Why Would A Priest Say Don't Convert To The Church And Stay Protestant


I was talking to someone yesterday and it was the second time that I heard someone say that when they asked about becoming Catholic the priest told them to stay where they were and not to convert.

I think we have lost the truth in the Church teaching “Outside The Church There is No Salvation” CCC 846. I use to struggle with this teaching myself, thinking why would God send someone to hell just because they are not Catholic? But what I realized is that we all deserve to go to hell and that God has every right to throw all of us down there. The teaching that there is no salvation outside the Church is a testiment to God’s great Mercy not harshness.

May God have mercy on the priest who says don’t convert to the Catholic faith and upon anyone who waters down the Church teaching that there is no savaltion outside the Catholic Church (CCC 846).


It’s hard to believe. Either the priest misunderstands the teaching of the CC or he is the person of bad will.

God cannot say: do whatever you want and believe in whatever you want and you will be saved. God wants us to be perfect and reminds us that the gates of heaven are narrow. In extraordinary situations non-catholics can be saved (for example Indians in the jungle who never heard about Jesus, but lived properly, according to their conscience).



If a couple of priests are in error or unfaithful to Church teaching, that does not change the teaching of the church.

Tell your friends to find a better parish and join RCIA. You might also quote them the words of the apostles when they said, “We must obey God rather than men.”


Isn’t one of the things necessary to being a Catholic is Catholic faith, or the willingness to grow in it?

It could well be this Protestant said, “I want to become a Catholic, but I don’t want to believe in this, that, or the other thing…” And in that case, I’d probably tell this person to remain where s/he was, too.


I believe that this may be the real issue. The priest saw that they were not converting for the proper reasons, therefore stay as you are. As my wife just said,“We don’t need more ‘cafeteria Catholics’.”

Kotton :thumbsup:


Y’know… I hadn’t thought of that…but it’s a very good point.
Thank you for bringing that up.


The narrow gate is much more difficult to pass through without a full complement of sacraments, Tradition, and Magisterium to help you stay on the path to it.


Yes, you are referring to 845, but the surrounding parts are also important to keep in mind. It’s good to read all of Article 9 on the topic.


The priest is wrong. You will not have any argument from me.

The tone of your thread could be misconstrued by our separated brethren. They deeply love Christ and would glady convert if they knew the truth, but “through no fault of their own,” they reject our Lord’s very design.

We can be very hopeful in the Lord’s tender love and mercy that we’ll see many “Protestants” in heaven one day. Of course there will be no divisions then.


CCC 847 is really the key passage of the catechism that we need to look at on this issue.
"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."
This is extremely crucial for numerous reasons.

  1. Protestants often claim, “Jesus saves, not a church,” and use CCC 846 to falsely accuse the Catholic Church of self-righteousness.
  2. Often, the faulty Protestant doctrine of, “No salvation outside of a personal commitment to Christ. No exceptions.” becomes a stumbling block for people to accept Christianity, in that it seems “unfair” to people who were raised in a separate religion.
  3. CCC 847, as far as I can tell, is consistent with Romans 2:12-16 and Luke 12:48.
  4. This prevents(or should prevent) Catholics from acting as if we have the right to pass judgments of eternal damnation upon others, something that sadly, many Protestants act as if they have the “right” or “authority” to do upon all who don’t practice what they(those Protestants) personally deem to be a “Christian” religion. Oh, sorry, not a religion, a “relationship.” (Their lingo, not mine.)
  5. This by no means waters down the Gospel message or minimizes what Jesus did for us on the cross. It merely concurs that He died for the sins of those who are outside the Church, too.
    This, as far as I can tell is consistent with Acts 10:35.
    So, going back to the original topic of the thread, we don’t know the circumstances or reasons behind what the priest said. Personally, if someone who was a Protestant told me that he wanted to convert to the Catholic Church and receive the Eucharist, but refuses to believe in the transubstantiation, I would first point out the Scriptures and writings of the Early Church Fathers, but if that person still had a heart that was hardened to the transubstantiation yet refused to abstain from the Eucharist, then I would tell that person to remain Protestant, as not for him to incur the judgment found in 1 Corinthians 11:29. At the same time, however, I would pray for that person, and try to convince him of the Truth of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.


I have mentioned before on these forums that the associate pastor of our parish told me pretty much the same thing when I happened to run into him in a store downtown, intro’ed myself, and told him I was becoming a Catholic. At the time I was gobsmacked and didn’t say anything.

Now, if you’re a genuine potential convert and not just another potentian CINO, I would recommend the following response: “Well, either you don’t think the sacraments are important for my in my journey to heaven, or you don’t think I am worthy of the sacraments. Which is it?”

Priests who don’t support conversion really torque my jaws.


The Catechism says “If through no fault of their own they MAY be saved…” That’s a big “MAY” and because of it I think we must assume that it is does not happen or that it is their fault. By the words of the catechism they are bound for hell if this is true.

I would agree that God can do anything, which is at the heart of the Catechism words, but there is no historic evidence of someone who is not conected with the Catholic Church through the Old Covenent or in the Church that the Appostals founded is in Heaven. If the Church wants me to believe that this exception exists they should give an example. They have the authority and the insight to judge when some individuals are in Heaven. Let them canonize a non-Catholic and I will believe that this theoretical/hypothetical salvation has taken place. Otherwise I must assume the worst for the sake of their salvation and perhaps for the sake of my own. I suggest you do the same.


Why do we want to rely upon “…may achieve eternal salvation.” ? In other words they could do all this and they may NOT achieve eternal salvation.

Also who are we to start judging who’s fault it is? Does the Church have the authority to say, Oh it’s not your fault you’re OK, don’t worry you’re not going to hell. This attitude is an injustice to the unsaved and the God who saved us and I believe it is at the heart of every priest who (without good reason) discourages conversion. We need to hear unambiguous teaching from the pulpit on “Outside the Church There Is No Salvation”


I have also encountered priests like that.

In response to your question,

“Well, either you don’t think the sacraments are important for my in my journey to heaven, or you don’t think I am worthy of the sacraments. Which is it?”

They would say, “Here, help yourself to the Sacraments. You are already a Christian - you don’t need to convert - you are already one of us.”

In a sense, I can even understand their reasoning. But what I think is that they have no idea how far away from Catholic theology most Protestants are. Or else they think it doesn’t matter.

I had one priest say to me, “If I have to give the Sacraments to uncatechized Catholics, why shouldn’t I give them to Protestants? At least Protestants read the Bible!”

I didn’t have a ready answer for him.

I do still think people need to become Catholic, though, before they start to participate in the Sacraments.


Maybe the priest felt the individual wasn’t interested in converting for the right reasons. From talking to people for a few minutes, it’s fairly easy to tell if they feel they are being called to the Catholic Church or not. That being said, is it better to be a person who is technically Catholic but doesn’t practice it or follow any of the teachings, or to remain a Protestant?


Steve, I quoted directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, showed concurring Scriptures from the Bible, and gave an example of a situation where a “conversion” of someone not willing to accept all the teachings of the Catholic Church would make that person potentially guilty of a mortal sin.
You bring up a very valid downside, however, in that we may become more lax in our efforts to evangelize, as a result of this teaching. Nevertheless, this is what the Church teaches, and we are not to deny it.


Or it could just be you have little confidence in a God of mercy and love…

If I’m wrong, I’ll stare you in the eyes in the afterlife, apologize, and tell you I was wrong.

In the meantime I will believe that any who is genuinely seeking truth and loves the Lord (but reject the CC through no fault of their own) is walking in God’s friendship.

Would it really surprise you to discover that many of our separated brethren are very close to the heart of Christ compared to many Catholics?

The majority of the former Protestants here will attest that God does work in powerful ways to transform lives. Our God is not distance, but rather a loving and intimate Savior.

The Catechism clearly says that our separated brethren are also His people, and as His people, I believe it’s reasonable to conclude He will not reject those who love Him and earnestly desire His mercy.

Indeed, we should bring them into His Holy Catholic Church with charity and diligence, because this is God’s will, and will help to ensure their salvation.

If you want to look at it another way, so be it.

God Bless,


I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing an infinitely merciful God wil damn souls for eternity for ignorance.


God can do anything and believe me since almost half my family has left the Church I pray He does but. I can’t ignore what the Church has taught for centuries and that is “Outside the Church There is No Salvation.” This is God’s Mercy. Who am I to question it? I have come to the conclusion that my ways, my feelings and what I see, is not God’s ways, not what He feels and not what He sees. These are factual statements. Therefore I can not go by the outward appearence of holyness or a “personal relationship with Jesus” that someone may appear to have. I go by the following:

  1. Baptism is necessary for salvation
  2. Sins that a Priest hears and forgives are forgiven those retained are retained. How can they forgive if they do not hear?
  3. Unless you eat His Body and Drink His Blood you have no life within you.

Original sin is real, just as God’s Saving Grace and the Sacraments Are Real. How can I trust feelings and appearance when it would deny the necessary saving power of the Sacraments.


These three points you raise are fine; however, they are also separate issues.

Yes, there is no salvation outside of the Chuch. The Church also believes that in an imperfect way, all our separated brethren are part of the same one Church. I’m sure you realize this.

No, I don’t believe we can have the same degree of certainty that those not formally in the Catholic Church will be saved.

However, what we can have confidence in is that the Lord is love, He is merciful, and He is just. These qualities are impossible to fully define, but I have no problem accepting the mystery of those truths.

I guess we will find out my sibling in Christ.

Have a good weekend.




Oh, yeah. I’ve come across priests like that, too. I guess it’s more charitable to hope he said it because he didn’t think the person was really ready to convert, but a part of me wants to say, come on. Who is really ready to convert right at the beginning? You start the engagement to see if you really want to do it or not. And if a priests saying, “forget about it” to a person who’s asking I’ve got to wonder about him.

I mean, did he at least give him some books to read or invite him to talk? It doesn’t sound like it.

Not good. :o

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