The Latin phrase “Salus extra Ecclesiam non est” means: “outside the Church there is no salvation“. This expression comes from the writings of Saint Cyprian of Carthage (✞ 258), a bishop of the 3rd century. It is a dogma of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, and has been affirmed many times throughout 2000 years of Christianity.
Our knowledge of the Truth is precisely what Christ has given to His apostles from the beginning of the Church and faithfully handed down to us by the uncompromising Holy Catholic Church. The language used to express this doctrine has always been simple, direct and unequivocal – no “if”s, “and”s or “but”s. A new idea that persons outside the true Catholic Church can become Canonized Saints is ludicrous and a dangerously harmful heresy.
Arise, O Lord, and judge your own cause. Remember your reproaches to those who are filled with foolishness all through the day. Listen to our prayers, for foxes have arisen seeking to destroy the vineyard whose winepress you alone have trod. ~ Pope Leo X
Quotes from Scripture, the Fathers, the Doctors, Saints and Popes
“He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mk 16:16)
“No, I say to you: but unless you shall do penance, you shall all likewise perish.” (Lk 13:3)
“Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.” (Jn 6:54)
Pope St. Clement I (✞ 99): “Heretical teachers pervert Scripture and try to get into Heaven with a false key, for they have formed their human assemblies later than the Catholic Church. From this previously-existing and most true Church, it is very clear that these later heresies, and others which have come into being since then, are counterfeit and novel inventions.” (Epistle to the Corinthians)
Saint Irenaeus (✞ 202): “[The Church] is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them… We hear it declared of the unbelieving and the blinded of this world that they shall not inherit the world of life which is to come… Resist them in defense of the only true and life giving faith, which the Church has received from the Apostles and imparted to her sons.” (Against Heresies , Book III)
Saint Cyprian (✞ 258): “He who has turned his back on the Church of Christ shall not come to the rewards of Christ; he is an alien, a worldling, an enemy. You cannot have God for your Father if you have not the Church for your mother. Our Lord warns us when He says: `he that is not with Me is against Me, and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth.’ Whosoever breaks the peace and harmony of Christ acts against Christ; whoever gathers elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ.” (Unity of the Catholic Church )
Saint Cyprianus (✞ 258): “Whosoever is separated from the Church is united to an adulteress. He has cut himself off from the promises of the Church, and he who leaves the Church of Christ cannot arrive at the rewards of Christ (…) He who observes not this unity observes not the law of God, holds not the faith of the Father and the Son, clings not to life and salvation.” (De Cath. Eccl. Unitate, n 6 (CH 555)).
Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Latina , Father Migne: “He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.”
Ancient Christian Writers: “Nay, though they should suffer death for the confession of the Name, the guilt of such men is not removed even by their blood…No martyr can he be who is not in the Church.”
Saint Firmilian (✞ 269): “What is the greatness of his error, and what the depth of his blindness, who says that remission of sins can be granted in the synagogues of heretics, and does not abide on the foundation of the one Church.” (Anti-Nicene Fathers )
Lactantius (✞ 310): “It is the Catholic Church alone which retains true worship. This is the fountain of truth, this is the abode of the Faith, this is the temple of God; into which if anyone shall not enter, or from which if anyone shall go out, he is a stranger to the hope of life and eternal salvation.” (The Divine Institutes )
Council of Nicea (first ecumenical council, A.D. 325): “Let the patriarch consider what things are done by the archbishops and bishops in their provinces; and if he shall find anything done by them otherwise than it should be, let him change it and order it, as seemeth to him fit; for he is the father of all, and they are his sons. And although the Archbishop be among the bishops as an elder brother, who hath the care of his brethren, and to whom they owe obedience because he is over them; yet the patriarch is to all those who are under his power, just as he who holds the seat of Rome is the head and prince of all patriarchs; inasmuch as he is first, as was Peter, to whom power is given over all Christian princes, and over all their peoples, as he who is the Vicar of Christ our Lord over all peoples and over the whole Christian Church, and whoever shall contradict this, is excommunicated by the synod.” (Arabic Canons, Canon XXXIX)
Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (✞ 386): “Abhor all heretics…heed not their fair speaking or their mock humility; for they are serpents, a `brood of vipers.’ Remember that, when Judas said `Hail Rabbi,’ the salutation was an act of betrayal. Do not be deceived by the kiss but beware of the venom. Abhor such men, therefore, and shun the blasphemers of the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no pardon. For what fellowship have you with men without hope. Let us confidently say to God regarding all heretics, `Did I not hate, O Lord, those who hated Thee, and did I not pine away because of Your enemies?’ For there is an enmity that is laudable, as it is written, `I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed.’ Friendship with the serpent produces enmity with God, and death. Let us shun those from whom God turns away.” (The Fathers of the Church )
Saint Ambrose (✞ 397): “Where Peter is therefore, there is the Church. Where the Church is there is not death but life eternal. …Although many call themselves Christians, they usurp the name and do not have the reward.” (The Fathers of the Church )
Saint John Chrysostom, Doctor, (✞ 407): “We know that salvation belongs to the Church alone, and that no one can partake of Christ nor be saved outside the Catholic Church and the Catholic Faith.” (De Capto Eutropia)
