General Protestant theology has that if one has no knowledge of Christ (through their own ignorance) they have no possiblity of going to heaven. They are automatically bound for hell. This would include people in all in 3rd world counties, separate continents (especially before modern travel) etc., etc., ad infinitum.
My understanding of Catholic theology is that what Paul is saying in Romans 2:12-14, is that, through no fault of their own, they can adhere to the law written on their hearts (Concience - Natural Moral Law - C.C.C. #'s 1954-1960 at:)
and have a *possibility *of salvation. Through no fault of their own, they did not receive the gospel, but followed the Natural law (God’s will) - to the best of their ability - in their hearts. Of course, once one hears the gospel, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit, and have an obligation to believe (in full sense) in Christ. If they do not, then they are in mortal error.
Of course I do not promote this, and do not present it as a work-around in promoting Christ. It does not stop the necessity of evangelism. The Way, the Truth, the Life must be brought to everybody, no exceptions.
I have been having (friendly, and over coffee) debates with a couple of Protestant’s (one a pastor), and do not want to misrepresent Catholicism.
Am I correct?
Suggested references would be welcome.