The Royal Priesthood and Salvation
VATICAN II, Lumen Gentium, ch 1-3; 10-17

 Last Supper. Ravenna

Salvation of Non-Catholics;






Caput I





1. Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, (cf. Mc 16,15) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church. Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils. The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.

1. Lumen gentium cum sit Christus, haec Sacrosancta Synodus, in Spiritu Sancto congregata, omnes homines claritate Eius, super faciem Ecclesiae resplendente, illuminare vehementer exoptat, omni creaturae Evangelium annuntiando (cf. Mc 16,15). Cum autem Ecclesia sit in Christo veluti sacramentum seu signum et instrumentum intimae cum Deo unionis totiusque generis humani unitatis, naturam missionemque suam universalem, praecedentium Conciliorum argumento instans, pressius fidelibus suis et mundo universo declarare intendit. Condiciones huius temporis huic Ecclesiae officio urgentiorem vim addunt, ut nempe homines cuncti, variis hodie vinculis socialibus, technicis, culturalibus arctius coniuncti, plenam etiam unitatem in Christo consequantur.





2. The eternal Father, by a free and hidden plan of His own wisdom and goodness, created the whole world. His plan was to raise men to a participation of the divine life. Fallen in Adam, God the Father did not leave men to themselves, but ceaselessly offered helps to salvation, in view of Christ, the Redeemer “who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature”. (Col 1,15) All the elect, before time began, the Father “foreknew and pre- destined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren”. (Rom 8,29) He planned to assemble in the holy Church all those who would believe in Christ. Already from the beginning of the world the foreshadowing of the Church took place. It was prepared in a remarkable way throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.[Cfr. S. Cyprian, Let. 64, 4: PL 3, 1017. CSEL (Hartcl), III B p. 720. S. Hilarius Pict., In Mt 23, 6: PL 9, 1047. S. Augustinus, passim. S. Cyrillus Alex., Glaph in Gen. 2, 10: PG 69, 110 A.]

2. Aeternus Pater, liberrimo et arcano sapientiae ac bonitatis suae consilio, mundum universum creavit, homines ad participandam vitam divinam elevare decrevit, eosque lapsos in Adamo non dereliquit, semper eis auxilia ad salutem praebens, intuitu Christi, Redemptoris, “qui est imago Dei invisibilis, primogenitus omnis creaturae” (Col 1,15). Omnes autem electos Pater ante saecula “praescivit et praedestinavit conformes fieri imaginis Filii sui, ut sit ipse primogenitus in multis fratribus” (Rom 8,29). Credentes autem in Christum convocare statuit in sancta Ecclesia, quae iam ab origine mundi praefigurata, in historia populi Israel ac foedere antiquo mirabiliter praeparata.

In the present era of time the Church was constituted and, by the outpouring of the Spirit, was made manifest. At the end of time it will gloriously achieve completion, when, as is read in the Fathers, all the just, from Adam and “from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect,” will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.[ Cfr. S. Gregorius M., Hom in Evang. 19, 1: PL 76, 1154 B. S Augustinus, Serm. 341, 9, 11: PL 39, 1499 s. S. Io. Damascenus, Adv. Iconocl. 11: PG 96, 1357.]

), in novissimis temporibus constituta, effuso Spiritu est manifestata, et in fine saeculorum gloriose consummabitur. Tunc autem, sicut apud sanctos Patres legitur, omnes iusti inde ab Adam, “ab Abel iusto usque ad ultimum electum”(2) in Ecclesia universali apud Patrem congregabuntur.





3. The Son, therefore, came, sent by the Father. It was in Him, before the foundation of the world, that the Father chose us and predestined us to become adopted sons, for in Him it pleased the Father to re-establish all things. (cf. Eph 1,4-5 et 10) To carry out the will of the Father, Christ inaugurated the Kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us the mystery of that kingdom. By His obedience He brought about redemption. The Church, or, in other words, the kingdom of Christ now present in mystery, grows visibly through the power of God in the world. This inauguration and this growth are both symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of a crucified Jesus, (cf. Jn 19,34)and are foretold in the words of the Lord referring to His death on the Cross: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself”. (Jn 12,32 gr.) 3. Venit igitur Filius, missus a Patre, qui nos in Eo ante mundi constitutionem elegit ac in adoptionem filiorum praedestinavit, quia in Eo omnia instaurare sibi complacuit (cf. Eph 1,4-5 et 10). Christus ideo, ut voluntatem Patris impleret, regnum caelorum in terris inauguravit nobisque Eius mysterium revelavit, atque oboedientia sua redemptionem effecit. Ecclesia, seu regnum Christi iam praesens in mysterio, ex virtute Dei in mundo visibiliter crescit. Quod exordium et incrementum significantur sanguine et aqua ex aperto latere Iesu crucifixi exeuntibus (cf. Io 19,34), ac praenuntiantur verbis Domini de morte sua in cruce: “Et ego, si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnes traham ad meipsum” (Io 12,32 gr.).

 As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, (1Cor 5,7) is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ (cf. 1Cor 10,17) is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.

 Quoties sacrificium crucis, quo “Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus” (1Cor 5,7), in altari celebratur, opus nostrae redemptionis exercetur. Simul sacramento panis eucharistici repraesentatur et efficitur unitas fidelium, qui unum corpus in Christo constituunt (cf. 1Cor 10,17). Omnes homines ad hanc vocantur unionem cum Christo, qui est lux mundi, a quo procedimus, per quem vivimus, ad quem tendimus.





10. CHRIST the Lord, high priest taken from among human beings (cf. Heb. 5:1-5), made the new people a kingdom of priests to God, his Father (Rev. 1:6; cf. 5:9-10).

10. Christus Dominus, Pontifex ex hominibus assumptus (cf. Hebr. 5,1-5) novum populum "fecit regnum et sacerdotes Deo et Patri suo" (Apoc. 1,6; cf. 5,9-10).

The baptized, by regeneration and the annointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian people they may offer spiritual sacrifices and proclaim the perfection of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light (cf. 1 Pet.2:4-10).

Baptizati enim, per regenerationem et Spiritus Sancti unctionem consecrantur in domum spiritalem et sacerdotium sanctum, ut per omnia opera hominis christiani spirituales offerant hostias, et virtutes annuntient Eius qui de tenebris eos vocavit in admirabile lumen suum (cf. 1 Petr. 2,4-10).

THEREFORE all the disciples of Chist, persevering in prayer and praising God (cf. Acts 2:42-47), should present themselves as a sacrifice, living, holy, and pleasing to God (cf. Rom. 12.1).

Ideo universi discipuli Christi, in oratione perseverantes et collaudantes Deum (cf. Act. 2,42 ad 47), seipsos hostiam viventem, sanctam, Deo placentem exhibeant (cf. Rom. 12,1),

They should everywhere on earth bear witness to Christ and give an answer to everyone who asks a reason for the hope of an eternal life which is theirs. (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15).

ubique terrarum de Christo testimonium perhibeant, atque poscentibus rationem reddant de ea, quae in eis est, spe vitae aeternae (cf. 1 Petr. 3,15)

       Though they differ essentially and not only in degree, the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are none the less ordered one to another; each in its own proper way shares in the one priesthood of Christ. [See Pius XII, Alloc. Magnificate Dominum,2 Nov. 1954: AAS 46 (1954) p. 669. Litt. Encycl. Mediator Dei, 20 Nov. 1947: AAS 39 (1947) p.555]

Sacerdotium autem commune fidelium et sacerdotium ministerale seu hierarchicum, licet essentia et non gradu tantum defferant, ad invicem tamen ordinantur; unum enim et alterutrum suo peculiari modo de uno Christi sacerdotio participant.2

The ministerial priest, by the sacred power that he has, forms and rules the priestly people; in the person of Christ he effects the eucharistic sacrifice and offers it to God in the name of all the people.

Sacerdos quidem ministerialis, potestate sacra qua gaudet, populum sacerdotalem efformat ac regit, sacrificium eucharisticum in persona Christi conficit illudque nomine totius populi Deo offert;

THE faithful indeed, by virtue of their royal priesthood, participate in the offering of the Eucharist. [See Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Miserentissimus Redemptor, 8 May 1928: AAS 20 (1928) p. 171; Pius XII, Alloc. Vous nous avez,22 Sept. 1956: AAS 48 (1956) p. 714. ]

fideles vero, vi regalis suo sacerdotii, in oblationem Eucharistiae concurrunt,3

They exercise that priesthood, too, by[:]

(1) the reception of the sacraments,

(2) prayer and thanksgiving,

(3) the witness of a holy life,

(4) abnegation

(5) and active charity.


in sacramentis suscipiendis,

in oratione et gratiarum actione,

testimonio vitae sanctae,


et actuosa caritate exercent.





11. The sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation through the sacraments and the exercise of virtues. 

11. Indoles sacra et organice extructa communitatis sacerdotalis et per sacramenta et per virtutes ad actum deducitur.

Incorporated into the Church by Baptism, the faithful are appointed by their baptismal character to religious worship; reborn as sons of God, they must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church.[See St. Thomas, Summa Theol. III, q. 63, a. 2.]

Fideles per baptismum in Ecclesia incorporati, ad cultum religionis christianae charactere deputantur et, in filios Dei regenerati, fidem quam a Deo per Ecclesiam acceperunt coram hominibus profiteri tenentur.4

By the sacrament of Confirmation they are more perfectly bound to the Church and are endowed with the special strength of the Holy Spirit.  Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread the faith by word and deed. [See St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. 17, de Spiritu Sancto, II, 35-37: PG 33 1009-1012. Nic. Cabasilas, De Vita in Christo, bk. III, de utilitate chrismatis: PG  150, 569-580.  St. Thomas, Summa Theol. III, q. 65 a. 3 and q. 72, a. 1 and 5.]

Sacramento confirmationis perfectius Ecclesiae vinculantur, speciali Spiritus Sancti robore ditantur, sicque ad fidem tamquam veri testes Christi verbo et opere simul diffundendam et defendendam arctius obligantur.5

TAKING part in the eucharistic sacrifice, the source and summit of the Christian life, they offer the divine victim to God and themselves along with it.[See Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Mediator Dei, loc. cit., especially p. 552 s.]

Sacrificium eucharisticum, totius vitae christianae fontem et culmen, participantes, divinam Victimam Deo offerunt atque seipsos cum ea;6

And so it is that, both in the offering and in Holy Communion, each in his own way, though not of course indiscriminately, has his own part to play in the liturgical action.

ita tum oblatione tum sacra communione, non promiscue sed alii aliter, omnes in liturgica actione partem propriam agunt.

Then, strengthened by the body of Christ in the eucharistic communion, they manifest in a concrete way that unity of the People of God which this holy sacrament aptly signifies and admirably realizes.

Porro corpore Christi in sacra synaxi refecti, unitatem Populi Dei, quae hoc augustissimo sacramento apte significatur et mirabiliter efficitur, modo concreto exhibent.







Those who approach the sacrament of Penance obtain pardon from the mercy of God for the offence committed against Him and are at the same time reconciled with the Church, which they have wounded by their sins, and which by charity, example, and prayer seeks their conversion. By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of her priests the whole Church commends the sick to the suffering and glorified Lord, asking that He may lighten their suffering and save them;(106) she exhorts them, moreover, to contribute to the welfare of the whole people of God by associating themselves freely with the passion and death of Christ.(107) Those of the faithful who are consecrated by Holy Orders are appointed to feed the Church in Christ’s name with the word and the grace of God. Finally, Christian spouses, in virtue of the sacrament of Matrimony, whereby they signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and His Church,(108) help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special gift among the people of God.(109) (7*) From the wedlock of Christians there comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born, who by the grace of the Holy Spirit received in baptism are made children of God, thus perpetuating the people of God through the centuries. The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.

