Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Archbishop Lefebvre on "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus"

Here is a clear and concise statement of the Church's teaching on "Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus," taken from none other than Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. I particularly chose him because many of the people who hold that baptism by implicit desire is a novel concept refer to themselves as "traditionalists," and some even refer to Archbishop Lefebvre as a model of how one should act towards Vatican II.

"We must say it clearly: such a concept is radically opposed to Catholic dogma. The Church is the one ark of salvation, and we must not be afraid to affirm it. You have often heard it said, "Outside the Church there is no salvation"--a dictum which offends contemporary minds. It is easy to believe that this doctrine is no longer in effect, that it has been dropped. It seems excessively severe.

Yet nothing, in fact, has changed; nothing can be changed in this area. Our Lord did not found a number of churches: He founded only One. There is only one Cross by which we can be saved, and that Cross has been given to the Catholic Church. It has not been given to others. To His Church, His mystical bride, Christ has given all graces. No grace in the world, no grace in the history of humanity is distributed except through her.

Does that mean that no Protestant, no Muslim, no Buddhist or animist will be saved? No, it would be a second error to think that. Those who cry for intolerance in interpreting St. Cyprian's formula, “Outside the Church there is no salvation,” also reject the Creed, “I confess one baptism for the remission of sins,” and are insufficiently instructed as to what baptism is. There are three ways of receiving it: the baptism of water; the baptism of blood (that of the martyrs who confessed the faith while still catechumens) and baptism of desire.

Baptism of desire can be explicit. Many times in Africa I heard one of our catechumens say to me, “Father, baptize me straightaway because if I die before you come again, I shall go to hell.” I told him “No, if you have no mortal sin on your conscience and if you desire baptism, then you already have the grace in you.”

The doctrine of the Church also recognizes implicit baptism of desire. This consists in doing the will of God. God knows all men and He knows that amongst Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists and in the whole of humanity there are men of good will. They receive the grace of baptism without knowing it, but in an effective way. In this way they become part of the Church.

The error consists in thinking that they are saved by their religion. They are saved in their religion but not by it. There is no Buddhist church in heaven, no Protestant church. This is perhaps hard to accept, but it is the truth. I did not found the Church, but rather Our Lord the Son of God. As priests we must state the truth."(Archbishop Lefebvre, Open Letter to Confused Catholics)


  1. All this proves it that Lefebvre was a heretic as well as a schismatic.

  2. You should debate Vin Lewis on this matter in a phone debate and get crushed, LOL.

  3. For those who are interested, here are some links to information on Vincent Lewis:

    And here is his own description:
    "I plead guilty to enjoying being the type of person who is always right. I enjoy deflating fools and defeating frauds. I like winning arguments, crushing enemies, and exposing liars. And as far as I know, the only way I can do this totally morally is to do it while defending God's revelation.

    I hold that enjoying something does not make it wrong. As a matter of fact, the best way to prepare for heaven is to learn, while on Earth, to enjoy doing good things. And defending and evangelizing the Faith is always a good thing. To put it another way, I enjoy doing a good thing.

    So much for the admission: I like what I do, and that's one reason why I do it."

  4. Anonymous,
    Mr. Lewis aside since I don't intend to research him, in general the only thing needed to crush another person on the phone or in person in theology is what many salesmen have...the abscence of a moderator; fast recall as to small quotations quoted out of context; tricks like asking questions to weaken the other and that require prolonged research despite one's being on the phone; and a facility for interrupting (witness both Chris Matthews (MSNBC) and Bill O'Reilly (FOX)and most debates on CNBC business all very intelligent people but with some being trickier than others).

    That is why culture does admire written works rather than phone calls... because they take more courage in that others can then comb them for errors and context etc. slowly and without the hurry that the wordsmiths of the world demand on site as on a phone or in a selling situation.
    Strictly moderated debate would also be a great venue and I think that is the future of the papacy in that few relevant people are going to read Benedict on economics and his next encyclical will be read by Catholic academics and pirests instead and that endothermic audience accomplishes what?

    Popes should do such moderated debates against experts in the given field on TV where the relevant people really are when made aware of it; but the moderators must be leagues above the normal TV level and must stop each side when they resort to tricks for example on a topic like EENS... to skipping contexts, equating the ordinary papal magisterium with infallibility, equating allocutions with encyclical levels of authority or equating encyclicals with infallibility etc. or citing Popes who are not best qualified on that topic....Pius IX being not the best person on EENS due to his unbalanced involvement with the Jewish boy case which boy, Edgardo Mortara, the office of the Inquisition removed from his natural parents while we ran the whole middle of Italy.... due to a Catholic maid baptizing said boy covertly. Let's pick a different Pope on EENS or at least qualify our admiration for Pio Nono in this area due to his relevant works. He was also involved as I noted elsewhere with France's simultaneous forced opening of China to missionaries which process was annexed proximately in the same treaty to forcing England's opium trade on the same people....which connotes an insensitivity to the works of love that Christ said must accompany mission.

  5. Ludovicus,

    This post was excellent and informative. Well done. Thanks.