For know it alls: State of mortal sin then Martyrdom?


What happens to the following person:

They are Protestant and have full knowledge of the Catholic Faith yet continue to reject it.

Since they do they are in a state of mortal sin–they aren’t Invincibly Ignorant as some are–they know the Catholic faith and still reject it.

They fall into a situation where their captors who are not christian call upon them to both deny the Catholic Faith and deny Christ or face death.

They say “I deny the Catholic faith but I will not deny Christ”.

They are killed for their statement.

Are they martyrs for Christ and attain Heaven?

Are they not martyrs for Christ but people who die in a state of Mortal Sin because if they were true martyrs they would not choose to die in that manner against the will of God?

I guess what I’m asking is do all deaths that appear to be Martyrdoms–are they all really in fact Martyrdoms?

In other words if one chooses to put themselves into a situation where they are killed for the faith and do not consult God and do die that way does that constitute martyrdom?

I could go to the Middle East today and preach the truth of Jesus in the right places to where I’m sure that I would be killed for it and I could do that without consulting God or asking if that is His will for me.

I do not believe that if I did that that I would be a true martyr and if I were in a state of mortal sin that I could still go to Hell!

Is that possible?

Where do Protestants martyrs who know the truth of the Catholic Faith and reject it until death go when they are killed for Christ in that state?

In other words are there really Protestant martyrs or are there just Protestants who die martyr’s deaths?


I’ll take “protestant martyrs” for $1000.00, Alex.

Just because my son gets mad at me and says, “I wish you weren’t my father”, doesn’t mean he’s not my son. For the same reason, just because someone rejects the Catholic Church doesn’t mean they aren’t Catholic.

If someone loved Christ as you said, and rejected the Catholic Church, my guess is that they came to the decision because of incorrect info. Of course, there are exceptions, but I’m speaking of the majority in my opinion.

Now, if they went there just so they can die for the Lord, knowing that their death does nothing to further God’s Will, I just don’t know.


Interesting question.

I am always told by Catholics that you somehow have to know the RCC is the "one, true church" and then reject it to be guilty of such a sin.

Since I have never met such a person in my entire life, I am unsure who you are speaking about.


Theres really no way to know as there are too many variables to take into account, including some which are no doubt known only to God. One thing that you do need to realize is that even knowing everthing about the Catholic faith does not necessarily mean that one is not invincibly ignorant (although it is probably unlikely). If a protestant learns about Catholicism, but has been taught that it is an evil lie for his whole life, he is still ignorant of the truth. By denying the Catholic faith, he may be in his own imperfect way serving God since he believes that God does not want him to be Catholic. To clarify my point, imagine that you completely and accurately learn everything about Islam but still reject it because as a Catholic you have been taught that Islam is a lie. Now imagine that you die and it is revealed to you that Islam is the true faith. Would you expect God to pardon your refusal to accept Islam because, even though you learned everything about it, you were still ignorant of the fact that it was true?

Now on the other hand, if a protestant not only knew about Catholicism, but believed it to be true and still refused to join, you may have a different story. In that case, saying “I reject Catholicism but not Christ” is impossible, since rejecting Catholicism is rejecting Christ.

Bottom line: There’s no way to know.


At the risk of triggering the “7th sign”, I agree with Atemi! :slight_smile:


In regards to what Artemi says, we could say the same of many sins. But, it is not just whether someone knows, but also whether they should have known. Culpable ignorance is no excuse. There’s lots of people who deep down know the truth, but conforming one’s life to it would require loss of human respect, grave inconvenience, material loss or hardship, suffering etc. Pride can harden a heart and create spiritual blindness.

As for the OP, given the facts (which in reality only God could know) that person would not be saved:

From the 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.


Likewise, as Pope John Paul I taught:

“It is not possible to have faith and to say, ‘I believe in Jesus, I accept Jesus but I do not accept the Church.’”


Everyone I know who believes in the Lord Jesus also believes in His Body, the church.

Unless you are declaring that all those that reject Catholicism cannot be saved because they cannot possibly believe in Jesus at the same time.



