Catholicism Questions

Do Roman Catholics believe that if you are not catholic you will not go to heaven? That you will not nessesarily go straight to hell, but be in purgetory? Also can any sin be pardoned by the Church by saying a few roseries or the equivilant of “im sorry” to god? Also if something was a sin in the past, for example, eating meat on a friday, and it is not a sin now, what happens to all the people who commited the sin back then? Would they still be in hell or suddenly go to heaven? Sorry about the amount of questions and the bad spelling/grammar! :slight_smile:

I asked Sister Hillary, my Religion teacher, this very question back in third grade. I’d just read a story about Hindus, and I asked her if Hindus could go to heaven. She said that there were plenty of Hindus going to heaven before I would. The answer to your first question, then, is “no.”

Step one of plan: Stalk my business rival.
Step 2: Kill him.
Step 3: Say some quick rosaries.
Step 4: Stalk my snooty ex-girlfriend

The answer is “no.” Most sins can be forgiven (Suicide being a notable exception) but the penitence must be genuine and heartfelt. God knows if you’re just going through the motons and He is not amused.

Something doesn’t stop being a sin; rather, in our refined understanding of God’s will, we realize that it never was one to begin with. If you ate meat on Friday expressly as an act of rebellion against God, the act of rebellion is the sin, not the eating of meat. And anyway, that particular sin is “venial” and of little consequence (The practice had more to do with giving poor fishermen a break by throwing a little business their way than anything else).

Your entry into Heaven or Hell has very little to do with which nit-picky hoops you jumped through in life than whether you made an effort to live up to Christ’s example, something no one is reaonably expected to completely succeed at doing.

Mind you, I’m further from being an official spokesman for the Church than “Mister Wendys” is from being an official spokesman for Wendy’s…

No. The best path to salvation is through the Church, but by no means the only path.

Technically, no sin is pardoned by the Church. Sins are forgiven by God, with the priest in confessional acting in Christ’s stead. But the power to forgive comes from God, not from the Church.

There is no unforgiveable sin. But, as Krokodil points out, the repentence must be genuinely felt. It’s not a matter of magic – “Say these words and you are forgiven.” It’s a matter of genuine remorse and a desire to avoid the repetition of the sinful behavior.

For serious sin, the penance imposed would exceed “a few rosaries.” If the sin is also a serious crime, for example, one of the elements of penance would undoubtedly be turning yourself in to the authorities.

It’s not clear, first of all, if eating meat on a Friday was ever enough to consign someone to Hell. The Church does not profess to know who or why a particular person may end up there, but is confident in God’s eternal mercy. Under this model, ending up in Hell for meat eating is rather unlikely.

Eating meat on a day of abstinence is not inherently sinful: it’s a rejection of the rules of the Church, rather than the rules of Scripture. In law, we have the distinction of thigns that are malum prohibitum (wrong because there is a regulation prohibiting it) and malo in se (wrong inherently). For example, running a red light is not inherently wrong. It’s wrong only because our traffic laws deisgnate red as meaning stop and green meaning go.

Rape of a child, on the other hand, is probably safely described as “always wrong.”

So the people that chose to eat meat on Friday while the rule was the no meat could be eaten on Friday are not guilty of “eating meat on a Firday.” Their sin is that they deliberately flouted the laws of the church. The fact that the laws of the Church changed later to permit such behavior doesn’t change their culpability.

  • Rick

I think that, from the Roman Catholic Church perspective, you’ve gotta be Catholic; but there are a few exceptions:
[li]Be Jewish: the Jewish people are considered to have a legitimate covenant with God, independent of the Church, so they don’t have to convert to be saved.[/li][li]Be Orthodox: last year, a priest explained to me that the Catholic Church is allowed to give sacraments to members of the Orthodox Church because the R.C. Church recognizes their baptism; I didn’t specifically ask about heaven, but I would think the same principle would apply in the afterlife.[/li][li]Be ignorant: in order to be damned, you must have had the opportunity to have accepted Jesus Christ and the Church. If you live in some place where you’ve never been exposed to Catholicism, you’re not going to get punished for it in the hereafter.[/li][/ul]

Excuse me, but this is not an exhaustive list.

The Code of Canon Law, Can. 849, provides in relevant part:

It is quite possible to receive the sacrament of baprism by desire, rather than by explicit reception as a Catholic, in many more circumstances than your list indicates.

i don’t know if dante’s inferno is the best source for modern catholic doctrine (although it was relatively mild and compassionate for it’s time :eek: ). but in the inferno all unbaptized people went to hell. the virtuous ones (dante uses Virgil, Homer, Plato, and Aristotle and examples) are sent to a section of hell called Limbo. Limbo is a serene garden without suffering but with a feeling of quiet sadness.

i’m not sure about this, i’ve never asked my priest, but isn’t one of the events of judgement day that all the sinners in hell are re-judged to see if they have fufilled they’re punishment? so couldn’t the “virtuous pagans” hope to find salvation on the day of reckoning? :confused:

Limbo was theological speculation and never part of Church doctrine. It was an attempt to reconcile those passages of Scripture that declare that one may come to God only through Jesus with the recognition that God would be terribly unjust to condemn people (infants or pagans who had never heard the Gospel preached) simply because they had not followed the letter of the passages to come to God through an acceptance of Jesus.

The Church has moved beyond that narrow reading of Scripture to rcognize that God calls to all people and that any effort to respond to God’s call, even if it takes a path outside the church, can bring one to God. (See Bricker’s reference to the Baptism of Desire, above: a person who truly desires to follow God is thought to have received Baptisn through the Holy Spirit, regardless of their human beliefs.)

[george carlin]

The priest used to tell us parables about Dusty and Buddy. Dusty was a Catholic, and Buddy . . . [deep, grave and solemn voice] was not. And Buddy was always trying to get Dusy to have a hot dog on Friday!

Actually, they’ve since abolished that rule. But I bet there are still some guys in Hell doing time on the meat rap! “I thought it was retroactive! I had a baloney sandwich! This guy over here had a beef jerky!” How’d you like to do Eternity for a beef jerky? 'Cause Hell wasn’t no five-to-ten, you know! Hell was LATER!

[/george carlin]

Then wouldn’t the missionaries be doing the heathen a favor if they just stayed home?

Some minor sins can be forgiven with the rosary. However, there is an all-inclusive “I’m sorry” that forgives all sin. It’s the Act of Contrition. But you better be damned sincere when saying it. Just reciting it won’t count, it has to be heartfelt and genuine.

I must confess, without in any way repenting, that I can’t see a “Pray the Rosary” bumper sticker on the highway without thinking, “Well, there’s something that urgently needs to be culled both from our biological gene-pool and our cultural meme-pool!”

Or, words to that effect.

Well, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is generally regarded as unforgiveable sin. But I don’t think anyone is really sure what that means. It seems to mean rejecting the gifts of the Holy Spirit, i.e., while knowing and understanding the consequences of one’s act, nonetheless refusing the gift of grace. Or refusing to be forgiven. Or even believing that one is so sinful and evil that one cannot be forgiven.

Most of the (admittedly little) reading I’ve done on the subject says that, while the sin is “unforgiveable,” that doesn’t mean one cannot escape the sin. It’s only “unforgiveable” while it’s being committed, but if one escapes the sin, it’s in the past and done with and one is forgiven.

While I don’t think praying the Rosary in any way remits sins, and I also recognize that you are an unbeliever, what provokes THAT level of hostility?

For the sake of full disclosure, btw, in the mid-1980s, I was a Protty member of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima (they never actually asked if I was RCC) and prayed the Rosary daily for a couple of years. The discipline in prayer & meditation (I actually thought deeply about the Fifteen Holy Mysteries & how they applied to who & what I was praying for) was quite helpful spiritually & also got some rather interesting results.

To answer the OP, most religions regard themselves as the First-Class way to get to Heaven, with other faiths being valid but not as efficient or stylish vehicles. G

The implicit, and socially dangerous, assumption that prayers and rituals are the best way to fix things.

Those who think prayer is beneficial are deserving of hostility and should be excluded from the gene pool? This is a reasonable position? Thanks so much for this refreshingly different perspective, as opposed to all those intolerant religious types. :rolleyes:

No apologies necessary. These are great questions.

I have found that the beliefs of folks who call themselves Catholics (as also with Protestants) varies with the seriousness of their committment. Most would tell you no one can know for sure whether they’re going to heaven. Those I have talked to about this have usually responded with an “I hope so” answer.

If you want to know what official Roman Catholic doctrine says about it, you would want to consult their website where all their official doctinal statements can be accessed.

Here is a excerpt from the Catholic Churches main doctrinal statement, Vatican Council II, concerning salvation:

"As the Council teaches: Christ, present among us in His Body which is the Church, is the one mediator and the way to salvation. Expressly asserting the need for faith and baptism, he asserted the need for the Church, which men enter through baptism as if through a door. For this reason men cannot be saved who do not want enter or remain in the Church, *knowing that the Catholic Church * (my emphasis) was founded by God through Christ as a necessity.

"Here the Council sets forth its teaching on the Church *as the active subject of salvation in Christ * (my emphasis). "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, having the Spirit of Christ, integrally accept its organization and all means of salvation instituted in it. In the Churches visible structure(my emphasis) they are joined with Christ–who rules the Church through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops–by the bonds of the profession of the faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and Communion. Those who do not persist in charity, even if they remain in the Church in ‘body’ but not in ‘heart,’ cannot be saved" (my emphasis)

From these statements it is very clear to me that The Roman Catholic Church (i.e., the instituion itself) presents itself as the only conduit to Christ, and, according to the Bible, everyone must go through Christ**…“there is one mediator between God men, the man, Jesus Christ…” **(1 Timothy 2:5) to access heaven. Although they partially quote this verse at the beginning of the statement, from the other things that are said, it is obvious that they (the “Church”) consider themselves to be Christ’s official representatives on earth, and therefore put a qualification on this.

The good news is. there aren’t any such requirments to be saved–outside of belief–in the Bible. The Bible doesn’t institute any religious organiztions–Roman Catholic or otherwise–as conduits by which to access heaven. Anyone, under any circumstances, can be saved by simply believing that Christ died for their sins…was buried…and raised from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A man asked the Apostle Paul: “what must I do to be saved?” His answer was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:31) Paul later said: "call upon the name of the Lord and thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:13).


As for your sins, the Bible says Christ, …"became sin for us…and, “gave himself a ransom for all” Christ has paid for all sins for all time, therefore God has "forgiven you all tresspasses (1 Timothy 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:13) The question is: Do you believe this?


Concerning heaven: only those who are “in Christ’s body, which is his church,” are going there. That “church” is made up of individuals who have accepted God’s offer of salvation through Christ–not through a religious institution. If you don’t know whether or not you’ve ever done this, do it now and you will secure your place there (also see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) (All Bible references are from the KJV)

Is anybody in this thread really interested in what this means?

How about reading the Bible, where this word comes from in the first place?

The word “blasphemy” appears for the first time in the NT, in Matt. 12:31,32

31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

The verses clearly explain what the sin is: it is “speaking a word against the Holy Ghost.” Furthermore, the verse puts a qualification on the sin: that it will not be forgiven, “neither in this world; neither in the world to come.” The word “world” is translated from the Greek, “aion,” which literally means, “age” or “period.” So the sin cannot be forgiven in the period they are in there when this is written, nor the one that is to come. The one that is to come has to be the prophecied “kingdom” which Jesus said is “at hand:” i.e., near, but not here yet. The question is, are we in either of these “worlds” presently? I don’t believe so. I believe we’re in the “dispensation of grace,” (Eph. 3:2), in which God isn’t holding anyone’s sins against them.

How does one speak against the Holy Ghost?

I was gonna let this one go, until I saw others reading into your animosity. Then I knew I may not be alone.

In Catholocism, lesser sins will be forgiven through reciting the rosary. I understand you don’t beleive in God, much less Christ, but there are, oh, about a billion people that do.

I’ll never try to change your mind. But to shit on the faith of generations of my family, well, I can only hope you aspire to becoming a jerk. Because I really don’t know what you are right now.

Nice snit-back at him. You might explain what it means to “pray the Rosary” rather than letting the assumption that saying 150 Hail Marys and the other stuff is going to absolve someone of sin.

I think that a fuller explanation of RCC teachings is found in the Catechism from paragraphs 836 through 848.
Who belongs to the Catholic Church? _ The Church and non-Christians. _ Outside the Church there is no salvation.
From the context of the entirety of these three sections, it is clear that the RCC holds out hope for the salvation of all people with no requirement that they become members of that body.
As the statement from Lumen Gentium quoted in paragraph 847 says

From the perspective of the RCC, a person must recognize that the Church is the path to salvation and actively refuse it it be condemned on that point. And, unlike various groups who have held that the mere “hearing” of Scripture is enough to guarantee damnation to anyone who does not immediately repent and turn to Jesus, the RCC recognizes that a lot of circumstances in life can serve to hide that truth from people, even those who are raised among Catholics. (See the earlier paragraphs.) One may look on the RCC as arrogant for holding themselves up as the best way, but it is incorrect to claim that they are holding themselves up as a shibboleth to keep people out of heaven. (The last Catholic priest in the U.S. to preach that only Catholics could be saved got excommunicated for his efforts.)

The cryptic footnotes, indicating the sources in Scripture, the Patristics, Doctors of the Church, Church Councils, or Papal Encyclicals at the end of that section are expanded as:
320 Lumen Gentium 13.
321 Lumen Gentium 14.
322 Lumen Gentium 15.
323 Unitatis redintegratio 3.
324 Paul VI, Discourse, December 14, 1975; cf. Unitatis redintegratio 13-18.
325 Lumen Gentium 16.
326 Cf. Nostra aetate 4.
327 Roman Missal, Good Friday 13:General Intercessions,VI.
328 Romans 9:4-5.
329 Romans 11:29.
330 Lumen Gentium 16; cf. Nostra aetate 3.
331 Nostra aetate 1.
332 Lumen Gentium 16; cf. Nostra aetate 2; Evangelii nuntiandi 53.
333 Lumen Gentium 16; cf. Rom 1:21, 25.
334 St. Augustine, Sermons. 96,7,9: Patroligia Latina (Paris, 1841-1855)
38,588; St. Ambrose, De virginibus. 18 118: Patroligia Latina (Paris, 1841-1855)
16,297B; cf. already 1 Peter 3:20-21.
335 Cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; *De unit.: Patroligia Latina (Paris, 1841-1855)
336 Lumen Gentium 14; cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5.
337 Lumen Gentium 16; cf. Denzinger-Schonmetzer, Enchiridion Symbolorum, definitionum et declarationum de
rebus fidei et morum
(1965) 3866-3872.
338 Ad gentes 7; cf. Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 9:16