Vatican has declared the Roman Catholic Church is the only
"instrument for the salvation of all humanity." The official
statement issued September 5 by the Vatican’s Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith boldly proclaims "individuals can attain
full salvation from earthly sin only through the spiritual
grace of the Catholic Church." The thirty-six-page document entitled Dominus
Iesus states that other branches of Christianity could not be
considered equal to Roman Catholicism because they "have defects that
place their followers in a ‘gravely deficient situation’ in seeking
salvation." The Vatican also declared non-Catholic churches are
disqualified as "churches in the proper sense" because they
reject the papacy. The document was "ratified and confirmed" by
Pope John Paul II and bears his full endorsement.
In a subsequent letter to Bishops worldwide, Pope John
Paul II’s chief theological adviser, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said it
was incorrect to call other Christian churches, "sister
churches" of the Catholic Church. The Cardinal said the term was
"sloppy terminology" and could not be used to describe Christian
communities that were not actually in communion with Rome. The cardinal
said, "It must be always clear that the one, holy, catholic and
apostolic universal church is not the sister, but the mother of all the
churches." The term "sister churches’’ often has been used
by Rome in the past to foster closer ties among Christians. A key goal of
John Paul’s papacy has been to make steps toward unity with other
Christians. But Ratzinger, the Vatican official in charge of ensuring
doctrinal correctness, appears to be putting the brakes on such equal
terminology. He said, "It’s evident that it would go against the
faith to consider the (Catholic) church as ‘one’ way of salvation
‘alongside’ those represented by other religions." The term
"sister church" may now only be applied to Orthodox churches,
which broke away from Rome 1,000 years ago. Thus the churches born of the
Protestant Reformation are automatically excluded as "sister
The Goal of Dominus Iesus
The stated goal of the Vatican’s announcement is to
counteract the dilution of its authority. The wave of "religious
pluralism," which suggests Catholics are equal with other faiths, has
eroded the supreme authority of Rome. This effort to re-assert Roman
Catholic superiority may be an attempt to halt the exodus of many
Catholics who have joined evangelical churches in recent years. In doing
so the document may, at the same time, thwart the Vatican’s ecumenical
push for unity among all faiths. Pope John Paul II has been successful in
mending past rifts and fostering unity between Catholics, Orthodox,
Anglicans and Lutherans. Church officials said the document was intended
primarily for Catholic theologians and was not intended to discredit other
faiths. While the initial reaction from other Christian churches may be
negative and disdainful, those who lack discernment will continue to be
seduced by Rome’s ongoing method of operation. By distorting and
perverting Scripture to justify its claim as the only true church, the
Vatican will relentlessly call apostate Christians home to Rome for the
"fullness of salvation." Dominus Iesus is just
another deliberate step to call the world together under the power and
influence of the papacy. Let us examine the document in light of God’s
Sole Authority to Rule the Church and Interpret
Dominus Iesus claims that
Peter and His successors were commissioned by Jesus to "rule the
church" (Para. 16). It dares to say that the Bishop of Rome’s
primacy over the entire Church is "according to the will of God"
Rather the "will of God" is to silence such
ignorance of these foolish men with truth and righteousness (1 Pet. 2:15).
Jesus renounced such a hierarchy of authority for the church (Mat.
20:25-26). He said, "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your
Teacher, and you are all brothers (Mat. 23:8). The Vatican should learn
from the rebuke God gave to apostate Jews: "The prophets prophesy
falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority"
(Jeremiah 5:31). All Christians and church leaders are equal as brothers
and should submit to the authority of Jesus, the only head of the church,
who rules it through His Word (2 Tim. 3:15-16; Acts 17:11). The Scriptures
also warn us never to put our trust in men (Jeremiah 17:5-7; Psalm
49:13-14; 118:8). The "will of God" calls Christians to silence
such ignorance of foolish men with the truth and righteousness (1 Pet.
Dominus Iesus states that
no one can "interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and
Magisterium of the Church."
But what does the Scripture say? (Gal. 4:30). Each
person will, one day, be held accountable for understanding God’s word.
It is His word that will judge the world on the last day (John 12:48). The
truth of God’s word is set forth plainly to every man’s conscience in
the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2).
Salvation Only Through the RCC
Dominus Iesus boasts that
salvation is mediated only through the Catholic Church and "the
Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation" (Para.
4). It declares that "God has willed that the Church founded by him
be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity" (para. 22).
The Bible reveals that salvation is mediated only
through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man
(John 14:6; Acts 4:12, 1 Tim. 2:5). The instrument of salvation is not a
church but faith in the Lord Jesus Christ–His death for
the forgiveness of sins and His resurrection for our justification (Rom.
4:25). "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and
your household" (Acts 16:31).
Salvation for Non-Catholics
Dominus Iesus states all
non-Catholic churches "derive their efficacy from the very fullness
of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church" (para. 16).
"Those who are not formally and visibly members of the (Catholic)
Church, salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace
which…enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual
and material situation. The way in which the salvific grace of God comes
to individual non-Christians, God bestows it ‘in ways known to
himself.’ Theologians are seeking to understand this question more
fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for
understanding better God’s salvific plan and the ways in which it is
accomplished. Certainly, the various religious traditions contain and
offer religious elements which come from God. Indeed, some prayers and
rituals of the other religions may assume a role of preparation for the
Gospel. Furthermore, it cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar
as they depend on superstitions or other errors, constitute an obstacle to
salvation" (para. 21). This quote of 145 words suggests there is
salvation for those who have rejected the Gospel or never trusted the Lord
Jesus Christ. The document also states "the sacred writings of other
religions may be instruments by which countless people are able today to
nourish and maintain their life-relationship with God" (para. 8).
Why do Catholic Theologians study and ponder how
non-Christians are saved? The Bible is clear–those who do not believe
Jesus and His Word are rejected by God and under His condemnation (John
3:36; 2 Thes. 2:12, 2 Tim 3:8; Rom 2:8). Jesus is the fullness of grace
and truth, not the Catholic Church (John 1:14). Christians receive their
efficacy directly from God who is able to make all grace
abound to His children. He is sufficient and able to meet all
our needs (2 Cor. 9:8, 12:9).
Catholic Church the Only True Church
Dominus Iesus states
"there exists a single Church of Christ, which subsists in the
Catholic Church." Other churches "lack full communion with the
Catholic Church, since they do not accept the Catholic doctrine of the
Primacy." They "are not Churches in the proper sense; however,
those who are baptized in these communities are, by Baptism, incorporated
in Christ and thus are in a certain communion, albeit imperfect, with the
Church. These separated Churches…suffer from defects" (para. 17).
The Bible reveals it is the Roman Catholic plan of
salvation that suffers from defects. God does not save anyone on the basis
of deeds which we have done in righteousness, such as Baptism (Titus 3:5).
God saves sinners by grace—not by works, otherwise grace would not be
grace (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 11:6). The true Church of Christ is made up of
those who have heard and believed the Gospel; those whose names are
enrolled in heaven (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph.1:13-14; Heb. 12:23).
All Catholics are Saints
Dominus Iesus states
"the Church can say with Saint Paul: ‘You are no longer strangers
and sojourners, but you are saints (italics mine) and
members of the household of God’" (para.23). If Pope John Paul
really believes all Catholics are saints why does he chose to elevate only
a select few to sainthood after a long and tedious examination of their
In Dominus Iesus the Vatican has once
again tried to supplant the authority of God with an authority of its own.
By declaring that its bishops have sole authority to interpret the
Scriptures, it has renounced the Holy Spirit’s authoritative role to
illuminate and disclose the Word of Christ (John 14:16; 16:14). By
asserting papal authority over all of Christianity with its faulty and
self-serving interpretation of Scripture, it has replaced Jesus as head of
the church. Finally, by declaring the Roman Catholic Church is the
mediator of salvation, it has replaced the Lord Jesus as the only one
qualified to reconcile sinners to God.
The false pen of the scribes certainly works falsehood.
Behold they have rejected the Word of the Lord so what wisdom do they have.
Mr. Mike Gendron
Mr. Greg Durel
Carlos Tomas Knott