Who can go to heaven?


#1

Firstly, I want to say that I don’t know if this is the best section to ask the question, but I will go forth with it.

Basically, during my regular contemplation of life, I came across a question I was unsure of. I understand that the question I ask may not or is likely not/definitively not known (or it may, and I’m just ignorant on the subject), but I was just wondering if anyone could enlighten me as to the general understanding of what Catholics believe regarding this. The following is the main question with other secondary questions that lead from it, but it is essentially the same.

Who can go to heaven?

  • Is it just Catholics that can go to heaven?
  • Can Protestant Christians go to heaven too? Or Orthodox Christians?
  • What about Muslims or Jews - can they go to heaven if they’ve been good?
  • If an atheist was a really benevolent person who lived a good and humble life, can he/she make it to heaven even without having believed in God?

Thanks.


#2

No.

  • Can Protestant Christians go to heaven too? Or Orthodox Christians?

Yes and yes.

  • What about Muslims or Jews - can they go to heaven if they’ve been good?
  • If an atheist was a really benevolent person who lived a good and humble life, can he/she make it to heaven even without having believed in God?

The Catechism teaches:

Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body: Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: "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 achieve eternal salvation."337

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.“338”


#3

PopeInnocentIII,FourthLateranCouncil,Constitution1,1215,excathedra:
“There
isindeedoneuniversalChurchofthefaithful,outsideofwhich*
nobodyatallissaved,inwhichJesusChristisbothpriestandsacrifice.”1
*
PopeBonifaceVIII,UnamSanctam,Nov.18,1302,excathedra:
“With
Faith
urgingusweareforcedtobelieveandtoholdtheone,holy,Catholic
Church
and
that,apostolic,andwefirmlybelieveandsimplyconfessthis
Churchoutsideofwhichthereisnosalvationnorremissionofsin…
Furthermore,wedeclare,say,define,andproclaimtoeveryhumancreature*
thattheybyabsolutenecessityforsalvationareentirelysubjecttotheRoman*
Pontiff.”2*
*
PopeClementV,CouncilofVienne,Decree#30,1311‐1312,excathedra:
“Since
however
thereisforbothregularsandseculars,forsuperiorsandsubjects,*
forexemptandnon‐exempt,oneuniversalChurch,outsideofwhichthereisno*
salvation,forallofwhomthereisoneLord,onefaith,andonebaptism…”3
*
PopeEugeneIV,CouncilofFlorence,Sess.8,Nov.22,1439,excathedra:
“Whoever
wishes
to
be
saved,needsabovealltoholdtheCatholicfaith;unless
eachonepreservesthiswholeandinviolate,hewillwithoutadoubtperishin
eternity.”4*
**
PopeEugeneIV,CouncilofFlorence,“CantateDomino,”1441,excathedra:
“The
HolyRomanChurchfirmlybelieves,professesandpreachesthatall
thosewhoareoutsidetheCatholicChurch,notonlypagansbutalsoJewsor
hereticsandschismatics,cannotshareineternallifeandwillgointothe*
everlastingfirewhichwaspreparedforthedevilandhisangels,unlessthey*
arejoinedtotheChurchbeforetheendoftheirlives;thattheunityofthis
ecclesiasticalbodyisofsuchimportancethatonlyforthosewhoabideinitdo*
theChurch’ssacramentscontributetosalvationanddofasts,almsgivingand*
otherworksofpietyandpracticesoftheChristianmilitiaproduceeternal
rewards;andthatnobodycanbesaved,nomatterhowmuchhehasgiven 9
awayin alms and even if he has shed blood in the name of Christ, unless he
has
perseveredinthebosomandunityoftheCatholicChurch.”5
*
PopeLeoX,FifthLateranCouncil,Session11,Dec.19,1516,excathedra:
“For,regularsand
seculars,prelatesand
subjects,exemptand
non‐exempt,*
belongtotheoneuniversalChurch,outsideofwhichnooneatallissaved,and
theyallhaveoneLordandonefaith.”6
*
PopePiusIV,CouncilofTrent,“Iniunctum*nobis,”*Nov.*13


#4

Malou1
Notwithstanding all the annoying graffiti (*), you have misrepresented the statements of our Pontiffs, who were NOT speaking “ex cathedra,” but in ordinary encyclicals or bulls that are to be understood in the manner that the Church herself promulgated them. You have misunderstood the intent, and therefore the meaning.

BTW, the only two times a statement was issued in this extraordinary manner (ex cathedra) was with the declaration of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, both of which are now required belief as dogmas.

Please read PaulfromIowa’s post showing the CCC statements.


#5

That is not correct. There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.
To be saved you must be baptised, Catholic and die in a state of grace.
How can you be baptised and Catholic?

  • Sacaramental baptism as a Catholic.
  • Baptism of blood (a non-Catholic dying for the Catholic faith)
  • Baptism of desire - explicit (eg a catechumen)
  • Baptism of desire - implict (invincible ignorance - those who through no fault of their own do not know Christ, his Gospel or Church but in that ignorance live a life according to Christ’s teachings may (not will) be saved.

Nobody outside the above can be saved and anyone in the above is Catholic.

