Pope Benedict: Catholic Church Only True Church?

Pope Benedict has recently released a statement which is causing quite a stir in the Christian community. See the news story here.

According to the article, the Pope released a document reaffirming his position that Protestant churches are only ecclesial communities that do not have the means of salvation.

There seems to be some confusion, however, about whether the document is saying that non-Catholic Christians cannot receive salvation. According to the news release, it seems like the Pope is declaring that you cannot be saved outside the Catholic Church, since other churches do not have the ‘means of salvation.’

Another article, which quotes the text of the document in question, seems to demonstrate that there is still a possibility of salvation outside the Catholic Church. The media seems to have simply sensationalized the report, or at least made it somewhat misleading. But this seems to be the most important issue for this discussion. If the Pope is declaring that the Catholic Church is the ‘One True Church,’ then no big deal. But if he is saying Protestants are not saved, then his view on the issue is extreme and worth a full-scale refutation.

The idea that one needs to belong to the Catholic Church in order to be saved is entirely ludicrous, though it is held by some extreme Catholics. There is simply no good biblical argument for such an extreme view. On the other hand, the Bible is tremendously clear that belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who died and rose for our sins, is the means of salvation. Obviously, one can hold these beliefs without belonging to the Catholic Church, or without even knowing about the existence of the Catholic Church.

If Catholics want to claim that they belong to the One True Church- fair enough. It is certainly a position requiring some sort of Biblical or historical justification (which I think they lack), but it’s not something I’m too concerned about. However, if Catholics are going to tell me that my belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not sufficient for salvation, then I have a serious problem with their view. How could one possibly justify such a view?

Similarly, Protestants and all non-Catholics who think that Catholics cannot be saved because they hold a few strange theological positions are similarly unfounded, I think. There is a huge range of doctrines within Christendom, some of them (I think) quite weird, but this does not diminish the importance of the fundamentals of the Christian faith.

Catholics, Protestants, and Christians of all stripes should realize that we have much in common. Doctrinal debates are important and immensely interesting, but they should not cause us to overlook the fundamentals of belief which make us all followers of Christ.


  1. I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts on God. God bless ya.

    Bill Weatherby    Aug 5, 03:16 PM    #
  2. It always cracks me up when people say the Bible doesnt support The Catholic Position on Outside the Church there is no Salvation.

    The Bible is a Catholic Tradition itself, handed on to the world By the inspiration of the Holy Ghost ON A CATHOLIC COUNCIL in 398. If the Church is wrong now, it was wrong then. The Church is the infallable Teacher, and the Perfect Body of Christ,(containing sinners) Christ established the Church, He IS God, God doesnt make mistakes.

    There is one Catholic Faith, as God is One, there are tens of thousands of non catholics taking bits and peices of the bible to carve out whatever little niche helps them cope with who they are. If individuals can define the faith for them selves then Christ and his Word becomes babble. The Undeniable historical fact that protestants change from year to year month to month can only be avoided by self deception

    Joe    Aug 14, 06:03 PM    #
  3. Joe you are right, God does not make mistakes. But any religion made by man does, and will have mistakes. May I remind you that The Church is made up of man, and that man is NOT perfect.

    I have a question for you Joe. Do you believe that the Jews are still God’s chosen people? You say that God doesn’t make mistakes. He also doesn’t lie.

    You say that the protestant church changes from year to year. But how do you explain your “self deception” of your, man made religion? Do the crusades sound familiar? How about the catholic church being in bed with the King of England. All the corrupt things that people have fled from. I know you have heard of Martin Luther.

    Also, Jesus said himself in John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” Yet the catholic church prays the rosary to Jesus’ mother, Mary. The catholic church goes to the priest’s for forgiveness. I think you yourself have a little self deception to think about before you “without sin cast the first stone”

    One last thing to think about Joe. Look at Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” If we are the body of Christ, then why all the judging from all sides. Jesus is the only reason we are all saved. Not by any pomp and circumstance.

