Are non-Catholics sinning (most likely venially) by not being Catholic?

I know that ignorance plays a HUGE factor in this, but is it grave matter for non-Catholics to not be Catholic?

Is it intrinsically evil? (that is, if they have invincible ignorance will it be a venial sin or no sin at all?)

Are non-Catholics sinning (most likely venially) by not being Catholic?

awaiting someone more eloquent of speech to address this from a Catholic viewpoint…

Depends but in short…

If they’re an amazonian who’ve never even heard about the concept of God, Heaven etc? No, they can’t be responsible for something out of their control. They didn’t choose to be born in a land outside Christendom.

If the person knows of the existence of the Catholic Church and it’s claim to absolute authority but refuses to join? Yes, they’re sinning.

Whether it is mortal or not depends on other factors? A born Methodist who has heard of Papal Infallibility and just doesn’t agree with it. Only venial sin. A Catholic who leaves the Catholic Church? Guaranteed ticket to hell according to Catholic Church.

In brief, if you don’t know the Catholic Church or its claims you’re not sinning. If you do have any form of access to Catholic teachings (which most people these days with the internet do) and refuse to eiher educate yourself in them or accept them you are.

This implies that, for starters, every literate non-Catholic in at least the “First World” is walking around in a state of sin for the simple reason that they haven’t joined the Catholic Church. Don’t believe that to be true at all.

This is a difficult question, but my instinct is to say no (at least not a mortal sin). The problem with saying an entire group is sinning is that we don’t understand the circumstances and the heart of each individual person. We have no idea what life experiences or misconceptions may lead someone to refuse to join or even leave the church. Also, I think it is safe to say that no one who truly understands, knows and has felt God’s love and mercy through the church would ever choose to turn away from it. My instinct is to say that the sin would be venial at most, due to lack of understanding and belief in the church’s true nature, which would lessen culpability.

(This is a bit off topic–but is it even possible for a non-Catholic to commit a mortal sin? My understanding is that in order for a sin to be mortal, it must be committed with full knowledge of the severity and eternal consequences. If someone doesn’t believe or know about mortal sin, then they would be missing a fundamental component of that)

But it is. They have access to Catholic Teaching, and the world has an obligation to seek out the Gospel and accept it. They are choosing to be ignorant of Catholic teaching at the very least.

My memory fails me but I am quite certain either Pius IX or VII shared a far more eloquent statement of this in one of his encyclicals. If anyone knows which I’d appreciate being informed.

I cannot believe that anybody can ask that question!

I have heard of some Protestant sects who state that Catholics are not “saved”.
But I have never heard that coming from our Catholic side.

Found this.

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

First of all, if anything, I was only assuming that they were committing venial sins, far from not being “saved”.

But, I actually was trying not to judge them. I didn’t want to assume anything that was against Catholic doctrine so I decided to ask this question.

But after some responses, as well as PM-ing Bookcat, I realize that there was more to the question than I knew.

Now I am educated and know. Thank you all for your responses.

I am sorry if I offended any non-Catholics, that was not my intent. Originally, I was trying to PM a message to somebody, but I messed up big time and started this thread (wasn’t thinking straight).

Are non-Christians sinning? To the extant that they have heard the Gospel and reject it, yes.

Are non-Catholic Christians sinning by not seeking communion with the Catholic Church?
Schism from Christ’s Church is indeed a grave sin, but many do not recognize the Catholic Church as the Church created by Christ at Pentecost.

How can it be a sin to not believe what you do not think is true?

While the evidence of the truth that the Church teaches may be clear to us, other people do not find the evidence to be compelling truth. Many great minds have investigated the dogma of the Church, in all humility and openness, and could not believe it.

How could that possibly be a sin?

Hi to all,

I am somewhat surprised that posters appear willing to imply that there is not potentially any sin in not embracing the Catholic Church (the One founded by Christ, universal to all people).

On the one hand, I have a great deal of sympathy with and even admiration for many Protestants, both through personal interactions and by consuming materials produced by Protestants. So I know that so many of them have a love for Jesus of the sincerest kind. That cannot be without merit before God.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen a reference to the very serious reality that Protestants are depriving themselves of the Sacraments (not necessarily Baptism, but Holy Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation, Annointing of the sick, and Holy Orders) by not joining the Church. Objectively, that is very serious. It is also the reality that extremely extensive material about the merits of the Church are available, and I am doubtful that most people of any faith take the time to consume such material or ask themselves where truth really lies.

Subjectively, we leave these decent and lovable people in God’s hands, offering them the best support we can to encourage conversion. That also refers, of course, to members of other faiths and even those of no faith who have good will.

The best I can do with the question. We all need to pray for God to help us make good decisions about our moral, spiritual and sacramental lives.

The original poster should not be making apologies for this very good question. Nothing wrong with it, though pat replies are impossible.

I hope this has been helpful to someone.


If this were true, then why are E. Orthodox allowed to receive Holy Communion?

“Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church** if they seek such on their own accord and are properly disposed**. This is also valid for members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern Churches. (CIC 844 §3)”

E. Orthodox has valid Holy Orders also.

From the Roman Catholic POV, it is not required for them to become Catholics to receive Holy communion. And there have been reports of special circumstances where a Protestant was allowed to receive Holy Communion.

Yes, but that’s old news. The more important point is that the Vatican is an evil organization. This was proven in 1993, when the document Uniatism: Method of Union of the Past, and the Present Search for Full Communion came out (or possibly way back when the Decree on Ecumenism came out, but let’s not get into that debate):

Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Oriental, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other

Who me? :getholy:

Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, just as we Catholics do. They have valid Holy Orders, and, so granted they are properly disposed (fulfill the same conditions that Roman Catholics must fulfill) and seek such on their own accord , they may receive.

Yes, it can be possible for Protestants to receive Holy Communion.

“If the danger of death is present or other grave necessity, in the judgment of the diocesan bishop or the conference of bishops, Catholic ministers may licitly administer these sacraments to other Christians who do not have full Communion with the Catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and on their own ask for it, provided they manifest Catholic faith in these sacraments and are properly disposed” (CIC 844 § 4).

To respond to your first post, the fact remains that, regardless of whether it is grave matter to not be Catholic we still cannot judge if the person is in mortal sin or not, and thus, cannot judge if the person is properly disposed to receive. For all we know, they could have invincible ignorance and so not be guilty of mortal sin. And if the person is properly disposed, and if the conditions stated above are all met, the person may receive.

Hi Everyone,

I would point out here that, given the unlikelihood of the exception described here happening to any individual, we can still say that practically all persons who remain as Protestants will never licitly receive Holy Communion. What we want for a person is regular Communion with Jesus, not the small chance of it happening once at the point of death.

Talking so much of exceptions seems quite unhelpful to me. The norm is a regular spiritual life complete with the Sacraments and accurate doctrine on such subjects as Our Lady, purgatory and the moral teachings of the Church. This is what is desirable and necessary for all human beings.



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