I wonder sometimes why conservative Catholic thinkers like Dr. Mirus find the literal sense of the dogma, No Salvation Outside the Church, so distasteful. They have no problem giving an “uncertain sound” on their trumpets by giving non-Catholics a hope for salvation where they are: outside the Church. And they call this “charity.” Charity rejoices in the truth, Saint Paul teaches, and what Jeff Mirus has written in his column for today is not the truth. It is an affront to charity. For now, my refutation will be to post the teaching of an infallible doctrinal council (Vatican II, as every theologian knows, and several popes have affirmed, was not a defining council). The reader can easily see that what Mirus alleges to be the teaching of Vatican II contradicts the teaching of the Council of Florence and Eugene IV’s bull Cantate Domino, which was issued during the council in 1441.
“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.”
Catholic Culture reports: The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum) cites St. Paul’s letter to the Romans when it asserts the possibility for salvation for non-Catholics and even for non-Christians. The assertion is made in the process of explaining the stages of Revelation. I’ve argued many times that this possibility has always been held by the Church. Indeed, the Letter to the Romans shows that a proper understanding of the question was already outlined in Sacred Scripture itself.