Can you will someone to hell?

I have a young niece – about 19 years old – who has been having a rough time lately. She is a practicing bi-sexual, taking drugs, has recently been arrested and is out on bail for a hit-and-run accident, lost her job, and attempted to steal her mother’s car. My sister-in-law (her mother) was forced to call the police on my niece because she got violent in the front yard and threatened harm to other members of the family.

During this argument, my sister yelled that she hopes her daughter burns in hell for the pain she is causing everyone. Afterwards she felt enormous guilt, and believes that since she said that out loud, it will happen now. I don’t share this belief, but I wanted to make sure since she has been Catholic longer than I have. Is it posible to WILL someone to hell? If not, what can I say to my superstitious sister-in-law? She is suffering greatly over this.

No, it is not possible to send another person to hell by an act of your own will. Only each individual person can choose his eternal destiny and those who go to hell have willed themselves there.

No doubt your sister-in-law was simply not thinking straight at the time that she made this statement to her daughter. She was in a highly stressful confrontation, and it is understandable that something she did not mean to say slipped out. My guess is that it was an expression of her pain over her daughter’s behavior, not an expression of her actual will for her daughter.

Even though it is very likely that such a statement was only a venial sin (if that) due to the mitigating circumstances of the encounter, it might help your sister-in-law to heal from this incident to take it to confession the next time she goes. The confession of venial sins are not required but the Church strongly recommends it, and the sacramental grace received from it can help to strengthen your sister-in-law against future temptations. God bless.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit