Invincible Ignorance or Lack of Faith?

I’ve been thinking lately about how much contemporary theology is prone to excuse sheer lack of faith.

For any given doctrine, including the very divinity of Christ, you’ll hear someone say, “I just don’t believe it.”  The Bible is very clear about the importance of taking God at His word.

For example, a video has been circulating Facebook of a Muslim imam saying that it’s a sin for a Muslim to say “Merry Christmas.”  Of course, technically, from the perspective of Islam, he’s absolutely right.  What strikes me most about this video, though, is that the imam insists that it’s not only heresy (from a Muslim perspective) but outright stupid to suggest that God would become Man.   He clearly *understands* what the Catholic Church teaches; he just don’t think it’s true because he refuses to believe it.

A similar discussion has gone on recently regarding an Irish bishop who told Catholics who are just filling up pews because they see the Catholic Church as a cultural tradition but they have no real commitment to their faith to be honest and leave (kind of like the words of Jesus in Revelation about “be hot or be cold, but if you’re lukewarm, I’ll spew you out”).

The concept of “Anonymous Christian” or “Baptism by Desire” suggests that a person who truly doesn’t *know* the Christian faith and has no opportunity to know the faith but would be open to it if he or she were taught it *might* possibly be saved through an extraordinary act of God’s grace.  The Feeneyites argue that such a person wouldn’t *need* an extraordinary act because God’s providence would provide such a person with a Christian missionary at the right time.

The next stage after that is someone who has “invincible ignorance,” a term which in most formal theology applies to those who are mentally or intellectually handicapped in a manner that impedes their right judgement.  Such a person may be told, “Jesus is the Son of God,” but not be capable of comprehending what that means.

OK, fair enough.  It is always important to remember, when dealing with these questions, that we’re talking about speculation regarding what *may* happen in extremely rare circumstances, to other people.  For the most part, the whole point of these hypothesized “extra-ordinary” means of salvation for those outside the Church is that the person in question has never met a Christian.  Many contemporary theologians speak of Rahner’s idea of the “invisible Christian,” or of “invincible ignorance” or of baptism by desire, and they apply it to people they know.

I’ve argued with some neoconservative Catholics who have a very interesting view of Islam.  On the one hand, they claim that Islam is an evil religion (as a religion, it is, but that doesn’t mean all its adherents are evil people), and they claim that all Muslims want to kill everyone else.  So they argue that Muslims should be killed.  *Then* they say, when confronted with the fact that they would be sending these Muslims to Hell, that, “Well, Muslims are invincibly ignorant, so they can still go to Heaven.”  So they’re Evil, and they deserve to be nuked because they’re so Evil, and they’re going straight to Heaven??

Some people seem to use “invincible ignorance” as a catch-all for *any* ignorance or any denial of God’s truth, and then basically use it as a catch all to say that just about everyone who isn’t Christian is going to be saved anyway.  This is exactly the mentality that RadTrads object to in post-Vatican II thinking.  It doesn’t really matter if someone is Catholic, except that it’s an easier way for that person to get to Heaven–supposedly.

To this mentality, a man can live your life as a Muslim, commit acts of terrorism, familial abuse, rape, adultery, incest and murder in the name of “Allah,” and then go straight to Heaven because he’s “invincibly ignorant.”
A baptized Catholic can use birth control her entire life, aborting who knows how many children via the Pill’s abortifacient effects, maybe have a surgical abortion or two, get divorced, shack up, et cetera  paribus, and never go to Confession because “She was probably badly catechized, so she’s invincibly ignorant.”
And so on.

A similar claim is that Protestants are Christians just as much as we are, and they have valid Baptism (which the do), so they’re OK without the Eucharist or Reconciliation.  Yet Catholic dogma clearly states that a person, once baptized, who commits mortal sin cannot be forgiven of that mortal sin without Reconciliation or at least the intention to receive the Sacrament.  Again, some Protestants may be forgiven for their ignorance, but all of them?  Doesn’t the validity of their Baptism put them in a precarious spot, especially versus the so-called “anonymous Christians” who don’t get sacramentally baptized at all?

