Total Depravity

What do the catholics teach about Total Depravity? In calvinism the T of Tulip means total depraity in other words it takes an act of God for someone to come to Christ. Is the catholic church have a teaching similar to that? It is based on a verse where Jesus says no one can come to him unless the father grants it

We do believe that God acts first, via prevenient grace. Even our desire for Him is a gift from Him.

On the other hand, we would not use the phrase “total depravity” because we do not believe that humans after the fall are utterly evil or that human nature has been ruined entirely. Human nature is still good, as God created it, but broken in the Fall. We can even exhibit the natural moral virtues (fortitude, justice, prudence, and temperance) as pagans – but those won’t get us to Heaven. Only after an infusion of God’s sanctifying grace that grants the capacity for the supernatural virtues (faith, hope, and love) do we have even the prospect of salvation.

Catholics do not focus as much as Calvinists do on God’s sovereign, monergistic action in bringing salvation about, but it was after all Catholics like St. Augustine who condemned the heresy of Pelagius. We believe that our will has a part to play in cooperating with God’s grace, but not that human action unaided by God can do anything to earn or demand Heaven as a just reward.


Yes, we believe we need a special grace to come to God at all. We think we’re going to God, but like the song says, no one comes to the Father unless he beckons.

We only think we’re choosing him, but he’s choosing us.

I think what we believe on this is probably similar, that only God can turn someone around. We, of ourselves, can’t do that or anything, literally!

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