Religion: Excommunication

The Roman Catholic doctrine, "outside the church, no salvation," has been the subject of many a theological treatise, and has wrecked the mood in advance of many an auspicious American interfaith gathering. Catholic theologians explain that it must not be overliterally interpreted. Non-Catholic Christians, they say, if "invincibly ignorant" that Catholicism is the only way to salvation, can save themselves by leading good lives; for this makes them, whether they know it or not, Catholics "by desire."

Some Catholics are diffident about this doctrine, but others push it to extremes. The leading U.S. extremist is a grey-haired, ex-Jesuit priest in Boston, Father...

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