Now, I’m willing to grant quite a lot in these regards.  For example, a Protestant who has grown up with a lot of biases against the Catholic Church and a lot of misinformation may be totally sincere in rejecting some aspects of Catholic dogma.  But it just seems to me to be taken way too far.  Certainly, again, the very valid complain of many RadTrads is that the generous teachings of Vatican II are used as an excuse by most Catholics–certainly laity but including priests and bishops–to *NOT* engage in their duty to evangelize and their duty to admonish sinners.  They’ll even argue that by not evangelizing, they’re helping to save souls by giving them the excuse of ignorance!

And what always strikes me when these topics come up is the importance of Faith in the Bible.  “Nothing is impossible with God,” we are reminded several times in the Bible.  The Bible treats it as a pretty serious crime when God promises or works a miracle and a person refuses to believe.  Indeed, it is precisely in this context that Jesus refers to the “sin of the Holy Spirit.” The different places where Jesus says that the “sin against the Holy Spirit” cannot be forgiven in this life or the next are when He’s talking about the Pharisees rejecting His miracles or His ability to forgive sins.

Another thought that brought this to mind was a discussion at my Carmelite meeting about St. Paul.  I pointed out that St. Paul, when he was persecuting the Christians, was being “righteous.”  He was not killing Christians sadistically; he was doing it because he thought it was what God wanted.  Out of all the Pharisees who were going around persecuting Christians at that point, Jesus reached out the Paul because Paul was sincere.  Paul was ignorant (not invincibly ignorant, just ignorant) of the truth of Jesus Christ.

Compare him to the Pharisees who actually witnessed Jesus’ miracles firsthand yet rejected Him.  They were *choosing* to reject what they saw before their own eyes.  Many of the Pharisees had enough knowledge of Christianity to at least make an informed choice, and perhaps knew full well it was true, but they simply refused to accept what they knew, and they reacted against it in anger.

Now, when it comes to what actually happens at personal judgement, I prefer to keep in mind that Our Lord is a Divine Person, and from His perspective, it is all about relationship and about love.  I think Judgement is more like C. S. Lewis’s idea of “God in the Dock,” that when each person dies, Jesus appears, and the person either greets Jesus with love or fear, and that’s it–St. Teresa of Avila says something similar.  The Sacraments dispose us to be more ready to receive Christ, but that doesn’t preclude some “anonymous Christian” from dying and seeing Jesus and saying, “Hey!  You’re the One I’ve hoped for my whole life but never knew about.”   But most people outside the sacraments are going to be bound by some kind of sin, and/or they’re going to be bound by some kind of insistence of the absurdity of the Truth.

I think of the amazing passage in Les Miserables when Javert commits suicide because he spent his life, he thought, serving God and found out that what he *thought* God wanted was wrong and that God actually wanted mercy.  Confronted with his “Road to Damascus” moment, Javert doesn’t change his ways like Saul/Paul did; he turns in his resignation to God and commits suicide.

It’s easy to say that maybe the YouTube Imam is missing something.  Maybe he is invincibly ignorant in the true sense of the word, incapacitated by mental handicap of some sort (in which it would be the duty of a Christian to pray over him to be healed).  But the plain fact of his video is that he is sitting there, claiming to be a Muslim theologian, insisting that he is *not* invincibly ignorant, saying that Christian teaching is that God became Man, which is true, and saying that he refuses to accept that God became Man.

Do you *really* think that such a person, so opposed to the notion of Jesus, when he dies and confronts Jesus in Person, will react the way Paul did?  And if he *would* react the way Paul did, then why doesn’t God reach out to him now and convert him to Christianity so he can be a missionary?  Or rather, when he dies, will he see Jesus and react in outrage that God would so condescend to become Man?  Would he say, “I want no part of such a God!”  After all, that’s what Satan said.


9 responses to “Invincible Ignorance or Lack of Faith?

