Catholic Doctrine or the Heresy of Universalism?

Of the following theological positions, which is sound Catholic doctrine on salvation and which is the heresy of universalism?

A. The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.

B. The Christian man, conformed to the likeness of that Son Who is the firstborn of many brothers, received “the first-fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:23) by which he becomes capable of discharging the new law of love. Through this Spirit, who is “the pledge of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14), the whole man is renewed from within, even to the achievement of “the redemption of the body” (Rom. 8:23): “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the death dwells in you, then he who raised Jesus Christ from the dead will also bring to life your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom. 8:11). Pressing upon the Christian to be sure, are the need and the duty to battle against evil through manifold tribulations and even to suffer death. But, linked with the paschal mystery and patterned on the dying Christ, he will hasten forward to resurrection in the strength which comes from hope.

All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men,(32) and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.

C. For those who are not ignorant of the fact that the Church has been established as necessary by God through Jesus Christ, there is an obligation to enter the Church and remain in her in order to attain salvation. For those, however, who have not received the Gospel proclamation … salvation is accessible in mysterious ways, inasmuch as divine grace is granted to them by virtue of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, without external membership in the Church, but nonetheless always in relation to her. It is a mysterious relationship. It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her. It is also mysterious in itself, because it is linked to the saving mystery of grace, which includes an essential reference to the Church the Savior founded.

Give your answer, with your reasoning, in the comments below.

The reason for this post: many Catholics mistake magisterial teaching on salvation for heresy. The Church teaches that the offer of salvation is universal, that God will all human persons to be saved, and that each human person has an ample possibility of salvation. But not all human persons are saved, due to free will and unrepentant actual mortal sin.

— Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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4 Responses to Catholic Doctrine or the Heresy of Universalism?

  1. Ron Conte says:

    I’ll wait until several people answer before posting the comments in the moderation queue.

    • Matt Z. says:

      Im changing it up. None of these statements is universalism. All 3 are doctrinal.

      I doubted 2 because it sounded in the line “he will hasten forward to resurrection” like it was a protestant assurance of salvation. After further review, I dont think that is what that sentance means.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Well, you are the only one who answered. All three are quotes from magisterial documents:
      A. encyclical of JP2 Redemptoris Missio
      B. Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes
      C. JP2 All Salvation Comes Through Christ

  2. Tom Mazanec says:

    I didn’t reply because I agreed with all of them, but thought there must be a “trick” since it seemed implied that one was heretical.

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