Invincibly Ignorant

I know some Catholics who say that not many non-Catholics at all in the world go to Heaven from invincible ignorance of the Catholic faith, and then there are others who are like, “Hey, everyone’s going to Heaven”

This opinion (seems to be no right or wrong) causes a big difference in what people believe about other religions.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but have you all seen this too? What are your thoughts? What have the saints said about the number of people going to Heaven through invincible ignorance?

Here is what the Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism (CCC):

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 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.

**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. (CCC 846-847)


It is clear from reading Sacred Scripture that not everyone will enter Heaven! Jesus taught us: "Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; " (Mt 25:41)

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


P.S. send us updates & pictures form New Zealand!!

Thanks mark that was good information! Do you know (or the saints) what percentage of people (more or less) are invincible ignorant? like 1% or 40% or 80%?

BTW I’ll put pics on my blog as soon as i can!
God bless!

There is no way to know what % of people are invincibly ignorant in the sense that it could lead to their salvation, if that is what you are getting at. It is impossible to see into a person’s mind, heart, or soul. Thanks be to God.
God Bless.

Check this blog out for an answer on this subject.

When reading this encyclical from Pius X, keep in mind that he is speaking about those that are ignorant through their own fault. Ignorance is not a ticket to heaven.

APRIL 15, 1905
To the Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and other Ordinaries in Peace and Communion with the Apostolic See.

  1. It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation. And when we mention Christians, We refer not only to the masses or to those in the lower walks of life – for these find some excuse for their ignorance in the fact that the demands of their harsh employers hardly leave them time to take care of themselves or of their dear ones – but We refer to those especially who do not lack culture or talents and, indeed, are possessed of abundant knowledge regarding things of the world but live rashly and imprudently with regard to religion. It is hard to find words to describe how profound is the darkness in which they are engulfed and, what is most deplorable of all, how tranquilly they repose there. They rarely give thought to God, the Supreme Author and Ruler of all things, or to the teachings of the faith of Christ. They know nothing of the Incarnation of the Word of God, nothing of the perfect restoration of the human race which He accomplished. Grace, the greatest of the helps for attaining eternal things, the Holy Sacrifice and the Sacraments by which we obtain grace, are entirely unknown to them. They have no conception of the malice and baseness of sin; hence they show no anxiety to avoid sin or to renounce it. And so they arrive at life’s end in such a condition that, lest all hope of salvation be lost, the priest is obliged to give in the last few moments of life a summary teaching of religion, a time which should be devoted to stimulating the soul to greater love for God. And even this as too often happens only when the dying man is not so sinfully ignorant as to look upon the ministration of the priest as useless, and then calmly faces the fearful passage to eternity without making his peace with God. And so Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: “We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.”

It’s also possible everyone goes to heaven. Why would anyone commit an act of evil if they truly knew how offensive it was to God?

Nobody can know the percentage. However, it would be hard to conclude that Protestants are invincibly ignorant. Most know about Christ and his Church (the Catholic Church) but either choose to reject it or choose not to get to know it. Either way I would say they are not invincibly ignorant.

Many faithful Christians have been born and died as Protestants! They probably knew naught else about Catholicism but what they were taught through their protestant existence; there are some like these today!

Many Buddhists TRULY seek harmony with creation, also born and died, Buddhists.

Every other religion, the same! People born and died knowing nothing else except their ‘faith’ or teachings, and only HEARD of Catholicism through human filters.

ALL these can ‘fit’ into Invincible Ignorance!

I think it was Pope Pius…*? who explained it best. There are those on this earth who are OUTSIDE the scope of The Church who are unreservedly left to God’s Mercy!

You are right that a % is impossible to know or BE KNOWN to human knowledge! In spite Her existence, The Church is the Body of Christ, but even She confines the things of God, TO God!


I was raised catholic and very devoutly catholic (at one stage). Then I left. I know what the church teaches but want no part with it or Jesus.
I am going to hell it seems.

Nobody goes to Heaven through or because of invincible ignorance. One can only get to heaven if one has kept the precepts of God despite invincible ignorance.

I hope that distinction helps.


Hell is a choice. At any time while you are still alive, you can once again choose Christ. Life is all about choices…and consequences. Many will go to hell in our time, I believe. Jesus talked about hell about 90 times in the Scriptures. He only talked about heaven about 30 times. Anyway…choose…choose wisely…because eternity is a long, long time to be wrong.

It’s interesting that you guys think Gandhi wasn’t able to enter into Heaven… yet he was more Christian than most Catholics.

If you don’t turn your cheek at all times… you’re disobeying God’s Law.


um…well…christian? really?

Hell is not my choice. I have no desire to go to hell - do not want to go there, do not choose to go there. I have already chosen not to go there and I won’t be changing my mind. I do not want to go to hell.

But … I will be told I did choose. :hypno: in some mystical, mysterious, unconscious way.

It’s not that complicated, Pumpkin. If I told you a stove is redhot and if you put your hand on it you’re going to get burnt, what do you think will happen if you say, “I have a right to put my hand anywhere I want! I’m going to put my hand on that hot stove and it’s NOT going to burn me.”? You’ve been told what the rules are and you have a free will to follow them or not. Following them results on one set of consequences and not following them has a different set of consequences. You cannot get to heaven by rejecting Jesus Christ anymore than you can keep your hand from being burnt by putting it on a redhot stove. It is what it is.

the elect to their pedestals and the damned to their hovels. Guess which one gloats over the other :popcorn:

Here are some related notes from a teacher I have studied under (Robert J. Miller). Somewhat paraphrased:

Christian apologetics is the attempt to prove that the beliefs of Christianity are reasonable.

How often do you read material that tries to persuade you that your religious beliefs are wrong and that other beliefs you reject are true? Unless you are yourself an apologist scouting the opposition, the chances are that you’ve never studied an apology to which you were an outsider. If apologies are actually intended for outsiders, they have to judged colossal failures.

In the few cases when outsiders do read or listen to apologies, they seldom take them seriously. Outsiders approach apologies with caution, for the simple reason that apologies ask them to change their beliefs. Most outsiders assume that apologies are strongly biased, that they tell only one side of the story. The very few outsiders who read apologies almost always do so out of curiosity, or out of a desire to figure out how to refute them.

For example, Muslim apologists maintain that the Qur’an would not be so inerrant, profound, beautiful, and compelling if God were not its Author, and that Islam would not have been accepted by so many so quickly unless it were divinely guided. Muslims find this line of argument quite convincing. Non-Muslims, however, will not be persuaded, even if they do not know how to explain the admirable qualities of the Qur’an or the impressive growth of early Islam. They will assume that even if they themselves do not know how to refute the apology, there are experts who do.

Outsiders seldom read apologies and seldom take them seriously when they do. As for the few who do read an apology and give it serious consideration, how many are actually persuaded by it? Again the answer is: very, very few, if any at all.

Informed, intelligent, sincere, and spiritual people are almost never persuaded by apologetics to change their core beliefs. Looking back, I now think the reason for this is that most apologetics use assumptions that only insiders take for granted. It is usually only from an outsider’s perspective that one can see how problematic these assumptions really are.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit