Tuesday, January 26, 2010

EENS: John Paul II and the Encyclical "Redemtoris Missio" --explained


 John Paul II and the Encyclical "Redemtoris Missio" --Explained
by Bill Strom

Many opponents of the Traditional understanding of the dogma “No Salvation Outside the Church” mainly use the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. This has been dealt with I think sufficiently in a former post: (click here)
Another Popular document used by many opponent of the Dogma is the Second Vatican Council. This has been dealt with in depth by Br. Thomas Mary Sennott, Obl. S.B., M.I.C.M.: (click Here) 

In this post I would like to deal with another popular document used by opponents of the Dogma:
Pope John Paul II's “Redemtoris Missio.” Before we deal with the encyclical directly, I would like first to discuss the problem of method.


The Problem of Method

Those who are opposed to the literal reading of the defined dogma “ No Salvation Outside the Church” use a method of “interpretation.” This is short hand for them to believe all documents published by the Magesterium (or the Vatican in general) are the same teaching level, and the newest published document or comment is the truest and most authoritative.
Their confusion on the issue is unfortunate and I think they may mean well but they are not using the Catholic principle of authority correctly. 

The real issue is whether NON-infallible teachings are to be understood in light of, and thus subject to, clear infallible teachings. This is the REAL issue which the "liberal" view of “ No Salvation Outside the Church” ignores.

John Paul II pointed to this method in one of his first speeches:
         "Wherefore, the assent to be given to these documents of the Council, seen in light of Tradition and embodying the dogmatic formulae issued over a century ago by the First Vatican Council, will be to us pastors and to the faithful a decisive indication and a rousing stimulus, so that we may walk in the paths of life and of history." (First Speech to Cardinals, October 17, 1978)
John Paul II was pointing to the infallible teaching of the First Vatican Council about interpretation:

Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra
“Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”  http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum20.htm

Pope Benedict XVI also echoes the traditional method of continuity: NON-infallible teachings are to be understood in light of, and thus subject to, clear infallible teachings. He quotes John XXIII in his


“Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues: "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...",” (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).

In a stronger authoritative document, Pope Pius XII warned of this modern error of using what is unclear, NON-infallible, to understand what is clear, infallible. What can be clearer than a definition? The foundational principle of clarity in philosophy and natural science is the use of definitions. We in the Catholic Church have infallible definitions in dogmatic statements, which can NEVER change their meaning. Here is what Pius XII taught:
Pius XII HUMANI GENERIS, par.#21:
...[I]f the Church does exercise this function of teaching, as she often has through the centuries, either in the ordinary or extraordinary way, it is clear how false is a procedure which would attempt to explain what is clear by means of what is obscure. Indeed the very opposite procedure must be used. Hence Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, teaching that the most noble office of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources of revelation, added these words, and with very good reason: "in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church."
What is clearer than a dogmatic definition? When the Church says “you must believe THIS or you are anathema!” I would say that is pretty clear. So we see a consistent teaching of the Popes, and just plain common sense, that NON-infallible teachings are to be understood in light of, and thus subject to, clear infallible teachings. This principle has been proclaimed with preciseness in the First Vatican Council and defined for us that dogmas are to be believed precisely as they are declared and that the Church "understands her dogmas by the words she has once declared;" and that "there must NEVER be recession from THAT MEANING under the specious name of a deeper understanding." :
Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra:
Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a more profound understanding .” http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum20.htm

Hasn't the new modern understanding of this dogma been reduced to a meaningless formula, with their new “deeper and profound understanding” ? Our opponents seem to say that almost everyone is a member of the Church, so therefore, the need of belonging to the Church is meaningless.

Pope Pius XII encyclical, HUMANI GENERIS, par. #27:
"Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the sources of revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing. Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12HUMAN.HTM
Pope Pius XII was already aware of the tendency to reduce the meaning of dogmatic truths PARTICULARLY the necessity of belonging to the Church in order to be saved.