    — Brent    Aug 15, 12:11 PM    #
  4. I think we have a little confusion of terms here. Catholic literally means “universal”. The organization under the Pope is the Roman Catholic Church. There is a difference, please acknowledge it before you start slinging historical facts. The protestants split to form a different set of beleivers because they believed that the Roman Catholic Church was straying from God’s way (and if we look at the history at the time, I think we can all agree that it did).

    I personally see the “universal church” as all believers in Jesus Christ (Roman Catholic or Protestant). This is, of course, my view and you are entitled to your own.

    I agree with Brent that religion has done some pretty screwy things throughout history. Man warps things that were once holy. As time goes on the effects only get worse. I have some issues with the Roman Catholic Church (Saints for instance and excommunication) but I also struggle with some of the beliefs of my own Methodist Church.

    The necessity of the church is to be in community with other believers. To know that you are not alone in your stance on Christ (and it can often feel that way). When we bring church politics into it and start trying to decide here on Earth who God will accept into Heaven (which only God knows), things get messed up and we start to miss the point. It’s not about who’s better. I think we need to remember that.

    Daphne    Aug 16, 01:56 PM    #
  5. Just watched a profound film, Carl Th. Dreyer’s Ordet (1955) . . . plays well into what “we” think God and His work is all about.

    P.S. Anyone that thinks they are tackling the issues of “skeptical christians” and doesn’t step out of the 20th c (every author on the site is alive or recently deceased, as though they alone have confronted the issues of faith) is deluding themselves (we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses)

    pax Christi, Bill

    Bill    Aug 18, 06:41 PM    #
  6. Actually I have written a long and detailed article stating that the Catholic Church is not the church of Christ but rather an Ignorant deciever of the masses. View Here: http://jimbosblog9889.wordpress.com/2007/08/14/church-of-christ-the-church-is-not-the-real-thing/

    Jim    Aug 22, 02:42 PM    #
  7. “Amen I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Notice that Christ did not say Martin Luther’s Church or Henry VIII’s Church. If you believe Jesus to be God, then you must try to understand the meaning of God. God is perfect (i.e. never makes mistakes). He goes on to say that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his church. Therefore, the Catholic Church, being the Church that Christ formed has to be perfect in its being. This does not mean that it cannot have corrupt priests, even popes in it. So I begged of all you non-Catholics to not view Pope Benedict’s words as offensive, when they are actually an act of charity towards non-Catholics. Please continue to search for the Truth and remember also what Christ said “And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Not 100 or 10,000, but 1. This is why the One True Church makes sense, if you know scripture.

    p.s. By the way, let’s stop all the attacks on the Mother Of God, pretty sure Jesus would not like this. Catholics pray to Mary so that she will make petitions to her Son for us. Remember the Marriage Feast at Cana, when Christ performed his first public miracle at Mary’s request.

    God Bless you All!

    — mike    Sep 2, 04:56 PM    #
  8. I converted to Catholicism 7 years ago not because I thought it was the only route to salvation, but because the liturgy and especially the spirtuality suits my personality. I think God loves us all and manifests himself to individuals in whatever manner works for a particular individual. I’m not even sure that Christianity has a lock on God and salvation. We are all God’s creatures.

    MCR    Sep 11, 05:12 PM    #
  9. I was raised catholic, 12 years of school. I was into it, was at church every day for meetings etc. The scriptures do not line up with catholc or protesting catholic theolgy. Jesus was the Master and teacher, So do what he did! He kept the Sabbath and the Feast Days. They are forever.Lev. 23, Zech 14. This is a sign that you are my people when you keep my Sabbath. The law is not done away with. Which commandments do you not to be written on your heart. not one Jot or Tittel will not go away till all is fullfilled, Who said that? Read Proverbs 28 4-9 Better have you black hi-lighter ready. Paul said we are not under the Oral law of the day. When you want to know a scripture you must take in everything it says about it not just what you bring out to prove your point. We need to be lovers of the truth and not just seerkers. Thx and Blessings, to all that read this Mark

    — Mark    Sep 22, 08:54 AM    #
  10. So what? He is right. I am not Roman Catholic either. I am Orthodox. I love how jacked up everyone gets when he says this too. What do ya’ll care, you think he heads up the Babylon Whore church anyhow…

    Kevin    Oct 7, 07:16 PM    #
  11. Rome’s ‘Catholic’ authority had three basis: apostolic succession from Peter, temporal powers, and Papal infallibility.

