Page 3, 20th March 1959

20th March 1959
Page 3
Page 3, 20th March 1959 — Salvation and the visible Church

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Salvation and the visible Church

By Fr. PATRICK J. HAMELL, D.D. Editor, 'Irish Ecclesiastical Record'

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND SALVATION: In the light of recent pronouncements by the Holy See, by Monsignor Joseph Clifford Fenton (Sands & Co. Ltd., 7s. 6d.).

NO salvation outside the Church" is a dogma of the faith, but we must understand this dogma in that sense in which the Church herself understands it, as the Holy Office Letter Suprema Haec Sacra to the Archbishop of Boston, 1949, warns us. On the question of this axiom and what it involves Mgr. Fenton has written extensively and on the lines of the present work in the "American Ecclesiastical Review".

1.13 "The Catholic Church and Salvation" he presents an analysis of eight official pronouncements of the Holy See and discusses the concept of salvation. There is an interesting concluding chapter on the unfortunate development of the "body" and "soul" terminology after its employment by St. Robert Bellarmine is a proper sense.

Mgr. Fenton's analysis, despite a tendency to repetition and to hammering home a lesson, does a valuable service to this section of ecclesiology by its insistence on the fact that the official documents from the beginning show that the axiom is to be taken literally and admits of no exceptions, that there is necessity of means in questions as well as necessity of precept, and that there is no conflict with God's justice, and no question of all nonCatholics being lost, but that all who are saved are saved in and through the visible Church, the Roman Catholic Church.

Inside and outside

FROM his analysis the fundamental points emerge clearly: the Church in the axiom is the Roman Catholic Church, the visible society ruled over by the Pope. Outside that no one can he saved. But one can be saved with out being an actual member of it. One can be in the Church by desire, even by such implicit desire as is contained in an act of perfect love of God. In fact, all who are in the state of grace are in the Church and, if they remain in grace, will be saved. But they will be saved in the Church. No one will be saved unless he is in the Church, for outside the Church there is no salvation, no remission of sins.

It would have added greatly to the value of this book if the author had developed the teaching of Mystici Corporis Christi on the Church • as an instrument of salvation, for the Church is necessary for salvation precisely because it is the divinely willed instrument of our Redemption. It was founded for this purpose (M.C. 30), to perpetuate the work of the Cross by applying the graces won there (30, 42, 77).

A visible Church

CHRIST willed to bestow these graces on men "by means of a visible Church in which men would be united, and through which they would co-operate with Him in distributing the fruits of Redemption" (I2).

The Church's visible constitution (laws, doctrine, authority, sacraments) and her invisible mission (communication of supernatural life) are both of divine origin and both contribute to the Church's purpose; and one cannot share the supernatural life of the Church without belonging to the juridical, visible society.

The Roman Catholic Church is not something that stands apart from Christ; it is "the fullness and completion of the Redeemer. constituting with him one new man joining heaven and earth in continuing the work of Redemption" (77), Only in Christ can we be made alive. and only to the Church did Christ entrust Ills saving mission. Outside the Church no one can be saved.

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