Saved equally well in every religion?

My question is based on paragraph 847 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which says the following:

“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 attain eternal salvation.”

A friend says this means that for non-Catholic people who meet the three conditions in the above paragraph, they are NOT at a disadvantage as for as attaining eternal salvation goes, as compared to faithful, practicing, devout Catholics.

For convenience sake, I’ll brake down the above-quoted paragraph 847 into its three constituent elements:

(1) Through no fault of their own they do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church.
(2) They seek God with a sincere heart.
(3) Moved by grace, they try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience.

Again, my friends says that those who meet the above three conditions can be saved in any religion as easily as a Catholic can be saved in the Catholic Church.

I have been telling my friend that he is wrong. I have been telling him that the correct teaching of the Church is that it is **POSSIBLE **for non-Catholics to attain eternal salvation, but that it is always **MORE DIFFICULT **to attain eternal salvation outside of the Catholic Church, since persons outside the Church do not have all the sacraments of the Catholic Church and all the true teachings of the Catholic Faith.

Here’s my question for this Forum. Can anyone provide me/us with **quotations from official Church documents **issued since the time of the Second Vatican Council that show that either my friend is correct or that I am correct. I am not looking for personal opinions on this issue, but quotes from official Church documents since 1962 that clearly and unambiguously answer this question.

Thank you.

Where would this friend receive the Graces of Forgiveness without the Sacrament of Penance?

Where would this person receive the Eucharist?

Yes, this person could attain Salvation, but it would be so much harder a journey without the Graces of the Church flowing through them.

Not to mention the difficulty of actually meeting the three conditions - few people in most parts of the world would really be unaware of the Catholic Church or truly without the means to examine its teachings - if they fail to do so when they can, it speaks to their ignorance quite possibly not being ‘through no fault of their own’ and also to their possibly not seeking God ‘with a sincere heart’ (ie looking for His will and Truth and not their own version of them)

If you find yourself in heaven it will have been through the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church that Jesus founded exactly for this purpose.

Hello. I posted the original question in this thread.

I am really looking for quotations from official Church documents, issued since the time of the Second Vatican Council (1962), that answer this question, which shows that my friend’s position is correct, or that my position is correct.

Anyone can have a personal opinion, but that may not be in accord with the teachings of the Church.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

To me, it’s like trying to win a football game without your best players. You can still win it (and get into heaven), but it’s much more difficult.

To the OP, since this is a discussion forum, I feel that opinions are welcome. Maybe someone can find the documents for you, but nowhere in the quote from the CCC in your original post does it even imply that it is “just as easy”. Simple common sense tells you that:
a) if you receive graces at communion.
b) these graces help you to “live in Christ”.
c) the un-churched do not receive communion

Then, the un-churched have a tougher row to hoe.

To answer the OP - NO, others outside the Catholic Faith are not saved equally well. The consistent message from pre Vatican II was that one must be remain in the Catholic Faith to be saved. Since Vatican II there has been a softening of the position to permit those outside of the faith to receive grace through the Catholic Church and Her authority. But this is an exceptional condition and the operative words “may” be saved or salvation is “possible” are not normative. These other faiths are ALL considered to be GRAVELY DEFICIENT. That means they are NOT EQUAL. It means that its gravely dicey to risk one’s eternity to non-Catholic faiths. Those rare few individuals who through no fault of their own never had the opportunity to know the truth are not held to the same standards - but that too is very risky. In today’s modern times virtually all Protestants have had the opportunity to become Catholic or to look into becoming one. Those that consciously rejected the Catholic Church and certainly those who are against the Catholic Church are most likely toast. Their only chance is a death bed conversion through the graces of The Catholic Church ans us Catholics praying for them.

I think there would be planetary panic if everyone could be given a spiritual insight into the state of their souls right now or were given a vision of everyone they knew and admired as “realativly good” but who are now in eternal hell cursing God and weeping. People don’t get it. Jesus was not kidding when He said ‘not everyone who calls me Lord Lord will enter Heaven’ and ‘many try to enter by the narrow gate but few can find it’. The great majority of those that want to be “pretend Christians” by going to their bible churches on Sunday and reject and mock Catholics as pagans, “Romanists” and as non-biblical are going to be in for an eternity of sorrow on their day of justice. The same will be true for the Cafeteria Catholics who pick and choose what they want to follow and believe.


Please, could those who wish to publish a personal opinion please do so in another thread. This thread was created only for replies in the form of quotations from official documents of the Church issued since the opening of the Second Vatican Council (1962). Thank you very much.

The post above quoted several church documents, mostly from before the Second Vatican Council.

I do not believe that any of the quotations above from the Vatican II era (1962-present) actually clearly answer the original question in this thread.

Yes, these documents assert that only the Catholic Church has the fullness of the Faith and the fullness of the means of salvation. And yes, these documents have said that other religions and churches are “gravely deficient.”

But that does not necessarily mean that the members of these other religions and churches are actually at a disadvantage as far as getting into Heaven goes.

Did you ever hear John Paul II in his preaching advise anyone to join the Catholic Church so that they will have the best chance of getting into Heaven? Have you ever heard Benedict XVI say anything like that?

