Are all protestants living in mortal sin?

I am a Catholic who is coming back to the faith. I have not been ‘away’ as such, but have not been in full communion with the Church and had been attending Church of England services and marriage.

I understand now that my marriage is invalid, and so I am seeking to have it convalidated.

I understand that I am technically living in sin at this point, in the eyes of the Catholic Church.

This makes me ask- what is the situation with our brothers and sisters in Protestant churches? I realise this is a broad remark to make- but does this suggest all Protestants are living in mortal sin?

The Church classes mortal sin as grievous and therefore would lead to hell.

However we also know that mortal sin, essentially, is an act done intentionally, with full knowledge that it is wrong.

In this case, am I more likely to be in a state of mortal sin, than a protestant? Since protestants believe they are justified in their break from the Church?

If this is the case, can’t any one explain away mortal sin of this nature (marriage outside of the Church) into saying something like- I don’t accept my marriage is invalid- I was married in Church in the eyes of God.

I hope this makes sense!


If you did what you did with full knowledge of its gravity, yes, that is a mortal sin. However, it is never too late to repent and seek forgiveness and we have Confession sacrament to help us restore our spiritual health. Do come back. I came back after 20 years. I got married in a government sanctioned institution as my spouse was a non-christian/catholic then. All that is taken care off when I came back and my spouse is now Catholic.

Protestants may claim ignorance but we are not the judge. Only God knows their hearts and minds.

818 "However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities [that resulted from such separation] and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers . . . . All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church."272

819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

Are all Protestants living in mortal sin?

A reasonable answer would be: No.

Are some Protestants living in mortal sin? -I imagine so. As are some Catholics and some Orthodox …

As you already said in your main post, you must know that it is wrong. Knowing that it is grave matter is a prerequisite for commitiing a mortal sin. Some people may not know that it is grave matter. They may have even been told that something is ok to do. Therefore they are not guilty of commiting a mortal something simply because they don’t know any better.

I can’t think of the scripture verse of the top of my head but it is something like “If I had not come among them, they would not be in sin.” Basicly Jesus is saying they wouldn’t have known any better. Another passage states “that to whom much is given, much will be required.” This includes the knowledge of the truth. If you know the truth, then you will be required to live by that truth. If you do not know the truth, it will not be held against you at least not to the extent that it will be held against someone who does know the truth.

Wow- fast responses- thank you!

So quick- I just wanted to post the below in addition to what I wrote. Still, not too late:

“Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation.[1]”

—Catechism of the Catholic Church, 847

See the 2 quotes I added above from the CCC


819 "Furthermore, many elements of sanctification and of truth"273 are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: "the written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements."274 Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him,275 and are in themselves calls to "Catholic unity."276

To take this in another direction- which should probably be in another thread or has already been responded to…but since I have your attention.

My situation was that I have remained a Christian all my life- I came to the Church in 2001. But since moving out of my parish some considerable distance 6 years ago, I didn’t really find a new parish, and my work circumstances took me away from Mass. Deciding to be married, the Church ‘rules’ were less known to me and less important at the time- in fact some of what I read actually annoyed me and pushed me away from the church. I think it was the way these doctrines were phrased where very condescending, which alienated me, to a point.

My marriage was in the Church of England. I understand I would qualify to have my marriage convalidated. I say this for the help of anyone reading, but also to double-check. I have a meeting next week with a priest to check.


(Assuming no-one was married. If there is a second attempt at marriage (like after a divorce) the first marriage must be looked at to see if it was valid)

That would be the first step. Once that takes place one can return to the Sacraments.


1452 When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called “perfect” (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible.51

1453 The contrition called “imperfect” (or “attrition”) is also a gift of God, a prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is born of the consideration of sin’s ugliness or the fear of eternal damnation and the other penalties threatening the sinner (contrition of fear). Such a stirring of conscience can initiate an interior process which, under the prompting of grace, will be brought to completion by sacramental absolution. By itself however, imperfect contrition cannot obtain the forgiveness of grave sins, but it disposes one to obtain forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance.52

Where one cannot yet return to the Sacraments (though talk with the Priest - for there can be cases where a couple recognize they are not married validly and live as brother and sister until they are - and avoiding scandal return to the sacraments -but perhaps with a convalidation it is rather quick) – remember in terms of living in mortal sin - one can already seek to “not live so” - and with the grace of perfect contrition --be returned to a state of grace.

I would say if the person truely repented and is living an obedient life to Gods laws ( fear of god ) then no - if they did not repent - and it is clear that we must repent - depending on theirs sins it is quite possible that they are living in mortal sin.

No. All protestants are not living in mortal sin.

Those who started the Protestant Revolt certainly were. Not so, those who are alive today, at least from what I read in the Catechism. Although, what about those who, from the pulpit, run off at the mouth about how “bad” the Church of Rome is?:shrug: (The guy who publishes the Chick Tracts, for instance)


God is greater than all this concern people have about folks of other Faiths being in a state of sin because they are not Catholic. He understands our desire to know him truly, our personal conscience and our life patterns and situations. We need to start giving God a little more credit for working in the hearts of all people regardless of their religious affiliation. If they are seeking His will in earnest I am certain He will provide for their salvation.

I am a Catholic and wanted to be such since the age of 4. But I have found all the worrying about the state of other peoples souls due to their religious affiliation to be something people can waste their time on instead of focusing on their own need for change. If God can convert a 4 year old child who lives in an atheistic family, I am sure He can manage adults of other Faiths.

Please pray with me as I do everyday:

Lord Jesus Christ, at your Last Supper you prayed to the Father that all should be one. Send your Holy Spirit upon all who bear your name and seek to serve you. Strengthen our faith in you, and lead us to love one another in humility. May we who have been reborn in one baptism be united in one faith under one Shepherd. Amen.

“Heavenly Father, have mercy on your people and heal the divisions in the body of Christ. May all Christian people throughout the world attain the unity for which Jesus prayed on the eve of his sacrifice. Renew in us the power of the Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love for all our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.”

protestants are living in the same amount of mortal sin as Catholics and the rest of society that isn’t Catholic.

this thread seems nothing more than attempt to cause trouble.

Well, most Protestants do know the Gospel of Christ, right? However, some haven’t heard Biblical and Patristic evidence that The Catholic Church is the Church God founded through Jesus Christ, on Peter the rock. Some have at least heard Biblical verses used to support it, but deny that interpretation. Would such necessarily be held culpable?

Though most of them know that The Catholic Church exists. Is that what it means to know His Church? Merely knowing that it exists? Or is it knowing, in the sense that one is convinced that the The Catholic Church was founded by God through Christ?

“…] Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (CCC, § 846).

I’m not sure if the OP is referring only to marriage outside the Church in terms of mortal sin or something more. If you’re talking about marriage according to Catholic form, that applies to Catholics but not to Protestants. The Catholic Church recognizes Protestant marriages as valid even if they take place in a courthouse, hotel, beach, etc. So clearly those people are not committing a sin simply by their marriages.

Yes, Catholics are held to a higher standard due to their fuller knowledge of the Faith. For instance, Catholics are bound to be married in the Church. Not non-Catholics.

Catholics are not held to a higher standard, and Catholics def do not have a fuller knowledge of the faith, let alone are bound to anything, we have do have choices though, to try our best, or be scorned by our fellow catholics online and occasion in our own parishes.

Great answer. And I think you are right.

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