Invincible Ignorance -Salvation Harder for Catholics?


HI all,
I want some input that I didn’t get answered by an Apologist. I think the teachings on invincible ignorance is good, IMO. I don’t want to judge others. Who am I to decide how merciful is our Lord? I know and love some non-Catholic friends and family, and would love to think we all could be in heaven. (And personally by not declaring others going to hell like some of them do to us, I feel like we’re not stoooping to their level.)

However I am feeling sour grapes over, what seems to me to be a “free pass”. Protestants, or whomever, can get into heaven on an “I didn’t know any better” clause. They seem to live a more carefree life than Catholics in terms of contraception, confession of sins, even attending church. As long as they seem to do “somethings” that agree with the CC, they seem to be in the good.

Yet I feel like Catholics have more difficult lives, trying not to sin. And as a result, do spend more time feeling guilty. (I doubt many other religions have a reason for terming any condition called “scrupulosity”.) I just feel like the CC teaches non Catholics are getting judged less severely, than Catholics, who believe in mortal sin, and the state of greace, (or lack of).

I belieive in my faith and it’s practices. No problems there. But can anyone straighten me out on this issue???



‘To whom much has been given much will be expected’

But Protestants have no guarantee of salvation (in fact if they’re culpable of not joining the Catholic Church they’re going straight to Hell as a heretic, though what being culpable means in practice I do not know) and have to do it without the Holy Spirit from Confirmation, without Confession to guarantee absolution of their mortal sins (which they are not immune to if they know something’s a serious sin, e.g. fornication, though clearly something like the Sunday obligation isn’t binding) and without the Real Presence in the Eucharist to help them. Plus they wouldn’t have any Indulgences and canonical Penance so if they are saved they’d be expected to spend longer in Purgatory.

So in short they don’t have an easy ride, but as for the fate of an individual Protestant I couldn’t judge that is up to God


I was kind of wondering if the answer might be a longer sentence in Purgatory. Of course, who are any of us to really know? But I thought it was interesting you said the same thing.

Thanks for the input.


The “didn’t know any better” exception would seem to me to be quite rare actually. The invincible ignorance is usually applied to those who are by some pre-disposition unable to accept the Catholic Church. But in order to achieve salvation, one must still be included in the “abstract” Catholic Church which is not limited to the Earthly Catholic Church although the only Earthly manifestation of the Spiritual Church is the Catholic Church. So someone can’t be a murder and claim “invincible ignorance”. But someone can be a good person, adhering to moral truths, but live in a place where he will have no way to possibly obtain the truth of the Catholic Church.

For example, many places in the world whether they be in third world Africa or in the American Midwest, people simply don’t know about the Catholic Church. God made them that way. But it is possible for these people to live moral lives in the situations that God has created for these people. It is in here, that these people may be under the Spiritual Catholic Church, without knowing the Earthly Catholic Church through invincible ignorance.

Remember, Jesus’ Church is spiritual and cannot be restricted to any Earthly bounds. (My Kingdom is not of this world). But the only physical manifestation of this Church is the Catholic Church which Jesus himself set up during his time on Earth.


Remember, invincible ignorance doesn’t save, it just excuses when someone desires to completely abandon themselves to God’s will, but are misinformed as to His will.

And that is why, it’s much easier to be saved when you have the fullness of truth. The more we know about God the more likely we will desire to love Him and receive His love (which is what salvation is all about) and abandon ourselves completely to His will and mercy. The less we know about Him, the more likely we are to place our faith in ourselves and our own judgments and ways. And this will lead to damnation whether you have all the knowledge or very little.


Also keep in mind that no person can actually “know” whether someone is going to Heaven or Hell. Only God knows and He may intervene when he chooses. Take for example Joan of Arc. Obviously a Saint, was condemned by the (obviously corrupt) bishop.


I also wanted to add that I was on the road to perdition myself, and it was Catholics sharing their faith in word and deed that convinced me to seek God’s will in earnest. This is why evangelization is inportant for all people.


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