Qui vero ad sacramentum poenitentiae accedunt, veniam offensionis Deo illatae ab Eius misericordia obtinent et simul reconciliantur eum Ecclesia, quam peccando vulneraverunt, et quae eorum conversioni caritate, exemplo, precibus adlaborat. Sacra infirmorum unctione atque oratione presbyterorum Ecclesia tota aegrotantes Domino patienti et glorificato commendat, ut eos alleviet et salvet (cf. Iac 5,14-16), immo eos hortatur ut sese Christi passioni et morti libere sociantes (cf. Rom 8,17; Col 1,24; 2Tim 2,11-12; 1Pt 4,13), ad bonum Populi Dei conferant. Iterum, qui inter fideles sacro Ordine insigniuntur, ad Ecclesiam verbo et gratia Dei pascendam, Christi nomine instituuntur. Tandem coniuges christiani, virtute matrimonii sacramenti, quo mysterium unitatis et fecundi amoris inter Christum et Ecclesiam significant atque participant (cf. Eph 5,32), se invicem in vita coniugali necnon prolis susceptione et educatione ad sanctitatem adiuvant, adeoque in suo vitae statu et ordine proprium suum in Populo Dei donum habent(21). Ex hoc enim connubio procedit familia, in qua nascuntur novi societatis humanae cives, qui per Spiritus Sancti gratiam, ad Populum Dei saeculorum decursu perpetuandum, baptismo in filios Dei constituuntur. In hac velut Ecclesia domestica parentes verbo et exemplo sint pro filiis suis primi fidei praecones, et vocationem unicuique propriam, sacram vero peculiari cura, foveant oportet.

Fortified by so many and such powerful means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, are called by the Lord, each in his own way, to that perfect holiness whereby the Father Himself is perfect.

Tot ac tantis salutaribus mediis muniti, christifideles omnes, cuiusvis conditionis ac status, ad perfectionem sanctitatis qua Pater ipse perfectus est, sua quisque via, a Domino vocantur.





12. The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name.(110) The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth. It is exercised under the guidance of the sacred teaching authority, in faithful and respectful obedience to which the people of God accepts that which is not just the word of men but truly the word of God.(112) Through it, the people of God adheres unwaveringly to the faith given once and for all to the saints,(113) penetrates it more deeply with right thinking, and applies it more fully in its life.

12. Populus Dei sanctus de munere quoque prophetico Christi participat, vivum Eius testimonium maxime per vitam fidei ac caritatis diffundendo, et Deo hostiam laudis offerendo, fructum labiorum confitentium nomini Eius (cf. Hebr 13,15). Universitas fidelium, qui unctionem habent a Sancto (cf. 1Io 2,20 et 27), in credendo falli nequit, atque hanc suam peculiarem proprietatem mediante supernaturali sensu fidei totius populi manifestat, cum “ab Episcopis usque ad extremos laicos fideles”(22) universalem suum consensum de rebus fidei et morum exhibet. Illo enim sensu fidei, qui a Spiritu veritatis excitatur et sustentatur, Populus Dei sub ductu sacri magisterii, cui fideliter obsequens, iam non verbum hominum, sed vere accipit verbum Dei (cf. 1Thess 2,13), “semel traditae sanctis fidei” (Iud 1,3), indefectibiliter adhaeret, recto iudicio in eam profundius penetrat eamque in vita plenius applicat.

It is not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, “allotting his gifts to everyone according as He wills,(114) He distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts He makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church, according to the words of the Apostle: “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to everyone for profit”.(115) These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be sought after, nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use; but judgment as to their genuinity and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good.(116)

Idem praeterea Spiritus Sanctus non tantum per sacramenta et ministeria Populum Dei sanctificat et ducit eumque virtutibus ornat, sed dona sua “dividens singulis prout vult” (1Cor 12,11), inter omnis ordinis fideles distribuit gratias quoque speciales, quibus illos aptos et promptos reddit ad suscipienda varia opera vel officia, pro renovatione et ampliore aedificatione Ecclesiae proficua, secundum illud: “Unicuique... datur manifestatio Spiritus ad utilitatem” (1Cor 12,7). Quae charismata, sive clarissima, sive etiam simpliciora et latius diffusa, cum sint necessitatibus Ecclesiae apprime accommodata et utilia, cum gratiarum actione ac consolatione accipienda sunt. Dona autem extraordinaria non sunt temere expetenda, neque praesumptuose ab eis sperandi sunt fructus operarum apostolicarum: sed iudicium de eorum genuinitate et ordinato exercitio ad eos pertinet, qui in Ecclesia praesunt, et quibus speciatim competit, non Spiritum exstinguere, sed omnia probare et quod bonum est tenere (cf. 1Thess 5,12 et 19-21).