When Dealing with the subject of the dogma “No Salvation Outside the Church” it is always wise to quote the three main dogmatic definitions linked with this subject. (Something our opponents rarely do, if ever.)
These are the 3X defined dogma “No Salvation Outside the Church:
Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215:
*“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.”
Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302:
* “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 Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441. ex cathedra (infallibly defined):
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; 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 almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. 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 has persevered within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/FLORENCE.HTM#4

These  dogmatic statements seem to be clear in what they are saying, paraphrased: 'All those who are not members of the Catholic Church must become members of that Church before they die in order to be saved.'  Does that mean that all Catholics are saved? No. Only those dying in sanctifying grace. The problem of the new interpretation of who are members seems to be the main confusion of our opponents. The Baptism of Desire apologists' lack of education in this area is appalling. They claim the new “Catholic” interpretation- of all those saved invincibly ignorant. (The best definition I can come up with, since it depends on which of our opponents you ask: salvation by invincible ignorancethe idea that an adult can be saved without being Sacramentally Baptized nor even knows of Baptism, but are saved by an implicit baptism of desire even if they do not believe in Christ or His Church.) This theory is a novelty in the Church, as if the Church has not defined who is a member of the Church:
Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, ex cathedra
Holy baptism,... which is the gateway to the spiritual life, holds the first place among all the sacraments; through it we are made members of Christ and of the body of the Church.  And since death entered the universe through the first man, ‘unless we are born again of water and the Spirit, we cannot,’ as the Truth says, ‘enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [John 3:5].  The matter of this sacrament is real and natural water.” http://www.ewtn.com/library/COUNCILS/FLORENCE.HTM#4

Well our opponants will say: “This clearly says that those who are baptized are members of the Church. We have no problem with that, BUT it doesn't say who are NOT members and that is where you are are wrong Bill!”
Interestingly enough the Church has also defined that too:
Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, On the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, Sess. 14, Chap. 2, ex cathedra: “But in fact this sacrament [Penance] is seen to differ in many respects from baptism.  For, apart from the fact that the matter and form, by which the essence of a sacrament is constituted, are totally distinct, there is certainly no doubt that the minister of baptism need not be a judge, since the Church exercises judgment on no one who has not previously entered it by the gate of baptismFor what have I to do with those who are without (1 Cor. 5:12), says the Apostle.  It is otherwise with those of the household of the faith, whom Christ the Lord by the laver of baptism has once made ‘members of his own body’ (1 Cor. 12:13).”  http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.html
 
In other words, those who are not Sacramentlly Baptized cannot be forgiven their sins in the Sacrament of Confession because they are not members of the household of faith, which is the Catholic Church. They are outside the Church but it is different for those who are members because they HAVE been Sacramentally Baptized.

Pope Pius XII followed the same line of traditional thinking, when he "defined" in his encyclical, the Mystical Body of Christ, as to who belongs as members of the Church:
Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis , June 29, 1943 par.# 22:
   “Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration and profess the true faith.” http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius12/P12MYSTI.HTM
True Faith is necessary but the "Liberal" view has reduced the need to believing in Jesus Christ to be a member of the Catholic Church into a meaningless formula. If a Moslem and a Jew can be saved “in the Catholic Church” while denying that Jesus is God and savior, then truth is meaningless for salvation.


If one is not baptized, one is not a member of the Church, this is the clear teaching.


The "liberal" view is playing with the word and definition of member, plus the need for Divine Faith in Jesus Christ. This is more a problem of "method" I think, than of holding a specific heresy per se, that is the reason for the long introduction into the Catholic way of interpreting: NON-infallible teachings are to be understood in light of, and thus subject to, clear infallible teachings.