Bishop Niceta of Remesiana (✞ 415): “He is the Way along which we journey to our salvation; the Truth, because He rejects what is false; the Life, because He destroys death. …All who from the beginning of the world were, or are, or will be justified – whether Patriarchs, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or Prophets, whether Apostles or martyrs, or any others – make up one Church, because they are made holy by one faith and way of life, stamped with one Spirit, made into one Body whose Head, as we are told, is Christ. I go further. The angels and virtues and powers in heaven are co-members in this one Church, for, as the Apostle teaches us, in Christ `all things whether on the earth or in the heavens have been reconciled.’ You must believe, therefore, that in this one Church you are gathered into the Communion of Saints. You must know that this is the one Catholic Church established throughout the world, and with it you must remain in unshaken communion. There are, indeed, other so called `churches’ with which you can have no communion. …These `churches’ cease to be holy, because they were deceived by the doctrines of the devil to believe and behave differently from what Christ commanded and from the tradition of the Apostles.” (The Fathers of the Church )
Saint Jerome (✞ 420): “As I follow no leader save Christ, so I communicate with none but your blessedness, that is, with the Chair of Peter. For this, I know, is the rock on which the Church is built. …This is the ark of Noah, and he who is not found in it shall perish when the flood prevails. …And as for heretics, I have never spared them; on the contrary, I have seen to it in every possible way that the Church’s enemies are also my enemies.” (Manual of Patrology and History of Theology )
Saint Augustine (✞ 430): “No man can find salvation except in the Catholic Church. Outside the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer amen, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and preach it too, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church.” (Sermo ad Caesariensis Ecclesia plebem )
Saint Fulgentius (✞ 533): “Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only pagans, but also all Jews, all heretics, and all schismatics who finish this life outside of the Catholic Church, will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Enchiridion Patristicum )
Saint Gregory the Great I (✞ 604): “The holy universal Church teaches that God cannot be truly adored except within its fold; she affirms that all those who are separated from her will not be saved.” (Moral. in Job. XIV,5 (CH 158)).
St. Bede the Venerable (✞ 735): “He who will not willingly and humbly enter the gate of the Church will certainly be damned and enter the gate of hell whether he wants to or not.” (Sermon 16) “Without this confession, without this faith, no one can enter the kingdom of God.” (Sermon 16)
Pope Saint Leo IX (✞ 1054) : “If you live not in the body which is Christ, you are none of His. Whose, then, are you? You have been cut off and will wither, and like the branch pruned from the vine, you will burn in the fire – an end which may God’s goodness keep far from you.”
Innocent III and the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran (1215): “There is only one universal Church of the faithful, outside of which no one can be saved.” [Cap. I; De fide cath.; DS 802 (CH 159)].
Saint Thomas Aquinas (✞ 1274): “There is no entering into salvation outside the Church, just as in the time of the deluge there was none outside the ark, which denotes the Church.” (Summa Theologiae )
Pope Eugene IV (✞ 1447): The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church. (The Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
Saint Peter Canisius (✞ 1597): “Outside of this communion – as outside of the ark of Noah – there is absolutely no salvation for mortals: not for Jews or pagans who never received the faith of the Church, nor for heretics who, having received it, corrupted it; neither for the excommunicated or those who for any other serious cause deserve to be put away and separated from the body of the Church like pernicious members…for the rule of Cyprian and Augustine is certain: he will not have God for his Father who would not have the Church for his mother.” (Catechismi Latini et Germanici )
Saint Robert Bellarmine (✞ 1621): “Outside the Church there is no salvation …therefore in the symbol [Apostles Creed] we join together the Church with the remission of sins: `I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins’…For this reason, the Church is compared with the ark of Noah, because just as during the deluge, everyone perished who was not in the ark, so now those perish who are not in the Church.” (De Sacramento Baptismi )
Vatican I (1869–70) “This true Catholic faith, outside which no one can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, I do promise and swear that I will most constantly keep and confess whole and inviolate with the help of God until the last breath of my life, and that I will take great care that it be held, taught, and preached by my inferiors and by those who are placed under my charge.” – Papal Oath
Bl. Pius IX (✞ 1878): : “It must be held by faith that outside the Apostolic Roman Church, no one can be saved; that this is the only ark of salvation; that he who shall not have entered therein will perish in the flood; but on the other hand, it is necessary to hold for certain that they who labor in ignorance of the true religion, if this ignorance is invincible, will not be held guilty of this in the eyes of God. Now in truth, who would arrogate so much to himself as to mark the limits of such an ignorance, because of the nature and variety of peoples, regions, innate dispositions, and of so many other things? For in truth, when released from these corporeal chains, ‘we shall see God as He is’ (1 John 3:2), we shall understand perfectly by how close and beautiful a bond divine mercy and justice are united; but as long as we are on earth, weighed down by this moral mass which blunts the soul, let us hold most firmly that, in accordance with Catholic teaching, there is ‘one God, one faith, one baptism’ (Ephesians 4:5); it is unlawful to proceed further in inquiry. But just as the way of charity demands, let us pour forth continual prayers that all nations everywhere may be converted to Christ; and let us be devoted to the common salvation of men in proportion to our strength, ‘for the hand of the Lord is not shortened’ (Isaiah 9:1) and the gifts of heavenly grace will not be wanting to those who sincerely wish and ask to be refreshed by this light.” (Allocution “Singulari quadam” 9 December 1854).