Are they going to Hell?

I realize that we cannot know God’s mind, but I am wondering what your opinions/beliefs are on this matter: if a person is not Christian, are they automatically stripped of the possibility of reaching Heaven? Or are there exceptions, like the pious and loving mountain man who has never even heard of God, but who is always sacrficing himself for others? What about Buddhists and Jews and repentant, confused atheists? Does the Church teach anything on this matter?

Yes, the Church does teach something on this matter.

[quote=Council of Florence]{This Council} firmly believes, professes and preaches that all those who are outside the catholic church, not only pagans but also Jews or heretics and schismatics, cannot share in eternal life and will go into the everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are joined to the catholic church before the end of their lives; that the unity of the ecclesiastical body is of such importance that only for those who abide in it do the church’s sacraments contribute to salvation and do fasts, almsgiving and other works of piety and practices of the Christian militia produce eternal rewards; and that nobody can be saved, no matter how much he has given away in alms and even if he has shed his blood in the name of Christ, unless he has persevered in the bosom and the unity of the catholic church.
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As such, the answer to your question is no, the mountain men, and Jews, and Buddhists, and confused athiests, no matter how kind and generous, cannot be saved unless they will become Catholic before the end of their lives. We can hope and pray that God will move them to choose to become Catholic before their death (even if this conversion should occur just a split moment before they have breathed their last breath, such that they cannot tell any of us about their choice), but the Church definitely teaches that if one has not entered the Church before death, one is lost.

I have to disagree.

There is a basic assumption in this decree, a mitigating factor - it is called invincible ignorance. To be damned, you must KNOW that the Catholic Church is the true Church, and STILL reject it.

Even the decree states that one must PERSEVERE in the Catholic Faith. This implies that one must be a member - actually have known and accepted the Truth of the Catholic Church - and then fall away…apostasized…in order to be deserving of eternal damnation.

Invincible ignorance has been an underlying principle of the Church since its inception by the Lord.
God bless,
Greg

A) The text says what it says. There is no good pretending that there is something in it which is not there. Much as we might like to believe that there is a loophole in the Magisterial teaching, it just is not there.

B) Even assuming that this “invisible ignorance” clause really was there, how much reason do we have to suppose that it applies to all of those Jews and Buddhists and athiests which kfarose mentioned?

We can’t choose what we don’t know. Correspondingly, neither can we reject what we don’t know.

If it takes full knowledge, as well as complete consent, for a person to be mortally culpable for a grave act, then “damnation by ignorance” seems to be ruled out. On the other hand, it does not mean “salvation by ignorance,” either.

A person who knowingly and willingly rejects the Catholic Faith cannot be saved.

While salvation is possible to the ignorant non-Catholic, it does not necessarily follow that he will be saved. One cannot infer certainty from what is merely potential. That is why we can’t say that ignorance “saves” a person. It can’t. At all.

Being outside the Church, even in ignorance, is never a good thing. A non-Catholic ignorant of Christ and His Church can easily be damned for doing something he knows is definitely wrong.

[quote=GrzeszDeL]Yes, the Church does teach something on this matter.

As such, the answer to your question is no, the mountain men, and Jews, and Buddhists, and confused athiests, no matter how kind and generous, cannot be saved unless they will become Catholic before the end of their lives. We can hope and pray that God will move them to choose to become Catholic before their death (even if this conversion should occur just a split moment before they have breathed their last breath, such that they cannot tell any of us about their choice), but the Church definitely teaches that if one has not entered the Church before death, one is lost.
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This is why I am not Christian.:nope:

kfarose, this is right from New Advent, the Catechism, the Church Fathers and Lumen Gentium. You can’t get any more authoritative than this!!!

<<he Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as “the universal sacrament of salvation” (CCC 774–776), and states: “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men” (CCC 780).

Many people misunderstand the nature of this teaching.

Indifferentists, going to one extreme, claim that it makes no difference what church one belongs to and that salvation can be attained through any of them. Certain radical traditionalists, going to the other extreme, claim that unless one is a full-fledged, baptized member of the Catholic Church, one will be damned.

The following quotations from the Church Fathers give the straight story. They show that the early Church held the same position on this as the contemporary Church does—that is, while it is normatively necessary to be a Catholic to be saved (see CCC 846; Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14), there are exceptions, and it is possible in some circumstances for people to be saved who have not been fully initiated into the Catholic Church (CCC 847).

Notice that the same Fathers who declare the normative necessity of being Catholic also declare the possibility of salvation for some who are not Catholics.

These can be saved by what later came to be known as “baptism of blood” or " baptism of desire" (for more on this subject, see the Fathers Know Best tract, The Necessity of Baptism).

The Fathers likewise affirm the possibility of salvation for those who lived before Christ and who were not part of Israel, the Old Testament Church.

However, for those who knowingly and deliberately (that is, not out of innocent ignorance) commit the sins of heresy (rejecting divinely revealed doctrine) or schism (separating from the Catholic Church and/or joining a schismatic church), no salvation would be possible until they repented and returned to live in Catholic unity. >>

well Greg,

at least you haven’t shifted at all form your position (not that i would expect you too, of course).
the question becomes one of, did the IV Lateran Council intend to close the question of EENS from further doctrinal development or not. This is where you and i will begin to part company on our opinions here. I would say moreso that the development of the theology of the Church and our understanding of Christ as the universal Sacrament of salvation has made the sphere of salvation found only in the Church of Christ more inclusive to those outside of the CHurch’s visible boundaries.

However, we have gone round and round on that before.

The followers of the late Fr. Leonard Feeney, who was best known for his rigorist interpretation of “no salvation outside the Church,” exist on a narrow but real spectrum. Some … say a person must be a formal member of the Catholic Church to be saved. They take the most hardline position.

Other Feeneyites permit a little more leeway but still end up with a position that is more rigorous than that taught by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (846-848) or by Vatican II (Lumen Gentium 16) or by the most conservative pope of the nineteenth century, Pius IX. Feeneyites leave either no or little room for “invincible ignorance.”

KARL KEATING’S E-LETTER
January 27, 2004

The “no salvation outside the Church” issue is a hot button for many Catholics, as people have varying views on what “outside the Church” actually means. The Catechism, though, devotes several paragraphs to this very issue, and I think its statements are clear:

**“Outside the Church there is no salvation” **

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. 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.336

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

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.337
848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."338

Yes, someone who is not Catholic can be saved in the same way that a Catholic can be: by Jesus Christ, who is the Church. Catholic teaching is quite clear on this point.

But, this doesn’t mean that a non-Catholic will be saved. God respects our free will even to the point of allowing our self-destruction.

Therefore, this statement is false:

As such, the answer to your question is no, the mountain men, and Jews, and Buddhists, and confused athiests, no matter how kind and generous, cannot be saved unless they will become Catholic before the end of their lives.

A textbook example of a non-Catholic being pleasing to God is the case of Cornelius in the Acts of the Apostles. Can anyone seriously believe that if Peter had arrived too late to preach to and baptize Cornelius before Cornelius died that the Roman would have not gone to Heaven?

Again, to quote the Church’s authentic teaching (emphasis added):

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.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=mlchance]A textbook example of a non-Catholic being pleasing to God is the case of Cornelius in the Acts of the Apostles. Can anyone seriously believe that if Peter had arrived too late to preach to and baptize Cornelius before Cornelius died that the Roman would have not gone to Heaven?
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Apparently more than a few fathers, doctors, popes and the council of Florence could believe thusly. That is good enough for me.
:wink:

[quote=GrzeszDeL]Apparently more than a few fathers, doctors, popes and the council of Florence could believe thusly.
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Nonsense. Quote just one that says Cornelius, who was “pleasing to the Lord,” would have gone to Hell had he not been baptized?

Again, to quote authentic Church teaching, as opposed to someone’s selective reading of it:

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.

– Mark L. Chance.

Hmmm, I may have spoken too soon. I suppose that Cornelius, even if Peter had never shown up, might well have come under the dispensation of baptism in voto, so I am probably on shaky ground in my contention. In any case, as the Florentine fathers make cleaer, mere ignorance is entirely beside the point. One must be added to the Catholic Church before the end of one’s life if one is to be saved. That quote about those who “try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience” being, perhaps, able to “achieve eternal salvation” is no doubt true, but cannot contradict the infallible teaching of an ecumenical council. As such, the only possible interpretation of that quote which can remain faithful to the teaching of the Church is that those 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” may enter the Catholic Church before the last moments of their mortal life.

