Teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on Salvation

a simple partial list of required beliefs and related heresies

1. the universal salvific will of God

[1 Timothy 2]
{2:1} And so I beg you, first of all, to make supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings for all men,
{2:2} for kings, and for all who are in high places, so that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all piety and chastity.
{2:3} For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
{2:4} who wants all men to be saved and to arrive at an acknowledgment of the truth.

It can be asserted, in the hypothetical that God is not required by His Nature to create man, nor to allow man to fall, nor to save man once fallen. Nevertheless, it is a required belief of the Catholic Faith that God has decided to offer salvation and eternal life in Heaven to all human persons. The offer of salvation is universal.

The claim that some persons are not offered salvation is heresy.

2. Christ as the sole Savior

{2:5} For there is one God, and one mediator of God and of men, the man Christ Jesus,
{2:6} who gave himself as a redemption for all, as a testimony in its proper time.

The plan that God chose for our salvation is through and in Christ. All human persons are offered salvation through Christ. No one is saved apart from Christ, for salvation is eternal life with God and Christ is God.

The claim that some persons can be saved apart from Christ is heresy.

3. The Church as the sole Ark of Salvation

“Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to hold that there is One Holy Catholic and truly Apostolic Church. And this we firmly believe and simply confess: outside of Her, there is neither salvation, nor the remission of sins….” (Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam)

[Song of Songs]
{6:8} One is my dove, my perfect one. One is her mother; elect is she who bore her…..

Outside the Church, there is no salvation. The claim that some persons can be saved without membership in the Church is heresy.

The claim that some persons cannot be saved by the Church, except by their own free choice, is to deny both the universal salvific will of God and the role of the Church as the Ark of Salvation.

4. The Church includes both formal and non-formal members

Persons who are non-Christians can still be saved, by being non-formal members of the Church. Even some of those who outwardly reject the Church are nevertheless saved by being non-formal (mystical) members of the Church, the sole Ark of salvation. They belong to the Church, implicitly and mysteriously, as non-formal members.

Therefore, non-Christians can be saved, despite not being formal members of the Church.

The claim that only Christians can be saved is a heresy.

5. Baptism is the sole door by which human persons can enter the Church

God offers all human persons salvation, by Christ, in the Church, but they can only enter the Church, as if entering the house of salvation, by Baptism. However, there are three types of Baptism, one formal and two non-formal

1. the formal Sacrament of Baptism, a baptism by water and words
2. the non-formal baptism of blood
3. the non-formal baptism of desire

A non-formal baptism makes a person a non-formal member of the Church, and this membership is sufficient for salvation.

The denial of non-formal Baptism as a possible means of salvation is the heresy of Feeneyism.

The claim that any mere human person has been saved or will ever be saved without any form of Baptism is a heresy.

6. The Baptism of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Even the Blessed Virgin Mary must necessarily have received a type of Baptism, for she is not the Savior, but one of the many who are saved. She has a unique role in salvation, and yet she is like all who are saved. She is the Mother of the Church, a figure of the Church, and yet also one of many members of the Church.

Although some traditions assert that Mary was given formal Baptism as an adult, no one holds that this formal Baptism was her salvation. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception requires us to believe that Mary was saved from conception. Baptism is absolutely required for the salvation of each human person. Therefore, her Immaculate Conception must be held to include a type of non-formal Baptism.

To say otherwise is to assert the heretical claim that some human persons are saved apart from Baptism.

7. Free will, grace, and the foreknowledge of God is inherent to the very definition of predestination.

The Church rejects the Protestant errors of predestination, defined as a mysterious choice of God without a fundamental determinate role for free will, and of unconditional election.

“To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of “predestination”, he includes in it each person’s free response to his grace….” (CCC 600)

God knows the entire past, present, and future with absolute certitude, for God is eternal and all-knowing. The foreknowledge of God and the response of our free will to the grace of God is part of the very definition of predestination, correctly understood. And since God will all human persons to be saved, no one loses his salvation apart from the choice of his own free will, contrary to the offer of grace and salvation from Christ on the Cross through the Church and the Sacrament of Baptism.

8. No one is predestined to Hell

The claim that some persons are predestined to Hell, apart from the choice of their own free will of actual mortal sin and persistence in that sin unto death, is contrary to the teaching of the Church on the universal salvific will of God.

“God predestines no one to go to hell” (CCC 1037)

There is no human person who cannot be saved by the Church, grace, and free will.

To say otherwise is to deny the universal salvific will of God, to deny that the Church is able to save all persons, and to deny the role of free will in salvation.

9. Those persons only are sent by God to Hell who commit an actual mortal sin and remain unrepentant through the last moment of life.

“God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end.” (CCC 1037)

Therefore, the condition called dying in a state of ‘original sin alone’ is nothing other than dying unrepentant from the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in this life, despite ample opportunity.

10. The above teachings of the Church, taken together, necessarily imply that all prenatals, infants, and little children, who die at that young age without a formal Baptism, nevertheless certainly die in a state of grace, due to a non-formal Baptism.

To say otherwise is to assert a new version of the heresy of Feeneyism, which:

a. denies the universal salvific will of God,
b. denies the possibility of non-formal Baptism for the very young,
c. implies that some persons are predestined to Hell,
d. implies that some persons are unable to be saved by the Church,
e. implies that some persons are sent to Hell apart from actual mortal sin,
f. implies that free will is not inherent to predestination, and
g. rejects the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on salvation.

Therefore, there are no little children in Hell, nor in the Limbo of Hell.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and Biblical scholar

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