing that the Blessed Virgin Mary is an exception to it, it should be recognized that Pope St. Leo is defining on sanctification/justification from the state of sin. The Blessed Virgin Mary had no sin. She was conceived already in a state of perfect sanctification. Since Pope Leo is defining on sanctification/justification from sin, his definition does not apply in any way to her. To further prove the point that this dogmatic pronouncement specifically eliminates the entire theory of baptism of desire, notice how St. Thomas Aquinas (in teaching baptism of desire) says exactly the opposite of what Pope St. Leo the Great defined. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica III, Q. 68, Art. 2: “…a man can obtain salvation without the sacrament of Baptism, by means of the invisible sanctification…” St. Thomas says that baptism of desire gives one sanctification without the water of Baptism. Pope St. Leo the Great teaches dogmatically and infallibly that one cannot have sanctification without the water of baptism! A Catholic must accept Pope St. Leo the Great’s teaching. The significance of Pope St. Leo’s pronouncement is extraordinary. It naturally crushes any idea of salvation for the supposedly “invincibly ignorant.” These souls cannot be sanctified and cleansed by the Blood of Christ without receiving water baptism, which God will bring to all of good will. 12. Sacred Scripture against Invincible Ignorance - 2 Corinthians 4:3: “And if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of unbelievers, that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine unto them.” Pope Paul III, Council of Trent, Sess. 6 on Justification, Chap. 15: “… it must be maintained that the grace of justification, although received, is lost not only by infidelity, whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin, although faith be not lost, thereby defending the doctrine of the divine law which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelievers, but also the faithful who are ‘fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners’ [1 Cor. 6:9], and all others who commit deadly sins…” Perhaps nothing in the New Testament is as clear as the fact that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that you must believe in Him to have eternal life. “… the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ… Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name, under heaven, given to men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12). John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in Him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” John 3:36: “He that believeth in the Son hath life everlasting: but he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 17:3: “Now this is life everlasting, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 8:23-24: “And he said to them [the Jews]: You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore, I said to you, that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sin.” John 14:6: “Jesus saith to them: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me.” And Our Lord is clear that those who don’t know Him are not saved. St. Augustine (+426): “Consequently both those who have not heard the gospel and those who, having heard it, and having been changed for the better, did not receive perseverance… none of these are separated from that lump which is known to be damned...” 13. The New Testament on Baptism - I have already discussed John 3:5, so I will now look at some of the other New Testament passages which affirm the absolute necessity of the Sacrament of Baptism for salvation. Matthew 28:19-20: “And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. Going, therefore, teach ye all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...” Mark 16:15-16: “And he (Jesus) said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” In Galatians 3 we find one of the most famous parts of Saint Paul’s teaching on faith. In Galatians 3:23 he says: “But before the faith came…” In verse 24 he says: “that we may be justified by faith…” In verse 25 he says: “But after the faith is come…” In verse 26 he says: “For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus.” But what does St. Paul mean here by this extensive discussion on “faith”? What does he mean when he says, “For you are all the children of God by faith, in Christ Jesus”? Most people probably believe that St. Paul is speaking here of believing that Jesus is the Son of God. This, of course, is indispensable, but it is not even mentioned by St. Paul! Rather, St. Paul explains exactly what he means by “faith in Christ Jesus” – quite naturally in the flow of his epistle – in the very next verse (verse 27). Galatians 3:27: “For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ. St. Paul and the word of God are clearly teaching what the Catholic Church has held for 2000 years: that it is by means of the Sacrament of Baptism that one receives faith. Titus 3:5: “Not by the works of justice, which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the laver of regeneration, and renovation of the Holy Ghost…” Here, St. Paul and the infallible word of God tell us that the laver of regeneration (the Sacrament of Baptism) saves us! Ephesians 4:4-6: “Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. One body and one Spirit; as you are called in the hope of your calling. One Lord, one faith, one baptism. One God and Father of all…” Here St. Paul (in the infallible word of God) is describing the unity in the Church of Jesus Christ. And look at the list that he gives: One Lord, One Faith, One