The purpose of the five solas was to contrast the Protestant Reformation from the contemporary Roman Catholic teaching:
- Sola gratia: that grace alone is the only thing necessary for salvation, and that the supposed Roman Catholic belief of good works affecting salvation is incorrect
- Soli Deo gloria: that glory is given to God alone, and that the Roman Catholic glorification of the saints (especially Mary) and the Pope is wrong
- Sola fide: that forgiveness of sins is achieved through faith alone, and not through faith plus good works as believed by the Church
- Sola scriptura: that the Bible is the only thing necessary to understand God's word, and that the Church's reliance on sacred tradition is wrong
- Solus Christus: that Christ is the head of the Church, and that salvation comes only through him and not some intermediary, like the Pope, the priesthood, or the saints.
They're presented in such a way as to argue what the Church teaches is wrong, and as such, the Roman Catholic Church rejects all five as they were formulated and argued simpliciter.
The Church's response to the implications derived from the five solas has been similar to its reponse to much of Protestant teaching; that they're based on misinterpretation and misapplication of the scriptures or of the Church body:
- The Church affirmed the doctrine of sola gratia twice: first in 529 at the Second Council of Orange, and again in 1545 at the Council of Trent.
- The Church agrees that all glory is to God alone, but that the recognition of the saints is to glorify God, and that the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.
- The Church rejects the Biblical standing upon which sola fide is founded, just as the Protestants reject the Biblical basis upon which the doctrine of faith plus grace/good works is founded.
- The Church believes the doctrine of sola scriptura has no Biblical basis, and while the Bible is authoritative, the Gospels state the Church has the authority to teach and interpret it (for example, Matthew 18:18).
- The head of the Roman Catholic Church is, in fact, Jesus Christ: and only through His grace we are saved. However, the sacraments, performed by the Church, confer that grace (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus).