Is the Roman Catholic Church
The Roman Catholic Church claims that -- unlike all of the other Christian churches, which are fraudulent and have nothing genuine to offer - "the Holy Catholic Church" is the one and only genuine, holy church in the whole world, the only one that Jesus intends this world to have, the only one that stands with an unbroken succession on the foundation laid by Jesus Christ in God's Word, the only one with a legitimate priesthood that can administer the "sacraments", i.e. the sacred instruments which Jesus provided in order to enable people to become part of his one true church and only route to eternal salvation.
While Conservative or "traditional" Catholics proudly embrace these claims, Liberal Catholics in more "multi-cultural" countries like the United States are sometimes so embarrassed by such claims that they accuse people like me of misrepresenting the actual teaching of their church, which they claim is not nearly so arrogant and/or so dismissive of other faiths. But anyone who consults the highest authorities in the Roman Catholic Church will see that this church has always seen itself as God's one and only legitimate child, and still does.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (35-117 AD - Apostolic Father)
"Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church" (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]). St. Irenaeus (130-202 - Church Father),
"The Church is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them . . . We hear it declared of the unbelieving and the blinded of this world that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come. . . . Resist them in defense of the only true and life giving faith, which the Church has received from the Apostles and imparted to her sons."
St. Augustine (354-430), Bishop and Doctor of the Church:
"No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the Name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church."
St. Fulgentius (468-533), Bishop:
"Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."
And St. Cyprian (476-546) made it clear and simple: "Outside the Church there is no salvation."
St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226): "All who have not believed that Jesus Christ was really the Son of God are doomed. Also, all who see the (Catholic) Sacrament of the Body of Christ and do not believe it is really the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord . . . these also are doomed!"
St. Thomas Aquinas (1226-1274), "the Angelic Doctor" of the Church:
"There is no entering into salvation outside the Catholic Church, just as in the time of the Flood there was not salvation outside the Ark, which denotes the Church."
St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716):
"There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. Anyone who resists this truth perishes."
St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), Bishop and Doctor of the Church:
"Outside the Church there is no salvation. . . therefore in the symbol (Apostles Creed) we join together the Church with the remission of sins: 'I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins". . . For this reason the Church is compared to the Ark of Noah, because just as during the deluge, everyone perished who was not in the ark, so now those perish who are not in the Church."
St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori (1696-1787), Bishop and Doctor of the Church:
"All the misfortunes of unbelievers spring from too great an attachment to the things of life. This sickness of heart weakens and darkens the understanding, and leads to eternal ruin. If they would try to heal their hearts by purging them of their vices, they would soon receive light, which would show them the necessity of joining the Catholic Church, where alone is salvation. We should constantly thank the Lord for having granted us the gift of the true Faith, by associating us with the children of the Holy Catholic Church . . . How many are the infidels, heretics, and schismatics who do not enjoy the happiness of the true Faith! Earth is full of them and they are all lost!"
Since Catholics are only obliged to believe that their Popes, not necessarily their saints, are infallible, let's see what their popes have taught.
Was not Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) speaking ex cathedra, when he proclaimed :
"The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in Her and asserts that none who are outside of Her will be saved." and Gregory IX
Was not Pope Innocent III speaking ex cathedra when at the Fourth Lateran Council, in 1215, he proclaimed : "There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one at all can be saved."
Convened by Innocent III in 1215, the Fourth Lateral, Council was the most important ecumenical gathering up until that point in history. More than four hundred bishops and archbishops, eight hundred priors and abbots, and the ambassadors of Europe's kingdoms and cities were in attendance. 'lhe Council established the main elements of Catholic culture as it exists today, and among those elements is the resolute assertion that "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." As a consequence, ecclesiastical authorities felt an even stronger need to call yen Jews and others.
A little over a decade after the Fourth Lateran Council, in 1231, Council Pope Gregory IX established the Inquisition.
Was Pope Gregory IX spealomg infallibly for God, when he proclaimed "The pope is the lord and master of the Universe, things as well as people."?
In 1229, this same pope decreed that only ordained priests were allowed to read the Bible and two years later he began the Inquisition which lasted 600 years.
In 1442, the Council of Florence proclaimed: `The holy Roman church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews and heretics and schismatlcs, cannot share in eternal life, and will go into the everlasting fire, `which was prepared for the devil and his angels', unIess they are joined to the Catholic Church before the end of thcir lives... Nobody can be saved no matter how much he has given away alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church "
or Pope Boniface VIII, who proclaimed in the Papal Bull "Unam Sanctam" in 1302: "We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman (Catholic) Pontiff."
[ Catholic commentator's comments: This means, and has always meant, that salvation and unity exist only within the Catholic Church, and that members of heretical groups cannot be considered as "part" of the Church of Christ. This doctrine has been the consistent teaching of the Popes throughout the centuries. Further, it is dogmatically set forth that no authority in the Church, no matter how highly placed, may lawfully attempt to change the clear meaning of this (or any) infallible dogma.]
Was not Pope Eugene IV speaking ex cathedra, when in 1441, in the Bull Cantate Domino he proclaimed :
"The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire 'which was prepared for the devil and his angels' (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her. . . 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 they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."
According to Pope Innocent IV, above and beyond being "Vicar of Christ", "The pope is the vicar of the Creator to whom every human creture is subject."
And what about Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), when he proclaimed :
"Some say they are not bound by the doctrine which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian Faith. These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science."
Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903), in his encyclical Satis Cognitum (On the Unity of the Church: June 29, 1896), spelled out quite clearly and in detail the need for holding the Catholic Faith in its entirety:
"There can be nothing more dangerous than those heretics who admit nearly the entire cycle of Catholic doctrine and yet, by a single word, as with a drop of poison, infect the real and simple faith taught by our Lord and handed down by Apostolic tradition ... For such is the nature of the faith that nothing can be more absurd than to accept some things and to reject others. If, then, it be certain that anything is revealed by God, and this is not believed, then nothing whatever is believed by divine faith... But he who dissents even in one point from divinely- revealed truth absolutely rejects all faith, since he refuses to honor God [who is one] as the Supreme Truth and formal motive of faith. In many things they are with me, in a few things not with me; but in those few things in which they are not with me, the many in which they are will not profit them....
There should be no doubt that the Catholic Church teaches and has always taught that without believing and professing the Catholic Faith, in its entirety, no one can be saved. It is thus an infallible teaching which cannot be changed in any way, and which itself is necessary for belief.
Venerable Pope Pius IX (1846-78) declared ex cathedra in his Bull Ineffabilis Deus (1854) on the Immaculate Conception of Mary that to deny a defined doctrine, or to even think "otherwise than has been defined," is to be condemned:
Wherefore, if any should presume to think in their hearts otherwise than has been defined by Us, which God forbid, let them know and understand that they are condemned by their own judgment; that they have suffered shipwreck in regard to faith.
In his Syllabus of Errors (1864) Venerable Pope Pius IX, in exercising his supreme teaching authority, solemnly declared that it is an error:
16: to believe that men can find the path of eternal salvation and attain eternal salvation in the practice of any religion whatsoever.
18: to believe that Protestantism is nothing other than a different form of the same true Christian religion, in which it is possible to serve God as well as in the Catholic Church.
21: to believe that the Church does not have the power of defining dogmatically that the religion of the Catholic Church is the only true religion...
Nevertheless, to make this teaching clear, the Church has exercised her highest authority in defining the necessity of believing and professing the Catholic Faith in order to attain salvation.
Pope Pius XII (1939-58) unequivocally declares in Ad Apostolorum Principis that: No one can depart from the teaching of Catholic truth without loss of faith and salvation.
Pope John XXIII (1958-63), in his Papal Oath, proclaimed: Outside this true Catholic faith no one can be saved, so help me God!
When each new pope is crowned, he is told "receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art father of princes and kings, ruler of the world, vicar of our Savior, Jesus Christ." The complete inscription on the tiara, is "to the infallible vicar of Jesus Christ. To the supreme governor of the world on earth. To the father of nations and kings."
While Roman Catholic Adolf Hitler promoted the idea of Germans being the world's "Master Race", his church has been promoting the idea of the Roman Catholic Church being the world's "Master Religion".
As mentioned before, when the Church exercises her extraordinary teaching authority she is defining for all time truths revealed by God as necessary for belief, and hence, necessary for salvation . Dogmatic definitions are "irreformable by their very nature" (Lumen Gentium, 25). As a result, Catholics are solemnly bound in conscience to believe these dogmas precisely as they are declared and defined. Otherwise, the Church would have chosen different words, for this is the very point of defining a dogma.
