Extra eccleisam nulla salus means outside the Church there is no salvation. For Catholics, this Latin phrase expresses the official teaching of the Catholic Magisterium. It says everyone, with no exceptions must be an explicit, visible member of the Catholic Church to go to Heaven and avoid Hell.
It is an ex cathedra dogma, thrice defined by popes and Councils and so it is an obligatory teaching for all Catholics to believe in, to safeguard their salvation for all eternity.
The three infallible ex cathedra pronouncements are
1. “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215). Ex Cathedra
2. “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 302.). Ex Cathedra
3.“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 remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” - (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) Ex Cathedra – from the website Catholicism.org and “No Salvation outside the Church”: Link List, the Three Dogmatic Statements Regarding EENS: http://nosalvationoutsideofthecatholicchurch.blogspot.com/
Vatican Council II Ad Gentes 7 repeats the same message.
In Ad Gentes 7 it is said all people need Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water for salvation. All means everyone with no exceptions.
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.-Ad Gentes 7,Vatican Council II.Ad Gentes 7 also says those who know about Jesus and the Catholic Church and yet do not enter are on the way to Hell. In Rome, Christians (Orthodox, Protestants, Evangelicals, Jehowahs Witnesses and other sects) know about Jesus and the Catholic Church.
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.-Ad Gentes 7The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican has positively endorsed the ex cathedra dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus in Responses to Some questions regarding certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church in which it refers to ‘the traditional doctrine’, ‘according to Catholic doctrine’
Vatican Council II Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.- Lumen Gentium 14, Vatican Council II
Cardinal William Levada, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and Archbishop Angelo Amato, former Secretary, CDF emphasize in Responses to Some questions regarding certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church:
Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted. “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic.So Responses to Some Questions Regarding certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church does not explain are understanding of Church (ecclesiology) as a break from Tradition and extra ecclesiam nulla salus.It repeats the message of Vatican Council II that the Church is a necessity for salvation (Ad Gentes 7, Lumen Gentium 14). We do not separate Jesus from the Church, even though elements of salvation can be present outside the visible boundaries of the church. De facto everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church; it is a necessity for salvation .All non-Catholics need to enter through the ordinary way of salvation which is the baptism of water and Catholic Faith. De facto everyone needs to enter the Church.
This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”.]the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe... in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.-Responses to Some Questions Regarding certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.(June 29, 2007)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also says everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church.
To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.-Catechism of the Catholic Church n.845Also see Redemptoris Missio 55, Dominus Iesus 20, CDF,Notification on Fr. Jacques Dupuis S.j (2001) and Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church.The Council of Trent states those who do not want to perish in the flood need to enter the Ark. (Article 114, Council of Trent).The Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX (Dec.8,1854) condemns the negation of the dogma Extra ecclesiam nulla salus(Proposition XVI), condemns any reduction or change of the same dogma (Proposition XVII), condemns any negation of this dogma in relation with Protestantism (Proposition XVIII).
BOSTON HERESY CASE
The ex cathedra traditional dogma was challenged in the 1940’s when the Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Richard Cushing and the Rector of the Jesuit Boston College claimed the Baptism of desire was explicit and so contradicted the infallible teaching. They claimed Fr. Leonard Feeney a Jesuit and some professors at Boston College were in heresy. Fr. Feeney it was said did not recognize implicit baptism of desire. The Church has always taught that ‘in certain circumstances’ a non Catholic with a genuine Baptism of desire could be saved. This of course would be known only to God.
The Cushing Doctrine, that the Baptism of Desire is explicit, was given prominence in the archdiocese of Boston. Fr. Feeney was expelled from the Jesuit Order and the Archbishop issued a Decree against St. Benedict Centre.
Richard J. Cushing, Archbishop of Boston – Decree Regarding Leonard Feeney, April 18, 1949A complaint was made to the Vatican (Holy Office) and based on the archbishop's complaint Fr. Leonard Feeney was excommunicated for disobedience. He refused to go to Rome to defend himself.
Rev. Leonard Feeney, S.J., because of grave offense against the laws of the Catholic Church has lost the right to perform any priestly function, including preaching and teaching of religion.
Any Catholics who frequent St. Benedict’s Center, or who in any way take part in or assist its activities forfeit the right to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Holy Eucharist.
Given at Boston on the 18th day of April, 1949.
The archbishops and the Jesuits upheld the new Cushing Doctrine and the meaning of the ex cathedra dogma was changed. The new doctrine now was: everyone needs to enter the Catholic Church for salvation except for those in invincible ignorance and with the Baptism of Desire.
The secular newspapers, reported that the Catholic Church had changed its ancient understanding of extra ecclesiam nulla salus. The archbishop never contradicted them.