13. All men are called to belong to the new people of God. Wherefore this people, while remaining one and only one, is to be spread throughout the whole world and must exist in all ages, so that the decree of God’s will may be fulfilled. In the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all His children, scattered as they were, would finally be gathered together as one. (117) It was for this purpose that God sent His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things,(118) that be might be teacher, king and priest of all, the head of the new and universal people of the sons of God. For this too God sent the Spirit of His Son as Lord and Life- giver. He it is who brings together the whole Church and each and every one of those who believe, and who is the well-spring of their unity in the teaching of the apostles and in fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.(119)

13. Ad novum Populum Dei cuncti vocantur homines. Quapropter hic populus, unus et unicus manens, ad universum mundum et per omnia saecula est dilatandus, ut propositum adimpleatur voluntatis Dei, qui naturam humanam in initio condidit unam, filiosque suos, qui erant dispersi, in unum tandem congregare statuit (cf. Io 11,52). Ad hoc enim misit Deus Filium suum, quem constituit heredem universorum (cf. Hebr 1,2), ut sit Magister, Rex et Sacerdos omnium, Caput novi et universalis populi filiorum Dei. Ad hoc tandem misit Deus Spiritum Filii sui, Dominum et Vivificantem, qui pro tota Ecclesia et singulis universisque credentibus principium est congregationis et unitatis in doctrina Apostolorum et communione, fractione panis et orationibus (cf. Act 2,42, gr.).

It follows that though there are many nations there is but one people of God, which takes its citizens from every race, making them citizens of a kingdom which is of a heavenly rather than of an earthly nature. All the faithful, scattered though they be throughout the world, are in communion with each other in the Holy Spirit, and so, he who dwells in Rome knows that the people of India arc his members”(9*).

Omnibus itaque gentibus terrae inest unus Populus Dei, cum ex omnibus gentibus mutuetur suos cives, Regni quidem indolis non terrestris, sed coelestis. Cuncti enim per orbem sparsi fideles cum ceteris in Spiritu Sancto communicant, et sic “qui Romae sedet, Indos scit membrum suum esse”(23).

Since the kingdom of Christ is not of this world(120) the Church or people of God in establishing that kingdom takes nothing away from the temporal welfare of any people. On the contrary it fosters and takes to itself, insofar as they are good, the ability, riches and customs in which the genius of each people expresses itself. Taking them to itself it purifies, strengthens, elevates and ennobles them. The Church in this is mindful that she must bring together the nations for that king to whom they were given as an inheritance,(121) and to whose city they bring gifts and offerings.(122) This characteristic of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord Himself. By reason of it, the Catholic Church strives constantly and with due effect to bring all humanity and all its possessions back to its source In Christ, with Him as its head and united in His Spirit. (10*)

Cum autem Regnum Christi de hoc mundo non sit (cf. Io 18,36), ideo Ecclesia seu Populus Dei, hoc Regnum inducens, nihil bono temporali cuiusvis populi subtrahit, sed e contra facultates et copias moresque populorum, quantum bona sunt, fovet et assumit, assumendo vero purificat, roborat et elevat. Memor est enim se cum illo Rege colligere debere, Cui gentes in hereditatem datae sunt (cf. Ps 2,8), et in Cuius civitatem dona et munera adducunt (cf. Ps 71[72],10; Is 60,4-7; Apoc 21,24). Hic universalitatis character, qui Populum Dei condecorat, ipsius Domini donum est, quo catholica Ecclesia efficaciter et perpetuo tendit ad recapitulandam totam humanitatem cum omnibus bonis eius, sub Capite Christo, in unitate Spiritus Eius(24).

In virtue of this catholicity each individual part contributes through its special gifts to the good of the other parts and of the whole Church. Through the common sharing of gifts and through the common effort to attain fullness in unity, the whole and each of the parts receive increase. Not only, then, is the people of God made up of different peoples but in its inner structure also it is composed of various ranks. This diversity among its members arises either by reason of their duties, as is the case with those who exercise the sacred ministry for the good of their brethren, or by reason of their condition and state of life, as is the case with those many who enter the religious state and, tending toward holiness by a narrower path, stimulate their brethren by their example. Moreover, within the Church particular Churches hold a rightful place; these Churches retain their own traditions, without in any way opposing the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the whole assembly of charity (11*) and protects legitimate differences, while at the same time assuring that such differences do not hinder unity but rather contribute toward it. Between all the parts of the Church there remains a bond of close communion whereby they share spiritual riches, apostolic workers and temporal resources. For the members of the people of God are called to share these goods in common, and of each of the Churches the words of the Apostle hold good: “According to the gift that each has received, administer it to one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God”.(123)

Vi huius catholicitatis, singulae partes propria dona ceteris partibus et toti Ecclesiae afferunt, ita ut totum et singulae partes augeantur ex omnibus invicem communicantibus et ad plenitudinem in unitate conspirantibus. Inde fit ut Populus Dei non tantum ex diversis populis congregetur, sed etiam in seipso ex variis ordinibus confletur. Adest enim inter membra eius diversitas, sive secundum officia, dum aliqui sacro ministerio in bonum fratrum suorum funguntur, sive secundum condicionem et vitae ordinationem, dum plures in statu religioso, arctiore via ad sanctitatem tendentes, fratres exemplo suo stimulant. Inde etiam in ecclesiastica communione legitime adsunt Ecclesiae particulares, propriis traditionibus fruentes, integro manente primatu Petri Cathedrae, quae universo caritatis coetui praesidet(25), legitimas varietates tuetur et simul invigilat ut particularia, nedum unitati noceant, ei potius inserviant. Inde denique inter diversas Ecclesiae partes vincula intimae communionis quoad divitias spirituales, operarios apostolicos et temporalia subsidia. Ad communicandum enim bona vocantur membra Populi Dei, et de singulis etiam Ecclesiis valent verba Apostoli: “Unusquisque sicut accepit gratiam, in alterutrum illam administrantes, sicut boni dispensatores multiformis gratiae Dei” (1Pt 4,10).

All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation.

Ad hanc igitur catholicam Populi Dei unitatem, quae pacem universalem praesignat et promovet, omnes vocantur homines, ad eamque variis modis pertinent vel ordinantur sive fideles catholici, sive alii credentes in Christo, sive denique omnes universaliter homines, gratia Dei ad salutem vocati.





