Question from Frank Leonard on 3/21/2008:
I have been told that The Pope has made a statement that if a person is not a Roman Catholic believer, he/she will spend eternity in Hell.
I am a born again Christian, acknowledging that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I have put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior, believing in His words in the Scripture that says, "I (Jesus) am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father accept through me (Jesus).
Please clarify if indeed the Pope has made such a declaration and if so, on what scripture in the Bible has he made such a declaration.
Please e-mail me your response.
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 3/22/2008:
It has always been the teaching of the Catholic Church that there is no salvation outside the Church (Catholic Church). I doubt that the present Pope made a statement quite so abrupt and unqualified as you may have heard (at least as you note in your post). We do acknowledge that God may excuse invincible ignorance with regard to the requirement to formally belong to the one true Church but there is no salvation possible for anyone except through Jesus Christ and in the Church (whether formally a member or spiritually).