“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)
The above is a quote from Saint Cyprian who lived in the first-half of the 3rd Century:
“Not even the baptism of a public confession and blood can profit a heretic, because there is no salvation outside the Church.” (Epistle LXXII)
“We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, 1302.)
Pope Boniface took his quote from Saint Thomas:
“It is shown also that it is necessary for salvation to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Against the Errors of the Greeks)
“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.” (Pope Eugene IV, Cantate Domino, 1441.)
The Council of Florence took the above from a book written by Saint Fulgentius, a Roman Catholic bishop, who died in 533 AD:
“Most firmly hold and never doubt that not only all 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 which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” (To Peter on the Faith)
“Anyone who has received the Sacrament of Baptism but remained away from the Catholic Church is never prepared to obtain eternal life. Such a person, even if he is very generous with almsgiving and even pours out his blood for the name of Christ, because of the fact that in this life he has not held tightly to the unity of the Catholic Church, he will not have eternal salvation. [...] Hold most firmly and never doubt that any heretic or schismatic whatsoever, baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, if he will not have been gathered into the Catholic Church, no matter how many alms he may have given, even if he shed his blood for the name of Christ, can never be saved.” (To Peter on the Faith)
Mr. Brian Kelly, in his wonderful article, Baptism of Desire: Its Origin and Abandonment in the Thought of Saint Augustine, writes,
"In any event, the historical fact is that Saint Cyprian refused to accept Pope Stephen’s correction (including the threat of excommunication in case of non-compliance) of his teaching concerning the invalidity of baptisms in heretical sects that used the correct matter and form."
Mr. Kelly quotes Saint Cyprian,
"God is powerful in His mercy to give forgiveness also to those who were admitted into the Church in simplicity [of heart] and who died in the Church and not to separate them from the gifts of the Church." (Letter to Jubaianus, n. 23, Patrologia Latina 3, 1125).
Mr. Kelly's article can be read here:
1) Saint Cyprian, who died in 258 AD, had a dispute with Pope Stephen regarding the validity of Baptisms that were administered by individuals, who both Saint Cyprian and Pope Stephen agreed, were outside the Catholic Church. What was not in disagreement between the two men was the fact that there were baptized individuals who were formally outside the Church and who would not be saved unless they came into formal union with the Pope and Catholic Church.
2) Many individuals who were baptized by heretics were seeking formal union with the Catholic Church, so they also came to believe that the Church and full communion with the Pope was necessary for salvation. Never did the Pope or anyone in union with him ever tell these would-be converts that they did not need to join the Church to be saved.
3) Clearly, by mid-third century, the Pope and everyone who was in communion with him believed that a formal union with the Catholic Church was absolutely necessary for salvation. The dispute between Saint Cyprian and Pope Stephen over baptisms administered by heretics who used correct matter, form, and intent would be completely moot if either the Pope or Saint Cyprian believed in "salvation outside of the Church."
4) Neither Saint Cyprian nor anyone else disputed the fact that Pope Stephen had the power to excommunicate individuals. When Pope Stephen threatened to excommunicate Bishop Cyprian, the latter never said, "Hey, you cannot do that! You don't have that power, right, authority, etc." (No one else made a similar claim on Saint Cyprian's behalf, either.) Cyprian accepted the fact that the ultimate authority lie with Pope Stephen, that is, that Pope Stephen alone held "the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 16:19) Hence, there is complete continuity between the teachings of Christ ("He that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me., Luke 10:16), and Saint Paul who said, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema" (Galatians 1:8) up until the time of Pope Stephen. The idea that there could be salvation "outside the Church" would make the whole notion of excommunication moot and absurd. The very definition of "excommunication" means to "cut off," that is, put outside something, in this case, the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. To be excommunicated means to be anathematized.
5) Saint Irenaeus' (died AD 202) statement, "[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) pushes the dogma of EENS back to the 2nd-century. Given, once again, the testimony of Sacred Scripture ("Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." John 20:23), it is clear that EENS is of Apostolic origin, which means that the dogma originated with the Creator of "all that is seen and unseen," Jesus Christ, God Incarnate.
The Epistle of Clement of Rome.
Pope Clement is mentioned in the Bible:
"And I entreat thee also, my sincere companion, help those women who have laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement and the rest of my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life." (Philippians 4:3)He was consecrated by Saint Peter, and he wrote an epistle around 95 AD, which you can read here:
1Clem 42:1 - The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God.Council of Florence -- An intermediate category?
1Clem 42:2 - So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order.
1Clem 42:3 - Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come.
1Clem 42:4 - So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their firstfruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.
1Clem 44:1 - And our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop's office.
1Clem 58:2 - Receive our counsel, and ye shall have no occasion of regret. For as God liveth, and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Spirit, who are the faith and the hope of the elect, so surely shall he, who with lowliness of mind and instant in gentleness hath without regretfulness performed the ordinances and commandments that are given by God, be enrolled and have a name among the number of them that are saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is the glory unto Him for ever and ever. Amen.
1Clem 59:1 - But if certain persons should be disobedient unto the words spoken by Him through us, let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger;
Of course, the Council of Florence said more than what I quoted above:
Holy baptism holds the first place among all the sacraments, for it is the gate of the spiritual life; through it we become members of Christ and of the body of the church. Since death came into the world through one person, unless we are born again of water and the spirit, we cannot, as Truth says, enter the kingdom of heaven.
Since by grace a person is incorporated in Christ and is united with his members...
By these measures the synod intends to detract in nothing from the sayings and writings of the holy doctors who discourse on these matters. On the contrary, it accepts and embraces them according to their true understanding as commonly expounded and declared by these doctors and other catholic teachers in the theological schools.
