Only members of the Church are saved?


Certainly, not all are saved; hell is not empty of human souls. But the Church teaches the universal salvific will of God. For those who know about Christianity and the Catholic Church, and who choose not to enter the Church, can they be saved?


What do you mean by ‘know about’?


A person may “know about” Christianity, but if they were raised Muslim or any other faith, chances are they won’t know Christianity is the right religion. They will assume their religion is probably the “right one.” Does someone go to Hell for an honest mistake?

I hope not. But at the end of the day, it isn’t our judgement to make.


Catechism 847. Tried to copy it but I couldn’t.


This too


Even if someone knows about Christianity and the Church they may have met people who were unconvincing. Say, for example, someone’s only exposure to the Church was a very bad priest who bore a terrible witness.

I doubt God would punish that person for walking away and saying: Christianity is false.

I have always believed that if a person searches for God and is not presented convincing evidence but TRULY searched that God will not punish them. Especially if they still managed to live a moral life (as much as they could, as much as they understood).


That’s pretty much what is said in the article I have posted a link to.


Pope Eugene IV, 1441.
“The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire “which was prepared for the devil, and his angels,” (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”
(Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441) "


From the Athanasian Creed:

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.”


Just to add to this so no one despairs of another, the Church also teaches that “in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him” (CCC 848).


Another thing to keep in mind is this:

God will give you sufficient grace for your salvation, the satisfaction of all your sins and the punishment due to them. If you end up in hell, it is through your own fault, not Gods.


Not to be an echo chamber, but good point. This is where the universal salvific will of God comes in: He offers all the means of salvation–the grace to do all we need to do to be saved.

Here’s a good read from St. Alphonsus Liguori on this:


Thanks for the link.



847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

From Romans 2:

12 All who sin outside the law will also perish without reference to it, and all who sin under the law will be judged in accordance with it.[i]
13 For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; rather, those who observe the law will be justified.[j]
14 For when the Gentiles who do not have the law by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law.[k]
15 They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, [*] while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them
16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge people’s hidden works through Christ Jesus.[l]

  • [2:1216] Jews cannot reasonably demand from Gentiles the standard of conduct inculcated in the Old Testament since God did not address its revelation to them. Rather, God made it possible for Gentiles to know instinctively the difference between right and wrong. But, as Paul explained in Rom 1:1832, humanity misread the evidence of God’s existence, power, and divinity, and “while claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Rom 1:22).

  • [2:15] Paul expands on the thought of Jer 31:33; Wis 17:11.


Thank you.


No problem. :wink:


If a person genuinely loved God and wanted to do all that was necessary for salvation, but wasn’t aware of the truths of the Catholic faith, that person could still be saved. We call this Baptism of Desire. They become effectively an “honorary (but very real) Catholic” through this process. They become a member of the Church because of their innate desire for it.


From the Baltimore Catechism;

Q. 510. Is it ever possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church?

A. It is possible for one to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, provided that person:

1.(1) Has been validly baptized;

2.(2) Firmly believes the religion he professes and practices to be the true religion, and

3.(3) Dies without the guilt of mortal sin on his soul.

Q. 511. Why do we say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the CatholicChurch to be the true Church?

A. We say it is only possible for a person to be saved who does not know the Catholic Church to be the true Church, because the necessary conditions are not often found, especially that of dying in a state of grace without making use of the Sacrament of Penance.


Found this: The universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.


Yes others might be saved under the conditions others have mentioned. However make no mistake that we must make every attempt to convert the unbeliever, or even our seperated brothers and sisters.

The normal mode of salvation is through the church and her sacraments. The church only teaches we have reasons to hope for the salvation of others, but we don’t have any real assurance. And if anyone is saved who isn’t Catholic it is still through the life of the Church and the work of Christ.

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