While perusing the Vatican's official website, I stumbled upon this:


"... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) used to teach with some vehemence that Christians were doomed to hell."

This notice was apparently delivered by the Pontifical Council for Culture and published in a semi-annual journal.

Does the Catholic Church support this statement? From what teaching/teachings do they suppose this statement is founded?

UPDATE - Oct 9, 2014
A lot of good research has been contributed by all of the answers below in response to this question, I wish to thank all those that took the time to investigate the statement above.

To summarize the ultimate conclusion: it has been concluded that the contributor to vatican.va in this instance was in error in three way profound ways:

  1. He posted materials on the official vatican site that did not support or represent the official stance of the Catholic Church.

  2. He improperly cited the source and author of the statement - who was not even a Catholic. (The message is similar, but the wording is actually taken from a different source)

  3. He misrepresented the philosophy of the LDS Church, as they have a very different interpretation of "hell" compared to most Christian denominations, and use the word mostly to describe a feeling of eternal regret. Sometimes, they use the word to refer to either the spirit prison, or outer darkness, which are two very distinct places, the latter being inhabited only by Satan and the sons of perdition.

The LDS definition of Hell:

Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways. First, it is another name for spirit prison, a temporary place in the postmortal world for those who died without a knowledge of the truth or those who were disobedient in mortality. Second, it is the permanent location of Satan and his followers and the sons of perdition*, who are not redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. [outer darkness]

*Sons of Perdition: Those who actively serve Satan and utterly reject God.

  • 3
    I suppose you'd have to ask the author of the Spirituality in East and West article. Oct 7, 2014 at 22:00
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    Quite frankly, the phrase "used to teach with some vehemence that Christians were doomed to hell" is wildly extrapolated from a much tamer doctrine.
    – Matt
    Oct 8, 2014 at 4:24
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    @MattGutting, The vatican published this article on their official site. Would they do that if they did not support the statements in it? This statement is blatantly false, and the Catholic church is promoting it. It would be proper to assume that if you are promoting something so 'matter-of-factly' on an official resource that you can at least back it up with something. Otherwise one would be left to assume that either the Vatican is endorsing lies about other faiths, or they are ignorant.
    – ShemSeger
    Oct 8, 2014 at 5:44
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it limits Catholic perspective to strict resources considered official by the LDS church. The Catholic Church may come to its opinion about LDS doctrine on other resources, even if they do not have a specific LDS classification attached to them.
    – Narnian
    Oct 8, 2014 at 21:31
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    @Narnian Read the update to the question again, I clearly state that the conclusion is that the poster appears to have published material that does not support the stance of the Catholic Church. That is a defense, not an attack. We're assuming that this is an instance of one man in error.
    – ShemSeger
    Oct 9, 2014 at 16:33

4 Answers 4


Update 2 Wednesday, October 08, 2014: The error in an article by an author of an article on the Vatican website CANNOT be attributable to the Catholic Church.

Summary of the findings so far

Is there evidence that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church or, informally, the Mormon Church) officially teaches or has taught in the past

"... The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) used to teach with some vehemence that Christians were doomed to hell."

No there isn't.

What appears to be the primary source of the above quote that has gone on to be quoted by vatican.va?

It appears to be this book The Protestant Revolution: From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr. By William G. Naphy.

What did this article - Forside Publikationer Læs Spirituality No. 13 I said, you are gods - actually say? It said

Previously, Mormons were taught, and said in their witnessing, that Christians are going to hell.

Is this accurate?

There seems to be some truth to it as Bruce R. McConkie went on to write a book that stated

"Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Morm. 8; Moro. 8)" (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, Bruce R. McConkie, 177)

What appears to be the error of vatican.va?

They have attributed

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) used to teach with some vehemence that Christians were doomed to hell.

to: Spirituality in East and West, Easter 2000 (No. 13), from Dialog Center International, 46 Katrinebergvej, DK-8200 Aarhus, Denmark. [email protected]

And that's an error as that's not what Spirituality in East and West's article said as shown above.

What is the answer to OP's

Does the Catholic Church support this statement? From what teaching/teachings do they suppose this statement is founded? Better: Can the Catholic Church ...

From what has been presented above, she can't. Please note that vatican.va is NOT the Catholic Church. The error belongs in the first place to the author of THOUGHTS FROM THE DIALOGUE CENTRE IN ÅRHUS, DENMARK.

What is the OP to do now?

Suggest OP contact vatican.va directly.

vatican.va as any human website can and even recently made a mistake and corrected it. cf. Scalfari interview taken down from the Vatican website.

What follows below is what helped in shaping the answer above.

For these kind of questions, my response is better contact the author of the document directly

"I suppose you'd have to ask the author of the Spirituality in East and West article." – @MattGutting

One may wish to start here: Vatican emails and the contact of relevance appears to be: Pontifical Council for Culture: [email protected]. That to me would be the best way to answer/clarify Does the Catholic Church support this statement? from what official LDS resource/resources do they suppose this statement is founded?

From ShemSeger's answer, it appears that opposing views were published in in Volume No. 13 of the periodical journal, "Spirituality in East and West".

Thus perhaps the question is asking why has the Vatican website posted only one of the views. That is a question only the Vatican website can answer.

This is what my research has uncovered

Joseph heard so many competing versions of truth that he decided to turn to God for answers.

After careful study, he still felt confused. He later wrote, "So great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was [ … ] to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong [ … ] In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?" (Joseph Smith-History 1:8, 10).

Joseph turned to the Bible for guidance. [...] He decided to pray about what he should do, with simple faith that God would hear and answer him.

Source: Joseph Smith, History & Belief of the Mormon Prophet | Mormon.org

In response to a humble prayer, God called Joseph to re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ.

19 I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” - (Joseph Smith-History 1:19).

It does appear that a certain Bruce R. McConkie went on to write a book that stated

  1. "Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Morm. 8; Moro. 8)" (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, Bruce R. McConkie, 177).

Source: Mormon Stumpers | Catholic Answers.

From the comments to the answers to the OP, some have stated that this does not constitute official teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

Perhaps a book such as The Protestant Revolution: From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr. | William G. Naphyan - which in turn references A Closer Look at the Book of Mormon (2001) | Tal Davis - was the source of what the OP stumbled upon on Vatican's official website.

For further research please see this Google search.

Update Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I contacted a Mr. Tal Davis as follows (sans links):

Mr. Davis. Please take a look at:

The Protestant Revolution: From Martin Luther to Martin Luther King Jr. | William G. Naphyan (scroll up)

That books (sic) references a Tal Davis’ A Closer Look at the Book of Mormon (2001) as the source of the quote. Not sure whether you are associated with the 2001 item.

This was his response:

In 1992 I wrote an article that was adapted for a pamphlet titled "A Closer look at the Book Of Mormon- Is It Another Testament of Jesus Christ?" You can see the text of that article, with more current statistics, on the MarketFaith website at The Book of Mormon: Is It “Another Testament of Jesus Christ?” If you read it you will see that the quote is not there. I do not know why it was attributed to me unless the original magazine article had the quote in an introduction written by the editor (I would not have spelled Latter-day Saints as Latter Day Saints). The magazine ("Church Training") went [out] of publication years ago and I don't have a copy of the issue so I cannot verify that theory.

In any case, I know that the LDS does not teach that all Christians (nonMormons) are doomed to hell (just to Spirit Prison and the Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdoms). However, Mormon leaders on numerous occasions have clearly stated that all Christian denominations are apostate. In fact, until 1990 the LDS temple dramas portrayed Protestant ministers as followers of Satan.


I understand that, today, the LDS Church does not teach that all non-LDS Christians are going to hell. However, in times past, this appears to have been precisely what was taught:

The Book of Mormon indicates that there are only two churches, one true and one of the devil:

"Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the Church of the Lamb of God and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore whoso belongeth not to the church of the lamb of God belongeth to that great church; which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (The Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 14:10)

It is also pointed out that the establishment of the LDS Church would not have been warranted if Christendom had not been in a state of complete apostasy.

"Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Documentary History of the Church, Introduction, xl)

From Joseph Smith's testimony, he was told that all creeds of Christendom were not just wrong, but an abomination in the sight of God.

