“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.
“Jesus gives His Spirit to the disciples and confers them the power to forgive sins” (vv. 21-23). The disciples are sent to fulfill a mission: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he was in the world, Jesus made the face and the love of the Father present (Jn 12:45). Now, having left this world, he continues his work through the disciples to whom he confers his Spirit.