Monday, April 29, 2013

Ark of Salvation --Defense against Catholic Answers Apologist Jim Blackburn

[Editor of Catholicvox-- We were listening to Catholic Answers Live and thought the answer to a question on EENS was mishandled. Writing to the staff Catholic Apologist at Catholic Answers, Jim Blackburn, we received an article he wrote on the subject as a response. We hope to help him see his understanding is not as strong as he may think. He seemed to be a man of good will, in our communications with him, so in the spirit of fraternal correction, we will attempt a rebuttal. His full article is printed below in brown, so we can't be accused of taking things out of context. Our response is in black with  documentation in blue with links to sources.---editor]

What "No Salvation Outside the Church" Means

One of the most misunderstood teachings of the Catholic Church is this one:

"Outside the Church there is no salvation" (Extra ecclesiam nulla salus).
Those trying to grasp the meaning of this teaching often struggle with its formulations by various Church Fathers and Church Councils down through history. Of course, to understand an isolated formulation of any Church teaching, one must study the historical context within which it was written: why it was written, what was going on in the Church at the time, who the intended audience was, and so on. One must discover how the magisterium (teaching office) of the Church understands its own teaching. If someone fails to do this and chooses, rather, to simply treat a particular formulation as a stand-alone teaching, he runs the risk of seriously misunderstanding it.
Mr. Blackburn's  premise is misleading, although it isn't his per se--it is the meme around The Dogma.  We wonder, has  he really thoroughly researched the history and that of the EENSers' strict understanding of it? Thomas Aquinas said one should be thoroughly familiar with your opponents position. Is the strict understanding the original meaning or the now liberal one?  We think he may have used some articles by Fr. Most, and Fr. Sullivan's book on the subject. Thinking that that is enough. It isn't. Fr. Sullivan's book is refuted in a broad sense on this blog here in a 4 part essay "Taking Jesus as Lord and Savior".

Fr. Most has also been refuted  here on this blog. Fr. Most was caught in promoting falsehoods, even after corrected. He accused  Fr. Feeney of claiming one needs to be a registered member in a parish  to be saved, which Fr. Feeney never said or insinuated.

Mr. Blackburn also misunderstands the nature of dogmatic definitions. Definitions by their nature are to define what we believe. Some context is helpful but not necessary.  One doesn't interpret a definition, one either accepts it or rejects it.

Pope St. Pius X, Lamentabile, The Errors of the Modernists, July 3, 1907, #22:
“The dogmas which the Church professes as revealed are not truths fallen from heaven, but they are a kind of interpretation of religious facts, which the human mind by a laborious effort prepared for itself.”- Condemned [Denzinger 2022]

Even though Mr. Blackburns position is popular, this does not make it correct.

Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, 1870, Session 4, Chap. 4:
“…the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra [from the Chair of Peter], that is, when carrying out the duty of the pastor and teacher of all Christians in accord with his supreme apostolic authority he explains a doctrine of faith or morals to be held by the universal Church... operates with that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer wished that His Church be instructed in defining doctrine on faith and morals; and so such definitions of the Roman Pontiff from himself, but not from the consensus of the Church, are unalterable. [Denzinger 1839]

No mention here of context. For example, "Jesus is true God and true Man", do we need the context of the Arian heresy to understand this truth? It might be helpful but the definition stands on its own. "No salvation outside the Church" also stands on its own, but a deeper understanding does not negate its meaning, which Mr. Blackburn's understanding, to our mind, does.

In recent times, the Church has recognized that its teaching about the necessity of the Catholic Church for salvation has been widely misunderstood, so it has "re-formulated" this teaching in a positive way. Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins to address this topic: "How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Reformulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body" (CCC 846).
In keeping with the Church’s current spirit of ecumenism, this positive reformulation comes across less harshly than previous negative formulations. Even so, it remains quite controversial. So, let’s see how this new formulation squares with Scripture.

Here we encounter bad theology/philosophy in the Catechism. (Catechisms are not infallible documents. see here) This has misled many people, but a trained apologist should be familiar enough with the subject matter.  Mr. Blackburn seems to have missed our contention on this point in the catechism. (BTW: We are not told plainly  in the CCC that EENS is a dogma of the Church, but is referred to as an "affirmation"---this is curious.) We are told that the "affirmation" cannot easily be understood; it must be explained to us. This is typical Modernist speak: we are not intelligent enough to understand it.

Definitions are to be pronounced, not interpreted, and in that meaning the Church first made its pronouncement:

Vatican Council I, Canons #4-On faith and reason-#3:
"If anyone says that it is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the church which is different from that which the church has understood and understands:
let him be anathema.". link

Pope Innocent III had declared by council, de fide -infallible:

"There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one is saved." (Lateran Council IV, 1215,Denzinger 423)

In the philosophical science called Logic, the Lateran Council IV's dogmatic statement above is known as a UNIVERSAL NEGATIVE; it permits no exceptions at all. This is why the Church has insisted on priests and theologians being trained in classical philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, so to recognize these forms of expressions. The "New Theology", which now dominates the Church's seminaries, opposes a good foundation in Aquinas philosophy. The "New Theology" departed from traditional Thomism using relativistic historical analysis and employing new philosophical axioms. The CCC in this section suffers from this weakness.

By rewording the dogma EENS into a positive "all salvation comes from Christ ... through the Church..." the door is opened to every exception imaginable, and that includes Rahner's "universal salvation." Let us demonstrate our point:

Universal (Positive) Affirmative: "All men have rational souls" This proposition does not rule out the possibility of creatures, other than men, also having rational souls.

Universal Negative: "Outside of men, there are no rational souls"
This proposition permits no exceptions; only men have rational souls. (Note: Angels are intellectual spirits, not rational souls, which give life to material bodies.)

Here, its authors change the meaning of a key dogma of the Church. Do you see how the positive statement opens up the possibility of exceptions?

With the positive statement, the Catechism introduces exceptions based on a distinction between "knowing" or "not knowing" about the Church. Agreed a person is not guilty of the sin of infidelity, i.e. the sin of NOT joining the Church, if that person does not know that the Catholic Church exists, but ignorance does not bestow Sanctifying Grace, also because all are conceived as sinners (Original Sin) and they have no other means to acquire Sanctifying Grace outside the Body of Christ:

“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation NOR REMISSION OF SIN…"(Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302. [Denzinger 468-469])

Unfortunately the 3 dogmatic statements connected to the dogma of EENS don't seem to have been mentioned by Mr. Blackburn, so here they are, btw, all are de fide, i.e. infallible pronouncements:

Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, Constitution 1, 1215, de fide:
“There is indeed one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which nobody at all is saved, in which Jesus Christ is both priest and sacrifice.”[ Denzinger 430]

Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302, de fide:
“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin…
Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.”[Denzinger 468-469]

Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, “Cantate Domino,” 1441, de fide:

“The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has
remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.” [Denzinger 714]

They don't read obscure and hard to understand.

A little survey of the ordinary magisterium might be in order for those with doubts that the more liberal understanding of Mr. Blackburn, and the general modern intelligentsia,was NOT that which the Church has always understood and  "is different from that which the church has understood"  as Vatican I condemned. 

Pope St. Gregory the Great, quoted in Summo Iugiter Studio, 590-604:
“The holy universal Church teaches that it is not possible to worship God truly except in her and asserts that all who are outside of her will not be saved.”[The Papal Encyclicals]
Pope Clement VI, Super quibusdam, Sept. 20, 1351:
“In the second place, we ask whether you and the Armenians obedient to you believe that no man of the wayfarers outside the faith of this Church, and outside the obedience to the Pope of Rome, can finally be saved.”[Denzinger 570b]

Pope Leo XII, Ubi Primum (# 14), May 5, 1824:
It is impossible for the most true God, who is Truth itself, the best, the wisest Provider, and the Rewarder of good men, to approve all sects who profess false teachings which are often inconsistent with one another and contradictory, and to confer eternal rewards on their members… by divine faith we hold one Lord, one faith, one baptism… This is why we profess that there is no salvation outside the Church.”
[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Leo XII, Quod hoc ineunte (# 9), May 24, 1824:
We address all of you who are still removed from the true Church and the road to salvation.  In this universal rejoicing, one thing is lacking: that having been called by the inspiration of the Heavenly Spirit and having broken every decisive snare, you might sincerely agree with the mother Church, outside of whose teachings there is no salvation.
[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos (# 13), Aug. 15, 1832:
“This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism"[Eph 4.5] may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against Him,"[ Lk 11:23] and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate. (Athanasius Creed)”[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Gregory XVI, Summo Iugiter Studio (# 2), May 27, 1832:
“Finally some of these misguided people attempt to persuade themselves and others that men are not saved only in the Catholic religion, but that even heretics may attain eternal life.”
[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Pius IX, Ubi primum (# 10), June 17, 1847:
“For ‘there is one universal Church outside of which no one at all is saved; it contains regular and secular prelates along with those under their jurisdiction, who all profess one Lord, one faith and one baptism.”
[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Pius IX, Nostis et Nobiscum (# 10), Dec. 8, 1849:
 “In particular, ensure that the faithful are deeply and thoroughly convinced of the truth of the doctrine that the Catholic faith is necessary for attaining salvation. (This doctrine, received from Christ and emphasized by the Fathers and Councils, is also contained in the formulae of the profession of faith used by Latin, Greek and Oriental Catholics).” [The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Pius IX, Syllabus of Modern Errors, Dec. 8, 1864 - Proposition 16:
 “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”– Condemned [Denzinger 1716]

Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi futura prospicientibus (# 7), Nov. 1, 1900: 
 “Christ is man’s ‘Way’; the Church also is his ‘Way’… Hence all who would find salvation apart from the Church, are led astray and strive in vain.”[The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope St. Pius X, Iucunda sane (# 9), March 12, 1904:
 “Yet at the same time We cannot but remind all, great and small, as Pope St. Gregory did, of the absolute necessity of having recourse to this Church in order to have eternal salvation…” [The Papal Encyclicals] 

Pope St. Pius X, Editae saepe (# 29), May 26, 1910:
 “The Church alone possesses together with her magisterium the power of governing and sanctifying human society.  Through her ministers and servants (each in his own station and office), she confers on mankind suitable and necessary means of salvation.” [The Papal Encyclicals]

Pope Pius XI, Mortalium Animos (# 11), Jan. 6, 1928:
  “The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship.  This is the fount of truth, this is the house of faith, this is the temple of God: IF ANY MAN ENTER NOT HERE, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation.” [The Papal Encyclicals]

From about 1824 to 1928 the popes have been repeating the same necessity of being Catholic to be saved. If one looks in this period there was an attack on this dogma and unfortunately it has been clouded by Modernistic speak. Mr. Blackburn and those who agree with him are sincere in their opinion, and we suspect no ill will, but it is mistaken, non the less. They are blinded by a superficial understanding of who is a member of the Church. Because the "New Theology" is so dominant  and varies in degrees of orthodoxy, many have a hard time getting this clear.

There are a some quotes by a few Popes that may be seen as accepting a more liberal position but in reality it is a weak case at best. (See Pius IX and Invincible Ignorance here)
While definitions are not open to interpretations, ordinary magisterial teachings often need context.

Jesus, the Way

The first part of the reformulated teaching—"all salvation comes from Christ the Head"—is quite easy for all Christians, even non-Catholics, to understand and embrace. It echoes Jesus’ own words recorded by John: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me" (Jn 14:6). So, Christians unanimously agree on this first part. But is this all that needs to be said about how one may be saved? The Catholic Church has historically recognized the importance of explaining further the means through which salvation is offered through Christ.
When speaking of salvation, Jesus offered more details than just his words quoted above. For example, consider these three verses:
  • He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mk 16:16)
  • [U]nless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Lk 13:3)
  • [H]e who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6:54)
Mr. Blackburn has missed a famous and particularly EENS scripture:

John 3:5- “Amen, amen I say to thee, UNLESS A MAN be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”  "Water and the Holy Spirit" has officially been defined by the Church as being Sacramental Baptism, i.e. with natural water.
(also see
Watering Down Water-- John 3:5)

John 3:5 is also always to be taken literally as taught by Church council and the unanimous consent of Church Fathers. Fr. Jurgen, even though a supporter of the liberal understanding of EENS, is honest enough and seems confused that the literal interpretation of John 3:5 is absolute.

Fr. William Jurgens:
“If there were not a constant tradition in the Fathers that the Gospel message of ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ is to be taken absolutely, it would be easy to say that Our Savior simply did not see fit to mention the obvious exceptions of invincible ignorance and physical impossibility. But the tradition in fact is there; and it is likely enough to be found so constant as to constitute revelation.[Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Vol. 3, pp. 14-15 footnote 31]

So the question is: How does the Catholic Church understand the words of Jesus Christ in John 3:5- "Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"

Does the Catholic Church understand these words as they are written or in some other way? 

Does the Catholic Church understand these words to mean that every man must be born again of water and the Holy Spirit  to be saved, as Our Lord says? 

The answer is clear: every single dogmatic definition that the Catholic Church has issued dealing with Our Lord’s words in John 3:5 understands them literally, exactly as they are written.

Pope Eugene IV, The Council of Florence, “Exultate Deo,” Nov. 22, 1439, de fide:
  “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.”[Denzinger 696]

This means that Our Lord Jesus Christ’s declaration that no man can be saved without being born again of water and the Holy Spirit is a literal dogma of the Catholic Faith.

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, de fide:
“If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.”
[Denzinger 858]

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, de fide:
“If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”
[Denzinger 861]

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, On Original Sin, Session V, de fide:
“By one man sin entered into the world, and by sin death... so that in them there may be washed away by regeneration, what they have contracted by generation, ‘For unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God [John 3:5].”
[Denzinger 791]

Pope St. Zosimus, The Council of Carthage XVI, on Original Sin and Grace:
“For when the Lord says: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he shall not enter into the kingdom of God’ [John 3:5], what Catholic will doubt that he will be a partner of the devil who has not deserved to be a coheir of Christ.  For he who lacks the right part will without doubt run into the left.”
[Denzinger 102, authentic addition to Can. 3.]

Pope Gregory IX, Cum, sicut ex, July 8, 1241, to Sigurd of Nidaros:
“Since as we have learned from your report, it sometimes happens because of scarcity of water, that infants of your lands are baptized in beer, we reply to you in the tenor of those present that, since according to evangelical doctrine it is necessary ‘to be reborn from water and the Holy Spirit’ (Jn. 3:5) they are not to be considered rightly baptized who are baptized in beer.”
[Denzinger 447]

So we see that the Church in Her official interpretation has said Jn 3:5 it is to be taken literally as it is written.

Notice that in these three verses Jesus associated salvation with baptism, confession, and the Eucharist, respectively. Catholics recognize that these sacraments are administered through the Church. In fact, in the case of the latter two, a validly ordained priest is necessary for their administration, so the sacrament of ordination must also be associated with salvation. A primary role of the Catholic Church in conjunction with salvation is becoming quite clear.

Wait this has some possible inaccuracies  we need to address, to lessen confusion. Confession is only necessary by precept not by means. If one had never committed a mortal sin then one is not technically needed to go to confession. If one is capable to confess, especially in mortal sin, one should, as commanded by the Church, but there is a thing called "perfect contrition" as taught in Trent. The benefit of being Baptized is the possibility of receiving any of the other sacraments. Another benefit of Baptism is the possibility of receiving the gift of "perfect contrition," which confers Sanctifying Grace but the Church teaches this act also obliges one to confess to a priest as soon as possible, if able. (BTW: Baptism is necessary by precept and means) remember it is infallibly  taught:

"...we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation NOR REMISSION OF SIN…"(Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302. [Denzinger 468-469])
So Baptism makes one a member of the Church and the possibility of perfect contrition.

Receiving the Eucharist is also only a command, precept, to those capable of receiving it; it is not a necessity of means.  Our Lord, when speaking on the necessity of receiving the Eucharist in John 6:54, does not say: 'unless a man eat the flesh of the Son of man…'  He says: “Except YOU…”  His words, therefore, are clearly intended for the people to whom He was speaking, not every man. 

Since the people to whom He was speaking could eventually receive the Eucharist, they had to in order to be saved.  This applies to all who can receive the Eucharist, that is, all who hear that command and can fulfill it, which is what the Church teaches. Because we believe a Baptized infant dying in that state is saved without receiving Holy Communion of the Eucharist. But in John 3:5, Our Lord unequivocally speaks of every man.  This is why the Catholic Church’s magisterial teaching, in every single instance it has dealt with John 3:5, has taken it as it is written, literally. This is also why Jesus says go to all nations and Baptize.

This brings us to the second part of the Catechism’s formulation of the doctrine being considered: ". . . through the Church which is his Body."

With Him or Against Him

Since the sacraments are the ordinary means through which Christ offers the grace necessary for salvation, and the Catholic Church that Christ established is the ordinary minister of those sacraments, it is appropriate to state that salvation comes through the Church.

Mr. Blackburn  says "The sacraments are the ordinary means...for salvation". This isn't his phrase but it is often used and confuses people. "Ordinary" seems to imply that sacraments are the norm but not necessary.

Pope Pius IX, Vatican Council I, Sess. 2, Profession of Faith, de fide: “I profess also that there are seven sacraments of the new law, truly and properly so called, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ and necessary for salvation, though each person need not receive them all.”

 This dogmatic statement proves that every man, since Pentacost, must receive at least one sacrament to be saved; otherwise, “the sacraments” as such (i.e. the sacramental system) couldn’t be said to be necessary for salvation.  Hence, this definition shows that each man must at least receive  one, the Sacrament of Baptism, in order to be saved. They don't need to recive them ALL but at least one.

Trent teaches the same

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 5 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, de fide:
“If anyone says that baptism [the sacrament] is optional, that is, not necessary for salvation (cf. Jn. 3:5): let him be anathema.”

