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Luke 23:43 says:

And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (ESV)

I have heard a few people say that paradise in this verse is not referring to heaven, but a different place. Does the RCC teach this?

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  • Since you didn't specify... technically, "heaven" is "what's above Earth", i.e. the sky and outer space. So, yes, very different from "paradise", which is where believers go when we die. Most people (myself included) often (mis)use "heaven" as a synonym for "paradise" / "the New Creation", so the answer depends on what you mean by "heaven".
    – Matthew
    Commented May 16, 2022 at 15:20
  • @Matthew yes, that is one usage of the word. However, anyone who reads the context of what I actually wrote will realize that's not what I'm saying
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 16, 2022 at 15:23

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Q: Does the RCC teach a distinction between Paradise and Heaven?

No.

See the Modern Catholic Dictionary

PARADISE. A synonym for heaven. Jesus spoke of it in his promise to the good thief on the Cross (Luke 23:43). In only two other places in Scripture is it used in place of heaven. There is a reference to "the tree of life set in God's paradise" (Revelation 2:7). Paul wrote about a man in Christ "caught up into paradise" (II Corinthians 12:4). (Etym. Greek paradeisos, park, the Garden of Eden, paradise; from Persian pairidaēza, an enclosure.)

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    That was quick! Thanks and +1
    – Luke Hill
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 18:30
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According to Catholicism, is there a distinction between paradise and heaven?

That will depend on the individual somewhat.

It is true that for the most part paradise is employed as a synonym for heaven. But this is not always the case.

For example, I think of paradise in terms of the Garden of Eden.

In the Bible the word “paradise” is usually used as a synonym for heaven (e.g. Lk. 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4).

On occasion the Garden of Eden has been translated as “paradise” but the reference to Eden rather than heaven is easily understood in the context.

Is there a difference between "paradise" and "heaven"?

The term ”heaven” in Catholic thought has different meanings depending on the circumstances it is employed.

Heaven (Anglo-Saxon heofon, O.S. hevan and himil, originally himin) corresponds to the Gothic himin-s. Both heaven and himil are formed from himin by a regular change of consonants: heaven, by changing m before n into v; and himil, by changing n of the unaccented ending into l. Some derive heaven from the root ham, "to cover" (cf. the Gothic ham-ôn and the German Hem-d). According to this derivation heaven would be conceived as the roof of the world. Others trace a connection between himin (heaven) and home; according to this view, which seems to be the more probable, heaven would be the abode of the Godhead. The Latin coelum (koilon, a vault) is derived by many from the root of celare "to cover, to conceal" (coelum, "ceiling" "roof of the world"). Others, however think it is connected with the Germanic himin. The Greek ouranos is probably derived from the root var, which also connotes the idea of covering. The Hebrew name for heaven is thought to be derived from a word meaning "on high"; accordingly, heaven would designate the upper region of the world.

In the Holy Bible the term heaven denotes, in the first place, the blue firmament, or the region of the clouds that pass along the sky. Genesis 1:20, speaks of the birds "under the firmament of heaven". In other passages it denotes the region of the stars that shine in the sky. Furthermore heaven is spoken of as the dwelling of God; for, although God is omnipresent, He manifests Himself in a special manner in the light and grandeur of the firmament. Heaven also is the abode of the angels; for they are constantly with God and see His face. With God in heaven are likewise the souls of the just (2 Corinthians 5:1; Matthew 5:3, 12). In Ephesians 4:8 sq., we are told that Christ conducted to heaven the patriarchs who had been in limbo (limbus patrum). Thus the term heaven has come to designate both the happiness and the abode of just in the next life.

For the most part, most Catholics associate paradise with ”heaven and the beatific vision”, our heavenly home.

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