About our Popes when they die


Do all Popes go to heaven and become saints? Do some go to purgatory first?


Not all popes are recognized saints. Only God can judge a pope’s soul- just like the soul of anyone else. Popes like all Christians could potentially end up in hell or heaven (via purgatory or not).


St. John Chrysostom wrote, “I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish” (Homily 3 on Acts, 1:12). Chrysostom was himself a bishop, and took seriously the warning of St. James, “Be ye not many masters, my brethren, knowing that you receive the greater judgment” (Jas. 3:1). That said, many popes have been canonized, and not being canonized doesn’t preclude being in heaven. But being pope certainly doesn’t preclude purgatory. I think that with such great responsibilities, it would be very hard to escape purgatory altogether. As twf notes, God alone is Judge.


If I counted correctly, of the 266 popes only 91 have been recognized as saints: 82 are canonized saints and 9 are blesseds; and most of those men lived in the first five centuries of the Church. Or, put another way, about two thirds of all the popes have not been recognized as saints. (list of popes) So, no; the popes do not necessarily go to heaven when they die.


We can also probably assume at at least a small number of popes may be in hell.


But, merely because a pope is not a canonized saint, does not mean he must be in Hell. He may be in Heaven, even if he spent a lot of time in purgatory beforehand.


I believe so since Our Lady revealed it to Lucia.


Popes? No. Actually the stakes are so high, the “tight rope” becomes very thin and falling is easier. That’s another reason to pray for the pope often.

On the other hand…



Oh yes, Popes could lead millions of christians astray thru their actions, statements, etc, I would imagine that God holds them accountable to a much higher degree. That must be an incredibly stressful situation to be in, to realize anything you say or do, could impact the salvation of so many people.


I don’t think it’s in keeping with the mind of the Church to ASSUME this…we hope and pray for all souls. But it is possible.


Hence my cautious phrasing “safe to assume”. Perhaps “more than likely” might be even more cautious, since we don’t know if any particular soul is in hell.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few Popes are in hell.


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