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


Of course, we are assuming culpability for the purpose of the OP. If the person is not culpable, their love of Jesus could implicitly carry with it a desire to be a member of His Church.

But many who claim to believe in the Lord Jesus, do reject His Church and rather embrace other societies, organizations, or groupings of people they call the Church.

As Pope Benedict recently explained in an audience on St. Cyprian:

[LEFT]Indeed, the Church was easily his favourite subject. Cyprian distinguished between the* visible, *hierarchical *Church *and the *invisible *mystical *Church *but forcefully affirmed that the Church is one, founded on Peter.

He never wearied of repeating that “if a man deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, does he think that he is in the Church?” (cf.* De unit. [On the unity of the Catholic Church], *4).

Cyprian knew well that “outside the Church there is no salvation”, and said so in strong words (Epistles 4, 4 and 73, 21); and he knew that “no one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as mother” (*De unit., *6). An indispensable characteristic of the Church is unity, symbolized by Christ’s seamless garment (*ibid., *7): Cyprian said, this unity is founded on Peter (*ibid., *4), and its perfect fulfilment in the Eucharist (*Epistle *63, 13).

“God is one and Christ is one”, Cyprian cautioned, “and his Church is one, and the faith is one, and the Christian people is joined into a substantial unity of body by the cement of concord. Unity cannot be severed. And what is one by its nature cannot be separated” (De unit., 23).



So then this quote is not correct at all.

“It is not possible to have faith and to say, ‘I believe in Jesus, I accept Jesus but I do not accept the Church.’”

Thank you for clarifying.


That’s not what I said. The meaning is not to be taken as a literal absolute impossibility for someone to say that exact sentence while having faith. Pope John Paul I’s statement must be seen in the greater context of Catholic teaching, of which he was teaching. In the sense he was speaking, saying the above sentence is used as a synechdoche for all that goes with it to make it a faithless statement (that is, an explicit or implicit intent to reject the one Church of Christ).


if a person truly knew and believed that the Catholic Church was the one true Church founded by Christ, and this is a person dedicated to Christ, they would not reject the Church, so if they continue to do so, it means they do not have fullness of the truth, or full knowledge of the Church. There is simply no way on earth to know what would happen in the heart and soul of a person facing such a trial, or how they would fare in God’s mercy. Recall that every person comes face to face with God at the moment of judgement, with full knowledge necessary to choose for Him, and full access to the infinity of His mercy.


They would go to Hell for the sin of pride in rejecting Christ’s church.

For one to know the true Catholic faith and reject it, one must have pride in excess—they know the truth, yet will not admit it.

Given the way you framed your question, there can be no lessening of guilt of the mortal sins here. To know the truth and reject the Church is to be disobedient, to be a schismatic, and to likely scandalize others into similar sin. Ignorance would provide some lessening of guilt.

Even this person’s death seems to be the result of pride rather than dying for Christ, given that they readily slander the Church but draw the line at slandering Christ.

You describe in essence the perfect heretic.

And heretics are hellbound.


I’m afraid I have to agree. Otherwise all the heretics killed by the Church/State would be in heaven, and this position seems fairly ludicrous to me.



To put it simply:

One cannot claim to be a Christian who seeks to dismember the Body of Christ.


To willfully die in a state of Mortal sin, unrepentent, is to enter Eternal death. No matter how one dies.


Thanks Br Rich SFO! I believe your answer is correct and I believe what John Paul I says.

I’ll also say this about John Paul I: it irks me when people say that the conclave that elected him was incorrect. that isn’t true!

A pope could live only 1 day and be God’s choice–our Lord Jesus didn’t live very long before He died and is of course still living ans has and will always live.

I will say this, though–it is possible that in a situation different than what I described that a Protestant who had rejected the Catholic Church all his life but was informally united to it through his baptism could–if he had perfect contrition for his sins–and then was immediately killed could be saved with a true God willed martyrdom.

But in that case I would say that he would have just come back to the Catholic Church from which he was informally united to through baptism.

I guess what I’m saying is that all true martyrs are Catholic martyrs regardless of what they might have been prior to true martyrdom!


Yet not one Catholic anywhere can tell us who exactly this is.

Not very helpful at all from the my perspective.

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