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This room is for discussion related to learning about the faith (Catechetics), defense of the Faith (Apologetics), the Liturgy and canon law, motivated by a desire to grow closer to Christ or to bring someone else closer.

Saint Augustine of Hippo is considered on of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time and the Doctor of the Church.
Learn More: Saint Augustine

Dec 9th 2013 new
(quote) Paul-1022284 said: We do believe the Eastern Orthodox and Protestants to be Christians in virtue of their baptism, but not having access to all the things Jesus Christ has taught.

If Protestants and Eastern Orthodox seek the truth with sincerity, they can be saved, if they, through no fault of their own did not know that the Catholic Church was the Church of Christ.

It is Catholic teaching that baptized non-Catholics are in a real way incorporated into the Catholic Church, albeit not in a visible fashion. Those who realize that the Catholic Church is the Church of Christ, however, are obligate to become full, visible members of the Church, either through the reception of the Mystery (Sacrament) of Chrismation (for Protestants) or a declaration of faith (for Eastern Orthodox), the form of the latter being up to the bishop.

On a more positive spin, if someone believes this Holy Church to be of Christ, why would he or she not want to be in it?
Precisely, Paul.

I'm an RCIA candidate who is obligated to pursue truth, and this is where that has led me. Invincible ignorance is a rather easy defense in the US for why one would not consider Catholicism. But, well, some people do eventually get it. I'm glad to be an it-getter.

If the presuppositions we have before we open the Bible tend to bias, if not almost predetermine, the conclusions we draw when we close the Bible, then how can anyone possibly be right? People do not listen to sound arguments. Have you ever debated someone, won the debate, and then because of it actually convinced your opponent? That almost never happens.

There must be something out there that can bypass our confirmation bias. Cue the Magisterium. Bingo.
Dec 9th 2013 new
(quote) Alex-789274 said: There have been a number of threads recently touching on the question of whether people who are not visible members of the Church are saved. Someone somewhere raised the question: why should anyone convert to Catholicism if they can be saved outside of the Church, especially when you consider that being a devout Catholic is harder than remaining irreligious.

I do not know the direct answer to this question.

The only response I know is that from about 1550-1950 virtually all social, economic, and scientific progress came out of Catholic/Protestant countries. Prior to 1550 there were some advances outside of Catholic Europe and since then the benefits of the advances have spread around the world.

However, this answer allows for Protestantism and does not explain why an individual should convert.
This is an old thread with a great question that should be kept alive.

According to Catholic Theologians like Jordan Aumann, "Salvation" is not the ultimate end of our lives. Along with salvation, sanctification (holiness, the perfection of love)), it is a proximate end.

The ultimate end is the glory of God!

As Pope Francis echoes all his predecessors in Evangelii Guadium, one's own personal salvation and sanctification is too narrow, short-sightedand individualistic.

The glory of God includes all of mankind fully alive.

So, this changes the question considerably. If the question includes the proximate goals of slavation and sanctification and the ultimate goal of the greater glory of God, extending glory to all our neighbors, then one will desire to have the best and fullest possible means of truth and grace on earth.

To do otherwise would be a very poor king, steward or builder and fall short of the glory of God.

Dec 9th 2013 new
(quote) Chelsea-743484 said: There is no good reason to convert to Catholicism if one can be saved in his protestations against the Catholic Church (as a protestant). Really, if I can be saved as a protestant, and I enjoy fornication and abortion and birth control, which some protestant sects allow...then I should be a protestant. This should also, by logic, allow for a Catholic to join the protestation against Rome, and save himself as a protestant. Does this make sense?
But the teaching is not that anyone outside the Church will be saved, but that they might be saved.

The possibility that one might be saved even if they are not Catholic comes with a lot of ifs, which can be hard to achieve in today's world.

To even have the possibility, not certainty, of being saved while being out of the Church requires that the person be invincible ignorant of the Faith. That is, that through no fault of their own they are completely ignorant of the Church and its teachings and that the route to the required knowledge must, through no fault of their own, be closed to. them.