John Paul II and the Encyclical "Redemtoris Missio"


If it seems that a pope had taught the opposite of a defined doctrine, how strange it would be to admit this new teaching, without trying to subject it to infallible statement already made by the Church. Western cultures, especially Americans, are susceptible to the “new and improved” slogans of advertising. I think that is why many try to see how the Church is “improving” doctrines or making exceptions to dogmas, more than why dogma can never change. John Paul II advocated a traditional understanding of doctrine as he pointed out at the beginning of the article when he referred to Vatican I:
Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra:
Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a more profound understanding.”
This is the traditional way of approaching dogmatic teaching. Pope St. Pius X condemned the idea that dogmas evolve, because he must have seen that tendency starting in his day:

St. Pius X, THE OATH AGAINST MODERNISM , 1910.

I sincerely hold that the doctrine of faith was handed down to us from the apostles through the orthodox Fathers in exactly the same meaning and always in the same purport. Therefore, I entirely reject the heretical' misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously.”

Also St. Pope Pius X pointed out the Sacred Tradition that revelation ended with the death of the last apostle:
Pope Pius X,Lamentabili Sane, July 3, 1907, # 21:
Revelation, constituting the object of the Catholic faith, was not completed with the Apostles.” --condemned. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Pius10/p10lamen.htm
So let us not look for any new and improved things when it comes to dogma. The Church can develop in many ways but not in dogma.
Now let us try to understand the Encyclical "Redemtoris Missio" (Redeemer of Man) http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio_en.html
used by our opponents who promote practically “salvation outside the Church.”



Below are some excerpts from Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Redemtoris Missio" (Redeemer of Man) commonly quoted to say that salvation can be found outside the Church without being Sacramentally Baptized. Firstly, this encyclical is not an infallible document. (Our opponents will say : “Oh you just want to stay with infallible documents and just cast every thing else away!!” Well the Church has taught me that I MUST accept infallible documents and consider ALL other documents in light of what is sure and true, so I don't see how I am doing anything bad.) Therefore "Redemtoris Missio"  is not absolutely binding on the consciences of Catholics.
Here's proof:
The Holy Father himself states its purpose in #2 : "The present document has as its goal an interior renewal of faith and Christian life."
The word "interior," by definition, means one's personal faith. He isn't looking to define the terms of salvation and membership in the Church. So he is not dealing with doctrinal/dogmatic Faith per se. The Holy Father's concern is with, as he says, praxis (life) and not dogma. Two paragraphs later the Holy Father then lists some other reasons for this document. All of them are motivational and pastoral in nature. This means that this is not a solemnly binding as pertains to divine faith, let alone an infallible, document.
That being said, does that mean I can disregard all NON-infallable documents? No, we should try and conform our minds to any encyclical as far as we can understand it. 

In "Redemtoris Missio"  , there can seem to be some passages which are difficult to reconcile with infallible and definitive de fide teachings of the Church and this is what our opponents quote:
#10. “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

For this reason the Council, after affirming the centrality of the Paschal Mystery, went on to declare that "this applies not only to Christians but to all people of good will in whose hearts grace is secretly at work. Since Christ died for everyone, and since the ultimate calling of each of us comes from God and is therefore a universal one, we are obliged to hold that the Holy Spirit offers everyone the possibility of sharing in this Paschal Mystery in a manner known to God."19"

