Is ignorance sometimes a good thing?


Here is my thought:

My wife is not yet a catholic. She is more of the view of living a good, Christian life.

I am trying to bring her to RCIA.

If she were to do this, and be baptised into the faith- should she then discover, for example, that missing mass is a mortal sin- am I, by bringing her to the Faith, risking her soul?

If she did not know this before, and I give her this truth, I am allowing her soul to be at risk of mortal sin which could send someone to hell?


I think you may have it backwards, my friend. I would say that holding back the truth does more harm than allowing a person to be ignorant. We were given the command to spread the word. I would recommend doing just that.


I should have added the caveat that I was aware of this fact- I was just hypothesising a ‘what if’ scenario.

I am wanting to take her, God willing, fully into the Church. During this journey this thought about ignorance came into my head.

It invites the question that- is a protestant ‘better off’ in the sense that they do not know or believe particular things we do in our faith, which would not condemn them as they were ignorant?

Surely to know Christ in the fullest way possible in full communion with His Church must always be the best path?

I look at other Church’s lack of need to attend regularly on Sunday and compare to our own view of the missing of mass on Sunday as a mortal sin.


rcuk said **: "My wife is not yet a Catholic.
She is more of the view of living a good, Christian life.

(1) I am trying to bring her to RCIA.
(2) If she were to do this, and be Baptized into the Faith
(3) [And] should she then discover… that missing Mass is a Mortal Sin [then]
(4) am I, by bringing her to the Faith, risking her Soul?"**

Yes, maybe.

Many Protestant faiths have NO SUCH THING as a Mortal Sin.
If you accept Jesus as your Savior (and Profess your Faith), (and, in certain Protestant Churches also get Baptized), then
(a) All of her Sins are Forgiven … All of her Sins in the Past, AND all of her Sins into the Future, and
(b) No matter how you Live your Life after this “conversion” … you are Heaven-bound.

About this Once-is-Forever Sin Reduction Plan, I believe that God judges each Protestant denomination (and Catholics) by the Rules and Dogmas they each have.
So, a Woman who KNOWS that she is Saved, IS saved (and so, is Heaven-bound).
OK, now if this Woman is your Wife, then (according to my belief) she will be Happily Welcomed into Heaven some day.

Now, what happens if she Converts into a Catholic?
Hmm, well, it seems to me that one of 2 things will Occur** :**

  1. She will STILL be completely SAVED (because, once Saved, always Saved), or
  2. She will LOSE his Saved Status from Jesus, and revert to the Rules and Dogmas of the Catholic Church.

Decisions . . . Decisions
If I were you, I would do some investigation with her Protestant Church’s main headquarters.
Just ask, if their Saved Status is forever, and (if NO), ask them for what happens to a formerly-Saved Protestant (in their Rules) when she converts to Catholicism.

So, if they say YES, she’s Saved forever … well that’s Just Wonderful.
This situation would make me feel MUCH MORE Comfortable about having her Convert.
But, that is me, NOT you.
If you “BUY” my theory, then you too will feel Better about it.
However, if you don’t BUY it fully, then AT LEAST there is a Possibility of Life-Time FREEDOM from Mortal Sins.

Now, to the Question you asked.

If your Wife converts to Catholicism, she will HAVE to abide by All of our Rules.
The ONLY exception is if she’s Saved Forever.

This means, you MAY WELL be the “hangman” in your Wife’s After-life, which means,
if she doesn’t get Credit for a Life-time exemption, then you WILL BE Responsible for her After-life.

Because of that, if I were you, I would explain to her about Mortal Sins, and how Sunday Attendance is Required to avoid receiving one.
After all, if you are ALREADY going to all of the Sunday Masses, then it is no problem (even an ASSET) to take your Wife along too, so you can BOTH share the Good News.


Sorry, but this is just wrong. First, it is against Church teaching (you completely misunderstand the concept of ‘full knowledge’ as a requirement for mortal sin). See CCC 1860:

1860 Unintentional ignorance can diminish or even remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.

Thus, even a Protestant who doesn’t believe in mortal sin still has ‘full knowledge’ in regards to the moral law. In other words, a Protestant cannot commit adultery, not repent, and still be saved simply b/c they don’t believe in mortal sin.

Second, your theory leads to the absurd conclusion that God instituted the Church, with it’s Sacraments and Teaching Authority, to be a burden to the salvation of His children. This is standing everything exactly on its head. It is far better off to know the Truth (which Jesus is) than to live in ignorance. Remember, it’s the Truth that will set us free (Jn 8:32)


Being outside the Church is itself a risk to someone’s soul. The Church teaches, and has always taught, that “outside the Church there is no salvation” (*extra ecclesiam nulla salus *. Thus, all salvation comes from the Catholic Church. No one is saved by any other means or denomination. No one. This doesn’t mean that all people outside the Church are necessarily damned. The Church teaches that anyone who is not Catholic through invincible ignorance (i.e. they don’t know better and it’s bot their fault that they don’t know better) will not be condemned for being outside the Church. But such people can still be condemned for breaking the moral law (which no one is ignorant of, see CCC 1860).

In the end, inside the Catholic Church is by far the safest place for everyone. The world is flooded by sin and the Church is Noah’s Ark, floating along, saving those within. Might some make it without being formally joined to the Church? Maybe. But the safest way is inside the Church which has all the graces God wants to give His children for their salvation - the Sacraments, including the Eucharist and Confession - infallible teaching authority, the Mass, etc.

God bless.


An analogy: If you don’t believe in gravity, will you still fall to the ground if you jump off a tall building?:shrug:


The advantage of being Catholic is that one is then able to obtain grace, knowledge, and other help in attaining Heaven! So it is easier to enter Heaven as a Catholic, even tho the criteria may seem more difficult.

Christ gave us a map to Heaven. If we follow it, we will get there. Others *may *be able to enter Heaven, but they won’t have the map, so they could more easily lose their way.

Is it not easier to love those the more you know about them? Is it then not easier to love God the more you know about Him?

And how difficult it is to be good when one is not clear about what good is, and without God’s grace!

So all in all, keep praying for your wife that she becomes not only Catholic but a *good *Catholic :slight_smile:


Pietro Paolo responded to my Post** : “First, it is against [the Catholic] Church teaching (you completely misunderstand the concept of ‘full knowledge’ as a requirement for Mortal Sin)…1860 Unintentional ignorance can … remove the imputability of a grave offense. But no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.
… In other words, a Protestant cannot commit adultery, not repent, and still be saved simply because they don’t believe in Mortal Sin.”**
You may be Correct in your Post, but that is NOT what I was talking about.
I didn’t mean to refer to "the concept of ‘full knowledge’ " at all.
I discussed 2 Situations

  1. If the OP’s Wife must FULLY comply with all of the Catholic Rules and Dogmas, or
  2. Because of a “Promise” Jesus made to her when she was “Saved” at her Protestant Church … that she is EXEMPT from a Catholic’s requirement to Confess Sins in order to have her Sins Forgiven.

And, based upon the latter Situation, that (even though the Catholic Church requires Confession), she would ALREADY have her Alternate Means of dealing with accumulating Sins.

I hope this clears it up for you. If not, just respond, and I will reply further.
Because of what I said, I am skipping your Second Point, because I think they are linked together … If NO to 1 … then 2 does not apply (because it is based on a YES answer for 1).


Thanks for the response. I’m sorry if my earlier post was speaking past your point. The error you are making, then, is less to do with the Catholic concept of the necessity of ‘full knowledge’ for sins to be mortal and more to do with a relativistic idea of religion, which is entirely incompatible with Catholicism. Read the Gospels, especially the judgment scene in Matt 25. Christ will not judge us based on what we believe to be true. He will judge us on what He believes to be true.

My second point above still stands. In your view, God founded the Catholic Church to be an impediment to the salvation of man. God wills all to be saved. If once saved always saved was possible, God wouldn’t have founded a Church to make his children have a more difficult time getting to Heaven. The Church is the easiest path to Heaven, for it is the only one created by God.

Follow your logic out to its conclusion. Are Muslim jihadists saved by running an airplane into a building full of innocent people? If not, why not? They believe that will earn them salvation as much as a Protestant believes once saved, always saved will gain them Heaven.


If indeed she does start RCIA and wholeheartedly accepts all the truths of the Catholic Church that is explained to her, then she will sincerely want to abide by all the teachings and will benefit greatly by them.

There is a chance that she may not, at this time or ever, accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. That is what RCIA helps a person to determine.


There is no point in staying away from the true Faith based on the notion of
“I’ll just tell God on the last day that I didn’t know better.”

That’s not what God wills for us. He wants us to come closer to Him, not “skate by”.

I hope your wife enters RCIA when she is ready, and I pray that the RCIA team be well-formed, and able to answer her questions in a way that she embraces the faith. God bless you fro wanting the best for her soul.


Pietro Paolo responds** : “The error you are making, then, is … more to do with a relativistic idea of religion, which is entirely incompatible with Catholicism.”**

I do NOT agree with your analysis of my Posts.

I am discussing the Difference between Catholic Doctrine, and Protestant Doctrine.
First, do you believe that if a Protestant follows the Path of his Denomination, that she will be able to go to Heaven?
If YES, then you believe that a person does NOT need to comply with Catholic Doctrine (or Rules), in order to get to Heaven (which is ONE option I discussed).
If NOT, then I see what the Problem is here, to wit, you believe that Protestantism "is entirely incompatible with Catholicism."
This (if True) is VERY easy to deal with (because several Popes have said otherwise, as you probably know already)…
What is difficult is you throwing out Wild Accusations at me, for NO apparent Reason.

My Posts (and the OP’s Posts) are about the SAME Thing.
That is, CAN a Protestant-turning-Catholic get into Heaven, while at the same time, NOT complying with Catholic Church requirements?
This is THE Question.

I offered up the Quandry: Is this a Catholic-doctrine-only Universe?
Then I gave both sides of the Issue (as I imagined them to be).
But, then you ignored that, and are Attacking me for made-up-in-your-Mind problems about SOMETHING ELSE than I am discussing.
You are careening off of the Point in this Thread.

Instead of making a Rational Point, you go WAY out into Left Field, and make up a dirty LIE about me** : “In your view, God founded the Catholic Church to be an impediment to the salvation of man.”**
I think your behavior here is inappropriate.
You are putting words in my Mouth that have NOTHING to do with what I was talking about.
I think that you are Purposely “pretending” to misunderstand the moment of what I am saying.

I am a devout Catholic … and you are Blaspheming my Spirituality.

But, let’s be Fair here.
Please quote the portion of my Posts that supports your accusation that I think "God founded the Catholic Church to be an impediment to the salvation of man."
And, please explain your Rationale for making that Conclusion, based upon my quoted words.

If you choose to NOT do that, then I will assume that you “got caught” … and KNOW that ANY response by you will show itself to be Off-the-Point of which I was discussing. And, that your accusation has NO basis in Fact.
So, the Ball is in YOUR Court now.
Put up … or run away.


The point you originally made was that each person would be judged according to their beliefs. Thus, according to your stated view in this thread, no doctrine is objectively true, it is only true for you or true for me. The Protestant who believes in OSAS is right - for him. The Catholic who believes that men will be judged not just by what they say they believe, but by how they live (whether they die in a state of grace) is, again in your stated view, also right - for him. This, my friend, is religious relativism. No wild accusations. Just the plain truth.

You have a very distorted view of what a “doctrine” is. “Doctrine” simply means teaching. Doctrines are not things that need to be “complied with” by some group and not by another. Doctrines, being teachings about reality, are simply either true or false. All Catholic Doctrines are true, because Jesus promised that the Catholic Church would never teach err (i.e. would never err in doctrine). Some Protestant doctrines are also true (e.g. the Trinity, Jesus is God, etc). Some Protestant doctrines are false (e.g. OSAS, the rapture, etc.). Thus, we see a via media opens between the horns of your false dilemma - Protestantism is neither something that can save Protestants (your option 1), nor is it “completely incompatible with Catholicism” (your option 2).

No one can get to heaven without complying with the God given requirements of attaining salvation. It simply doesn’t matter what the believer thinks will get him saved, it only matters what actually will save him. A man dying of thirst might think guzzling water will save him, he will be wrong and will die if he drinks too much, too quickly. Another poster pointed out another great example. An unscientific man might leap from a tall building disbelieving in the laws of gravity, nevertheless he will crash into the Earth. The same is true with salvation.

I’ve addressed this above. You completely misunderstand doctrine.

Are you familiar with the saying, “the pot calling the kettle black?”

Then allow me to suggest reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church or speaking to a good priest about the meaning of doctrine and of your interesting ideas on salvation.

If believing OSAS results in automatic salvation regardless of future sins, while being Catholic results in the possibility of being damned for dying in a state of unrepentant mortal sin, then being Catholic is a significantly harder way of being saved. But the Catholic Church was founded by God. Therefore, God created a Church that makes it harder for people to be saved than if He hadn’t bothered. Thus, the Church (and being a part of her), in your view, is an impediment to the salvation of man. We’d all be better off just believing in OSAS. That would be a surer way of salvation. But, OSAS isn’t true, for anyone, regardless of what they believe, because people can be wrong. God, however, cannot be wrong. The surest and safest route to salvation is the Catholic Faith. In fact, the Catholic Church is the only means of salvation for the entire world. No one is saved by Buddhism, Islam, Protestantism, or anything other than Catholicism. Of course, being a devout Catholic, you already know that.

**I’ll ask you again, in your view is a Muslim terrorist saved when he kills himself and a thousand innocent people for Allah? **You enjoy dilemmas:

IF NOT, then people can be wrong about what saves them. A person can think doing ‘x’ will make God happy and save their souls and be mistaken.

IF SO, then you might want to read a few of the things some popes have written.


Maybe if she discovers the mass, she will want to attend every week, maybe even more.
Is there more to the story?
I love going to mass; I would be upset if someone had kept this from me.


“We’d all be better off just believing in OSAS. That would be a surer way of salvation. But, OSAS isn’t true, for anyone, regardless of what they believe, because people can be wrong. God, however, cannot be wrong. The surest and safest route to salvation is the Catholic Faith”

  • Essentially we’d be saying that the man-made Reformation provided an ‘easier’ alternative route to salvation!

The implication in this thread so far seems to be that those who find themselves outside of the faith through no fault of their own, and who are completely ignorant of the faith, may still be saved.

Those who have denied aspects of the faith knowingly, or where their self-conscience is indicating the ‘feeling’ that something may be wrong; i.e. “It’s Sunday- I should be in Church.”, would indicate that there is some aspect of denial going on.

Whatever is said about non-Catholic denominations seems to stem from the reformation, which makes me ask- how can man decide what is necessary for salvation?


You gotta be cautious of the “easy” alternative routes! Just ask Bugs Bunny who kept “making that wrong turn at Albuquerque !”:shrug:


I read somewhere recently about the Church, that one should look at the Church which receives the most resistance.

The Catholic Church stands for some of the ‘difficult’ aspects of life and defends those beliefs.


That isn’t only the implication of this thread, but the infallible teaching of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council taught, in Lumen Gentium:

  1. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation… Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops… He is not saved, however, who, though part of the body of the Church, does not persevere in charity. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but, as it were, only in a “bodily” manner and not “in his heart.”…

  1. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are** honored with the name of Christian**, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. …Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power…

  2. Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God… Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. … But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”,the **Church fosters the missions **with care and attention.


Thanks PietroPaolo.

Did the church ever draw a line on what classes as someone becoming aware of the gospel, but disregarding it?

Reading the below I took it both that those who seek God sincerely but unknowlingly choose to reside outside of the church may still be saved. But, we see many righteous, yet staunch protestants, many of whom are extremely critical of the true Church. They are convinced in their views, and will not be moved. They think what they do, they do for Christ.

I expect this is a denial of faith if it ‘crosses the line’ that will lessen their chances of salvation- but this is pure speculation of course (and of course they are saying the same thing about Catholics).

To go back to the beginning- we are instructed to spread the Gospel, and therefore it would be wrong to hold back any aspect of the truth from another as this would be risking our own souls and displeasing God.
We see people doing drastic things for the love of another. Maybe needlessly taking their own lives- which we know will send the soul to hell. Given this, I wonder if someone, in love, would withold aspects of the truth from another in the hope they would be saved?

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