Where the Holy Spirit is, there is the Catholic Church

Where the Catholic Church is not, there is no Holy Spirit


   Vatican Council II did not change any doctrine of the Church and in fact the two popes of the Council, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI both emphasized that doctrine could not change and would not change.  To the horror of the ultra right wing conservatives the language became softer for the sole reason of creating a atmosphere of dialogue with those who are outside the Church.  One example is the words "Separated Brethren" instead of "Heretics".  They are still heretics and they are still separated from the Body of Christ, the only road to salvation, and they are brothers in that all mankind shares a brotherhood or should at least in most things.   But this soft language has lead the ultra left wing of the Church, to say, "The Spirit of Vatican II", what ever that means, has opened the doors to "pluralism".  But pluralism (that there are many roads to heaven) is a heresy and always has been. 


Of course this heresy of "pluralism" was being promoted by Catholics long before Vatican Council II,  mostly by the Charismatics who had to go outside the Body of Christ to get their "spirit" and by the likes of Ed Schillebeeck, Karl Rahner, Hans Kung, Anthony Wilhelm and Von Balthasar. 

In the Dogma of the Church (that which we have to believe) it states "The Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church" The Church then quotes the doctors of the faith  "…in the efficacy of the Spirit, all those have no part, who do not hasten to the Church; rather they, by their evil teachings and their evil deeds, rob themselves of life. For where the Church is, three is also the spirit of God, and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace. (St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, bk. 3 ch. 24)

"What the soul is for the body of man, that is what the Holy Spirit is for the body of Christ, that is, the Church." St. Augustine


"The Holy Spirit unites, quickens, teaches, sanctifies the Church, indwells in her, communicates the riches of the one to the others." St. Thomas Aquinas


Doctrine: "In one spirit were we all baptized into one body."  I Cor. 12:13, it follows from this that he who culpably persists in remaining outside the body of Christ cannot participate in the Holy Spirit and in the life of grace effected by Him.  St. Augustine says: "Only the body  of Christ lives from the Spirit of Christ. ... Will you then live of the Spirit of Christ?  Then be in the body of Christ." 


If you are as old as I am you remember speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit as Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace.  And we were taught that Actual Grace is that grace that leads you to the truth and the true Body of Christ and that everyone in the  world gets Actual Grace.  Sanctifying Grace is that Grace that justifies you so that you can enter into Heaven and that Sanctifying Grace can only be found in the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. 

In two centuries of Catholic Church history, few formal dogmas have been as clearly enunciated as extra ecclesiam nulla salus, that is, outside the Church there is no salvation.  Second Vatican Council deals with the Church and the question of salvation outside its visible structure in Lumen Gentium, and the Council's decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio


Second Vatican Council's Lumen Gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church:  "This Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishop in union with that successor, although many elements of sanctification and of truth can be found outside its visible structure. (Lumen Gentium 8 par. B)

"Many elements of Sanctification and of truth can be found outside the visible structure of the Church" means what?  It does not mean that one can be saved outside the Church but simply means what has been always said that the Holy Spirit prompts all to enter into the unity of the Body of Christ through actual grace and that some truths are in all religions but that one must believe in all the truth to be saved. 

The idea that Unitatis Redintegratio overturns all previous Church teaching on the matter is false.  The Council documents has merely restated constant teachings of the Church in language that is more amenable to attracting non-Catholics to dialogue with the object of the reuniting of all Christians in the one body of Christ, the Catholic Church. Where ecumenical dialogue is concerned, there is no question of altering doctrine or dogma:

Pope John Paul II in "Ut Unum Sint - That they may be One"   … the Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio), mentions the way of formulating doctrine as one of the elements of a continuing reform. Here it is not a question of altering the deposit of faith, changing the meaning of dogmas, eliminating essential words from them, accommodating truth to the preferences of a particular age, or suppressing certain articles of the Creed under the false pretext that they are no longer understood today. The unity willed by God can be attained only by the adherence of all to the content of revealed faith in its entirety. In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth. In the Body of Christ, "the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6), who would consider legitimate a reconciliation brought about at the expense of the truth?


But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

See that ye all follow the bishop, ,even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God…Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Smyrnaeans, ch. 8)

Since this particular theological opinion, "pluralism" has received much support from "Catholic" celebrities like  Karl Rahner and the late Hans Urs Von Balthasar, and supported by the (unapproved) "Marian" apparitions at Medjugorje, as well as by many within the "Charismatic renewal", who seem to think that undergoing the "pentecostal experience" is more important than membership in any Church, we must state very clearly their errors, which is a heresy and heresy is ex-communication ipso facto, and excommunication mean no salvation  


Doctrine of No Salvation Outside the Church


Indeed, there is but one universal Church of the faithful outside which no one is saved. (Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 a.d.)

We are compelled in virtue of our faith to believe and maintain that there is only one Catholic Church, and that one apostolic. This we firmly believe and profess without qualification. Outside this Church there is no salvation and no remission of sins…Further, 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, bull Unam Sanctam, a.d. 1302 )

The holy, Roman Church believes, professes, and preaches that "no one remaining outside the Catholic Church, not just pagans, but also Jews or heretics or schismatics, can become partakers of eternal life; but they will
go to the "everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels" unless before the end of life they are joined to the Church…no one can be saved…unless he remains in the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.
(Council of Florence, Decree for the Jacobites, a.d. 1435)

It must of course be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic, Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salavation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. (Pope Pius IX, allocution Singulari Quadam, a.d. 1854)

Condemned errors:

"Men can find the way to eternal salvation, and they can attain eternal salvation in the practice of any religion whatever."

"There is good reason at least to hope for the eternal salvation of those who are in no way in the true Church of Christ" (Syllabus of Errors, a.d. 1864 Holy Office under Pius IX)

The Church of Christ, therefore, is the only ever enduring Church; and all who depart from it, depart from the will and command of Christ, our Lord. They have left the path of salvation and are heading towards destruction.
(Satis Cognitum, encyclical of Pope Leo XIII, a.d. 1896)

John 3:5, 10:1-3, 9, 14-16, 15:5-6  and all of 17, Mark 16:15-16,  Romans 6 and 12, 1 Cor. 12:13, Ephesians 5, 29, 30, 31, 32 show clearly that there is only one Church of salvation. 

Other Kinds of Membership in the Body of Christ


If there is no salvation outside the Church as is clearly taught, what happened to those who died before there even was a Catholic Church:  Moses, Adam, Eve, etc.?    When Christ gave birth to the Church at His death on the Cross through the lancing of His Sacred Heart, He went down to the under world to teach and to baptize Himself these people,  and opened the gates of Heaven in His Resurrection, and on that Sunday he took them to Heaven but through the Catholic Church, because outside the Church there is no salvation.  


Feeneyiteism)  which states that "no un-baptized person can ever go to heaven-no exceptions is also a heresy for the same reasons as above.   This extreme exclusivist view is held by a small, but growing number of ultra-traditionalists, many of whom have severe doubts regarding the orthodoxy of the Second Vatican Council, and some of whom who have actually fallen into formal schism from the Church.  I am not here saying that there is salvation outside the Church, but just as Moses made it to Heaven as can be inferred by his presence at the Transfiguration, so others can make it through the Church, even though they had not formally entered.  This number is so small however as to almost not be worth mentioning.


Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the
dictates of their conscience-those too may achieve eternal salvation…(Lumen Gentium 16)

" But though the doctrine which men hold to be false and perverse, if they do not hold it with passionate obstinancy, especially when they have not devised it by the rashness of their own presumption, but have accepted it from parents who had been misguided and fallen into error, and if they are with anxiety seeking the truth, and are prepared to be set right when they have found it, such men are not to be counted heretics. (St. Augustine, epist. 43, 1)

St. Thomas more explicitly sets forth the hope that some outside the Church may be saved:

…the sacrament of Baptism may be wanting to anyone in reality but not in desire: for instance, when a man wishes to be baptized, but by some ill chance he is forestalled by death before receiving Baptism. And such a man can obtain salvation without being actually baptized, on account of his desire for Baptism, which desire is the outcome of "faith that worketh by charity", whereby God, whose power is not tied to visible sacraments, sanctifies man inwardly…(St. Thomas Aquinas, S. Th. III, Q. 68, art.2)

Regarding the so called "Baptism of desire", the constant Church teaching has been that such "desire" does not necessarily have to be an explicit one, as is pointed out by Dr. Ludwig Ott in his remarkable Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma:

In special circumstances, namely, in the case of invincible ignorance or of incapability, actual membership in the Church can be replaced by the desire (votum) for the same. This need not be expressly (explicite) present, but can also be included in the moral readiness faithfully to fulfill the will of God (votum implicitum). In this manner also, those who are in fact outside the Catholic Church can achieve salvation. (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, 1974, pge. 312)

It must of course be held as a matter of faith that outside the apostolic, Roman Church no one can be saved, that the Church is the only ark of salvation, and that whoever does not enter it will perish in the flood. On the other hand, it must likewise be held as certain that those who are affected by ignorance of the true religion, if it is invincible ignorance,
are not subject to any guilt in this matter before the Lord…(Pius IX, Singulari Quadam)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church expresses this teaching thusly:  Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1260)

Since the Church teaches that those martyrs who, prior to being baptized, shed their blood in witness to Christ, undergo a "baptism of blood", which, though not a sacrament proper, brings in its train eternal life, and therefore, the fruits of Baptism; and that the desire of catechumens who die before baptism effects their salvation, therefore, it is not impossible to
speculate that those ignorant of the Church's existence may, (provided they desire fervently to do the will of God) somehow share, albeit imperfectly, in the saving life of the Church, which, in the words of Lumen Gentium, is the "universal sacrament of salvation."

The same is taught by the Second Vatican Council with regards to those validly baptized members of other "denominations" who are invincibly ignorant of the necessity to be joined to the one true Church:

The Church knows that she is joined, in many ways, to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter. (Unitatis Redintegratio, the Decree on Ecumenism, 3)

Therefore, the idea that some are indeed saved outside of visible communion with the Church is not new.


So Few Saved Outside the Church

The reason the number saved outside the Church is so small as not to be worth mentioning is that the main fountain of Sanctifying Grace is the Sacraments of the Catholic Church, especially the Eucharist. 

"For Christ is the bread of life; and this bread does not belong to all men, but is ours…And we ask that this bread should be given to us daily, that we who are in Christ, and daily receive the Eucharist for the food of salvation, may not…be separated from Christ's body…When, therefore, He says, that whoever shall eat of His bread shall live forever; as it is manifest that
those who partake of His body and receive the Eucharist by right of communion are living, so, on the other hand, we must fear and pray lest any who, being withheld from communion, is separate from Christ's body should remain at a distance from salvation: as He himself threatens, and says, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye shall have no life in you." And therefore we ask that our bread-that is, Christ-may be given us daily, that we who abide and live in Christ may not depart from His sanctification and body." (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Tractate 4)

St. Augustine writes that the great sign of this election is participation in the body and blood of Christ:

But in this food and drink, that is, in the body and blood of the Lord, it is not so. For both he that doth not take it hath no life, and that doth take it hath life, and that indeed eternal life. And thus He would have this meat and drink to be understood as meaning the fellowship of His own body and members, which is the holy Church in his predestined, and called, and justified, and glorified saints and believers. Of these, the first is already effected, namely predestination; the second and third, that is, the vocation and justification and justification, have taken place, are taking
place, and will take place; but the fourth, namely the glorifying, is at present in hope; but a thing future in realization. The sacrament of this thing, namely, the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is prepared on the Lord's table in some places daily…(St. Augustine, Tractate 26, in John 6:41-59)

Not Saved without the Holy Father


Some non-Catholic Churches or separated Catholics, like the Orthodox, the Pius X Society, the Old Roman Catholics, and the free lance Traditionalists claim that they have the Sacraments and the Eucharist, and even claim that they are more traditional than the Pope, but they forget the most traditional law of the Church.

