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Placuit Deo: “the place where we receive the salvation brought by Jesus is the Church”

(Foto Siciliani-Gennari/SIR)

“The place where we receive the salvation brought by Jesus is the Church, the community of those who, having been incorporated into this new kind of relationship begun by Christ, can receive the fullness of the Spirit of Christ. Understanding this salvific mediation of the Church is an essential help in overcoming all reductionist tendencies”. This is the final part of the Letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “Placuit Deo” which reminds us that the “salvation that God offers us is not achieved with our own individual efforts alone, as neo-Pelagianism would contend. Rather, salvation is found in the relationships that are born from the incarnate Son of God and that form the communion of the Church”. Moreover, since the grace that Christ gives us “is not a merely interior salvation, as the neo-Gnostic vision claims, and introduces us into concrete relationships that He himself has lived, the Church is a visible community. In her we touch the flesh of Jesus, especially in our poorest and most suffering brothers and sisters”. The “salvific mediation” of the Church – “the universal sacrament of salvation”, as explained in the Lumen Gentium – assures us “that salvation does not consist in the self-realization of the isolated individual, nor in an interior fusion of the individual with the divine. Rather, salvation consists in being incorporated into a communion of persons that participates in the communion of the Trinity”. “Both the individualistic and the merely interior visions of salvation contradict the sacramental economy through which God wants to save the human person”, warns the document: “the participation in the new kind of relationships begun by Jesus occurs in the Church by means of the sacraments, of which Baptism is the door, and the Eucharist is the source and the summit”. Hence the “inconsistency of the claims to self-salvation that depend on human efforts alone” and our need for the grace of the seven sacraments, by which “believers continually grow and are spiritually renewed, especially when the journey becomes more difficult”, the Letter reads, insisting on the importance of the Sacrament of Penance which allows us “to walk” as Jesus did. “Thanks to the sacraments, Christians are able to live faithful to the flesh of Christ”, the document explains: “This type of relationality particularly calls for the care of all suffering humanity through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy”. “Total salvation of the body and of the soul is the final destiny to which God calls all of humanity”, the Letter ends, exhorting everyone to “establish a sincere and constructive dialogue with believers of other religions, confident that God can lead all men of good will towards salvation in Christ”, as we read in Gaudium et Spes.

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