The Letter of the Holy Office to the Archbishop (1949) was withheld by the archbishop and made public only after three years.The Letter affirmed the traditional understanding of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. It called it the 'infallible statement'. All non Catholics in Boston were oriented to Hell, according to the Letter of the Holy Office unless they convert was the familiar message.Everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church.
'...it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 302.). Ex CathedraThe communities of Fr. Leonard Feeney remained in opposition to the Cushing Doctrine. While Catholics who affirm Vatican Council II also pointed out that the Baptism of Desire exists only in theory and subjectively. The Baptism of water is explicit and able to be administered. The Baptism of desire is just a general concept. Since no one can say de facto or de jure that there is, or has been, a Baptism of desire in the present time on earth, the Baptism of Desire is always implicit .So it does not contradict the infallible teaching that everyone needs to be a visible member of the Catholic Church to avoid Hell. There is no such thing as an explicit Baptism of Desire. There is no de facto Baptism of Desire that we know of. So it means Lumen Gentium 16 refers only to implicit faith and salvation. It’s never explicit.
'...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...No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” - (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) Ex Cathedra
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...-Lumen Gentium 16The Lumen Gentium 16 text is neutral. You can interpret it according to the Cushing Doctrine or according to the dogma; you can choose orthodoxy or heresy.
The excommunication on Fr. Leonard Feeney was lifted without him having to recant. All the religious communities he founded and which still exist in the diocese of Worcester, Manchester, USA have been granted canonical status. They affirm the teachings of their founder expressed in the Athanasius Creed.
However since Archbishop Cushing had the support of the Jewish Left media the Boston Heresy Case historically always referred to Fr.Feeney being in heresy instead of Cardinal Richard Cushing.
Fr. Richard J. Shamruk who conducted the negotiations with Fr. Feeney on behalf of the Church writing in the Encyclopaedia of American Catholic History (Fr. Leonard Feeney, The Boston Case p.502) maintains the ambiguity of the Cushing Doctrine, the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ position of Catholics throughout the world.
‘…although the Catholic Church will never cease to preach “that infallible statement outside the Church by which we are taught that there is no salvation outside the Church,” the dogma must be understood “in that sense in which the Church herself understands it.’Now will come the official heresy. Fr. Shamruk will suggest that implicit (exceptional, conceptual) Baptism of Desire is visible and explicit.
‘in order for someone to be saved, it explained, “it is not always required that he be incorporated into he Church as an actual member, but it is necessary at least to be united to her by desire and longing.”True however this is only known to God. It is not as real as the Baptism of Water. So it was wrong to suggest that everyone does not have to be a visible member of the Church, as if the Baptism of Desire is explicit and visible by nature. So this is a distorted interpretation of the Letter of the Holy Office using the Cushing Doctrine.It is heresy. It is clear ‘double speak’.Discerning Catholics consider this doctrine a hoax, the equivalent of the fabled Emperors New Clothes.
The Cushing Doctrine is welcome to Jesuit academics. Fr. Richard A. McCormick, in the Readings in Moral Theology No.3, titled The Magisterium and Morality (Paulist Press. Edited by Charles E.Curran and Richard A. McCormick S.J) ask if dogmas and doctrines could be changed and reinterpreted. Fr. Francis A. Sullivan S.J, Salvation Outside the Church? (New York, Paulist Press, 1992) is in dissent against the ex cathedra dogma. Fr. Sullivan still teaches theology at Boston College where the heresy on extra ecclesiam nulla salus is not denied.
Through his books Fr. Hans Kung uses the Cushing Doctrine, suggesting Lumen Gentium 16 refers to explicit and not implicit salvation, to question the infallibility of the pope ex cathedra. He maintains the Kung Deception that the Church has retracted extra ecclesiam nulla salus after Vatican Council II .it is now allegedly replaced with a vague, undefined collegiality of salvation.
Without the Cushing Doctrine, one could say: For salvation everyone needs to be a visible(explicit) member of the Catholic Church with no exception and if there is anyone with the Baptism of Desire or who is in invincible ignorance it will be known to God only.
The phrase extra ecclesiam nulla salus has its origin in the Church Fathers. It reflects Jesus’ teaching that he has founded one church (“my church” http://www.youtube.com/user/RealCatholicTV#p/a/u/0/2Dcfj0PU_JQ) and those who enter and remain in this Church, His Mystical Body would go to Heaven. Only Catholics go to Heaven. Those who do not enter the Church would be condemned (Mk.16:16) to Hell. Entry into this Church for adults was through Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water (John 3:5).
The road to Hell is wide Jesus tells us and most people take it.
Catholics know that the Church is the 'pearl of great price', it is the Kingdom of God on earth, which, when a man finds, he leaves everything for it.