Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


March 10th, 2013, Promulgated by Dominick Anthony Zarcone


To further appreciate DOMINUS IESUS, it is helpful to be certain about what the Declaration did not declare.

The CDF’s 2000 Declaration did not state:

  • Non-Christians are going to hell unless they become Catholic.
  • Christians who are not Catholic are going to hell unless they become Catholic.

In other words, DOMINUS IESUS did not declare that only those people who are formal members of the Catholic Church can be saved.

But there was a warning for Catholic readers.

“All the Church’s children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.” (see #22 of the Declaration which quotes Lumen Gentium, 14)

Also, the Declaration did not state there is nothing of value in non-Christian religions. Nor was it declared that separated Christian groups and communities are deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation.

Lastly, it is necessary to note that what the Declaration specifically re-iterated about other religions (non-Christian religions), it did not intend to apply to non-Catholic Christian faith communities. The Church’s relationship to non-Catholic Christians is different from the relationship to the world’s religions. The document did not mix up ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue as if they were the same.

One wonders whether the critics discerned the difference. Of the Declaration’s 19 pages (of which 5 are end notes), a mere one and a half pages are devoted to the Catholic Church’s unique oneness and unity. The former Prefect of the CDF lamented the objectors’ disregard for the documents’ true theme: Jesus is Lord!

Instead the criticism seemed to unduly focus on the 1 and 1/2 pages of ecclesial comparisons and contrasts.

Of local interest, the October, 19, 2000 issue of the CATHOLIC COURIER featured quotes from prominent people. In the article ‘Critics Seek Document’s Saving Grace’, we are surprised to read:

“….. when people read it the first thing they think off the top of their heads is, this is the end of ecumenical dialogue. How can we possibly dialogue with the Catholic Church if it believes we don’t have any truth to speak?'” (Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Nancy Hawkins, an assistant professor at St. Bernard’s Institute)

Yet the document nowhere states the Catholic Church believes its ecumenical dialogue partners don’t have any truth to speak.

“……. Cardinal Ratzinger has also said that other churches are not to be considered brothers and sisters.” (Father Joe Brennan, a retired priest and adjunct professor at the University of Rochester)

But where in the document do we read they are not brothers and sisters?

“…..a narrow view that restricts salvation to those who belong to the Church.” ( Msgr. William H. Shannon, professor emeritus of Nazareth College)

The document does not state salvation is restricted to those who belong to the Church.

It is incredible that critics insist the document declares an ‘either/or’ problem where there is a ‘both/and’ mystery.

After publication of the Declaration, then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Bishops encouraging distribution of DOMINUS IESUS. The future Pope Benedict knew the CDF’s document was a faithful point of reference for both inter-religious dialogue and Christian ecumenism.

What was declared regarding the Church’s relationship to the world religions includes the following points:

  1. The Catholic Church does not reject what is true and holy in these religions.
  2. The Church’s proclamation of Jesus Christ uses inter-religious dialogue in her evangelizing mission.
  3. Inter-religious dialogue requires understanding, mutual knowledge and reciprocal enrichment in obedience to the truth with respect for freedom.
  4. There is a real possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind. (The way saving grace comes to individual non-Christians is known only to God.) Yet the Church is necessary for this salvation.
  5. The Church is not one way of salvation alongside other ways of salvation in non-Christian religions.
  6. With the coming of the mediator and way of salvation, Jesus Christ is present to us in his body the Church founded by him. People enter the Church through baptism.
  7. As a requirement of her love for all people, the Church is duty bound to proclaim Christ; for it is in him that all find the fullness of religious life.
  8. Equality refers to the equal dignity of persons. But no founder of other religions is equal to Jesus Christ who is God himself made man.
  9. Guided by love and respect for freedom, the Church must be committed to proclaiming the truth revealed by the Lord and must be committed to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church.

Next article: “The Oneness and Unity of the Catholic Church; the Only One of its Kind”

1: This article spans 3 pdfs (here, here, and here) – each being just one page of the Catholic Courier.
(the full list of pdfs around this time frame can be found here)



  1. Thinkling says:

    A belated thank you for Dom and Ben to promulgate 🙂 this analysis.

    I have found this to be almost universally true: Criticism of a Vatican document by someone on the webz is very good evidence they didn’t actually read it. Two “very”s if the critic is someone from the MSM.

    To be fair, I shall put this document on my reading list.

  2. militia says:

    Great Church Militantn TV tonight, right in the heart of this website:

  3. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I will check out the link asap.

  4. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Have any of the clerics named in CF posts or comments
    ever responded?

    When I send clerics emails, I virtually never get a response.

    An unwillingness to be controversial?
    Lack of convictions?
    Do they regard our concerns unimportant?
    Do they think we are trouble makers?

    Why do clerics avoid directly answering?

    Perhaps they are too busy?

    I ask these questions because I know that CF will not back down.

    The clerics have no reason to fear; unless they have been unfaithful
    to the Lord Jesus and his Catholic Church and persist without repentance.

    All of us are sinners; the Lord Jesus is our hope
    and the Catholic Church has the fullness of the
    means of truth and grace.

    Will our clergy say AMEN?

    Saint John Vianney, Pray For Our Priests.
    Saint Stephen, Pray For Our Deacons.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us…

    Come, Holy Spirit, Come

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