Catholic Radio Talk Show Question

I recently listened to a discussion on Catholic Radio that went as follows. Is membership in the Catholic Church necessary for salvation? A quick answer by a Catholic radio priest speaker was an absolutely yes. In essence his argument was that anyone who knows the Catholic Church is the one true church and rejects it will never attain salvation. I suppose that means they are bound for Hell. Then he qualified his answer with a big “however”. Exceptions are made for those who have never heard of the Church, or have heard of it, but do not know its teachings. In other words the answer is also no. An answer that is a no nullifies the one that was yes. You can’t have a no and a yes answer to a simple two choice question like that. My question is why isn’t that original question answered with a no to start with? I don’t like loopholes, especially ones that cover the great majority of the human race who are non-Catholics. Is it somehow more fitting to say yes, then contradict yourself with a no than to admit the answer is no?

In this group we tend to stray far from the original discussions. Perhaps because we are so tied up in our belief system we go out of our way to defend it to the point of forgetting the sometimes simple question originally posed. I’d like to re-formulate my above scenario without reference to religious ideas.

Suppose there was a large used car lot containing many cars of colors white, red, and blue. Would it be true to say that in order to find a home in this lot a car had to be red? The answer is an obvious NO. The fact that there are other colored cars present makes a YES answer to that question ridiculous.

Then replace the car lot with Heaven, the cars by people of various religious beliefs, and the colors by the particular religion of these individual people. Would it be true to say that in order to find a home in this Heaven a person had to be a Catholic? The answer is an obvious NO. The fact that there are other religious beliefs present eliminates a YES answer to that question.

What makes this second scenario logically acceptable and the first not? They are identical in logical form.

In summary his answers boil down to yes, you must be a member of the Catholic faith to attain heaven followed by a no you don’t have to be a member. This I found to be very confusing.

If you are looking for a simple answer, I’m afraid there isn’t one. But what I was always taught in Catholic school and Catholic clubs in college (that were moderated by a priest) is this: If you are a Catholic and outright reject some or all of its teachings, then your salvation may be in jeopardy. But there are caveats to this. No one is perfect and we are all sinners. If you strive to be a “good Catholic” but sometimes fall down, that’s different than an outright rejection. Your salvation is still very much possible.

As for non-Catholics, if they have never been made aware of the Church’s teachings, then they cannot be held accountable for not following them. Ignorance of the law is an excuse in this case. Also, if non-Catholics have been made aware of Church teachings but do not fully understand their meanings or fully appreciate the consequences of not taking them seriously, then their salvation is not necessarily in jeopardy either.

That’s basically what I was taught. If anyone else has something to add or a different opinion/interpretation, by all means lets hear it!

The Caveat is one’s ignorance, providing one’s ignorance is innocent and not invincible . Once they “know” however, then, they are no longer protected by ignorance and are culpable for their action.

Re: ignorance
Invincible ignorance #[FONT=&quot]14[/FONT]
1791 ignorance isn’t always innocent

Sorry, but colors = religions is not the proper way to look at the problem. Colors = following the inner prompts of the Holy Spirit, is the actual way. Leaving out shades of red as another problem, we can understand that one who desires to follow the truth, that is Jesus, is the real Catholic in any given situation. He who follows his own desires follows another color.


Matt 7:7 Ask and it will be given you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you.

The church understands that faith is a journey not as in today’s world of instant gratification. When Christ died grace went out to all the world. He is the expiation for the sins of the whole world, 1 John. However one must respond to grace, ask, seek, knock. Do the will of God.

A good example of this is Cardinal Henry Newman, faith is always a journey, some are farther along than others.

Peace and God bless

You will also find Romans 2: 14-16 enlightening

Peace and God bless

You will also find Romans 2: 14-16 enlightening

Peace and God bless

Lots of nice typical evasive Catholic answers here, all avoiding the simple truth that if there is one devout, peace loving, saintly Muslim, Hindu, Protestant or other non-Catholic in Heaven, then the answer is NO. You do not have to be a Catholic to go to Heaven.

I really don’t see what is so hard to understand personally. Pretty simple really, those who know the church is the true church and refuse to enter are obstinately against Christ. It isn’t that difficult.

Peace and God bless

So why’d you ask? You could have just made a simple declarative statement, or answered your own question, and called it a day. I’m sure every answer, in your mind, to any question you might pose, that is not in agreement with yours is somehow a “typical evasive Catholic answer”…reminds me of that line from A Few Good Men, “truth? You can’t handle the truth!”:shrug:

I might also add that if you are looking for one of those fundy moments “you’re going to hell blah blah blah” I would remind you also if this church teaching:
James 4:12

Peace and God bless

What I said above is not evasive.

