A word (from Lat. voveo, I desire) used in the technical description of a doctrine elaborated to show that God's salvific will embraces those who inculpably cannot actually use the indispensable sociosacramental means of salvation, i.e., the Church and the Church's Sacraments (specifically Baptism, Eucharist, and Penance). Concretely, this qualified votum is the intention (not necessarily explicit) to use the divinely appointed means when feasible to do so, an intention that is contained in supernatural "faith which works through charity" (Gal 5.6). God accepts this votum as a surrogate for actual Church membership and for actual sacramental use. See Trent: Denz 1524, 1543, 1604, 1677; Pius XII: Denz 3821, 3866–72. Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes teaches that "since Christ died for everyone, and since all are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partners, in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery." (22) The votum can be understood as the human response to this divine offer.
See Also: salvation, necessity of the church for.
Bibliography: g. vodopivec, "Membri in re ed appartenenza in voto alla Chiesa di Cristo," Euntes Docete 10 (1957) 65–104. f. sullivan, Salvation outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response (New York 1992).
[f. x. lawlor/
d. m. doyle]