Is There Really No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church?

What do we mean when we say there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church?

One common mistake is the thought that I can come and go from the Catholic Church kind of like Musical Chairs. Which ever church I end up in will be the instrument of my salvation. If you have true knowledge of The Faith, and you choose to leave The Church for, shall we say “man-made reasons”, you could be in a lot of hot water.

The particular situation I want to address is leaving for the wrong reasons. Lets say I know my faith very well. I know in my heart of hearts that it is The True Faith. That is, the one set up by Jesus Christ Himself as the ordinary way to salvation, then I am sinning by cutting myself off from the graces found in The True Faith.

Here is the most common example I have seen.

Bob is a good Catholic. He makes frequent use of the sacraments and is part of a prayer group and bible study group too. Bob knows his faith and is very happy in it. Bob believes in his “heart of hearts” that the Catholic Faith is the way to salvation.

Bob meets Tyra. She is a (insert your favorite non Catholic faith in here). Tyra is beautiful ( or as my teens say…She is a Hotty (SP?) Hottie (SP?). Tyra seems to be physically and emotionally what Bob has been searching for all his life. Tyra invites Bob to go to her church with her.

Bob is strong though and asks her to come to his church and attend Mass. Bob also is careful to instruct Tyra not to receive Holy Communion (since she is not currently in union with the Church) Tyra is reluctant to even go to Mass but promises to go if Bob will reciprocate and go with her to her church. Bob sees no harm in this because he is a strong faithful Roman Catholic. He is sure he can handle going to her church as a part of getting to know her better.

OK, so far no problem. Many Catholic people do this very thing. It is not a sin to go to the other church (if it is a Christian Denomination) as long as you fulfill your Sunday mass obligation as well. That means you go to mass on the same Sunday you attend the other church. Also, you must not go to Communion in this non Catholic Church because what you would be doing would say that the non Catholic church also has the True Presence of Jesus Christ – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – which is a claim even the non Catholic Church would not be making. Basically you are free to go to the other church as an observer.

You should not assume that you will hear Catholic theology preached at this type of service. You should not base any of your faith on anything you hear preached there unless you are certain it is theologically sound. That means run it by a priest or a good Catholic theologian before you assume it is part of your Roman Catholic Faith.

Now back to Bob and his Hotty. Over a period of weeks Bob starts getting tired of going to both a service and a Mass every weekend. He and Tyra have become very close they are even talking about marriage. Bob starts thinking that it is a little silly to go to both churches and besides he has heard some great new stuff at Tyra’s church. He starts thinking how the Holy Spirit is in all Christians ( which we would agree with) so why make a distinction? Her (Insert one of the following: Pastor, Minister, Deacon, Priest, Priestess, Master, Dali(SP?), Mulah (Sp?), Rabbi, Leader, etc. ) is just as spirit filled as Fr. Ed, his Roman Catholic parish priest is. Maybe even more so. This (leader of her church) can really preach up a storm. Besides Fr. Ed has pretty boring homilies and he is old too. Tyra’s (church leader) seems to have a great relationship with God (or the Supreme Being whatever that is…) and it is easier to go to her church anyway. It is closer and the people are friendlier too.

On top of all this Tyra is starting to get tired of Bob’s need to go to both. She has even stopped attending Mass with him and waits at his apartment watching TV while he is gone. That way she can keep him up on the scores of any football he might miss. Bob really enjoys Tyra’s company and does not like to be away from her for too long. Bob slowly rationalizes that he could just as easily fulfill his Sunday obligation by going to Tyra’s church. After all God is omnipresent (he is everywhere) right???
Bob chooses Tyra and her church over his because it is just plain easier.

Fr. Ed notices that Bob has stopped coming to mass. He sees Bob at the store buying groceries and asks if everything is OK.

Bob feels uncomfortable and thinks it is a personal matter now. He does not want to offend Fr. Ed by telling him the reason he has not been to mass.

Bob decides to leave The Faith rather than being a hypocrite!
Bob is now in the area that the Catechism addresses when it says that “there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church”.

A few months later Bob wonders why he was ever Catholic anyway. It’s probably just because his parents were Catholic, or because he was baptized as an infant and not given the fundamental option to choose Jesus as His personal Savior.

A few years later Bob is a (Deacon, Master, Dali, Rabbi, etc.) in Tyra’s church, now his church too, and he tells his congregation how he used to be Catholic and how wrong they are. He tells his church that they don’t have to go to a priest to be forgiven, just go directly to God. He wonders why for all those years he worshiped statues (which we don’t do by the way) by lighting candles before them, or prayed a Rosary to Mary!

Bob actually feels free now and wants to help other members of his family, who are still (in his mind), “blinded by their faith in the Pope”, to read the bible, to think for themselves, and get the answers they need.

OK, so this was just a story. I tell you this “story” because it almost happened to me.

Satan will not come at you with a red tail and a pitchfork. He is far too crafty for that. He will come slowly and sweetly making the path to heaven seem like a lot of bother. While his way is easier and more fun!

So, if you fall in love with a “hottie” drag (him or her) to the One True Church started by Jesus Christ on Peter, The Rock. (See Matthew 16 vs 18 and on)

Be on your guard!

Mortuum Mundo! Vivum In Christo!

Michael A. Barone
Co-Founder and Former President
Dead Theologians Society