As a follow-up to Robert Imbelli's stimulating post, see a young Joseph Ratzinger in 1964 discussing why Christians need the Church. I found this rather moving. A snip:
The question we have to face is not that of whether other people can be saved and how. We are convinced that God is able to do this with or without our theories, with or without our perspicacity, and that we do not need to help him do it with our cogitations. The question that really troubles us is not in the least concerned with whether and how God manages to save others.
The question that torments us is, much rather, that of why it is still actually necessary for us to carry out the whole ministry of the Christian faithwhy, if there are so many other ways to heaven and to salvation, should it still be demanded of us that we bear, day by day, the whole burden of ecclesiastical dogma and ecclesiastical ethics? And with that, we are once more confronted, though from a different approach, with the same question we raised yesterday in conversation with God and with which we parted: What actually is the Christian reality, the real substance of Christianity that goes beyond mere moralism? What is that special thing in Christianity that not only justifies but compels us to be and live as Christians?
ht: Whispers in the Loggia