The Catholic Church's views of other faith groups
"Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus"
(No salvation outside of the Church)
Church teaching 6th to 15th century CE
The Roman Catholic Church's teachings on salvation outside the church
(6th to 15th century
The traditional teaching of the Roman Catholic Church was, in Latin, "Extra
Ecclesiam nulla salus." 1
That is, if a person is outside of the Catholic church -- whether they:
||Are a Muslim, Hindu,
Buddhist or a member of
another non-Christian religion,
||Are a member of another Christian denomination,
||Consider themselves an unaffiliated Christian who follows the teachings
of Jesus, or
||Are an Agnostic,
Atheist, Humanist, secularist, etc.,
they cannot possible by saved. Without having been saved, the Church teaches
that they will spend eternity in Hell, suffering eternal, unremitting pain.
This dogma was relaxed significantly in the late 20th century. They now admit
the possibility that some individuals outside of the Church can be saved.
Church statements supporting "Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus."
||540-604: Saint Gregory the Great wrote, in "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."
||578-590: Pope Pelagius II stated: '
"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"
||991: Pope Sylvester II, in "Profession of Faith" stated:
"I profess that outside the Catholic Church no one is saved."
||1215: The Fourth Lateran Council was called by Pope Innocent III
to tackle a variety of Church teachings and practices, including the dogma
of transubstantiation; proclamation of papal primacy over the patriarchs of
Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem; requiring all Jews and
Muslims to wear an identifying hat or badge (a predecessor to the yellow
badge required by the Nazis), and salvation. The Council also affirmed the
belief that outside the church, there is no salvation.
||1224-1274: St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:
"The Church is like the Ark of Noah, outside of which nobody can be
||1235-1303: Pope Boniface VIII wrote:
"That there is one Holy Catholic and apostolic Church we are
compelled to believe and to hold, prompted by divine faith, and we do
believe this firmly and confess it simply, outside of which there
can be no salvation, or remission of sins…."
||1302: Pope Boniface VIII issued a bull "Unam Sanctam:"
"Outside this Church there is no salvation and no remission of sins
... Certainly Noah had one ark at the time of the flood, prefiguring one
Church ... outside of which we read all living things were
destroyed. ... 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."
||1351: Pope Clement VI, in a letter to Consolator the Catholicon
of Armenia wrote to confirm whether he and the Armenians obedient to him:
"... 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.
The pope also asked if he has:
"... 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."
||1442: Pope Eugene IV issued "Cantate Domino:"
"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. ... 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
Later statements by Catholic leaders are
in a separate essay
"Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus," Wikipedia, 2007-JUN-03, at: