Where do souls of non-Christian go after they die?


Your statement assumes that they have reason to believe that being Catholic offers something better or more true than whatever religion/denomination they are. If they don’t know anything about Catholicism, what reason do they have to explore it?



Then they won’t be covered under invincible ignorance, in my opinion. Are you suggesting it was pointless my converting from the Methodist Church to the Catholic Church.



How so if they know nothing substantial about Catholicism? They have no more reason to embark on a study of Catholicism than they do on a study of Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam (from their perspective).



Clearly something happened over the course of your life to inspire you to investigate Catholicism. The same happened to me. Why would other people’s ignorance make your conversion pointless?



They have every opportunity to explore it but refuse to do so.

Let us be clear. Non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians are not within the Catholic Church. Separated brethren does not mean within the Church.
Only those within the Catholic Church may be saved and I defined in an earlier post who is within the Church. I say may because not all those within the Church will be saved. It depends on whether they die in a state of grace or mortal sin.



I understand that this is your opinion, but you go farther than the church goes.

The Churches teaches that even those outside the Catholic Church MAY be saved by some extraordinary means.



No it doesn’t. It is an infallible teaching of the Church that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.
What the Church explains is what that means and I defined that in an earlier post.

Everyone in Purgatory and Heaven is Catholic.



First of all, the term “separated brethren” is out of favour.

Saint John Paul II explains this in Ut Unum Sint.

Again, the very expression separated brethren tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion — linked to the baptismal character — which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of “other Christians”, “others who have received Baptism”, and “Christians of other Communities”. The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism refers to the Communities to which these Christians belong as “Churches and Ecclesial Communities that are not in full communion with the Catholic Church”.69 This broadening of vocabulary is indicative of a significant change in attitudes. There is an increased awareness that we all belong to Christ.

As Unitatis Redintegratio teaches:

Moreover, some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church: the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.

The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. These most certainly can truly engender a life of grace in ways that vary according to the condition of each Church or Community. These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation.

It follows that the separated Churches(23) and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

As Catholics, we not only acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is working in and through non-Catholics, we also acknowledge that we have much that we can learn from non-Catholics.



Why is it that the CC makes it so difficult to decipher what the teaching of the Church really is? Surely this particular issue should be so alarming if Thistle is right because many non-Catholics are being led down the garden path by the Catholic Church itself if it can not be clearly understood.

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I agree with what you say Father. I am simply pointing out that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church and the Church has explained how someone can be within the Church without being sacramentally baptised, e.g. baptism of blood, baptism of desire - explicit (e.g. a catechumen), and baptism of desire - implicit (invincible ignorance).
If the argument by some that Protestants are within the Church holds good then what was the point in my conversion in 1992 from Methodism to Catholicism.



Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t have difficulty understanding that no one outside the Church is saved. I also have no difficulty understand how God MIGHT save someone who is invincibly ignorant of the fact that Christ established the church as the ordinary means of salvation. As a result, I have no problems understanding how those outside the visible church MIGHT be saved.



Lumen Gentium:

  1. The Church recognizes that in many ways she is linked with those who, being baptized, are honored with the name of Christian, though they do not profess the faith in its entirety or do not preserve unity of communion with the successor of Peter. For there are many who honor Sacred Scripture, taking it as a norm of belief and a pattern of life, and who show a sincere zeal. They lovingly believe in God the Father Almighty and in Christ, the Son of God and Saviour. They are consecrated by baptism, in which they are united with Christ. They also recognize and accept other sacraments within their own Churches or ecclesiastical communities. Many of them rejoice in the episcopate, celebrate the Holy Eucharist and cultivate devotion toward the Virgin Mother of God. They also share with us in prayer and other spiritual benefits. Likewise we can say that in some real way they are joined with us in the Holy Spirit, for to them too He gives His gifts and graces whereby He is operative among them with His sanctifying power. Some indeed He has strengthened to the extent of the shedding of their blood. In all of Christ’s disciples the Spirit arouses the desire to be peacefully united, in the manner determined by Christ, as one flock under one shepherd, and He prompts them to pursue this end. Mother Church never ceases to pray, hope and work that this may come about. She exhorts her children to purification and renewal so that the sign of Christ may shine more brightly over the face of the earth.

  2. 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 Muslims, 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. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, 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.



Had to chop some of your post as my reply did not fit. Got a message saying too many characters.

I don’t see how that disagrees with what I said. If I got something wrong I am happy to be corrected. If I am in error could you please point out my mistake.

In case my wording in my various posts are not clear let me summarise what I said again.

Baptism is necessary (not sufficient on its own) for salvation.
There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

How can a person be baptised and within the Church:

  1. Sacramental baptism as a Catholic
  2. Baptism of blood (non-Catholic dying for the Catholic faith)
  3. Baptism of desire - explicit (e.g. a catechumen)
  4. Baptism of desire - implicit (invincible ignorance)

Outside these four I cannot see how anyone can be considered with the Catholic Church.



That simple reasoning sure makes sense if God desires all who love Him and serve Him to be saved.

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To paraphrase Jesus’ words in John 21: “If I choose to save an invincibly ignorant Methodist, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

Why would others being invincibly ignorant affect your conversion? You had to follow the light and guidance that the Holy Spirit gave you, which led you to Catholicism. Just because God could possibly have saved you had you remained Methodist does not in the least mean it was pointless to convert. Maybe in your particular case, you weren’t invincibly ignorant. Maybe you needed the grace of the Eucharist because without it you would have fallen completely away from God.

The point is, that is between you and God. Only you and he know what you needed to do. We can’t concern ourselves with trying to decide who is saved or not or who is invincibly ignorant or not because that’s above our pay grade. All any of us can do is follow Jesus completely and go where he leads us.



That has to be very very carefully nuanced because of how others can hear it.

The declarations by the Council Fathers about non-Catholic Christians and of non-Christian faiths were very important indeed.

The Holy Spirit is using non-Catholics ministers to sanctify to people and to give admission to the community of salvation – by which, theologically, is meant Heaven – to those who are not Catholic and will never be exteriorly members of either the Roman Church or of one of the Sui Juris Churches of the East in communion with Rome.

You have a fullness to your faith that was not there before – however the Holy Father has rightly said that we as Catholics have much to learn from Methodists in how to live our faith as followers of Jesus.

And again – we all belong to Christ…Catholic, Orthodox, Reformed Christians.

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Yes, it does, and I have no doubt in my mind that God desires that we all unite with Him and that He is merciful and just in His consideration of who merits salvation.



This is the key. As my forum name suggests sometimes my comments are a bit prickly. I have to pray more to overcome that.



One can start with what the Council Fathers said:

The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult.

We acknowledge that it is the Holy Spirit who is at work in non-Catholic Churches and ecclesial communities, sanctifying the people who are part of them and leading them to Christ – the Spirit of Christ is using them as a means of salvation.

The three most important documents to know backward and forward today are Unitatis Redintegratio, Ut Unum Sint and The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism.

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With Christian love I am going to be bold and tell you I feel it does not have so much to do with being a"bit prickly " …it has more to do with not being careful to present what your Church actually teaches even after others gently rebuked you.

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