Vatican II Teaches the Heresy that Everyone Receives Grace

Catholic Candle note:

If only warned once against the principal errors of our Time, most people will lose their Faith.  They must be reminded periodically about each of these errors and the opposing Catholic Truth.  They will appreciate these reminders if they love the Faith, just like a man loves hearing people praise his spouse, if he loves her.  

People are continually bombarded with liberalism from all sides.  They will gradually and imperceptibly succumb to liberalism if they simply are not regularly warned and reminded about these errors which are foisted upon them repeatedly.  

Below, is an article about the error that everyone receives grace.  This article is an expanded version of an article we printed in February 2017.  A few weeks before that earlier article, Bishop Richard Williamson published the error that God gives grace to all men.  Here are Bishop Williamson’s words:

[T]o all men He [i.e., God] gives grace sufficient for them to know Him and love Him and so get to Heaven.[1]

The present article does not mention Bishop Williamson because he has changed his position.  He now correctly refers to men “possibly” receiving sanctifying grace, showing he no longer holds that everyone receives grace.  Here are his words:

And men are torn between the two from conception until death, because they receive from God their basic human nature and possibly sanctifying grace which both incline them to God, while from the Fall of Adam their nature is wounded with original sin which inclines them to Satan and to evil. Nor can any man alive avoid this conflict.[2]

Thus, to his credit, Bishop Williamson did his duty and publicly corrected his previous public error and scandal on this issue.  Please pray for him that he corrects his other errors too.[3]  When those errors are corrected, we will enthusiastically and gratefully welcome him and support him!

A person might be tempted to hold the feel-good belief circulating in our modernist age, that everyone receives grace.  This false belief agrees with our democratic mentality that everyone deserves equal opportunity to achieve his goals.  However, grace is a free, undeserved gift of God’s generosity, which He does not give to everyone.  

As St. Thomas Aquinas explains, it is not unfair or unjust that God does not give all men grace because grace is not a debt that God owes in justice.  Here are St. Thomas’s words, in which he contrasts debts owed in justice, to the gratuitous nature of God’s free and undeserved gift of grace:

There is a twofold giving.  One belongs to justice, and occurs when we give a man his due.  In this type of giving, [the sin of] respect of persons takes place [viz., fulfilling (or not fulfilling) our duty of justice based on the status of the particular person].  

The other giving belongs to liberality, when one gives gratis that which is not a man’s due.  Such is the bestowal of the gifts of grace, whereby sinners are chosen by God.  In such giving, there is no place for respect of persons, because anyone may, without injustice, give of his own as much as he will, and to whom he will, according to Matt. 20:14 & 15: “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will?  …  Take what is thine, and go thy way.”[4] 

Modernists (e.g., de Lubac) promote acceptance for the heresy of universal salvation by teaching that God gives grace to everyone.  For, if God gave everyone grace, then it would appear to narrow the chasm between all men and salvation.

The error that everyone receives grace also promotes the heresy of naturalism.  If a person (wrongly) considers grace as something given to every man simply because he is human, then this confuses the supernatural order with the natural order.  That is why Pope Pius XII, as part of his condemnation of heretical naturalism, insisted that God has no obligation to call all persons to salvation (which would require Him to give them grace).  Pope Pius XII condemned the modernist Henri de Lubac (who became a Cardinal after Vatican II), in these words:

Some [persons] … destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision. 

Humani generis, §26 (emphasis added).[5]

This “calling them to the beatific vision” would require God to give them grace because (as St. Thomas explains) “no one can come … to the glory of the vision of God … except through grace”.[6] 

Further, as St. Thomas teaches, “the very least grace is sufficient to … merit eternal life.”[7]  Thus, in effect, Pope Pius XII condemned the naturalist heresy that God cannot create mankind without giving all men the grace “ordering and calling them to the beatific vision.”

