Will Catholics Be Left Behind In The Rapture?
The simple answer is "No." But not for the reason you might think. The "Rapture" is an early secret coming of Jesus to rescue His faithful from the coming tribulation. "The rapture is an event that will take place sometime in the near future. Jesus will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return to heaven with the Church."
The reason that Catholics won't be left behind in the Rapture is that there will be no Rapture.
Where does this concept of the Rapture come from?
Many Protestants, particularly Baptists and Evangelicals, rely on a passage from 1 Thessalonians. They hold those Christians who are faithful to Christ "…will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord." [1 Thess 4:17] This event is to happen in an instant; I'm sure you have seen the bumper sticker: "In case of Rapture, this car will be unoccupied."
How was the concept of the Rapture understood in the early Church?
If we go back to the writings of Christians in the first 17 centuries of the Church, including Protestant reformers, we find absolute silence on the issue. It is extremely difficult to believe that such an important event "so plainly" described in Scripture, went unmentioned while writings and reflections on the Christ's return abounded in the 1800 years of documents, many of which are extant.
This teaching originated in the early 1830s with John Nelson Darby, a Protestant Irish lawyer, who became an Anglican priest and then in 1827 left the Anglican priesthood to join a group known as the Plymouth Brethren. Darby theorized that the Church needed to be removed from society so God could complete His work with the Jews. Even to this day, rapture theology is linked to of end-times notions like the significance of the Jews' return to Israel in 1948. The Rapture concept grew out of Darby's personal interpretation of 1 Thessalonians along with passages from Revelation, Daniel, and Matthew 24. Is Darby's interpretation "infallible?" If not, then how do we know he didn't err when he formulated this doctrine? How is it that Darby was able to find a doctrine that escaped the entire Church for seventeen centuries?
Admittedly, it is a comforting thought that Jesus will not permit us to suffer. I am sure that over the centuries millions of martyrs, had they believed in the Rapture, would have felt that Jesus really let them down. Jesus' command is not "Believe on Me as your personal Lord and Savior and I will prevent your suffering." Rather, "Then he said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.'" [Luke 9:23-24] By following Jesus to the cross, we conform ourselves evermore to Him.
So what do these verses refer to?
If we read the entire passage, we see immediately that Jesus is referring to the Second Coming. "Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord." [1 Thess 4:15-17] It speaks plainly about those who are still alive at the coming of the Lord. He speaks of an archangel with a trumpet; not sneaking in and spiriting away believers.