Can Non-Catholics be Saved?

Leila Miller - Can Non-Catholics Be Saved

\"LeilaThe short answer is yes. Non-Catholics and non-Christians can be saved.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums it up this way:

1260 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

This is known as the \”baptism of desire\”, an extra-ordinary way of salvation that occurs outside of the sacramental system. The Catechism also says:

1281 [A]ll those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized.

Now I\’ll attempt to explain this in my own words. Catholics may correct or clarify what I am about to say, but Feeneyism (the belief that only card-carrying Catholics can be saved) will not be accepted. That is a heresy, and we don\’t do heresy over at the Bubble. At least not on purpose.

First, the foundation.

Every human soul is made for one end: Union with God for all eternity. However, as we\’ve discussed before, union with God cannot be achieved without the grace of Christ, which was won for us on the Cross.

There is no salvation except through Christ Jesus, and it is simply impossible for anyone to get to Heaven without Him.

(That\’s the basic, immovable ground rule for the rest of what I have to say, so if you forget that as we go along, I will refer you back to it.)

Human beings are hardwired for God. Every man is expected in his lifetime to seek truth, and to do the will of God as best he understands it. People who daily strive to discover what is true, good and beautiful, and who risk great suffering to conform their minds, hearts and lives to God, are rightly called men of good will. During this Christmas season, we should recall the words of the angels who announced Christ\’s birth (correctly translated in Catholic Bibles but mistranslated in some Protestant Bibles*):

Glory to God in the highest; 
and on earth peace to men of good will.
— Luke 2:14

 

As we discussed recently, God gives everyone the actual grace to seek Him and to desire to do His will. An open heart will naturally search for truth, and as Jesus promised: \”Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.\” — Matthew 7:7

Those who were raised up in the Catholic Faith have easier access to the fullness of truth than others, with a quicker route to sanctifying grace. That is a blessing beyond words. However, \”to whom much is given, much will be required\”. Those who know more will be accountable for more. To know God\’s will and yet neglect our duties as Catholics is to act in bad faith, and we become men of bad will. (We should tremble at the thought!)

But non-Catholics who are sincerely ignorant of the necessity of baptism or who have never heard the Gospel are not responsible for the things they — through no fault of their own — do not know. After all, God is perfect Justice. He reads each human heart and knows who is truly seeking Him (even if that person hasn\’t quite found Him yet), and who desires to do His will (even if that person has it wrong at the moment).

This is the soul who would without hesitation ask to be baptized if he knew that baptism was the will of God. This is the soul who might never actually hear the name of Jesus Christ on this earth, but will see Jesus upon his death and say, \”It is You! You were the One I was seeking all my life!\” He will know Jesus, and Jesus will know him.

So yes, non-Catholics can be saved. And when these \”men of good will\” reach Heaven, when they are counted among the saints, every one of them (and us) will be of one mind and heart, one big Catholic family, professing Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

*Many Protestant translations are built upon bad theology, and thus many of their Bibles read: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. As you can see, that changes the meaning completely!

© Leila Miller. All Rights Reserved.

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9 thoughts on “Can Non-Catholics be Saved?”

  1. “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)
    “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)
    “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)
    These are de fide, ex cathedra dogmas of Faith. They are the measure. Every teachiing on salvation must conform to them. As Vatican I defined “definitions are by their very nature irreformable.” It is a terrible sin against charity (and truth) to give an impression, nevermind direct assurance, that non-Catholics can be saved without converting. Everyone gets the help of grace to see the true Faith and seek baptism. That is clear from scripture. Saint Alphonsus was saying nothing really new in bringing forth TRUE devotion to Mary, and perseverance therein, as a sign of salvation. Anyone who refuses to believe in Our Lady’s defined titles, and refuses to say the angelic prayer the Hail Mary cannot be saved in that state.

  2. I find Catholic doctrine of salvation to be contradictory, if not blasphemous.

    Alphonsus de Liguori’s book, “The Glories of Mary”, is reputed to contain the most authoritative Catholic lore on Mary. This contains passages like:

    ‘Sinners receive pardon by … Mary alone.’

    “He falls and is lost who has not recourse to Mary.”

    ‘Mary is called … the gate of heaven because no one can enter that blessed kingdom without passing through her.’

    I believe that book also says:

    “The way of salvation is open to none otherwise than through Mary. The salvation of all depends on their being favored and protected by Mary. He who is protected by Mary will be saved; he who is not will be lost … our salvation depends on thee … God will not save us without the intercession of Mary.”

    This is not biblical. Could you please show where in a credible Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Masoretic Texts is this substantiated?

    My Bible corresponds with:

    John 14:6

    “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

    In 1993 Pope John Paul ll said:

    “With my heart full of praise for the queen of Heaven, the sign of hope and the source of comfort on our pilgrimage of faith to the heavenly Jerusalem, I greet all of you who are present at this solemn liturgy … This liturgy presents you, Mary, as the woman clothed with the sun …. 0 woman clothed with the sun, the youth of the world greet you with so much love … In Mary the final victory of life over death is already a reality … help us to increase in holiness by conquering sin.”

    1. If we believe in the Incarnation, we believe that Mary’s intercession in salvation history is logically and spiritually necessary.

      If Mary’s role in the Incarnation was strictly symbolic, or otherwise strictly utilitarian then Jesus was either not a man, or he was just a man.

      Our Marian dogma follows from our refusal to compromise on the Incarnation.

      You should be thankful that the Catholic Church refuses to compromise on the objective fact of the Incarnation. God so loved the world that he sent his Son.

      But you don’t seem very thankful we protect this essential point of the Gospel. Could you at least save some of your argumentation for the many non-Catholic sects of Christianity who deny the fullness of the Incarnation? Their teaching is condemning souls to death. We Catholics are trying to save those souls.

    2. I see nothing to be grateful about in unsound doctrine that has no biblical foundation (if there was, you would have cited it), nor in those that pay no heed to 2 Peter 1:20. Catholocism and it’s dogma clearly falls under 1 Timothy 4:1:

      “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”

      I truly urge you to heed Jesus’ warning in Revelation 18:4, and go back to Him.

    3. When an atheist says to you, “what is the scientific proof?…”

      When that happens, you will not have a fruitful conversation.

      Similarly, when a non-Catholic asks for Biblical proof, the conversation is over. Catholics do not acknowledge Sola Scriptura. We believe it is a man-made principle.

      I think you know this, but just in case you don’t, now you do.

      The Church gave you the Bible you are trying to use against her. You can dislike this fact, but it is a fact.

  3. To know God’s will and yet neglect our duties as Catholics is to act in bad faith, and we become men of bad will. (We should tremble at the thought!)
    I tremble at how far on the radical fringe of theology you are. But God Bless anyway.

  4. That’s one of the many things I love about the Catholic Church. By its teaching, it’s inclusionary. Not exclusionary as I discovered in my own journey of investigating other religions. I was drawn to the Catholic faith partly because of their reasoned approach to the seven billion life stories and circumstances on this planet. And God as the final arbiter of a man’s heart is so perfect and just.

  5. That’s one of the many things I love about the Catholic Church. By its teaching, it’s inclusionary. Not exclusionary as I discovered in my own journey of investigating other religions. I was drawn to the Catholic faith partly because of their reasoned approach to the seven billion life stories and circumstances on this planet. And God as the final arbiter of a man’s heart is so perfect and just.

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