That alone is almost impossible to achieve, at least in the developed nations of the world where some measure of freedom to information exists.

Assuming a person meets that difficult hurdle successfully, the other requirements kick in. They must achieve an adherence to the natural law written in the hearts of every person. That in itself is difficult for any human being.

Interestingly enough, however, that is, in many ways easier to achieve, than the standard by which as conscience member of the Church must achieve. Because, in Christ's own words (paraphrased), frokm he who has much, much will be required.

But assuming a person achieves all these requirements, the Church still does not say that they will be saved. It says they MAY BE saved, leaving their salvation to the mercy of an all knowing, just and merciful God.

So, if a person was born and raised Catholic with at least a basic foundation and understanding in the Faith, they must remain in the Faith, and obey God's Laws and the laws of His Church in order to achieve salvation. As you describe a person in the last three sentences, that person would have condemned themselves to hell, because they would have knowingly, and willingly, separated themselves from God. Whereas, the person born Protetsant and who meets all the requirements stated above, might achieve salvation.
Dec 11th 2013 new
(quote) Jack-752986 said: There is the quite lovely essay:

Why I am a Catholic (at
By G.K. Chesterton

___________________ "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting.
It has been found difficult and left untried."-- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Now I know exactly what I will get my best friend and her husband for Christmas. Several years ago he asked for books by G.K. Chesterton, and I got him two. I've been looking for exactly the right thing for them. They are so frustrated from their lifetime of evangelicalism. It really leaves a true seeker in a difficult place when they know in their heart of hearts that they aren't in Christ's Church, but refuse to look at Catholicism.

Going to now! wave
Dec 11th 2013 new

In any religion, there are always some who want to define membership as narrowly as possible, limiting salvation to the select few. For these people, only the purest of the pure by their standards are worthy. And there are often those who wish to define membership as widely as possible, embracing as many folks under the tent as possible. For them, everyone has some value and acceptability even if they are very different or heavily flawed.

I ask myself, "Now, which type was Jesus Christ more like?" Was he narrowing salvation or widening it? Was he only accepting the purest of the pure or was he seeking out the different and the heavily flawed? You can find individual quotes to bolster each point of view, but looking at who he was, what he said and did, and what he taught us about the nature of God, what is the big picture about Jesus Christ?

It seems obvious to me that He defined His tent widely. The Kingdom of God was "at hand!" I can't imagine Him saying..."Oh, you don't agree with the Filioque, so you are damned," or "You served me lovingly but in a Lutheran Church so you are damned too," or "Your life of sacrifice and compassion has no meaning because you were born a Methodist." Really folks, this is ridiculous. Jesus will save whom He wills and that is none of our business. All the divisions and narrow interpretations lead to burnings at the stake and other atrocities committed by zealots in the name of The Church.

The answer is, it seems to me, for us to believe in Christ and live as well as we can. For those who do not believe, we pray that God will save them anyway because of the prayers of those who do believe! For those of us who do not live as well as we could, we pray we may yet be saved because of the prayers of those who are better and ultimately we believe we will be saved because of the sacrifice of Christ. If Christ wills it, he can theoretically save everyone. I don't know if he will and neither do you.

It helps me to think of God as a being who is perfectly just AND perfectly merciful at the same time. This is a concept that will blow your mind. The human reason cannot really contain the concept. But, that is who we believe God is. So, we trust in His mercy at the same time as we strive for justice.

Asking whether non-Catholics can be saved is asking the wrong question. Forget who belongs to whose sect. Jesus message was not about belonging to the right philosophy. It was about turning inward and reforming your heart. The missionary spirit should be about bringing Jesus's message to the world, not about fighting over doctrine, authority, ceremony, or traditions. Look at his approach to the Pharisees and we can see how he dealt with those who were into hiding behind the rules of his religion. Let's not be like that! Let's look into our own hearts, try to let Jesus shine through us, and see if we can bring people to Him by who we are in day to day life. Let's leave who is saved up to God.

Dec 12th 2013 new

Why be Catholic when thinking in terms of salvation?

I'll let a pope, a Church Council, and the patron saint of this forum answer that question.

