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Dominus Iesus

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Dominus Iesus (Latin for "The Lord Jesus") is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was approved in a Plenary meeting of the Congregation, and bears the signature of its then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and of its then Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now Cardinal Secretary of State. The declaration was approved by Pope John Paul II and was published on August 6, 2000. It is subtitled "On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church".


A Catholic dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (literally "no salvation outside the Church") has sometimes been interpreted as denying salvation to non-Catholic Christians as well as non-Christians, though constant Catholic teaching has stressed the possibility of salvation for persons invincibly ignorant (through no fault of their own) of the Catholic Church's necessity and thus not culpable for lacking communion with the Church. In the 20th century this inclusive approach was expressed in the condemnation of Feeneyism and in the declaration of the Second Vatican Council, which said that "the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator," thus potentially extending salvation to other monotheistic faiths. Vatican II further affirmed that salvation was available to people who had not even heard of Christ (cf. Acts 17:23) - but that all who gain salvation do so only by membership in the Catholic Church, whether that membership is explicit or implicit.[1]

Non-Christian religions

Such Vatican documents have led some to question the Church's commitment to ecumenism. Pope John Paul II personally endorsed Dominus Iesus, and ratified and confirmed it "with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority" (a formal sentence used at the beginning or at the point of signature of an official document).

This document [1] states that people outside of Christianity are "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation", and that non-Catholic Christian communities had "defects." Some non-Catholic groups have interpreted this as disparagement of their faiths while others have appreciated that the Church position does not deny the salvation of those officially (visibly) separated from the Catholic Church.

Response to criticisms

1. Concerning salvation:
In response to these criticisms, Pope John Paul II on October 2 of that year emphasized that this document did not say that non-Christians were denied salvation: "This confession does not deny salvation to non-Christians, but points to its ultimate source in Christ, in whom man and God are united." John Paul II then issued on December 6 a statement to emphasize further that the Church continued in the position of Vatican II that salvation was available to believers of other faiths: "The Gospel teaches us that those who live in accordance with the Beatitudes - the poor in spirit, the pure of heart, those who bear lovingly the sufferings of life - will enter God's kingdom."

2. Concerning building the "kingdom":
He further added, "All who seek God with a sincere heart, including those who do not know Christ and his Church, contribute under the influence of grace to the building of this kingdom." [2]

Other controversies were unanswered by John Paul II, however the text of declaration "Dominus Iesus" was not withdrawed, though even many catholics consider it to be very archaic and retarding and that it should be interpreted nonverbatim.

Catholic paper "W drodze" wrote that many catholics will withdraw their support for declaration's teachings or even attack it.[3]

One of catholic Superior General commented the declaration in following words: "We shouldn't argue, whose way is better, but go. And we shouldn't deny right of others to their own way, and we shouldn't deny a possibility that this other way can be successful."

Nicene Creed

The document quotes the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in its original form, without Filioque, whose addition in the West cannot be traced back beyond the Third Council of Toledo in 589. In the document, that part therefore reads: "I believe in the Holy Spirit ... who proceeds from the Father" or, in Latin, "Credo in Spiritum Sanctum ... qui ex Patre procedit."[4] The phrase "and the Son" (in Latin, "Filioque") was probably devised in response to Arianism, which denied the full divinity of the Son.[5] It was one of the elements that led to the great schism of 1054 that split Chalcedonian Christianity and has not yet been healed. The Western Church recognizes that the addition of "and the Son" to the Greek form of the Creed would be wrong, because of the specific meaning of the Greek verb that is translated as "proceeds", but it holds that both forms of the text, with and without "Filioque", are orthodox in other languages, where "proceeds" can also represent a different Greek verb, used by Greek Fathers when saying that the Holy Spirit "proceeds" (in that sense) from the Son. The Eastern Church holds that it was illicit to add the phrase, and also objects to its content.

See also


  1. Lumen Gentium, 16
  2. JOHN PAUL II, GENERAL AUDIENCE, 6 December 2000.
  3. (Polish) Naśladowanie Mistrza, 2001, "W drodze" by Dominican Order
  4. Latin text of Dominus Iesus
  5. Filioque Controversy

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