Catholic Answers Director of Apologetics, Tim Staples, explains Church teaching regarding the fate of the "good thief".
Tim Staples is Director of Apologetics and Evangelization here at Catholic Answers, but he was not always Catholic. Tim was raised a Southern Baptist. Although he fell away from the faith of his childhood, Tim came back to faith in Christ during his late teen years through the witness of...
"Between heresy and schism there is this difference, that heresy perverts dogma, while schism, by rebellion against the bishop, separates from the Church. Nevertheless there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church."
~ St. Jerome, (In Ep. ad Tit., iii, 10), remarking on how practically and historically, heresy and schism nearly always go hand in hand.