Unam Sanctam

Pope Boniface VIII saith:

[W]e declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.

This is understandably a big deal for Protestants, who are not subject to the Roman Pontiff. I suppose it could be attacked as being unscriptural, but more often than not, the complaint is rather that the Catholic Church has contradicted herself, given that today, the Church (also) teaches persons not subject to the Pontiff may be saved.

Catholics sometimes try to weasel their way out of this by claiming that the proclamation by this pope was not infallible. Thus, it is claimed, the Church was free to change her mind about those not subject to the Roman Pontiff. While the Church is certainly free to change her mind on non-infallible teachings, this tact doesn’t seem to be adequate, for the following reason. Whether this statement by the pope is infallible or not is irrelevant, given the fact that it is only a restatement of the Church’s teaching that outside the Church, there is no salvation (EENS). The dogma that EENS is infallible. So there is no weaseling out of this.

First, in defense that Unam Sanctam is a mere restatement of EENS…baptism is normatively necessary for salvation (John 3:5). Baptism incorporates into the Church. There is only one Church, and she is Catholic. Thus, it is normatively necessary to be “in the Church” to be saved. And to be “in the Church” means, among other things, to be subject to the pope, the Roman Pontiff. Thus it is normatively necessary to be subject to the pope to be saved. Thus Unam Sanctam is only a restatement, under different terms, of EENS.

Now the thing to note is that the Church still teaches EENS. It’s there in big bold letters in the Catechism (# 846). The teaching, however, has certainly undergone some development over time, in response to the changing conditions of the world. But the current teaching is in line with the past teaching. How? It must be remembered that the Church’s statements were made over a two thousand year period, and that therefore each statement is historically conditioned. We must therefore take into account the historical situation in which a statement was made in order to understand the intent of the statement’s author. And when we do that in this case, we are struck in particular by two facts.

The first of these facts is that the statement was primarily aimed at King Phillip the Fair of France, in defending the pope’s rights over and against him. However, the statement in question does say that it is necessary for “every human creature” to be subject to the pope, so the fact that this statement is aimed at a specific person does not always carry much weight with the Protestant.

The second fact is more general, and more important. Namely, it is that the statement was made at a time when the “world” was Catholic. To the mind of Pope Boniface, writing in 1302, all of the known world was Catholic. The fact that there was only one Church was then well known, and it was well known that the pope was its earthly head. The assumption that therefore rests at the root of Unam Sanctam is that those who remain outside the Church do so knowing full well that in so doing, they are choosing to remain outside the body that Christ established as our means of salvation. In other words, the assumption is that those who remain outisde the Church are not doing so out of ignorance, but out of well reasoned deliberate consent.

That vast continents existed outside of the Catholic world, populated by millions of people ignorant of the Gospel, would only later become known. And as the existence of those people became known, the Church’s teaching would continue to develop, until today the fullness of EENS has been brought out by our broad multicultural and multireligious world. That the pope, by saying what he did, intended to convey the notion that all those people ignorant of the Gospel were therefore doomed is laughable. Similarly, the Church’s current teaching also understands that those who remain outside the Church (i.e., “not subject to the Roman Pontiff”) through invincible ignorance are not, by that fact alone, consigned to hell. It is certainly more difficult for them to be saved, as they are working with a serious deficit of truth. But not impossible. Because, for God, all things are possible. And people’s consciences may, in fact, “excuse them” (Rom 2:15).


~ by Rob on May 10, 2007.

5 Responses to “Unam Sanctam”

  1. Sunday, October 16, 2011
    Weekly Il Settimanale di Padre Pio says a non Catholic can be saved in invincible ignorance but we do not know of any such case, it is known only to God. There is exclusive salvation in only the Catholic Church says Corrado Gnerre. This is an infallible teaching according to Venerable Pope Pius XII.

    The October 2, 2011 issue of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate magazine Il Settimanale di Padre Pio has published the fourth and final part of the apologetical series by Corrado Gnerre, Dio e Cattolicismo!-Verita del Cattolicesimo e falsita delle altre religioni’.

    Corrado Gnerre a professor at the Universita Europa di Roma, Rome clearly affirms the dogma extra ecclesiam nula salus and the necessity of all people, with no exception, to convert into the Catholic Church for salvation.(1) Outside the Church, he writes, there is no possibility of salvation.(2) He means de facto everyone on earth needs to enter the Church (Cantate Domino, Council of Florence), with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water (Lumen Gentium 14, Ad Gentes 7, Vatican Council II).Corrado Gnerre accepts conceptually, in principle (de jure), as a possibility known only to God, the salvation of a non Catholic who has not been a Catholic through no fault of his own.(3)

