Purgatory question part 2--if you're non Catholic...then what happens?


I would like to know for non Catholics who disbelieve in purgatory…does belief in it, mean that we will be the only ones to experience it? Or will God purify non Catholics in purgatory, as well? Thanks for your answers, in advance.:slight_smile:


Anyone who dies in God’s friendship will go to Heaven, via purification if needed. Protestants who are saved are actually much more likely to spend more time in Purgatory since no one prays for them after death and they don’t do penance or believe in indulgences.

As an aside, Purgatory is a dogma of the faith revealed by God. Those who obstinately refuse to believe in it commit heresy and separate themselves from the society of the faithful, the Church, the Body of Christ–apart from which no one can be saved at all. Only God knows, however, can judge who is mortally guilty of this or not. But in general, rejecting it won’t make you go straight to Heaven, it makes you go straight to Hell. :eek:


Protestants who, from the time of their Baptism until their death commit no mortal sins at all, will go to Purgatory to be purged of the effects of their venial sins.

Because of the fact that Protestants can’t go to Confession, if they commit even one mortal sin, they will go to Hell, since they have no way of atoning for it, other than to make a Perfect Act of Contrition at the moment of death, but I don’t know any Protestants who would know how to do that, or even that they should do it.

The only way they would ever go directly to Heaven is if they manage to commit absolutely no sins at all - either venial or mortal - from the time of Baptism until they die.


But, if you truly are say, ignorant of truth…God’s mercy prevails. I believe this to be so. I hesitate to say who will go to Hell, simply based on what we Catholics hold as truth…no? I mean, if Pope JP2 declared that we cannot judge…then it would potentially seem like Protestants, despite their unbelief, could go to Heaven? To Protestants, the doctrine if you will is to believe that Jesus died for your sins…period. Good works should be performed, to show you are following the Lord, but it doesn’t seem that they feel a need to believe what we believe…and they feel they will be saved, nonetheless. Again–can’t make such assumptions…even though we believe what we believe.:shrug:

I don’t see the last paragraph happening…lol for anyone.:blush:


I suppose heresy is not a word we hear much of lately, no? So Protestants, who willingly disbelieve in purgatory (Charles Stanley is one of them…I have heard him discredit it on his show)…are commiting heresy? Why don’t they see this, do u suppose?:o


God’s mercy prevails, for sure!! That’s why their mortal sins will most likely be commuted to venial sins, because they had no idea about mortal sin.

A very orthodox priest I know believes that most Protestants will be in Purgatory until the Second Coming, for two reasons:

  1. They are in Purgatory because they committed sins that they didn’t realize were gravely against God’s will, so it will take a long time to begin with.

  2. They have nobody to pray for them, because if you even offer to pray for a Protestant’s dead relative, they will get really upset and forbid it.


I’m not so sure they don’t know what mortal sin is…:o But, they just use a different label. I have Protestant inlaws who tell me that sin is sin…why label it venial and mortal? I said, not all sin will land you in the slammer…I mean, Hell. They don’t like talking about Hell much.:shrug:


well when Catholics pray they pray for “poor souls in purgatory” not “poor Roman Catholic souls in purgatory” so, despite the fact that they reject the Church in their life time, the Church will pray for their passage into heaven.


hey–that is true!:slight_smile:


Hi jmcrae,

I don’t want to nitpick, however. . . (you know that’s exactly what I am about to do when I begin my post like that. :wink:

[quote=jmcrae]Because of the fact that Protestants can’t go to Confession,

That might be too general of a statement? I am under the impression that a Protestant can receive the sacrament in grave situations. Furthermore, since the impediment is one of Church law and not necessarily Divine Law (in other words one can argue that any baptized person has the potential of validly receiving the other sacraments) the Church could conceivable permit it.

[quote=jmcrae]if they commit even one mortal sin, they will go to Hell, since they have no way of atoning for it, other than to make a Perfect Act of Contrition at the moment of death,

I’m not sure why you limit this Act of Perfect Contrition to the moment of death? It would seem that this could be done anytime, and multiple times throughout one’s life.

Although the sacrament is the normative way of receiving absolution, and the most objectively certain, I would hesitate to say that it rarely happens extra-sacramentally, for both protestants and Catholics. For instance, I would hold out hope that perhaps not a few soldiers (Catholic and non-Catholic) have performed a Perfect Act of Contrition before going into battle.

What do you think?


Well, in fact, they do have somebody pray for.
Thanks to many loving hearts of Catholics who pray the Rosary and many other prayers for all Souls in Purgatory.


That’s true. I often pray or ofter penances and indulgences for the most forgotten soul.


If a living person makes an Act of Contrition, the assumption is that he will go to Confession at the earliest opportunity.

Catholic soldiers go to Confession and Mass before heading out on to the battle field.

A perfect Act of Contrition is made out of pure love for God, without fear of any kind, and the idea behind it is that you would never sin again as long as you are alive (hence, “perfect”), so it is not physically possible to make two Perfect Acts of Contrition.

