Latin Catholic
Dogma defined by the Saints
Quiz on Mass abuses
Pope Saint Leo the Great
Background on 'Liturgy of the Mass'
Sermon of St. John Vianney
What is Sacred Music ?
Pope John Paul II favors wider use of Latin
2002- - SSJV Traditional Latin Catholic Priests brought back to full ecclesial communion by the Pope
NICENE CREED (Latin and English)
Pope mandates correcting Liturgical abuses (Liturgiam Authenticam)
Ecclesia Dei
Sacred Music
The Dogmas of Christian Faith
The Grave Sin of Communion in the Hand
Protestantism Is of the Devil
Dogma defined by the Saints
No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church
Page One Title
Latin Tridentine Missale Romanum, 1962

Enter subhead content here


The Witness of 14 Doctors of the Church
 to the Dogma,
No Salvation for Non-Catholics.

Compiled by David da Silva


Doctors: (Lat. Doctores Ecclesiae) -- Certain ecclesiastical writers have received this title on account of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine. (Catholic Encyclopaedia, Doctors)


Saint Athanasius, Doctor (died A.D. 373): "Whoever wishes to be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith, which unless each one preserves whole and inviolate, without doubt he will perish everlastingly. [...] This is the Catholic faith, which unless each one believes faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved." (Athanasian Creed)


Saint Ambrose, Doctor, (died A.D. 397): "And He [Christ] affirms that they act with devilish spirit who divide the Church of God, so that he includes the heretics and schismatics of all times, to whom He denies forgiveness, for every other sin is concerned with single persons, this is a sin against all." (Concerning Repentance)

"The Lord severed the Jewish people from his kingdom, and heretics and schismatics are also severed from the kingdom of God and from the Church. Our Lord makes it perfectly clear that every assembly of heretics and schismatics belongs not to God, but to the unclean spirit." (Explanation of Luke)

""But woe unto you who are rich!" We may here however understand by the rich man the Jewish people, or the heretics, or at least the Pharisees, who, rejoicing in an abundance of words, and a kind of hereditary pride of eloquence, have overstepped the simplicity of true faith, and gained to themselves useless treasures." (cf. Catena Aurea by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Lk. 6:24)

"Peter is he to whom the Lord said: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build the Church." Therefore where Peter is, there is the Church; where the Church is, there is no death but only eternal life. And therefore Christ added: "And the gates of hell shall not prevail, and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven."" (On Psalm XL)


Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor, (died A.D. 407): "We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith." (De Capto Eutropia)

"We should mourn for those who are dying without the Faith. [...] And well should the pagan weep and lament who, not knowing God, goes straight to punishment when he dies!" (On the Consolation of Death)


Saint Jerome, Doctor, (died A.D. 420): "As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. This is the house where alone can the paschal lamb be rightly eaten. This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails." (Letter to Pope Damasus)


Saint Augustine, Doctor, (died A.D. 430): "No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honour, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church." (Sermon to the People of Caesaria)

""But I say," adds he, "have they not heard? "Yea, verily; their sounds went out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."" Before, however, all this had been accomplished, before the actual preaching of the gospel reaches the ends of all the earth - because there are some remote nations still (although it is said that they are very few) to whom the preached gospel has not found its way, - what must human nature do, or what has it done - for it has either not heard that all this was to take place, or has not yet learned that it was accomplished - but believe in God who made heaven and earth, by whom also it perceived by nature that it had been created, and lead a right life, and thus accomplish His will, uninstructed with any faith in the death and resurrection of Christ? Well, if this could have been done, or can still be done, then for my part I have to say what the apostle said in regard to the law: "Then Christ died in vain." For if he said this about the law, which only the nation of the Jews received, how much more justly may it be said of the law of nature, which the whole human race has received, "If righteousness come by nature, then Christ died in vain." If, however, Christ did not die in vain, then human nature cannot by any means be justified and redeemed from God's most righteous wrath - in a word, from punishment - except by faith and the sacrament of the blood of Christ." (On Nature and Grace)

"For if, according to the word of truth, no one is delivered from the condemnation which was incurred through Adam except through faith in Jesus Christ, and yet from this condemnation they shall not deliver themselves who shall be able to say that they have not heard the gospel of Christ, on the ground that "faith cometh by hearing," how much less shall they deliver themselves who shall say, "We have not received perseverance!" [...] thou mightest persevere if thou wouldest. And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received perseverance, [...] are not made to differ from that mass which it is plain is condemned, as all go from one into condemnation." (On Rebuke and Grace)

"They who are not liberated through grace, either because they are not yet able to hear, or because they are unwilling to obey; or again because they did not receive, at the time when they are unable on account of youth to hear, that bath of regeneration, which they might have received and through which they might have been saved, are indeed justly condemned; because they are not without sin, either that which they have derived from their birth, or that which they have added from their own misconduct. "For all have sinned" - whether in Adam or in themselves - "and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23.)"" (On Nature and Grace)

"The comparison of the Church with Paradise shows us that men may indeed receive baptism outside her pale, but that no one outside can either receive or retain the salvation of eternal happiness. For, as the words of the Scripture testify, the streams from the fountain of Paradise flowed copiously even beyond its bounds. Record is indeed made of their names; and through what countries they flow, and that they are situated beyond the limits of Paradise, is known to all; and yet in Mesopotamia, and in Egypt, to which countries those rivers extended, there is not found that blessedness of life which is recorded in Paradise. Accordingly, although the waters of Paradise are found beyond its boundaries, yet its happiness is in Paradise alone. So, therefore, the baptism of the Church may exist outside, but the gift of the life of happiness is found alone within the Church, which has been founded on a rock, which has received the keys of binding and losing. [...]

"This indeed is true, that "baptism is not unto salvation except within the Catholic Church." For in itself it can indeed exist outside the Catholic Church as well; but there it is not unto salvation, because there it does not work salvation; just as that sweet savour of Christ is not unto salvation in them that perish, though from a fault not in itself but in them." (On Baptism against the Donatists)

"Nor indeed, is it of heresies alone that the apostle says, "that they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." But it may be worth while to look for a moment at the things which he groups together. "The works of the flesh," he says, "are manifest, which are these; fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Let us suppose someone, therefore, chaste, continent, free from covetousness, no idolater, hospitable, charitable to the needy, no man's enemy, not contentious, patient, quiet, jealous of none, envying none, sober, frugal, but a heretic; it is of course clear to all that for this one fault only, that he is a heretic, he will fail to inherit the kingdom of God. [...]

"Our faith - that is, the Catholic faith, - distinguishes the righteous from the unrighteous not by the law of works, but be that of faith, because the just by faith lives. By which distinction it results that the man who leads his life without murder, without theft, without false witness, without coveting other mens' goods, giving due honour to his parents, completely chaste, most liberal in almsgiving, most patient of injuries; who not only does not deprive another of his goods, but does not even ask again for what has been taken away from himself; or who has even sold all his own property and appointed it to the poor, and possesses nothing which belongs to him as his own; - with such a character as this, laudable as it seems to be, if he has not the true and Catholic faith in God, must yet depart from life to condemnation. [...]

"And it is brought about, on account of this great difference, that although with no possibility of a doubt a persevering integrity of virginity is preferable to conjugal chastity, yet a woman even twice married, if she be a Catholic, is preferred to a professed virgin that is a heretic; nor is she in such wise preferred because this one is better in God's kingdom, but because the other is not there at all." (Against Two Letters of the Pelagians)

""Can the power of baptism," says Cyprian, "be greater than confession? than martyrdom? that a man should confess Christ before men, and be baptized in his own blood? And yet", he goes on to say, "neither does this baptism profit the heretic, even though for confessing Christ he be put to death outside the Church." This is most true. [...] "Salvation," he says, "is not outside the Church." Who says that it is? And therefore whatever men have that belongs to the Church outside the Church, it profits them nothing toward salvation outside the Church." (On Baptism against the Donatists.)


