Can non-Catholics be saved?


#1

Of course, but how? If there is an interest, we might develop this further.

Christ's Church has never taught that only faithful Catholics can be saved, as a few misguided souls seem to think, and this was understood very early in the life of the Church.


#2

"Catechism of the Catholic Church" Imprimi Potest. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict)

"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"

From the Dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic, LUMEN GENTIUM, solemnly promulgated by his holiness Pope Paul v1 on November 21, 1964

  1. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. (14*) For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. (15*) They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God.(16*) They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits.

Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ's disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. (17*) Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.


#3

[quote="Trishie, post:2, topic:179847"]
"Catechism of the Catholic Church" Imprimi Potest. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict)

"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"

[/quote]

Does this mean if someone is born a Catholic and brought up in a Catholic household, and then turn atheist, they can't go to heaven?


#4

I would ask how sincere and honest is their unbelief.
I would believe they must be open, and strive to seek God to the best of their ability, and live a life in accordance with the command to love others as self, living Christian values.
**None of us Catholic, Christian or otherwise can go to heaven if we do not live practical Christian love towards others. **Jesus gives the final word on judgement, as divine Judge Himself, according to practical love of others.

Matthew 25 verses 31-46…Jesus’ words on who will be saved:

“The Last Judgement”

“When the Son of Man comes in all His glory, escorted by all the angels, then he will take his seat on his throne of glory. All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from one another as the shepherd separates sheep from goats.
He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left. then the King shall say to those on his right hand,” Come you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was a stranger and you made me welcome. I was thirsty and you gave me drink; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me.

Then the virtuous will say to him in reply, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick or in prison and go to see you?

And the King will answer, " I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me."

Next he will say to those on his left "Go away from me with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for when I was hungry you never gave me food; I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink; I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, naked and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me."
Then it will be their turn to ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty; a stranger or naked, sick or in prison, and not come to your help?"
Then he will answer, "I tell you solemnly, in so far as you neglected to do this to one of the least of these, you neglected to do it to me." And they will go away to eternal punishment, and the virtuous to eternal life.

And since Jesus is the very Person who will judge all of us, I think we have to accept HIS criterion for who may be saved! His criterion is salvation depends upon our charity towards other people, which He regards as charity directly given to Him. He has given us the Church and the Sacraments to help us to live thus, but even if we are utterly sincere in unbelief, we must still live the command to love others as self.


#5

I think it depends to some extent on why they became an atheist. Was it because they had been poorly catechised and never understood the nature of the Church? Or did they become an atheist because that made it psychologically easier for them to engage in a life of sin? Did they lose the faith because they never fed it, or because they never received it properly in the first place?

And that is all assuming that they do not repent of their atheism and become reconciled to God and His Church before they die.

It’s painful to think about, and I don’t think it’s possible to understand it completely this side of the grave, but Christ told us that some people will not go to Heaven ever. A person who was raised with a real understanding of the faith, who discarded it so that they could more easily live a life of cheating, murdering, and having illicit sex, and who never repented of that choice, seems as good a candidate for making the downward journey as I can think of. (This is of course a hypothetical person that I have made up, because it would be very wrong to make such a judgement about an actual person.)

“Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required…” (Lk. 12:48b)

–Jen


#6

Very helpful replies.
Only God can judge the guilt of anyone according to their conscience and actions.

We must judge their actions, words and writing according to truth.
As you thing so do you act, thus we need to have the mind of the Church.


#7

Whatever their starting point, anyone who dies as an atheist goes to Hell.


#8

prettylarge

Check my post above: Only God can judge the guilt of anyone at death according to their conscience and actions. As far as your scenario goes it would be very uncertain that such a person could be saved, but we cannot give a final judgment.

Christ teaches through His Church that "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." (Vatican II,* Lumen Gentium*, 14).


#9

Let me link to an essay on this issue. I do not take the "optimistic view" that many people will be saved.

papsttreu.blogspot.com/2009/12/church-and-salvation.html

A former Catholic who refuses to repent until death, will not be saved. Likewise to anyone who knows of the Gospel of Christ and His Church and still refuses to enter into her.


#10

There were two theological schools of thought: One based on the Church as absolutely necessary for salvation that could not see how non-baptised could be saved (Origen); the other, also from the earliest times, that saw that the non-baptised were also open to salvation like the pagan Cornelius in the Acts of the Apostles “an upright and Godfearing man” (Ambrose, Augustine). The latter thought was supported by St Thomas Aquinas.

Pope St Clement I, wrote in about 95 A.D. to the Church in Corinth: “Those who repented for their sins, appeased God in praying and received salvation, even though they were aliens to God.” Catholic Apologetics Today, 1986, Fr William G Most, p 145].

The proviso is that “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.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 14). And only God can judge athe guilt of a particular person.