    Corrado Gnerre writes that Pope Pius XII in the Letter of the Holy Office (Nov.1949) says ‘Now, among those things which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach is contained also that infallible statement by which we are thttp://eucharistandmission.blogspot.com/2011/10/catholic-lay-professor-at-universita.htmlaught that there is no salvation outside the Church.’ We have an affirmation says Corrado Gnerre of the infallibility of the teaching extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    A person can be saved in invincible ignorance, the baptism of desire or following the natural law he accepts. We do not know of any person saved in invincible ignorance he says and this is only known to God. (‘e questo lo può sapere solo il Signore’). He implies that since we do not know any case of a person saved in invincible ignorance, it is not an exception to the dogma. Since those saved with the baptism of desire or following the natural law are not explicitly known to us they are not an exception to the dogma. They do not contradict the infallible teaching that everyone needs to be a formal, visible member of the Catholic Church to go to Heaven. These cases are accepted only in principle, dejure, conceptually.They are not de facto known.We do not know personally any such case.

    Since they are not defacto this Professor of Philosophy knows that they do not violate the Principle of Non Contradiction. The dogma refers to de facto cases in reality on earth and we do not know anyone on earth saved with the baptism of desire, in invincible ignorance or following the natural law. Neither do we know anyone presently saved who did not know the Gospel through no fault of this own.

    Corrado Gnerre is married and has five children.He has written many books, contributes articles for magazines and can be heard on Radio Maria, Italy.His recent book Apologetica Vol 2. has been published by Il Settimanale di Padre Pio.
    -Lionel Andrades

    Bisogna ribadire la Dottrina tradizionale della Chiesa in merito all’ esclusivismo salvificio cattolico : al di fuori della Chiesa non vi è possibilità di salvezza.

    Bisogna ribadire la Dottrina tradizionale della Chiesa in merito all’ esclusivismo salvificio cattolico : al di fuori della Chiesa non vi è possibilità di salvezza.
    Ricordando ovviamente anche la possible salvezza per chi non ha colpa a non essere cattolico.

  2. Friday, October 7, 2011
    Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, University Pontifical Regina Apostolorum, Rome in his office today morning said he was familiar with the text of the dogma Cantate Domino and he would endorse it in public.

    Fr. Rafael Pascual said he and other Legionaries of Christ priests took an oath in Church to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church and he showed me on his computer the text of this oath.

    He took exception to a report (1) I e-mailed him which indicated that the Legionaries of Christ priests have not affirmed the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    Fr. Pascual who is the Director of the Master of Science and Faith Institute knew that the dogma on extra ecclesiam nulla salus, Cantate Domino (2) was in accord with Vatican Council II (LG 14,AG 7) (3), Dominus Iesus 20 (4) and other Magisterial text.

    The Church also affirms it may be mentioned that non Catholics can be saved in invincible ignorance and the baptism of desire. However the Church Fathers, popes and Councils always new that these cases were implicit and so did not contradict the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. They are only known to God and we would not meet any such case in person. Also no Magisterial text claims that they are explicitly known to us. -Lionel Andrades




    Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino (1441): “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” (Matthew 25:41), 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.”-, Wikipedia, extra ecclesiam nulla salus


    Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church.-Lumen Gentium 14

    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


    Above all else, it must be firmly believed 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 (cf. Mk 16:16; Jn 3:5), and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door”. This doctrine must not be set against the universal salvific will of God (cf. 1 Tim 2:4); “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 this salvation”.- Dominus Iesus 20

  3. Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Italian diocesan priest in Rome says implicit salvation in Vatican Council II does not contradict the centuries-old interpretation of the dogma

    Father Tullio Rotondo said yesterday (August 8, 2011) that there is no implicit salvation that we can know of so, everyone with no exception, needs to formally, explicitly (visibly) be a member of the Catholic Church as taught in the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus.

    The Italian priest speaking with me at the Basilica of St. Mary Majors, Rome said he affirms the dogma Cantate Domino which indicates Hindus, Jews, Muslims etc need to convert into the Catholic Church to avoid the fires of Hell.

    He gave me permission to quote him on this blog and mentioned that the Church has not retracted this dogma nor is it contradicted by implicit salvation in Vatican Council II i.e. invincible ignorance etc.

    It was obligatory for all Catholics he said to believe in a dogma of the Church.

    According to Cantate Domino everyone needs to be a visible member of the Church to avoid Hell.
    -Lionel Andrades


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  5. Jesuits and SSPX bishops and priests offer Holy Mass in public heresy

    Just as the Jesuits in public heresy celebrated the feast of St.Ignatius of Loyola on July 31, Bishop Bernard Fellay, traditionalists and members of the Angelus Press,USA and the SSPX District USA will be in public heresy when they hold a conference in October 2013. In general both groups reject the Nicene Creed by affirming that there are three known- to- us- in- the- present- times baptisms, for the forgiveness of sins i.e the baptism of water (visible, known and repeatable), the baptism of blood and desire (also visible, known and repeatable ?).

