Can we hope that nobody is in hell?

i watched msgr. swetland on EWTN last night say to college students at the university of illionis on the topic of salvation that since we don’t know who, if anyone, is in hell and that by the measure we judge we’ll be judged, we can hope that no one is in hell. he seemed to imply that universal salvation is a possibility.

i find this idea repugnant and contradictory to the scriptures, as well as to traditional catholicism. i think protestant converts at times over emphasize the commonalities between catholics and protestants and gloss over the differences. this may be because they have to reconcile the fact that many of their loved ones are not catholic yet and may be in a grave state.

he quoted hans balthasar and treated his writings as if they were doctrine. to me, his whole presentation on salvation was very relativistic and made it sound that it didn’t make much difference if you’re catholic or not, as long as you are a good person.

i think EWTN is taking a turn for the worse since Mother Angelica is on the side lines. i think it is silly to have hope that nobody is in hell. clearly, some people must be there. otherwise, why be catholic in the first place? it isn’t an easy road.

You’ll see a lot of relativism even on these forums, one just has to look in the non-catholic sections to see how people are with the Protestants in there…

Things need to be made clear to Protestants/heretics/heathens et al that they NEED to convert to the Catholic Church. Invincible ignorance is just that.

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. It is a Dogma.

St. Francis de Sales Pray for us!

What about Christ saying that the road is narrow, and few there are that find it? If few find it, then it is logical to conclude that many do not make it through the gate.

Though it is a hypothetical possibility, why waste time promoting an idea that only breeds universalism and laxity? It’s like saying, “This F5 tornado is headed our way, but don’t take shelter because it MIGHT go around us.” Or imagine a guy pointing a gun at you and saying, “I’m going to pull the trigger, but it MIGHT not be loaded.”

Don’t be stupid and fall into that kind of presumption.

On the flip side, have the assurance that God will extend to you all the grace you need to live a holy life and get to heaven.

IOW, don’t be stupid and fall into despair, either. Despair is when you are 100% sure of your defeat. No one knows that, and should not EVER feel they are beyond Christ’s reach.

See Crossing the Threshold of Hope by John Paul II

The problem of hell has always disturbed great thinkers in the Church, beginning with Origen and continuing in our time with Sergey Bulgakov and Hans Urs von Balthasar. In point of fact, the ancient councils rejected the theory of the "final apocatastasis," according to which the world would be regenerated after destruction, and every creature would be saved; a theory which indirectly abolished hell. But the problem remains. Can God, who has loved man so much, permit the man who rejects Him to be condemned to eternal torment? And yet, the words of Christ are unequivocal. In Matthew’s Gospel He speaks clearly of those who will go to eternal punishment (cf. Mt 25:46). Who will these be? The Church has never made any pronouncement in this regard. This is a mystery, truly inscrutable, which embraces the holiness of God and the conscience of man. The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, “It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mt 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation.
At the same time, however, there is something in man’s moral conscience itself that rebels against any loss of this conviction: Is not God who is Love also ultimate Justice? Can He tolerate these terrible crimes, can they go unpunished? Isn’t final punishment in some way necessary in order to reestablish moral equilibrium in the complex history of humanity? Is not hell in a certain sense the ultimate safeguard of man’s moral conscience?

I fail to see how it is folly to trust in the mercy of God. We do not know that God does not offer sinners one last chance at making an act of perfect contrition before death. Furthermore we have no way of judging the interior culpability of anyone so I think the charitable thing to do is to always to assume some ignorance or mitigating circumstance that would reduce culpability. Only God can make these judgements. I am not saying that it is not possible for someone to committ a mortal sin or that I don’t believe in the Dogma of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. Nor am I saying that we should not admonish people when they objectively commit a sin or that we should not do everything possible to bring someone home to the True Church, but ultimately we simply do not know if anyone is in hell so I think the charitable thing to do is to assume that they are in heaven or are on their way via Purgatory.

Silly for anyone to have said that, isn’t it? It’s extremely easy to end up in hell.

Yeah, people are going to hell, for sure. The little children at Fatima were horrified because so many people were/are going to hell.

