For nearly half a century, the Church was split into two or three obediences that excommunicated one another, so that every Catholic lived under excommunication by one pope or another, and, in the last analysis, no one could say with certainty which of the contenders had right on his side. The Church no longer offered certainty of salvation; she had become questionable in her whole objective form--the true Church, the true pledge of salvation, had to be sought outside the institution.
That quotation is from page 196 of Principles of Catholic Theology, by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.In case somebody doesn't care to wade through the rest of my articles on this quotation, I will merely note here that my opponent has taken the preceding quotation out of context and, deliberately or not, purported falsely that it is Ratzinger's own opinion about the Great Western Schism:
For in a FORTY year period, no Pope could be thought (with any certainty) to be infallible in any of his proclamations, nor could any Catholic be certain of his or her salvation. And if they could not be certain then; how can any Roman Catholic be certain about their faith in the present institution? For how can any Catholic claim to be a member of the church Christ founded upon Peter which, "the gates of Hell would not overcome," when it WAS overcome in the Schism of 1378? A time when even a Catholic scholar will admit: "The true church, the true pledge of salvation had to be sought outside the institution." (from my opponent, 12/15/95, 04:16 am)
Cardinal Ratzinger, however, was expressing his understanding of how Protestants look at the Great Western Schism based upon their own soteriology and ecclesiology.
I find it ironic (to say the least) that Ratzinger's survey of different models of church unity--his attempt as a Catholic scholar to be just, irenic, conciliatory, and sympathetic both to the Orthodox and to Protestants--has been--deliberately or not--abused by my opponent this way.