Church teachings in regards to the holiness of non catholic humans?

It is my understanding that the church is the true church of Jesus Christ and of his Father as well. I am also aware of many great and jesus following men in my own life and throughout history who did not belong to the catholic church. Can a human be of great grace and holiness without being a part of Jesus’s church of his own free will?

Sorry if this is a dumb question and thanks for the repsonses.

I don’t know the exact answer to your question but Jesus is known to reveal himself to non-Catholic individuals. I firmly believe Jesus wants to save everyone.


Saint Gregory Narek was canonized by Pope Francis in 2015. He died a part of the schismatic Armenian Apostolic Church. St. Serious of Redonzh died in the Russian Orthodox Church, and is a Saint on the Latin Church’s calendar. And we Eastern Catholics venerate post-schism Eastern Orthodox Saints in our Liturgy. So yes, those outside of the Catholic Communion can be holy, and can even be canonized as Saints.

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How else would you explain all of the prophets of the Old Testament? None of them belonged to the Catholic Church.

Good answer, but

What does that say about the holiness of the Israelite’s that did not believe the prophets?

What does that say about the holiness of the Christians that do not believe the Catholic Church?

What does that say about the people that did not believe Christ words?

Did God not give them enough grace to believe?

“For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, they have no excuse;”. ‭‭Romans‬ ‭1:19-20‬.

I have heard this verse used as justification for the premise that each man is responsible to accept what part of the truth that he has heard. God, being infinitely wise, is able to measure each person’s response to whatever part of the truth he was exposed to. This certainly implies that there are degrees of truth in all approaches to life, some being far less, and others being far more close to the fullness of truth.

But of course here in the church we get the fullness of truth and the fullness of God, and through our faith and our following, to have a much more certain hope of heaven and Him forever.

God gives them enough grace to believe, but they possess the free will to accept that—or not.

The possibility is there but it may be a rare occurrence. Certainly St Augustine was pessimistic regarding salvation outside the Church, and viewed everyone outside as lost.

Does God give all people the same grace?
Or does God give His elect more grace than someone that is not His elect?

This is true, the Church had not yet been established yet, though my understanding is, the prophets and saints of the O.T. were saved because they believed in the promise of Christ, in the promise of whatever He would do to bring about salvation, waited and watched for Him and died in friendship with God.

After Jesus’ death and during His three days before His resurrection He went down to Limbo of the Fathers and opened the doors to heaven for them. In a way they were saved because of Christ and His Church.

In the Nicene creed we say, “He descended into hell”, which means He went to Limbo of the Fathers and released them.

Are you asking if God is unfair, giving some ‘more’ and others ‘less?’ OR are you asking if God gives each person sufficient for that person, but to those who do choose to accept Him (what I understand you to mean by ‘His elect’), He will give graces related not simply to ‘sufficient’ for their salvation, but graces for their obedience to His will as well?

The former would, of course, be unfair.
However, if person A is a happy Christian who is naturally obedient and loving, and person B is an unhappy atheist who is skeptical and unpleasant and selfish, the grace sufficient for person A to accept salvation would probably be by no means enough for person B.

That doesn’t mean that God having to give person B more grace for salvation than person A is unfair because “B got more than A” , as if that meant A was being ‘deprived.’

That’s not how the Bible describes the salvation of Enoch or Elijah.

2 Kings 2:11 says:

As they walked on conversing, a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

Genesis 5:24 says:

Then Enoch walked with God, and he was no longer here, for God took him.

The description of Elijah’s salvation quite explicitly states he was taken to heaven, not limbo. The description of Enoch’s strongly implies it.

