Robbo has a lovely post about the teachings of the Catholic Church on what happens to those souls who are not part of the universal church.
One of the most beautiful things that drew me to the Church was this teaching. The church I grew up in and the church I left recently, both taught that if one was not part of that organization, one was lost. No ifs, ands, or buts -- just lost. If you read the Bible and didn't see what they saw, you were dishonest. If you didn't have a Bible, well -- hmmm...I don't know. Probably your tough luck.
For several years as I watched people earnestly striving, but reaching, in my opinion, incorrect conclusions, I could not see how that teaching of my church could be so. Surely not everyone was acting in bad faith. Could I really ascribe dishonesty to so many people?
Discovering a new concept, the visible church (that I'd always believed in) linked with other Christians not fully in communion, but not necessarily damned, was a revelation. It fit the world I'd been looking at and trying to understand. It made sense and brought relief as we came to realize we would be blazing a trail upon which the likelihood of our families following was not great.
We pray for the conversion some day of our friends and family to the Catholic Church. We would love for all to find Christ in His fullness within the Fold, but we take great comfort and solace from the fact that they can indeed be part of the Church, whether they come all the way in or not.
Like Robbo, you may feel free to comment, but uncharitable comments will be removed.