Let us say a Catholic person has a good Protestant Christian friend who has died a year ago. The Catholic person believes in the intercession of saints and prays to them to intercede for him on many things. He also believes that his friend has already ascended to Heaven. So he prays for his friend as he had prayed with his favorite saints.

His dead friend has not undergone any formal beatification or canonization process.

From a Roman Catholic doctrine standpoint, can the Protestant Christian intercede for his Catholic friend?


2 Answers 2


The ability to intercede on behalf of others is a gift given by God, and so He can give it to anyone He pleases. Here is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes prayer of intercession:

Since Abraham, intercession—asking on behalf of another—has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks “not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” even to the point of praying for those who do him harm (no. 2635).

All that is required is that God inspire the intercessor to make the prayer. Hence, it is not at all limited to Catholics or even to Christians.

As far as the deceased are concerned, the ability to intercede on behalf of those on earth is not limited to those who have been officially canonized. Anyone who is in friendship with God has this ability, even those who were not in full union with the Church. Hence, if a Protestant or non-Christian died in friendship with God, and hence was saved, then he can intercede, just as any other saved soul can.

(As the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus suggests, presumably, even the condemned could, in theory, intercede for us, if God gave them that power, but St. Augustine suggests that it would be for selfish motives [see no. 17]; e.g., the rich man interceded because the presence of the his brothers would only increase his torment.)

Note that canonization and beatification are done chiefly because the person has lived a life of holiness and heroic virtue; that he intercedes for someone and provides a miracle is only a sign that he is already in Heaven.


As far as I'm concerned Catholic church have traditionally believed/taught anyone that dies outside the Catholic church is damned, even if they are Protestant. Have a look at http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/ecumenism/nonsalus.htm

Though there are plenty of Catholics that would say otherwise.

  • 3
    No, that position was explicitly condemned in 1949, in an official statement from the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The letter explains the Church’s position on the salvation of non-Catholics very well. The doctrine of “No salvation outside the Church,” as it is traditionally formulated, always assumes that the persons in question explicitly reject membership in the Church—that is a very different situation from when the persons are not at fault. Jul 21, 2016 at 16:08
  • @AthanasiusOfAlex "The doctrine of 'No salvation outside the Church,' as it is traditionally formulated, always assumes that the persons in question explicitly reject membership in the Church." It does? Isn't it possible to be invincibly ignorant of the Faith and also lack even an implicit desire to be a member of the Church? Such people cannot be saved.
    – Geremia
    Jul 21, 2016 at 20:41
  • @AthanasiusOfAlex The Catholic Faith (supernatural faith) is necessary for salvation (cf. Heb. 11:6), as well as an explicit or implicit desire to be a member of the Church. Non-Catholics cannot be saved as non-Catholics because they lack the supernatural Catholic Faith.
    – Geremia
    Jul 21, 2016 at 20:42
  • @AthanasiusOfAlex "[P]ersons [who] are not at fault" for not knowing the supernatural Catholic Faith and who lack the desire to be members of the Mystical Body of Christ are not saved. To "become participants in eternal life," they must "before the end of life…have been added to the flock" (i.e., be members of the Church), as Council of Florence's / Pope Eugene IV's papal bull Cantate Domino infallibly proclaimed. If, before their particular judgment, they do not receive a water baptism or baptism of desire or blood, they cannot be saved.
    – Geremia
    Jul 21, 2016 at 20:42
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    “Isn't it possible to be invincibly ignorant of the Faith and also lack even an implicit desire to be a member of the Church?” Granted, but historically (e.g., in Cyprian of Carthage, Augustine, the Council of Florence, etc.), the formulations do assume explicit rejection. They all come from the time before the discovery of the Americas, and they thought the whole world was already evangelized. We might need to take this into chat, but if a non-Catholic is saved, then he is saved, in any case, thanks to the Catholic Church. Jul 22, 2016 at 6:03

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