See the post from the Catechism above. The Church clearly teaches that salvation is open to even those outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. This is not to say that “oh, it’s all right, salvation is a given for as long as you remain a good…(insert whatever here)” that we do not evangelize. But we can hope that those who trhough no fault of their own still strive to live according to God’s law written in their hearts, may still attain salvation (may, not necessarily will). But regardless, even if they do not know it, if non-Christians are saved, it is ALWAYS through Christ and his Church that it happened.

Two Ecumenical Councils cannot contradict each other. Florence is right: one cannot be saved when he KNOWINGLY remains outside the Catholic Church. Vatican II is right: God can make a way for those who don’t know of the Church and of Christ through no personal fault.

[quote=porthos11]See the post from the Catechism above. The Church clearly teaches that salvation is open to even those outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church. This is not to say that “oh, it’s all right, salvation is a given for as long as you remain a good…(insert whatever here)” that we do not evangelize. But we can hope that those who trhough no fault of their own still strive to live according to God’s law written in their hearts, may still attain salvation (may, not necessarily will). But regardless, even if they do not know it, if non-Christians are saved, it is ALWAYS through Christ and his Church that it happened.

Two Ecumenical Councils cannot contradict each other. Florence is right: one cannot be saved when he KNOWINGLY remains outside the Catholic Church. Vatican II is right: God can make a way for those who don’t know of the Church and of Christ through no personal fault.
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There are only Catholics in heaven. Some are mystically added to the Church “Invincible Ignorance” though they are unaware that they are joined to Holy Mother Church.

So are you guys saying that, if a non-Catholic finds herself in Heaven, she unknowlingly becomes Catholic? That is very interesting. What of the Protestants? They reject the Catholic Church but still pursue Christ with their hearts. Does this mean that, since they knowlingly reject Christ’s body, they’re automatically blacklisted? Or do they simply “become Catholic” upon ascension into Heaven?

I haven’t read any of the links you guys sent me yet, so if my question is addressed in them, I apologize for speaking prematurely. Thanks for all your help!

Yes, for those with the access to the Word of God. For the ones who are out of touch with the world in the remote areas, they know what is going to happen because their minds have not been corrupted by all of our garbage in Society. We can only try to be as christlike as we can. We are not perfect. The others are taken care of by God.

[quote=porthos11]Two Ecumenical Councils cannot contradict each other. Florence is right: one cannot be saved when he KNOWINGLY remains outside the Catholic Church. Vatican II is right: God can make a way for those who don’t know of the Church and of Christ through no personal fault.
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I heartily agree that two ecumenical councils cannot contradict each other. That said, and without wanting to put too fine a point on it, neither council said either of the things you are claiming. Florence claims that one cannot be saved without being a member of the Catholic Church, and given that Florence expresses severe skepticism about the welfare of unbaptized babies, it would seem that Florence implies no exception for those who do not know any better. In light of that fact, we need to re-examine our interpretation of Vatican II to make sure that we are not smuggling into it some ignorance loop-hole which is not actually present in the text.

[quote=GrzeszDeL] Florence claims that one cannot be saved without being a member of the Catholic Church, and given that Florence expresses severe skepticism about the welfare of unbaptized babies, it would seem that Florence implies no exception for those who do not know any better. In light of that fact, we need to re-examine our interpretation of Vatican II to make sure that we are not smuggling into it some ignorance loop-hole which is not actually present in the text.
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Yes, however Florence did not dogmatically define the boundaries of the Catholic Church. And eventhough it may express “severe skepticism” the issue is not dogmatically closed by Florence. So while Florence infallibly teaches Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, it does not define the criteria by which we can say who is in and who is out. It only says that those who are saved are in.

When Vatican II in Lumen Gentium and Redemptoris Missio by JPII talk about the “spheres of salvation”, they were not denying Florence. They were talking more specifically about the Church and the scope of the relation of those whom are Incorporated to the Church of Christ (albeit imperfectly) through Baptism.

Obviously, as LG 16 says, anyone who knows that the Catholic Church was founded as the One true Church and would not enter into it or remain in it cannot be saved.

I don’t think anyone is arguing that. However, the question becomes one of “knowing”. What level of knowledge are we talking about; simple informational knowledge like someone merely telling you (which may or may not convince you), or knowledge of the heart. This is a question that only God knows and that we can’t answer, and I believe this falls under the area of Invincible ignorance that Pius IX was talking about.

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