An even greater problem is that, as alluded to in my earlier essay, Pope Boniface VIII, in a pronouncement that does bear all the marks of infallibility, declared, proclaimed, and defined that “it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” For good measure, the eleventh session of the Fifth Lateran Council reaffirmed that “subjection to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation for all Christ’s faithful.”
The clarity, authority, and consistency of such pronouncements are such that the pre-Vatican II Catholic Encyclopedia could remark without qualification or embarrassment that “this has been the constant teaching of the Church.” With equal bluntness it could specify the implications of this constant teaching: “When, therefore, the Greeks [i.e., the Orthodox] and others say they are not subject to the authority of Peter and his successors, they thus acknowledge that they do not belong to Christ’s sheep.”
While I can therefore appreciate the ecumenical charity Chalk expresses, such charity comes at the cost of playing fast and loose with Catholic history and theology. When he claims that “no faithful Catholic can believe” that Protestants stand outside the Christian faith, and that to do so “would mean rejecting Catholic doctrine,” one is forced to ask: Which Catholic doctrine? That of Vatican II, which “defined no dogma at all,” or that of Boniface VIII and Lateran V, which defined and reiterated “the constant teaching of the Church”?