Sir, - Your correspondent Nuala O'Faolain was of course absolutely correct, "Membership of the Church is necessary for all men for salvation" (De fide). Obviously Ms O'Faolain was taught this dogma before the Father Tom Stacks of this world put their minds to undermining its truth, allowing it to be made a joke of in reply (July 31st).
For any interested in the dogma, it was declared by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) and reiterated at the Union Council of Florence (1442) in a manner that would have the Fr Stacks tear their modernist hair out if they ever read it. Thereafter, Popes Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Clement VI, Benedict XIV, Pius IX, Leo XIII, and Pius XII, to name a few, confirmed it as a dogma of the Church.
This dogma, however, does not mean that those outside the Church in invincible ignorance of the one true religion are damned, for they, by their desire to be a child of God, could in effect become members of the Church and thus secure salvation. A rejection of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, however, can in no way be deemed as "inculpable ignorance". God will be the judge as to who is without blame.
Obviously, because the dogma can be made look ridiculous, it is undermined by the ecumenists of the post Vatican II era. Ambiguity is their main objective, and thus Father Stack's letter. After reading it I wondered what exactly he was saying. Perhaps the dogma is not ecumenical enough and as such needs putting in its place. - Yours, etc.,