There are exceptions, even in NT times, such as our Blessed Mother was assumed into heaven. There is some tradition that says even St. Joseph was assumed into heaven. We also believe that a person who lives a saintly life may avoid purgatory after death but the NT does state that Jesus went down and preached to those inprisoned:

In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God. 1 Peter 319 -20

Haydock Catholic bible commentary:

The true and common interpretation of this place seems to be, that the soul of Christ, after the separation from the body and before the resurrection, descended to a place in the interior parts of the earth, called hell in that which we call the apostles’ creed, (sometimes called Abraham’s bosom, sometimes Limbus Patrum, a place where were detained all the souls of the patriarchs, prophets, and just men, as it were in prison) and preached to these spirits in this prison; i.e. brought them this happy news, that he who was their Redeemer was now come to be their deliverer, and that at his glorious ascension they should enter with him into heaven, where none could enter before our Redeemer, who opened as it were heaven’s gates.

Certainly. I’m not disputing the message of First Peter. I’m simply saying that the idea that the prophets were imprisoned there is incongruent with Scripture.

The verse you cited describes the imprisoned souls as “ἀπειθήσασίν,” which can mean “unbelieving” (i.e. “incredulous” as your translation put it) or “disobedient.”

If you interpret “unbelieving” in this context to mean “those who did not believe in Jesus,” then that would imply that Enoch and Elijah were there, when Scripture quite explicitly says they were not. So that cannot be the correct interpretation.

If you interpret it to mean “disobedient,” then that is not really a description that applies to (most of) the prophets. So whomever Jesus was preaching to down there, it couldn’t have been them.

The question was about whether people outside the Catholic Church can have sufficient holiness to enter the Kingdom. The salvation of the Old Testament prophets implies the answer is yes.

First Peter is Scripture.

I will agaree that Enoch and Elijah would possibly not have been in Limbo of the Fathers but the remaining OT saints would have been as the Catholic church teaches.

We can only read Scripture under the guidance of the Catholic church, who alone has been given the authority to interpret it.

Those in heaven would need no need of preaching and those in hell preaching would do them no good, so OT saints were the only ones who would have been there.

There is no salvation outside the Catholic church is still a dogma of the Church. It is truth. OT prophets were saved because they waited and trusted in the promises of the coming Messiah.

Like @stpurl, I’m also having a little bit of difficulty understanding the point you’re trying to make here.

There’s no guarantee of salvation in Scripture.

Jesus says,

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.
–Matthew 7:13-14

So Christ is saying there that is it rare to even find the narrow gate, much less to be able to enter it.

He further says,

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.
– Luke 13:24

So even among those who attempt to enter by that gate, many will be incapable of doing so. There’s nothing in Scripture that suggests God will save everyone, or even most people.

It’s actually interesting you mention that, because I was talking to my brother about what no salvation outside of the Church means. Basically, if someone is saved, it’s because they’re saved by Christ’s death on the cross through the Church, whether they know it or not


Normally, sanctification begins with baptism, the sacrament of faith. However, this faith can be present apart from baptism and, where there is some impediment preventing baptism and there is at least an implicit desire for baptism, this faith can suffice to sanctify if animated by charity.

But without faith, there can be no holiness. As the Council of Trent teaches: “faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God.”

In light of the this, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

161 Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation.42 "Since “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘But he who endures to the end.’"43

Since God desires all to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4), He therefore must make the possibility of knowing the truth (Christ, who says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)) and coming to salvation concretely possible for all. As such, the Church teaches “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.”

As Pope Francis put it in an encyclical letter (Lumen Fidei):

Because faith is a way, it also has to do with the lives of those men and women who, though not believers, nonetheless desire to believe and continue to seek. To the extent that they are sincerely open to love and set out with whatever light they can find, they are already, even without knowing it, on the path leading to faith…Any-one who sets off on the path of doing good to others is already drawing near to God, is already sustained by his help, for it is characteristic of the divine light to brighten our eyes whenever we walk towards the fullness of love.

One who is united with the Church in faith and charity, even if not socially or manifestly a member, is not “outside the Church” and therefore can be made holy and saved.

Here’s a woman I would say outside of Catholicism who I would have high regard for, also the Romanov’s should have listened to her many warning to heed the cries of their people which she urged them to do. She is also Prince Philip’s great-aunt and his mother is buried near her:-

But there was only one church then, when St Augustine lived, . so outside the church meant non-Christian, which is not what the OP means.

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