14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

14. Ad fideles ergo catholicos imprimis Sancta Synodus animum vertit. Docet autem, Sacra Scriptura et Traditione innixa, Ecclesiam hanc peregrinantem necessariam esse ad salutem. Unus enim Christus est Mediator ac via salutis, qui in Corpore suo, quod est Ecclesia, praesens nobis fit; Ipse autem necessitatem fidei et baptismi expressis verbis inculcando (cf. Mc 16,16; Io 3,5), necessitatem Ecclesiae, in quam homines per baptismum tamquam per ianuam intrant, simul confirmavit. Quare illi homines salvari non possent, qui Ecclesiam Catholicam a Deo per Iesum Christum ut necessariam esse conditam non ignorantes, tamen vel in eam intrare, vel in eadem perseverare noluerint.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. The bonds which bind men to the Church in a visible way are profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical government and communion. He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.”(12*) All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.(13*)

Illi plene Ecclesiae societati incorporantur, qui Spiritum Christi habentes, integram eius ordinationem omniaque media salutis in ea instituta accipiunt, et in eiusdem compage visibili cum Christo, eam per Summum Pontificem atque Episcopos regente, iunguntur, vinculis nempe professionis fidei, sacramentorum et ecclesiastici regiminis ac communionis. Non salvatur tamen, licet Ecclesiae incorporetur, qui in caritate non perseverans, in Ecclesiae sinu “corpore” quidem, sed non “corde” remanet(26). Memores autem sint omnes Ecclesiae filii condicionem suam eximiam non propriis meritis, sed peculiari gratiae Christi esse adscribendam; cui si cogitatione, verbo et opere non respondent, nedum salventur, severius iudicabuntur(27).

Catechumens who, moved by the Holy Spirit, seek with explicit intention to be incorporated into the Church are by that very intention joined with her. With love and solicitude Mother Church already embraces them as her own.

Catechumeni qui, Spiritu Sancto movente, explicita voluntate ut Ecclesiae incorporentur expetunt, hoc ipso voto cum ea coniunguntur; quos iam ut suos dilectione curaque complectitur Mater Ecclesia.

Salvation of non-Catholics




15. THE Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

15. Cum illis qui, baptizati, christiano nomine decorantur, integram autem fidem non profitentur vel unitatem communionis sub Successore Petri non servant, Ecclesia semetipsam novit plures ob rationes coniunctam(28). Sunt enim multi, qui sacram Scripturam ut normam credendi et vivendi in honore habent sincerumque zelum religiosum ostendunt, amanter credunt in Deum Patrem omnipotentem et in Christum, Filium Dei Salvatorem(29), baptismo signantur, quo Christo coniunguntur, imo et alia sacramenta in propriis Ecclesiis vel communitatibus ecclesiasticis agnoscunt et recipiunt. Plures inter illos et episcopatu gaudent, Sacram Eucharistiam celebrant necnon pietatem erga Deiparam Virginem fovent(30). Accedit orationum aliorumque beneficiorum spiritualium communio; imo vera quaedam in Spiritu Sancto coniunctio, quippe qui donis et gratiis etiam in illis sua virtute sanctificante operatur, et quosdam illorum usque ad sanguinis effusionem roboravit. Ita Spiritus in cunctis Christi discipulis desiderium actionemque suscitat, ut omnes, modo a Christo statuto, in uno grege sub uno Pastore pacifice uniantur(31). Quod ut obtineat, Ecclesia Mater precari, sperare et agere non desinit, filiosque ad purificationem et renovationem exhortatur, ut signum Christi super faciem Ecclesiae clarius effulgeat.





16. FINALLY, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) 16. Ii tandem qui Evangelium nondum acceperunt, ad Populum Dei diversis rationibus ordinantur(32).



In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.(125) On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues.(126); In primis quidem populus ille cui data fuerunt testamenta et promissa et ex quo Christus ortus est secundum carnem (cf. Rom 9,4-5), populus secundum electionem carissimus propter patres: sine poenitentia enim sunt dona et vocatio Dei (cf. Rom 11,28-29).



But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.  Sed propositum salutis et eos amplectitur, qui Creatorem agnoscunt, inter quos imprimis Musulmanos, qui fidem Abrahae se tenere profitentes, nobiscum Deum adorant unicum, misericordem, homines die novissimo iudicaturum.



Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things,(127) and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.(128) Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience.(19* Cfr. Epist. S.S.C.S. Officii ad Archiep. Boston.: Denz. 3869-72)  Neque ab aliis, qui in umbris et imaginibus Deum ignotum quaerunt, ab huiusmodi Deus ipse longe est, cum det omnibus vitam et inspirationem et omnia (cf. Act 17,25-28), et Salvator velit omnes homines salvos fieri (cf. 1Tim 2,4). Qui enim Evangelium Christi Eiusque Ecclesiam sine culpa ignorantes, Deum tamen sincero corde quaerunt, Eiusque voluntatem per conscientiae dictamen agnitam, operibus adimplere, sub gratiae influxu, conantur, aeternam salutem consequi possunt(33).



Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel.(20*Cfr. Eusebius Caes., Praeparatio Evangelica, 1, 1: PG 2128 AB.) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. Nec divina Providentia auxilia ad salutem necessaria denegat his qui sine culpa ad expressam agnitionem Dei nondum pervenerunt et rectam vitam non sine divina gratia assequi nituntur. Quidquid enim boni et veri apud illos invenitur, ab Ecclesia tamquam praeparatio evangelica aestimatur(34)

But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”,(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.

et ab Illo datum qui illuminat omnem hominem, ut tandem vitam habeat. At saepius homines, a Maligno decepti, evanuerunt in cogitationibus suis, et commutaverunt veritatem Dei in mendacium, servientes creaturae magis quam Creatori (cf. Rom 1,21 et 25) vel sine Deo viventes ac morientes in hoc mundo, extremae desperationi exponuntur. Qua propter ad gloriam Dei et salutem istorum omnium promovendam, Ecclesia, memor mandati Domini dicentis: “Praedicate evangelium omni creaturae” (Mc 16,15), missiones fovere sedulo curat.

17. As the Son was sent by the Father,(131) so He too sent the Apostles, saying: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”.(132) The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth.(133) Wherefore she makes the words of the Apostle her own: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel”,(134) and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the infant churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelizing. For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God’s plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man. The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his state.(21*) Although, however, all the faithful can baptize, the priest alone can complete the building up of the Body in the eucharistic sacrifice. Thus are fulfilled the words of God, spoken through His prophet: “From the rising of the sun until the going down thereof my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place a clean oblation is sacrificed and offered up in my name”.(135)(22*) In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe.

17. Sicut enim Filius missus est a Patre, et Ipse Apostolos misit (cf. Io 20,21), dicens: “Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes baptizantes eos in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis. Et ecc† Ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus usque ad consummationem saeculi” (Mt 28,19-20). Quod solemne Christi mandatum annuntiandi veritatem salutarem Ecclesia ab Apostolis recepit adimplendum usque ad ultimum terrae (cf. Act 1,8). Unde sua facit verba Apostoli: “Vae... mihi est, si non evangelizavero!” (1Cor 9,16), ideoque in mittendis praeconibus indesinenter pergit, usquedum novellae Ecclesiae plene constituantur atque opus evangelizandi et ipsae continuent. A Spiritu Sancto enim ad cooperandum compellitur, ut propositum Dei, qui Christum principium salutis pro universo mundo constituit, effectu compleatur. Praedicando Evangelium, Ecclesia audientes ad fidem confessionemque fidei allicit, ad baptismum disponit, a servitute erroris eripit, eosque Christo incorporat, ut per caritatem in Illum usque ad plenitudinem crescant. Opera autem sua efficit ut quidquid boni in corde menteque hominum vel in propriis ritibus et culturis populorum seminatum invenitur, non tantum non pereat, sed sanetur, elevetur et consummetur ad gloriam Dei, confusionem daemonis et beatitudinem hominis. Cuilibet discipulo Christi onus fidei disseminandae pro parte sua incumbit(35). Sed si quilibet credentes baptizare potest, sacerdotis tamen est aedificationem Corporis sacrificio eucharistico perficere, adimplendo verba Dei per prophetam: “Ab ortu... solis usque ad occasum magnum est nomen meum in gentibus, et in omni loco sacrificatur et offertur nomini meo oblatio munda” (Mal 1, 11)(36). Ita autem simul orat et laborat Ecclesia, ut in Populum Dei, Corpus Domini et Templum Spiritus Sancti, totius mundi transeat plenitudo, et in Christo, omnium Capite, reddatur universorum Creatori ac Patri omnis honor et gloria.





Letter from the Holy Office Concerning Fr. Leonard Feeney


Letter of the Holy Office (Congr.Doctr.Faith) to Archbishop Cushing of Boston, under Pius XII, [Concerning Fr. Feeny and his assertion that non-Catholics cannot be saved]

by Cardinal F. Marchetti-Selvaggiani


Under the pontificate of Pius XII the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office issued the Protocol Suprema haec sacra, specifically condemning the doctrines of Fr. Leonard Feeney of “the Cambridge group” as presented in the publication, From the Housetops. This letter was addressed to Archbishop Cushing of Boston.

Vatican, August 8, 1949

Your Excellency,

This Supreme Sacred Congregation has very carefully followed the beginning and the continuation of the serious controversy raised by certain associates of the St. Benedict Center and of Boston College, concerning the interpretation of the maxim: “Outside the Church, no salvation”.

After having examined all the necessary and useful documents on this subject — among others the file sent by your chancellery, the appeals and reports wherein the associates of the St. Benedict Center expound their opinions and objections, besides many other documents referring to this controversy, collected through the official channels, — the Sacred Congregation has reached the certitude that this unfortunate question was raised because the principle “outside the Church no salvation” has not been well understood or examined and the controversy has become envenomed as a result of a serious lack of discipline on the part of certain members of the aforementioned associations, who have refused to give respect and obedience to the legitimate authorities.

Consequently, the most Eminent and most Reverend cardinals of our Supreme Congregation decreed in plenary session on Wednesday 27 July 1949, and the Sovereign Pontiff, in an audience on the following Thursday, 28 July 1949, deigned to approve the sending of the following doctrinal explanations, invitation and exhortations:

We are obliged by the divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things contained in the Word of God, Scripture or Tradition, and proposed by the Church for our faith as divinely revealed, not only by solemn definition but also by her ordinary and universal magisterium (Denzinger n. 1792).

Now, amongst those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to teach, there is also this infallible declaration which says that there is no salvation outside the Church.

3866 ... Inter ea autem, quae semper Ecclesia praedicavit et praedicare numquam desinet illud quoque infallibile effatum continetur, quo edocemur ‘extra Ecclesiam nullam esse salutem’

This dogma, however, has to be understood in the sense attributed to it by the Church herself. The Saviour, in fact, entrusted explanation of those things contained in the deposit of faith, not to private judgement, but to the teaching of the ecclesiastical authority.

. Est tamen hoc dogma intelligendum eo sensu, quo id intelligit Ecclesia ipsa. Non enim privatis iudiciis explicanda dedit Salvator noster ea, quae in fidei deposito continentur, sed ecclesiastico magisterio.

Now, in the first place, the Church teaches that in this matter there exists a very strict mandate from Jesus Christ, for He explicitly commanded his apostles to teach all nations to observe all things which He Himself had ordered (Matth XXVIII.19-20).

3867 Et primum quidem Ecclesia docet, hac in re agi de severissimo praecepto Iesu Christi. Ipse enim expressis verbis Apostolis suis imposuit, ut docerent omnes gentes, servare omnia quae ipse mandaverat.

The least of these commandments is not that which orders us to be incorporated through baptism into Christ’s Mystical Body, which is the Church, and to remain united with Him and with His Vicar, through whom, He Himself governs his Church in visible manner here below,

Inter mandata autem Christi non minimum locum illud occupat, quo baptismo iubemur incorporari in Corpus mysticum Christi, quod est Ecclesia, et adhaerere Christo eiusque vicario, per quem ipse in terra modo visibili gubernat Ecclesiam.

That is why no one will be saved if, knowing that the Church is of divine institution by Christ, he nevertheless refuses to submit to her or separates himself from the obedience of the Roman Pontiff, Christ’s Vicar on earth.

Quare nemo salvabitur, qui sciens Ecclesiam a Christo divinitus fuisse institutam, tamen Ecclesiae sese subiicere renuit vel Romano Pontifici, Christi in terris vicario, denegat oboedientiam.

Not only did our Saviour order all peoples to enter the Church, but He also decreed that it is the means of salvation without which no one can enter the eternal kingdom of glory.

3868 Neque enim in praecepto tantummodo dedit Salvator, ut omnes gentes intrarent Ecclesiam, sed statuit quoque Ecclesiam medium esse salutis, sine quo nemo intrare valeat regnum gloriae caelestis.

In his infinite mercy, God willed that, since it was a matter of the means of salvation ordained for man’s ultimate end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution, its salutary effects could also be obtained in certain circumstances when these means are only objects of “desire” or of “hope”. This point was clearly established at the Council of Trent, with regard to both the sacrament of baptism and of penance (Denziger, n. 797 and 807).

3869 Infinita sua misericordia Deus voluit, ut illorum auxiliorum salutis quae divina sola institutione, non vero intrinseca necessitate, ad finem ultimum ordinantur, tunc quoque certis in adiunctis effectus ad salutem necessarii obtineri valeant, ubi voto solummodo vel desiderio adhibeantur. Quod in sacrosancto Tridentino Concilio claris verbis enuntiatum videmus tum de sacramento regenerationis tum de sacramento paenitentiae (DS 1524 1543).

The same must be said of the Church, as a general means of salvation. That is why for a person to obtain his salvation, it is not always required that he be de facto incorporated into the Church as a member, but he must at least be united to the Church through desire or hope.

3870 Idem autem suo modo dici debet de Ecclesia, quatenus generale ipsa auxilium salutis est. Quandoquidem ut quis aeternam obtineat salutem non semper exigitur, ut reapse Ecclesiae tamquam membrum incorporetur, sed id saltem requiritur, ut eidem voto et desiderio adhaereat.

However, it is not always necessary that this hope be explicit as in the case of catechumens. When one is in a state of invincible ignorance, God accepts an implicit desire, thus called because it is implicit in the soul’s good disposition, whereby it desires to conform its will to the will of God.

Hoc tamen votum non semper explicitum sit oportet, prout accidit in catechumenis, sed ubi homo invincibili ignorantia laborat, Deus quoque implicitum votum acceptat, tali nomine nuncupatum, quia illud in ea bona animae dispositione continetur, qua homo voluntatem suam Dei voluntati conformem velit.

These things are clearly expressed in the dogmatic letter published by the Sovereign Pontiff Pius XII 29 June 1943 “on the mystical Body of Jesus Christ” (A.A.S., vol. XXXV, 1943, p. 193 and sq.). In this Letter, the Sovereign Pontiff clearly distinguishes between those who are presently incorporated into the Church as members and those who are united with her through desire only.

3871 Quae clare docentur in (Pii XII Litt. encycl.) ... De mystico Iesu Christi Corpore. In iisdem enim Summus Pontifex nitide distinguit inter eos, qui re Ecclesiae tamquam membra incorporantur, atque eos, qui voto tantummodo Ecclesiae adhaerent....

Speaking of the members who form here below the mystical Body, the same august Pontiff said: Only those are members of the Church who have received the Baptism of regeneration and profess the true faith and who are not, to their misfortune, separated from the Body as a whole or cut off from her through very grave faults by the legitimate authority.

‘In Ecclesiae autem membris reapse ii soli adnumerandi sunt, qui regenerationis lavacrum receperunt veramque fidem profitentur neque a Corporis compage semet ipsos misere separaverunt vel, ob gravissima admissa, a legitima auctoritate seiuncti sunt’ (DS 3802).

Towards the end of the same Encyclical, he affectionately invites those who do not belong to the body of the Catholic Church to enter into her unity, and he mentions those who “by a certain desire and unconscious longing have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer”. He does not in any way exclude them from eternal salvation, but he goes on to affirm that they are in a state “in which they cannot be sure of their eternal salvation” and that “they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church”(Myst.Corp. §103).

Circa finem autem earundem Litterarum encyclicarum, amantissimo animo eos ad unitatem invitans, qui ad Ecclesiae catholicae compagem non pertinent, illos commemorat, ‘qui inscio quodam desiderio ac voto ad Mysticum Redemptoris Corpus ordinentur’, quos minime a salute aeterna excludit, ex altera tamen parte in tali statu versari asserit, ‘in quo de sempiterna cuiusque propria salute securi esse non possunt ... quandoquidem tot tantisque caelestibus muneribus adiumentis carent quibus in catholica solummodo Ecclesia frui licet’ (DS 3821).

With these words, the Pope condemns those who exclude from eternal salvation men who are united to the Church only through implicit desire as well as those who wrongly affirm that all men can be saved equally in all religions

(cf. Pope Pius IX, Singulari quadam, Denz. 1641 and sq.; Pius XI, Quanto conficiamur moerore, Denz. 1677).

