From a reader…
I attended a lecture today and it was about Ecclesiology
The author said that those who are outside the Catholic Church can be saved because of the overflow of graces via Ecclesia Supplet. Provided they have lived good lives and have not in any way gone against the Church who is the bearer of Truth and Salvation.
GUEST PRIEST RESPONSE: Fr. Tim Ferguson
Ah, our old, frequently misused friend, Ecclesia supplet. Hauled out on a regular basis to cover up the faults and foibles of the all-too-human elements in the Church. Once again, used improperly. It’s probably better to get used to using the full phrase – ecclesia supplet facultatem. The Church supplies the faculty. The Church supplies jurisdiction. In certain situations when a minister of the Church acts improperly, the Church can supply the faculty that the minister was supposed to have.
The Church does not supply grace where grace is lacking.
The Church does not supply faith where faith is lacking.
The Church does not supply salvation where salvation is lacking.
The Church, despite having a divine foundation and divine guidance, is not God.
Are those outside of the Church saved? Was Boniface VIII wrong when he infallibly declared that outside of the Church there is no salvation? Was Our Lord joking when he said “Unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life within you” (John 6:53)? When he said, “No one can enter the kingdom of heaven unless He be born again of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5) was he kidding around?
Certainly not. There is no salvation outside of the Church, and no one who is not a baptized member of the Church can be saved. That’s clearly the message of the Gospel, of Jesus Christ, and of the Church.
Yet, the same Jesus, who taught these things, turned to the thief on the Cross next to Him – the thief who had not been baptized of water and the Spirit, who had not eaten of the flesh of the Son of Man, nor drank of His blood – turned to this selfsame thief and said to him, “This day you will be with me in paradise.”
How does that square?
Remember that teacher in high school, or maybe college? A really tough teacher, of a difficult subject. But a good teacher. He told you at the beginning of the semester what you needed to read, what you needed to study, and what you needed to do to pass his class. He gave out good, detailed study guides for his tests. He was exacting, but fair. Remember him?
Remember earning whatever grade you got in his class – maybe an A, more likely a B, or even a C – and being grateful that you got that grade, but knowing that you got what you deserved, insofar as you followed his study guide and turned in well-written papers on time? Remember that one guy in class, who didn’t seem to follow the rules, who slacked off, and who failed? Remember that other guy who didn’t seem to get things right, turned in sloppy-looking work, and was always the last one in the room struggling with the exam, but who somehow managed to get a passing grade?
What was up with that guy? Did the professor relax his standards to let this guy through? Did he give him favors, or maybe find a way to give him extra credit that he didn’t give to others? Remember asking, and being told – it really isn’t any of your business?
I think it’s kind of like that with God. He’s given us a clear path to heaven. He’s told us what we need to do. Be born again of water and the Spirit, eat His Body, drink His blood, follow the commandments, be faithful to the Church, believe and trust in Him, and spread His Word, in season and out of season. Take up our cross and follow Him. It’s all there, laid out for us. That’s what we need to know.
And, He makes it clear that we are to strive to make sure that everyone else around us knows this too. If we want to see our friends in heaven, we have to do everything we can to make this message clear to them.
Are there those who are unbaptized who get into heaven? Well, we know of one – the Good Thief. Is he the only one? Honestly, I don’t know, but I would suspect he’s not. Is there, therefore, salvation outside of the Church? No, the Church has infallibly defined that dogma. How does this square?
Short answer, that’s not really my business. God is free to grant salvation as He chooses. I know what’s He’s said through His Gospel, through His Church. I can certainly hope that there is salvation for those who, through no fault of their own, don’t know Him. That would certainly square with my understanding of a loving and fair God. I also know that if other’s don’t know Him because I’ve failed in my duty to proclaim the Gospel to them, my own salvation is in grave jeopardy. Does the glimmer of a possibility of salvation being granted in ways other than the ordinary way Christ laid out give me the excuse to slack off on my missionary mandate to preach the Gospel? Pardon my English, but hell no!
Longer answer – about 20 centuries of theological speculation by minds much better than mine. Happy reading.