When one is innocently ignorant of what they need to know in this area, THEN there is no culpability for them not knowing that much needed information. Providing their ignorance is innocent or not invincible . And that’s perfectly reasonable. However, once they “know” what they need to know, AND refuse to follow that knowledge, then they are no longer protected by ignorance of that knowledge, and are culpable for their action(s).

For example

Re: ignorance
Invincible ignorance#[FONT=&quot]14[/FONT]
1791 ignorance isn’t always innocent

Do you want us to affirm your ill informed opinion (which we cannot in good conscience do.) or do you want to know what exactly the church teaches because only the church has the wisdom and authority to speak on this issue…and they have. The following is directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

**Who belongs to the Catholic Church? **
836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God’s grace to salvation."320
837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but ‘in body’ not ‘in heart.’"321
838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter."322 Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."323 With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord’s Eucharist."324
** The Church and non-Christians **
839 "Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways."325
The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 "the first to hear the Word of God."327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 "for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable."329
840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day."330
842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .331
843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."332
844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:

Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.333
845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.334


[size=3]**“Outside the Church there is no salvation” **[/size]
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
Mission - a requirement of the Church’s catholicity **
849 The missionary mandate. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men”:339 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age."340
850 The origin and purpose of mission. The Lord’s missionary mandate is ultimately grounded in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity: "The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit."341 The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love.342
851 Missionary motivation. It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, "for the love of Christ urges us on."343 Indeed, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”;344 that is, God wills the salvation of everyone through the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth. Those who obey the prompting of the Spirit of truth are already on the way of salvation. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God’s universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary.
852 Missionary paths. The Holy Spirit is the protagonist, "the principal agent of the whole of the Church’s mission."345 It is he who leads the Church on her missionary paths. "This mission continues and, in the course of history, unfolds the mission of Christ, who was sent to evangelize the poor; so the Church, urged on by the Spirit of Christ, must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection."346 So it is that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."347

Further still:

[size=3]854 By her very mission, "the Church . . . travels the same journey as all humanity and shares the same earthly lot with the world: she is to be a leaven and, as it were, the soul of human society in its renewal by Christ and transformation into the family of God."351 Missionary endeavor requires patience. It begins with the proclamation of the Gospel to peoples and groups who do not yet believe in Christ,352 continues with the establishment of Christian communities that are "a sign of God’s presence in the world,"353 and leads to the foundation of local churches.354 It must involve a process of inculturation if the Gospel is to take flesh in each people’s culture.355 There will be times of defeat. "With regard to individuals, groups, and peoples it is only by degrees that [the Church] touches and penetrates them and so receives them into a fullness which is Catholic."356
855 The Church’s mission stimulates efforts towards Christian unity.357 Indeed, "divisions among Christians prevent the Church from realizing in practice the fullness of catholicity proper to her in those of her sons who, though joined to her by Baptism, are yet separated from full communion with her. Furthermore, the Church herself finds it more difficult to express in actual life her full catholicity in all its aspects."358
856 The missionary task implies a respectful dialogue with those who do not yet accept the Gospel.359 Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better "those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples, and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God."360 They proclaim the Good News to those who do not know it, in order to consolidate, complete, and raise up the truth and the goodness that God has distributed among men and nations, and to purify them from error and evil "for the glory of God, the confusion of the demon, and the happiness of man."361
Now, do you understand? Here’s the link to the catechism site so you can see it in context and with all its notes and scriptures.

Also here are several links to CAs apologists dealing with your issue.
Extra ecclesiam nulla salus
Salvation Outside of the Church
What is invincible ignorance?

How can the Church accept salvation for Protestants?
Islamics - Hindus- Buddhists - saved without Christian Faith??
Should Catholics try to evangelize Protestants?

I have the same question. Because in the first place, I am not so sure it is probable that anyone would reject the Catholic Church if she is definitely certain that the Roman Catholic Church is the true Church, and if she knows with certainty that she will go to everlasting fire and torment and suffering in hell if she rejects the Catholic Church .
I suspect that if anyone rejects the Catholic Church, there is going to be some minimal doubt in her mind that she will go to everlasting and tormenting fire in hell if she does that and at least some belief that she is doing the right thing.

Most of these problems you guys seem to have are essentially the result of human thinking about things that are best left to the Church and God Himself because, ultimately this is His domain and we cannot claim (and this is church teaching) to know another soul’s final end.

We have what the church teaches and it is both logical and concise.

Everything beyond that is (as the saying goes) above our pay grade.

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