Did a statement by John Paul II mean that only Catholics can be saved?

By November 25, 2014 25 Comments

Full Question

Pope John Paul II commented to the youth at the Greek Melkite Cathedral of Damascus, “You cannot be a Christian if you reject the Church founded on Jesus Christ.” A Protestant author uses this, along with paragraph 846 in the Catechism, as evidence that the Church teaches that only Catholics can go to heaven. Did the pope say non-Catholics cannot be saved?


Pope John Paul II’s remark is consistent with the constant teaching of the Catholic Church. Notice that he uses the word “reject” which, in context, means making a conscious decision against the Church that one knows to be founded by Jesus Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church text confirms this: “They could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it” (CCC 846, emphasis added).


  • Guy says:

    Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence  “Cantate Domino”, 1441, ex cathedra: the Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics,  cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the Church before the end of their lives; that the unity of this ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the Church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

  • carol glascock says:

    We are saved by the precious blood of Jesus. Nothing we can do besides accepting Jesus as our personal savior, will save us. No fast no giving no works will in any way contribute to our salvation. To believe that they do is to say that what Jesus did was not enough.He took on all the sins of all the world. He became sin when hanging on that cruel cross. God cannot look upon sin so He turned His back on Jesus at that moment. Can you even imagine what Christ went through and you say it wasn’t enough and we have to add to it? Absolutely not. We do good good works because we are saved not to

  • Michael says:

    Hello Carol. Excuse me but according to the bible “faith without works is dead”. There is no statement in the bible that says that you or we will be saved by faith ALONE. Luther tried to change the bible and add that. Maybe this is how you think “No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day”-Martin Luther. But this idea can’t be found in the written traditions a.k.a. the Bible. This is a very dangerous idea that your leader Martin luther spread on Christianity. Unfortunately many were led away. Imagine if a priest will say those words. People will say that guy is the real Anti Christ for making such dangerous doctrine and for rejecting the Church that Jesus founded on Peter. As Jesus says to his Apostles he who rejects you rejects me. So hopefully you’ll be more open minded to the idea that “Hell did not and will not prevail on Jesus’ Church” and is still exists now as the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Though the Church is not perfect because of its human nature Jesus blessed it to avoid heresy and doctrinal error. God bless

    • Mary says:

      Well said Michael! I live in the bible belt, and hear that all the time. There are more Protestant churches here than you could imagine. The people I meet of different faiths, are beautiful, kind, and loving people, but to listen to what they believe, is difficult. Yet, I think, if there is a contempt for our Holy Catholic Faith, trying to speak the Truth falls on deaf ears. Just wanted you to know, I enjoyed reading your reply, you explained it very well, Thanks! 🙂

    • Bernie Scala says:

      I totally agree with you! And Martin Luther was a anti Christ and there Andre many walking around today.

    • sientje says:

      what you are saying Michael is not true as when Christ asked Peter, “whom do you think I am?” Peter answered “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God” and Christ answered Peter, (listen closely) “flesh and blood hAs not revealed this to you.” It was the Holy spirit that revealed this to Peter, that Jesus Christ is the One sent to redeem Israel and all those whom He elects. as the disciples did not chose Christ but christ chose them, to bring the message of salvation to us, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life, No one can come unto the Father except through me.” are you calling Christ a liar? Christ never said one had to belong to the roman catholic church to be saved. It is that faith which Peter spoke of believing that Christ is the Holy One or Israel, whom G-d has sent, that the gates of hell cannot prevail against, not the pope, not the roman catholic church but a firm believe that Christ bore the wrath of God for our sinfull ways and that the Lord G-d raised Him from the dead and is now our faithfull High priest. read Hebrews and Jeremiah 31 verse 31, where Christ sealed the new covenant with His blood, repent and give praise and glory to the Lord G-d of Israel, whom Christ made known to us.

    • then how do you explain that handicapped people can not do much work, whereas a millionaire can do twice of four times the good works than a poor person, So are you saying that the Lord is partial to those people whom base their salvation on their good works. No good works cannot save you, but when you do love the lord the Lord God of Israel for sending christ our Lord, then Father pours His love into our hearts so that we do the good works to please Him, as written in John 10 Jesus tells us, I am the vine and ye are the branches, abide in me, and ye shall produce much good fruit, as without Me, you can do nothing. see the Lord works through us to do the good works.

  • D says:

    What Happened to the Catholic Church? – Bro. Mich…: http://youtu.be/vc9tUDao2jo

  • Lea Leger says:

    Catholic church will remain untill Jesus comes. He said the gates of hell shall never prevail against his Church. he said to Peter, i will be with you till the end of time.

    • sientje says:

      The Lord says that to eveyone whom believes in Him,and give thanks and praise to the Lord God of Israel for sending Christ to redeem us of our sinfull nature.

  • rccanseco says:

    Salvation is through the Word, through Jesus. He is the perfection of the Word, the Word made flesh. He came at the Father’s appointed time in order to perfect the Word. Many parts of scripture were inspired not only of God’s divine spirit but with man’s tradition of the time. Because of this mingling, the true essence of the divine teaching is caused to be vaguely masked by human tradition. Hence, Jesus sets the record straight by clarifying ambiguities. The Word is full, complete & all encompassing. it is elaborate but Jesus summed it up for the good of all ie Love God & Love your Neighbor.
    Ask yourself if you are seeking Salvation. Am I qualified for it? The answer? Go back to the 2 complete & perfected commandments & ask yourself again the same question.

    • sientje says:

      The first commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, mind and soul,” and the second like it.”and to love your neighbor as yourself.” tell me something, Is it possible to love your neighbor as oneself, if the love of the Lord thy God is not within one’s heart?

  • Lea Leger says:

    @D, we know our faith and the history of the church a lot of religion attacking the Church of Christ that he founded 33 AD. Those who says that the church of Christ was apostasized, They/you are big Wrong, Jesus is not a liar. Jesus promised his church that the gates of hell shall never prevail it. what you have to do is to research the history of your religion and who founded it. As a proof of the church of christ, there have been 266 Unbroken line of succession of Pope from St. Peter to Pope Francis. Search the internet or wikipedia.

    • Gerry Kenny says:

      Lately, we see many coming back to the Mother Church…One…Holy…Catholic..Apostolic…let’s not get hung up on the name Roman Catholic..it is one and the same!! Protestant starting pushing the name Roman Catholic to try to make themselves still legitimate after breaking away from the true church!! There are thousands of protestant sects(cults) only One Catholic….God Bless!!

      • you are so very wrong, Jesus Christ our Lord promised that having faith in Him that He is the Christ and the Son of the living God, against the gates of hell cannot prevail, as He is the rock of our salvation. Peter denied the three times and the Lord does not build His church on a human being, but “salvation is in Christ alone” as He sealed the new covenant with His blood, see Jeremiah 31 verse 31. As without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

      • catholic only means universal, so that it means there is only one church the people that give Honor to the Lord God of Israel for sending Christ to redeem us with His blood, as Christ is head of the church, as we look to Him, the author of our salvation. We do not look to Rome or the Vatican as they are just the roman empire now under the guise of christianity, with popes at the head instead of Ceasars.

  • Jesus said before he went to heaven I go to prepare a place for you, In my Father’s house there are many rooms. God did not create half of the World to go to hell.. No matter who we are God made all of us and he loves all of us.

    • Curt Rothstein says:

      Of course he does love us, but if you want to be let into heaven any bit earlier you must be Catholic. Anyone who is not Catholic will not go to help unless they do not acknowledge their sins, same goes for Catholics. If you do not follow Catholicism and you know that it is the true religion you will still go to Purgatory for that much longer.

      • There is no such place as purgatory, show me in the Holy scriptures where it is mentioned that there is such a place. Have you not read the parable of the rich man and lazarus whom was caught up to Abraham’s bossom and the rich man went to the place of torment, where he asked abraham to send lazarus to warn his relatives and the reply was If they do not believe Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe someone sent back from the dead.” Do you believe on Christ and His Word, “If you do not believe I am He, (Messiah) you will die in your sins”?

    • then why did the Lord God say “Jacob I loved but Esau I hated” so you are wrong as the Lord cannot walk with sinfull people whom do not repent and turn to Christ for the forgiveness of their sinfull ways.

  • Chris says:

    This is true and it was widely held that there is no salvation outside the Church; Vatican II but a stop to this notion .

  • Josephine Harkay says:

    If a Catholic no longer agrees with some of the teachings of the Church and no longer attends Mass, can this person still call himself/herself a Catholic, or would it be more honest if that person would leave the Church?

  • Curt Rothstein says:

    But it is true, if you want to be saved, you must be a Catholic. Think of this: Jesus Christ founded the Catholic Church by putting Peter in charge, Peter = first Catholic Pope. I find it strange that Protestants call themselves Christian if they do not believe in all of the right ways to worship and what they do believe is Jesus’s teachings? apparently so. My point being is that Protestants are truly not working with God if they don’t really follow Jesus.
    Which they can by becoming Catholic, of whom Jesus is pleased upon.

    • curt Rothstein you are so full of conceit, isnt that a sin in itself, No the Lord weighs the hearts of mankind and doesnt ask which religion you are part of. He came to redeem the House of Israel, to the Jew first and then the gentiles And did christ not choose 12 disciples and one of them was a devil. i.e Judas Iscariot? It was the Jewish disciples that brought us the good news of “salvation in Christ alone” Peter was sent to the Jewish dispersed people who started along with James the first church at Jerusalem and Paul was sent to us gentiles. You must be grafted into the Olive Tree (spiritual Israel) and must not boast over the natural branches as we only stand by faith. and the Lord is able to graft those whom were broken off because of unbelieve, back into the Olive tree. repent of your conceit.

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