Many say that Trent tried to teach Baptism of Desire. This is false. There is no mention of Baptism of Blood in Trent, so if it were the intention of the council to make a ruling on Baptism of Desire, it would of  logical necessity have also  ruled on Baptism of Blood. The mention of "desire" in Trent is because Protestants denied the need for a cooperation of the will with grace in the process of justification. (see link here Trent did not teach Baptism of Desire)

Pope Paul III, The Council of Trent, Can. 2 on the Sacrament of Baptism, Sess. 7, 1547, de fide:
“If anyone shall say that real and natural water is not necessary for baptism, and on that account those words of Our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit’ [John 3:5], are distorted into some sort of metaphor: let him be anathema.” [Denzinger 858]

Many who hold the liberal understanding of  EENS don't understand that "Baptism" of Desire is NOT a Sacrament. The word "Baptism" is in quotes because it is NOT Baptism it is  a metaphor for the Sacrament. It is theoretically  like the Sacrament of Baptism but it does not give the same effects.

St. Alphonsus, although a proponent of "Baptism" of Desire(BoD) and Blood (BoB), mistakenly in our opinion--His mistake is understandable because BoD/BoB wasn't being abused as it is today to make everyone a "member of the Catholic Church." He was correct enough to teach the traditional understanding that BoD/BoB is not the Sacrament of Baptism do not have the same effects and does not  incorporate one into the Church.

St Alphonsus Liguori: Moral Theology, Bk. 6, nn. 95-7.

“We shall speak below of Baptism of water, which was very probably instituted before the Passion of Christ the Lord, when Christ was baptised by John. But baptism of desire is perfect conversion to God by contrition or love of God above all things accompanied by an explicit or implicit desire for true Baptism of water, the place of which it takes as to the remission of guilt, but not as to the impression of the [baptismal] character or as to the removal of all debt of punishment.

Ludwig Ott agrees with St. Alphonsus as nearly all orthodox theologians say the same that BoD does not incorporate one into the Church thus making him a member :
“The so-called Baptism by blood and Baptism of desire, it is true, replace Sacramental Baptism in so far as the communication of grace is concerned, but do not effect incorporation into the Church , as they do not bestow the sacramental character by which a person becomes attached formally to the Church.” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma , p. 311.)

This is a complicated  subject and can be further explored here.

This is not unlike the situation that existed prior to the establishment of the Catholic Church. Even before it was fully revealed that he was the Messiah, Jesus himself taught that "salvation is from the Jews" (Jn 4:22). He pointed the woman of Samaria to the body of believers existing at that time, through which salvation would be offered to all mankind: the Jews.

In a similar fashion, now that the Messiah has established his Church, Jesus might say, "salvation is from the Catholics"!

This is true but very fuzzy. Samaritans could be considered like Protestants of their day, and were  in some way related to the Jews. The same could be said about many Protestants
are  related to the Catholic Church (but separated brethren), by the Sacrament of Baptism, since it is a Catholic Sacrament, one of initiation. Anyone not Baptized is not a member of the Church:

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943:

# 22,: “Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration [water baptism]and profess the true faith.”

But to think that those baptized in another denomination, is a desirable or good situation is wrong, and was answered in depth here to Mark Shea.

Pope Pius IX condemned this proposition :


"18. Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church". -- condemned

There is always hope that they will be lead to the Church but to be outside is to live in the shadow of damnation.

“While you work at the salvation of your flock, strive also, in all goodness, patience, and teaching, to recall the unfortunate strays to the one fold of Christ and to Catholic unity. Address to them especially these words of St. Augustine:
"Come, brothers, if you wish, so that you may be grafted to the vine. We are saddened to see you thus cut off and lying so. Count the bishops who have occupied the See of Peter; see this uninterrupted succession of popes. See the rock against which the powers of hell will not be able to prevail." "Whoever eats the lamb outside of this house is an impious person. Whoever is not in Noah's ark will perish in the flood."

In Tradition the Church is the Ark of Salvation all outside perish.

Recognizing this, we can see why the Church, especially during times of mass exodus (such as has happened in times when heresies have run rampant), has been even more forceful in the way it has taught this doctrine. Instead of simply pointing out how God offers salvation from Christ, through the Church, the Church has warned that there is no salvation apart from Christ, outside his Church.

Since Jesus established the Catholic Church as necessary for salvation, those who knowingly and willingly reject him or his Church cannot be saved. We see this in Jesus’ teaching: "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters" (Mt 12:30). Also: "[I]f he [a sinning brother] refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector" (Mt 18:17). Paul warned similarly: "As for a man who is factious, after admonishing him once or twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is perverted and sinful; he is self-condemned" (Ti 3:10-11).

This is true but only a half truth. Baptism and true Faith are necessary for salvation. Being born in a state of Original Sin is enough to condemn us, at least to Limbo. ( See Limbo)

Council of Florence:
“…Moreover, the souls of those who depart in actual mortal sin or in original sin only, descend immediately into hell but to undergo punishments of different kinds.—"
(Denzinger 693)

Yes it is a mortal sin to leave the Church or refuse to convert when you know it is the true Church. But it is infallibly taught that culpable and the inculpable are both damned, if they do not accept Christ Jesus and enter the Church before death. (CAUSION: there is a distinction of sin here that many don't understand. Those culpable of leaving or refusing to join the Church have the moral sin of INFIDELITY. Those INCULPABLE of joining the Church, and are lost to hell, DO NOT have the same sin!! They commit some other personal mortal sin, that they DO have knowledge of, but without the sacraments can not resist-- NOT the sin of INFIDELITY. Both are lost, but for different reasons.)

In fact, in the solemn profession of faith of Pope Pelagius I, from an epistle addressed to King Childebert, which was shortly afterwards repeated in the epistle "Vas electionis" addressed to the whole Church in the year 557, affirming the doctrine that on judgment day, God will hand over to the punishment of hell all of the wicked, who he says consist of those, who either did not know the way of the Lord, or, having known it, abandoned it.

So we see both are condemned- culpable and inculpable In other words, it is proposed as de fide by Pope Pelagius that a pagan or atheist etc...ignorant of the Christian Gospel at death does not in any way diminish the certainty that he will be damned. Many miss this de fide statement, especially, Fr. Sullivan, who is held as THE authority on this topic, which is certainly a serious flaw in his scholarship.

Pope Pelagius I, Profession of Faith, 557 AD, de fide:

"....the wicked, however, remaining by choice of their own with vessels of wrath fit for destruction[ Rom. 9:22], WHO EITHER DID NOT KNOW THE WAY OF THE LORD, OR KNOWING IT LEFT IT WHEN SEIZED BY VARIOUS TRANSGRESSIONS, He will give over by a very just judgment to the punishment of eternal and inextinguishable fire, that they may burn without end. This, then, is my faith and hope, which is in me by the gift of the mercy of God, in defense of which blessed PETER taught [cf.1 Pet 3:15] that we ought to be especially ready to answer everyone who asks us for an accounting." [Denzinger 228a]

And because Vatican I says we cannot change the meaning of what has been pronounced, we see the liberal position's weakness.

Having said all this, we must recognize that this doctrine is not as far reaching as some imagine it to be. People will sometimes ask, "Does this means non-Catholics are going to hell?" Not necessarily.

Invincibly Ignorant

The Church recognizes that God does not condemn those who are innocently ignorant of the truth about his offer of salvation. Regarding the doctrine in question, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (quoting Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, 16) states:
This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: 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. (CCC 847)

Mr. Blackburn and others, who seek exceptions by an "innocent clause" are determined to make salvation easily available to all men, which is commendable, but it comes at the cost of nullifying the necessity of becoming a member of the Church and belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Pope Pius XII, Humani Generis (#27), 1950:
“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. SOME REDUCE TO A MEANINGLESS FORMULA THE NECESSITY OF BELONGING TO THE TRUE CHURCH IN ORDER TO GAIN ETERNAL SALVATION. ...
These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of Our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science.” [Encyclical ]

Culpability of joining or not joining the Church  is not an issue as shown above by Pope Pelagius. Let us repeat it again:

Pope Pelagius I, Profession of Faith, April, 557 AD, de fide:

"....the wicked, however, remaining by choice of their own with vessels of wrath fit for destruction[ Rom. 9:22], WHO EITHER DID NOT KNOW THE WAY OF THE LORD, OR KNOWING IT LEFT IT WHEN SEIZED BY VARIOUS TRANSGRESSIONS, He will give over by a very just judgment to the punishment of eternal and inextinguishable fire, that they may burn without end. This, then, is my faith and hope, which is in me by the gift of the mercy of God, in defense of which blessed PETER taught [cf.1 Pet 3:15] that we ought to be especially ready to answer everyone who asks us for an accounting." [Denzinger 228a]

As for the text from Vatican II used above by Mr. Blackburn, it is not the complete paragraph, (which, by the way, is  an incredibly complicated and long paragraph.) Does it say they are saved outside the Church? No. It seems to imply this but never says it. So to interpret this to mean that those ignorant of the faith are saved is to go 180 degrees opposite of the Dogma EENS and all of tradition.

Let us look at the full paragraph of Vatican II quoted by the Catechism:

Vatican II; Lumen Gentium 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 Mohamedans, 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.”

Draw your attention to the above quote:

"Whatever truth is found among them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel." Notice it says a preparation for the Gospel.

So, a person of good will involved in invincible ignorance can indeed be saved, but not where he is. The Council continues:

[it is to such persons that the Church] " promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all such men... painstakingly fosters her missionary work."

The Council is saying that these people outside the Church receive graces (Actual Grace aka Helping Grace) to follow these inspirations to the Church. They need to hear the Gospel that is why the Church works so hard at evangelization and procure their salvation. This is confirmed elsewhere in the Vatican II documents:

Pope Paul VI, Second Vatican Council, AD GENTES---ON THE MISSION ACTIVITY OF THE CHURCH, # 7:
"Therefore though God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel to find that faith without which it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6), yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains its power and necessity." (link)

So Vatican II, says that without Faith, (It says particularly the Gospel, i.e Jesus is Lord and Savior) it is impossible to please him. Does this sound like what we usually hear about the invincibly ignorant? Is it any kind of Faith like New Agers use the word, or a concrete creed? According to scripture and tradition it is a concrete creed:
The Athanasian Creed states:
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith..."

To understand it otherwise, that belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior is not necessary, would be to go against the WHOLE continuity of the Faith.

Because we know that the Sacrament of Baptism and true Faith are necessary for membership in the Church. as already quoted, Pius XII teaches :

Pope Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, 1943; # 22:
“Actually only those are to be numbered among the members of the Church who have received the laver of regeneration ( i.e. Sacrament of Baptism) and profess the true faith.”

Vatican II document Gaudium Et Spes teaches similarly on the possibility of salvation:
All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery. (22)
Vatican II explains a little how we are associated into this mystery:

Pope Paul VI, Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, chapter I,(#6), Dec. 4, 1963:
"Thus by baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him (16); they receive the spirit of adoption as sons "in which we cry: Abba, Father" ( Rom. 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks "

 We see that the providence of God seeks them to be members of the Church through the Sacrament of Baptism., and also without true Faith in Jesus Christ one cannot please God:

Pope Paul VI, Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, chapter I,(#7), Dec. 4, 1963:

"7. This missionary activity derives its reason from the will of God, "who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, Himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:45), "neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12).
Therefore, all must be converted to Him, made known by the Church's preaching, and all must be incorporated into Him by baptism and into the Church which is His body.

For Christ Himself "by stressing in express language the necessity of faith and baptism
(cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the necessity of the Church, into which men enter by baptism, as by a door. Therefore those men cannot be saved, who though aware that God, through Jesus Christ founded the Church as something necessary, still do not wish to enter into it, or to persevere in it."(17)
THEREFORE THOUGH GOD IN WAYS KNOWN TO HIMSELF CAN LEAD THOSE INCULPABLY IGNORANT OF THE GOSPEL TO FIND THAT FAITH WITHOUT WHICH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM (Heb. 11:6), yet a necessity lies upon the Church (1 Cor. 9:16), and at the same time a sacred duty, to preach the Gospel. And hence missionary activity today as always retains its power and necessity." (link) 

The INCULPABLY IGNORANT MUST be lead to the Gospel and "all must be incorporated into Him by baptism ". This is what Vatican II teaches EXPLICITLY. And as we will see, as the Gospel and Tradition teach to Aquinas, this Faith must be explicit too, not some vague "desire". Unfortunately Vatican II's phraseology is only a half truth , It says those who know the Church is necessary are lost but as we have seen above so are those who by ignorance do not enter.

Let us just clarify. Man is born in a state of damnation. Original Sin is enough to be condemned -to Limbo but still condemned. Man is not born neutral and the Church is an added burden. All those outside the Church are drowning without the Sacraments and true Faith they will die in their sins. We as a Church are on a search and rescue of all those of good will. This is the reason for the story of Jonah. God went to such trouble to send him because that is how it works --Faith comes from hearing. (cf.
Romans 10:17)
This teaching is consistent with Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin" (Jn 15:22).[ --in this matter}

Here Jesus was referring to their rejection  of him as a sin.
St. Aquinas points this out by quoting  St.Augustine's understanding of Jn.15:22, in this way too, and also explains the ''fault"  of unbelief is their resistance to grace and falling into other sins.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Q.10, a.1.
"If, however, we take it by way of pure negation, as we find it in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character not of sin, but of punishment, because such like ignorance of Divine things is a result of the sin of our first parent. If such like unbelievers are damned it is on account of other sins, which cannot be taken away without faith, but not on account of their sin of unbelief. Hence Our Lord said (Jo. 15:22): 'If I had not come, and spoken to them, they would not have sin;' which Augustine expounds (Tract. 89 in Joan.) as 'referring to the sin whereby they believed not in Christ.' "

Again this is the confusion that is wrought by the liberal position. The sin of rejecting Jesus, infidelity, is different from no knowledge of Him. He came as savior so we could be saved. Without being IN Jesus, a member of his mystical body, we are on the highway to hell,

But once a person comes to know the truth, he must embrace it or he will be culpable of rejecting it. We see this in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees: "If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains" (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:
When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Rom 2:14-16)
Notice Paul’s carefully chosen words: "their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them." Paul did not say that those who are innocently ignorant of the truth will be saved; he simply keeps open the possibility of it. 

St. Paul isn't excusing them of sin completely, only of that which they don't know of, but since there is a natural law, they either sin against what they know, or they are lead to true Faith in Jesus Christ. Explicit Faith in Jesus Christ is an absolute necessity.

Scripture assures us that true Faith in Christ is necessary to all mankind, because they are under sin, and that it is impossible to be justified from sin but by Faith in Jesus Christ. It is established by God as a necessary means of obtaining justification. The chapter right after the one Mr. Blackburn uses explains it clearly.:,
". . . we have charged both Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin. As it is written: There is not any man just." [Rom. 3: 9,10]... "Even the justice of God, by Faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe in Him: for there is no distinction. For all have sinned and do need the glory of God. Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption, that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation through Faith in His Blood, . . ." [Rom. 3: 22-25]. Also, ". . . the scripture hath concluded all under sin that the promise, by the Faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." [Gal. 3: 22]

We also know explicit Faith was always de fide from scripture and tradition, as St. Aquinas teaches, that explicit faith is necessary for salvation:

Summa Theologica, II-II, Q.2, a.8:
"After grace had been revealed both the learned and the simple folk are bound to EXPLICIT FAITH in the mysteries of Christ, chiefly as regards those which are observed and proclaimed, such as the articles which refer to the Incarnation"

For those who are incapable of a cognitive Faith, such as, infants, the insane, etc... the Church supplies it by the Sacrament of Baptism.

Similarly, he wrote: "[I]s God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith" (Rom 3:29-30).

Necessary for Salvation

As we have seen, God introduced salvation to the world through his chosen people, the Jews. God’s revelation to the Jews found its fulfillment in Christ, the Messiah, who established the Catholic Church. The grace necessary for salvation continues to come from Christ, through his Church. Those who innocently do not know and embrace this might still attain salvation but those who knowingly and willingly choose to reject it, reject salvation on God’s terms.

It is up to God in his providence to provide for those of good will; to provide the means for explicit Faith as St. Aquinas teaches:

St. Thomas Aquinas-- "The Disputed Questions on Truth", Q. 14: "Faith", ARTICLE XI, Answers to Difficulties, #1:
"Granted that everyone is bound to believe something explicit, no untenable conclusion follows, if someone is brought up in the forest or among wild beasts. For it pertains to Divine Providence to furnish everyone with what is necessary for salvation, provided that on his part there is no hindrance.

Thus, if someone so brought up followed the direction of natural reason in seeking good and avoiding evil, we must certainly hold that God would either reveal to him through internal inspiration what had to be believed, or would send some preacher of the faith to him as He sent Peter to Cornelius (Acts 10:20)."

We have examples of God's providence but non were "baptism of desire";  all were manifestations. He has proven  his willingness to provide a teacher and the Sacrament for every man of good-will who needs it, as demonstrated in the cases of Cornelius the Centurion an Angel (Acts 10:4), the Eunuch of Candace, a teacher to him.(Acts 8: 26), and Saul of Tarsus, in a vision-- all related in the Acts of the Apostles.

The Catechism (once again quoting Lumen Gentium) summarizes all this as follows:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence 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. (CCC 846)

This last quote was clarified already  by Pope Pelagius I, above, that while yes the sin of rejecting the Church is a mortal sin; living outside the Church one does not have access to the graces necessary to live in the state of grace.

We have seen a number of things overlooked by those holding a more liberal understanding of "No Salvation Outside the Church" :

1. Dogmas must be understood in their original meaning, to do otherwise is forbidden.

2.The strict understanding of EENS was universally held.

3. There is no remission of sins outside the Church, de fide.

4 One is a member of the Church only by the Sacrament of Baptism.

5. Pope Pelagius I, taught de fide, that inculpability or culpability is not an issue.

6. Explicit Faith in Jesus is necessary and at least one Sacrament --Baptism.

7. God in his providence will provide.

We hope Mr. Blackburn will read this rebuttal and take it as a prompting of providence to study this topic more.