Pope Saint Leo the Great, Doctor, A.D. 440-461: "But this mysterious function, the Lord indeed wishes to be the concern of all the apostles, but in such a way that he has placed the principle charge on the blessed Peter, chief of the apostles: and from him as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that any one who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery." (Letter X)

"For they who have received baptism from heretics are to be confirmed by the imposition of hands with only the invocation of the Holy Ghost, because they have received the bare form of baptism without the power of sanctification." (Letter CLIX)

"Since they have received the form of baptism in some way or other [from heretics,] they are not to be baptized [again] but are to be united to the Catholics by imposition of hands, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit's power, which they could not receive from heretics." (Letter CLXVII)


Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Doctor, A.D. 590-604: "Now the holy Church universal proclaims that God cannot be truly worshipped saving within herself, asserting that all they that are without her shall never be saved." (Moralia)

"Consider that therefore whoever is not in the peace and unity of the Church cannot have God." (Epistle to Schismatic Bishops)

"And indeed we have learnt from the ancient institution of the Fathers that whosoever among heretics are baptized in the name of the Trinity, when they return to Holy Church, may be recalled to the bosom of mother Church either by unction of chrism, or by imposition of hands, or by profession of faith only. Hence the West reconciles Arians to the Catholic Church by imposition of hands, but the East by the unction of Holy chrism. But mono-physites and others are received by a true confession only, because holy baptism, which they have received among heretics, then acquires in them the power of cleansing, when either the former receive the Holy Spirit by imposition of hands, or the latter are united to the bowels of the holy and universal Church by reason of their confession of the true faith." (Epistle LXVII)


Saint Bede the Venerable O.S.B., Doctor, (died A.D. 735): "He who will not willingly and humbly enter the gate of the Church will certainly be damned and enter the gate of hell whether he wants to or not." (Sermon 16) "Without this confession, without this faith, no one can enter the kingdom of God." (Sermon 16)

"Blessed Peter in a special manner received the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the headship of judiciary power, that all believers throughout the world might understand that all those who in any way separate themselves from the unity of this faith and communion, - such can neither be absolved from the bonds of their sins, nor enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom." (Homily on the day of Saints Peter and Paul)


Saint Thomas Aquinas O.P., Doctor, (died A.D. 1274): "But the unity of the Church exists primarily because of the unity of the faith; for the Church is nothing else than the aggregate of the faithful. And because without faith it is impossible to please God, for this reason there is no room for salvation outside the Church." (Expositio Primae Decretalis ad Archdiaconum Tudertinum, edited by Fr, Raymond A. Verardo, O.P., Opusculum Theologica, Vol. 1, Marietta, Turin, 1954.)

"There is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church." (Summa Theologica III. 73, 3.)

"Unbelief has a double sense. First, it can be taken purely negatively; thus a man is called an unbeliever solely because he does not possess faith. Secondly, by way of opposition to faith; thus when a man refuses to hear of the faith or even contemns it, according to Isaiah, Who has believed our report? This is where the full nature of unbelief, properly speaking is found, and where the sin lies.

"If, however, unbelief be taken just negatively, as in those who have heard nothing about the faith, it bears the character, not of fault, but of penalty, because their ignorance of divine things is the result of the sin of our first parents. Those who are unbelievers in this sense are condemned on account of other sins, which cannot be forgiven without faith; they are not condemned for the sin of unbelief." (Summa Theologica II, II, 10, 1. Blackfriars, 1975. Eyre and Spottiswoode Ltd.)

"The Church's intention in baptizing is to cleanse from sin in accordance with Isaiah, "This is full fruit that sin be taken away." Thus, as far as the Church is concerned, it does not intend to give baptism except to those who have [the] true faith, without which there is no forgiveness of sins. And for this reason, the one being baptized is asked whether he believes. If, however, a person without [the] true faith receives baptism outside the Church, the sacrament does not work to his salvation. Hence, Augustine says, "The Church compared to Paradise indicates to us that men can receive her baptism even outside her, but the salvation of blessedness no one can receive or hold outside her." (Summa Theologica III, 68, 8, 2. As above.)

