Is this what Catholics really believe?

There’s a Catholic I’m Facebook friends with. He’s extremely uncharitable with Protestants to the point it gets annoying. I’m a devout Catholic and am fully obedient to Holy Mother Church, but this doesn’t sound right.

“…Robert also corrects the common misunderstanding that Jesus paid the full legal payment for our sins on the Cross; He did not. Jesus paid for the way or the opportunity for reconciliation with God the Father. After all, if Jesus paid the full legal payment for our sins, no one would ever go to Hell, since payment for sins cannot be paid for a second time if it was truly paid for the first time.”

He has also said at some other point that we merit Heaven and “earn” salvation through good works and that Jesus’ role is opening the gates of Heaven only.

He’s right and not right at the same time. His meaning is somewhat correct, but he has worded it entirely incorrectly…

He is wrong. He is confusing different things. Redemption and salvation it seems. Jesus paid the full price and His sacrifice was sufficient and He fully redeemed mankind. However, that doesn’t mean that everybody is saved - we still have to reach out to God, accept Christ as Lord, obey His commands, and then we can be saved. When someone goes to Hell it doesn’t mean the sacrifice of Christ was insufficient, it just means that person didn’t accept Christs sacrifice - he was redeemed but didn’t want to be saved.

Even I can’t word it precisely, but your friend is wrong. Though, I am hardly an expert so take this post knowing that perhaps it is I who is wrong.

He misrepresents the teaching in some aspects.

He seems to take the Protestant theological view and then formulate the opposite as that which comprises Catholic theology. This happens a lot in those who fail to study or fail to fathom Catholic teachings. Protestant theology has the Merits of Jesus applied as a covering whereas Catholic theology correctly applies the Merits of Jesus to the entire economy of salvation, for which we accept via grace leading to our inner holiness ontologically. Where we “fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my (our) flesh, for His Body, which is the Church” is in the work we do for God, our mortifications, our prayers, our denying our human nature for the moral divine nature, and in giving our prayers for others that they may be given the prevenient grace to accept further grace and sanctification. There is no merit in the cheap application of “the opposite of what they say must be the truth”. There is merit, though, in the correcting of those in error.

Through our own works, we can never merit heaven. Were that possible, the redemptive death of Jesus Christ would not be necessary. We are saved by grace. This grace is not a cheap grace, however, that merely needs our intellectual assent. If we truly accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, it will show in our lives, in the works that we do in His name. As St. James says, “Without works, our faith is dead.” It is faith in Jesus Christ that underlies our works.

Pelagianism is the heresy that we can earn salvation through works. As notedabove, the prevenient grace of God is a necessary. Nonetheless, we are called to cooperate with that grace. Not hard, but often mucked up.

From Catholic Encyclopedia: Merit

In the theological sense, a supernatural merit can only be a salutary act (actus salutaris), to which God in consequence of his infallible promise owes a supernatural reward, consisting ultimately in eternal life, which is the beatific vision in heaven. As the main purpose of this article is to vindicate the Catholic doctrine of the meritoriousness of good works, the subject is treated under the four following heads:

I. Nature of Merit;
II. Existence of Merit;
III. Conditions of Merit, and
IV. Objects of Merit.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit