to news reports, a cardinal recently said that only Catholics can get to heaven.
are probably referring to the document Dominus Iesus [The Lord Jesus]: On the
Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. Many news stories erroneously reported that, according to this document, only Catholics
can go to heaven.
This instruction is directed primarily
to those involved in interreligious dialogues (that is, with non-Christians). It
denounces any downplaying of the unique and saving role of Jesus, any seeing him
as one savior among many possibilities.
The document also addresses how Jesus’ Church
is related to other Churches or faith communities. As Vatican II taught, the Church
which Jesus founded “subsists” in the Catholic Church (Dogmatic Constitution on
the Church, #8). “Subsists” is not the same as “is.” The
bishops at Vatican II chose this word very carefully.
Nothing in this instruction contradicts the Church’s faith as expressed in one of
its eucharistic prayers, “...and all the dead whose faith is known to you [God] alone.”