"And because the consecration of the Eucharist is an act based on the power of Holy Orders, those [validly ordained priests] who are separated from the Church by heresy, schism or excommunication, are able to consecrate the Eucharist, which when consecrated contains Christ's true body and blood; yet they act not rightly and sin by so doing. Consequently they do not gather the fruit of the sacrifice, which is a spiritual sacrifice." (Summa Theolgica, IIIa, 82, 8. As above.)

"On the other hand, the power of jurisdiction is that which is conferred by a mere human appointment. Such a power as this does not adhere to the recipient immovably: so that it does not remain in heretics or schismatics; and consequently they neither absolve nor excommunicate, nor grant indulgence, nor do any thing of the kind, and if they do, it is invalid." (Summa Theologica, II, II, 39, 3.)

"It is shown also that it is necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff." (Against the Errors of the Greeks. Opuscula Theologica, Vol. I, Part 2, Chap. 36, edited by Fr. Raymond A. Verardo, O.P., Marietta, Turin, 1954)


Saint Bonaventure O.F.M., Doctor. (died A.D. 1274): "Once these conditions [intention and Orders] are present, the sacraments may be conferred by either the good or the wicked, the faithful or the heretical, within the Church or outside it: but within the Church, they are conferred both in fact and in effect, while outside it, although conferred in fact, they are not effective. [...]

"Because none may be saved outside of the communion of faith and love which makes us members of the Church, whenever the sacraments are received outside of it, they are received with no effect toward salvation, although they are true sacraments. They may become effective however, when the recipient returns to Holy Mother Church, the only bride of Christ, whose sons are the only ones Christ the Spouse deems worthy of the eternal inheritance. Wherefore Augustine writes to the Donatists: "A comparison of the Church with paradise reveals that while strangers to the Church may receive its baptism, no one outside the Church may receive or possess beatific salvation."" (Breviolquium VI.)


Saint Peter Canisius S.J., Doctor, (died A.D. 1597): "Outside of this communion, as outside of the ark of Noah, there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; not for schismatics who left the peace and unity of the Church; and finally neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members. For the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother." (Catechismi Latini et Germanici)


Saint Robert Bellarmine S.J., Doctor, (died A.D. 1621): "Outside the Church there is no salvation [...] therefore in the symbol [Apostles Creed] we join together the Church with the remission of sins: "I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins" [...] For this reason the Church is compared with the ark of Noah, because just as during the deluge, everyone perished who was not in the ark, so now those perish who are not in the Church." (On the Sacrament of Baptism)

"I believe that for the good Christians there is eternal life full of every happiness and free from every sort of evil; as, on the contrary, for the infidels and bad Christians, there is eternal death full of every misery and deprived of every good." (Compendium)


Saint Francis de Sales, Doctor, Founder, (died A.D. 1622): "Neither faith without the Church nor the Church without the faith can save you, any more than the eye without the head or the head without the eye could see light."


Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori CSSR., Doctor, Founder, (died A.D. 1797): "We must believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true Church; hence, they who are out of our Church, or they who are separated from it, cannot be saved." (Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments)

"The Holy, Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Church is the only true Church, outside the pale of which no one can be saved." (Instructions on the Commandments and Sacraments)

"How thankful we ought to be to Jesus Christ for the gift of faith! What would have become of us if we had been born in Asia, Africa, America, or in the midst of heretics and schismatics? He who does not believe is lost. This, then, was the first and greatest grace bestowed on us: our calling to the true faith. O Saviour of the world. what would have become of us if Thou hadst not enlightened us? [...] we would all have perished." (Preperation for Death)

"The so called reformers have revived ancient heresies and have sought by sophisms and false doctrines to destroy the faith of Jesus Christ, and, if possible, to bring with themselves all souls to eternal perdition." (On the Council of Trent.)


Enter supporting content here