Because grace and the call[8] to the beatific vision are free, undeserved gifts of God, God gives these gifts to only some men.  God does no injustice to those men to whom He does not give grace.[9] 

Vatican II Teaches the Error that God gives Grace to Everyone

As one of its countless errors, Vatican II teaches that God gives all men grace.  For example, in Lumen Gentium, the council teaches: “Christ … communicated truth and grace to all.”  Lumen Gentium, §8 (emphasis added).

As explained above, Vatican II’s error destroys the gratuitousness of God’s free, undeserved gift of grace.  As shown below, one of the most obvious ways to see this error, is by considering that a baby cannot go to heaven without baptism.

Everyone Who Dies Without Baptism and Before the Use of Reason, Dies Without Grace and Cannot Save His Soul

St. Thomas explains the teaching of the Catholic Church:

[M]an is not justified from sin[10] [including original sin] except by grace … [and] the very least grace is sufficient to … merit eternal life.[11]

But babies can only receive grace through Baptism (because they cannot use their reason and so cannot have Baptism of Desire[12]).  As the Summa explains:

[S]ometimes Baptism cannot be omitted without loss of eternal salvation, as in the case of children who have not come to the use of reason.[13]

Because a baby cannot get to heaven without grace and cannot obtain grace without baptism, the Church insists on prompt baptism.  As St. Thomas explains:

[W]e must make a distinction and see whether those who are to be baptized are children or adults.  For if they be children, Baptism should not be deferred.  First, because in them we do not look for better instruction or fuller conversion.  Secondly, because of the danger of death, for no other remedy is available for them besides the sacrament of Baptism.[14]

Summary of the Above Explanation

We see that God does not owe grace to anyone as a matter of justice.  Rather, grace is a free, undeserved gift of God and He chooses to give it to some persons and not to others.  God could choose to give baptism (and grace) to all unbaptized babies who die before the age of reason, but He does not.

It is a heresy (promoted by conciliar revolutionaries such as de Lubac) that God must call all intellectual beings to beatitude (and thus give them the grace required for this call to beatitude).

Unbaptized babies (who die before the age of reason) are obvious examples of persons to whom God never gives grace.   If they received grace, no one would be in Limbo. 

This suffices to show that Vatican II plainly teaches heresy[15] when it says that God gives grace to everyone.

It is Rash to Declare that God gives Grace even to All Adults.

It is rash to say that God gives grace to all adults.  Such a statement ignores that grace is a free, undeserved gift of God and that God gives grace only to whom He wills.  As St. Thomas explains, following St. Ambrose:

[T]he extrinsic and chief cause of devotion is God, of Whom [St.] Ambrose, commenting on Luke 9:55, says that “God calls whom He

deigns to call, and whom He wills, He makes religious; the profane

Samaritans[16], had He so willed,[17] He would have made devout.”[18]

St. Thomas Aquinas, the Greatest Doctor of the Church, follows St. Augustine, who is the Doctor of Grace, in teaching that God does not give grace to all adults.  Here are St. Thomas’s words, quoting St. Augustine:

If we understand those things alone to be in a man's power, which we can do without the help of grace, then we are bound to do many things which we cannot do without the aid of healing grace, such as to love God and our neighbor, and likewise to believe the articles of faith.  But with the help of grace we can do this, for this help “to whomsoever it is given from above it is mercifully given; and from whom it is withheld it is justly withheld, as a punishment of a previous, or at least of original sin,” as Augustine states.[19]

Note that St. Thomas, quoting St. Augustine, explains that God withholds grace from someone (although that person cannot obey all God’s commands without grace), either because that person has actual sins or at least because of original sin.

Prior unfaithfulness and actual sin are only further reasons (in addition to original sin) why God might never give grace to some adult, just as He also chooses to give no grace to unbaptized babies.

Summary of the Reasons so far, showing that Vatican II Teaches Heresy

The Catholic Faith teaches us that grace is a free, undeserved gift that God owes to no one and does not give to everyone.  

