Would God condemn the soul of an atheist who died in grave sin but otherwise had an upright heart?


A sinner who repents and turns from his mortal sin is a different story than one who dies in mortal sin.

One not in mortal sin is also different from one in mortal sin.
The other commentators I believe express my point.

God knows all things and ultimately He is the Judge and not us.


The Church list three conditions that need to be met before a sinful behavior become mortal. Might God have two additional criteria, namely one’s life situation and their potential for loving and worshiping Him and their having love for their neighbor? I would be curious to know how Mother Church came up with these three conditions and whether or not there’s room for others?


Robert_Sock, Below are two things that I think you will find very helpful.

  1. Since you are seeking the mercy of God towards atheists, you will really love this link below. It will give you hope for those poor deluded people. This awesome booklet you can buy for $2, or read for free and print it for free at the link below. I recommend everyone read this who has concern for the atheists in their lives. We are called to be a witness to these and to everyone God puts in our path. This booklet clearly and with great economy of words shows us how awesomely merciful and loving God is towards them, and it will inspire you to be the same way towards them.

Speaking to us on this topic are Jesus and Mary, like in all the Booklets and Volumes offered on this page, and for this particular topic of these atheists, we also have St. John of the Cross speaking to us:

Heaven Speaks to Those Who Have Rejected God

That work and the other works on that site are private revelation (except where otherwise noted), and include direction for our times by God Himself (in some of the writings - at least one: Volume Four) and by Jesus, Mary, some Apostles, and some Saints, as given to “Anne, a Lay Apostle” (whose story can be found on the linked website, as well in the front of her books and the Volumes) and are under the authority of their local Bishop, who has assigned a full-time priest to oversee the Apostolate. Even better is that all of these works, including the above linked one concerning atheists, are submitted to the Vatican for review and have received an Imprimatur.

So, with the Imprimatur, even if you do not want to believe in private revelation (and we are not obliged to) you can safely and truthfully see it as wonderful literature that absolutely and perfectly reflects the exact teaching of our Church in every way. There are no theological errors, says the Church.

All of the works of Direction For Our Times are sorely needed because in all times, too, too many people do go to hell for all eternity. And I’m sure you agree that these times are far worse than many - or most, or maybe even all. It is hard to be devout in our times, but God gives us all the graces we need to be, and so much mercy, which the works of that Apostolate explain so well.

[see next post for number 2.]

  1. The other thing is much more sobering to read. A copy of this sermon was given to me by a devout friend at Church, and I kept if by my bed for two months before I read it. I was sure I was going to find something wrong with it, some exaggeration by some paranoid writer. But when I began to read the part that precedes the sermon, I realized that this was no error-ridden piece. You will see, too. This is a most famous sermon by a Saint, and this sermon [which I did not want to read because of the title], like this Saint’s other writings, “…was submitted to canonical examination during the process of canonization.” Yes, so this is authentic Catholic teaching, not some far out idea. So, here is reading on hell I am recommending, if you are brave enough, after seeing it’s title:

The Little Number of Those Who Are Saved, by St. Leonard of Port Maurice

Not an appealing title, is it? But I was able to be brave enough to read it because of the time I spend in the works from Direction For Our Times, which are so full of God’s love and mercy.


After I posted this, I began reading this story from the same website just above that had the “Little Number” sermon posted. This is a very, very interesting story:

“The Mystery of the Wizard Clip”


One thing to keep in mind is that people aren’t all that great. Poor phrasing, but true. In prayer we constantly are reminded of our unworthiness. At mass we say “I am not worthy”. Not event the most God-fearing Catholic would never get to change that line later in life and say “and at long last, I am finally worthy of You!”. So the idea that being nicer or more loving is what gets you into Heaven is kind of bogus. None of us really deserve to be with God, not even the most devout Catholic. Not saying God does not have unfathomable mercy and can direct souls wherever He pleases. Just trying to point out that “being a good person” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


The people who worry me most are those who know better but make lame excuses.

Catholic theology (and this is actually taught and communicated very poorly) states that knowledge and consent are necessary to sin.

I really don’t know for sure if a person just HAS to believe to be 100% assured of Salvation, but remember, we are talking about infinite justice.

A lot of atheists I know and follow are really just skeptics who are looking for proof. Even some of the most ardent ones have prayed before.


I don’t understand this mentality of modern Catholics. They claim to believe it is necessary to believe in God, receive the sacraments, and do good works to be saved, but are so concerned with the fate of non Catholics who may not do any of the aforementioned. They believe it would be unjust to condemn a person who has not heard of the Catholic faith. They never think that it might instead be unjust, to condemn someone who believes in God, receives the sacraments, etc. for committing a mortal sin, but at the same time giving a free pass to someone who may not do any of the aforementioned, just because he is ignorant. In that case, faith in God truly is a burden, and ignorance truly is bliss, and it may be questioned whether God is just for allowing people to know of Him, when He could have left them ignorant so they could obtain a free pass.


I’m fairly certain those things fall within the three, like intent of will and knowledge.

Of course, though mortal sin is terrible, one can return to the state of Grace afterwards.

Of course, prior to baptism, one is dead spiritually, though we don’t despair or definitively judge, it is obviously better if one is Christian. Of course, from those with much, much will be expected. From those with less, less will be expected.


Umm… “invincible ignorance”, perhaps…? :wink:

That’s not the argument being made here. It’s not “who is more worthy of heaven?”, but rather, “who is condemned to hell?”

@Robert_Sock asks about ‘grave sin’. Not all grave sin is mortal sin. It is unrepented mortal sin, not simply grave sin, that condemns one to hell.

If one is in a state of ‘grave sin’ that is venial then, as @fide points out, one may be ‘guilty’ while still not being ‘culpable’ mortally…

The standard, though, isn’t “have you convinced yourself it is not true?”, but rather, “should you know that it is true?”. By your standard, mortal sin isn’t mortal sin unless the person consents to the teaching of the Church. That’s not the definition of mortal sin, however. If you know it’s sinful (or should know it, given what you’ve learned and had at least accepted at one time), then that’s sufficient for mortal sin (presuming grave matter and deliberate consent).

Not necessarily. The OP speaks of ‘grave sin’, not ‘mortal sin.’


Invincible ignorance is an excuse.

If one rejects God, they reject God.


No… ‘invincible ignorance’ is part of the teachings of the Church.


I know. But people use it as an excuse to claim people can be saved who are outside the church.


Umm… that, specifically, is the group to whom invincible ignorance applies…! :thinking:


His comment in the OP was this…

My response is that you cannot have an “upright heart” (or, put differently, be in a good spiritual position or be in state of grace) while committing grave sin.


No. If you are invincibly ignorant, it means you are not outside the church, but would be if you knew the error of what you have done.


You might want to re-acquaint yourself with Lumen gentium. In paragraph 16, it states, “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.”

That’s invincible ignorance, too… :wink:


Those described in lumen Gentium 16 are not outside the church, because they’re is no salvation outside the church. That is a dogma.

Invincible ignorance means that you are not outside the church, but if you knew you were in error you would be outside the church.

It is you who needs to learn definitions. :wink:


To commit a mortal sin, a sin that ends your friendship with God, you must know that it offends God and do it intentionally. It is a rational human being rejecting God and refusing to ask Him for forgiveness.

God is not some big powerful superhero/supervillan who sits in the sky waiting to GOTCHA and send someone to hell. Those in hell choose to be in hell. They reject God.


Yes, and it puts the burden on us, as the faithful, to provide the catechesis necessary to move those from ignorance to the light of the truth…an awesome responsibility for those who are teachers of the faith…we cannot lead the little ones astray, nor can we leave them in the dark…if we do, our salvation is at risk, not theirs.

Pax et Bonum

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