A person could also convert to the Catholic faith on his death bed, and if there were time, a priest could be brought to give him the Sacraments of Initiation and to hear his Confession.

I am not aware of any other situation where a Protestant could receive the Absolution, though - you either have to already be Catholic, or be just about to receive the Sacraments of Initiation into the Church. I don’t think they would hear your Confession on your death bed without also initiating you into the Church directly afterwards.

It’s much safer though, I think, to convert to the Catholic faith while you are alive and well, and able to take advantage of the opportunities that it makes available, since you have no idea when you will utter your last words, or how you will die - and even if you are able to make it understood that you want to convert to the Catholic faith on your death bed - assuming you are conscious, and aware of your surroundings in the first place - there is no guarantee that a priest will be available to come, or willing to come - and all of this only after your next-of-kin figures out how to make the call, or even who to call.

I also think it is harder to make a Perfect Act of Contrition than many people realize.


I offer the rosary and other prayers for those souls most in need of consolation.


It’s kind of funny that the Protestants don’t believe in the “Catholic Purgatory” but its going to be the “Catholic prayers” that get them out of purgatory and into to Heaven. :slight_smile:



That’s interesting. Could you please cite us some source for this statement?

I think you might be using the phrase “perfect act of contrition” in a highly unusual way. Normally the phase is an “Act of Perfect Contrition” and the traditional understanding is that this is sorrow for sin arising primarily out of love of God, although there may be secondary motives such as fear of hell.

It is certainly possible to make multiple Acts of Perfect Contrition. There is somewhat a common misunderstanding among Catholics that a Perfect Act of Contrition means sorrow for sin ONLY out of love of God.

I believe we should careful about placing a greater burden than the Church herself places on the faithful.



It’s also important to emphasize that there is a qualitative difference between an ordinary Act of Contrition, such as the one we make when we go to Confession, and a Perfect Act of Contrition, which would have to be a highly unusual event in order to receive the title “Perfect.”

Sometimes it takes a bit of fire at one’s back to inspire one to get going and get right with Jesus in a timely manner; if someone wrongly gets the idea that a Perfect Act of Contrition is some sort of easy-believin’ alternative to the Church, they would be in for a rude (and rather hot) surprise, I should think - I understand your concern about making it “too hard,”, but let’s also not give people the idea that they can safely live in schism from the Church doing whatever they like regardless of what God might think of it, and then get a free pass - in other words, let’s also not make it seem “too easy.”

It would be a heck of a thing, if someone were to read along here, thinking, “Oh, I have nothing to worry about,” and then end up in Hell merely because we didn’t make it clear that it’s easier to be a faithful Catholic than it is to make a Perfect Act of Contrition. :wink:



I understand your concern.

However if by the “ordinary” Act of Contrition you mean the traditional

O My God, I am heartly sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. . .

then that is an Act of Perfect Contrition.

Now, whether or not the person saying it means what they say, and whether or not their internal disposition matches their external profession is something else.

But, assuming someone has the grace to perform that Act of Contrition and wills it thus, then that is a Act of Perfect Contrion because it arises * primarily* out of love of God. For a Catholic such a disposition along with the intention to avail oneself of sacramental absolution as soon as possible, suffices to restore one to the state of grace.

My concern is that I have often seen an innocent error of thinking that the word “perfect” in “Perfect Contrition” means contrition arising ONLY out of love of God. That would be an error. Certainly there are other, more pastoral issues that we could address with this, but my focus at the moment was with the actual definition of Perfect Contrition properly speaking. :thumbsup: My concern wasn’t in making it too hard, but rather converying the concept accurately.

What do you think? I was concerned that your statement above, that Perfect Contrition is “without fear of any kind”, overreached a bit.


(EDITED TO ADD: Actually, going back to your assertion above, I think that you may have overreached quite more than a bit! :wink: You said that
"the idea behind it is that you would never sin again as long as you are alive (hence, “perfect”), so it is not physically possible to make two Perfect Acts of Contrition."

That quite a strong statement, and I can’t seem to reconcile it with the traditional teaching on perfect contrition. Could you please elaborate on this, perhaps citing a source?)


Perfection seems rather easily attained, then, don’t you think?

Especially if we are not actually required to keep the promise at the end of it to “amend my life.” :shrug:


Hi jmcrae,

Perhaps you are applying a different meaning to the word “perfect” in the phrase “Act of Perfect Contrition”?

An Act of Perfect Contrition is not a perfect act of contrition. The perfection, so called, of the Act of Perfect Contrition comes from the fact that there is nothing wanting in its nature, i.e. the sorrow comes primarily from the love of God.

Please don’t confuse a common notion of “perfect” for the actual theological notion of perfect in the Act of Perfect Contrition.

If we teach others we must be accurate about defintions. The teaching of the Church is that if one has sorrow for sin arising primarily out of love of God then one has perfect contrition. Do you agree?


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