Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith issues letter on salvation
March 01, 2018
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has released a new document on the nature of salvation, emphasizing that man cannot be saved through his own efforts alone, nor without reference to others.
The CDF document, entitled Placuit Deo, emphasizes that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Citing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, the letter states: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”
Placuit Deo is a relaitively short document, consisting of 15 paragraphs. It is addressed to “the bishops of the Catholic Church,” and signed by Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, the prefect of the CDF. It was released on March 1 with the approval of Pope Francis.
The document addresses two errors that Pope Francis has frequently addressed, which the Pontiff describes as neo-Pelagianism and neo-Gnosticism. As the CDF notes, the contemporary ways of thought do not entirely match those of the original Pelagians and Gnostics. Nevertheless, the document notes, “it is possible to find similarities between the ancient heresies and the modern tendencies just described.”
Neo-Pelagianism, the CDF explains, is the belief that one can achieve salvation through one’s own efforts. This error, the document says, arises because “individualism centered on the autonomous subject tends to see the human person as a being whose sole fulfilment depends only on his or her own strength.”
Neo-Gnosticism, on the other hand, is the belief that salvation lies in a purely personal union with God, which does not require any relationship with other people. Placuit Deo observes that this error “does not take into account the need to accept, heal and renew our relationships with others and with the created world.”
These errors, the CDF writes, “deface the confession of faith in Christ, the one, universal Savior.” They also “contradiction the sacramental economy through which God wants to save the human person.”
Setting the facts straight, the CDF explains that “salvation consists in being incorporated into a communion of persons that participates in the communion of the Trinity.”
In a March 1 news conference introducing the new document, Archbishop Ladaria remarked: “Salvation cannot be simply reduced to a message, a procedure, a gnosis, or an interior sentiment.” He emphasized that the purpose of Placuit Deo is not to alter the teaching of the Church, but to explain in greater depth some aspects of the faith that the modern mind finds difficult to grasp.
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- Letter Placuit Deo To the Bishops of the Catholic Church On Certain Aspects of Christian Salvation (Vatican press office)
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