Pope John Paul II writes “The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church.” Does that mean that the Pope is saying there is salvation outside the Church? If he is, then that is heresy. Even most of the defenders of Baptism of Desire wouldn't ever go as far as to say “there IS salvation outside the Church” since they know that “No Salvation Outside the Church” has been proclaimed a DOGMA. So are we to understand this statement that way? Is he denying a dogma? Or should we try to understand him in an orthodox way? Paraphrased this way: 'God loves all of mankind and wishes to save them all. Not only already members of the Church but those still outside by bringing them into communion with Him, (i.e. being members of his Church) for their salvation.' This paraphrase no EENS-er would have a problem with because it is true.
Every sentence I see in #10, when seen in light of and subject to what has been infallibly defined, can be reconciled to those dogmas which teach the necessity of holding the Catholic Faith, of Church membership and of receiving Holy Baptism for salvation without exception.
The other sentence from #10 which seems problematic if one doesn't use Catholic interpretation rules, is this:
"For such people [i.e. those brought up in different religious traditions] salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accomodated to their spiritual and material situation."
Now, are there graces available to those outside the Church? Yes! Graces, which do not on their own make one a member of the Church? Yes! These are those "preveniant" Actual Graces which lead one on the path to: recognize his errors and sins, to repent, to seek the true Faith, etc. The Church has clearly taught these Actual Graces are necessary BEFORE justification:
The Approved Local Second Council of Orange:
Can. 4. If anyone contends that in order that we may be cleansed from sin, God waits for our good will, but does not acknowledge that even the wish to be purged is produced in us through the infusion and operation of the Holy Spirit, he opposes the Holy Spirit Himself, (Dnz 177) http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma2.php
Can. 5. If anyone says, that just as the increase [of faith] so also the beginning of faith and the very desire of credulity, by which we believe in Him who justifies the impious, and (by which) we arrive at the regeneration of holy baptism (is) not through the gift of grace, that is, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reforming our will from infidelity to faith, from impiety to piety, but is naturally in us, he is proved (to be) antagonistic to the doctrine of the Apostles (Dnz 178) http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma2.php
Can. 6. If anyone asserts that without the grace of God mercy is divinely given to us when we believe, will, desire, try, labor, pray, watch, study, seek, ask, urge, but does not confess that through the infusion and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in us, it is brought about that we believe, wish, or are able to do all these things as we ought, and does not join either to human humility or obedience the help of grace, nor agree that it is the gift of His grace that we are obedient and humble, opposes the Apostle. (Dnz 178) http://www.catecheticsonline.com/SourcesofDogma2.php
So the Council of Orange says that even the beginning of seeking after our salvation is a grace and that: “(by which) we arrive at the regeneration of holy baptism This seems to follow with what EENSers believe as apposed to those who defend the modern understand of “Baptism” of Desire (which is NOT a sacrament BTW) Those who don't see this grace as leading to salvation with the Sacrament of Baptism but that this grace IS salvation without the Sacrament of Baptism.
Like the Second Council of Orange, which condemned semi-Pelegianism, The Council Of Trent also says there is a grace received in preparation for reception into the Church, that is justification, and salvation:
Pope Julius III, Council of Trent, SESSION VI (Jan. 13, 1547)-Decree On Justification *

