Are Only Catholics Going to Heaven?

Answering a most common question

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Our parish was holding an "inquiry meeting" in which parishioners could come and ask any question about Catholicism that they might have. We had been holding these meetings for a few years, and my experience in leading these sessions told me that the questions could cover a wide range of topics. But I remember one night in particular. The meeting had gone on for some time, and a woman ("Maria") had been sitting near the back, listening but not participating. Near the end, I asked if there were any more questions. Maria hesitated, then slowly raised her hand. She softly asked,

"I was wondering, do only Catholics go to heaven?"

Now this was a question I had frequently been asked, and it is always a question with personal ramifications for the inquirer. Behind it was the real question, "will my husband/wife/father/relative who is not Catholic go to heaven?" Maria in particular was anxious to hear my answer. Her eyes were filled with both hope and fear, for her husband was a Buddhist. She hoped that this person whom she so loved would spend eternity with God, but she feared that his lack of baptism and faith in Christ would deny him entrance to our heavenly home.

So what does the Catholic Church teach in regard to the eternal destination of non-Catholics?
Next Page: Ordinary Means of Salvation




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