Dominus Iesus

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Dominus Iesus (Latin for "Lord Jesus," or "Master Jesus") is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was approved in a Plenary meeting of the Congregation, and bears the signature of its then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and of its then Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now Cardinal Secretary of State. The declaration was approved by Pope John Paul II and was published on August 6, 2000. It is subtitled "On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church". It is most widely known for its recapitulation of the Catholic dogma that the Catholic Church is the sole true Church of Christ.

On one hand, the document says that non-Catholic Christian ecclesial communities that have not preserved a valid episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense[1] and that non-Christians are seriously deficient in terms of access to the means of salvation in comparison with those who in the Church have the full means of salvation.[2] This excludes the Eastern Orthodox, whom the Catholic Church recognizes as having validly ordained bishops.

On the other hand, it affirms that people who are not explicitly part of the Catholic Church can nevertheless attain salvation. This is because Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus is a tautology, so that it includes rather than it excludes, since the Catholic Church is universal by nature and its boundaries are not pre-determined.

A Catholic dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (literally "no salvation outside the Church") has sometimes been interpreted as denying salvation to non-Catholic Christians as well as non-Christians, though constant[citation needed] Catholic teaching has stressed the possibility of salvation for persons invincibly ignorant (through no fault of their own) of the Catholic Church's necessity and thus not culpable for lacking communion with the Church. In the 20th century this inclusive approach was expressed in the condemnation of Feeneyism and in the declaration of the Second Vatican Council, which said that "the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator," although this is ambiguous and numerous interpretations have arisen. Vatican II further affirmed that salvation could be available to people who had not even heard of Christ (cf. Acts 17:23)— but that all who gain salvation do so only by membership in the Catholic Church, whether that membership is ordinary (explicit) or by extraordinary means (implicit).[3]


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