    The Creed mentions only one known baptism. We know that the baptism of desire and baptism of blood are known and visible only to God. If the Church declares someone a martyr we accept it. However these cases of the baptism of blood are not physically visible to us to be an exception to the traditional teaching. The traditional teaching is that all need to convert visibly into the Church for salvation, with Catholic Faith and the baptism of water (AG 7).We cannot see any such case in 2013. So the baptism of blood, known to God, and baptism of desire not being physically visible to us are irrelevant to the literal interpretation of the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus. We cannot say that someone is going to be declared a martyr in 2013 or that someone in particular will have the baptism of desire and be saved this year.So they are not exceptions to the dogma on exclusive salvation in the Catholic Church.

    For the Jesuits, the SSPX bishops, Prof. Roberto dei Mattei, Dr.John Rao, Fr. Arnaud Rostand and other traditionalists these cases are relevant to the dogma. So for them it follows that there is a known and visible baptism of desire and blood.There are three known baptisms for the forgiveness of sins. This changes the Creed.

    Then the Jesuits and the SSPX groups reject the Athanasius Creed by affirming not outside the church there is no salvation, which is mentioned in this Creed, but outside the church there is known to us salvation.So for them both every one does not have to convert into the Catholic Church visibly in 2013. To reject the Creed or change its meaning is a first class heresy and they are both doing it and they offer Mass.

    Then they indicate , that the Holy Office 1949 made a factual error by assuming that the baptism of desire is known to us in personal cases.So for them it was relevant to the literal interpretation of Fr.Leonard Feeney. For the Jesuits and the SSPX, Fr.Leonard Feeney was condemned for heresy since he would not accept the baptism of desire etc as an exception to the traditional interpretation of the dogma.

    The Jesuits reject the dogma on exclusive salvation, whch was defined by three Councils. They allege there are exceptions to the dogma mentioned in the Letter of the Holy Office. To reject a defined dogma is heresy. The SSPX is in the same position according to their websites and a book they are selling.However some of them are confused and assume that one can hold the literal intrepretation of the dogma along with known exceptions to the dogma in the present times. This is contrary to the Pinciple of Non Contradiction.However they both reject the literal interpretation of Fr.Leonard Feeney which is in accord with the official interpretation of magisterium documents. They both are using the unofficial, popular interpretation of magisterial documents with the Richard Cushing Error.The bottom line is this- they both reject the dogma which Pope Pius XII called an infallible teaching by assuming that the baptism of desire and being saved in invincible ignorance are exceptions.

    So they change faith teachings (Nicene and Athanasius Creed) and the thrice defined dogma on salvation.

    Since there are also known to them exceptions (whom they can name) in the present times, they allege there are also exceptions to the traditional teaching on mortal sin.They both interpret the Catechism of the Church on this issue in the same way. So instead of one condition being needed to identify a mortal sin, grave matter, they believe there are three conditions necessary.As if they can judge and see cases who had ‘full knowledge’ and who sinned with or without ‘deliberate consent’. The Jesuits appreciate this error. The SSPX is critical of the Catechism.

    So the Jesuits are changing the Catholic teachings on morals having done so already on a faith issue, salvation.However the SSPX differs with the Jesuits here and hold on to the traditional understading of mortal sin.

    At the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Jesuit Rector and priests have approved a new department in the Missiology Section titled A Theology of Religions Department. They imply that the different religions are equal paths to salvation and so they now have a theology of religions even though the Vatican corrected the priest Fr.Jaques Dupuis S.J for this very error.The Catechism of the Catholic Church says outside the Church there is no salvation (846) and all need to enter the Church as through a door and with faith and baptism. At the Gregorian University they are denying this.The SSPX is not as radical and heretical since they still follow Tradition. However the SSPX assumes that there is known salvation outside the Church, just as do the Jesuits. The Jesuits use this error for developing a theology of religions. This is explained clearly by Cardinal Luiz Ladaria S.J, on the website of the International Theological Commission.

    They both deny the dogma extra ecclesiam nulla salus and interpret Vatican Council II and all magisterial texts using the Richard Cushing false premise.They are rejecting the Creed, an ex cathedra dogma, Vatican Council II(AG 7) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church(846).

    The Jesuits accept Vatican Council II with the Richard Cushing Error leading to heresy and a break with the past. The SSPX reject Vatican Council II when they also interpret it with the Richard Cushing Error and as a break with the past.

    The Jesuits and the SSPX bishops and priests offer Holy Mass in public heresy.To change or deny the Creed and a defined dogma is a first class heresy.They both also use a false and irrational premise in the interpretation of magisterials texts like Mystici Corporis, Letter of the Holy Office 1949, Redemptoris Missio, Dominus Iesus, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Vatican Council.-Lionel Andrades

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