Invincibly ignorant?

If a protestant is a anticatholic, but o,nly hates a caricature of the church, and does not understand the churchis necessary for salvation, is that still invincible ignorance’

Invincible ignorance
You don’t realize that the Church contains the fullness of the truth.
You won’t be able to realize that the Church contains the fullness of the truth.
It’s not your fault for not knowing the truth about the Catholic Church.

In other words, it depends on the person. If the protestant in question realizes that he is incorrect about the Church, yet continues to make himself an enemy of it, then he is not invincibly ignorant. He is being malevolent.

If a person who is unaware of the significance of the Church, yet has the capacity to become aware, stays unaware, then he will be held responsible for his lack of knowledge.

Let’s talk about principles.

Here’s a definition of **vincible **ignorance from Fr. John Hardon, S.J.:

Lack of knowledge for which a person is morally responsible. It is culpable ignorance because* it could be cleared up if the person used sufficient diligence*. One is said to be simply (but culpably) ignorant* ** if one fails to make enough effort to learn what should be known***; guilt then depends on one’s lack of effort to clear up the ignorance. That person is crassly ignorant when the lack of knowledge is not directly willed but rather due to neglect or laziness; as a result the guilt is somewhat lessened, but in grave matters a person would still be gravely responsible. A person has affected ignorance when one deliberately fosters it in order not to be inhibited in what one wants to do; such ignorance is gravely wrong when it concerns serious matters.

Now, how the principles behind vincible and invincible ignorance apply in individual situations may not necessarily be up to us to determine. Frankly, it is not up to us to judge the culpability of anyone else.

What is most sure, however, is that a person’s likelihood of being saved increases exponentially by being visibly united with Christ’s body the Church. Therefore, we should do our best to evangelize everyone.

This is one of those beautiful questions that can only be answered by God. God and God alone can individually judge invincible ignorance.

Our job is not to figure out this or that person’s invincible ignorance. Our job is, to the best of our abilities, to show forth God’s love and salvation. Our job is to know and understand the teachings of the Church in order to, with love, understanding, patience and prayer, show the world the “Way” of God’s love.

I often wonder how many people’s “invincible ignorance” is caused by back biting, arguing and self-righteous behavior. These behaviors can create a black curtain between a person and the goodness of beauty of Christ’s love. I pray to God that my behavior has never closed the door of knowledge for anyone.

I would not want to be the reason for “invincible ignorance” on my soul.

No, that is not correct. The entire moral law is accessible to reason alone. Yet the Church teaches that a person can lack culpability if they commit an objectively sinful act, mistakenly thinking, in good conscience, that the act is moral. This happens all the time to Catholics and non-Catholics.

But if the standard were that the person “has the capacity to become aware”, then invincible ignorance would never apply to morality, since the whole moral law is open to reason.

For invincible ignorance to apply, reducing or remitting culpability, the person must sincerely seek the truth on the matter in question (religion or morals), and any negligence must not be so substantial as to be an actual mortal sin. Some limited negligence in seeking truth sincerely applies to us all, and yet we can still be invincibly ignorance.

Whether a particular individual, in a particular case, is invincibly ignorance only God can know for certain. However, a person’s conscience can make a judgment as to whether he or she was invincibly ignorant. And we can know that many persons are invincibly ignorance, as a general statement about humanity.

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