It [the Synod] furthermore declares that in adults the beginning of that justification must be derived from the predisposing grace [can. 3] of God through Jesus Christ, that is, from his vocation, whereby without any existing merits on their part they are called, so that they who by sin were turned away from God, through His stimulating and assisting grace are disposed to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and cooperating with the same grace” (Dnz. 797) http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.html
    Now they are disposed to that justice [can. 7 and 9] when, aroused and assisted by divine grace, receiving faith "by hearing" [Rom. 10:17], they are freely moved toward God” (Dnz. 798) http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.htmlJustification itself follows this disposition or preparation [grace],...the instrumental cause [of this justification] is the sacrament of baptism, which is the "sacrament of faith,'' without which no one is ever justified...” (Dnz. 799) http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/trentall.html
These Actual Graces ALONE cannot and do not save anyone. These Actual Graces do not justify-sanctify, nor do they save. They simply LEAD us to recognize the truth and eventually, if we cooperate with them, to Holy Baptism and sanctifying grace. And if one cooperates with these graces he will find the true Faith. God promises such (see Mat.7:7ff; Jn.18:37). The problem is that the Holy Father appears to give the impression that this grace, "which does not make one formally a part of the Church," can save these people WHERE THEY ARE: outside of the Church and without true faith and water Baptism. But he doesn't actually say this. And WE KNOW the Church has infallible defined that these are necessary for salvation.
However, again remember, the Holy Father's purpose here is to motivate and give pastoral encouragement. So his language is not definitive, and therefore is open to improvement. It is no doubt ambiguous, at least in this section.
But this sentence does not NECESSARILY contradict what has been infallibly defined by allowing exceptions to those dogmatic definitions and canons. For the clause "salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace" does not necessarily mean salvation can be finally achieved by this grace alone, nor where they are. "Accessible" is one of those ambiguous terms which can be understood either in a heterodox sense or an orthodox sense. Notice the Holy Father actually never says they WILL be SAVED. Only that salvation is accessible. Well, of course, Salvation is accessible to ALL men precisely because of that Actual Grace which the Church calls "prevenient." If men cooperate with it, then this grace will lead them to those things which the Church has defined as necessary for salvation, for God's grace ALWAYS works in union with His revealed Truth -Christ always comes to men "in grace and truth" (John 1:14).
The Pope's language can be understood to mean this -ESPECIALLY when seen in light of and subject to what has been infallibly defined. He just writes in a very complicated way because he is more of a philosopher than a teacher, no offense to him. It is just his style.
The next quote often brought up is #55. This again could seem to say that there is salvation outside the Church :
#55
I recently wrote to the bishops of Asia: "Although the Church gladly acknowledges whatever is true and holy in the religious traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam as a reflection of that truth which enlightens all people, this does not lessen her duty and resolve to proclaim without fail Jesus Christ who is 'the way, and the truth and the life.'...The fact that the followers of other religions can receive God's grace and be saved by Christ apart from the ordinary means which he has established does not thereby cancel the call to faith and baptism which God wills for all people." Indeed Christ himself "while expressly insisting on the need for faith and baptism, at the same time confirmed the need for the Church, into which people enter through Baptism as through a door." Dialogue should be conducted and implemented with the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation.
I reproduce the Latin of this point so we can see if it is a good translation:
Ad Asiae nuper Episcopos scripsimus: “Quantumvis libenter agnoscat Ecclesia quidquid veri sacrique in religiosis Buddismi et Induismi et Islamismi traditionibus invenitur - redditas nempe imagines illius veritatis omnes quae homines illustrat -, non inc tamen officium ipsius minuitur nec firmum propositum praedicandi sine dubitatione Iesum Christum quae «via veritas et vita» est . . . Quod autem aliarum religionum sectatores gratiam Dei percipere possunt et a Christo servari extra communia quae instituit instrumenta, id minime cohortationem aufert ad fidem baptismumque quae pro populis omnibus vult Deus” (IOANNIS PAULI PP. II Epistula ad Episcopos Asiae oblata occasione V Plenarii Coetus Foederationis eorum Conferentiarum Episcoporum, 4, die 23 iunii 1990: Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XIII 1 (1990) 1653 ss.). Christus namque ipse “necessitatem fidei et baptismi expressis verbis inculcando, necessitatem Ecclesiae, in quam homines per baptismum tamquam per ianuam intrant, simul confirmavit” (Lumen Gentium, 14; cfr. Ad Gentes, 7). Ita propterea expleri dialogus debet ac perfici ut persuadeatur simul Ecclesiam ordinariam salutis esse viam et ei soli plenitudinem esse salutis instrumentorum (Cfr. Unitatis Redintegratio, 3; Ad Gentes, 7).
It seems like a good translation except for one word and it is a key word that could cause confusion: " servare " used here: et a Christo servari extra communia quae instituit instrumenta,
“Servare” would be better translated “watch-over” or “protect” so lets see how that works in English:
The fact that the followers of other religions can receive God's grace and be watched-over by Christ apart from the ordinary means which he has established does not thereby cancel the call to faith and baptism which God wills for all people."
If John Paul II wanted the Latin to say “save” he would have use the word “salvari”, which only means “save” which he does at the end of the paragraph. What does he mean by “watched-over” or “protected” by Christ outside the ordinary means? I really couldn't tell you other than God is preparing them for reception of the Sacrament of Baptism and will protect them until they can receive it, like he did Cornelius in Acts, who was eventually Sacramentally Baptized, after many years of prayer.

