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224

Part One

living and dying in this world without God, they are

exposed to ultimate despair.

333

845

To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin,

the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his

Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must

rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world recon-

ciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by

the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.”

According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is

prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.

334

“Outside the Church there is no salvation”

846

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated

by the Church Fathers?

335

Re-formulated positively, it means that

all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church

which is his Body:

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.

336

847

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no

fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the

Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek

God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their

actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of

their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.

337

848

“Although in ways known to himself God can lead those

who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to

that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church

333

LG

16; cf.

Rom

1:21, 25.

334 St. Augustine,

Serm.

96, 7, 9: PL 38, 588; St. Ambrose,

De virg.

18, 118: PL 16,

297B; cf. already

1 Pet

3:20-21.

335 Cf. Cyprian,

Ep.

73.21: PL 3, 1169;

De unit.:

PL 4, 509-536.

336

LG

14; cf.

Mk

16:16;

Jn

3:5.

337

LG

16; cf. DS 3866-3872.

30

953

1219

161, 1257

1260