God, One Father. And right up there with “Lord” and “Faith” and “God” and “Father” is Baptism. This tells us that St. Paul sees Baptism as loaded with importance; in fact, as having an importance in terms of the unity of the Body of Christ equivalent to things which nobody can dispute: one Lord, one Faith, one God. This is because it is through this Baptism that we are united to God and the Body of the Church. To deny that the members of Christ’s Body have this one Baptism is equivalent to denying that they have one Lord and one Faith. Acts 2:37-38: “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.” Acts 16:26-33: “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and the bands of all were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the doors of the prison open, drawing his sword, would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had fled. “But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying: Do thyself no harm, for we are all here. Then calling for a light, he went in, and trembling, fell down at the feet of Paul and Silas. And bringing them out, he said: Masters, what must I do, that I may be saved? But they said: Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they preached the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he, taking them the same hour of the night, washed their stripes, and himself was baptized, and all his house immediately.” 1 Peter 3:20-21: “… when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also…” John 1:12-13: ”But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: WHO ARE BORN, NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD.” Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 63: On the Passion (+ c. 460 A.D.): “… from the birth of baptism an unending multitude are born to God, of whom it is said: Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:15).” So as God, through St. John, is describing man’s being “born again” to the state of grace in Baptism, He speaks of those who are born, “NOT OF BLOOD, NOR OF THE WILL OF THE FLESH, NOR OF THE WILL OF MAN, BUT OF GOD”! The “will of the flesh” is desire. The “will of man” is desire. “Blood” is blood. In my opinion, what God is saying here in this very verse is that in order to become a son of God – in order to be justified – it does not suffice to be born again of blood or desire (i.e., baptism of blood or desire). One must be born again of God. The only way to be born again of God is to be baptized with water in the name of God: in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Mt. 28:19).
14. Miraculous Baptisms - There would be no need for God to save anyone by “baptism of blood” (or “baptism of desire”), since He can keep any sincere souls alive until they are baptized. St. Martin of Tours brought back to life a catechumen who had died so that he could baptize him. St. Joan of Arc brought back to life a dead infant so that she could baptize him. There were many similar miracles. One striking example is said to have occurred in the life of St. Peter himself. While he was chained to a pillar in the Mamertine prison in Rome, he baptized two of his guards, Processus and Martinian, with water which miraculously sprang up from the ground within hands distance from St. Peter. These guards were also jailed with St. Peter and were to undergo execution the next day because they were converts. Their desire for baptism and their martyrdom weren’t going to be enough. They needed to be baptized with “water and the Holy Ghost” (Jn. 3:5). And God saw that they truly desired the Sacrament, so He provided it miraculously. History also records that St. Patrick – who himself raised over 40 people from the dead – raised a number of people from the dead specifically in order to baptize them, something which was totally unnecessary if one can be saved without baptism. As one scholar notes, “In all, St. Patrick brought to life some forty infidels in Ireland, one of whom was King Echu… On raising him from the dead, St. Patrick instructed and baptized him, asking what he had seen of the other world. King Echu told how he had actually beheld the throne prepared for him in Heaven because of his life of being open to the grace of Almighty God, but that he was not allowed to enter precisely because he was as yet unbaptized. After receiving the sacraments… (he) died instantly and went to his reward.” The same scholar further notes: “Many such saints have been recorded as resurrecting grown-ups specifically and exclusively for the Sacrament of Baptism, including St. Peter Claver, St. Winifred of Wales, St. Julian of Mans, St. Eleutherius, and others. But even more have raised up little infants for the sacrament of salvation: St. Gregory Nazianz… St. Hilary… St. Elizabeth… St. Colette… St. Frances of Rome… St. Joan of Arc… St. Philip Neri… St. Francis Xavier… St. Gildas… St. Gerard Majella… to name a few.” One of the more interesting cases is the story of Augustina, the slave girl, which is related in the life of St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit missionary in 17th century Colombia. “When Father Claver arrived at her deathbed, Augustina lay cold to the touch, her body already being prepared for burial. He prayed at her bedside for one hour, when suddenly the woman sat up, vomited a pool of blood, and declared upon being questioned by those in attendance: ‘I have come from journeying along a long road. After I had gone a long way down it, I met a white man of great beauty who stood before me and said: Stop! You can go no further.’… On hearing this, Father Claver cleared the room and prepared to hear her Confession, thinking she was in need of absolution for some sin she may have forgotten. But in the course of the ritual, St. Peter Claver was inspired to realize that she had never been baptized. Father Claver insisted on baptizing her, after which Augustina died again joyfully and peacefully in the presence of the whole family.” The great “Apostle of the Rocky Mountains,” Fr. Pierre De Smet, who was the extraordinary missionary to the American Indians in the 19th century, was also a witness – as were his fellow Jesuit missionaries – of many people coming to baptism under miraculous circumstances. Fr. De Smet, Dec. 18, 1839: “I have often remarked that many of the children seem to await baptism before winging their flight to Heaven, for they die almost immediately after receiving the sacrament.” Fr. De Smet, Dec. 9, 1845: “… over a hundred children and eleven old people were baptized. Many of the latter [the old people], who were carried on buffalo hides, seemed only to await this grace before going to rest in the bosom of God.” In the life of the extraordinary Irish missionary St.Columbanus (+ 543-615 A.D.), we read of a similar story of God’s providence getting all good willed souls to baptism.“ [Columbanus said]: ‘My sons, today you will see an ancient Pictish chief, who has faithfully kept the precepts of the Natural Law all his life, arrive on this island; he comes to be baptized and to die.’ Immediately, a boat was seen to approach with a feeble old man seated in the prow who was recognized as chief of one of the neighboring tribes. Two of his companions brought him before the missionary, to whose words he listened attentively. The old man asked to be baptized, and immediately thereafter breathed out his last breath and was buried on the very spot.” Father Point, S.J. was a fellow Jesuit Missionary to the Indians with Fr. De Smet in the 19th century. He tells a very interesting story about the miraculous resuscitation for Baptism of a person who had been instructed in the Faith but apparently died without receiving the sacrament. Father Point, S.J., quoted in The Life of Fr. De Smet, pp. 165-166: “One morning, upon leaving the church I met an Indian woman, who said: ‘So-and-so is not well.’ She [the person who was not well] was not yet a catechumen and I said I would go to see her. An hour later the same person [who came and told him the person is not well], who was her sister, came to me saying she was dead. I ran to the tent, hoping she might be mistaken, and found a crowd of relatives around the bed, repeating, ‘She is dead – she has not breathed for some time.’ To assure myself, I leaned over the body; there was no sign of life... Then, rather impatiently, I said, ‘pray!’ and all fell on their knees and prayed devoutly. I again leaned over the supposed corpse and said, ‘The Black Robe is here: do you wish him to baptize you?’ At the word baptism I saw a slight tremor of the lower lip; then both lips moved, making me certain that she understood. She had already been instructed, so I at once baptized her, and she rose from her bier, making the sign of the cross. Today she is out hunting and is fully persuaded that she died at the time I have recounted.” This is another example of a person who had already been instructed in the Faith but had to be miraculously resuscitated specifically for the Sacrament of Baptism, and the miraculous resuscitation occurred at the moment that the priest pronounced the word “Baptism.” In the life of St. Francis De Sales we also find a child miraculously raised from the dead specifically for the Sacrament of Baptism. “A baby, the child of a Protestant mother, had died without Baptism. St. Francis had gone to speak to the mother about Catholic doctrine, and prayed that the child would be restored to life long enough to receive Baptism. His prayer was granted, and the whole family became Catholic.” St. Francis De Sales himself summed up the beautifully simple truth on this issue in the following manner, when he was discoursing against the Protestant heretics. St. Francis De Sales (Doctor of the Church), The Catholic Controversy, c. 1602, pp. 156-157: “The way in which one deduces an article of faith is this: the Word of God is infallible; the Word of God declares that Baptism is necessary for salvation; therefore Baptism is necessary for salvation.” Here is another description of an infant child who died without the Sacrament of Baptism and was raised from the dead through the interercession of St. Stephen. “At Uzale, a woman had an infant son… Unfortunately, he died before they had time to baptize him. His mother was overwhelmed with grief, more for his being deprived of Life Eternal than because he was dead to her. Full of confidence, she took the dead child and publicly carried him to the Church of St.Stephen, the first martyr. There she commenced to pray for the son she had just lost. Her son moved, uttered a cry, and was suddenly restored to life. She immediately brought him to the priests; and, after receiving the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, he died anew.” In the Acts of the Apostles alone we find three miraculous interventions involving Baptism – Cornelius the Centurion, the Eunuch of Candace, and Saul of Tarsus. And in each case not only is God’s Providence evident, but the individuals involved are obliged to be baptized with water even though their intention to do the will of God is clear. The fact is that God will keep any sincere soul alive until Baptism; He is Almighty and He has decreed that no one enters Heaven without Baptism and the Catholic faith.
