“There is no salvation outside of the Church.” This statement is famous, delivered in the third century by Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and is not always correctly interpreted. Many Christians in the past have made the mistake of identifying the kingdom of God with the ecclesial institution to which they belonged. They flaunted arrogant certainties, cultivated prejudices against other religions and called the others impure and far. In the most abhorrent cases they also resorted to force to coerce others to conversion and baptism.
Unfortunately, today, as then, many simply recognize Jesus as the wise man who has shown the paths of justice and peace, one of the many prophets, perhaps the greatest of the prophets. While esteeming, they consider him a mere man “Joseph’s son” and do not realize or refuse to accept that he is “the Only Begotten” of the Father (Jn 1:14).