Do Catholics believe that there is hope for salvation after death?

If they do not have faith in Jesus as the messiah before they die, is there any hope for them?

  • I can understand what you are trying to say, but the wording of your question needs some work, as Catholics believe that one's eternal destiny is fixed at the moment of death and not after death.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 14:21
  • Possible duplicate of What is the Catholic Church's stance on baptism after death?
    – Geremia
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 3:34
  • @KenGraham, I'm not sure that the OP knew that, which is why they were asking. Unless you read the question differently than I did.
    – Belinda
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:18
  • It's yes and no. No in the sense that your fate is sealed at death and if you go to Hell you are stuck there forever. Yes in the sense that the majority of people will go to purgatory, and presumably they will stay in purgatory until they willing repent of their sinful natures completely. This doesn't make purgatory a "second chance", but more just a continuation of your first and only chance when you were alive on earth. To put it succinctly, "life does not end at death" Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 5:29

2 Answers 2


There are no chances after death.

1021 Death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting the divine grace manifested in Christ.592 The New Testament speaks of judgment primarily in its aspect of the final encounter with Christ in his second coming, but also repeatedly affirms that each will be rewarded immediately after death in accordance with his works and faith. The parable of the poor man Lazarus and the words of Christ on the cross to the good thief, as well as other New Testament texts speak of a final destiny of the soul--a destiny which can be different for some and for others.

1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification594 or immediately,595 -- or immediate and everlasting damnation.

CCC on life everlasting

However, the Catholic Church does not teach that you need to be Catholic, or believe in Jesus to be saved. People, who through no fault of their own have never heard of Jesus, or the Catholic Church and live as best they know how have the hope of salvation. However, God desires all people to be members of his Church, so we are called to evangelize.

845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son's Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is "the world reconciled." She is that bark which "in the full sail of the Lord's cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world." According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah's ark, which alone saves from the flood.334

"Outside the Church there is no salvation"

846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers? 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

847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:

Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience - those too may achieve eternal salvation.

848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."

CCC on the Church

  • 1
    "However, the Catholic Church does not teach that you need to be Catholic"many Catholics as far as i know teach that you need to be Catholic in order to get saved
    – Aigle
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 10:30
  • 2
    Well I did give the quote, and explain what I meant. If someone has never heard of the Church, through no fault of their own, and lives as best as they know how, then that person may be saved. Now I grant that these may be hard criteria to meet, but that is the teaching of the Church as stated in the CCC.
    – Belinda
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 10:32
  • Because the Catholic church is the only church?
    – Aigle
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 11:12
  • I do not know where to find it, but there is an explication out there somewhere that says that it is possible to be saved and not be a Catholic. We have all heard that there is no salvation outside the Church. How are those who do not know Christ, may be save through the merits of the Church. Perhaps some one can find this explication somewhere. It is all fine to quote the CCC, but how does one hermeneutically interpret it from a truly Catholic perspective!.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Aug 25, 2016 at 12:37
  • @KenGraham and Belinda, you may find that further explanation in Lumen Gentium in and around article 16. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 14:02

Your understanding is incomplete. You don't quite understand "death" yet. There is only consciousness. The corporeal human is transitory and even illusory. This human body you have is solely for the purpose to bring into physical expression the beauty and goodness of God. The reason it is said that you can't see God's face is because the Father doesn't have a face. If you see God you're dead, and you're looking back at your own face, because you can't look at yourself now. Well in a reflected image, but that's not actually looking at your true self.


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