#11

Funny this question comes up all the time but no one quotes the THREE DOGMATIC STATEMENTS on this very issue!! Every Catholic must adhere to these dogmas, just like every Catholic must adhere to the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

Extraordinary Magisterium ---EX CATHEDRA

“There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)

“With Faith urging us we are forced to believe and to hold the one, holy, Catholic Church and that, apostolic, and we firmly believe and simply confess this Church outside of which there is no salvation nor remission of sin… Furthermore, we declare, say, define, and proclaim to every human creature that they by absolute necessity for salvation are entirely subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
(Pope Boniface VIII, Unam Sanctam, Nov. 18, 1302)

“The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.”*** (Council of Florence--Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.) ***


#12

By the way this is a great little paper on Vatican II and No Salvation Outside the Church:

scribd.com/doc/23249763/Vatican-II-and-Extra-Ecclesiam-Nulla-Salus


#13

Before quoting a teaching, the historical context of that teaching or admonition should be known. So to sum up:

The Papal Bull Unam Sanctam was written during a dispute with the King of France. The Pope was merely stating that salvation comes from Christ through the Church He established. Further, it was written for those who already belonged to the Church including the King of France. It did not and does not address those who are outside of the Church.

The Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 defined that “The universal Church of the faithful is one, outside of which no one is saved.” The Council of Trent, 1545-1563, pictured by some dissenters as triumphant and absolutist, defined the dogma of baptism by desire thus on to what Vatican II taught: “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.” Lumen Gentium, 14 (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)]. Here we have a typical development of doctrine.

“Thus the Church is (in its way) as indispensable as Christ for man’s salvation…as a divinely instituted means, provided a person knows that he must use this means to be saved.” (The Catholic Catechism, Fr John A Hardon, SJ, 1974, p 236).

Thus, just as without Christ there is no salvation, so without the Church there is no salvation. *Catechism of the Catholic Church *# 846 - # 848]. The Catholic Church, regardless of whether or not a person knows of its divine origin and founding, is the body through which ALL salvation comes to anyone whom God deems worthy to receive it.

The Latin word extra can mean either “without” or “outside.” The correct interpretation and sense of the maxim is that we cannot be saved without the Church. It is through the Church, which carries on and makes present the salvific work of Jesus Christ in the world, that all who are saved reach heaven (even if it is perhaps only there that they realize it). [Msgr Cormac P Burke, OSV *Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine].


#14

So before quoting the dogmatic teaching of Transubstantiation am I also required to give the “historical context” or just for this one?


#15

An Ecumenical Council says that Unam Sanctam is dogmatic:

Pope Leo X, Fifth Lateran Council 1512-17, session # 11:

“Moreover, since subjection to the Roman pontiff is necessary for salvation for all Christ's faithful, as we are taught by the testimony of both sacred scripture and the holy fathers, and as is declared by the constitution of pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, also our predecessor, which begins Unam sanctam, we therefore, with the approval of the present sacred council, for the salvation of the souls of the same faithful, for the supreme authority of the Roman pontiff and of this holy see, and for the unity and power of the church, his spouse, renew and give our approval to that constitution,..”

papalencyclicals.net/Councils/ecum18.htm


#16

Simply examine and take into account the reality of the historical context.

Further, in replying to the Fr Feeney case, as Fr Most points out: Pius XII explained that persons who have not put their names on a parish register can ' pertain to' or 'be ordered to' the Church in a way sufficient to fulfill the requirements for salvation." Catholic Apologetics Today, Fr William G Most, TAN Books, 1986, p 170].

There is thus no contradiction among Unam Sanctam, the Fourth Lateran Council, Trent and Vatican II.


#17

[quote="Abu, post:16, topic:179847"]
Simply examine and take into account the reality of the historical context.
Further, in replying to the Fr Feeney case, as Fr Most points out: Pius XII explained that persons who have not put their names on a parish register can ' pertain to' or 'be ordered to' the Church in a way sufficient to fulfill the requirements for salvation." Catholic Apologetics Today, Fr William G Most, TAN Books, 1986, p 170].

There is thus no contradiction among Unam Sanctam, the Fourth Lateran Council, Trent and Vatican II.

[/quote]

Ok, I already showed you how an Ecumenical Council stated Unam Sanctam is dogmatic.

As far as historical "context":

**Pope Pius IX, First Vatican Council, Sess. 3, Chap. 2 on Revelation, 1870, ex cathedra: **“Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother Church has once declared; and there must never be a recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”

The meanings don't change according to historical context. Dogmas mean what they mean. And you still haven't answered my question of if you also apply your "historical context" interpretation method to other dogmas also.

Also can you tell me in which writing of Fr. Feeney where he says such a thing about a parish register? That is a myth made up by Fr. Most. Fr. Feeney never held such a position and to say that he did without backing it up is to slander a holy priest.
Have you even read Bread of Life? Are you even aware that there are 3 religious houses APPROVED in the Diocese of Worcestor which hold Fr. Feeney's same position?

