The Catechism of the Catholic Church upholds the traditional doctrine that outside the Church there is no salvation.  If you have invincible ignorance and would want to know God then you are connected to the Church by God in some way so you can be saved. 

Innocent III's Lateran Council of 1215AD, Unam Sanctam of Pope Boniface VIII from 1302 the Bull issued by Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino from 1441 are considered to give God's doctrine and official Church teaching as part of the required faith to be a proper Catholic all affirm that teaching.

Some feel that recent popes are softening that teaching.  The issue is, is anybody saying or not saying that a non-Roman Catholic can be saved?  Or if you like, is there no salvation at all unless you are validly baptised?

Some argue from Romans 1 which says that those who do not recognise God have no excuse as denying that invincible ignorance allows you to get to Heaven if you are good and sense a God.  Romans 1 talks about God but that is a different thing from saying everybody who is not Christian has no excuse.   Romans 2:14-15 asserts that that those who obey what is written on their heart would achieve salvation as long as their failure to be in the Church is not their own fault.

St Justin and St Irenaeus were clear that God can work outside the Church organisation and grant grace to anyone and if that person responds God will grant them salvation.

Pope Innocent III Lateran Council IV (AD 1215) [The 12th Ecumenical Council of the Church]

One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved, in which the priest himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the species of bread and wine; the bread (changed) into His body by the divine power of transubstantiation, and the wine into the blood, so that to accomplish the mystery of unity we ourselves receive from His (nature) what He Himself received from ours… But the sacrament of baptism (which at the invocation of God and the indivisible Trinity, namely, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, is solemnized in water) rightly conferred by anyone in the form of the Church is useful unto salvation for little ones and for adults.

Pope Innocent III wrote in 1208 AD: “A certain Jew, when at the point of death, since he lived only among Jews, immersed himself in water, while saying I baptize myself in the name of the Father, and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.. We respond that since there should be a distinction between the one baptizing and the one baptized, as clearly gathered from the words of the Lord when said "Go baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit." The Jew must be baptized again by another. If however such a one had died immediately he would have rushed to his heavenly home without delay because of the faith of the sacrament although not because of the sacrament of faith.

 Unam Sanctam Papal Bull of Pope Boniface VIII, 1302

We are compelled, our faith urging us, to believe and to hold—and we do firmly believe and simply confess—that there is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins; her Spouse proclaiming it in the canticles, "My dove, my undefiled is but one, she is the choice one of her that bore her"; which represents one mystical body, of which body the head is Christ, but of Christ, God. If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ; for the Lord says, in John, that there is one fold, one shepherd, and one only. This authority, moreover, even though it is given to man and exercised through man, is not human but rather divine, being given by divine lips to Peter and founded on a rock for him and his successors through Christ Himself whom He has confessed; the Lord Himself saying to Peter: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind," etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordination of God, unless he makes believe, like the Manichean, that there are two beginnings. This we consider false and heretical, since by the testimony of Moses, not "in the beginnings," but "in the beginning" God created the heavens and the earth. Indeed we declare, say, pronounce, and define that it is altogether necessary to salvation for every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

 Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441

Besides it anathematizes the madness of the Manichaeans, who have established two first principles, one of the visible, and another of the invisible; and they have said that there is one God of the New Testament, another God of the Old Testament. It, moreover, anathematizes, execrates, and condemns every heresy that suggests contrary things. And first it condemns Ebion, Cerinthus, Marcion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus, and all similar blasphemers, who, being unable to accept the personal union of humanity with the Word, denied that our Lord Jesus Christ was true God, proclaiming Him pure man who was called divine man by reason of a greater participation in divine grace, which He had received by merit of a more holy life. It anathematizes also Manichaeus with his followers, who, thinking vainly that the Son of God had assumed not a true but an ephemeral body, entirely do away with the truth of the humanity in Christ. And also Valentinus who asserts that the Son of God took nothing from the Virgin Mary, but assumed a heavenly body and passed through the womb of the Virgin just as water flows and runs through an aqueduct. Arius also, who asserted that the body assumed from the Virgin lacked a soul, and would have the Godhead in place of the soul. Also Apollinaris, who, understanding that there was no true humanity if in Christ the soul is denied as giving the body form, posited only a sensitive soul, but held that the Godhead of the Word took the place of a rational soul. It also anathematizes Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius who assert that humanity was united with the Son of God through grace, and hence there are two persons in Christ, just as they confess that there are two natures, since they were unable to understand that the union of humanity with the Word was hypostatic, and so refused to accept the subsistence of God. For according to this blasphemy, the Word was not made flesh, but the Word through grace lived in the flesh; that is, He was made not the Son of God, but rather the Son of God lived in man. It anathematizes also, execrates, and condemns Eutyches the archimandrite; since he believed according to the blasphemy of Nestorius that the truth of the Incarnation is excluded, and therefore it is fitting that humanity was so united to the Word of God that the person of the Godhead and of humanity were one and the same and also, he could not grasp the unity of person as long as a plurality of natures existed, just as he established that there was one person of the Godhead and humanity in Christ, so he asserted that there was one nature, meaning that before the union there was a duality of natures, but in the assumption they passed over into one nature, with the greatest blasphemy and impiety granting either that humanity was turned into Godhead, or Godhead into humanity. It also anathematizes, execrates, and condemns Macarius of Antioch and all who hold similar views; although he had a correct understanding of the duality of natures and the unity of person, yet he erred greatly concerning the operations of Christ when he said that in Christ there was one operation and one will on the part of both natures. All these, together with their heresies, the Holy Roman Church anathematizes, affirming that there are two wills and two operations in Christ. The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.

The context is about people informed by the Church and who see they should join it and stay in it but who set up faiths of their own.  It says they know the Catholic gospel.  It is a short step from saying that you must believe certain things about Jesus to saying you must join with those who support them and be part of the Church.


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