Salvation outside the Catholic Church?

Fr Dwight Longenecker takes a look at this:

The sudden death of Tony Palmer–the friend of Pope Francis–has raised the question whether he could be saved even though he never converted to the Catholic faith.

Some Catholics would shake their head sadly and quote the famous phrase, Extra Ecclesiam nulls salus- Outside the Church, No Salvation.

Does this mean that everyone who is not a Catholic will go to hell?

Let’s think it through.

First of all, apart from canonizations, nobody, not even the pope can make the call on whether a particular person is in heaven or hell.

We agree that there is no salvation outside the church, but the discussion gets interesting when we ask “What is the Church?”

Dominus Iesus – the document published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2000 clarifies that the Church is coterminous with Christ himself.

Read it all. Most interesting.  Especially about the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and their claims to Apostolic Succession.  Probably similar to those of most of the Traditional Anglican Communion bishops.

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11 Responses to Salvation outside the Catholic Church?

  1. Goode says:

    The Bible clearly says that Salvation has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church or any other organized denomination. To believe otherwise is to deny what the core revelation is, that Jesus brought to humankind, and is a denial of the clear simple teaching of scripture.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Goode,

      You wrote: The Bible clearly says that Salvation has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church or any other organized denomination.

      Wow! Where to begin? There’s nothing like proving one’s ignorance on multiple fronts in one sentence!

      >> 1. The “Roman Catholic Church” is not a denomination, but rather the subset of the “Catholic Church” that uses the Roman Rite or variants thereof for worship. A significant number of Catholics — that is, people who are in full communion with Pope Francis — worship in other ways including, by way of example, the Byzantine Rite (also used by the Orthodox Communion), the Coptic Rite (also used by the Coptic Church and the Ethiopian Church), the Chaldean/Assyrian Rite (also used by the Assyrian Church), and the Armenian Rite (also used by the Armenian Church). From the context, it appears that you meant “the Catholic Church” rather than “the Roman Catholic Church” in this sentence.

      >> 2. The Lord did not leave behind the whole collection of scripture in a single bound volume, which we know as the Christian bible. In fact, the entire new testament was written a decade or more after his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension! The bible, as we now know it, did not come into existence until the last decade of the fourth century — over 350 years after the last human conversation with our Lord present in the flesh. Prior to that time, it would have been virtually impossible for any outsiders to learn of Christ without a member of the church teaching them about Christ and leading them to conversion.

      >> 3. What the scriptures do say, quite clearly, is that our Lord founded one church on the apostles, and that the development of splits and factions among believers is utterly diabolical. Further, the historical record is clear: where other denominations came into being, their lineage traces back to the Catholic Church — which therefore must be the church actually founded by our Lord. The scriptures are quite clear that the Holy Spirit always leads to unity, which is our Lord’s will (see John 17).

      >> 4. As to salvation, you might do well to read the whole of the new testament and not just a few of your current denomination’s or pastor’s favorite passages on the subject. Mark 16:16 does not admit the possibility of a believer who is not baptized, and thus a member of the church. Romans 6:3-4 ties salvation directly to baptism, and so does I Peter 3:19-21.

      You wrote: To believe otherwise is to deny what the core revelation is, that Jesus brought to humankind, and is a denial of the clear simple teaching of scripture.

      No, one must look at the whole of scripture rather than going off half cocked with a few passages taken totally out of context.

      Norm.

  2. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You wrote: Especially about the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and their claims to Apostolic Succession. Probably similar to those of most of the Traditional Anglican Communion bishops.

    The claims to apostolic succession in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) actually appear to be considerably stronger than the claims advanced by the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). It appears that an occasional bishop or two from the Old Catholic Communion or some other schismatic body participated along with bishops ordained in the Anglican lineage as co-ordaining bishops. This might have been “the best that was available” as then-Archbishop Hepworth asserted when the TAC was actively seeking a way to full communion with the Catholic Church, but subsequent events show that the Vatican deemed it not to be good enough. Further, it is not at all clear that those who came to the TAC after receiving ordination in the Anglican Communion were not subsequently ordained to the same orders by TAC bishops, so that some clergy of the TAC did not have valid orders in any case — and this situation also gives rise to doubt of the understanding of apostolic succession within the TAC and the associated intent. In the CEEC, by contrast, it appears, based on the trail of links to the organization’s history, that (1) the initial ordinations were by bishops who had undisputed orders and (2) those who possessed Anglican orders received ordination to the same orders from CEEC bishops to ensure undisputed validity.

    Of course, the Vatican will weigh in on this whenever congregations or even dioceses of the CEEC seek full communion with the Catholic Church. If the Vatican determines that the CEEC does not possess apostolic succession, the CEEC will come into the Catholic Church in a manner similar to that of the congregations received into ordinariates. If the Vatican determines that the CEEC does possess apostolic succession, however, there will simply be a papal signature on a decree making the intact CEEC a new structure within the Catholic Church as of the effective date of the reconciliation, as happened when the former Sacerdotal Society of St. John Mary Vianney became the Personal Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney.

    Norm.

    • William Tighe says:

      Norm,

      I’m rather surprised to see you write “The claims to apostolic succession in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) actually appear to be considerably stronger than the claims advanced by the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).” I’ve just followed through Deborah’s links, which in the end bring us, via Fr. Longenecker’s blog, to this:

      http://www.theceec.org/CEEChistory.html

      which tells a story that is, at best, incomplete. If one reads the second, third and fourth paragraphs of its subsection, FORMATION OF THE CEEC, the key individual in the purported transmission of the apostolic succession is one Michael Owen, who in paragraph 2 is “Fr. Michael Owen,” but by paragraph 3 has become “Bishop Owen,” without, however, any information on the source or sources from which his episcopate came. As for the other bishops in “Bishop Owen, and two other bishops in apostolic succession from Orthodox and Old Catholic jurisdictions passed on the historic apostolic succession to the newly formed group,” we have no information beyond bare assertion, and in such cases quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

      All of this puts me in mind of the “apostolic succession” of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, or CEC (I’ve always wondered why the CEC and the CEEC remained two distinct bodies, coming as their founders did from similar theological backgrounds. Can it be that disagreement over WO, which the CEC rejected right from the start, but which the CEEC leaves to the determination of individual bishops, kept them apart?). The CEC had its newly-titled bishops consecrated around 1993 by an “Old Catholic bishop,” who proved to be an episcopus vagans of theosophical views. Subsequently, in 1995, they has them reconsecrated by William Millsaps, a one-time Episcopalian priest, then a bishop in the ACA/TAC, who, acting as he did without the agreement of Archbishop Falk and his fellow ACA bishops, was censured for his action, and who thereafter left to become a bishop, and later archbishop, of the “Episcopal Missionary Church.” Finally, in 1997, they were consecrated a third time by the Patriarch and some bishops of “the Catholic Apostolic Church of Brazil,” a body founded in 1945 by an excommunicated Catholic bishop, Carlos Duarte Costa (d.1961).

      There is, thus, nothing in the information provided that would warrant supposing that the CEEC’s claim to “apostolic succession” is any better than that of the CEC or the TAC.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Professor Tighe,

        You wrote: I’m rather surprised to see you write “The claims to apostolic succession in the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) actually appear to be considerably stronger than the claims advanced by the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC).” I’ve just followed through Deborah’s links, which in the end bring us, via Fr. Longenecker’s blog, to this….

        I stated my impression, based on a first reading of the history, but I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. Basically, the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal churches (CEEC) (1) appears to have recruited bishops with undisputed orders (Old Catholic Communion) to perform its first episcopal ordinations (the TAC did not) and (2) ensured that all of its clergy received ordination from the lineage of bishops thus ordained — but maybe I misread something, and maybe the article contains distortions.

        But in any case, we’ll get a definitive answer when we see the manner in which they come into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        Norm,

        Not to be contentious, but what is “the Old Catholic Communion,” if not a group of episcopi vagantes giving themselves a pretentious title? The only genuine/respectable Old Catholics are those churches of the Union of Utrecht (at least before they fell into ordaining women and blessing homosexual pseudogamy) and those churches who, after the “Fall of Utrecht,” regrouped around the Polish National Catholic Church to form the Union of Scranton.