  1. Since you mentioned C. S. Lewis – do you think he had enough excuse? I hope so. I mean, taking Gore as a model after having been Kantian before his Christian conversion … he did at least reject some of the worse things in Gore:

    When it comes to Cassie Bernall it is a bit simpler, since she had only a few months between her conversion and dying after saying “Yes”.

  2. That is what purgatory is for- to teach the invincibly ignorant what they need to know to get to heaven.

  3. hglundahl,

    According to Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis received his last rites from a Catholic priest.


    That still skirts the issue of when it’s “lack of faith” and when it’s “invincible ignorance.” Another example is Hitchens: you have all these people saying, “Well, now that Christopher Hitchens has died, now he knows God exists, so maybe he changed his mind and repented.”

    That’s just plain *stupid*. It flies in the face of clear Biblical teaching and Catholic dogma. It flies in the face of common sense.

    Hitchens was by all accounts an intelligent man. He spent years arguing with some of the best Christian theologians in the world.

    Invincible ignorance is an incapacity to understand the Church’s teachings. An outright refusal to accept what one has clearly been taught is lack of faith.

  4. Lionel Andrades

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012
    Bishop Fellay, Fr.Schmidberger,FSSP,Joseph Fenton seem unaware the baptism of desire and invincible ignorance are not explicit exceptions to the dogma
    From Rorate Caeli comments on Who is a Traditionalist?
    Ecclesia Militans said…
    Brother André Marie,
    I’ve studied the articles and I must say that they do not make a convincing argument against the threefold Baptism.

    it is important to note that there is only one baptism which is explicit. It is the baptism of water.

    Ecclesia Militans
    Other than quoting the many various forms of the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus and discussions and speculations on St. Augustine’s view, there are only two or three marginal quotes by doctors that speak against the threefold Baptism.

    We can only accept the baptism of desire and martrydom in pinciple. Explicitly we do not know any case, we cannot judge.If the Church declares someone a martyr we accept it.

    Ecclesia Militans
    As for St. Emerentiana, I see that Fr. Feeney decided to deny Tradition by saying she must have been baptised in water before martyrdom, although she has always been counted as an unbaptized cathecumen who died for Christ and received the Baptism of Blood.

    On the other hand, I present you a short list of those important documents, theologians, bishops and doctors that explicitly affirmed the threefold Baptism (most of the quotes are found in the article mentioned in my last comment, if you wish, I can send you the others by mail):

    In this list it is important to note that none of them said that the baptism of desire and the baptism of blood were explicitly known to us or that we could judge these cases in general or that they were explicit exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Ecclesia Militans
    St. Cyprian BM, Tertullian, St. Cyril of Jerusalem BCD, St. John Chrysostome BCD, St. Ambrose BCD, St. Augustine BCD, St. Thomas Aquinas CD, St. Catherine of Sienna V, Ecumenical Council of Trent, Catechism of the Council of Trent, St. Alphonsus Liguori BCD, Pope Pius IX, Baltimore Cathechism (19th century), The Cathechism Explained (1899), Cathechism of Pope St. Pius X, Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Code of Canon Law (1917), Catholic Dictionary (1946), Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (1949), mons.

    They all were in agrement with Fr.Leonard Feeney.

    Ecclesia Militans

    Joseph Fenton (1952), Archbishop Lefebvre FSSPX, Fr. Schmidberger FSSPX, Bishop Fellay FSSPX…

    They seem unaware too that the baptism of desire etc are not defacto exceptions to the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Ecclesia Militans

    The inescapable conclusion is that the doctrine of Fr. Feeney denies or contradicts the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium as expressed through the above teachings of the said theologians, doctors etc.

    Fr.Leonrd Feeney said that there is only one baptism, the baptism of water . This is the only explicit baptism. For salvation all people need the baptism of water and there are no known exceptions.This is the teaching of the Magisterium as expressed through the above mentioned theologians, doctors etc.This is the teaching of the following:

    St. Cyprian BM, Tertullian, St. Cyril of Jerusalem BCD, St. John Chrysostome BCD, St. Ambrose BCD, St. Augustine BCD, St. Thomas Aquinas CD, St. Catherine of Sienna V, Ecumenical Council of Trent, Catechism of the Council of Trent, St. Alphonsus Liguori BCD, Pope Pius IX, Baltimore Cathechism (19th century), The Cathechism Explained (1899), Cathechism of Pope St. Pius X, Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Code of Canon Law (1917), Catholic Dictionary (1946), Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office (1949), mons.

    Ecclesia Militans

    It even goes against the Code of Canon Law which was valid at the time (canons 737 & 1239).

    No magisterial document states that the baptism of desire etc are explicitly known to us or an exception to the dogma.

    Ecclesia Militans

    you can see that to assert that so many theologians, doctors, popes and Church documents were in error for so many centuries is to deny the indefectibility of the Church.St. Alphonsus Liguori calls the baptism of desire de fide,…

    Yes it is de fide and accepted in principle. It cannot be known explicitly and so it does not contradict the dogma or Fr.Leonard Feeney.

    Ecclesia Militans

    and St. Cyprian BM, back in the 3rd century, seems to call those who do not believe in the Baptism of Blood of the cathecumens “aiders and favourers of heretics”.

    The baptism of blood is not an exception to the dogma.

    Ecclesia Militans

    In short and precise quote:

    “Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.“

    Correct and we do not know any case of a non Catholic on earth who is saved in invincible ignorance or is going to be saved.

    Ecclesia Militans


    No where does Pope Pius IX say that the baptism of desire etc are exceptions to the dogma or that they are explicit. On has to make this wrong assumption.The popes do not make this assumption.

    20 January, 2012 23:34

    -Lionel Andrades

  5. Lionel Andrades
    Wednesday, February 29, 2012
    Muslims need to enter the Church for salvation ( to avoid Hell). Their religion is not a path to salvation.(1).They need to enter the only Ark of Salvation (2).Catholic Faith and the baptism of water are the ordinary mean of salvation. The ordinary means of salvation is not being saved in invincible ignorance (3).Muslims need to convert for salvation.(4).Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.(5).
    Lumen Gentium 16
    We do not know any non Catholic saved in invincible ignorance or a good conscience (Lumen Gentium 16).Neither do we know any one in the present times saved with the baptism of desire, the Word of God, in imperfect communion with the Church (Vatican Council II). We accept in principle the possibility of these persons being saved ‘in certain circumstances’ (Letter of the Holy Office 1949) however we do not know any such explicit case. So it is not an exception to the magisterial teachings quoted above. The Magisterial teaching says every one needs to convert into the Catholic Church for salvation, all need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water to avoid Hell. We know there are no known exceptions on earth. If there is any such case it would be known only to God.

    Lumen Gentium 16 mentions that a non Catholic can be saved with a good conscience. LG 16 does not say that this the general, ordinary means of salvation or that we know of particular Muslims saved with a good conscience. We are unable to know who is presently saved among them in Heaven.

    So those saved with a good conscience, unknown on earth, are not exceptions to Cantate Domino, Council of Florence, Vatican Council II, Dominus Iesus 20 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church 845 etc. These magisterial documents say all need to convert into the Church to avoid Hell, all need Catholic Faith and the baptism of water for salvation and that Jesus died for all but to receive this salvation all need to enter the Church and that the Church is the only of Noah that saves in the flood. God the Father wants all people to be united in the Catholic Church.

    We don’t know any Musllim saved following his good conscience so it does not contradict the dogma outside the church no salvation.

    All one can say is that it is possible that a Muslim can be saved following his good conscience and that in principle we accepts this.

    The traditional teaching is that all people, with no known exceptions need to enter the Church with faith and baptism (AG 7) for salvation.( Cantate Domino, Council of Florence, Vatican Council II (AG 7, LG 14) etc.

    To say that Muslims in general can be saved by following their conscience is a personal interpretation of Vatican Council II but not the traditional official teaching of the Catholic Church. It’s a break with the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Vatican Council II (AG 7,LG 14), Dominus Iesus 20 etc.Contraception and divorce may be popular and the secular media encourages it but this is not the teaching of the Catholic Church. So it is not the teaching of the Catholic Church that Muslims are saved in general by following their conscience

    Nostra Aetate

    Nostra Aetate, Vatican Council II no where says that non Catholic religion are paths to salvation or that non Catholics are saved in general in their religions. We accept in principle the possibility of a Muslim being saved ‘in certain circumstance’ and know that these cases would b known only to God.

    So Nostra Aetate is not a contradiction of Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II which indicates the norm of salvation is Catholic Faith ans the baptism of water.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church 846

    So when the Catechism of the Catholic Church 846 says all those who are saved are saved through Jesus an the Church this does not contradict the Church teaching which says all need to enter the Church with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water.

    Lumen Gentium 14 says those who know about Jesus and the Church and yet do not enter cannot be saved. The religious leaders and founders of Islam, the Quran indicates, knew about Jesus and the Catholic Church He founded but chose not to enter.
    -Lionel Andrades

    Above all else, it must be firmly believed that “the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”. This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for this salvation”.-Dominus Iesus 20

    To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.-Catechism of the Catholic Chuch 845

    Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church’s preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body. For Christ Himself “by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism (cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door.-A Gentes 7, Vatican Council II

    submission to the Catholic Church and to the Sovereign Pontiff is required as necessary for salvation.-Letter of the Holy Office 1949.


    • “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)

    • “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)

    • “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.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) –


    Pope Boniface I, Epistle 14.1: “It is clear that this Roman Church is to all churches throughout the world as the head is to the members, and that whoever separates himself from it becomes an exile from the Christian religion, since he ceases to belong to its fellowship.”

    Pope Pelagius II (578-590): “Consider the fact that whoever has not been in the peace and unity of the Church cannot have the Lord… Although given over to flames and fires, they burn, or, thrown to wild beasts, they lay down their lives, there will not be (for them) that crown of faith but the punishment of faithlessness… Such a one can be slain, he cannot be crowned… [If] slain outside the Church, he cannot attain the rewards of the Church” (Denzinger, 469).

    Saint Gregory the Great (590-604), Moralia: “Now the holy Church universal proclaims that God cannot be truly worshipped saving within herself, asserting that all they that are without her shall never be saved.”

    Pope Sylvester II, Profession of Faith, June AD 991: “I believe that in Baptism all sins are forgiven, that one which was committed originally as much as those which are voluntarily committed, and I profess that outside the Catholic Church no one is saved.”

    Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), Profession of Faith prescribed for the Waldensians: “With our hearts we believe and with our lips we confess but one Church, not that of the heretics, but the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside which we believe that no one is saved” (Denzinger 792).

    Pope Clement VI, Letter Super Quibusdam (to Consolator the Catholicos of Armenia), September 20, 1351: “In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside of the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience of the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved… In the ninth place, if you have believed and do believe that all who have raised themselves against the faith of the Roman Church and have died in final impenitence have been damned and have descended to the eternal punishments of hell.”

    Pope Leo XII (1823–1829), Encyclical Ubi Primum: “It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth Itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members. For we have a surer word of the prophet, and in writing to you We speak wisdom among the perfect; not the wisdom of this world but the wisdom of God in a mystery. By it we are taught, and by divine faith we hold, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and that no other name under heaven is given to men except the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth in which we must be saved. This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church… For the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. With reference to those words Augustine says: ‘If any man be outside the Church he will be excluded from the number of sons, and will not have God for Father since he has not the Church for mother.'”

