Does the Roman Catholic Church consider other religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam evil, demonic, and satanic?

  • Rocky, is that you? You might be interested in reading up on the Council of Trent. There's a wikipedia article on it. Then, read "Lumen Gentium" which is a follow on document from Vatican II. – KorvinStarmast Oct 3 '16 at 2:18
  • Are you asking about their current and continued state and influence on its members or about their origins? – Joshua Oct 3 '16 at 10:28
  • Are you asking if the RC considers all non-Catholic sects as evil, demonic, and satanic? If so, the answer is clearly no, as the RC welcomes certain other Christians to participate in Communion. Or are you asking if they call some sects evil, demonic, and satanic? Surely the answer to this question is yes, as even the Church of Satan considers itself Satanic, so so would Catholics. – Flimzy Oct 3 '16 at 11:29
  • I was asking the views of catholic church on other religions especially on Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. The edited question broadened the scope of the question. – Krishna Oct 3 '16 at 15:52
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    It would be better still to ask about one specific religion at a time. – Flimzy Oct 3 '16 at 20:18

In order to answer this question, we need to make some careful distinctions, and we also need to define the terms properly.

First of all for something to be “demonic” or “Satanic,” it has to be more than simply evil; if it is demonic, it needs to be associated with the active influence of an fallen angel (i.e, a “demon”); in general, “Satanic” refers to activities that render cult (that is, worship) to the chief demon, or Satan. For instance, embezzling money is evil (it is an injustice), but probably not demonic (the person is likely motivated by simple greed, not demonic influence); and certainly not Satanic.

Regarding non-Catholic Christians and non-Christians, therefore, we need make some observations. First of all, the Catholic Church does believe that she has been entrusted with the fullness of the means of salvation; that is what Lumen Gentium (LG) means when it says that the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church (no. 8).

That means, of course, that non-Catholics, to differing degrees, are lacking in the fullness of the means of salvation. This privation is, in fact, a type of evil (because evil, by definition, is the privation of a due good). It does not follow, however, that every aspect of non-Catholic religions is completely deprived of truth and goodness.

In fact, Lumen Gentium, in the same number clarifies as follows:

many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its [the Church’s] visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

What Lumen Gentium has in mind, for example, is the fact that all truly Christian communities have at least some of the Sacraments (at a minimum, Baptism and Holy Matrimony; and the apostolic churches have all seven). To the degree that their doctrine is compatible with Catholic doctrine, it is true and good. (For instance, all Christians believe in one God, in the Holy Trinity, and in the Incarnation—and in so doing, they believe in the truth.)

Even in the case of non-Christians, although it is true that their degree of deviation from the truth and the good is greater, some degree of truth and goodness is nevertheless to be found there. (For example Jews and Muslims steadfastly believe in the oneness of God, and that is to their credit.)

Thus, it is true that non-Catholic groups are deprived in different degrees from the fullness of the Catholic Church—and in that sense there is “evil” in them. In the vast majority of cases, it is much more difficult to establish truly demonic influence in these groups. For truly Christian communities (i.e., those who practice true baptism and believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation), the possibility of truly demonic influence is to be excluded; and it is probably to be excluded from most main-stream religions. (The failure to reach the fullness that is in the Catholic Church is likely to be explained by human weakness, not so much by demonic influence.)

The situation is more complicated for religions that make use of occult practices, like New Age religions: there, demonic influence is not only possible, but probable.

As I mentioned, however, a religion is only Satanic if it renders cult to the Evil One; that, fortunately, is restricted to those few fringe groups who actually render such a cult.

So non-Catholic religions do have a certain admixture of evil (privation of the due good), because they do not have the fullness of the means of salvation, which is to be found in the Catholic Church. Calling them “demonic” or “satanic,” however, would be imprecise.

It should be noted that it is generally not a good idea, when one is engaged in respectful ecumenical dialogue, to call the other party simply “evil,” since—apart from not being altogether true, as I mentioned—that would naturally make reconciliation with the Catholic Church more difficult.

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    "Jews and Muslims steadfastly believe in the oneness of God" But this avails them nothing toward their salvation; it is necessary for salvation to believe explicitly in the Trinity. – Geremia Oct 3 '16 at 16:09
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    @Geremia Yes, but as Aquinas explains, the reason for this is that knowledge of the Holy Trinity, as with knowledge of the Incarnation, is a constitutive part of Beatitude. The manner in which we come to this knowledge can differ. Otherwise, we would have to suppose that all of the Jews who lived before Christ were not saved—which we know is not the case. So yes, all those who are saved receive knowledge of the Holy Trinity, one way or the other. (For this reason, non-Christians are at a decided disadvantage.) But God is not holding people’s invincible ignorance against them. – AthanasiusOfAlex Oct 3 '16 at 17:53
  • Yes, those living before Christ did not to believe explicitly in the Trinity. – Geremia Oct 3 '16 at 22:11

the simple answer to your question is that the Roman Catholic Church does not find any non-Catholic sects / churches evil, demonic and satanic. Only radical traditionalists might want to claim that. Perhaps your reference to "sects" rather than non-catholic churches could do with a review, as some sects (Catholic or otherwise) may just be of questionable or objectionable character. Generally - and speaking from personal experience of Catholic priests and bishops in many countries - there is the distinct human trait of tolerance and mercy towards Non-Catholics. This, of course, is in direct conflict with some modern religious legalism - the kind which was practiced by the Pharisees in Jesus" time. For more information please also refer to "Catholic Answers" on the web. You might also wish to consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), clauses 841 and 842.

