A Catholic Statement on Salvation

I affirm that the state of grace is absolutely necessary at the moment of death; without it, salvation and supernatural happiness the beatific vision of God — are impossible.

I deny that the state of grace is unavailable to persons who do not know the Church or who outwardly reject Her.

I affirm that the universality of salvation means that it is granted not only to those who explicitly believe in Christ and have entered the Church. Since salvation is offered to all, it must be made concretely available to all.

I deny that salvation is only available to baptized Christians and those who have never learned of Christianity.

I affirm that conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity.

I deny that persons are judged by God apart from their love for others and their own conscience.

I affirm that the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down into Hell immediately after death, and there suffer eternal punishment.

I deny that the punishments of Hell are the same for all the damned.

I affirm that no one is sent to Hell apart from a willful turning away from God (actual mortal sin), and persistence in it until the end.

I deny that God predestines anyone to Hell.

I affirm that God knows, searches, and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all.

I deny that God, in his supreme kindness and clemency, permits anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

I affirm that every fallen sinner, who is in the state of grace, is a child of God by spiritual adoption.

I deny that only baptized Christians are children of God by spiritual adoption.

I affirm that all prenatals, infants, and young children, who die at that young age, having been baptized with water, will have eternal life.

I deny that prenatals, infants, and young children are capable of committing actual mortal sin, or that their only path to Heaven is by a baptism of water.

I affirm that all prenatals, infants, and young children, who die at that young age, without baptism by water, are given the state of grace, prior to death, from Jesus Christ on the Cross, by a baptism of blood.

I deny that prenatals, infants, and young children are ever sent to the limbo of Hell or to limbo as a third final destination.

I affirm that persons who are guilty and unrepentant of a certain actual mortal sin of omission — that of never having found sanctifying grace in this life, despite ample opportunity — are sent to the limbo of Hell.

I deny that the limbo of Hell is a place of any type of happiness for anyone at all.

I affirm that some believing and practicing Christians nevertheless end up in Hell, due to unrepented actual mortal sin.

I deny that faith alone guarantees eternal life.

I affirm that Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium infallibly teach that Hell contains many human souls.

I deny that it is reasonable to hope that all human persons will reach eternal life in Heaven, and none will be punished in Hell.

I affirm that many non-Christian believers are in the state of grace, by a baptism of desire through the love of God and neighbor, and that many of them will have eternal life in Heaven.

I deny that persons who have sufficient accurate knowledge of Christianity, and yet outwardly reject the Church, cannot be saved unless they repent and convert to Christianity.

I affirm that many non-believers are in the state of grace, by a baptism of desire through the love of neighbor, which implicitly includes the love of God, and that many of them will have eternal life in Heaven.

I deny that persons who have sufficient accurate knowledge of true religion, and yet outwardly reject belief in God, cannot be saved unless they repent and believe.

I affirm that everyone in the state of grace has received the justification of God and can increase in that justice they received through the grace of Christ, and so be justified to a greater extent, by faith cooperating with good works.

I deny that it is impossible for the justified to have an increase of faith, hope, and charity.

I affirm that persons who are guilty and unrepentant from objective mortal sins might still be in the state of grace, since many factors reduce culpability, making objective mortal sin sometimes not also actual mortal sin.

I deny that, by natural law, fallen sinners necessarily understand morality well enough, without the help of Divine Revelation, to recognize every objective mortal sin.

I affirm that, to gain eternal salvation, it is not always required that a person be incorporated in reality as a member of the Church, but it is necessary that one belong to the Church at least by implicit desire and invincible ignorance.

I deny that the baptism of desire must always be explicit, as it is with catechumens.

I affirm that the good works of the justified can merit an increase of grace, the attainment of eternal life, and an increase in glory in Heaven, if the person dies in the state of grace.

I deny that the good works of each person who is justified are only the good gifts of God, and not also the good merits of the person who is justified.

I affirm that an act of love is sufficient for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace and to supply the lack of baptism.

I deny that all atheists and agnostics, who die without attaining to belief in God, are sent to Hell.

I affirm that, without God, man cannot fully find himself, nor can he find his true happiness.

I deny that human beings can completely fulfill themselves, and can be truly happy without God.

Please feel free to comment on any of the 20 points with your own understanding.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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12 Responses to A Catholic Statement on Salvation

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    I deny that God predestines anyone to Hell.

    Is a person who will go to Hell in the future “predestined” to go there by virtue of the fact that God, Who knows all the future, knows now that that person will go to Hell?

    • Ron Conte says:

      No. God merely knows that the person was offered salvation, had ample opportunity and grace for salvation, and only went to Hell because of his own free will decisions to sin gravely and not repent. The Catholic idea of predestination is that no one is predestined to Hell, in such a way that they could not use their free will to attain Heaven.

      “Omnipotent God created man noble without sin with a free will, and he whom He wished to remain in the sanctity of justice, He placed in Paradise. Man using his free will badly sinned and fell, and became the “mass of perdition” of the entire human race. The just and good God, however, chose from this same mass of perdition according to His foreknowledge those whom through grace He predestined to life [ Rom. 8:29 ff.; Eph. 1:11], and He predestined for these eternal life; the others, whom by the judgment of justice he left in the mass of perdition,* however, He knew would perish, but He did not predestine that they would perish, because He is just; however, He predestined eternal punishment for them. And on account of this we speak of only one predestination of God, which pertains either to the gift of grace or to the retribution of justice.”

  2. Emanuel Costa says:

    Hi Ron,
    That’s a very useful list. I would like to comment on #2 and #14.

    I am wondering since one can be in the state of grace without being an explicit member of Church, why should we evangelize then?