    Pope Gregory XVI (1831–1846), Encyclical Summo Jugiter Studio (on mixed marriages), 5-6, May 27, 1832: “You know how zealously Our predecessors taught that very article of faith which these dare to deny, namely the necessity of the Catholic faith and of unity for salvation. The words of that celebrated disciple of the Apostles, martyred Saint Ignatius, in his letter to the Philadelphians are relevant to this matter: ‘Be not deceived, my brother; if anyone follows a schismatic, he will not attain the inheritance of the kingdom of God.’ Moreover, Saint Augustine and the other African bishops who met in the Council of Cirta in the year 412 explained the same thing at greater length: ‘Whoever has separated himself from the Catholic Church, no matter how laudably he lives, will not have eternal life, but has earned the anger of God because of this one crime: that he abandoned his union with Christ’ (Epsitle 141). Omitting other appropriate passages which are almost numberless in the writings of the Fathers, We shall praise Saint Gregory the Great, who expressly testifies that this is indeed the teaching of the Catholic Church. He says: ‘The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved’ (Moral. in Job, 16.5). Official acts of the Church proclaim the same dogma. Thus, in the decree on faith which Innocent III published with the synod of the Lateran IV, these things are written: ‘There is one universal Church of the faithful outside of which no one at all is saved.’ Finally, the same dogma is expressly mentioned in the profession of faith proposed by the Apostolic See, not only that which all Latin churches use (Creed of the Council of Trent), but also that which the Greek Orthodox Church uses (cf. Gregory XIII, Profession ‘Sanctissimus’) and that which other Eastern Catholics use (cf. Benedict XIV, Profession ‘Nuper ad Nos’)… We are so concerned about this serious and well known dogma, which has been attacked with such remarkable audacity, that We could not restrain Our pen from reinforcing this truth with many testimonies.”

    Pope Pius IX (1846–1878), Allocution Singulari Quadem, December 9, 1854: “Not without sorrow we have learned that another error, no less destructive, has taken possession of some parts of the Catholic world, and has taken up its abode in the souls of many Catholics who think that one should have good hope of the eternal salvation of all those who have never lived in the true Church of Christ. Therefore, they are wont to ask very often what will be the lot and condition of those who have not submitted in any way to the Catholic faith, and, by bringing forward most vain reasons, they make a response favorable to their false opinion. Far be it from Us, Venerable Brethren, to presume on the limits of the divine mercy which is infinite; far from Us, to wish to scrutinize the hidden counsel and “judgements of God” which are “a great abyss” (Ps. 35.7) and cannot be penetrated by human thought. But, as is Our Apostolic Duty, we wish your episcopal solicitude and vigilance to be aroused, so that you will strive as much as you can to drive form the mind of men that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever. May you demonstrate with skill and learning in which you excel, to the people entrusted to your care that the dogmas of the Catholic faith are in no wise opposed to divine mercy and justice.

    “For, it must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood…

    Pope Pius IX (1846–1878), Encyclical Singulari Quidem March 17, 1856): “Teach that just as there is only one God, one Christ, one Holy Spirit, so there is also only one truth which is divinely revealed. There is only one divine faith which is the beginning of salvation for mankind and the basis of all justification, the faith by which the just person lives and without which it is impossible to please God and come to the community of His children (Romans 1; Hebrews 11; Council of Trent, Session 6, Chapter 8). There is only one true, holy, Catholic Church, which is the Apostolic Roman Church. There is only one See founded on Peter by the word of the Lord (St. Cyprian, Epistle 43), outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation. He who does not have the Church for a mother cannot have God for a father, and whoever abandons the See of Peter on which the Church is established trusts falsely that he is in the Church (ibid, On the Unity of the Catholic Church). … Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control.”[7]

    Pope Pius IX (1846–1878), Encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10, 1863: “And here, beloved Sons and Venerable Brothers, We should mention again and censure a very grave error in which some Catholics are unhappily engaged, who believe that men living in error, and separated from the true faith and from Catholic unity, can attain eternal life. Indeed, this is certainly quite contrary to Catholic teaching.

    Pope Pius IX The Syllabus of Errors, attached to Encyclical Quanta Cura, 1864: [The following are prescribed errors:] “16. Men can, in the cult of any religion, find the way of eternal salvation and attain eternal salvation. – Encyclical Qui pluribus, November 9, 1846.

    “17. One ought to at least have good hope for the eternal salvation of all those who in no way dwell in the true Church of Christ. – Encyclical Quanto conficiamur moerore, August 10, 1863, etc.”