Let us now look at the last sentence:
Dialogue should be conducted and implemented with the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation.
This could be similar to the “subsits” controversy in Vatican II: Lumen Gentium, par. 8: "The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church." The Church has finally clarified this point ( click here for more on this) 
that it basically meant what it has always taught : 'The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church.' It only took from around 1967 to 2009 for everyone to see this and the Vatican to react. So how long until we know what Pope John Paul II meant by: “the Church is the ordinary means of salvation”? Maybe until 2067? I don't know. Since he is talking about inter-religious dialog, he could be talking about the official institution of the Church, that priests and missionaries are the ordinary means/ministers of salvation because they are sent by the Church officially. The Church even refers to the priest as the ordinary minster of Baptism, as Canon 861 states the "ordinary minister of baptism is a bishop, priest, or deacon."
The next part of the sentence could confirm this because he writes that: “[the Church] alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation.” This must be pointing out the “political” official structure of the Church, because Lutheran, Orthodox, and High Anglicans have valid baptisms in their “political” structures. A Lutheran child baptized is really Catholic because it is the Church's sacrament not Lutheran and if it dies in that baptismal state it goes to heaven. But people will say the baby is Lutheran. The Catholic Church's structure alone possesses all the other means to salvation like True Faith the Lutherans' profession does not.
John Paul II in this encyclical constantly repeated that nothing he is writing diminished the need for Baptism. If anything he was trying to correct a problem of not considering Baptism as necessary:
#46 “The Church calls all people to this conversion, following the example of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Christ by "preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mk 1:4), as well as the example of Christ himself ”
#47 Conversion to Christ is joined to Baptism not only because of the Church's practice, but also by the will of Christ himself, who sent the apostles to make disciples of all nations and to baptize them (cf. Mt 28:19). Conversion is also joined to Baptism because of the intrinsic need to receive the fullness of new life in Christ. As Jesus says to Nicodemus: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Jn 3:5).”
#47 “Rather, it is the sacrament which signifies and effects rebirth from the Spirit, establishes real and unbreakable bonds with the Blessed Trinity, and makes us members of the Body of Christ, which is the Church.”
#47 “All this needs to be said, since not a few people, precisely in those areas involved in the mission ad gentes, tend to separate conversion to Christ from Baptism, regarding Baptism as unnecessary. "
#55 “...does not thereby cancel the call to faith and baptism which God wills for all people."
#55 “Indeed Christ himself "while expressly insisting on the need for faith and baptism, at the same time confirmed the need for the Church, into which people enter through Baptism as through a door."”
So to use this encyclical to say that John Paul II was teaching against the necessity of baptism is to totally misuse the purpose of the encyclical.
Summing up
Does the reader now understand how, despite the ambiguities of a number of these Papal statements (which is what happens when something is NON-definitive), none of these necessarily provide for or teach that there can be exceptions to the defined necessities of holding the true Faith, of water Baptism and Church membership for salvation? This should be even more clear especially when understood in light of what has been previously and infallibly defined. (I know, I have said this a lot, but the point must be driven home.)
These statements appear to allow for such exceptions because “liberals", preclude these statements, in the minds of their readers with the impression of their own false views (i.e., that exceptions exist to what has been defined because dogmatic definitions do not mean what they literally state) and THEN they provide their readers with these selected statements, thus making these statements APPEAR as supporting their heterdox views; when in reality, they don't necessarily.
Catholics stand on definitions; “liberals” stand on no definitions. I hope it is clear by now the Catholic principle of authority and interpretation.
The wrong method has mislead many by:
a. pitting non-magisterial documents against magisterial documents AND non-infallible documents against infallible documents;
b. even worse, by subjecting the infallible definitive documents to those which are fallible (i.e., not protected from error) and NON-definitive, thus turning upside down the benefits of both authority and infallibility.
The confusion in the Church on this issue isn't really so complicated, if we can keep the traditional principle of interpretation.
When we approach the subject of no salvation outside the Church, it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for salvation. This has been made difficult to understand because some people promote exceptions to dogma and that is not Catholic.