"See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons…Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or one to whom he has entrusted to it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. (St. Ignatius of Antioch, Smyrnaeans, ch. 8)

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vain glory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings…by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the
very ancient, and universally known Church, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, owing to its pre-eminent authority…" (St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, Bk. 3, ch. 3)

As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none with none but your blessedness, that is with the chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. That is the house where alone the paschal lamb can be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. (St. Jerome, letter 15, to Pope Damasus,2)

Therefore, those who believe that they can accept Christ as head of the Church, without giving their loyal to his vicar on earth, walk the path of dangerous error. They have taken away the visible head, and they so disfigure the true concept of the body of the Redeemer, that it cannot be recognized or found by those who are seeking the haven of eternal salvation…(Pius XII, Mystici Corporis)

That the mystical body of Christ and the Catholic Church in communion with Rome are one and the same thing, is a doctrine based on revealed truth… (Pius XII, Humani Generis, )

Can Anyone Say He has never know about the Catholic Church?


Besides the Eucharist and unity with Rome, another reason that salvation outside the Church is in the objective sense an almost impossible thing is its visibility.  


For in the Catholic Church…there are many things which most justly keep me in her bosom. The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained, so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house…Now if the truth is so clearly proved as to leave no possibility of doubt, it must be set before all the things that keep me in the Catholic Church…(St. Augustine of Hippo, Against the Epistle of Manicheus Called Fundamental, ch. 4)

 Actual Grace (some elements of the Holy Spirit) impel towards

unity with the Catholic Church

What is clear in the teaching of the bible and the Church is that the workings of the Holy Spirit outside the Church have one and only one objective - to bring people into the Church.

"What a clear, theological anticipation of the words of Lumen Gentium : …"many elements of salvation can be found outside its visible structure, which, as gifts proper of the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity"!

We can glean from the foregoing that the "elements of sanctification" found outside the Church are not in and of themselves independent of the Church, but are her "proper gifts" which, when received outside of visible communion with her serve as lights, spiritual helps, which "impel to Catholic unity" that is, through their valid reception, unfailingly lead those called by
grace to unity with her. What has been declared at the second Vatican Council is no new dogma, but merely the reassertion of an ancient truth, and it in no way affects the dogma of "no salvation outside the Church".

No Holy Spirit Outside the Catholic Church

Except for Actual Grace or anything that leads one to enter into the Catholic Church, there is no Holy Spirit outside the Catholic Church.  Therefore, those who went outside the Church to get the "spirit" like Sister Bridge McInna and thousands of Charismatics, one must ask "what spirit is this?"   Since people like Vassula Ryden claim to have visits from Christ and yet are not Catholics and are not impelled to enter, one must wonder who this imposter Christ is?   When any non-catholic claims to have a miracle, but since miracles bare witness to the truth, one must ask what spirit faked this miracle?   God can compel evil spirits to tell the truth as did Balaam in the bible and as a jackass also prophesied the truth, and as did the High Priest at the death of Christ, but these are all testifying to the truth and not of their own free will or in any credit to themselves.  Even in exorcisms the priest can compel the demons to tell the truth but this does not sanctify the demons but punishes them.  So if anyone tells me that someone outside the Church has an apparition or a miracle I for one will not under any condition believe them.  In all truth, since few Catholics get to Heaven, how many non-catholics, who have not the Bread of Live, get to Heaven, one in a million?  One in ten million?  One in a generation?  I do not know.

Rick Salbato