"If you live not in the body, which is Christ, you are none of His. Whose, then, are you? You have been cut off and will wither and like the branch pruned from the Vine, you will burn in the fire, an end from which may God in His Goodness keep far from you!"

-Pope St. Leo IX (1049-1054), commenting on the Eastern Orthodox schism that happened during his papacy.

"No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside of the Catholic Church, one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing 'Alleluia!', one can answer 'Amen!', one can have faith in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too. But never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church."

-St. Augustine, Doctor of Grace and patron of this forum

"The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church firmly believes, professes and proclaims that none of those outside of the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but neither Jews, nor heretics and schismatics can become participants in eternal life, but will depart into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels."

-Pope Eugenius IV at the Council of Florence

This are just some highlights of this gripping sermon on the exclusivity of salvation in the Catholic Church:

If you've got a half-hour free, listening to this will be time well spent.

Dec 14th 2013 new
I converted to Catholicism because I came to the realization that The Catholic Church IS the Church Jesus Christ founded. I learned the truth that His Church is not invisible, as I was taught as a protestant. But Visible. One Holy Catholic and Apostolic. Therefore, no man made protestant denomination had the authority to place their own interpretations on scripture and invent new doctrines that were not believed by the early Church, or taught by the apostles. When one comes to this realization, while not in full communion with The Church, they are obligated to convert, as I did.

Lets look at THE CATHECHISM, in regards to Salvation outside the Church. I read the Catechism cover to cover before I became Catholic.

Catechism of The Catholic Church
"Outside the Church there is no salvation" - How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: "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" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 14).
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" (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 16).
"Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men" (Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes, 1).

Bottom line, believe what The Church teaches about this matter. Believe how The Catechism interprets the phrase "There is no Salvation, outside of the Church" Our Lord is merciful. Not being Catholic, out of ignorance, is not a automatic condemnation. Just like being Catholic does not mean automatic Salvation.
Dec 15th 2013 new

Our Lord is indeed perfectly merciful. But Our Lord is also perfectly just.

There is no disagreement between the language of the Catechism and of the view of the Church before Vatican II, if viewed through the lens of continuity of the Tradition laid down before the Council. However, additional information on "conscience" needs to be forwarded. To God, a properly-formed conscience is one that is in accord with the Natural Law (the precepts of the Ten Commandments), which God has placed in the hearts of every single person at birth. If a person's conscience was improperly formed, that is so much the worse for that person, since even in following his conscience he is disobeying the laws of God, that God wrote on his heart even before society began to form that person's conscience. Following a deficient conscience to the letter will be deficient for salvation. That is in accordance with "seeking God with a sincere heart" from the Catechism. Seeking God will eventually lead to (re)gaining knowledge of His most basic laws. Those laws will be the arbiters of that unevangelized person's eternal destiny.

Fr. Michael Mueller, Redemptorist, wrote this in the 19th Century:

There are three classes of infidels (those who are not baptized) and heretics (those who are baptized but who obstinately deny any revealed truth that the Church teaches and relies on his own decisions):

1. Those who are guilty of the sin of infidelity or heresy.

These are people who know what the Church proclaims: that it was personally instituted by God Himself and that being fully united with it and subject to its laws are necessary for salvation. And, despite knowing this, they reject that message and obstinately persist in that rejection until death.

2. Those not guilty of the sin of infidelity or heresy but have committed other grave sins against the Natural Law.

These are people who have not heard the teachings of the Church and therefore have no idea of the exclusivity of salvation that flows from the Church, yet have committed grave sins against the Natural Law (read: the Ten Commandments), which is written by God on the hearts of all men.

3. Those not guilty of the sin of infidelity or heresy but follow the dictates of their conscience, informed by the Natural Law written by God on the hearts of all men.

