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Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus.

Extra Ecclesium Nulla Salus.

The traditional teaching of the Catholic Church is "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus" (there is no salvation outside of the Church.) The doctrine has always been worrying and heart-wrenching, but we know that there is no limit to God's Mercy and which His Church always calls to and seeks to invoke. And yet, even within this, as Pope Pius IX makes clear in the following, the truth must be told for the good of the salvation of others. Pope Pius emphasizes to the clergy in his Allocution Singulari Quadem (1854) his apostolic duty. He writes:

"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 "judgments 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 from the mind of men
that impious and equally fatal opinion, namely, that the way
of eternal salvation can be found in any religion whatsoever."

While in his encyclical Singulari Quidem (1856) he writes:

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

Just to emphasize the Pope's words here "outside of which we cannot find either true faith or eternal salvation." And which reflects that the way that we worship affects the way that we believe; "the Lex Orandi is the Lex Crescendi "- the rule of prayer is the rule of belief. This applies to all Catholic Sacramental and devotional practices and the prime example being that only within the Catholic Church can Our Lord's Body and Blood (through Transubstantiation) be partaken of, and which is our true life's source. These are the words of Our Lord in St John's gospel:

"Believe me when I tell you this; you can have no life
in yourselves, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of
Man. The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
enjoys eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink. He who eats
my flesh, and drinks my blood, lives continually in me,
and I in him. As I live because of the Father who has sent
me, so he who eats me will live, in his turn, because of me."
[Jn.6:54-58]

Meanwhile, Pope Pius IX's predecessor, Pope Gregory XVI writes in his encyclical: Summo Jugiter Studio (1832) (on mixed marriages):

"The words of that celebrated disciple of the Apostles, martyred
St 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."(Epistle
141)(SJS)

Pope Eugene IV, in one of the most well known papal teachings on the doctrine, wrote, in1441:

"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"(Matthew
25:41), 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 alms giving, their other works
of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one,
let his alms giving be as great as it may be, no one, even if he
pour out his blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless
he remains within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic
Church" (Cantate Domino)

Our Lord God is our Father and the great provider for us; His children. And just as He provided for Noah, He provided for us an Ark; the Ark of salvation, and which we must be in. We must be in our Father's Church; The Roman Catholic Church.
Catholics are not automatically excluded from hell, those that ignore their faith and those that are in a state of mortal sin; if these are nor repented together with a firm purpose of amendment, then the understanding from Catholic teaching is that on death their destination is hell.
For those outside of the Catholic Church the great teaching is as above and with the focus given by Pope Pius IX (as shown above)and which is that:

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.
Outside of the Church, nobody can hope for life or salvation
unless he is excused through ignorance beyond his control." (Singulari Quidem (1856)

But please see also: Praying for souls in hell (see link below.)

For all situations concerning the dying and the dead, God's great mercy should be sought.

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