Is predestination a Catholic doctrine? If so, how does the Catholic Church harmonise the doctrine of predestination against freewill?
The Catechism of the The Catholic Church states:
"Not only does God protect and govern all things by his providence, but He also, by an internal power, impels to motion and action whatever moves and acts, and this in such a manner that, although He excludes not, He yet precedes the agency of secondary causes."
Catechism of the Council of Trent, Article One
"The truth that God is at work in all the actions of his creatures is inseparable from faith in God the Creator. God is the first cause who operates in and through secondary causes: "For God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Far from diminishing the creature's dignity, this truth enhances it. Drawn from nothingness by God's power, wisdom, and goodness, it can do nothing if it is cut off from its origin, for "without a Creator, the creature vanishes." Still less can a creature attain its ultimate end without the help of God's grace."
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 308
Predestination in sacred scripture:
In terms of divine foreknowledge one might look to Isaiah 46:9-10, “I am God, there is no other; I am God, there is none like me. At the beginning I foretell the outcome; in advance, things not yet done. I say that my plan shall stand, I accomplish my every purpose,” or Psalm 139:16, which is sung from the perspective of man: “Your eyes have seen my actions; in your book they are all written; my days were limited before one of them existed.” Again, in Daniel 13:42 Susanna cries out loud: “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be.”11 The Book of Wisdom also gives us statements of God’s providential knowledge and, to a further point, governance when the divine Wisdom is said to reach “from end to end mightily and governs all things well,” (Wis. 8:1) and that “she knows the things of old, and infers those yet to come...signs and wonders she knows in advance and the outcome of times and ages (Wis. 8:8). The most striking statements of God as origin and governor of creatures come in the Lord’s Speech of the 38th chapter of Job. In response to Job’s questioning over his suffering as a just man the Lord asks those fearfully silencing questions: “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size; do you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Into what were its pedestals sunk, and who laid the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Do you know the ordinances of the heavens; can you put into effect their plan on the earth?” (Job 38:4-7, 33)
Further evidence of God’s favor comes from references to what is called the ‘book of life.’ (Ex 32:32-33; Ps 69:29; Dn 12:1) In Exodus, Moses pleads with God to save the sinful Israelites by instead removing him from “the book that you have written” (Paul makes a similar plea in Romans 9:3). The Lord responds: “Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book.” Thus we have a first impression of an eternal knowledge and plan in the mind of God, to choose and bring certain individuals into divine friendship: the living; and conversely the possibility of being removed from it by their own actions: those who would be blotted out.13 This latter possibility is expressed again by the psalmist who prays “May they be erased from the book of the living, and not be recorded with the just!”.
It is in the New Testament that we find the fullest scriptural revelation of the reality of providence and predestination as disclosed to us in Jesus Christ, and also the most explicit statements on predestination found in St. Paul’s epistles. Though Jesus gives us the evangelium of salvation for all members of the human race, and though “God our savior...wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4), it is the case that many enter through the wide gate and easy way that leads to destruction (Mt. 7:13). Jesus also says, “Then he will say to those on his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’”15 Thus we have presented to us two camps: the elect, and the reprobate. It is the former group that predestination properly speaks of, and it is this group that Jesus speaks of several times; thus he teaches predestination when he says to his followers that the Son of Man will “place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;” (Mt 25:34) and when he tells the disciples to “Rejoice rather in this, that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:20; cf. Jn 10:29).16 In regard to these texts we have a clear indication that the elect have been prepared for, i.e., they were known eternally in the divine mind as inheritors of eternal life in the kingdom, and ‘written in’ or known as inhabitants of heaven. Referring to the elect with the same parabolic imagery as in Mt 25: 34, Jesus states: “my sheep hear my voice; I know them, they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Fathers hand. The Father and I are one” (Jn. 10:27-30). The reality of predestination is also presented in Acts 13:48 in a description of the Gentile reaction to Paul’s preaching: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” In the context of salvation through Jesus Christ, St. Paul gives us explicit statements about the reality of predestination. The scriptural locus classicus for a doctrine of predestination in many theological systems is Rom. 8:28-30, “those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son...,” and Rom. 9:6-24, “when Rebecca had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad, in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of his call, she was told, “The elder will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”17 In addition, in Ephesians Paul speaks of the blessings of the Father bestowed on the Christian community in Christ “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world” and that the Father “destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”18 These passages emphasize the divine intention and primacy of God’s will in the causal order of predestination.
An historical and theological survey of the Catholic Doctrine of Predestination, Andrew J. Allen, July 2013,p.6-8, 9-11.