I never said there was disagreement between Fourth Lateran, Unam Sanctam, and Vatican II. But you seem to think there is because you believe in salvation outside the Church.


#18

Rigorism has no place in Christ’s Church

Dear Fr Most has been accused of making up a myth about Fr Feeney, merely because he referred to a statement of Pius XII!

We have seen that Pope St Clement I, wrote in about 95 A.D. to the Church in Corinth: "Those who repented for their sins, appeased God in praying and received salvation, even though they were aliens to God." Catholic Apologetics Today, 1986, Fr William G Most, p 145]. Thus the will of Christ was understood from the very beginning of Christ’s Church, by the fourth pope, as St Paul taught.

Now a look at more evidence of the understanding within the Church.

From: PetersNet -- Author:John Pacheco
Title: Salvation Outside the Church
Publisher: Apologists of St. Francis De Sales

[Petersnet was the former name for Dr. Jeff Mirus’ website on which he had a forum. Dr Mirus is an historian whose Catholic Culture site is a faithful Catholic resource].

Those who hold to the strict interpretation cite these and other sources for their views, but they cite them selectively - neither offering the historical context of the definition, nor elaborating on the object to whom the teaching was directed. In fact, even the citings that are provided by the rigorists cannot be held as conclusive proof for their interpretation simply because many of the Fathers they cite did not, in fact, hold to the rigorist view. For instance, St. Ambrose (De obit Val. 51) and St. Augustine (De bapt. IV 22,29) both held that catechumens who die before baptism can receive salvation on the basis of their faith and their desire for baptism. St. Thomas Aquinas also concedes the possibility of salvation occurring extra-sacramentally (S. Th. III 68,2).

Similarly, two Popes who are cited in support of the rigorist position did not hold this view at all. Pius IX did not understood the article in the strict sense. His belief in the article was directed at modern religious indifferentism rather than to a universal, exclusive position: "By Faith it is to be firmly held that outside the Apostolic Roman Church none can achieve salvation. This is the only ark of salvation. He who does not enter into it will perish in the flood. Nevertheless, equally certainly it is to be held that those who suffer from invincible ignorance of the true religion, are not for this reason guilty in the eyes of the Lord. Now, then, who could presume in himself an ability to set the boundaries of such ignorance, taking into consideration the natural differences of peoples, land, native talents, and so many other factors" (Singulari Quidem, 1863 A.D.). Hence, Pius IX distinguished between those who have knowledge of the Church and Her divine foundation, and those who have no such knowledge due to a number of mitigating circumstances.

Pius XII, who affirmed the doctrine in his Encyclicals Mystici Corporis *(1943) and *Humani Generis (*1950), also qualified its meaning in attempting to silence Father Leonard Feeney, S.J., an American Jesuit at Boston College and the ‘father’ of the rigorist movement (whose proponents, whether rightly or wrongly, are now referred to as the ‘Feeneyites’). Father Feeney was expelled from his order and then excommunicated in the 1940’s for holding and pushing the rigorist view as official Catholic teaching. (He was later reconciled to the Church.) "In the aftermath of the controversy, the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cushing, received a letter of clarification from the Holy Office. This letter, dated August 8, 1949, is important for its explanation of the necessity of the Church: she is necessary for salvation by divine command, not by intrinsic necessity. The Church, as Christ’s mystical body, is the sole ark of salvation, but direct membership in her through the sacraments is only the ordinary means of salvation." (*Catholic Encyclopedia, p.862, Reverend Peter Stravinskas, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., Huntington, Indiana, 1991)

Thus, just as without Christ there is no salvation, so without the Church there is no salvation. [Catechism of the Catholic Church # 846 - # 848]. The Catholic Church, regardless of whether or not a person knows of its divine origin and founding, is the body through which ALL salvation comes to anyone whom God deems worthy to receive it.


#19

put in that phrase in a search engine - historically, I can’t see you can realistically argue this.

Random bunch of Papal quotes:

acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2006/08/can-non-catholics-be-saved.html

If you want to bring up substantial quotes to weigh against those, it’ll cheer me up - I find it quite sad as a theological standpoint, ultimately, so I’m looking forward to you convincingly proving me wrong! :thumbsup:


#20

It’s not sad! That’s why it’s your duty to evangelize! With your Confirmation you were given the duty to be a “soldier in Christ’s army” to bring others to His Church, to join the army of God.

It would only be sad if there was nothing you can do about it. And you can do two very big things.

  1. PRAY- (and sacrifice!) prayer and sacrifice are the greatest weapons of faith we have. Don’t underestimate them.
    and
  2. EVANGELIZE- give witness to your faith so that others will be drawn into the Church where they too can be saved.

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