    I have a friend who does not attend any church, but he is a very “good” guy. Better than many of my fellows Catholic friends, I would say. I wonder if it is better to let him alone or I should try to evangelize him. Thanks

    P.S.: Your articles have helped me a lot. Thank you for your hard work. I’ll keep you in my prayers

    • Ron Conte says:

      The easiest path to heaven is by being a believing and practicing Catholic. In addition, Catholics who live the faith well have a greater glory in heaven, because they prayed more, practiced self-denial with love for God, and did works of mercy in love of Christ and in love of others.

      An atheist or non-Christian believer can possibly get to Heaven. But the path is more difficult, more treacherous, and their glory in Heaven is often lesser.

  3. Matt says:

    Regarding #16:

    The following is what Medjugorje visionary Marija stated about Hell:

    Question: “Marija, have you ever seen Hell?
    Marija: “Yes, it’s a large space with a big sea of fire in the middle. There are many people there. I particularly noticed a beautiful young girl. But when she came near the fire, she was no longer beautiful. She came out of the fire like an animal; she was no longer human. The Blessed Mother told me that God gives us all choices. Everyone responds to these choices. Everyone can choose if he wants to go to hell or not. Anyone who goes to hell chooses hell.

    How can God judge a beautiful young girl to Hell? I assume the youth do not fully understand morality and consequences of their sins, and should not be culpable if they die unexpectedly. Yet this beautiful young girl is judged to Hell. If that is the case, many youth are in grave danger of losing their souls to Hell if they die unrepentant.

    • Ron Conte says:

      It depends on how young. She could have been in her teens or twenties and still be called a young girl. Moral responsibility gradually increases as a person increases in age and in the ability to understand right from wrong. A 2-year old has no moral responsibility, and so can’t commit actual sin. A 7-year old, I suppose, can sin only to a very limited extent, venial sin only. A teen can, perhaps, commit mortal sin, but it is probably harder than for an adult.

  4. Mark P. says:

    One thing I have always struggled with is the salvation of those born with a mental handicap which prevents them from ever becoming fully adult or able to make fully informed choices. I would assume that they would die in a state similar to infants or children since they would not face the same trials in life or have the capacity to ever choose an actual evil or sin. So it does seem fair that they are guaranteed salvation, but I would guess that their reward in heaven is lesser than someone who lived the faith fully amidst difficult trials or temptations. So my struggle is, it doesn’t seem “fair” to me (in my poor human understanding of “fairness”), in that 1) these people probably cannot attain the highest rewards in heaven and 2) a person who faced trials and temptations may not achieve salvation and end up in hell. Now suppose both of these people lived to be 40 years old. Of course,any time is insignificant compared to eternity, but that is the problem to me. It seems that the person who was never able to live a full, earthly life, despite what some would consider a tragic life here, will get to heaven regardless. But the other person may end up in hell, which makes it seem that, even though the person with the handicap never had to choose between good and evil in life, received an eternal reward. By no means am I belittling the struggles of people with these types of problems or those who love and care for them, but I am trying to reconcile questions dealing with the ability to act and make choices and how that affects salvation.

    I try to rest these thoughts by admitting a) the handicapped person may be able to think much more clearly than we realize, but cannot act out their will with their earthly bodies. I think we as human persons do not fully understand the capabilities and capacities of the soul, but I am not sure how correct that statement is. So perhaps they are able to choose good and evil in thought, but not actually act upon it? If I did not know who Stephen Hawking was, I would assume by looking at him that he was unable to do much. But with the aid of a computer, he is still able to communicate his thoughts, write books, etc. b) the lives of persons with disabilities, etc. serve greater purposes, e.g. helping others to realize their blessings, how fortunate they are to have all of their faculties, etc. and c) we are all made in God’s image, and these questions are misunderstandings on my part.

    • Ron Conte says:

      God knows and judges. We don’t need to judge the salvation of each person. Handicapped persons have glory in heaven from their sufferings. It is just to allow persons with sufficient use of reason and free will to choose between heaven and hell (to choose by means of how they live their lives).

  5. domzerchi says:

    Isn’t the term “baptism by blood” used to refer to justification by martyrdom of someone who had not yet received a sacramental baptism? If that is so, isn’t it confusing to use the term to refer to something else? Or do you think infants dying without sacramental baptism are actually martyred in some occult or hard-to-understand way?

    You deny that the punishments of hell are the same for each of the damned, as it seems anyone must. Doesn’t the “Limbo of the Infants” refer to Hell, the punishments of which are not the same for everyone? By suggesting that when the term is used, it is meant as literally a third place rather than a difference of punishment, aren’t you knocking down a straw man or speaking in a confusing or misleading way?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Limbo of the infants is a fringe of Hell. A different use of the term limbo refers to a third final destination that is neither heaven or hell. I am broadening the term baptism by blood similarly to the broadening of a baptism of desire to include implicit desire. In my view, the baptism of blood is not limited to catechumenate martyrs, just as the baptism of desire is not limited to catechumenates.

  6. Marco says:

    “I affirm that no one is sent to Hell apart from a willful turning away from God (actual mortal sin), and persistence in it until the end.”

    What does it mean “persistence in it until the end”?

    If I commit one actual mortal sin and after, say, two hours, I die suddenly in a car crash, I go to hell because I “persisted in it until the end”?

    And the nazi criminal who lives until he is 100 and he repents one month before his death has not persisted in it until the end.

    So a catholic boy, 18 years old, who masturbates knowing that the Church forbids such an act goes to hell if he dies suddenly in a car crash because he “persisted in his actual mortal sin until the end”, whereas the genocidial nazi who repents at 99 years of age of his multiple killings of innocent people is saved.

    Am I the only one who finds all of this a little “problematic”?

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