Not all Catholics go to Heaven but everyone in Heaven is Catholic.


#6

Thistle,

You know more than the CCC? REALLY?? I am not surprised to find your post here, for every time the subject come up, enters Thistle with his version of what the Church teaches. Your studies are incomplete and not in accord with Lumen Gentium’s teachings. I would hope you also read Romans 2:14-16, St. Thomas Aquinas on baptism of blood and desire, and Pius XII’s condemnation re Fr. Feeney’s errors.

Pius XII’s letter also formed the basis for article 16 in V-II’s Lumen Gentium, Ch. II, which PaulfromIowa quoted above from the CCC…
“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**.” (19)*

The footnote (19)* reads: Cfr. Epist. S.S.C.S. Officii ad Archiep. Boston.: Denz. 3869-72.

Article 848 of the CCC references footnote 337, which gives the very same quote.
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 achieve eternal salvation.337
337 LG 16; cf. DS 3866-3872.


#7

Thistle,

It is very grave matter to claim that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is in error.


#8

I’m somewhat confused how there can be many people, in modern times, unaware about the Gospel, through no fault of their own? Many an atheist knows that the bible exists but choose not to read it. Saved in such situation-- i doubt it. Then you haves many protestants who know the Gospel ( many better than Catholics do)-- does that mean they don’t have to convert to be saved?


#9

After a second read, Thistle, I see that your statement does agree with CCC 848, However, saying “according to Christ’s teachings” when they do not know them, should be clarified as living according to the light of their conscience, which is always enlighted by the actual grace of the Holy Spirit. I apologize.
848. 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** achieve eternal salvation

[LEFT] [/LEFT]


#10

It certainly would be but I did not do that. Show me where I stated the CCC is in error. If not please apologise.

The Church teaching is absolutely CLEAR. There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church.

Please tell which of the points in my previous post is wrong.


#11

I think folks are taken aback by your words in blue. It makes more sense for you to clarify it as you did in your post, and refrain from using those misleading words. Catholic denotes a religion, and those who do manage to enter heaven that are not practicing the Catholic faith, cannot rightly be called Catholic in essence. What we are in heaven is "saints.’


#12

What misleading words? If you are inside the Catholic Church you are Catholic.
For example, if a Muslim, Jew, Methodist or whoever is somehow captured under invincible ignorance and is saved they are saved as a Catholic.


#13

God wills that all men be saved.

Maybe. We don’t know with certainty.


#14

Yes, they achieve salvation, but it does not follow that they automatically become Catholic in the sense that they now know all of our truths and practice them. Catholic is a name we use today to identify our truth and faith. It used to be called, “the way.” Not everyone who attains salvation has therefore ascribed to the Catholic faith tradition and beliefs, even though they die and are saved under their own belief system due to invincible ignorance.


#15

I’m curious to know what we, as Catholics, say about this verse:

1 John 5:12-13 ‘‘He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.’’

Is it possible that, right after death, those people who never heard of Christ but lived a good life will then be given the chance to believe?

Or is this another thread in itself?

Thanks


#16

Read CCC-848 carefully, as well as Romans 2:14-16. You DO believe in the truth of scripture, do you not? It is wrong to pull a scripture, such as the one above, out of context to form an understanding that is not in accord with Church teaching. Yes, He who has the Son has life, here and now in the present. This is no guarantee that person will remain attached to the Vine and die in His grace. Only God knows the state of a person’s soul at the time of death. Provided they remain connected to the Vine, yes, they will have ETERNAL life, not just spiritual life in this world. Read also verse 3 in 1 John 5, which says conditionally:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments;


#17

How do we know? All we can do is rely on the Catechism and leave it up to the Good Lord. I’m too busy peddling along a rough and narrow road to worry.


#18

Alright thanks everyone for your answers.


#19

**Deep, Deep Sigh. **

Let me see if I can try and clear up some confusion here.

First, “No Salvation Outside the Catholic Church” remains a dogma. It was proclaimed by several ecumenical council’s and also proclaimed by several pontiff’s ex cathedra. It was also reaffirmed by Vatican II and the Dominus Iesus document in 2000.

Second, the words on Baptism by Thistle are true. The grace of Baptism remains absolutely necessary and can come about through Water Baptism, Baptism of Blood, and Baptism of Desire which can be explicit or implicit.

Third, there are more than just two ex cathedra statements, and in any case it has been proclaimed definitively by Ecumenical Council’s.

Fourth, despite the fact that this remains a dogma, the Church also teaches that Salvation is made concretely available to all people regardless of what circumstance they may be in. Salvation is made concretely available to all, even if it doesn’t make them formal members of the Church on earth. All salvation is still mediated through the Church and Eucharistic sacrifice.

Fifth, Thistle did not claim the Catechism was in error nor did he teach Feenyism.


#20

Jesus died for the Salvation of all, and gives grace enough for everyone to be Saved. God asks us to repent, believe in his Son, be baptized, and to join ourselves to his Church, and then to persevere in Charity to the end.

Not everybody has a chance or ability to do this fully, and God does not punish those who are in good faith but are unaware of the full requirements he asks of them, but all who are saved outside of the Catholic Church share in the grace that is properly given to the Catholic Church.


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