Do all Catholics wear a brown scapular, or “believe” in its saving power? Our Lady of Fatima has said that “Whosoever dies clothed in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” But what if an unbeliever wears it (maybe at a friend’s request, but does not really have faith), gets hit by a car and dies? How can he not go to hell? Or would that person inevitably turn to God before his death?
Either he will turn to God and repent just before his death or he will not be wearing the Scapular when he dies for some reason.
Start from the beginning:
a) No - not all Catholics wear the scapular. I’d say the majority don’t.
b) The scapular was given by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, not Fatima.
c) Yes she said that those who die wearing it will not suffer eternal fire. This isn’t meant to be taken completely literally, nor does it mean the Scapular is some sort of magic charm, although the more ignorant and superstitious can come to treat it as such.
Think of it instead as being like a wedding ring, in that most people who wear the Scapular tend to beforehand have a special devotion to Our Lady and a desire to commit themselves to her and Christ in some special way. Or at least some interest in matters religious.
And that wearing the scapular usually involves a special ‘enrollment’ procedure and the obligation to live a chaste and devout lifestyle, and pray certain prayers and so on. All of which makes it much more likely that they will die in such a state as to attain heaven.
So altogether it’s very much like husbands and wives, who first develop the relationship betwen them and then cement it by the ceremony and the exchange of wedding rings.
The rings symbolise, rather than themselves creating, the marriage and the obligations attached to it. This is so much so that in the vast majority of cases a spouse who is choosing to be unfaithful to their marital vows, or chooses to end the marriage, will deliberately remove their wedding ring.
In a lot of cases the ring itself, by being a visible reminder of the marital vows, may help to ward off temptations to infidelity, but it isn’t magical in any way.
I know this is a long-winded answer but its the best analogy I can think of. A spouse who has their wedding ring on is more likely to be one who is faithful in their marriage than one who chooses not to wear it. So someone who wears the scapular faithfully in life and at the point of death is more likely a good and faithful Christian than one who has one and chooses not to wear it or not to keep ON wearing it.