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Michael wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question is one that has been asked many times. Nevertheless, here it comes.

John Doe is a member of the Assembly of God down the road. He loves God, has an active prayer life, fasts, attends worship services, serves with a glad heart, tithes, and is a faithful husband and father.

He sins, he confesses his sin. He repents, and sometimes fails.

There is a Roman Catholic Church across the street from the First Assembly of God where Mr. Doe is a member, and Mr. Doe is well aware of the neighboring Church, as he passes it three times a week on the way to his church.

Mr. Doe has chosen to not to worship in the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Is it correct interpretation of Catholic Doctrine that Mr. Doe will spend eternity separated from God in Hell?

According to my understanding of the clear teaching readily available in the Catechism,
the answer is, Yes, based solely upon his choice, Mr. Doe will not enter Heaven and will spend eternity in Hell separated from God.

  • Is this a correct understanding?


  { Given this hypothetical scenario and person, is John Doe saved according to the Catholic Church? }

Mike replied:

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the question.

It depends.

If one knows the Catholic Church to be the one Church founded by Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and has sought to understand with (his|her) mind, Her Divine Teachings, yet refuses to enter:

Yes, that person gravely risks (his|her) salvation and cannot be saved.

'Outside the Church there is no salvation.'

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? (cf. Cyprian, Ep. 73.21:PL 3,1169; De unit.:PL 4,509-536.)

Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.

(Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 14; cf. Mark 16:16; John 3:5)

No man or woman can damn anyone to Hell. Only Jesus, the True Judge and Lord of all, judges and allows others to damn themselves through their free will.

In your situation, if John Doe was an active member of the First Assembly of God, but was unaware that Jesus founded one Church on St. Peter and His successors before ascending into Heaven, he would not be culpable for what he didn't know. 

Through the Church, he would receive many graces that would encourage him to investigate and look into the Church's Teachings, doctrines and history.  If he refused to follow these suggestions of the Holy Spirit, he would be more culpable, but we can't say whether his degree of culpability is worthy or unworthy of his salvation.  Only the Lord can decide this at his Particular Judgment, a judgment we will all receive.

If John Doe was an active member of the Catholic Church but has left and is now an active member of the Assembly of God, he gravely risk his salvation if he knows that the One, True Church Jesus founded is the one he has left.

Church scandals or no scandals — the gates of Hell will not prevail, Matthew 16:17-19, on issues of faith and morals.

He has an obligation to develop his conscience and knowledge on an ongoing basis, even as an Assembly of God minister or lay person and be open to returning to the Church which is wounded by his leaving.

Being a minister of a false Christian Church doesn't ensure salvation, like the ark in the Old Testament.  Only the Catholic Church can save from the flood as it is the New Testament symbol of the Ark of the Covenant.

Some of our previous replies may give you a better understanding of what we believe:

I hope this helps,


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