Vatican II falsely teaches that everyone receives grace.  Its teaching is false for at least five reasons:

  1. The council’s error means all unbaptized babies go to heaven, because those babies would receive grace (along with everyone else).  But those babies cannot lose grace because they cannot commit actual sin and so unbaptized babies who die, must all go to heaven because they all die with grace.  The Catholic Faith teaches the opposite, viz., that no unbaptized babies go to heaven.

  1. The council’s error destroys the gratuity of God’s free and undeserved gift of grace.
  2. The council’s error promotes the heretical naturalism condemned by Pope Pius XII.

  1. The council’s error promotes universal salvation, by appearing to narrow the chasm between all men and salvation.

  1. The council’s error rashly contradicts the great Doctors of the Church, and claims that all adults receive grace.

In teaching that God gives grace to everyone, Vatican II teaches an error about the Catholic Faith.  In other words, it teaches heresy.

Another reason it is clear that not everyone receives grace

When a person receives grace, he receives the Catholic Faith because grace causes the Catholic Faith in our souls.[20]  In other words, if a man has grace, he has the Catholic Faith also.[21]

It is the Catholic Faith which causes a person to become (or remain) Catholic.  If the person loses grace (and charity) through mortal sin but still has the Faith, then he becomes a dead member of the Church but remains Catholic.

If it were true that everyone receives grace, then it would be true that everyone receives the Catholic Faith, because grace causes the Faith.  If everyone receives the Catholic Faith, then everyone becomes a Catholic.  

But it is false that everyone becomes Catholic.  The Catholic Church differentiates apostates (who reject the Catholic Faith which they previously held) from other non-Catholics, e.g., Jews and pagans (who never had the Catholic Faith).[22] 

Thus, it is false that everyone receives grace, because it would make them all Catholics, and make all non-Catholics into apostates when they then reject the Catholic Faith (which is caused by grace).

Does this mean that non-Catholics go to hell without their own fault?

No.  We cannot get to heaven without God’s help.  However, anyone who goes to hell, goes there through his own fault.  God judges and blames him for the sins he committed freely, not for lacking the free gifts of grace God chose not to give him.  

The Natural Law is in every man’s heart and a man goes to hell because of his sins against the Natural Law, even if he did not have knowledge of the true Catholic Faith.[23]

If it were supposed that a man would somehow live his whole life without committing any mortal sin, yet he did not have any grace (and so could not go to heaven), then he would go to a place of natural happiness, the Limbo of the Babies.  The reality, though, is that, without grace, such a man commits mortal sin by his own free will and so goes to hell.

Using a Vatican Holy Office condemnation from 1690, to falsely support the error that everyone receives grace

Some people might wrongly suppose that a Vatican Holy Office condemnation from 1690, supports the error that everyone receives grace.  Here is that statement condemned by the Holy Office in 1690:


Pagans, Jews, heretics, and others of this kind do not receive in any way any influence from Jesus Christ, and so you will rightly infer from this that in them there is a bare and weak will without any sufficient grace.[24]

To infer means to “derive as a conclusion from facts or premises”.[25]  The Vatican Holy Office condemns the idea that from the bare fact that a person is not Catholic, we can rightly conclude he has not received grace.  This condemnation tells us that some non-Catholics receive grace (otherwise we could rightly conclude none receive grace).  Of those non-Catholics who receive grace, they either reject that grace or use it to begin a Catholic life.  

Through this condemnation, we know that some non-Catholics receive grace.  But this does not allow us to conclude that all non-Catholics receive grace.  This is like when we know that some members of a family are female, this does not allow us to conclude that all members of the family are female.  

The Jansenists were wrong when they said that no non-Catholics receive grace.  Although this Jansenist statement is justly condemned, it does not pertain to the issue at hand because the truth is that grace is a gratuitous (free) gift which God gives to whom He wills, including to some non-Catholics.  However, God does not give grace to everyone, as is clear from the explanation in this article and from the existence of the Limbo of the Babies; (no one would be in limbo if everyone received grace).

