There is Salvation Outside the Church

Darren Dias

Dominican Friar Darren Dias spoke to more than 60 young people about inter-faith at the September 26th Faith Connections Theology on Tap held at the Duke of York Pub in Toronto.

Dias, a friar of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) of the province of St-Dominique du Canada, examined the history and philosophy of the Vatican II Council’s response to the concept that non-Christians could not receive salvation outside the Catholic Church, “outside the Church no salvation.” He asked the audience of 19 to 39 year olds to consider the question, “What does this mean for a contemporary Roman Catholic approach to the religious other?”

The phrase “outside the Church no salvation” was in use from the 5th Century until the mid-20th Century defining the Church’s approach to non-Christian religions. But once Columbus came across the new world in the late 15th Century and all the peoples of the world who had not been baptized, the Church faced a conundrum. “The Church had to deal with a notion that most of the newly discovered world wasn’t Christian and reconcile it with the notion that God would wants all to be saved,” said Friar Dias.

The Church’s new direction evolved at the 1962-65 XXI Ecumenical Council of the Church, Vatican II, to placing the other within the concept that God loves all. Friar Dias explored the Vatican II and post-Vatican II history and teachings that developed because modern times required “a new expression of our faith.”“Vatican II entered into a new realm of commune with the other,” said Friar Dias. “Before Vatican II, Catholics were not allowed to attend non-Catholic masses.” Since then, the Church has embraced a holistic perspective of faith, love and salvation. There is the belief that God desires all to be saved and that non-Christians are saved because we are all part of the same human family.

Friar Dias explored these concepts in the New Testament and in philosophers’ writings and Vatican II documents. “In the Gospel, we see Jesus’ openness to non-Jews, He interacts with Gentiles,” said Dias. The story of the Canaanite, the woman at the well, the good Samaritan, the Leper all illustrate God’s love for the other because “the miracles on behalf of a stranger have the same relevance as those in Israel,” said Dias. “The Christ who meets others is not just marginal to the faith but is integral.” 

Friar Dias asked the audience to contemplate the concept of inter-faith and what it means in a modern world. “We have probably experienced how people come together in liturgical prayer in interfaith marriages,” said Friar Dias. “Dialogue with people of other faiths is part of our mission as Catholic-Christians in the world.”

Author: Marie-Lauren Gregorie

Photo By: Michael David Dizon