Protestants BEFORE Vatican II

I have met people, my wife included, who were told as youngsters in Catholic grade school that Prostestants could not go to heaven. My wife’s mother was a Protestant. My wife, as a child, would come home and tell her mother that she could not go to heaven. That did not leave too many options for her mother. I try to explain to my wife that what some nuns in Catholic school might have taught her was not necessarily a true representation of Church teaching.

Does anyone know of any Church documents between the Reformation and Vatican II that would give a clear indication of the Church’s view on the possibility of salvation for Prostestants.

Catechism of St. Pius X (1910)

29 Q. But if a man through no fault of his own is outside the Church, can he be saved?

A. If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.

Doctrinal Catechism (1876):

Q. Do Catholics charge all that are apparently out of their communion with the crimes of heresy and schism, and consequently exclude them from salvation
A. No; all baptized children who die before they sin mortally, and before they embrace and believe error, are members of the true Church. Again, all those sincere people belong to the soul of the Church, who, being baptized, and believing the great fundamental truths of Christianity, and who are prevented from believing it in all its details, not by carelessness, nor temporal interest, nor human respect, nor the spirit of obstinacy, nor by malice, but simply because they never doubted, and never had sufficient means of knowing the truth, which they would embrace at once, and with gladness, could they only discover it,*—*all these, we say, belong to the soul of the Church, and will be saved, if they lead good lives and do not violate God’s law.

[size=2] Q. *What do you mean by the soul of the Church?
*A. All those belong to the body of the Church who are openly professing Catholics; to the soul of the Church belong all such as I have above described, who, being baptized, and believing the fundamental truths of religion, are living separate from the body of the Church, not by any fault of their own, but purely by not having sufficient means to lead them into a knowledge of the whole truth.


Tell your wife not to worry about it. I grew up Protestant and Catholics didn’t have any hope of going to heaven. That is what we were taught. Catholics are still not even considered Christian in my former denomination. Believe me, I am considered a total write off and without hope since my conversion. I don’t pay any attention because I don’t think they are god.

I am a product of a “mixed marriage”. My father was protestant and when he married my mother in 1947 they had to be married in the sanctuary and my father had to agree to raise his children Catholic. This he did and it was he who got me up at 5:30 am and drove me to church to serve the 6:00 am Mass. I never once believed my father, grandmother, aunt, and uncle could not go to heaven.

This might help. Starts about half way down.

My mother isn’t a Catholic, and if she does not go to Heaven then I don’t know who does.:signofcross:

Thank you all for your responses. It was just the information I was hoping someone would send. A particular thanks to RTMirage and brotherholf:). What great answers - you should have seen my wife’s face when I read them to her. A “light” went on.

God bless you all and long live the Pope and Catholic Answers!

That’s funny , but having been thru Catholic schools too, the nuns told us ‘Anyone who really believes in their religion, will go to heaven’.

Your father sounds like a very good man :slight_smile:

Indeed he was. My grandfather was a Catholic who married a divorced protestant woman in the 1910s in Catholic New Orleans. Imagine what that meant in those days. My great aunt on my mother’s side of the family was a friend of my great aunt (grandfather’s sister) on my father’s side of the family. The only time we saw that side of the family was on All Saint’s Day at the cemetery. My grandfather’s decision did indeed split the family.

My grandmother died in 1967 and we had to get permission from our parish priest to attend her memorial service. Catholics did not attend protestant services in those days without sufficient reason or dispensation.

One of the good things to come out of Vatican II is that we don’t have to feel ill at ease at attending protestant services nor do we have to seek permission to attend.

You are very welcome Chris.

Why did we ever allow Satan to do this to us? Think on the broken hearts of all the families who split apart simply because of denomination.
Never, , never, should we have allowed this to happen, no matter how good a catholic we are , or any Christian . We are all Children of God.

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