Also that the body of the Lord is effected in leavened or unleavened wheat bread; and what is to be believed about the pains of purgatory and hell, about the life of the blessed and about suffrages offered for the dead.
The holy synod especially condemns and censures, in the book, the assertion which is scandalous, erroneous in the faith and offensive to the ears of the pious faithful, namely: Christ sins daily and has sinned daily from his very beginning, even though he avers that he does not understand this as of Christ our saviour, head of the church, but as referring to his members, which together with Christ the head form the one Christ, as he asserts. Also, the propositions, and ones similar to them, which the synod declares are contained in the articles condemned at the sacred council of Constance, namely the following. Not all the justified faithful are members of Christ, but only the elect, who finally will reign with Christ for ever. The members of Christ, from whom the church is constituted, are taken according to the ineffable foreknowledge of God; and the church is constituted only from those who are called according to his purpose of election. To be a member of Christ, it is not enough to be united with him in the bond of charity, some other union is needed. Also the following...The above statement is derived from what Saint Fulgentius also stated in his book To Peter on the Faith:
From that time onward when our Saviour said, "If any one is not reborn from water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," no one can receive either the kingdom of heaven or eternal life without the Sacrament of Baptism, apart from those who poured out their blood for Christ in the Catholic Church but without baptism...Salvation by Perfect Charity?
It comes down to if one accepts Florence's decree that,"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."
Of course, Pope Urban II, in calling for the First Crusade, defined perfect charity in quoting John 15:13, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." That's perfect charity, to die for someone.
Florence, in quoting Saint Fulgentius from 900 years before the Council, said that such "perfect charity" would not avail someone to everlasting life if done outside of the Catholic Church, which is the mystical body of Jesus Christ. One must "remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church." What does it mean to be within the "bosom" of the Catholic Church? Of course, the analogy is clear, but a somewhat personal example will enlighten all of us to the obvious.
Most mothers will hold their children against their breasts throughout their lifetimes, regularly, if not daily, when they are younger, but often even into adulthood. While rarely seen in public outside of infancy and toddler-hood, many such women will at least every few years hold their adult children against their breasts, their arms wrapped around them. No doubt these are tender moments for the mother and adult child, but probably a bit embarrassing to the latter if seen by strangers, and probably rarely admitted to by the former! Such moments are often unpredictable and fleeting, and after a few brief moments of being in the bosom of one's mother, she will "let go" and life goes on. I am sure that you get the idea here.
The same is true of the Church, our Mother. In Baptism, we are adopted into her arms, but having free will, we can separate ourselves from her through heresy and/or schism. Of course, the former word, in Latin, means choice. This is why Saint Thomas taught:
"For children baptized before coming to the use of reason, afterwards when they come to perfect age, might easily be persuaded by their parents to renounce what they had unknowingly embraced; and this would be detrimental to the faith." (Summa Theologica, IIa IIae, q.10, a.12)
"All ceremonies are professions of faith, in which the interior worship of God consists. Now man can make profession of his inward faith, by deeds as well as by words: and in either profession, if he make a false declaration, he sins mortally." (Summa Theologica, Ia IIae, Q.103, A.4)
Of course, the Medievals understood this well (from the Condemnation Trial of Saint Jehanne la Pucelle -- May 2, 1431):
When it was explained to her what the Church Militant meant, and [she was] admonished to believe and hold the article Unam Sanctam Ecclesiam, etc., and to submit to the Church Militant, She answered: I believe in the Church on earth; but for my deeds and words, as I have previously said, I refer the whole matter to God, Who caused me to do what I have done.
She said also that she submits to God her Creator, Who caused her to do what she did; and refers it to Him in His own Person.
Asked if she means that she has no judge on earth, and our Holy Father the Pope is not her judge,
She replied: I will tell you nothing else. I have a good Master, Our Lord, in Whom I trust for everything, and not in any other.
She was told that if she did not wish to believe in the Church and in the article Ecclesiam Sanctam Catholicam, she would be a heretic to uphold [her views], and that she would be punished by other judges who would sentence her to be burned.
She answered: I will tell you nothing else. And [even] if I saw the fire, I should tell you what I have told you, and nothing else.
Questioned as to whether, if the General Council, that is to say our Holy Father, the Cardinals [and the rest] were here, she would be willing to submit,
She answered: You will drag nothing else from me.
Asked if she is willing to submit to our Holy Father the Pope,
She said: Bring me to him, and I shall answer him.Yes, Protestants and Orthodox, when they come to that "perfect age" have free will, and they, like Catholics, can be guilty of apostasy, heresy, and/or schism, and per Saint Thomas, are much more likely to do so.
However, does the "opposite" of "outside" only mean "inside"? Just as the opposite of "guilty" does not mean "innocent" (there is also the "not proved" category), so, too, it is possible, according to Saint Fulgentius, to be saved without Baptism, which, per the Council of Florence, is how "we become members of Christ and of the body of the church." Therefore, per Florence, there is a third category of individuals, neither outside, nor, technically, inside the Catholic Church, who, having a perfect love of Christ (and, hence, God), may find their way to everlasting life, if, "through no fault of their own..." Note, however, that Florence speaks about the "unity of this ecclesiastical body," which means that all Protestants, Coptics and Eastern Orthodox would have to profess and believe the Supremacy of the Roman Pontiff as being the earthly head of the Body of Christ, at least implicitly.
Still, if one reads To Peter on the Faith, it will be "crystal clear" that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. I would never suggest to anyone that they "take their chances" that they are, in fact, in that intermediate category, which would be impossible for them or anyone else to ever know, let alone "prove," that they "through no fault of their own..."; well, I hope that you get the picture.