Anathemas: are Protestants going to hell?


#1

I am a new convert to Catholicism. My parents are Protestants and are dumbfounded that I would have joined a Church with so much "false doctrine." My Mom established right from the beginning that she didn't want to talk about it because it makes her too uncomfortable/upset. But on our last visit home, we were talking about a kind Protestant man we all knew who recently passed away. My Mom piped up tersely, "I suppose you think he went to hell because the Council of Trent has so many anathemas against him." (not her exact words) My husband and I both said, "No," but then we were immediately interrupted by both the telephone and the children. We did not resurrect the issue after that, and neither did she.

If we had not been interrupted, I would have said that the reason the Church proclaims these anathemas is that it wants to protect it flock from heresy, as heresy is extremely dangerous. When someone willfully and deliberately becomes a heretic, they are cursed. But when someone believes something in ignorance, God may/does have mercy. But beyond that, I am not sure what I would have said.

Does anyone have any other good arguments or insights on explaining the anathemas to Protestants?


#2

I’m thinking the Lord may have had a hand in introducing those interruptions (phone and children). The simple “no” from the 2 of you may have been the best response for the time being. Too much too fast could have ended in an argument causing her to become even more firm in her rejection. Your short response of “No” may just start her thinking and wondering. I’d wait to say anything more until she asks about it – or makes another similar statement.


#3

Anathemas and excommunications only apply to those who are (visibly) within the Catholic Church. Raised as protestants, they are not subject to the laws of the Catholic Church.

Also, as Catholics, we are not to judge anyone. We leave that up to God. So we cannot say whether or not he would be in hell, but we can hope and pray that in God’s mercy, He accepts him into His heavenly Kingdom.


#4

You too huh ? My wife and I joined this easter and that pretty much sums up the thoughts on both sides of our families

Does anyone have any other good arguments or insights on explaining the anathemas to Protestants?

Don’t argue. Just don’t. It won’t do any good. The no was sufficient. You will discern when she is truly interested in an answer. Give one then.


#5

[quote="Nita, post:2, topic:321635"]
I'm thinking the Lord may have had a hand in introducing those interruptions (phone and children). The simple "no" from the 2 of you may have been the best response for the time being. Too much too fast could have ended in an argument causing her to become even more firm in her rejection. Your short response of "No" may just start her thinking and wondering. I'd wait to say anything more until she asks about it -- or makes another similar statement.

[/quote]

I agree! :) I was glad for the interruptions. I wish we could discuss our differences without so much tension on her part. :(


#6

Just a side note. I found it interesting to discover that the format of the Church's anathemas ---* "If anyone says........., let him be anathema" *--- is straight from Scripture, authored by St. Paul!

Galatians1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. 1:9 As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.


#7

It’s best at this point to focus on the things you have in common. When talking about Church at all, simply talk about how lovely the flowers were, or comment on the choice of hymns, but stay off the subject of theology.

First, let her know that we have a lot in common - that, just like her Protestant congregation, there are some odd characters in your parish, and that there is a flower committee, and that the Sunday School kids say the cutest things, etc.

Then, when she’s ready, let her know what the actual differences are.


#8

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