It is a Catholic Dogma adapted from the writings of San Cypriano of Carthage, bishop of the third century. This doctrine is very vital to human salvation and is based largely on the Gospel of Mark 16: 15-16: “He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” The 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church explained this as “all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is His Body.”
It has been strongly preached by the Church in the past but in modern times, this is no longer popular. This is often forgotten or not being discussed frequently like what the the saints, martyrs, and missionaries of past centuries did. The urgency to preach this dogma is somehow toned down to a level that this dogma was no longer valued by Catholic believers. This is probably due to the Church’s reconciliation with other religions through ecumenism.
This dogma calls everyone who needs to be baptized into Catholicism to receive salvation. Preaching the Gospel should emphasize the importance of the Church in salvation. The Sacraments are very important in order for a believer to enter heaven.
Rejection of the Church is rejection of Christ because it was Christ who gave authority to the Church and declared: “If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile or a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:17-18). Therefore, anyone who does not accept the Church and join another religion and proclaim that he is following Jesus is a making a great mistake or committing a great sin..
Let us remember that there is only one Lord, one Church, one Faith and one Baptism. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4, 4-5)
We cannot be totally forgiven if we do not go to confessions. We cannot receive blessing of the true Body of Christ if we do not go to the Eucharist. All these Sacraments are essential to the salvation of our souls and you will never experience them outside the Church.
Does this mean that when you are a Catholic you are saved already? Does this also mean that if you are not a Catholic you will not be saved? How about the people who lived before the Church was established?
The Lord Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22; see also John 9:41). People who are truly unaware of the Truth of Christ and His Church may have the possibility of being saved if they live according to his goodness. “Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” is what the Jesus said on the cross. We, as Catholics, cannot claim salvation by being a member of the Church because as long as we sinned, we are not worthy of Heaven. However, being a member of His Church is the first step to attain salvation. In order to enter Heaven and be included in the “Church Triumphant”, we must first become a member of the “Church Militant”. Our duty is to help in saving souls. We can start with by praying for our families and friends who are not in the Church, that they will accept the faith established by Christ through His Church and propagated by His Apostles. We must always remember that we are not the judges of salvation. Only God is the sole and final judge. We do not know who is truly “ignorant” and who is not. Therefore, we must continue spreading the Gospel as the Catechism commands us and leave the judgment to God.
We preach the Gospel because we want many souls to enter the ark. We preach the Word of God because there is no salvation outside the Church.
Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Est Quod Est.