... nulla Salus. I am a little nervous about the emphasis laid upon this in some traddy circles, and about some of the stricter interpretations given to the phrase. It seems to me that some people may be a little over-anxious to exclude from heaven anybody who is not in full canonical communion with the See of S Peter.
I suppose that in an age suffused with Relativism and Indifferentism, it is inevitable that sensible and thoughtful people will want to resist anything that smells of these dangerous, pernicious, heresies. But, well, y'know, sometimes a pendulum does ... er ... swing ... er ... a bit far.
Well before the post-Conciliar catastrophes struck, 'Invincible Ignorance', and all that, was part of the Church's common teaching. In 1945, Evelyn Waugh, no Relativist, explains that if Lady Julia Flyte "apostatised now, having been brought up in the Church, she would go to hell, while the Protestant girls of her acquaintance, schooled in happy ignorance, could marry eldest sons, live at peace with their world, and get to heaven before her." And remember that one of Waugh's motives in writing Brideshead was to explain the Catholic Faith to his generation by novelistic means.
S John Henry Newman avowed, towards the end of his life, that he had spent it fighting against Liberalism. He, too, used novelistic means to explain the Faith.
Priest: Do you think [Anglicans] believe and practise all that is brought home to them as being in Scripture?
Reding: Certainly they do, as far as man can judge.
Priest: Then perhaps they may be practising the virtue of faith; if there are passages in it to which they are insensible, as about the sacraments, penance, and extreme unction, or about the See of Peter, I should in charity think that these passages had never been brought home or applied to their minds and consciences - just as a Pope's Bull may be for a time unknown in a distant part of the Church. They may be in involuntary ignorance.* Yet I fear that, taking the whole nation, they are few among many.
*At this point, Newman footnotes a sentence from de Lugo which I translate thus:
Those who err invincibly about some articles, and believe others, are not formally heretics, but have supernatural faith, by which they believe the true articles; and acts of perfect contrition can proceed from that faith so that they be justified and saved.
21 September 2020
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The hermeneutic of continuity:
‘We must hold it as of faith that no one can be saved outside of the apostolic Roman Church...On the other hand, it must be held as certain that those who live in ignorance of the true religion, if such ignorance be invincible, are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the eyes of the Lord. But then, who would dare to set limits to this ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of people, lands, native talents, and so many other factors?’ (Bl. Pius IX, 'Singulari quadam' (1854))
‘They could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.’ (Vatican II, 'Lumen Gentium' 14)
Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is a dogma of the Catholic Church for centuries & cannot be explained or revised to suit individual or collective whims. The Fathers of the Church were explicit on this & compared it to Noah's Ark where all that were outside the Ark (the CC) perished. “There is indeed one universal church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ Himself is both priest and sacrifice. His body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the forms of bread and wine, the bread and wine having been changed (transsubstantiatis) in substance, by God’s power, into his body and blood, … And indeed, nobody can confect this sacrament except a priest who has been properly ordained according to the (power of the) Church’s keys, which Jesus Christ himself gave to the Apostles and their successors.” (Canon 1 ‘on the Catholic Faith’).
St. Cyprian: "He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your Mother."
St. Ambrose: "Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church."
The signed Abu Dhabi Declaration is therefore a heretical document & should have been followed by a public denouncement by the Curia. The False Ecumenism of VII has brought about the dire Apostasy within the leadership of the Church of which we were warned by Our Lady of Quito "Satan will succeed in reaching the top of the Church & Rome will become the seat of the Antichrist".
Moreover, the proposition that there is no grace outside the Church was one of the 101 propositions from the writings of the Jansenist Quesnel which Clement XI condemned in his bill Unigenitus of 1713.
It is, to me, very mysterious that the doctrinal tag Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is always given in Latin. Is this an embarrassed way of covering up an embarrassing doctrine ? Pages and pages were written about it following the Fr Feeney case in the 1940s.
Archbishop Lefebvre has a very good discussion of this at chapter ten of his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, which may be found here:
I used to doubt that people could be really invincibly ignorant about basic facts of the Faith, etc.
And then, I started listening to Catholic Answers' call-in shows. Hoboy, there is no shortage of honest ignorance out there. People who seem like decently educated adult members of society can be seriously ignorant of basic facts about all kinds of things.
Sometimes they had it in school, and they just remembered it during school and then forgot it all.
Sometimes they managed to sleep through every sermon they'd ever heard, or have let everything whoosh over their heads because they didn't know they should care.
Sometimes they really have learned nothing about Catholics except that they are pagan idol-worshippers who do necromantic rites.
Sometimes they were told early on that everything religious was symbolic or mythic, and was just pretty noises and imagery.
And yeah, sometimes they really are from someplace with no libraries, no Internet, and no Catholics or Christians.
Dear Father. The rhetorical resurrection of the EENS Doctrine is owning to the surrender of modern Catholic Churchmen to ecumenism - which is the Universal Solvent of Tradition - and the desire to not offend rather than the to Teach.
The ideology of the modern Catholic Churchmen seems to have anticipated and/or aped the ideology of Michel Foucault, one of the French 1968ers - “Il est interdit d’interdire” “It is forbidden to forbid”
Mr. Foucault (Death by AIDS) sodomised himself, and others, to death in the Gay Bath Houses of San Francisco
One of the, many, problems of Vatican Two is that it tried to teach in direct contradiction to Catholic Doctrine that preceded it vis a vis Church and State and the means of Salvation.
When one reads the documents of V2, and sees the result of the "spirit of V2" that accompanied and followed it, one comes to understand that the shadow church thinks one can be saved in protestant denominations - and there is an entire large body of Catholic Doctrine of Vatican Two that denies that claim.
What is the essential difference between the praxis of Masonry and the Modern Papacy?
Both consider man to be good and at liberty to worship any God he sees fit.
I wonder just how many are ïnvincibly ignorant. How many have a sneaking suspicious that the Catholic Church is the end point and that leaving their friends, and community to suffer the consequences of becoming a Catholic is too much for them. And that goes for all those do-gooders in the modern world. Will do anything good as long as one's line of thought (hinted at by the actions of the Holy Ghost) leads to God as is conveniently ignored, in the hope that their good works creates a shopping list to present to God at death. I can imagine Our Lord saying but you ref used to love me and ignore my call all throught your life. That therefore they are not really ignorant underneath it all. The phrase may apply to those of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths who really are ignorant of the call of Christ.
I was brought up on this belief anybody who is not in full canonical communion with the See of S Peter is hell-bound. But as I stand in our local Russian church on the Feast of the Nativity of the Theotokos I am less clear about. But then I return home and hear how Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey has just endorsed the "catholic" Biden for President of the USA—advocate of 9th month abortions and same sex marriage— I am even less clear about such doctrine.
Whether I shall renounce my baptism and be baptised in Moscow, I do not know. But I share your doubts about this doctrine on the basis of "by their fruits ye shall know them." The Roman pontiffs have not in my life time convinced me that extra nulla salus under the strict interpretation that you describe can possibly be true.
I would never lead anyone to the Roman Catholic church in its present state for any reason, ever!I refuse to do so in full confidence that if they are meant to be saved, God will indeed save them, no matter what. If not, not. Some friends were disappointed when they brought an Anglican lady to me, thinking that I would persuade her to become Catholic. I asked her why she wanted to shift communion. She gave me numerous examples of Anglican failures all of which corresponded to failures in the Roman Catholic church of today and I told her so.
Lets face it, Pope Francis and Cardinal Tobin et al. have proved themselves to be the Milli Vanilli of the Christian world.
Later words from Bl Pope Pius IX (Quanto Conficiamur Moerore - 1853)
"7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.
8. Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom “the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior.” The words of Christ are clear enough: “If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;” “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;” “He who does not believe will be condemned;” “He who does not believe is already condemned;” “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.” The Apostle Paul says that such persons are “perverted and self-condemned;” the Prince of the Apostles calls them “false teachers . . . who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master. . . bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”
9. God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have unhappily fallen and strive to guide them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation.
Nine years later (1863) Bl. Pope Pius IX expanded on this in his Encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore.
'There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.'
Dear Mr. Hardy. There has always been wheat and chaff inside The Catholic Church and there will be until the end of time but modern errors do not cancel Catholic Doctrine and as Saint Vincent of Lerins (Commonitory) teaches us, allowing prelates to propagate novelties is one way God tests us to see if we love Him.
We show our love of God by remaining in His One True Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and by keeping with Tradition - that is, what was once believed by all.
