[quote:15biubcy]I find this and new statements of this kind from Catholic theologians leaning closer and closer to a soteriology of salvation apart from Christ. What are your thoughts?[/quote:15biubcy]
I think it speaks to the mercy of God. The difficulty in understanding these statements lies in the utter rarity of someone who is invincibly ignorant or innocent of deliberate sin.
The area of conscience is one that I am only beginning to explore, but it is key to interpreting ignorance and innocence. A man who has never been told that killing is wrong still has to answer to the voice of conscience. Someone who has never heard of the Catholic faith still has the law of God written upon his heart.
In one sense, someone who is so saved has reached salvation apart from an explicit knowledge of Christ. If one thinks about this, one realizes that hundreds of thousands of people lived in times and places wholly isolated from Christianity. Unless we have some novel ideas about God’s mercy and predestination, we can only conclude that these people had a chance to reach salvation without an explicit knowledge of Christ. But we know that even though they did not explicitly know Christ, their lives, if worthy of salvation, were no doubt a reflection of Him and His actions in their lives.
[quote:15biubcy]I want to research further though on what the Catholic Church (the leaders) are saying about leaving the Catholic Church in favor of Protestantism. Obviously, for political reasons they would not condemn it but within their circle they may.[/quote:15biubcy]
Anyone who believes the Catholic faith should find the idea of leaving the Church abhorrent. The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. The Sacraments are channels of His grace freely given to us. Protestant faiths may have much of the truth, and foster much in the way of faith, but they lack the fullness of truth along with these most precious gifts of our Lord.
As for the words of the bishops concerning this, I do not know. I have little grasp of politics (and the wrong tongue as well).
[quote:15biubcy]Forget the capitalization, I see what you intended. However, would you refer to Protestant churches as included in “The Church”?[/quote:15biubcy]
It depends on the context. Most of the time, I refer to the Catholic Church when I state the Church. But I fully accept baptized Protestants as brothers in the faith (and certain unbaptized Protestants as friends of the faith awaiting entrance).
[quote:15biubcy]Also, where did you study, and what is your background? Did you enter a seminary or were you ever involved with a Catholic ministry?[/quote:15biubcy]
I am a 23 year old autodidact in the faith.
I was baptized Catholic at the age of one month and one day. I was raised without a faith but had a belief in God and recognized that I was Christian.
As a teen, I entered the Baptist faith and began studying the Bible. By the end of highschool, I was convinced of the Catholic faith and in my second year of college I was confirmed into the Catholic Church with the name Benedict.
My only formal education in the faith was a 10 course series required for confirmation. Both before and after that, I learned what I know through studying the Bible, the writings of the Early Church Fathers, and reading whatever books I could find. I began work as a Catholic apologist in high school while a member at a Christian roleplaying website. I moderate three Catholic apologetics message boards and participate at several others. I am also active as an apologist at my university, known to the Muslim, Jewish, and Pagan clubs as the Christian and to the Christian club as the Catholic.
Despite all my time spent as an apologist, I do not find myself much of an evangelist. I did not come to the Catholic faith because someone shared his testimony or impressed me with his Christ-centered life but because I found Catholicism in the Bible and in my heart. This is not to knock evangelists or either method as a road to the faith; it is simply to point out that I am not familiar with them (this is the same reason I do not engage in apologetics with atheists; I have always believed in God and I have no common ground upon which to build a dialogue; truthfully, I have yet to understand a dialogue I have read between a Christian and an atheist).
I simply explain the Catholic faith, debunk misconceptions of the faith (as prevalant among Muslims and Jews and Pagans as they are among Protestants), and always stand ready to give a reason for the hope within me. It is my hope that such will allow others to come closer to the Catholic faith as I did, even if I am only unblocking the road so an evangelist can share his testimony and lead the other down the path.