    Pope St. Pius X (1903–1914), Encyclical Jucunda Sane: “It is our duty to recall to everyone great and small, as the Holy Pontiff Gregory did in ages past, the absolute necessity which is ours, to have recourse to this Church to effect our eternal salvation.”

    Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922), Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum: “Such is the nature of the Catholic faith that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole, or as a whole rejected: This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

    Pope Pius XI (1922–1939), Encyclical Mortalium Animos: “The Catholic Church alone is keeping the true worship. This is the font of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God; if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation… Furthermore, in this one Church of Christ, no man can be or remain who does not accept, recognize and obey the authority and supremacy of Peter and his legitimate successors.”

    Pope Pius XII (1939–1958), Allocution to the Gregorian University (17 October 1953): “By divine mandate the interpreter and guardian of the Scriptures, and the depository of Sacred Tradition living within her, the Church alone is the entrance to salvation: She alone, by herself, and under the protection and guidance of the Holy Spirit, is the source of truth.”-Wikipedia

    • The pre-Vatican II theologian Karl Adam made the distinction as “theological truth” versus “psychological truth.” A Muslim cannot be “saved” by Islam. A Muslim can be saved by his desire to follow God as perfectly as possible, if he doesn’t truly know about Christ or the Church.
      God is not a machine.

    • Lionel Andrades,

      This is an excellent article by the SSPX, no less, which points out that “baptism by desire” is attested Trent, Robert Bellarmine (often cited by sedevacantists and Feeneyites for his teaching that a pope who commits heresy loses his office), and others, going back to Hugh of St. Victor. Pope Innocent II discussed the case of a priest about whom it was discovered posthumously he had not been baptized, and the Pope ruled that he lived his life as if he’d been baptized, believing he’d been baptized, so he was OK.

  6. This all boils down, to Authority! AND MOST IMPORTANTLY OBEDIENCE! SAINT PADRE PIO—On Humanae vitae & Vatican II
    Your Holiness,
    I unite myself with my brothers and present at your feet my affectionate respect, all my devotion to your august person in an act of faith, love and obedience to the dignity of Him whom your are representing on this earth. The Capuchin Order has always been the first in the first line of love, fidelity, obedience and devotion to the Holy See; I pray to God that it may remain thus and continue its tradition of religious seriousness and austerity, evangelical poverty and faithful observance of the Rule and Constitution, certainly renewing itself in the vitality and in the inner spirit, according to the guides of the Second Vatican Council, in order to be always ready to attend to the necessities of Mother Church under the rule of your Holiness.
    I know that your heart is suffering much these days in the interest of the Church, for the peace of the world, but above all, for the lack of obedience of some, even Catholics, to the teachings that you, assisted by the Holy Spirit and in the name of God, are giving us. I offer you my prayers and daily sufferings as a small but sincere contribution on the part of the least of your sons in order that God may give you comfort with His grace to follow the straight and painful way in the defense of eternal truth, which never changes with the passing of years. Also, in the name of my spiritual children and the Prayer Groups, I thank you for your clear and decisive words that you especially pronounced in the last encyclical, Humanae vitae; and I reaffirm my faith, my unconditional obedience to your illuminated directions.
    May God grant victory to the truth, peace to his Church, tranquility to the world, health and prosperity to your Holiness so that, once these fleeting doubts are dissipated, the Kingdom of God will triumph in all hearts, guided by your apostolic work as Supreme Pontiff of all Christianity.
    Prostrate at your feet, I pray you to bless me in the company of my brothers in religion, my spiritual children, the Prayer Groups, my sick ones and also bless all our good endeavors which we are trying to fulfill under your protection in the name of Jesus.

    Humbly yours,
    P. Pio, Capuchin

  7. Lionel Andrades! Obedience. NOT Cherry Picking, quotes from Church Fathers. And interpreting them, in a way that suits, your Schism. ANY PROTESTANT CAN DO THAT! Lets follow the Saints. Obedience. Pax.

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