Consider the real possibility that your failure to stay with the Catholic Church Jesus established is your personal fault, not the fault of progressives.
O, and 2 John 9
We should not forget the condemnation of Feeneyism.
The longer of my two posts above hadn't appeared here when next I looked in and I thought our host had decided that it wasn't helpful to the discussion.
I decided to try my luck again with a shorter extract.
Now I see that both posts are here and I apologize for the duplication.
1863 is the correct date for the encyclical.
The more recent Magisterium has also indicated that salvation outside the visible boundaries of the Church for the invincibly ignorant, although possible, is nonetheless more difficult:
'If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.' (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 'Dominus Iesus' 22 (2000))
The passage in 'Dominus Iesus' footnotes Pius XII's 1943 Encyclical, 'Mystici Corporis Christi' (DS 3821): '[To those] who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church...from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and helps that can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church.' (103)
And Vatican II, after speaking of the possibility of salvation for invincibly ignorant non-Catholics, warns: 'More often, however, [or: 'very often' – Latin: 'saepius'] 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.' (Lumen Gentium 16) So we shouldn't view the salvation of non-Catholics (or Catholics for that matter) as though a foregone conclusion.
Paul-A. Hardy, I would say that the true application here of Our Lord's words, "By their fruits ye shall know them" is that precisely where Catholics, and members of the hierarchy in particular, have neglected or violated Catholic truth and morality, is where bad fruits have come.
The following of Catholic truth in its fullness (which is still completely available and clear for Catholics who seek it out with a bit of patience and care) continues to produce good fruit.
If Our Lord's promises to St Peter and the Apostles have failed, then the faith of any Christian body is in vain. Jesus explicitly warned that there would be unfaithful stewards. (Lk 12:42-48) How can the fulfilment of his prediction undermine his promises that in spite of everything, the gates of hell would not prevail?
Dear Father. Many of your readers may not be aware that the so-called Fennyites are in complete communion with The Church.
Fr Z observes; interview →
Some thoughts about the SSPX, Rome, and unity
Posted on 24 January 2009 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
People of good will can differ on theological points and still remain in unity.
People of good will can attain unity even when they disagree on matters which are by no means clear.
The history of the Church’s great Councils underscores this fact. Time and time again, Fathers of this Council and that Council or Synod would affix their signatures to creeds or symbols which contained carefully worked out compromises of expression. Both sides would have to give here and there until the language was acceptable to both sides. Slowly but surely, brick by brick, Council after Council the Church’s doctrines on the hardest questions became clearer.
I call to mind also the situation of the late Fr. Leonard Feeney, SJ, and his "wildcat group" the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They took a black and white position on the Church’s true teaching that "outside the Church there is no salvation". This got them in hot water with the Holy See. Eventually an understanding was hammered out. The so-called "Feeneyites" were able to be in union with the Church but without having to abjure their position about extra Ecclesiam nulla salus.
Dear Mr. Paul A-Hardy, you cannot "renounce your baptism". As long as it was Trinitarian and done with the correct words (no guarantee in today's Church unfortunately) then it is indelible. I don't understand why the Orthodox would even condone rebaptising.
It was always my understanding that anyone properly baptized in the Trinitarian manner no matter by what faith community was thereby a member of the Catholic (universal) Church by default, whether they know it or not. This would also include those with "baptism of desire" who wished to be baptized but died before they had the opportunity. If this is true then EENS should apply to all of them i.e. they are all "in the Church".
In my opinion, even after the promulgation of Lumen gentium and Dominus Iesus, the letter Supreme haec sacra of the Holy Office to the Archbishop of Boston remains, as Msgr Fenton called it in 1958, "by far the most complete and explicit authoritative statement of the ecclesiastical magisterium on the subject of the Church's necessity for salvation," and it was not as one-sided an anti-Feeney document as is often supposed, because what Feeney stirred controversy about in the "Boston Heresy Case" was not the necessity of actual baptism, which he did not develop his eccentric views about until the 1950s.
The doctrinal portion of the Suprema haec sacra concluded, "it is evident that those things which are proposed in the periodical From the Housetops, fascicle 3, as the genuine teaching of the Catholic Church are far from being such and are very harmful both to those within the Church and those without." The only article in the third number of From the Housetops was "Reply to a Liberal" by Raymond Karam, the definitive exposition of the Saint Benedict Center's 1940s position, which they eventually sent copies of to every bishop and cardinal in the world. Feeney's follower Catherine Goddard Clarke, in her 1950 book The Loyolas and the Cabots, records a meeting of 1 April 1949 in which Feeney said of this article to the American Assistant to the General of the Jesuits, "what Mr. Karam holds is what I hold." (p. 178)
In the last portion of this article, Mr Karam asks, "Is There Any Case When Baptism of the Holy Spirit Without Actual Reception of Baptism of Water Can Be Sufficient for Salvation?", and answers in the affirmative, yet only on the condition that the person have "an explicit will or desire to receive the Sacrament of Baptism." Finally, he lists fifteen points which he calls upon Pope Pius XII to condemn ex cathedra as heretical (among which he boldly places a direct quote from Pope Pius IX), of which the eleventh is: "One can be saved by merely an implicit desire for Baptism." According to Ms Clarke's book, when the process of Fr Feeney's dismissal from the Society of Jesus began in August 1949, Feeney sent one of his students, Juan Ribera-Faig to have a conversation with the Judge Instructor in the process, Fr Raymond Bidagor. In their discussion of the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, Fr Bidagor brought up what Clarke calls "the classical liberal example" saying, "What about the man who lives in the middle of the desert (or on a desert island) and has never heard about the Church? He believes in God and believes that God can reward him. He lives a perfect life, never commits a mortal sin, and makes perfect acts of love of God." When Fr Bidagor said that "the main in the desert, inasmuch as he had made a perfect act of love of God, could also be said to have 'baptism of desire'", Clarke says, "Juan remonstrated that neither St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J., nor St. Peter Canisius, also a Jesuit, nor any other of the Doctors of the Church, explains 'baptism of desire' in this liberal sense." (pp. 274–5)
(I trust I can be excused for dividing my comment to flout the character limit.)
I think that where Feeney really had a point about the "liberal sense" of baptism of desire with regard to to the man on the desert island is the necessity of faith, and he really could have done a service to the Church with this if he had accepted the guidance of the magisterium instead of developing his novel opinion from the 1950s forward that even if an unbaptised person should die in the state of grace, such a person would not go to heaven.
After all, the Suprema haec sacra only said it is "those helps to salvation which are directed towards man's final end, not by intrinsic necessity, but only by divine institution" which are necessary in re vel in voto; because faith is not merely appointed by God as a means to supernatural life but is actually part of it, the letter goes on to say, "no explicit intention can produce its effect unless the man have supernatural faith: 'For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him.' The Council of Trent declares: 'Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children.'"
Cardinal de Lugo held not only that some material heretics might yet have supernatural faith, but that "the third and more probable opinion denies that explicit faith in Christ is necessary by necessity of means for justification or for salvation." If one has faith based on divine revelation at least in the two dogmas of Hebrews 11:6, faith in God as existent and Rewarder, he would admit the sufficiency of implicit faith even in the Trinity and Incarnation.
In support of this, de Lugo points out that St Thomas said "ante baptismum Cornelius et alii similes consequuntur gratiam et virtutes per fidem Christi et desiderium baptismi, implicite vel explicite" (ST p. III, q. 69, a. 4 ad 2); I believe St Thomas is saying here that only the desiderium, and not the faith in Christ, can be implicit, as Cornelius and his family were filled with the Holy Ghost after Peter preached to them, but before he commanded them to be baptised (Acts 10:44), and de Lugo misrepresents the opinion of Thomas, who also said that "belief of some kind in the mystery of Christ's Incarnation was necessary at all times and for all persons, but this belief differed according to differences of times and persons," yet "after grace had been revealed, both learned and simple folk are bound to explicit faith in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed throughout the Church, and publicly proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation." (ST p. II-II, q. 2, a. 7 co.)
Then again, Cornelius was already called "a just man" (v. 22) before Peter arrived. The way Cardinal de Lugo understands it, just as Cornelius attained grace through implicit faith because the Gospel was not yet sufficiently promulgated where he lived, someone will likewise be able to be justified who is invincibly ignorant of these mysteries. It would seem contrary to the divine goodness and providence that He should condemn invincibly ignorant adults who live honestly according to the light of nature. After all, Peter said: in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh justice, is acceptable to him. (v. 35) St Alphonsus de' Liguori says the opinion that explicit faith in the Trinity and Incarnation is necessary by necessity of means "is more common and seems more probable," but the opinion defended by Cardinal de Lugo is "quite probable as well."
The Saint Benedict Center also wished for this second opinion to be infallibly condemned as heretical, for Karam's seventh proposition proposed to be censured was: "One can be saved who dies ignorant of Christ and His Church." If their cause had only been to champion the necessity of explicit faith in Christ by necessity of means, it would have been legitimate; this opinion has never been condemned and had defenders in their time. Jacobus (Santiago) Ramírez, O.P. (d. 1967), in a commentary De Fide Divina published posthumously, defends the teaching of St Thomas that "Aliqualem fidem explicitam de Christo habere est omnibus adultis omnium temporum necessarium necessitate medii ad salutem." If Feeney had defended this opinion without writing off those following the opinions of approved authors as heretics in advance of a judgement of the Church, to the point of writing to Fr Bidagor that "I am obliged to refuse to appear before your tribunal or to confide my case to the judgment of one of your heretical persuasion" (Clarke, p. 280), he could have opened a very worthwhile debate.
But Fr Feeney could really have directed his efforts against certain error if he had reproached theologians, especially in the period after 1965, for going beyond the opinion of de Lugo and holding even that an atheist or agnostic can be justified without faith in the divine Rewarder, or that the acknowledgement of a mere judgement of the conscience as binding on oneself is sufficient to constitute the act of faith, notwithstanding Vatican I's anathema upon anyone who "shall say that divine faith is not distinct from natural knowledge of God and moral matters, and therefore it is not required for divine faith that revealed truth be believed on account of the authority of God who reveals."
It is unfortunate that Father Feeney and his followers have instead chosen to pursue an un-Catholic line of thought, with the Saint Benedict Center evidently existing to this day with the primary purpose of promoting a theological error, which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judged "unacceptable" in April 2016, and again in October 2016; let us join the Bishop of Manchester in his "most sincere hope" that those associated with it "will rediscover full communion with the See of Peter." Surely the Church has something to gain even from what is orthodox in the Feeneyite patrimony.
Pardon me, this paragraph belonged at the end of the first comment or the beginning of the second:
Thus where the Holy Office accuses the Saint Benedict Center of parting ways with Catholic doctrine is in the sufficiency of the implicit votum of entering the Church for those who are involved in invincible ignorance, which the Holy Office says has been clearly taught in the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi. Yet the letter's explanations of the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, starting with the affirmation that it is a dogma, also make clear that some of Feeney's adversaries indeed went too far in the opposite direction, as when Cardinal Cushing later said to a group of Episcopalian priests in February 1964, "We are told there is no salvation outside the Church—nonsense! Nobody can tell me that Christ died on Calvary for any select group!"
I can remember looking a Lowry's bus gueue and thing thst Christ deid for thris lot.
In its letter of October 2016 to Brother Andre Marie of the St. Benedict Center, the CDF laid out the "official doctrine of the Church".
"As the Congregation stated in our April 15 letter to you, which the Congregation also shared with Bishop Libasci, the principle "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus" must be interpreted according to the official doctrine of the Church, as it is summarized with clarity in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#846-#848) and, more in detail, in the Declaration Dominus Jesus (#20-#22). The Catechism of the Catholic Church emphasizes that all salvation comes from Christ through the Church, which is the Body of Christ, the Sacrament of Salvation (cf. CCC #846). The paragraph that follows, however, is equally binding, as it considers those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church and states that those too have the possibility of obtaining eternal salvation (cf. CCC #847). This being stated, the Church certainly has a perennial obligation and sacred right to evangelize all men (cf. CCC #848).
In the Declaration Dominus Jesus, issued by this Congregation in the year 2000, it is reaffirmed that one must hold that the Church is necessary for salvation (cf. #20); that this doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. #20); that for non- Christians, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace, which, coming from Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, has a relationship with the Church, and is bestowed by God in ways known to God himself (cf. #20-#21); and that dialogue with members of other religions cannot substitute the mission of the Church, called to bring salvation to all (cf. #22).
CCC #847, which the CDF refers to in that lefter, quotes from Lumen Gentium 16. The full text is
16. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.(18*) 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) But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, 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. 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*) 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*) She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. 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.
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