The Catholic Church has always taught that there is no salvation outside of her.
You may be wondering why the Church would teach this very truth since there are many other self professed Christian sects. However, the question remains; which Church did Jesus establish and where is it today; considering that all churches outside the Catholic Church were established by men?
These sects (which happen to be 35,000+) all disagree with each other upon doctrine because of their personal interpretation of scripture, something that is against scripture itself. (2 Peter 1:20). Scripture makes it clear that there is “one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5) What other Church, besides the Catholic Church, has been united in faith ever since 33 A.D.? What other church upholds the ancient faith? None.
First things first, let it be advised that this does not mean that all you have to do is be a member of the Church and you are saved. It’s quite the contrary since we must work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and always repent when we sin. (Lk 13:3)
It means that the Church is necessary for salvation since she: 1. Is the true church. (1 Cor 3:15) 2. Has access to the sacraments in which are necessary for salvation. (Baptism: Mk 16:16, Eucharist: Jn 6:54, Confession: John 20:21-23 & Lk 13:3) 3. Is founded by Christ (Matt 16:18) in where Jesus is the Head (Col 1:18) (note, the church doesn’t teach that the Pope is the head, but the visible head.) and is His very body. Romans 12:5 “In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.”
1 Corinthians 10:17 “Because there is the one loaf of bread, all of us, though many, are one body, for we all share the same loaf.”
Note what these scriptures say: One Body. If the Church is One Body united in One Lord, One Faith, & One Baptism, who’s to say there’s salvation outside of her since there isn’t salvation outside of Christ Himself? (Acts 4:12)
To say that there are many churches of God is to say that there are many bodies of Christ. This is unbiblical since there is only One Body, UNO! To say there are many bodies is to insist that Christ is not a singular being, a blasphemous heresy insisted by the Nestorians. It also suggests that there are many bodies of Christ, again, a blasphemous heresy.
One interesting thing to note is that the bible never speaks upon there being multiple churches, but a Church. That’s right. This Church alone has the truth, and it is the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) since Christ is the Truth (John 1:14,John 1:17, John 14:6); and Truth is found within His Church alone. ( 1 Tim 3:15)
With that in mind, He established a Singular Church upon Peter the Rock (Matt 16:18). The Catholic Church is the only Church that can claim this because of the fact that no other church has complete lineage to the apostles, where as other churches were founded by men that teach heresy. (While the schismatic orthodox have apostolic succession, their religion was also founded by men, that being Photious and Michael Celuarius.)
As a kid, you may have been told the story of Noah’s ark. This ark is the very prefigurement of the Church since there was no salvation outside of it. Those who were outside of it perished. This is why she is referred to as the “Ark of Salvation”.
Saint Jerome (died A.D. 420): “As I follow no leader but 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 ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.”
Saint Peter Canisius (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; 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)
Since the Catholic Church is referred to as a boat, let me ask you one question. 1. During a storm or in the midsts of the sea, let’s say in the middle of the Atlantic for example, would you jump ship all because you do not like the captain? No, right? Would you also jump ship all because you disagree with Church teaching? Or because of the many sinners that are in her? To do so is to put oneself in danger.
“Then the sailors tried to escape from the ship; they lowered the boat into the water and pretended that they were going to put out some anchors from the front of the ship. But Paul said to the army officer and soldiers, “If the sailors don’t stay on board, you have no hope of being saved.” (Acts 27:30-31)
Does this mean that non Catholics cannot be saved? No. The bible, Magisterium & early church fathers teach that those who are not aware that the Church is the true church, but try to obey God’s natural law and live a holy life, can possibly be saved.
“Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.”(CCC 846)
Jesus’ own teaching about those who innocently reject him: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin” (Jn 15:22).
“If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains” (Jn 9:41). Paul taught likewise concerning the Gentiles:
“When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” (Rom 2:14-15)