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12 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

Disunity in the Church is perilous, Archbishop Chaput cautions at synod

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia spoke to the synod fathers on Saturday on the importance of precision in language, particularly regarding unity in div…

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24 Feb 2016 Americas News USA Vatican No comments

Priest who defied Vatican to promote Literacy in Nicaragua dies at 82-years of age

In the 1980s Father Fernando Cardenal was among the Nicaraguan Catholic priests that were sanctioned by the Vatican for their involvements with the Daniel Orteg…

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30 Nov 2015 Middle East - Africa News No comments

Pope Francis Visits Grand Mosque in a dangerous district of Bangui

Pope Francis the early hours of the morning (during the morning prayer hours of the muslims) visited the Grand Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui popularly known as …

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01 Jul 2015 Q&A Resources Comments (1)

What does it look like to be gay – and a practicing Catholic?

More than 10 years ago, Joseph Prever found himself scouring the internet for anything that might help him: he was gay, Catholic, and confused. Resources were s…

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20 Oct 2015 Americas News Comments (1)

Ruins of 16th-century church emerge from Mexican reservoir as water level drops

The building has been revealed in the Nezahualcóyotl reservoir in Chiapas state The ruins of a 16th-century church have emerged in a reservoir in Mexico afte…

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12 Sep 2015 News USA No comments

UN Secretary-General lauds Pope Francis

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered strong praise of Pope Francis in an interview with Vatican Radio. The Pontiff is scheduled to address th…

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27 Oct 2014 Vatican Comments (1)

Francis inaugurates bust of Benedict, emphasizes unity of faith, science

Vatican City, Oct 27, 2014 / 12:46 pm .- Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday, Pope Francis unveiled a bust of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, la…

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16 Mar 2015 Q&A No comments

Is it permissible to sell items such as rosaries, medals, Bibles, etc., that have been blessed?

Full Question Is it permissible to sell items such as rosaries, medals, Bibles, etc., that have been blessed? Answer Items may be sold; blessings may not. An…

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19 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (6)

Do any other faiths believe in transubstantiation?

Full Question Do any other faiths believe in transubstantiation-- Episcopalians, for example? Answer The Eastern non-Catholic Churches, including…

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Why does the Church teach that works can obtain salvation?

Full Question

Why does the Roman Catholic Church teach the doctrine of “works righteousness,” that through good works one can earn salvation?

Answer

The Catholic Church has never taught such a doctrine and, in fact, has constantly condemned the notion that men can earn or merit salvation. Catholic soteriology (salvation theology) is rooted in apostolic Tradition and Scripture and says that it is only by God’s grace–completely unmerited by works–that one is saved.

The Church teaches that it’s God’s grace from beginning to end which justifies, sanctifies, and saves us. As Paul explains in Philippians 2:13, “God is the one, who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”

Notice that Paul’s words presuppose that the faithful Christian is not just desiring to be righteous, but is actively working toward it. This is the second half of the justification equation, and Protestants either miss or ignore it.

James 2:17 reminds us that “faith of itself, if it does not have work, is dead.” In verse 24 James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And later: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (2:26).

The Council of Trent harmonizes the necessity of grace and works: “If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or by the teaching of the Law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema” (Session 6; can. 1).

The Council fathers continued by saying, “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema” (Session 6: can. 9).

By the way, “let him be anathema” means “let him be excommunicated,” not “let him be cursed to hell.” The phrase was used in conciliar documents in a technical, theological sense, not in the same sense as the word “anathema” is found in Scripture. Don’t let “Bible Christians” throw you for a loop on this one.

So, far from teaching a doctrine of “works righteousness” (that would be Pelagianism, which was condemned at the Council of Carthage in A.D. 418), the Catholic Church teaches the true, biblical doctrine of justification.









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