"I was answered that I must join none of them (Christian Churches), for they were all wrong...that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight" (Joseph Smith History 1:19).

Bruce McConkie affirmed that non-LDS Christians would reap damnation.

"Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.177)

Other assertions of general authorities are pretty harsh as well:

"...orthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian." (Mormon Doctrine of Deity by B.H. Roberts, p.116)

"...the God whom the 'Christians' worship is a being of their own creation..." (Apostle Charles W. Penrose, JD 23:243)

"...all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels." (The Elders Journal, Joseph Smith Jr., editor, vol.1, no.4, p.60)

"And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act." (Orson Pratt, OP-WA, "The Kingdom of God," no.2, p.6)

"...the great apostate church as the anti-christ...This great antichrist...is the church of the devil." (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine p.40)

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the "whore of Babylon" whom the lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness." (Pratt, The Seer, p.255)

"Evil spirits control much of the so-called religious worship in the world; for instance, the great creeds of Christendom were formulated so as to conform to their whispered promptings." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.246)

"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common orgin. They belong to Babylon." (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, p.324)


So, historically speaking, it seems clear that Mormon authorities considered all non-LDS Churches as apostate whose members were, in fact, doomed to hell.

  • 1
    The statements you've provided are just as valid today as they were when they were spoken, but I can see now how they have been "lost in translation". Spirit prison is a temporary place, where those who did not receive a fullness of the truth on earth can have an opportunity to learn it in heaven before judgement. Mormons do not hold to the "orthodox" interpretation of hell.
    – ShemSeger
    Oct 8, 2014 at 14:44
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    This answer makes too many harsh assumptions. For example (from emphasis in the post) assuming that "two churches only" means that one of them goes to an eternal hell (an LDS doctrine frequently misunderstood) and the other one doesn't is an oversimplification of the doctrine of salvation, which is about people, not churches. Further, Mormon Doctrine is not an official exposé on the doctrines of the LDS Church. Thus, all the quotes in the last part of the answer, are people's opinions, not necessarily the teaching of the LDS Church.
    – Matt
    Oct 8, 2014 at 18:59
  • The original question asks for which "official LDS resource/resources do they suppose this statement is founded" and 10 of the 12 quotes are not official LDS resources. So as it stands, this answer does not answer the question. This other answer may help clarify where you can find official LDS teaching.
    – Matt
    Oct 8, 2014 at 19:12
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    @Matt I'm not sure how Bruce McConkie is not considered a reliable source for official teaching. He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. If he doesn't know official Mormon doctrine, then who does?
    – Narnian
    Oct 8, 2014 at 19:47
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    @Matt Yes, it's tagged LDS, but it asks why Catholic Church holds a particular opinion, then limits the source of this opinion to only resources considered "official LDS resources" by the LDS church, when the Catholic Church holds itslef to no limitation. Do we need to ask another nearly identical question that allows for the inclusion of resources that are by well-known LDS leaders, but are not considered "official" by the LDS church? If we did that on every question, we would have three times as many questions.
    – Narnian
    Oct 8, 2014 at 20:01

I am LDS. The LDS church does not teach that all other Christians will go to Hell. We believe that God is a just God and loves all of His children. That He wants all to return unto him. We believe all individuals are judged according to the light and knowledge s/he has received.

The definition of "Heaven and Hell" is a topic of discussion I have been part of. Some individuals interpret Hell to be anywhere one is cut off from the presence of God. Others interpret Hell to be cut off completely from any glory, and are "Sons of Perdition". If you continue to read through my post, I refer to that at the end. With that in mind, I don't know of an official statement about Heaven and Hell in the LDS church.

The doctrine of salvation in the LDS church is quite liberal. We believe there are three degrees of glory one can obtain after this life.

The highest being the Celestial Kingdom. This is the place prepared for those who have “received the testimony of Jesus” and been “made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood” (D&C 76:51, 69). To inherit this gift, we must receive the ordinances of salvation, keep the commandments, and repent of our sins.

The next is the Telestial Kingdom. Generally speaking, individuals in the terrestrial kingdom will be honorable people “who were blinded by the craftiness of men” (D&C 76:75). This group will include members of the Church who were “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79). It will also include those who rejected the opportunity to receive the gospel in mortality but who later received it in the postmortal spirit world (D&C 76:73-74).

The third degree is the Terrestrial Kingdom and is reserved for individuals who “received not the gospel of Christ, neither the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:82)

Finally we have Perdition, which is not a Kingdom of Glory. This will be the state of “those who know [God's] power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy [God's] power” (D&C 76:31).

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    @Matt These were the questions: Does the Catholic Church support this statement? from what official LDS resource/resources do they suppose this statement is founded? and not Does The LDS church teach that all other Christians will go to Hell?
    – user13992
    Oct 8, 2014 at 21:45
  • The answer to the last question is above. I cannot answer the first two questions, but the last I was able to.
    – staples
    Oct 9, 2014 at 13:32

The statement in question is an unsupported statement made by Rev. Dn. Dr. Brendan Pelphrey in an article he wrote on orthodox Christian theosis and deification in new religious movements, titled, "I said, you are gods." This article was published in Volume No. 13 of the periodical journal, "Spirituality in East and West".

In the exact same publication, a response to Rev. Dn. Dr. Brendan Pelphrey's: I said, you are gods, was also published, titled, "Mormon Deification Compared to Orthodox Christian Theosis." Interestingly, even though this article was written as a response, it was published ahead of Pelphrey's article as the fourth article in the volume, Pelphrey's article was the last.

In, "Mormon Deification Compared to Orthodox Christian Theosis" the authors discuss Rev. Pelphrey's misconceptions and examine his sources, revealing some of them to be anti-mormon.

"Rev. Pelphrey's purpose in writing his essay seems to be to show what Orthodox theosis is and what it is not. Although the Reverend no doubt knows what he is talking about in regard to Orthodox beliefs in this area, his knowledge of Mormonism seems to be very limited.


... he has made false assumptions and, as a result, many misleading comparisons. His numerous references to "Mormons" and "Mormonism" make it clear that he is primarily comparing his own beliefs with LDS beliefs and his apparent assumption that our doctrine of deification is similar to those of the Eastern religions has lead him to make misleading claims.


... his misrepresentations of LDS beliefs make it deceptive to other Christians and an affront to members of the LDS faith. In addition to correcting some of Rev. Pelphrey's statements, we will attempt to show that Rev. Pelphrey's concept of Mormon deification and other associated LDS doctrines is erroneous in many areas ...

They then continue to correct all of the misconceptions that Rev. Pelphrey made in his article.

In the LDS view, Christians are not going to hell, as understood by Christians or Mormons. For Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians, hell is the ultimate and neverending punishment after the Last Judgment. This Christian view of hell is what Latter-day Saints call "outer darkness." The LDS belief is that an extremely small number of individuals called "Sons of Perdition" will receive this judgment (D&C 76:43-45). Latter-day Saints believe that none of these individuals will be Christians but will be apostates from the truth who commit the "Unforgivable Sin." We believe that these individuals have to receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit and then -- fully knowing that it is true -- reject it. This is not the case for "Christians." Mormons do believe in another temporary hell which is a subdivision of the spirit world where the spirits of all men go after death to await resurrection and the Last Judgment. Even this hell will not include Christians who lived according to the truths Christ taught."

Though this article clearly illuminates Rev. Pumphrey's erroneous perception of the LDS church, the question of why the Catholic Church would publish selections of Pumphrey's article on their website still remains.

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    Appears to be a comment rather than an answer because at the end it maintains the same question as in the OP.
    – user13992
    Oct 8, 2014 at 23:01
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    @FMS - I think the answer is "No it's not supported", with an addendum last half of the last sentence agreeing that it's odd that an unsupported perception is posted on the site. Oct 9, 2014 at 0:12
  • So is the question now that while Volume No. 13 of the periodical journal, "Spirituality in East and West" published opposing views, why has the Vatican website selected only one of the views to post on its site?
    – user13992
    Oct 9, 2014 at 2:45

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