    1) The apostolic succession of Peter ended with Cardinal Pedro de Luna (Benedict XIII). In the late 1300s there was a schism causing two Papal lineages (one was considered the anti-Pope). Cardinal de Luna was the last authentically elected cardinal from before the schism. When all the other authentic cardinals had perished de Luna elected himself, but because he was a heretic he never officially filled the office as Pope of the Church.

    2) The temporal powers of Rome were granted under a charter by Constantine the Great called the Donation of Constantine. It was proved a forgery by Lorenzo Valla.

    3) Papal infallibility’s biggest proponent was Augustine. When Pope Zosimus refused to condemn Pelagius, Augustine had a council declaring that if anyone went to the Pope he would be excommunicated. Augustine then went to the Emperor of Rome and had the ruling overturned whereby the Emperor forced the Pope to write a tract condemning Pelagius. 19 officially elected Bishops fled the Italian Church.

    One other thing – true authority was backed up by the Philosophia Perennis of the Church which abandoned at Vatican II when Rome literally switched philosophical camps and for all intense and purposes adopted the very philosophy that got Benedict XIII condemned.

    steve    Oct 18, 07:08 PM    #
  12. PS – Catholic does not mean ‘universal’. It’s first Christian usage was by St. Irenaeus AH Book I and is derived from the Greek ‘kath holes tes oikoumenes’ which literally translated means ‘one truth for everybody’. Prior to its Christian usage it was an astronomical term.

    Steve    Oct 18, 07:18 PM    #
  13. The catholic church says get to heaven by works-the christian church says get to haven by the Grace of God through Faith. The catholic church says saved by baptism.Christians say saved by Grace through Faith.

    david    Oct 20, 05:16 AM    #
  14. The so-called ‘Christian’ church based on Faith Alone tries to deny works, however, in doing so sets up a contradiction. As any action, even a belief, could be considered a ‘work’, salvation is ultimately denied to all those except the pre-saved, or, pre-destined. This ultimately denies free-will, making sin itself obsolete. Luther plainly ‘borrowed’ the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith from William of Occam/Gabriel Biel who clearly states that the doctrine of ‘works’ was intended to abolish reason (see Luther’s Slavery of the WIll). Protestantism denies that the will is free, therefore salvation is only available to those who God plants the desire to be saved before hand. If faith were intended to be unreasonable then the notion of religion itself becomes absurd, it would be pointless to try to defend any belief.

    Steve    Oct 20, 01:00 PM    #
  15. PS – Christ himself said those who believe and are baptized will be saved. In ancient Greek ‘belief’ was an act of the mind, ‘faith’ was an act of the will.

    Steve    Oct 20, 01:04 PM    #
  16. You say Luther borrowed salvation by grace through faith from William of Occan/Gabriel Biel. I think you better read the bible Eph.2:8,9 says For by grace are you saved through faith.and not that of yourself: it is a free Gift of God: not of Works lest any man should boast The Bible says that Not luther said but inspired of God

    david    Oct 20, 04:13 PM    #
  17. Grace, Faith, & Works were redefined during the Reformation, they do not mean now what they meant originally. The words cannot be reinterpreted against Christ’s own statement that ‘those who believe and are baptized will be saved’. Salvation is a cooperation with grace. Belief must be considered a work in Luther’s interpretation forcing the predestination philosophy. One cannot pluck truisms out of the Bible to suit one’s own fancy. I believe Luther purposely set up a paradox to confound the issue & Catholic authority. The only person pronounced saved (by Christ himself) was the thief on the cross and he asked merely for mercy, a sign of his belief. This would be considered a Work under Protestant theology. This error has plagued Christianity since Augustine.

