Busted Halo
googling god
The Busted Halo Question Box
Ask our spiritual experts virtually anything!
This is the place where you can ask all of those burning questions that you wouldn't dare ask in person. We will post questions here (using your byline only with permission); we guarantee an answer to everyone.

Have your own question? Then pitch it to us!

Caitlin Kennell Kim
Fr. Rick Malloy, SJ
General Questions
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP
Ecumenical, Interfaith
Neela Kale
Culture, Moral Theology
Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
Mike Hayes
Our readers asked:

How Will Non-Catholics Be Judged?

Thomas Ryan, CSP Answers:

Q: How do Catholics believe that non-Catholics who have been exposed to Catholic teaching but keep their own faith will be judged?

Catholics believe that non-Catholics will be judged in the light of how they’ve lived according to their conscience. Vatican II’s document “Dignitatis Humanae” acknowledges that we have the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. We must not be forced to act contrary to conscience, nor must we be prevented from acting according to conscience, especially in matters religious. (3:2). That said, our conscience must be informed, and moral judgement enlightened.

There can be many contributing factors to errors of judgment. The Catholic Catechism cites some examples: “Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one’s passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church’s authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and charity” (1792).

There are also other factors that come into play. For example, when someone has been raised in a faith tradition other than Catholic, the values and compass bearings they have absorbed can be deeply rooted in their hearts and minds. To then “be exposed” to teachings from another tradition of Christian faith or another world religion may only be a passing experience. For some, while that episodic experience may well raise some questions, they will continue to be guided by what they have been taught. Not everyone cares enough about pursuing the questions raised more deeply. And even for those who do, the answers they’re given may not be convincing enough to motivate them to change their compass bearings and cause possible upset within their families. Or, they may not see Catholics “walking their talk” and actually living in accord with what their Church teaches.

We must all avail ourselves of the means to form our conscience. The Word of God is a light for our path. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed. In the end, a human being must always obey the judgment of his/her conscience. The education of conscience is a lifelong task, but one that guarantees freedom and peace of heart.

The Author : Thomas Ryan, CSP
Fr. Tom Ryan, CSP, directs the Paulist North American Office for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations in Washington, D.C.
See more articles by (54).
Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Mike

    Q: How do Catholics believe that non-Catholics who have been exposed to
    Catholic teaching but keep their own faith will be judged?

    John 3:18
    that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is
    condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only
    begotten Son of God.

    the word “Believe” is more then just saying you believe, it has a much deeper meaning then just that. so yes they are condemned by there own doing.

  • Jack Florenz

    Pope John Paul II wrote:
    “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. But it is clear that today, as in the past, many people do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the Gospel revelation or enter the Church. The social and cultural conditions in which they live do not permit this, and frequently they have been brought up in other religious traditions. For such people salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace, which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to attain salvation through his or her free cooperation.”

powered by the Paulists