It is a mystery of God’s Providence what graces He does (and doesn’t) give, and to whom He gives (and doesn’t give) them, according to His Will.[26]


Let us thank God with all our heart for the precious gift of grace, through which the Catholic Faith, the Catholic life, and salvation are opened to us!  

How much more we should be grateful for this blessing, because we see that the gift of grace is not given to everyone and that God first gave it to us as His free, undeserved gift, not because of our prior merits!

[1]          January 14, 2017 Eleison Comments #496 (emphasis added; bracketed word added for clarity).

[2]          April 6, 2019 Eleison Comments, #612 (emphasis added).

[3]          Bishop Williams teaches errors on many subjects, e.g., he says that Traditional Catholics can go the new mass if it helps them.  Read his words cited from his own source, here:

[4]          Summa, IIa IIae, Q.63, a.1, ad 3 (emphasis and bracketed words added; ellipsis in original).

[5]          The connection between de Lubac and this condemnation, is set forth in Si Si No No issue #5, December 1993, in an article entitled They Think They’ve Won, Part three.

[6]          Here is the longer quote: “the holy Fathers [of the Old Testament] were delivered from hell by being admitted to the glory of the vision of God, to which no one can come except through grace; according to Rom. 6:23: ‘The grace of God is life everlasting.’”  Summa, III, Q. 52, a.7, respondeo; the quote from St. Paul is in the original.

[7]          Summa, IIIa, Q.62, a.6, ad 3.

[8]          Not only is the Beatific Vision itself a gratuitous gift of God but even the call itself to the beatific vision is a free, undeserved gift of God, which He does not give to all men.  Our Lord teaches us that “many [not all] are called but few are chosen.”  St. Matthew, 22:14 (bracketed words added).

[9]          St. Thomas gives an example of men not given grace, when he teaches: “God hid [true] wisdom from the [worldly] wise by not giving them grace.”  Quoted from Lectures on St. Matthew’s Gospel, St. Thomas Aquinas, ch.11, §960.  St. Thomas is explaining the Gospel verse “because Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent” (bracketed words added to reflect the context).  

Because grace is a free, undeserved gift of God, these worldly-wise men have no cause to claim that God was unjust by withholding His grace.

[10]          i.e., so that his sins are forgiven.

Summa, III, Q.62, a.6, ad 3 (bracketed words added).

         Contrary to the Feeneyite errors, the Catholic Church teaches the possibility of Baptism of Desire and Baptism of Blood.  Read the explanation here:

Summa Supp., Q.8, a.1, ad 2.

Summa, III, Q.68, a.3, respondeo (emphasis added).

[15]          Heresy is an error about the Catholic Faith.  Here is how St. Thomas Aquinas explains this truth:

We are speaking of heresy now as denoting a corruption of the Christian Faith.  Now it does not imply a corruption of the Christian faith, if a man has a false opinion in matters that are not of faith, for instance, in questions of geometry and so forth, which cannot belong to the faith by any means; but only when a person has a false opinion about things belonging to the faith.

Now a thing may be of the faith in two ways, as stated above, in one way, directly and principally, e.g. the articles of faith; in another way, indirectly and secondarily, e.g. those matters, the denial of which leads to the corruption of some article of faith; and there may be heresy in either way, even as there can be faith.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.11, a.2, respondeo (emphasis added).

[16]          The Samaritans were heretics who lived between Judea and Galilee.  See, St. John’s Gospel, ch.4.

[17]          One might think that God gives everyone grace because God “will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  1 Timothy 2:4.  However, God wills all men to be saved upon a condition which was not fulfilled, viz., that there be no sin.

Because sin entered the world, God’s unconditional will is that some persons are not saved and are not even “called” through grace.  For “many [not all] are called but few are chosen.”  St. Matthew’s Gospel, 22:14 (bracketed words added).

Among the examples of men that God could have saved but chose not to save (or even give them any grace), are babies who die without baptism, and also “the profane Samaritans [whom], had He so willed, He would have made devout”.

