Can non-Catholics be saved? If so, how?

These questions have been debated by Catholics since the time of the early Church. Back then, Catholics wondered about the Jews and Gentiles who lived before Christ, as well as believers who were martyred for the Catholic Faith but had not yet been baptized.

In later centuries, the debate surrounded the countless souls in the New World discovered by Columbus and all those in other lands who had never heard the Gospel preached. What would happen to them when they died? How can we reconcile these poor souls with the perennial Church teaching extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the Church there is no salvation”)?

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