Salvation Outside the Church: Tracing the History of the Catholic Response

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9781592440085: Salvation Outside the Church: Tracing the History of the Catholic Response

When in 1949 Fr. Leonard Feeney, SJ accused the Archbishop of Boston, Richard J. Cushing, of heresy for holding that Jews and Protestants could be saved, he backed up his charge by producing passages from the writings of fathers of the church such as St. Augustine, of eminent theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas, and from the decrees of popes and councils, to prove that it was a dogma of faith that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. He did seem to have the weight of evidence on his side, and it was not easy to see how the modern idea that non-Catholics can be saved could be reconciled with the church's traditional doctrine that excluded them from salvation. Many in the Catholic Church have felt that while Feeney must surely have been wrong, the questions he raised were never satisfactorily answered. Is it really a dogma of Catholic faith that there is no salvation outside the church? Can the optimism of Vatican II about the universal possibility of salvation be defended as an example of homogeneous development of doctrine? Or would it be more honest to say that the Catholic Church has recognized that its previous teaching was mistaken? The author is convinced that the only way to answer such questions is by a thorough study of the history of Christian thought about the salvation of those "outside the church" Rev. Sullivan makes this historical study a lively reading experience while drawing conclusions that will impact ecumenical thinking for years to come.

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About the Author:

Rev. Francis A. Sullivan, S.J. taught ecclesiology at the Gregorian University in Rome for 35 years until 1993. Since then he has taught in the Theology Department at Boston College. His other books include 'Creative Fidelity', 'Charisms and Charismatic Renewal', 'The Church We Believe In' (Paulist Press), and 'From Apostles to Bishops' (Paulist Press).

From Library Journal:

Sullivan traces the history of the teaching that "outside the Church there is no salvation" from Justin Martyr (second century) to the present. Sullivan is sensitive not only to the verbal formula but to its interpretation. The shift from a narrow and pessimistic view of the possibility of salvation, a view limiting salvation to some in communion with the church, to an open and optimistic view which stresses God's universal redemptive will has important ramifications for ecumenical Christian and interfaith dialog, as well as for Christology itself. Sullivan makes these issues clear. Recommended for academic libraries.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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