[18]          Summa, IIa IIae, Q.82, a.3 (emphasis added).

[19]          Summa, IIa IIae, Q.2 a.5. ad 1, emphasis added, quoting St. Augustine from De Corr. et Grat. v, vi [Cf. Epistle 190; De Praed. Sanct., viii.].

[20]          Here is how St. Thomas explains this important truth:

Grace causes faith not only when faith begins anew to be in a man, but also as long as faith lasts.  For it has been said above (I:104:1; I-II:109:9) that God is always working man’s justification, even as the sun is always lighting up the air. Hence grace is not less effective when it comes to a believer than when it comes to an unbeliever: since it causes faith in both, in the former by confirming and perfecting it, in the latter by creating it anew.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.4 a.4, ad 3 (emphasis added).

[21]          As the First Vatican Council teaches:

[Faith is] a supernatural virtue by which, under the inspiration and the aid of the grace of God, we believe that which He has revealed to us to be true: we believe it, not because of the intrinsic truth of the things seen by the natural light of our reason, but because of the very authority of God who has revealed us these truths, Who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

Vatican I, Session 3, ch.3, Denz. 3008 (emphasis added).

[22]          For example, here is St. Thomas Aquinas, distinguishing between those non-Catholics who had previously been Catholic, and other persons who had never been Catholic:  St. Thomas explains:

[T]he unbelief of heretics, who confess their belief in the Gospel, and resist that faith by corrupting it, is a more grievous sin than that of the Jews, who have never accepted the Gospel faith.  Since, however, they accepted the figure of that faith in the Old Law, which they corrupt by their false interpretations, their unbelief is a more grievous sin than that of the heathens, because the latter have not accepted the Gospel faith in any way at all.

Summa, IIa IIae, Q.10, a.6.

[23]          The Natural Law is what we know we must do by the light of the natural reason God gave us. One example of the Natural Law is that we must never tell a lie.  We naturally know this because we know that the purpose of speech is to convey the truth and so we naturally know that telling a lie is abusing the purpose of speech.

Here is how St. Thomas explains what the Natural Law is:

[L]aw, being a rule and measure, can be in a person in two ways: in one way, as in him that rules and measures; in another way, as in that which is ruled and measured, since a thing is ruled and measured, in so far as it partakes of the rule or measure. Wherefore, since all things subject to Divine Providence are ruled and measured by the eternal law, as was stated above [in Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.1]; it is evident that all things partake somewhat of the eternal law, in so far as, namely, from its being imprinted on them, they derive their respective inclinations to their proper acts and ends. Now among all others, the rational creature is subject to Divine Providence in the most excellent way, in so far as it partakes of a share of providence, by being provident both for itself and for others. Wherefore it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end: and this participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called the natural law. Hence the Psalmist after saying (Psalm 4:6): "Offer up the sacrifice of justice," as though someone asked what the works of justice are, adds: “Many say, Who showeth us good things?”, in answer to which question he says: “The light of Thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us”: thus implying that the light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil, which is the function of the natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the Divine light. It is therefore evident that the natural law is nothing else than the rational creature’s participation of the eternal law.

Summa, Ia IIae, Q.91, a.2, respondeo.

[24]          Statement condemned in a Decree of the Holy Office, Dec. 7, 1690, 2305 Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum #1295, °5 (emphasis added).

[26]          The Jansenist statement is also justly condemned for a second reason: it says that no non-Catholics “receive in any way any influence from Jesus Christ”.  There are many ways Our Lord influences various non-Catholics.  For example, He gives some of them grace.  Some, He influences through His Church by sending missionaries to them.  To some, He gives Catholic neighbors.  Some, He causes to attend a Catholic school.  There are countless other ways too, that Jesus Christ influences non-Catholics.  However, we do not discuss this further because we have already shown above that the condemned Jansenist statement does not pertain to the issue whether everyone receives grace.