Their eternal fates are:

1. The souls of those guilty of the sin of infidelity or heresy will be damned, no questions asked. "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe shall be condemned." Mark 16:16

2. Those not guilty of the sin of infidelity or heresy, but guilty of sin(s) against the Natural Law will be damned, not for being outside of the Church, which they did not know, but because of their other mortal sin(s).The only way for grave sin to be forgiven is to either be absolved in the confessional (which is precluded in this case, since they are not united to the Church), or via an Act of Perfect Contrition (like David did after Nathan called out David's sin with Bathsheba). Acts of Perfect Contrition are not the easiest prayers to make; these acts beg for forgiveness from God stemming from a perfect, total love of Him and total acquiescence to His will, leaving no pre-held notions of your own righteousness in any action. If this act is performed successfully, it would move a person in this camp to the one following. If it is not completed to God's satisfaction and that person dies, he is condemned. Still, that means that by the mercy of God, there is a way out for such people.

To whoever is reading this, please refer to this sermon to help any non-Catholic you know make a Act of Perfect Contrition, at the hour of death or before that:

3. Those not guilty of either infidelity or heresy, and not guilty of any sin against the Natural Law will be singled out by God for conversion before they die. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that, rather than let this upright person die without ever having learned the Truth, God will send either a missionary, or even an angel to preach the gospel to that person, or to teach that person the four necessary truths that MUST be believed for salvation: 1. There is one God. 2. God rewards the good and punishes the guilty. 3. There are three persons in one God. 4. The Second Person of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, became man and died for our sins.

Dec 16th 2013 new

Above I just rebutted the silliness of still believing that all who are not Roman Catholic are damned. I stand by what I have written there.

But, to more directly answer the OPs question, Why belong to the Catholic are my thoughts today.

1. I believe that the Catholic Church is the closest we can come to a continuous continuity of teaching, authority and custom going back to the actual Apostles.

2. I believe the Consecration at the Mass is the very act that Jesus Christ Himself commanded us to perform as His anamnesis until He comes again.

3. I believe that the Teaching on the nature of God, the desired relationship of Man to God, and the norms of behavior we are called to strive for, emanating from the Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the Teaching Authority of the Church represent the best wisdom humans have, guided by the Holy Spirit, on down through the Ages.

4. I believe that the Catholic Church has the deepest philosophy for living of any religion or philosophical school: the one that seems to work best with human psychology in leading human nature to be the best self it can be. But, it is also works for simple people. So, it is a religion for both philosophers and children.

5. I believe that the Catholic Church also pitches a broad tent for many philosophies to coexist peacefully, provided they concur in the kerygma. So it is deep but also wide and could someday embrace most of the world.

6. I believe that the ceremonies, images, allegories, and sacramentals of the Catholic Church touch the human spirit in a positive way not as available in other religions. (The ceremonies that have stood the test of time are, in my mind, better than the new inventions.)

7. I believe in the Cloud of Witnesses, good souls who have gone before us, that pray for us even after death, and whose prayers can be efficacious through the mercy of God.

8. I admire the inventions of the Catholic Church as expressions of her concept of charity: the hospital, the university, the monastery, the council, the fund for service to the poor, the formal method to obtain forgiveness for grave sin.

9. I admire the many saints who have sacrificed their lives to serve their brothers and sisters out of love for Christ.

10. Although the Catholic Church has made many mistakes, and her hierarchs and devotees have at times behaved badly, nevertheless I believe that the core of goodness and truth at the marrow of the Church is still in touch with the Holy Spirit and will persist in some form to the end of time.

11. Although the Catholic Church has many family feuds within it, I believe that there is hope that these will be healed some day, bringing Romans, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, and Evangelicals together in unity of faith and worship. Admittedly, this may be a long time in coming.

12. Although the Catholic Church has at times dabbled in Politics and Business (often to her shame), I am delighted to see a trend out of these arenas and back to her traditional roles as teacher, evangelizer, motivator, admonisher, confessor, sanctifier, and mediator between God and Man. Politicians and businessmen need to hear what the Church has to say.

Dec 16th 2013 new
(quote) Gerald-283546 said:

Above I just rebutted the silliness of still believing that all who are not Roman Catholic are damned. I stand by what I have written there.

Doctrine of the Catholic Church is silliness, eh? Yes, the doctrine does realize there are some exceptions, but not nearly as many as people would like to believe.

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