I had a discussion this evening with a Catholic who said he doesn’t believe everything the Catholic church teaches. One thing he says he doesn’t like is that the church teaches that Jews go to hell (as well as other non-catholics and non-christians). I told him I didn’t think that was true, but he said he has heard it preached within the past 5 years at mass. Could you help me with this one?
The Church has never taught that Catholics go to heaven and non-Catholics and non-Christians go to hell. Those who are not Catholic can be saved. God gives all men an opportunity for salvation, since he wills all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4). He is a just and merciful God.
Sections 846-848 of the Catechism deal specifically with the doctrine of no salvation outside the Church:
846 …all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body…"
Christ himself “explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.” (ibid)
847" … 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."
*Lumen Gentium *
- “All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation.”
This includes Jews and Muslims……
- Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God. In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind… for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved. Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.
Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator. Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.”
Encourage your friend to investigate the true doctrine of the Catholic Church, and not to rely on what he believes to be Catholic teaching. I will be praying!
Further reading on this subject:
Click here: here
“No Salvation Outside the Church” by Father William Most