**If they believed members of other religions and churches were in spiritual danger, wouldn’t it be horribly cruel of them not to warn them? **

Again, I am looking from quotations from official Church documents issued SINCE 1962, or any papal statement since 1962, that clearly and unambiguously state whether or not non-Catholics are in general at a disadvantage with regard to getting into Heaven.

Please help.

Thank you.

Thank you for your opinion but in light of the ex cathedra teaching of prior popes which can NOT EVER be countermanded its clear that even the wildest and most liberal rationalization makes it impossible to conclude that the post Vatican II words “GRAVELY DEFICIENT” are somehow EQUAL to the salvific opportunity present in the The Catholic Church. The operative word here is “grave”. Grave sin is mortal sin and is not a venial matter nor is “gravely deficient” a venial matter. It is alarming and meant to be so. It means somone is riding a lame faith that is not likely to get them through the dessert to the promised land without being carried by someone.

So come on guy get real. Sugar coating this teaching is doing a GRAVE disservice to those that are outside the faith. We have a real reason to fear God - “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7)." Fear is a good thing. Pandering to peoples softness and wannabe thinking is not loving your neighbor - it is helping them on their path to hell. Protestants are in grave error and its likely that very few “make it”. Mortal sin is terminal and with no sacramental confession there is no assured way to really honestly repent in the way that Jesus intended us to. Without sacramental confession repentance requires a PERFECT act of contrition and a perfect sorrow. I just don’t see that being realistic for a Protestant that believes in OSAS nor in somone that that thinks they can just shrug off serious sin with a token under the breath prayer: “sorry Lord I messed up”. Non sacramental repentance requires a deep conversion on the order of what Mary Magdalene did on her knees with real tears and real life changing commitment.

The church has never given numbers on how many get to heaven and how many go to hell since only God knows for certain. But its very clear from the Fatima revelations that many millions are going to hell from all faiths and nations - even nearly entire generations of “lost souls”. Scripture is clear enough that more go to hell than go to heaven (“many” vs “few”). It’s safe to assume that no one gets into heaven through relative moralism or by being “relatively good” by current world standards. God is absolute and unchanging. Virtually every single Catholic Saint feared God at least as much as they loved Him. St. Francis on his death bed was even unsure if he would be judged worthy.

We are required to Love God with our WHOLE heart, mind and soul - and nothing less. Being “Deficient” in the faith is clearly not “whole” and not sufficient.


The above statement is very understandable, and is one many Catholics will completely agree with. But can anyone show any Catholic **pope or bishop **communicating that point of view in the post-Vatican II era (1962 - present)? I have looked, and have not been able to find any. Thank you very much.

Have you looked at the recent letter of Pope Benedict’s which addressed “no salvation outside the church”?

Thank you. I think I’ve looked at every major document issued by Pope Benedict XVI, and have not found any statement that answers the precise, exact question in the original post in this thread. Can you recall which letter of Benedict you have in mind? Can anyone?

Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger did bring back into use the phrases “True Church” and “One True Church” as applied only to the Roman Catholic Church. Those phrases can be found in documents issued by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith: “Iesus Dominus,” and “Commentary on Responses To Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church.”

But, even so, those documents do not state or imply that non-Catholics are at any disadvantage with regard to getting into Heaven.

So I am still in search of quotations from official Church documents from the Vatican II Era (1962 to present) that clearly and unambiguously answer this question.

Thank you.

Hello. I started this thread. I know this Forum is often place for zealous Catholics to engage in theological combat, and to work to advance what they passionately believe in. That can be good. I myself believe in the old pre-Vatican II concept of “the Church Militant.”

But I am truly seeking to know what **Pope Benedict, or Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Burke, Father Mitch Pacwa, Father John Corapi, Marcus Grodi, or Father Benedict Groeschel **would say if they were asked, as a press conference, the question that I posed in the original post.

And so I am seeking **quotations from official church documents **from recent times (1962 to present).

I do know that several years ago, in an interview, the late **Cardinal John O’Connor of New York **did seem to say that non-Catholic persons who were sincere believers in their religion or church were not at any disadvantage with regard to attaining Heaven, as compared to devout Catholics. But I’ve also heard people criticize him for saying that.

You just do not like the official party line. As a new member with only a few posts how can you have an opinion that this place has zealous catholics unless you yourself have been here before and probably banned for anti-catholic rhetoric.

You have been given official church statements both pre and post Vatican II and the words gravely deficient state the position objectively and clearly. You just don’t want to accept the message. Rather than try to paint those of us who give you the truth as zealots I suggest you examine your true motives here and see that you are trying to foster a liberalization of the Catholic Faith to pander to your own views that are clearly not orthodox. You always have the option to shop around at another alternative “bible” church down the road to take your chances with something closer to your own opinion but don’t come into there forums pretending that The Catholic Church approves of Protestants as an equal religion - that is absurd, gravely wrong and zealously liberal.


Isaac, you don’t seem to like the answers you have been given so why not do your own legwork and Google your question or go to the Vatican website and ask your question?

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