There is a tendency today, due the influence of the ecumenical thrust of the Vatican
II Church, to think that a person can be saved by any religion whatsoever. But
it is the Catholic Church alone that is the one ark of salvation; it is the only true
religion, founded by God, outside of which no one can be saved. The question then
remains as to how the dogma of salvation within and by the Church can be reconciled, for
example, with the article "Padre
Pio on Salvation Outside the Church," which demonstrates that St. Pio affirmed
the possibility of the salvation of an unbaptized Jew and two Protestants?
That paper has been
sharply criticized by certain rigid, self-proclaimed "Doctors of the Law" who
assert that only water-baptized practicing Catholics can be saved and attain to
Heaven. They reject as heretical and as non-Catholic anyone who believes in the validity
of baptism of desire or baptism of blood. Thus these extremists would exclude from
salvation everyone who accepts Vatican II and attends the New Mass, as well as almost all
those who attend the Tridentine Latin Mass, including those involved with the Society of
St. Pius X (SSPX).
An excellent summary of the
correct view of "outside the Church there is no salvation" is presented in the
book by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics (Angelus
Press, 1986, pp. 73-74, used by permission):
Does that mean that no Protestant, no
Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to
think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian's formula
"Outside the Church there is no salvation," also reject the Creed, "I
confess one baptism for the remission of sins," and are insufficiently instructed as
to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of
water, the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still
catechumens) and baptism of desire.
Baptism of desire can be explicit.
Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, "Father, baptize me
straightaway, because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell." I
told him, "No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire
baptism, then you already have the grace in you."
The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit
baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He
knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are
men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an
effective way. In this way they become a part of the Church.
The error consists in thinking that they are saved by
their religion. They are saved in their religion but not by it.
Excerpts from the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X
Q: Is Baptism necessary to salvation?
A: Baptism is absolutely necessary to salvation, for our Lord has expressly said:
"Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the
Kingdom of God."
Q: Can the absence of Baptism be supplied in any other way?
A: The absence of Baptism can be supplied by martyrdom, which is called Baptism of
Blood, or by an act of perfect love of God, or of contrition, along with the desire, at
least implicit, of Baptism, and this is called Baptism of Desire.
Q: But if a man, through no fault of his
own is outside the Church, can he be saved?
A: If he is outside the Church through no fault of
his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the
implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does
God's will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but
is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation."
Scripture and the Church clearly
teach that Jesus Christ is the only saviour, and no one comes to the Father except through
Him. There is salvation in no other name.
Since Jesus Christ is the Head of the
Church, which is His mystical body, then everyone who is saved becomes in some way a
member of the Church. Perhaps this is one of the mysterious actions of Purgatory
upon the soul of one who was not a Catholic during his lifetime.
Thus we can summarize the role of
baptism in salvation by saying that those not within the Catholic Church who are saved
become so in spite of their false religion, not because of it.
As mentioned in my book Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta, no one
is lost who truly loves Jesus Christ, because He can not reject someone who loves
Him. Further, He is not bound by His own sacraments!
| On hearing the
Lord speak this way about love, Luisa recalled that she had recently told a person who was
worried about whether or not she was saved, that someone who truly loves Jesus Christ is
surely saved. Luisa had said to her that it
would be impossible for Jesus to withdraw from a soul who loves Him with all her heart;
therefore, our salvation will be in hand if we think of loving Him. Luisa asked Our Lord whether she was correct in
what she had told that person. Jesus replied
that she had spoken with reason, because love forms one object from two, one will from
two. Since His nature is love, if it finds
even a few sparks of love within a human nature, He unites it to the Eternal love. Thus a soul who loves Him forms one single thing
with Him, and one single will. Since they are
now one, how can they be separated? Therefore
it is impossible for someone who truly loves Him to be lost (pp. 98-99)
[Otherwise] His love would remain as though
shackled and bound by the sacraments. But no, He is free! The sacraments are
contained within His heart. He is the owner of them and can exercise them when He
wishes (p. 229).
The volumes of Luisa Piccarreta's Diary
upon which the above two selections are based, received the Nihil Obstat from St.
Annibale Di Francia, and the Imprimatur of her bishop.
Luke 10: 25-28.
And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must
I do to possess eternal life? But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest
thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy
mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.