Dominus Iesus (English: Lord Jesus) is a declaration by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was approved in a Plenary meeting of the Congregation, and bears the signature of its then Prefect, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and of its then Secretary, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, now Cardinal Secretary of State. The declaration was approved by Pope John Paul II and was published on August 6, 2000. It is subtitled "On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church". It is most widely known for its recapitulation of the Catholic dogma that the Catholic Church is the sole true Church of Christ.
On one hand, the document says that non-Catholic Christian ecclesial communities that have not preserved a valid episcopate and the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic mystery are not Churches in the proper sense and that non-Christians are seriously deficient in terms of access to the means of salvation in comparison with those who in the Church have the full means of salvation. This excludes the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches, whom the Catholic Church recognizes as having validly ordained bishops.
A Catholic dogma, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus (literally "no salvation outside the Church") has sometimes been interpreted as denying salvation to non-Catholic Christians as well as non-Christians, though constant Catholic teaching has stressed the possibility of salvation for persons invincibly ignorant (through no fault of their own) of the Catholic Church's necessity and thus not culpable for lacking communion with the Church. In the 20th century this inclusive approach was expressed in the condemnation of Feeneyism and in the declaration of the Second Vatican Council, which said that "the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator," although this is ambiguous and numerous interpretations have arisen. Vatican II further affirmed that salvation could be available to people who had not even heard of Christ (cf. Acts 17:23)— but that all who gain salvation do so only by membership in the Catholic Church, whether that membership is ordinary (explicit) or by extraordinary means (implicit).
The document quotes the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in its original form, without Filioque, which was first added to the creed by the Third Council of Toledo in 589. In the document, that part therefore reads: "I believe in the Holy Spirit ... who proceeds from the Father" or, in Latin, "Credo in Spiritum Sanctum ... qui ex Patre procedit." The phrase "and the Son" (in Latin, "Filioque") was one of the elements that led to the great schism of 1054 that split Chalcedonian Christianity and has not yet been healed. The Catholic Church recognizes that the addition of "and the Son" to the Greek form of the Creed would be wrong, because of the specific meaning of the Greek verb that is translated as "proceeds", but it holds that both forms of the text, with and without "Filioque", are orthodox in other languages, where "proceeds" can also represent a different Greek verb, used by Greek Fathers when saying that the Holy Spirit "proceeds" (in that sense) from the Son. The Orthodox Church holds that it was illicit to add the phrase, and also objects to its content, although both Catholics and Orthodox have agreed that the formula "and through the Son", articulated at the Council of Florence, is theologically unproblematic.
Such Vatican documents have led some to question the Church's commitment to ecumenism[who?]. Pope John Paul II personally endorsed Dominus Iesus, and ratified and confirmed it "with sure knowledge and by his apostolic authority" (a formal sentence used at the beginning or at the point of signature of an official document).
This document  states that people outside of the Catholic faith are "in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation", and that non-Catholic Christian communities had "defects." This is because, it states, the Catholic Church was the only Church historically established by Christ and is the true Church, the mystical body of Christ.
Response to criticisms
1. Concerning salvation:
In response to these criticisms, Pope John Paul II on October 2 of that year emphasized that this document did not say that non-Christians were denied salvation: "This confession does not deny salvation to non-Christians, but points to its ultimate source in Christ, in whom man and God are united." John Paul II then issued on December 6 a statement to emphasize further that the Church continued in the position of Vatican II that salvation was available to believers of other faiths:
2. Concerning building the "kingdom":
He further added,
"All who seek God with a sincere heart, including those who do not know Christ and his Church, contribute under the influence of grace to the building of this kingdom."
- Dominus Iesus, 17
- Dominus Iesus, 22
- Lumen Gentium, 16
- Latin text of Dominus Iesus
- John Paul II General Audience, 6 December 2000. 4. paraphrase
- JOHN PAUL II, GENERAL AUDIENCE, 6 December 2000.
- English text of the document at www.vatican.va
- Roman Catholic Church's views on other faiths, as seen by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
- Responses to some questions regarding certain aspects of the doctrine on the church, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007
- Dominus Iesus Presented By Fr Augustine Di Noia OP Audio Lecture