3872 Quibus verbis providentibus tam eos reprobat, qui omnes solo voto implicito Ecclesiae adhaerentes a salute aeterna excludunt, quam eos, qui falso asserunt, homines in omni religione aequaliter salvari posse (cf. DS 2806 2865).

but, on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, are not stained by any guilt in this matter in the eyes of God.  

[...] Nevertheless, as charity demands, let us pray continually for the conversion to Christ of all nations everywhere. Let us devote ourselves to the salvation of all men as far as we can, for the hand of the Lord is not shortened (Isa. 59:1). The gifts of heavenly grace will assuredly not be denied to those who sincerely want and pray for refreshment by the divine light.  Pope Pius IX, Singulari quadam, Denz. 1641: December 9, 1854

sed tamen pro certo pariter habendum est, qui verae religionis ignorantia laborent, si ea sit invincibilis, nulla ipsos obstringi huiusce rei culpa ante oculos Domini.

Ceterum prout caritatis ratio postulat, assiduas fundamus preces, ut omnes quaquaversus gentes ad Christum convertantur, communique hominum saluti pro viribus inserviamus, neque enim abbreviata est manus Domini (Is 59, 1), gratiaeque coelestis dona nequaquam illis defutura sunt, qui hac luce recreari sincero animo velint et postulent.


It is known to Us and to you that they who labor in invincible ignorance of our most holy religion and who, zealously keeping the natural law and its precepts engraved in the hearts of all by God, and being ready to obey God, live an honest and upright life, can, by the operating power of divine light and grace, attain eternal life, since God Who clearly beholds, searches, and knows the minds, souls, thoughts, and habits of all men, because of His great goodness and mercy, will by no means suffer anyone to be punished with eternal torment who has not the guilt of deliberate sin. Pius IX, Quanto conficiamur moerore, Denz. 1677: Aug. 10, 1863


 antagonistic discussion:


However, it should not be thought that any sort of desire to enter the Church is sufficient for salvation. The desire whereby a person adheres to the Church must be animated by perfect charity. Nor can such an implicit desire produce its effect if it is not animated by supernatural faith, for anyone who comes to God must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him. (Heb XI, 6). The Council of Trent declares (session VI. ch. VIII): Faith is the principle of man’s salvation, the foundation and the root of all justification. Without it, it is impossible to please God and to be counted among his children. (Denz., 801)

Neque etiam putandum est, quodcumque votum Ecclesiae ingrediendae sufficere, ut homo salvetur. Requiritur enim ut votum, quo quis ad Ecclesiam ordinetur, perfecta caritate informetur ; nec votum implicitum effectum habere potest, nisi homo fidem habeat supernaturalem (Allegatur Hebr 11,6 et Conc. Trid., sess. n c. 8: DS 1532).

It is clear, from what is stated above, that the ideas proposed by the periodical From the Housetops (n.3) as the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, are far from being so and are very dangerous not only for those in the Church but also for those who live outside her.

3873 Ex praedictis clarum igitur est, ea quae in commentario ‘From the Housetops’, fasc. III, tamquam genuina Ecclesiae catholicae doctrina proponuntur, ab eadem longe distare et esse valde nociva tam iis qui intra quam iis qui foris sunt.

Certain conclusions follow from this doctrinal explanation concerning discipline and conduct, which cannot be ignored by those who vigorously defend the need of belonging to the true Church and of submitting to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops whom the Holy Spirit has made guardians to govern the Church (Acts XX, 28).

... Itaque intelligi non potest, quomodo Institutum ‘St. Benedict Center’ sibi cohaereat, quod, cum se scholam catholicam profiteatur ac talem haberi velit, re tamen vera praescriptis can. 1381 et 1382 Cod. Iur. Can. non conformetur, idemque fons exsistat discordiarum et rebellionis contra auctoritatem ecclesiasticam et turbationis multarum conscientiarum causa.

That is why it is inexplicable that the St. Benedict Center should claim to be a Catholic group and desire to be considered as such whilst not conforming to the prescripts of canons 1381 and 1382 of the Code of Canon Law and continuing to be a cause of discord and of rebellion against the ecclesiastical authority and of disturbance for many consciences.

Item non intelligjtur, quomodo religiosus vir, scl. P. Feeney, se ‘defensorem fidei’ exhibeat simulque impugnare non dubitet catecheticam institutionem a legitimis auctoritatibus propositam. ...

Furthermore, it is difficult to understand that a member of a religious institute, Fr. Feeney, should present himself as a “defender of the faith” and at the same time not hesitate to attack the teaching given by the legitimate authorities and not even fear to incur the grave sanctions with which he is threatened by the sacred canons for gravely violating his religious duties as a priest and simple member of the Church.

Finally, it is not prudent to tolerate certain Catholics claiming for themselves the right to publish a periodical, with the intention of expounding theological doctrines, without the permission of the competent authority, called the imprimatur as prescribed by the sacred canons.

Those therefore who expose themselves to the grave danger of opposing the Church must seriously reflect that once “Rome has spoken”, they cannot carry on regardless, even for reasons of good faith. Their bond with the Church and their duty of obedience are certainly stricter than for those who adhere to her “only through an unconscious desire”. Let them understand, therefore, that they are children of the Church, affectionately sustained by her with the milk of doctrine and sacraments, and that, after having heard the voice of their Mother, they cannot then be excused of culpable ignorance. Let them understand that to them the following principle applies without restriction: Submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is necessary for salvation.

In addressing him this present letter, I express to Your Excellency my profound regards of esteem and devotion.

F. Cardinal Marchetti-Selvaggiani,

A. Ottaviani, assessor.


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