And did Msgr. read the bible? For starters, they could consider these verses:
Psalm 9:17,18:
*The Lord shall be known when he executeth judgments: the sinner hath been caught in the works of his own hands. 18 The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget God. *Isaiah 5:14
*Therefore hath hell enlarged her soul, and opened her mouth without any bounds, and their strong ones, and their people, and their high and glorious ones shall go down into it. *
Matthew 5:22
But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
And there’s way, way more regarding hell where that came from.
Pax Christi,

None of the visions from Fatima, or of any of the numerous, numerous saints throughout the ages are binding upon the consciences of believers. That having been said, when you hear about the 3 kids at Fatima [or any viosionary] recount their story of seeing souls in hell, you have to conclude one of two things: either there are no souls in hell and the three children were deluded, or there is a hell with souls of the damned in it.

Again I say, why even toy around with such a dangerous hypothetical? You don’t see people promoting the hypothetical idea that everyone is in hell and no one is in heaven, do you? Hmmmmmm, now that’s interesting :hmmm:

I am sure we can hope that no one is in hell. In fact there is a saint (can’t remember who) who said that often. However I actually Hope for some people to be in hell. Call it my sense of justice or of right and wrong. But I feel that Gods mercy should not negate His justice. Some people ask me if because I am Christian I believe they go to hell. I always answer it is a good thing for you that I don’t get to make that decision but I can tell you how to get to heaven.

Hans Von Balthasar is not my cup of tea when it comes to HELL.

I like Peter Kreeft.

You do not need to accept this controversial theologians take. He doesnt get the last word on it.

Check out Peter Kreefts take. :thumbsup:

No, because the Church knows for certain that there are souls in heaven. That is why we have all those canonized Saints.

Potato1 wrote:

However I actually Hope for some people to be in hell.

Why would you ever hope for such a horrible thing? This is a very dangerous way of thinking to say the least.

Sorry - but if that is true, then Jesus lied to us. He, Himself, said there were those who went to eternal damnation. I, too, hope for God’s mercy, not just on myself, but on all - but Jesus is the ultimate authority and whether I like it or not, there IS hell and there ARE souls there. Count on it. :yup:

The existence of hell is one teaching of our Catholic faith that I have no problem defending at all. Jesus is so plain on this that it’s a simple referral to Him - end of story.

We can not hope for someone to be in HELL.

Vengence is MINE sayeth the Lord.

When We say the Our Father prayer we take ourselves to TASK if we do not FORGIVE our enemies!

Lord have mercy on your children, teach them your commandments help them to hear you

and Honor your wishes

In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray these things


extra inscense here

That being said, there will sadly be souls in HELL.

It will not be empty as the tomb was.

Think about that.

We do not know who specifically is in Hell, but it isnt empty of souls sadly. To say the contrary is akin to saying that Hell does not exist!

Many Catholics today are likely to shirk away from the idea of Hell, or guilt over sin in the presence of secular society (it is on the topics of Hell, Sin and Salvation that you are mostly likely to hear “we havent believed that since Vatican II!”). Saying that Hell could be empty of souls is one of the favorite tactics of an adherant of “Catholicism Lite”, who wishes to avoid believing anything that could be considered “offensive” by anyone from protestants to atheists to satanists.


Vatican II NEVER took Hell out of the picture. It is REAL.

Why sadly. God’s plan of salvation or His creation of hell is only proof that He Himself accepts, that some will be there. It is not so much how sad it is that some won’t be in heaven but how joyous it is for every soul that makes it to the Kingdom. Salvation is not a garantee but a gift. If no one is in hell then why do I bother not killing raping? I HOPE evil people are in hell. and there is nothing bad or anti Catholic about that. I wish and hope that no one had to go to hell and that there are as few there as possible however the Bible, Church, and our own brains tell us that that is just not so.

just as an edit to my post above where I asked why Potato1 would hope that souls are in hell, I did not mean that I actually want to know the details of why he thinks certain people should be in hell. Such information is none of my business. I just wanted to make that clear.

Yes you are right. I should have said that we do not know who is in hell, not that we don’t know if anyone is there.

I didn’t have time to read all of the replies, but this, from the OP:

it didn’t make much difference if you’re catholic or not, as long as you are a good person.

is the sin of indifferentism. I think that’s where the problem lies.

& I want to echo the post by CatholicNick:

Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. It is a Dogma.

The idea that “it (doesn’t) make much difference if you’re catholic or not, as long as you are a good person” cannot be reconciled to Catholic doctrine. If that were so, then the Sacrifice of Calvary would have been meaningless.

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