        Indeed, what is “the Old Catholic Communion,” period? Between writing the preceding paragraph, and now this, I’ve been internet searching, and what I come up with are a congeries of small bodies, most of them founded by disgruntled formerly Catholic clergy, which recommend themselves to the curious (or gullible) based on their “inclusivity” (what they “include” is, unsurprisingly, WO and acceptance of homosexual relationships). None of them claim any connexion, current or historical, with the CEEC. Here’s one, for example:

        http://occna.org/Old%20Catholic%20Links.htm

        If the CEC could be bamboozled in its early years by a Theosophist claiming to be an Old Catholic bishop, it is equally likely that the founders of the CEEC could be taken in by the grandiose claims of a group calling itself “the Old Catholic Communion.”

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Prof. Tighe,

        You wrote: Not to be contentious, but what is “the Old Catholic Communion,” if not a group of episcopi vagantes giving themselves a pretentious title? The only genuine/respectable Old Catholics are those churches of the Union of Utrecht (at least before they fell into ordaining women and blessing homosexual pseudogamy) and those churches who, after the “Fall of Utrecht,” regrouped around the Polish National Catholic Church to form the Union of Scranton.

        Indeed, what is “the Old Catholic Communion,” period? Between writing the preceding paragraph, and now this, I’ve been internet searching, and what I come up with are a congeries of small bodies, most of them founded by disgruntled formerly Catholic clergy, which recommend themselves to the curious (or gullible) based on their “inclusivity” (what they “include” is, unsurprisingly, WO and acceptance of homosexual relationships). None of them claim any connexion, current or historical, with the CEEC. Here’s one, for example:

        http://occna.org/Old%20Catholic%20Links.htm

        If the CEC could be bamboozled in its early years by a Theosophist claiming to be an Old Catholic bishop, it is equally likely that the founders of the CEEC could be taken in by the grandiose claims of a group calling itself “the Old Catholic Communion.”

        Until your most recent comment, I had seen the term “Old Catholic” only in reference to the Union of Utrecht, which has undisputed apostolic succession — or, at least, which had undisputed apostolic succession until approval of ordination of women about a decade ago set in motion a series of events that’s likely to unravel it therein, so I naturally took the term “Old Catholic” in that context. The Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) here in the States was part of that communion until it severed ties in the wake of the decision by the other members to ordain women. After reading your most recent comment, I went to the Wikipedia article on the subject, which indicates that other bodies of the sort of which you speak are now styling themselves as “Old Catholic,” but this appears to have happened only in the past decade. The history of the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches (CEEC) indicates that its first episcopal ordinations occurred in October of 1995, well before these other renegade groups began calling themselves “Old Catholic” in any case, so my earlier assessment, obviously predicated on the assumption that the term “Old Catholic” as used therein meant the churches of the Union of Utrecht, then including the PNCC, seems valid in any case.

        But, again, the Vatican will be the final arbiter when the CEEC seeks to come into full communion.

        Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        That is helpful, Norm. However, I can say with full assurance that none of the Union of Utrecht Old Catholic bishops were involved in any way in, or with, the CEEC consecrations in October 1995 (a time when the Union of Utrecht was still, if precariously, intact).

        “… other bodies of the sort of which you speak are now styling themselves as “Old Catholic, but this appears to have happened only in the past decade.”

        On the contrary, it goes right back to the 1920s. See the informative (and archly delightful) book *Bishops At Large* by Peter Anson (London, 1965: Faber & Faber), which I hear has recently been reprinted. See also my little pieces:

        http://www.newoxfordreview.org/reviews.jsp?did=0998-tighe

        http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-01-021-f

  3. Hopefully, there will be a multitude, who, like The Good Thief at the hour of his death, will come late to The Fold.

    • EPMS says:

      And where is/was “Paradise”, exactly? Didn’t Jesus descend into “the place of departed spirits” that day? Where did the other thief go? Speculating on the fate of any deceased person (canonised saints excepted, as previously noted) is a waste of time, given our utter ignorance. Let’s just leave it in the Lord’s hands.

      • Tim S. says:

        How can Jesus be present in the Eucharist and at the Right Hand of God at the same time? How can He be present in the Sacrifice of the Mass, upon the Cross, and be resurrected and ascended bodily at the same time?

        I posit, that He, being glorified, is present where He pleases.

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