[The following is the entire paragraph from which Michael Horton Scott, and my opponent following him, have taken the quotation in question (from Principles of Catholic Theology, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, page 196). The entire section (pages 193-203) is posted in another article. In this article, I cite Scripture and quote Ecumenical Councils to demonstrate that the statements in the quotation in question cannot be Cardinal Ratzinger's own opinion or viewpoint.]
"With Luther another kind of division that had its roots in Augustine appeared in the Church. The split between Donatists and Catholics that rent the Church of his African homeland caused the great doctor of the Church to distinguish with a sharpness until then unknown between the theological greatness of the Church as a salvific reality and her empirical existence: many who seem to be in the Church are outside her; many who seem to be outside her are in her. The true Church is the number of the predestined who, on the one hand, transcend the visible Church while, on the other hand, the reprobate are present at her very center. For Augustine, it must be admitted, this concept had no adverse repercussions with regard to the value of the sacramental and apostolic structure of the Church and her tradition. But the great Western schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had imbued it with a degree of realism that would have been inconceivable up to that time. [here begins the quotation in question] 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. [here ends the quotation in question; emphasis added] It is against this background of a profoundly shaken ecclesial consciousness that we are to understand that Luther, in the conflict between his search for salvation and the tradition of the Church, ultimately came to experience the Church, not as the guarantor, but as the adversary of salvation. The concept of the Church was limited, on the one hand, to the local community; on the other hand, it embraced the community of the faithful throughout the ages who are known only to God. But the community of the whole Church as such is no longer the bearer of a positively meaningful theological content. Ecclesial organization is now borrowed from the political realm because it does not otherwise exist as a spiritually significant entity. Thus there does, it is true, exist an important community of belief with the ancient Church wherever the credal texts are taken seriously, but its ecclesial anchor and, therefore, the binding authority that sustains its agreements or disagreements remain unclear although, in the ecclesiological development of the Protestant community, much has been restored as a matter of actual necessity that has in principle lost its raison d'etre."
I have explained in another article how it is clear from what else Ratzinger has written--in the same section of the book--that the quotation in question cannot be an expression of his own opinion: it is his expression of the Protestant viewpoint.
Here follow some extracts from my original analysis of the quotation in question; they too show, not that Cardinal Ratzinger didn't write the quotation in question, but that it cannot be his expression of his own opinion as a "Catholic scholar".
"Certainty of salvation" is a Protestant buzz-phrase (if I may be allowed to coin a word). The very phrase "certainty of salvation" betrays a Protestant mindset.
Catholics are, of course, certain that salvation is possible for all, through the ministry of the Church--that is why Christ founded the Church, to be the Sacrament of Salvation for the world.
However, the Catholic Church professes that *nobody* ever has certainty of salvation in this life. (For the scriptural foundation of this belief, see Romans 8:24,25; 1 Corinthians 4:4,5; and Phillipians 2:12,13. BTW, these are scriptures that Protestants seldom quote, unless I've been reading the wrong Protestants.)
I will also quote the Council of Trent, which I am sure Cardinal Ratzinger knows as well as he knows Scripture: "For, just as no devout person ought to doubt the mercy of God, the merit of Christ and the power and efficacy of the sacraments; so it is possible for anyone, while he regards himself and his own weakness and lack of dispositions, to be anxious and fearful about his own state of grace, since no one can know, by that assurance of faith which excludes all falsehood, that he has obtained the grace of God" (Session 6, 13 January 1547).
By saying all this, I am merely trying to show that a theologian of Cardinal Ratzinger's stature simply would never have said what he is quoted as having said about "certainty of salvation".
[Given that the quotation in question has been taken out of context, I stand by this last assertion.]
"She had become QUESTIONABLE in her whole objective form. The true church, the true pledge of salvation HAD TO BE SOUGHT OUTSIDE THE INSTITUTION."
Here again, the very notion of "the true church" over and against "the institution" betrays a Protestant mindset.
I will be so bold as to simply, flatly deny that Cardinal Ratzinger would ever have uttered those two sentences.
[Given that the quotation in question has been taken out of context, I stand by this assertion, too.]
Following up on the notion of "the true church" being something other than "the institution", I quote next from Vatican II--again, to demonstrate that the statements in the quotation in question cannot be reconciled with the Catholic faith--that the visible, hierarchical Church and Petrine Primacy are essential and vital to Christianity by Christ's own design--and that, therefore, the statements are not Cardinal Ratzinger's own opinions, but his expression of the Protestant viewpoint. (These quotations also show how the Catholic Church understands the distinctions that St. Augustine was making in his ecclesiology.)
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Number 8 (first two paragraphs), 21 November 1964:
"Christ, the one mediator, set up his Holy Church here on earth as a visible structure, a community of faith, hope and love; and He sustains it unceasingly and through it He pours out grace and truth on everyone. This society, however, equipped with hierarchial structures, and the mystical body of Christ, a visible assembly and a spiritual community, an earthly Church and a Church enriched with heavenly gifts, must not be considered as two things, but as forming one complex reality comprising a human and a divine element. It is therefore by no mean analogy [mediocrem analogiam] that it is likened to the mystery of the incarnate Word. For just as the assumed nature serves the divine Word as a living instrument of salvation inseparably joined with Him, in a similar way the social structure of the Church [non dissimili modo socialis compage ecclesiae] serves the Spirit of Christ who vivifies the Church towards the growth of the body (see Ephesians 4:16).
"This is the unique Church of Christ, which in the creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic. After His resurrection our Saviour gave the Church to Peter to feed (see John 21:17), and to him and the other apostles He committed the Church to be governed and spread (see Matthew 28:18ff); and He set it up for all time as the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). This Church, set up and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him, although outside its structure many elements of sanctification and of truth are to be found which, as proper gifts to the Church of Christ, impel towards catholic unity."
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Number 14 (first two paragraphs), 21 November 1964:
"The holy synod turns its attention first of all to the Catholic faithful. Relying on Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that this pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation. For Christ alone, who is present to us in His body, which is the Church, is the mediator and the way of salvation; and He, while expressly insisting on the need for faith and baptism (see Mark 16:16; John 3:5), at the same time confirmed the need for the Church, into which people enter through baptism as through a door. Therefore, those cannot be saved who refuse to enter the Church or to remain in it, if they are aware that the Catholic Church was founded by God through Jesus Christ as a necessity for salvation.
"They are fully incorporated into the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept its whole structure and all the means of salvation that have been established within it, and within its visible framework are united with Christ, who governs it through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops, by the bonds of profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government and communion. That person is not saved, however, even though he might be incorporated into the Church, who does not persevere in charity; he does indeed remain in the bosom of the church 'bodily', but not 'in his heart' [St. Augustine]. But all sons and daughters of the Church must be mindful that they owe their distinguished status not to their own merits but to Christ's special grace; and if they fail to respond to this grace in thought, word and deed, not only will they not be saved, they will be judged more severely [footnote quotes Luke 12:48]."
Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Number 2 (first part of second paragraph), 21 November 1964:
"However, the college or body of bishops does not have authority unless this is understood in terms of union with the Roman pontiff, Peter's successor, as its head, and the power of this primacy is maintained intact over all, whether they be shepherds or faithful. For the Roman pontiff has, by virture of his office as vicar of Christ and shepherd of the whole Church, full, supreme and universal power over the Church, a power he is always able to exercise freely...."