Passage from
Encyclical Letter Quanto Conficiamur Moerore
Concerning the Salvation of Non-Catholics

August 10, 1863

Blessed Pope Pius IX

7. Here, too, our beloved sons and venerable brothers, it is again necessary to mention and censure a very grave error entrapping some Catholics who believe that it is possible to arrive at eternal salvation although living in error and alienated from the true faith and Catholic unity. Such belief is certainly opposed to Catholic teaching. There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

8. Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom “the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior.”4 The words of Christ are clear enough: “If he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector;”5 “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you, rejects me, and he who rejects me, rejects him who sent me;”6 “He who does not believe will be condemned;”7 “He who does not believe is already condemned;”8 “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters.”9 The Apostle Paul says that such persons are “perverted and self-condemned;”10 the Prince of the Apostles calls them “false teachers... who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master... bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”11

9. God forbid that the children of the Catholic Church should even in any way be unfriendly to those who are not at all united to us by the same bonds of faith and love. On the contrary, let them be eager always to attend to their needs with all the kind services of Christian charity, whether they are poor or sick or suffering any other kind of visitation. First of all, let them rescue them from the darkness of the errors into which they have unhappily fallen and strive to guide them back to Catholic truth and to their most loving Mother who is ever holding out her maternal arms to receive them lovingly back into her fold. Thus, firmly founded in faith, hope, and charity and fruitful in every good work, they will gain eternal salvation.

4 Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in its letter to Pope Leo.

5 Matthew 15:17.

6 Luke 10:16.

7 Mark 16:16.

8 John 3:18.

9 Luke 11:23.

10 Titus 3:11.

11 2 Peter 2:1.

This passage was taken from the text of Quanto Conficiamur Moerore in the Catholic Church Documents Library @ the Eternal Word Television Network website.
See also Singulari Quidem by Bl. Pope Pius IX.
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Lane Core Jr. (
Created August 1, 2001; not revised.