"traditionalists' fallacy that portrays insurmountable contradictions..."

From: Peter D Howard mailto:trinihow@tpg.com.au

Dear Fr Phil

In view of Pius XII's Letter to the Archbishop of Boston, Dz-Sch 3868, quoted in "In Love With The Church" (Sceptre, 1989, p 29) which gives homilies from St Josemaria Escrivá, I should like your help over "Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus".

Philip Gray (Lay Witness, April 1999) explains: that "extra" as an adverb describing spatial relationships is translated as "beyond or "outside of" (e.g. James is outside of the room; beyond the creek is a tree). As a preposition, "extra" describes abstract relationships between concepts or intangible things and is commonly translated as "without" (e.g. without a method it is difficult to teach). In the salvation phrase, "extra" is a preposition describing the abstract relationship of the Church to salvation, hence "without" more properly reflects the doctrinal meaning, he says.

The quoted sentence above in Pius XII's Letter is rendered: "And our Saviour not only commanded that everyone enter the Church, bit also established that the Church be the means of salvation, WITHOUT which no one can reach the kingdom of celestial glory."

The word "without" surely cannot be taken to rule out evangelisation, or to mean that evangelisation is not the principal reason for the institution of the Church by Christ and our principal mission, but does seem to help to link salvation with the teaching of Pope St Clement I, who wrote to the Church in Corinth: "Those who repented for their sins, appeased God in praying and received salvation, even though they were aliens to God" and with Vatican II, [Catholic Apologetics Today, 1986, Fr William G Most, p 145-152, and see Lumen Gentium #16], and Lumen Gentium #14 that all have the formal obligation to enter the Church visibly if they KNOW this.

Do you agree that this helps to scuttle the lure for others of the traditionalists' fallacy that portrays insurmountable contradictions between "Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus" and Vatican II, on salvation?

God bless



Dear Peter,

What you say, makes a lot of sense to me. We need to recover the conviction that without Christ and his Church, there is no salvation. But we obviously cannot deny the teaching of the Bible that "God wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4) I am sure you have seen the Catholic Answer article on Salvation Outside the Church. It seems to provide a pretty good balance between indifferentism and the radical traditionalists whom you refer to.

Fr. Phil Bloom


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