Lack of Mortal sin = no hell?

Today in Ask the Apologist Fr. Grondin states that “If someone dies in a state of grace then they either experience the purification of Purgatory for any venial sins that they need purification from or they go directly to heaven.”

( Here’s a link to the question )

Does this include non-Christians too? Agnostics? Those who haven’t been baptized?

The reason I’m asking is I’m really worried about my parents’ going to hell. They are very VERY good people, but not Christians.

It is possible for those who have not been baptized etc…to be saved.

We though do not enter into a state of justification (grace) (a state of true life in Christ) by our “being good” - by good deeds etc.

Though that is a good step - seeking the good. God sees that desire (and is behind it too!)

Keep praying for them.

The Holy Spirit can reach persons in ways we do not know.

And they can be saved thus by Christ in ways we do not see or know …

Keep praying.

It is the Catholic understanding that one can not be in a state of grace if one still has original sin, which is removed by baptism.

However, The Church also teaches that the sacraments are for us and God, of course can do as He decides best.

… or the implicit desire for Baptism!

Implicitly desiring Baptism can include wanting to do anything God would demand of you, but being genuinely and invincibly ignorant of everything that God demands, such as Baptism.

Anyone who follows the lights they have been given, and does not actively resist grace, may be saved, so long as they are not ignorant of the fullness of truth through their own fault.

My belief is that there is no salvation outside the Church. Still I hope in God’s mercy for the unborn children. But other than that, there is no excuse, in my opinion. In these times, the Church is everywhere, you have easy access to materials and people that point you to the Truth and the Church, it would be an excuse to say “I didn’t know”.

Those among those who are in fact saved by Jesus in ways known to God not to us - are yes STILL saved in relation to the Church.

The problem is that we Catholics are not always the best ambassadors for our faith. If the people we encounter look to us and don’t see saints, they may not have much of an incentive to investigate what we believe.

I sometimes think of Huck’s decision to reject what he thought to be Christianity in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” He looked at the Christians around him and saw injustice and cruelty. He decided to help his friend Jim escape from slavery, even though he believed that doing so would cost him salvation. But who could blame him for rejecting Christianity if that’s what he thought it was?

Only God can judge whether an individual truly had an opportunity to accept the faith.

Thanks for your responses.

I was hoping to get a more specific answer when I presented that question. I was interested in the problem: “CAN one commit a mortal sin, if one does not agree with the three prongs of the definition?”. Unfortunately, to be in the “state of grace” cannot be “measured” in any way.

Specifically, what about “the gravity of the act”? Who decides what is a grave act?
And what does “full knowledge” mean here? At least the “full consent” is correct.

But the other two parts are far from satisfactory. Some people (mostly ultra-conservatives) assert that “sexually expressed love is a grave act (sin) outside marriage”. Most people disagree. So is it or is it not a “grave matter”? Opinions are insufficient to make such a declaration.

And what does “full knowledge” mean? I have full knowledge about the opinion of those people, but their opinion is not binding on others.

I think your posting in the wrong thread.

The Church teaches that Catholics who die in a state of grace go to heaven. Beyond that, the Church basically says, “we don’t know, but it is possible that others may be saved, because all things are possible with God.” Take a look at the Catechism, par.839-848, which address this issue.

I recommend Jim Blackburn’s article titled What ‘No Salvation Outside the Church’ Means, which can be found here on the Catholic Answers website.



The ordinary ways for a person to get to Heaven is through the sacraments and the Church.

But don’t forget that Christ Himself told the good thief of the cross that that very day he would be with Him in paradise. Presumably the good thief had never been baptized, nor knew much of Christ’s teachings. Christ can bestow mercy on people outside the sacraments.

And don’t forget that Our Lady, at Fatima, said “Pray for peace, do penance for conversion.” Pray and do penance for your parents’ conversion.

He was the one who posted the original question in the Ask An Apologist forum.

Thank you for your encouragement. My mom was at least validly baptized as a Presbyterian when she was a baby. She just never went to Church, and I’m not sure what she believed about God.

I know Our Lady of Fatima said to pray many rosaries. Did she mention any specific penance for the salvation of souls?

I don’t believe so, but the children of Fatima did penances like forgoing water, forgoing food, placing little itchy plants in their clothing, stuff like that. I imagine any deliberate form of penance, offered up, would probably be acceptable.

So it seems your Mom is no longer living (here)?

Thank you. And that is why I try to follow up. The “Ask the Apologist” forum is not the place to ask follow-up questions. I wish it would be, but then they would be inundated by too many questions. Yet sometimes the answers need to be elaborated upon. And the actual “professional” apologists are supposed to be more knowledgeable, than the average Joe Schmoe-s.

Let’s see an example. For a Catholic it is supposed to be a mortal sin to miss mass for frivolous reasons. Obviously for non-Catholics it does not apply. So the act of “missing mass” is not an unqualified “grave matter”.

Similarly, it is forbidden to have sex outside marriage - and that is a Catholic (Christian) teaching. It is supposed to be a “grave matter” for Catholics (and some Christians). But non-Christians are not bound by this teaching. So it is not a “grave matter” for them.

Therefore the question of “what is a grave matter” is not something to “brush off”. Maybe we could ask the apologists… hmmm?

Solmyr -

I disagree, Sex outside marriage is always a grave matter and is objectively sinful for everyone. The natural moral law is not applicable only to Catholics or to Christians. It is written in men’s hearts. There may be varying levels of culpability, but it is always a grave matter.


I think you mixed apples and oranges in your examples.

Missing mass is related to a specific Church command to fulfill the general requirement to to keep Holy the Lord’s Day. The former (specific) is applicable to the Catholics, the latter (one of the ten commandments) is applicable to all.

Not having sex outside of marriage is in the same category as the keeping the Lord Day Holy. It is grave matter for all.

There is no “natural moral law”. There was nothing “written” on the heart of the cave men… and they were also human beings.

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