St. Paul, in his epistle to St. Timothy, exclaims: "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding the profane novelties of words, and oppositions of knowledge falsely so called." (l. Tim. vi. 20.)
"Who is at present this Timothy?" asks Vincent of Lerins, and he answers: It is the Body of the Pastors of the Church, and therefore every Pastor must apply these words of St. Paul to himself: O Timothy, O Pastor, O Doctor, O Priest, " Keep that which is committed to thy trust," pure and undefiled, "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints; " (Jude, v. 3); never depart from the sacred words of God, "once put into thy mouth." (Isai. lix. 21.) "You, therefore," says Bishop Hay, "must never know what it is to temporize in religion, in order to please men, nor to adulterate even one iota of the Gospel of Christ to humor them. You must declare the sacred truths revealed by Jesus Christ in their original simplicity, without seeking to adorn them with the persuasive words of human wisdom, much less disguise them in a garb not their own. Truth, plain and unadorned, is the only weapon you must employ against your adversaries, regardless of their censure or their approbation. ‘This is the truth,’ you must say, ‘revealed by God; this you must embrace, or you can have no part with him.’ If the world looks upon what you say as foolishness, you must not be surprised, for you know that ‘the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the spirit of God; for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand’ (I. Cor. ii. 14.) ; ‘but that the foolishness of God is wiser than men;’ and pitying this blindness you must earnestly pray to God to enlighten them, ‘with modesty admonishing them . . . if, peradventure, God may give them repentance to know the truth.’ (II. Tim. ii. 25.)
"If there ever was a time when it was especially necessary for every Pastor of the Church to watch over the purity of faith and morals which the Church has entrusted to him, it is the present age and country, in which so many condescensions and compliances are admitted and received at the expense of the purity of Catholic faith and morals, and the narrow way that leads to life is converted, in the opinion of men, to the broad road that leads to destruction.
"This remark applies especially to that latitudinarian principle so common now-a-days, that a man may be saved in any religion, provided he lives a good moral life, according to the light he has; for, by this, the faith of Christ is evacuated, and the Gospel rendered of no avail; a Jew, a Turk, a Heathen, are all comprehended in this scheme, and if they live a good moral life have as good a right to salvation as a Christian!
"To be a member of the Church of Christ is no longer necessary, since, if we lead a good moral life, we are in the state of salvation, whether we belong to her or not! What a wide field does this give to the passions of men! What liberty to all the whims of the human mind! It is therefore of the utmost consequence to state and to show plainly the revealed Catholic truth that ‘there is no salvation out of the Catholic Church.'"
It must be remembered that every Catholic dogma is a revealed truth that has always been held by the Fathers of the Church from the beginning and must, therefore, be interpreted, not according to modern opinions and latitudinarian principles, but according to the faith of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church; and therefore Vincent of Lerins says: "A true Catholic is he who loves the truth revealed by God, who loves the Church, the Body of Christ, who esteems religion, the Catholic faith, higher than any human authority, talents, eloquence, and philosophy; all this he holds in contempt, and remains firm and unshaken in the faith which, he knows, has always from the beginning been held by the Catholic Church; and if he notices that any one, no, matter who he may be, interprets a dogma in a manner different from that of the Fathers of the Church, he understands that God permits such an interpretation to be made, not for the good of religion, but as a temptation, according to the words of St. Paul: ‘For there must be also heresies; that they also, who are reproved, may be made manifest among you.’ (I Cor. xi. 19) ‘And indeed, no sooner are novel opinions proclaimed, than it becomes manifest what kind of a Catholic a man is:’ (Commonit.) Hence, as St. Augustine says, ‘a theologian who is humble, will never teach anything as true Catholic doctrine, unless he is perfectly certain of the truth which he asserts, and proves it from Holy Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.’ Those who have learned theology well,’ says St. Basil, will not allow one iota of Catholic dogmas to be betrayed. They will, if necessary, willingly undergo any kind of death in their defence.’
"They will propose each dogma, especially the all-important dogma, "out of the Church there is No salvation," in the words of the Church and explain it as she understands it; they are most careful not to weaken in the least the meaning of this great dogma, by the way of proposing or explaining it. Why does not St. Paul say: if any one preach to you a Gospel contrary to that instead of beside that which. we have preached to you? ‘It is,’ says St. John Chrysostom, ‘to show us that one is accursed who even indirectly weakens the least truth of the Gospel.’ (Cornelius a Lapide in Epist. ad Gal. I. 8)"
"As there is," says Pius IX., "but one God the Father, one Christ his Son, one Holy Ghost, so there is also only one divinely revealed truth, only one divine faith - the beginning of man's salvation and the foundation of all justification, by which (faith) the just man lives, and without which it is impossible to please God and to be admitted to the Communion of his children; and there is but one true, holy, Catholic, Roman Church and divine teaching Authority, (cathedra) founded upon Peter by the living voice of the Lord, out of which (Church) there is neither the TRUE FAITH nor ETERNAL SALVATION, since no one, can have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his Mother." (Encycl. Letter, March 17, 1856.)
"The Holy Ghost," says St. Augustine, "is to the Body of Christ, which is the Church, what the human soul is to the human body. It is by the soul that each member of the body lives and acts. In like manner, it is by the Holy Ghost that the just man lives and acts. As the soul does not follow a member which is cut off from the body, so, in like manner, does the Holy Ghost not follow a member which has been justly cut off from the Body of Christ. He, therefore, who wishes to obtain life everlasting, must remain vivified by the Holy Ghost; and in order to remain vivified by the Holy Ghost we must keep charity, love the truth, and desire unity." (Serm. 267.) "Therefore no one can find life everlasting except in the Catholic Church." (Serm. ad Caesarenses) "Where unity is wanting, there can be no divine charity. Hence it is that divine charity can be kept only in the Catholic Church." (Contr. lit. Petil., lib. ii., cap. 77.) Now, as no one can obtain salvation without having the spirit of Christ, or divine charity, and as this spirit or divine virtue, which is called the soul of the Church, is kept only in the unity of the Church, it is evident that out of the Church there is positively no salvation.
It must be remembered that every dogma is exclusive, and admits of no interpretation contrary to that which it has received from the beginning. To every dogma, therefore, may be added what Pius IX. added to the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary, namely: "Wherefore, if any persons - which God forbid - shall presume to think in their hearts otherwise than we have defined, let them know that they are condemned by their own judgment, that they have suffered shipwreck in faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the Church."
"Let those, therefore," says Vincent of Lerins, "who have not learned theology well, learn it better; let them try to understand of each dogma as much as they are able, and let them believe what they are not able to understand; let them remember the words of St. Paul: ‘If any one shall teach you anything besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.’ (Ephes. i. 9.) Dediscant bene quod didicerant non bene; et ex toto Ecclesiae dogmate quod intellectu capi potest capiant, quod non potest credant. O Timothee, depositum custodi, devitans prophanas vocum novitates. Si quis vobis annuntiaverit..praeterquam quod accepistis, anathema sit. (Commonit.) "It is according to this Catholic and apostolic spirit that we have endeavored to explain our religion, and especially the great dogma "Out of the Catholic Church there is positively no salvation." But our explanation, it seems, is too Catholic for some individuals, because we have not admitted into it any modern opinions and latitudinarian principles. Believing, therefore, that "they would do a service to God" and to their fellowmen, especially to their separated brethren, they have, through the Buffalo Catholic Union and Times, made known that we have misrepresented Catholic belief concerning the dogma "Out of the Church there is no salvation."
The Right Reverend George Hay, Bishop of Edinburgh, Scotland, who, when yet a Protestant, took the vow to do all he could to extirpate Popery, wrote a treatise entitled "An Inquiry whether Salvation can be had without true faith and out of the Communion of the Church of Christ." In this treatise, the pious and very learned Prelate of the Church proves most clearly that "out of the true Church no one can be saved," and adds "that it is only of late that that loose way of thinking and speaking about the necessity of true faith, and of being in communion with the Church of Christ, has appeared among the members of the Church, and that this is one of the strongest grounds of its condemnation. It is a novelty, it is a new doctrine; it was unheard of from the beginning; nay, it is directly opposed to the uniform doctrine of all the great lights of the Church in all former ages. It is, therefore; a matter of surprise that anybody should call this point in question; that indeed this can only be accounted for from the general spirit of dissipation and disregard for all religion, which so universally prevails now-a-days; for the first authors of the so-called reformation, and some of their most candid followers, seeing the strong proofs from Scripture for this point, and not finding the smallest foundation in the Sacred Writings to support the contrary, have solemnly acknowledged it, however much it made against themselves; for the Protestant Church of Scotland, in her Confession of Faith, agreed upon by the divines of Westminister, approved by the General Assembly in the year 1646, and ratified by Act of Parliament in 1649, in the chapter on the Church speaks thus, "The visible Church, which is also Catholic or universal under the gospel (not confined to one nation, as before, under the law), consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion, and of their children, and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation." (Confession of Faith chap. xxv.)
"But their predecessors in the preceding century, when the Presbyterian religion first began in Scotland, speak no less clearly on the same subject; for in their Confession of Faith, authorized by Parliament in the year 1560, ‘ as a doctrine grounded upon the infallible word of God,’ they speak thus, Article xvi.: ‘As we believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, so we do most constantly believe, that from the beginning there hath been, and now is, and to the end of the world shall be one Kirk - that is to say, one company and multitude of men, chosen by God, who rightly worship and embrace him by true faith in Jesus Christ;. . . which Kirk is Catholic - that is, universal; because it containeth the elect of all ages, etc.: out of which Kirk there is neither life nor eternal felicity: and therefore we utterly abhor the blasphemy of them that affirm that men who live according to equity and justice shall be saved, what religion so-ever they have professed.’ This confession of the original Kirk of Scotland was reprinted and published in Glasgow in the year 1771, from which this passage is taken. Calvin himself confesses the same truth, in these words, speaking of the visible Church: ‘Out of its bosom,’ says he, ‘no remission of sins, no salvation is to be hoped for, according to Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel; . . . so that it is always highly pernicious to depart from the Church;’ and this he affirms in his Institutions themselves, B. iv., c: 1, § 4.
We shall add one testimony more, which is particularly strong;.it is of Dr. Pearson, a Bishop of the Church of England, in his exposition of the Creed, edit. 1669, where he says, ‘The necessity of believing the Catholic Church appeared, first, in this, that Christ hath appointed it as the only way to eternal life. We read at the first, Acts ii. 47, "That the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved:" and what was then daily done hath been done since continually. Christ never appointed two ways to heaven; nor did he build a Church to save some, and make another institution for other men's salvation (Acts iv. 10): "There is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus;" and that name is not otherwise given under heaven than in the Church. As none were saved from the deluge but such as were within the ark of Noe, framed for their reception by the command of God; as none of the first-born of Egypt lived but such as were within those habitations whose door-posts were sprinkled with blood, by the appointment of God, for their preservation; as none of the inhabitants of Jericho could escape the fire or sword, but such as were within the house of Rahab, for whose protection a covenant was made; - so NONE shall ever escape the eternal wrath of God who belong not to the Church of God.’ Behold how far the force of truth prevailed among the most eminent members of the Reformation before latitudinarian principles had crept in among them!
"It is true, indeed, that, though the founders of these Churches, convinced by the repeated and evident testimonies of the Word of God, professed this truth, and inserted it in the public standards of their religion, yet their posterity now disclaim it, and accuse the Catholic Church of being uncharitable for holding it; but this only shows their inconsistency, and proves that they are devoid of all certainty in what they believe; for if it was a divine truth, when these religions were founded, that out of the true Church, and without the Catholic faith, there is no salvation, it must be so still; and if their first founders were mistaken on this point, what security can their followers now have for any other thing they taught? But the Catholic Church, always consistent and uniform in her doctrine, always preserving the words once put in her mouth by her Divine Master, at all times and in all ages has believed and taught the same doctrine as a truth revealed by God, that ‘out of the true Church of Christ, and without his true faith, there is there is no possibility of salvation;’ and the most authentic public testimony of her enemies proves that this is the doctrine of Jesus, and of his holy Gospel, whatever private persons, from selfish and interested motives, may say to the contrary. ‘What a reproach must this be before the judgment-seat of God to those members of the Church of Christ who call in question or seek to invalidate this great and fundamental truth, the very fence and barrier of the true religion; which is so repeatedly declared by God in his Holy Scriptures, professed by the Church of Christ in all ages, attested in the strongest terms by the most eminent lights of Christianity, and candidly acknowledged by the most celebrated writers and divines of the Reformation! Will not every attempt to weaken the importance of this divine truth be considered by the great God as betraying his cause and the interests of his holy faith? and will those who do so be able to plead even their favorite invincible ignorance in their own defence before him?’ (From Sincere Christian, American Edition.)
But let us hear a greater Authority speaking, on this all-important subject.
In his Encyclical Letters, dated Dec. 8, 1849; Dec.. 8, 1864; and Aug. 10, 1863, and in his Allocution on Dec. 9, 1854: Pope Pius IX. says: -
"It is not without sorrow that we have learned another not less pernicious error, which has been spread in several parts of Catholic countries, and has been imbibed by many Catholics, who are of opinion that all those who are not at all members of the true Church of Christ, can be saved: Hence they often discuss the question concerning the future fate and condition of those who die without having professed the Catholic faith, and give the most frivolous reasons in support of their wicked opinion . . . . .
"It is indeed of faith that no one can be saved outside of the Apostolic, Roman Church; that this Church is the one ark of salvation; that he who has not entered it, will perish in the deluge....
"We must mention and condemn again that most pernicious error, which has been imbibed by certain Catholics, who are of the opinion that those people who live in error and have not the true faith, and are separated from Catholic unity, may obtain life everlasting. Now this opinion is most contrary to Catholic faith, as is evident from the plain words of our Lord, (Matt. xviii. 17 ; Mark xvi. 16; Luke x. 16; John iii. 18) as also from the words of St. Paul, (II. Tim. Iii. 11) and of St. Peter (II. Peter. ii. 1). To entertain opinions contrary to this Catholic faith is to be an impious wretch.
"We therefore again reprobate, proscribe, and condemn all and every one of these perverse opinions and doctrines, and it is our absolute will and command that all sons of the Catholic Church shall hold them as reprobated, proscribed, and condemned. It belongs to our Apostolic office to rouse your Episcopal zeal and watchfulness to do all in your power to banish from the minds of the people such impious and pernicious opinions, which lead to indifference of religion, which we behold spreading more and more, to the ruin of souls. Oppose all your energy and zeal to these errors and employ zealous priests to impugn and annihilate them, and to impress very deeply upon the minds and hearts of the faithful the great dogma of our most holy religion, that salvation can be had only in the Catholic faith. Often exhort the clergy and the faithful to give thanks to God for the great gift of the Catholic faith."
Now is it not something very shocking to see such condemned errors and perverse opinions proclaimed as Catholic doctrine in a Catholic newspaper, and in books written and recently published by Catholics?
We have, therefore, deemed it our duty to make a strong, vigorous, and uncompromising presentation of the great and fundamental truth, the very fence and barrier of the true religion, "OUT OF THE CHURCH THERE IS POSITIVELY NO SALVATION," against those soft, weak, timid, liberalizing Catholics who labor to explain away all the points of Catholic faith offensive to non-Catholics, and to make it appear that there is no question of life and death, of heaven and hell, involved in the differences between us and Protestants.
Not to free your neighbor from religious errors, says Pope Leo, when it is in your power to do so, is to show to be in error yourself, and "therefore," says Pope Gregory, "he whose duty it is to correct his neighbor when he is in fault, and yet omits to make the correction, makes himself guilty of the faults of his neighbor." "Indeed," says Pope Innocent III. of those whose duty it is to keep the deposit of faith pure and undefiled, "not to oppose erroneous doctrine is to approve of it, and not to defend at all true doctrine is to suppress it."