    Steve    Oct 20, 06:52 PM    #
  18. PS – Are you condemning me for not agreeing with your theology? If I decide your right and change my opinion, is that not a Work? Something I’ve done to earn Salvation? Being there’s nothing I can do why should it matter if you are right or wrong? Is not your certainty over your own salvation a contradiction to your own theology?

    Steve    Oct 20, 06:58 PM    #
  19. You use Believe and be Baptized. Can a baby believe. I think Not

    david    Oct 21, 09:35 AM    #
  20. Ps- all the modern translations use the same words for faith and grace. only a person who wants an excuse would say they were different. 1 peter 3:21 says Baptism doth now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the fleash but a good conscience toward God)It dont wash away sins only a good conscience that Jesus lives in you.

    david    Oct 21, 10:09 AM    #
  21. Grace, the goodness of God towards us in Christ even though we do not deserve it.

    Faith, the trust in God that comes from careful consideration of His message as the Bereans did.

    Works, the outcome of Faith is that we do good works, not to be saved but to show that we are.

    Jason    Nov 15, 10:00 AM    #
  22. What Catholics need to realize is that there is one true church, but it resides in Heaven, not on earth. Sorry, Ratzinger.

    Gabriel    Dec 1, 11:46 PM    #
  23. The claim of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church as the one true church is but a claim with no truth to it.

    If it is really the true church, why does its name not found in the Bible?

    Its doctrines are a mumbo-jumbo of pronouncements that have been handed down to blinded people. Ratzinger himself belied the pronouncements of his seniors when he said that LIMBO is not true.

    In the Bible, it clearly states that Christians should not bow down to idols, and not worship them. What do you call those statues found all through-out their chapels/cathedrals.

    In the Bible, there is never any mention of a place called Purgatory. Where did the Catholic Church get this weird doctrine?

    I have been a Catholic for 32 years of my life. I was baptised as a child when I do not know any doctrine contained in the Bible. I’ve spent the majority of my life not knowing the truth.

    Thanks be to God for his love and mercy to a nobody like me when he called me to His flock.

    If you want to know more about the weird doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church and other so-called religions, log on to www.esoriano.wordpress.com

    or www.angdatingdaan.org

    liamsam    Dec 17, 09:37 PM    #
  24. oh well..if your catholic god is god, i rather go to hell cuz well, if i have to do a lot of rituals to be with god and i need a medium say a “father” then screw it..i think i’ll just hang out with jesus here..haha..btw,i am christian but i am UNDER NO DENOMINATION cuz i was once a catholic but i digress i suppose…ah, say whatever you guys want..if im wrong,im wrong at least im happier being a christian now.

    — stormgates    Jan 23, 07:51 PM    #
  25. It saddens me that it is forgotten that God is Love, period and created us all in Love. What would a perfect loving omni-presence being gain by diminishing that which he has created. What human attributes have you given Him in order to make yourselves right? God does not get offended, only men do. God loves everyone, why and to what end must you diminish others in order to make yourself right? There was life and God prior to and since 2000 years ago, you need only to look into your heart to experience Him. Cut it out! All the bickering, who’s right, who’s wrong? We are all one, do you have such a need to be better than as to denounce your brother/sister? Don’t you get it, you are all a blessed creation of God, he doesn’t make mistakes. Enjoy your life that He has given you.

    Spirit    Mar 6, 10:36 AM    #
  26. Perhaps what I am about to say has been said already in the comments. I was only able to make it through about half of them.

    It was suggested by Steve that catholic does not mean “universal” but is rather of astronomical origin and means “one truth for everybody.” Yet beside showing that he is knowledgeable of early christian literature, Steve hasn’t said anything more than what “universal” means. The term “universal” works perfectly well when “one truth for everybody” becomes an adjective. That is just a grammatical point. Now to the subject of the post and the following are principally just logical remarks.

    First, the distinction between Roman Catholic and Catholic is of great importance (as already noted). Second, even if the Pope did suggest it was the Roman Catholic Church it would not be “ludicrous.” One may say it is highly contestable or unsound, but surely one could provide a rational valid argument for such a conclusion.

