No salvation outside of the Church?

Dear CAF sisters/brothers in Christ,

My paternal grandfather was a Protestant and was baptized in the Protestant tradition. He died suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep. I was thinking of him the other day, and I remember reading that “there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church.” Although my grandfather was a Christian and followed Christ, would not being Catholic disqualify him from attaining eternal salvation?

Thankfully, my maternal relatives are all Catholic, even my now deceased great-grandmother and grandfather.

Many thanks and Pax Christi.

The real consolation is that God loves him more than you do.

The “Church” in this phrase is the invisible communion of grace. Some may be in it even while rejecting its outward structure (the Catholic Church as such)… but it would have to be from a serious kind of ignorance.

It is better not to search into such things in individual cases, and rather do the work of evangelization and prayer… and continual self-conversion as well. Faith alone does not save a person, after all…

I’m so sorry for your loss! The route Jesus gave us to attain salvation is the sacraments. Outside of that we know no way to heaven because He is the Way. He designed it so. But HE is not bound by his own rules. If he wishes to save someone another way, he can. We can’t presume on this - we can just know it’s possible. This makes the salvation of basically everyone, unknown. Pray for your grandfather and entrust him to Gods love and mercy.


I might gently suggest, especially since you’ve been here awhile, that you search CAF for the dozens of past threads we’ve had on this subject.

The Catechism clearly states that non-Catholic Christians, and even non-Christians, have the possibility of salvation. If they are even the least bit in communion with the Church, such as by receiving a Trinitarian baptism, or even in the case of Muslims and Jewish people by believing like we do in the God of Abraham, they have some communion with the Church and therefore cannot be said to be totally outside of the Church. It is also possible for God to convert people to Catholic Church at the moment of death.

I have had many Protestant relatives including my grandmother and my husband, I don’t for one minute think they’re excluded from Heaven and with the amount of prayers I have said for them on top of them being good people, I have great hope that they’re already there.

Pray for your grandfather’s soul, get indulgences for him, have Mass said for him and have hope of his salvation.


I’m the only catholic in my family other than my kids.

Assuming I make it to heaven (not guaranteed) I don’t really expect to see much of my family there.

No worries, maybe they’re in Purgatory — which means: pray for them unceasingly!
Adding them to my prayers.

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NEVER lose hope. Offer Masses for them and never stop praying for them. Ask St. Monica for her intercession.

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Intercession never hurts. We are interceding here by praying on Prayer Intentions threads. Asking saints to intercede is simply asking them to pray with us for an intention. One can ask St Monica or any other saint one likes.

There are many instances in Scripture where God did respond to prayers.


I will do a plenary indulgence for your grandfather too. It may take a few days as I can only get one a day and have a backlog, but I’ll put him in soon.

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We don’t know.
But they help out of love, not out of caprice.
And they always help accordingly to the will of Heavenly Father.


A saint never declines any sincere request for intercession. Even if they received an insincere request, or a request they didn’t feel they could pray for (like a prayer that asked for an immoral thing like wishing bad on someone else or doing something that wasn’t God’s will), they’d probably pray that the person receives God’s Grace to be more sincere and closer to God.

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This reminds me of the question - “can God make a rock too heavy for Him to pick up?” I think this question might just be an illogical question.



Once a person gets to Heaven, the concept of free will is irrelevant as souls who go there will never choose to do anything other than God’s will.


A lot of people misunderstand that phrase. God is not bound by the sacraments and his mercy can extend outside of them. Most Protestants do not truly know that the Catholic Church was instituted by Jesus.

God judges people individually. God is merciful and loving :pray:t2:


Thank you everyone for your answers! I will continue to pray for my grandfather.

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Sorry to hear your loss @pulchraesamicamea! May the Lord have mercy into his soul.

If your grandfather was born in that religion, it’s not his fault that he was born into that family.

We’re not God. We can’t say that there’s no salvation outside the Church because even inside the Catholic Church, there are people who may have been confined in purgatory or hell. We can’t tell if a person can go to heaven, purgatory, or hell because the decision is God’s. We can pray for your grandfather’s soul.

No not really. Never doing something and not being able to do something is not the same thing.



Baptism is the door to the Church. It places one in union with the Church, even if that union is not brought to full completion through the other sacraments and visible unity. Heresy, like all sins, requires the requisite culpability–if one is wrong in good faith, it is not a sin and does not create that separation that makes one “extra ecclesiam” (“outside” or “apart” from the Church). Of course, being united to the Church by faith and baptism is not the only criteria for salvation. We must persevere in charity too. The particular judgment belongs to God, who alone can read our hearts, minds, and all our actions.

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The statement is often misunderstood as meaning “there is no salvation except for Catholics”, but that’s not what the statement says. Rather, it points out that it is the Catholic Church through which all who are Christian are saved, even if they’re not found within the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church.


I’m so happy to see you write this. :wink:

God will do what God will do for those who love Him with all their heart and all their mind

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