Here’s why the recent statement by the Vatican is so wrong: They believe that your salvation depends on the primacy of the Pope. How? Here’s their theology and logic:
Saving grace only comes through participating in the sacraments (baptism, mass, etc.).
The sacraments only provide this grace when administered by ordained priests.
Ordained priests are only valid if they are in submission to “apostolic succession”.
The Bishop of Rome (the Pope) is the apostolic Successor of Peter.
This is why the Roman Catholic Church thinks that other churches are “defective”: they do not recognize apostolic succession and primacy of the Pope. They therefore think all souls outside the Catholic church are in danger. Why? Because a church without submission to the papacy has no basis for the effectiveness of its sacraments and therefore cannot provide channels of saving grace.
They think any church not submitted to the Pope is “deprived of a constitutive element of the Church” – that it is not a church “in the proper sense.” That is why they so earnestly contend for the primacy of the Pope. This is the defining issue for them. Why? They think your salvation ultimately hangs on it. (See for yourself in their brief document here.)
This just exposes their complete lack of comprehension of the Gospel – how a person is saved from sin. They take a works+grace view, but the New Testament teaches a grace alone view.
This also exposes their complete lack of comprehension of the church. They think a church is a church when it is submitted to the Pope. The New Testament teaches that a true church is one submitted to the Word of God alone.