- what is necessary is to die in a state of grace, and not in mortal sin
- the Church provides the normal means for staying in a state of grace, i.e. confession
- without confession (available only to Catholics) one is stuck in one's sins barring some extraordinary avenue, such as a perfect act of contrition
- therefore, while being Catholic is not required to get into Heaven, as a practical matter it is extremely unlikely for a non-Catholic to die in a state of grace
Raising the hypothetical question of the good Protestant's salvation, it is "moot," as far as the Church goes. It is not whether he died outside or inside the Church, but whether he died in a state of grace. He closed by saying salvation comes "through" the Church, which is quite different from saying one must be "in" the Church.
Now, Mr. Voris may be correct, and probably is, as far as he goes. It seems to the Bear, however, to be a bit legalistic, and ignores the dimension of "belonging:" belonging to the body of Christ; attachment to the true, nourishing vine.
It also skirts the dogma of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (EENS) -- there is no salvation outside the Church. Popes and councils have declared this, and the Fathers have taught it. To raise it today is to be accused of Feenyism. Yet the historical fact of these infallible teachings is a big, embarrassing, stumbling block. They are not couched in Mr. Voris' terms of practical benefit, but of being in, of belonging.
Now the Bear doesn't know what to think because no one will face up to the facts. He suspects EENS can neither be swallowed nor spat out. It cannot be swallowed because it is incompatible with ecumenism and interfaith activity. It is contrary to the whole drift of the age. It cannot be spat out because that would be admitting the Church was wrong about an infallible dogma.
So the whole matter is safely left to the occasional Bear with an interest in historical curiosities.
Mr. Voris's argument is appealing and easy to follow, but is it the whole story?
This is one of the the hardest questions Catholics ponder. For converts, especially, it can be very painful, for if it is necessary to be in the Catholic Church to be saved, what is there to say about dear relatives who rejected, whether out of prejudice or laziness, our invitations to investigate the Church?
This would not be a profitable topic for discussion but for its practical impact. To the extent we believe the Church is not necessary for salvation, we slide into indifferentism and universalism. The evangelical spirit has been all but snuffed on account of these twin heresies. Getting people inside the Church matters.
The Bear is not accusing Mr. Voris of being wrong. Perhaps the Bear is drawing a distinction without a difference. We both acknowledge that, one way or another, the Catholic Church is the ordinary means of salvation. It is hard enough for us to be saved with all the assistance of the Church. May God have mercy on the souls of those who perish outside of it.