The staunchest of all apologists on the Catholic Dogma EENS was Fr. Michael Müller C.SS.R. (1825 – 1899). He always submitted his works to two Redemptorist theologians (as his rule required) and to his religious superiors before publication.
One of his many great Catholic books titled “The Catholic Dogma” defended the Church’s teaching of BOD. He wrote that an invincibly ignorant person cannot be saved by his ignorance, but can be saved outside the Sacrament of Baptism. He also defended the true meaning of Pope Pius IX’s teaching on this topic.
Fr. Michael Müller, C.SS.R., The Catholic Dogma, pp. 217-218, 1888:
“Inculpable or invincible ignorance has never been and will never be a means of salvation. To be saved, it is necessary to be justified, or to be in the state of grace. In order to obtain sanctifying grace, it is necessary to have the proper dispositions for justification; that is, true divine faith in at least the necessary truths of salvation, confident hope in the divine Savior, sincere sorrow for sin, together with the firm purpose of doing all that God has commanded, etc. Now, these supernatural acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, etc., which prepare the soul for receiving sanctifying grace, can never be supplied by invincible ignorance; and if invincible ignorance cannot supply the preparation for receiving sanctifying grace, much less can it bestow sanctifying grace itself. ‘Invincible ignorance,’ says St. Thomas, ‘is a punishment for sin.’ (De, Infid. Q. x., art. 1). “It is, then, a curse, but not a blessing or a means of salvation… Hence Pius IX said ‘that, were a man to be invincibly ignorant of the true religion, such invincible ignorance would not be sinful before God; that, if such a person should observe the precepts of the Natural Law and do the will of God to the best of his knowledge, God, in his infinite mercy, may enlighten him so as to obtain eternal life; for, the Lord who knows the heart and the thoughts of man will, in his infinite goodness, not suffer anyone to be lost forever without his own fault.’ Almighty God, who is just condemns no one without his fault, puts, therefore, such souls as are in invincible ignorance of the truths of salvation, in the way of salvation, either by natural or supernatural means.”
Fr. Michael Müller also wrote a catechism titled “Familiar Explanation of Christian Doctrine.” He writes:
Q. What are we to think of the salvation of those who are out of the pale of the Church without any fault of theirs, and who never had any opportunity of knowing better?
A. Their inculpable ignorance will not save them; but if they fear God and live up to their conscience, God, in His infinite mercy, will furnish them with the necessary means of salvation, even so as to send, if needed, an angel to instruct them in the Catholic faith, rather than let them perish through inculpable ignorance.
Q. Is it then right for us to say that one who was not received into the Church before his death, is damned?
Q. Why not?
A. Because we cannot know for certain what takes place between God and the soul at the awful moment of death.
Q. What do you mean by this?
A. I mean that God, in His infinite mercy, may enlighten, at the hour of death, one who is not yet a Catholic, so that he may see the truth of the Catholic faith, be truly sorry for his sins, and sincerely desire to die a good Catholic.
Q. What do we say of those who receive such an extraordinary grace, and die in this manner?
A. We say of them that they die united, at least, to the soul of the Catholic Church, and are saved.
Q. What, then, awaits all those who are out of the Catholic Church, and die without having received such an extraordinary grace at the hour of death?
A. Eternal damnation.