Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus Part IV

Now it is clear that one may be excused from the sin of infidelity, or the guilt of heresy, and yet not be in the way of salvation, for he may lack the positive supernatural virtues which place him on the plane of his supernatural end or beatitude, and which can neither be acquired nor lived without faith.  What we wish to impress upon the mind of the reader is, that the simple negation of sin does not suffice for heaven.  We do not say that , if man had not sinned, God would have become incarnate, but we do say that man cannot attain to his end without being not only discharged from guilt, but reconstituted in the supernatural justice in which Adam was originally constituted.  The two, the discharge from guilt and the restoration to justice, are, in hac providentia, coincident and inseparable, if we speak of original sin, and the one is never without the other; yet are they distinguishable, and the former does not suffice for glorification in heaven.  For that, the adult must be raised to and live a supernatural life.

In the case of poorly instructed or misinstructed Catholics, yet really in the visible communion of the church, who involuntarily err even in regard to very important matters, but are docile and willing to be set right, we not only regard them as inculpable, but as in the way of salvation; for they have or may have the positive supernatural virtues required.  The seed is in them.  But we are unable to extend the same rules to persons in communions, or sects rather, notoriously separated from the church, and under anathema.  To them the principle of invincible ignorance, it seems to us, does not apply, any more than it does to open and avowed infidels, pantheists, or atheists.  These have not the seed in them, and if they die as they are, must go in infernos, however invincibly ignorant.  If they received the seed in baptism, it has been lost, as we have seen, by their omission, or even inability, to elicit the act of faith, on coming to the use of reason.  The seed is choked and prevented from germinating, or the fowls of the air - evil spirits - gather it up as soon as sown.  The invincibly ignorant, may not be doomed to so severe a punishment as the invincibly ignorant, but ignorance itself is always either a sin or the penalty of sin, and is, as St. Augustine says, “just cause of damnation.”

With regard to the several Protestant sects in whose good faith we know them too well to believe, we do not judge individuals, for judgment has not been committed to us; and we dare not say when a Protestant dies that he is assuredly lost, for we know not what passed between God and his soul at the last moment when the breath left the body; but this we do dare say, that, if one dies a Protestant, and the presumption, if he remains an adhering Protestant up to the last moment, is that he does so die, he is most assuredly damned, that is, forever deprived of heaven, and will never see God as he is.  Protestantism is an open and avowed revolt against the church of God, a total rejection, in principle, of Christ and his authority, therefore, of Christianity itself, and Protestants exhibit in their lives no virtues of a supernatural order, or that transcend our natural light and strength.  If, in infancy, they have been elevated above the natural order, they have fallen back to its level, and not seldom below it.  If they can be saved in their heresy, or apostasy, the divine plan, as we have learned it, is false and delusive.