    Immediately after this you say there is no good biblical evidence for such a belief (assuming Benedict did mean Roman Catholic rather than catholic). This completely begs the question. You have asserted the primacy of an authority that the Catholic will not concede to. The Catholic will retort, “The Bible and the Church are in an intimate relationship in which both give each other authority. Just because it is not in the Bible does not mean that it is not true. After all, the Bible is only the Bible because of a Catholic Council.”

    Thirdly, the Catholic belief is that the Church fully subsists in the Roman Catholic Church but is not entirely contained within it. “The Church” is divine and not of human origin. This was clarified in Vatican II and Pope Benedict is merely elaborating on what this entails. So one can say that you must belong to the Catholic (i.e., universal) Church in order to be saved, but not claim that you must literally be attending mass within a Catholic parish every Sunday. In fact, one may never attend mass. Perhaps it would do well to read Rahner’s writings on “anonymous christians,” considering the Pope confessedly owes much to his works.

    I think you are right on that “Catholics, Protestants, and Christians of all stripes should realize that we have much in common.” This has been done in the past. This brings me to the last suggestion: read the joint declaration on justification and faith by the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Church. I think you will see that your opinion of the Roman Catholic belief regarding salvation is entirely too simple.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    — Robert L.    May 28, 10:49 AM    #
  27. Liamsam – your posting is very sad indeed. You say you want to know God but not if it requires all the “rituals” of the Catholic Church.

    In the extreme – reading is hard to learn but without literacy the bible would be nothing. Learning to read took some effort on your part didn’t it?

    In the same sense, you need to learn the history of the Church before you can opine on religion. Would you let me work on your TV if I said I never bothered with manuals or even reading labels before trying to fix it?

    Anything worthwhile takes effort and most of all finding the Truth. Sorry, the Catholic Church hasn’t tried to demean faith into an infomercial where all you need to do is call an 800 number and declare you have been saved.

    There is an old saying that goes something like this; to know history is to be Catholic.

    Liam    Jun 24, 10:55 AM    #
  28. Hello Folks well the truth be known we are all Duped ! All Religions & Gods are the Creation of the minds Man. IT was a Means for controlling the Human Masses from crime and a way to Civilize people it was a needed form of law & order.But it became Corrupt by the very Men who created them. IT not only enslaved & Brainwashed their minds.It also killed Millions in the name of God, Religions became a very powerful force that became a political/Religious form of Government. that soon became a corrupt Dictatorship. Run by power hungry Men , Not By God , Today we now have a Religious war on our hands in the Middle East.And as long as corrupt Teachings of Religions & Man Exist there will never be peace in the world.

    Paul. M    Jun 1, 09:41 PM    #
  29. I just want to comment on religion. The thing about religion is that it divides people that, when in reality instead of arguing with each other we should be encouraging each other to the righthous path ,but instead here we are arguing over who’s religion is better.at the end of the day aren’t we all gods children? Don’t we pray to the same God? Don’t we all accept Jesus Christ as our lord and Savior? What we need to start doing is forgiving those who have harmed us and regret for all of our sinful ways in order to have peace in our hearts so that when judgment day comes God can open his gates for us. He who doesn’t forgive or repent cannot walk through the gates of heaven. God bless all!

    — joe s.    Mar 26, 10:22 AM    #
  30. Quite frankly it seem everyone forgets the most important issues that exist without exception and without any means to argue. The bible, the first and only one known to man is the Hebrew Bible. It’s not the OLD TESTAMENT as Christianity tried to coin it as so that the NEW TESTAMENT would hold more value. It’s the original Bible, the Word of our Lord. The so called New Testament is simply a religions attempt to alter the original Bible in a manner that suited their end game. Same reason they lied to their congregation about Mary Magdalene being a prostitute. No such historical evidence exists. They did not want women to have a part in the church so they set things in motion to belittle women and make them second class citizens. I’m a man so this is not some gal with a mission.
    Next the Jews are Gods chosen people, not the Christians. Just read it in the Bible.
    Christ also was asked about Jews and non Jews (Christ was a Jew, you know?) and He said that (I paraphrase) even non Jews will have a place in Heaven on Earth. He called or referred to non Jews as Gentiles, not Christians.
    And when Christians call Jesus, Jesus Christ, they say so in error. His name was Jesus of Nazareth from the House of David. Christ, in reality it was Christo or Christi, meaning ‘the anointed one’ is not a name, it is a description, like John the ‘Plumber’.
    If they wanted to use it in conjunction with Jesus’ name they would refer to him as Jesus the Anointed One, or Jesus de’ Christi.
    The Catholic or Roman Catholic church didn’t even exist back in the time of Jesus. In fact no known religion existed back in the time of Jesus or before His time except the Jews, Gods Chosen People.
    Do you really believe God would turn his back on the billions of people that lived before the Catholic Church was organized in the first Council of Niacia (spelling?) @ 500 AD? just because they were not Catholics? Surely you jest! What baboons people are to believe such rubbish. We are all Gods children. We all have a chance at life everlasting by living a good life and trying to follow the 10 commandments and the good life of Jesus.
    I for one was raised a Catholic but over the years when I found out that the Church taught things not in the Bible and called them sins!! While protecting pedophile priests for centuries, I got to wondering what God’s going to do with those priests, bishops, cardinals and popes that allowed such a thing to happen in the name of GOD! What about Pope Leo, the coke head? He used to get cranked up and go and meditate on coke and come out and say he has spoken with God and this is what He said and what we are to do. Do you really believe this as Catholics? If you do you are idiots at the very least.
    Let all people worship God and let God be the Judge of all mankind. That’s the way He wants it, just read the original bible, please.

    Doc    Jul 2, 12:42 PM    #
  31. Might I go on about another issue, Baptism.
    Baptism is a ritual symbolic act. In the Bible’s addendum, the New Testament, it indicates that Christ asks the apostles to baptize people. That’s fine. But it doesn’t say we can’t baptize others or even ourselves. It’s simply one accepting Jesus as our Savior. So anyone can be baptized unless they want to fight the words of the attachment to the original Hebrew Bible, the New Testament.
    I for one have no problem with baptizing others or having them baptize themselves. It is allowed and condoned in the Bible and must be since there are none of Jesus’ apostles living these days, He only had 12 if I remember my Bible!!!

    Doc    Jul 2, 12:53 PM    #
  32. Yes, the Lord Jesus established one True Church – but the catholic church as it is known today is not that original Church.  A careful study of Church history from the Day of Pentecost forward reveals a series of changes made to the Apostle’s Doctrine.  The people who made these changes had their reasons for doing so – but they were in direct conflict with the Apostles (see Galatians 1:8).  The original Church in the Book of Acts still exists today, but it is certainly not the “catholic church”.  Reader,the starting point for your life is simple obedience to Acts 2:38.

    Howard    Jul 6, 08:36 AM    #
  33. I was once a catholic.peter was not a pope.cmon guys.wake up.man made religion catholics.you never back your claims with scripture,or thus said the lord.your books are man made.bible is God inspired.how can you believe christ made peter pope or told him to start catholic church is crazy.those verses in matthew didnt convince me.but then again your pride wont allow it to believe peter was never first pope.that would mean catholic religion is a lie.so you will stand firm in your belief even with truth shoved in your face.what was i doing being a catholic.oh i see i was baptized into it when i was a baby.my God is the God of the bible.

    Beny    Sep 23, 12:15 AM    #
  34. No religion existed while what we call God was interacting on earth with his chosen people, the Jews. None. All religions that we know of (Jews don’t call what they have a religion, it’s a belief system) are man made. None are condoned by God. In fact he told Amos the prophet:
    And I am cutting and pasting from what is called the old testament, which was never called such by it’s authors, the Jews, it was called the WORD.
    Here goes:
    Consider anew God’s Word as proclaimed by a sheepherder turned prophet named Amos: “I hate all your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
    Now, sit back and figure this one out?

    Stephen    Feb 6, 01:14 PM    #
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