841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." (Lumen Gentium, 16, 3)

842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. (Nostra Aetate)

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. You are also invited to register an account in order to take full advantage of the site. Thanks for offering an answer here. Can you provide web links for your two references? If so, it would strengthen your answer. See: What makes a good supported answer? – Lee Woofenden Oct 3 '16 at 4:16
  • I have edited in a citation and a link to demonstrate the kind of support Lee is asking you to provide. Please edit your Answer to include a citation or reference or article to support your point on the experiences of the clergy that you cite. – KorvinStarmast Oct 3 '16 at 13:13

False, non-Catholic sects are all of the devil, just as all false gods are.
Ps. 95:5: "all the gods of the Gentiles [i.e., the false gods of heretics, of non-Catholics] are devils"
Christ founded one true Church; sects, schism, heresy, etc., are not of Christ but of the devil.
cf. Gal. 5, where St. Paul says "dissensions, sects" (v. 20) are "works of the flesh" (v. 19), not "the fruit of the Spirit" (v. 22)
The "flesh" is those evil, inordinate inclinations that lead us to sin.


Popes have called Islam, for example, an "abominable sect" and "diabolical sect" (see this answer here for sources and quotes).


Pope Leo XIII, in Ad Extremas, called Hinduism, of which Buddhism is a branch, a myth and vile superstition:

[St.] Francis Xavier…converted hundreds of thousands of Hindus from the myths and vile superstitions of the Brahmans to the true religion. … nevertheless, …many are still deprived of the truth, miserably imprisoned in the darkness of superstition!

These are not hyperbole, but accurate descriptions of sects, which are "works of the flesh," of sin.

Pope Eugene IV defined the dogma in Cantate Domino that those who die still adhering to non-Catholic sects are damned:

[The Catholic Church] firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41], unless before the end of life the same have been added to the flock

(cf. this answer for more information)

As St. Thomas Aquinas writes, addressing "Whether all the sins of men are due to the devil's suggestion?":

the devil is the occasional and indirect cause of all our sins, in so far as he induced the first man to sin, by reason of whose sin human nature is so infected, that we are all prone to sin.

Thus false sects like Islam, Hinduism, and Buddism—which lead souls to damnation instead of salvation—can be properly termed

  1. diabolic/demonic (because Satan "is the occasional and indirect cause of all our sins"),
  2. evil (because they lack the good of the means of salvation), and
  3. satanic (because they worship false gods, devils, of which Satan is the leader).

Pope Francis, this year, announced his stance, which in turn becomes the church's stance, even though it may not be dogma or official catechism. In it he said, essentially, ALL major religions are seeking the same God and we are all children of God. So no, he isn't demonizing that isn't specifically demon related.

"Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God,” Pope Francis said in his message, released Jan. 6, (during) the feast of the Epiphany.

This is not just recent approach. There is also a World Counsel of Religious Leaders, of which was formed after the events of 9/11 and had their first meeting in 2002 and the formation was supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury. World Counsil of Religious Leaders". This essentially tells us the the Catholic Church doesn't "demonize" these other religions because if the did they would not have supported this group and supported working with these other religions.

  • I love this position. Never felt happier than I am now reading this message from Pope Francis in my entire life. I hope the message 'we are all god's children' and this world council will end religious violence forever in this world. Thanks for answering my question. I was falling under the impression that all denominations are same with regards to demonizing other religions. – Krishna Oct 2 '16 at 22:53
  • The question is asking about the Catholic Church's stance, not Francis's. – Geremia Oct 3 '16 at 1:57
  • I wouldn't get myself so far as to agree entirely with the answer of @Geremia, but I do have to disagree strongly with the unqualified statement that any stance of a pope becomes the then-current stance of the Church. There's no doctrine whatsoever to support that. Use Nostra Aetate, use recent more official statements of the Curia or encyclicals, but that statement just isn't true without significant qualification. – Matt Gutting Oct 3 '16 at 3:28
  • That is not an ex cathedra utterance, so it is not a dogma of the Church. (It is somewhat consistent with parts of Lumen Gentium, but it's also a Political Statement couched in a single point of belief that "we are all Children of God" while omitting the problem of man's sinful nature and the fall, hence the need for salvation.) There is some merit in your point about "not demonizing" other leaders. – KorvinStarmast Oct 3 '16 at 13:18

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