At the Council of Lateran (649), whose canons were approved and confirmed by Pope Martin I (649-653), it was solemnly declared:
If anyone does not profess in accordance with the holy Fathers, properly and truthfully all that has been handed down and taught publicly to the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God, both by the same Fathers and by me approved universal Councils, to the last detail in word and intention: he is condemned, (canon 17)
At the Council of Trent (1545-63) it was solemnly declared that one must hold that:
Our Catholic faith, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), must remain in its purity, sound, unshaken, and free from errors. (Session V, Intro.)
At Trent it was solemnly declared concerning the doctrine of justification that:
this Catholic doctrine of justification -which, unless he faithfully and firmly accepts it, no one can be justified. (On Justification, 16)
No one can be justified if he rejects the Catholic teaching on justification. Of course if some one isn't justified, then they cannot be saved (i.e. enter heaven), and Protestants reject the Catholic teaching on justification. Thus, they cannot be saved as they are in rejecting this, or any dogma of the Church.
Two years after the the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church's response to the Protestant movement, which Pope Pius IV had convened for and supervised, Pius promulgated a profession of faith which spelled out in much greater detail than the three other official Catholic creeds what Roman Catholics must believe in order to be saved, including the following :
"The Apostolic and Ecclesiastical traditions and all other observances and constitutions of that same Church I firmly admit to and embrace.
I also accept the Holy Scripture according to that sense which holy mother the Church hath held, and doth hold, and to whom it belongeth to judge the true sense and interpretations of the Scriptures. . .
I acknowledge the Holy Catholic Apostolic Roman Church as the mother and teacher of all churches; and I promise true obedience to the Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Vicar of Jesus Christ.
I likewise undoubtedly receive and profess all other things delivered, defined, and declared by the sacred Canons, and general Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and by the ecumenical Council of the Vatican, particularly concerning the primacy of the Roman Pontiff and his infallible teaching. I condemn, reject, and anathematize all things contrary thereto, and all heresies which the Church hath condemned, rejected, and anathematized.
This true Catholic faith, outside of which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and to which I truly adhere, I do so profess and swear to maintain inviolate and with firm constancy with the help of God until the last breath of life. And I shall strive, as far as possible, that this same faith shall be held, taught, and professed by all those over whom I have charge. I N. do so pledge, promise, and swear, so help me God and these Holy Gospels of God. "
[ see http://www.preces-latinae.org/thesaurus/Symbola/Tridentinae.html ]
Was not The First Vatican Council speaking infallibly when it declared solemnly and officially: "The meaning of Sacred Dogmas, which must always be preserved, is that which our Holy Mother the Church has determined. Never is it permissible to depart from this in the name of a deeper understanding."
[ Catholic commentator's comments: "This same Vatican I defined solemnly that not even a Pope may teach a new doctrine. Naturally, the truth that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church has been supported by all the saints from every age." ]
No one can be saved who is not first justified; and no one (assuming he has reached the age of reason) can be justified unless he has faith; and this justifying faith is the Catholic Faith. At the First Vatican Council, in the Dogmatic Constitution On Faith (chap.3), it was solemnly declared:
Since without faith it is impossible to please God, no one may be justified without it, nor will anyone attain eternal life unless he perseveres to the end in it... all those things are to be believed by divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the written Word of God or in Tradition, and which are proposed by the Church either in solemn judgment or in its ordinary and universal teaching office as divinely revealed truths which must be believed.
In Session IV, On the Church of Christ (Chap. 3) it was solemnly declared:
When, therefore, this bond of unity with the Roman Pontiff is guarded, both in government and in profession of faith, the Church of Christ is one flock under one supreme shepherd. This is the doctrine of Catholic truth; no one can deviate from this without losing his faith and his salvation. (Italics added)
All those things which God has revealed and which we must believe include the divine institution of the Catholic Church, the primacy of the Roman Church, Papal infallibility, all the Marian dogmas. Purgatory, Indulgences, the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Real Presence, etc. These are precisely what Protestants, Jews, and all non-Catholics for that matter, reject. They do not have the one true Faith revealed by God and given to us by Jesus Christ. This is the only Faith, the one Faith, as Trent declared, which pleases God. Thus, by their deviation from Catholic truth they cannot be saved as is defined at Vatican I. This teaching on the necessity of holding the Catholic Faith in its entirety must be believed with divine and Catholic faith. No Catholic can deny nor even deviate from this infallible teaching of the Church without losing his faith and, ultimately, his salvation. The indivisible unity of Divine Truth, and thus Faith, demands it. As Pope Benedict XV declared in Ad Beatissimi (1914):
The Catholic Faith is such that nothing can be added to it nothing taken away. Either it is held in its entirety, or rejected ; totally. This is the Catholic Faith, which unless a man believes faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved. "
Those Roman Catholics, therefore, who view all their non-Catholic family and friends as good people who may be just as pleasing to God as they are, may be nice Catholics, but they are not authentic Catholics in that they don't believe what their church actually teaches. That actually makes them "heretics" or "protestants" at heart, but don't tell them that.
This is even true of the ultra-Conservative American Catholic.com web site, which tries to pass off the following unorthodox "liberal" theology as authentic Catholic teaching at www.catholic.com/thisrock/1997/9706qq.asp
Answer : Depends. If you mean, "What happens to those who die rejecting Christ?" the Church's answer is uncompromising: They will go to hell. But no one goes to hell by accident. If someone is simply ignorant of the name of Christ through no fault of his own, there is no sin in that. He has not rejected Christ. Moreover, we know Christ is not constrained by our knowledge. He can work in a heart even when that heart is only dimly aware of it." ( Mark P. Shea )" Question : What relationship does the Catholic Church perceive to exist between itself and various Protestants (the baptized ones who still accept their faith)?
Answer : Validly baptized Protestants are regarded as true Christian brothers and sisters who are in imperfect relationship with the Church. The nature of the imperfections is as varied as Protestantism itself. The idea at work here is that the faith is an incarnational thing, not just a "spiritual" (disembodied) thing, just like Jesus himself. Thus, it is possible to be out of union with the Church "bodily" (structurally, sacramentally, liturgically), yet still have a spiritual unity with the Church. Likewise, it is possible to be "bodily" united to the Church yet cease to be in communion with her spiritually (as an apostate Catholic is if he keeps going to Communion yet rejects the creed or continues unrepentant in grave sin). The latter form of disunity with Church is more serious than the former." ( Mark P. Shea )
This doctrine was reaffirmed as recently as August 6, 2000, by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who then headed the Office for the Doctrine of the Faith, but has since become Pope Benedict XVI It was made clear at the time that this official declaration of the faith of the church,"DOMINUS JESUS": On the unicity and salvific universality of Jesus Christ and the Church (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith } had the endorsement of then Pope John Paul II.
Here is an English translation:
Some conservative Catholics are so convinced of the truth of the older Catholic teaching that they view the more modern liberal teaching even though promulgated by popes and the Second Vatican Council as heretical, See MostHolyFamilyMonastery.com/VaticanII_mainpage.html
Although the Catholic Church claims to base its claims on Jesus, how many Catholics know that only one of the four Gospels even mentions the word "church" and all of the instances fit on a single page of Matthew's Gospel, i.e. verses 18 in Ch. 16, and verses 15,17 & 21 n Ch. 18? Not only did Jesus never say anything about "bishops" or a "supreme pontiff", but the only time he referred to "priests" was when speaking of the Jewish priesthood, which he never gave any indication of wanting to replace.
The principal tools the Catholic Church has used to lead its members has been the "Mass", mandatory on Sundays for all the faithful and optional on weekdays for its more pious members, and Catholic education, in the form of full time Catholic schools where possible or extra-curricular Catholic education for youth unable to attend such schools.
All of these propositions were labelled "Jansenist heresies"
How could anyone doubt
that the "Supreme Pontiffs"
who were carried around
in this sumptuous carriage,
were the authentic
Jesus of Nazareth, who
(according to Matthew
and Luke) said :
"Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head."|
John the Baptist explained that in order to be saved, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise" (Luke 3:11), So why have Jesus Christ's self-proclaimed "vicars" built themselves a humble abode of 11,000 (as in "thousand") rooms?
For an eloquent Catholic layman's view of today's U.S. Catholic Church, see The Church That Forgot Christ, by the famous writer, Jimmy Breslin .