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 Theological Proof for the Necessity of the Church - Part I 
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Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 3:38 pm
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New post Theological Proof for the Necessity of the Church - Part I
To all,

In light of the recent discussion on here regarding the correct meaning of "extra ecclesiam nulla sallus," I think it is highly worthwhile to read from the brilliant, anti-modernist, 20th century theologian, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton. The following series was publsihed in three consecutive issues of the American Ecclesiastic Review in 1948, and the link below will lead you to the first part. I am hoping to have the next installment available for Bellarmine Forum readers within a month.

Yours in JMJ,


Wed Aug 16, 2006 12:59 pm

Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:03 pm
Posts: 515
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Monsignor Fenton wrote:
Any doctrine which, even under the pretense of explaining the axiom “extra ecclesiam nulla sallas,” actually presents the Catholic Church as an agency not really requisite for salvation is rightly designated by the Singulari quadam as fostering or inculcating religious indifferentism. For it is by no means characteristic of this indifferentism to say that one religion is as good as another. What is essential to it is the mistaken notion that man can achieve his ultimate end outside of and apart from the true Church of Jesus Christ.

This is the answer to my question in another post...who better to answer it than Monsignor Fenton.

Thank you for posting this is most enlightening.

Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:09 pm

Joined: Tue May 23, 2006 9:03 pm
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Monsignor Fenton wrote:
Suprema Haec Sacra

A year before the appearance of the Humani generis, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office sent to the Most Reverend Archbishop of Boston a letter containing explanations on the subject of the dogma that no one can be saved outside of the Catholic Church. This highly important document was approved by Pope Pius XII. Despite the fact that it was sent prior to the issuance of the Humani generis, it was not published until two years after the publication of the encyclical. This Holy Office letter is the Suprema, haec sacra, one of the most important doctrinal statements which appeared during the reign of the late and beloved Sovereign Pontiff.15

This document set forth clearly and in detail, and as the authentic teaching of the Holy See, the explanation of the dogma on the necessity of the Catholic Church for the attainment of eternal salvation which had long been presented as common teaching in the theological teaching on the Church itself. The elements of the exposition contained in the Suprema, haec sacra had, of course, long since been presented to the faithful in previous authoritative statements of the Church's magisterium. The entire doctrine, however, had never before been synthesized and set forth as clearly and in such scientifically complete detail in any previous document.

The Suprema haec sacra insisted again upon the fact that the declaration: "there is no salvation outside the Church" is an infallible statement which the Church has always preached and will never cease to preach, and it qualified this statement as a dogma. It explained that the Church understood this dogma to mean that the Church is necessary for the attainment of eternal salvation with both the necessity of precept and the necessity of means. Furthermore, it taught that the Church was a means of salvation to be classified among those quae divina sola institutione, non vero intrinseca necessitate, ad finem ultimum ordinantur, and that thus, under certain circumstances, salvation can be attained when the Church itself is used or entered voto solummodo vel desiderio. Again it brought out the Catholic teaching that, in cases where men are invincibly ignorant of the true Church, "God accepts also an implicit desire (votum), so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God."16

The strictly doctrinal portion of the Suprema haec sacra ends with this essential teaching:

But it must not be thought that any kind of desire of entering the Church suffices that one may be saved. It is necessary that the desire by which one is related to the Church be animated by perfect charity. Nor can an implicit desire produce its effect, unless a person has supernatural faith: "For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews, 11:6). The Council of Trent declares ( Session VI, chap. 8 ) : "Faith is the beginning of man's salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God and attain to the fellowship of His children" (Denzinger, n. 801).17

Source: Pope Pius XII and the Theological Treatise on the Church, American Ecclesiastical Review, pp 407-419, Monsignor Joseph Fenton, Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C., December 1958 ... ecnum=5086

Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:13 pm
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