Very Important Question Regarding Protestants

Hello, I asked this question to a Priest and a Deacon and I am waiting for a reply. So in the mean time, I thought I would post it here.

A lot of my family is Protestant and so am I, but I think that I want to become Catholic. I have studied a lot about the history of Christianity and the teachings of the early Church fathers and Christians and it has lead me to believe that the Catholic Church could very well be the true Church.

I am having trouble understanding what the Catholic position is on a particular issue.

The Catholic Church teaches that Protestants can make it to Heaven as long as they have a valid Baptism. The Catholic Church also teaches that if someone dies in a state of mortal sin they will go to hell unless they have gone to Confession and confessed their mortal sins to a priest. However, here is what I am having trouble understanding: Protestants don’t have the Sacrament of Confession, so how do they make it to Heaven if they can’t receive forgiveness from their mortal sins?

Please help me. This has really got me worried about the Salvation of many of my family members.

Thank you.

The Catholic faith lays out, as revealed by God, the one SURE path to salvation. However, it has not been revealed that this is the only path to salvation (and in fact we know that any baby baptized in the name of the Trinity can be saved, even outside the Church). Thus, since we know that God is merciful and desires all men be saved, we may HOPE that God offers the means of salvation to all those outside the Catholic Church. We just don’t know what those means are.

So, while we KNOW that mortal sin can be forgiven in the Catholic Church, we can only HOPE that it can be forgiven outside the Church.

You have hit upon a very serious matter. The “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine that is common among certain Protestant churches is an error that can have grave consequences. To commit a serious (mortal) sin and feel no need to ask for forgiveness because one is already saved can have eternal consequences. On the other hand, there is the mitigating factor of “invincible ignorance”. Only God knows what the person might do if he was aware of the need of confession. We all must trust in the mercy of God. The Catholic Church teaches that even those who have not been baptized can be saved through God’s mercy for the same reason given above. One cannot expect a tribe of natives living in the interior of the Amazon, who may have never even encountered a person outside of their community, to be aware of Christ or the need for baptism. Will God condemn them because a missionary has yet to reach them? I don’t think so. My point is don’t despair. God loves all of his people, even those who are ignorant of him, and desires that all be saved. We can truly have hope in a God who’s very nature is Love.


I cannot answer this question with authority, but I would echo the remark of the previous poster: do a search on “invincible ignorance” - this should help you get a better understanding of the Catholic position.

BTW, I noticed your location and just wanted to say that I visited St. Augustine once in my junior year of high school - a truly beautiful city! :slight_smile:

I would say there is a lot we don’t know. I agree that the Catholic Church is the way to go…I converted as well about 13 years ago.

But I think that God’s mercy is more expansive and amazing than we can ever imagine. I believe He is the ultimate just judge. Pray for your family members and trust in God’s mercy completely.

If a person expresses, at the moment of death, that he is truly sorry for his sins, he may be saved without the benefit of confession. However, I wouldn’t recommend this as a plan for salvation. We never know what will happen during our last few minutes on earth.

Again I would add that The Sacrament of Pennance is not the only means by which God Forgives our Sins. It is however the Normal way, for sins committed after baptism to be forgiven.
Another way is the Sacrament of the Sick

The key features in your sins being forgiven are

  • Acknowledgement of wrongdoing* If you reject the idea that you did wrong how can you accept Gods forgiveness.

Contrition sorrow for offending God and your Neighbour. This may be imperfect (fear of punishment) or Perfect (true sorrow for the Offence caused)

Restitution Putting right that which can be put right: You cant be forgiven for theft if the stolen TV remains hung on your living room wall unpaid for.

Repentance The heartfelt desire and deliberate effort to avoid repeating the same sins in the future. The deliberate desire and action to break away from habitual sin.

When Perfect Contrition is present, along with the other features it is possible to accept Gods Forgivness. -

The Sacrament of Pennance Gives us a method of putting these things in place and confessing directly to Jesus what our wrongdoings have been… With the Priest, as a Human standing in “Persona Christi” being able to challenge us on the issues of Truth in our Contrition, restitution and repentance.

If he detects that we are not being honest about these issues he can challenge us to a more true repentance before granting absolution. It is easiest for this to occur if you have a regular confessor. - This is a great Gift from The Lord.

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