According to this news report, Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that “the only path to true salvation is through Catholicism.” Does this mean that I, an atheist, am no worse off than Protestants, as far as eternal life is concerned? What sort of god would treat Protestants no better than atheists? And where in this biblical passage does it say anything about Catholicism?
Addendum: Not to be picky, but what role does “true” play in the Pope’s decree (assuming those are the Pope’s words and not the reporter’s)? Is there such a thing as false salvation? Is the Pope engaging in persuasive definition?
Addendum 2: Something about the news report didn’t seem right to me, so I did some Internet research. I believe I found the document to which the reporter refers. See here. As I read it, the Pope is not saying that the only path to salvation is through Catholicism. Here is the second paragraph (of two) of the response to the third question:
It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church. (italics added; footnote omitted)
The Pope appears to be denying that “the only path to true salvation is through Catholicism,” in which case the reporter got things exactly backward.
Addendum 3: I’m not confident that the document I located is the one being referred to by the reporter, since the reporter says the document contains the word “wound,” and that word doesn’t appear in the document I located. But suppose the reporter is referring to some other document. The document I located seems to be saying that salvation is possible outside Catholicism. The Pope can’t very well deny this in some other document!
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