Fr. Barron and hell?

My husband follows Fr. Barron whom I have great respect for but what he had me listen to left me questioning what he meant… He said (and these are my words as close as I remember) that Catholics are not obliged to believe anyone is in hell. (!!!) Many verses come to mind that seem to counter this as well as experiences many of the saints have shared about seeing hell (and seeing people there) I am not sure why he said this. Did anyone else hear this or have an explanation…

Thank you,

I am not familiar with Fr. Barron, but it is true that a person can be a faithful Catholic while believing that hell exists, but it is empty. Similarly, a person can be a faithful Catholic and believe that hell has an overpopulation problem.

(The one thing that no Catholic can accept is the notion that hell does not exist in the first place.)

Nobody can say if any particular person is in hell. Thus, it is logically impossible to say if ANYONE is in hell. It is surely possible that hell has some population, and we might “do the math” and suppose that any probability (even if we suppose it to be quite small) multiplied by the number of people who have died, we could “conclude” that the probability of souls being in hell is good. But probability is not certainty.

We cannot even say with theological certainty if WE ourselves would be (or would NOT be) in hell if we were to suddenly die right now. If we cannot say this about ourselves, we absolutely cannot say it about anyone else.

Hell could be empty. Hell could be brimming with souls. Or something in between. Not even the Catholic Church can assure us of which statement is true. This knowledge belongs to God alone.

I’ve also heard this and seen this in the Catechism - the idea is that we cannot be sure of the circumstances or mindset that someone had right before they died, even if they committed atrocities while alive - maybe they repented completely. The thief on the cross got saved at the very last moment, so it’s not beyond possibility that others have as well :slight_smile:

Yep, okay, I don’t have to believe that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin are in hell, and in fact according to Fr Baron there is a “reasonable hope” that they are not in hell, by virtue of the fact that the church doesn’t say whether anyone is in hell. :rolleyes:

He’s normally a solid guy to listen to, but this is pretty silly.

Blessed Pope John Paul II

“Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of whether or which human beings are effectively involved in it. The thought of hell — and even less the improper use of biblical images — must not create anxiety or despair, but is a necessary and healthy reminder of freedom within the proclamation that the risen Jesus has conquered Satan, giving us the, Spirit of God who makes us cry “Abba, Father!” (Rm. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).”


I posted a thread about this same topic a while back. The thread was deleted. Expect this 1 to be gone too – only thing I can figure out is that we aren’t supposed to criticise priests on this forum.

Well, judus is in hell. Why would Jesus state that it would be better that this man was never born? This statement cannot be an affirmation that judas is in Heaven.

Father Barron has forgotten more theology than I’ll ever know, but his universalism regarding all have a reasonable hope to be saved is not backed by scripture and simply bad theology.

Can we look at this in the way he meant it? Catholics are not obliged to believe “anyone” is in hell, such as Judas, BUT…
we ARE obliged to believe there is a hell, and that God rewards the good and punishes evil that men have done.

From Father’s own website, it is clear that he is not dismissing the teaching of hell; no, he reinforces it, saying that man himself freely chooses it by rejecting God’s love. Scroll to 4:00 minutes for a clear statement.

There actually is some scriptural backing, as there is scriptural backing for the majority of people going to Hell.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 2:39

*“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. *In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18

It’s interesting to see some Catholics making definitive statements regarding the salvation of certain men (hitler, Stalin, judas, ect). I wonder, did the Father reveal this to them? Or did the Father give license to judge them on His behalf? The Church teaches it is actually sinful to judge that someone is in hell, no matter who it is. Even Judas, whom Christ spoke poorly of, is immune to our judgement. Jesus forbade us from this kind of judgement and speculation.

Rather, we are literally obliged, by the command of the Church, to pray and hope for the salvation of each and every soul.

This isn’t denying that there is a hell, or that it is likely there are souls there, but rather obeying Christ and remembering that we are dust, and that judgement belongs to God alone.

If someone would post the exact quote, we might have a better idea of what Father is saying before we criticize him for it.

That was his exact quote as is phrased in the linked video I posted, [scroll to 6:35 minutes] but it was taken out of context to the whole message. It still stands, that we are not obligated to believe any person, meaning such notorious sinners as Judas, Hitler, et al, ARE in fact in hell. The Church names nobody as an absolute.

I think the point is that it’s not up to us to condemn these people, God’s mercy is great and who knows, maybe in Hitler or Stalin’s final moment’s, He decided to show mercy.

No this is not silly. We are never to judge that anyone is in Hell. We can judge their actions but not them. The Church doesn’t even say that Judas is in Hell. We leave that entirely up to God. But we do know Hell exists and the danger of going there can be very real. Our Lord said the road to Hell is wide and easy and many go there. Lets pray constantly for the conversion of all sinners specially those who have no one to pray for them. God Bless, Memaw

Technically speaking, we can’t believe that Hell is empty, as we know that the fallen angels were sent there.

But, of course, I’m sure that’s not what Fr Baron meant.


Seems contradictory to me. The Church teaches about the existence of Hell and how one can end up there, but Fr. Barron is saying the Church isn’t obliging that we believe anyone’s there. Obviously the Church (or anyone) can state for a fact that a particular person is in Hell. However, by its existence and the knowledge of how one ends up there - denying God and turning away from Him, it would appear that the Church is saying its very real that there are those in Hell.

And yes Judas comes to mind as another person mentioned!

From Fr. Barron…
We shouldn’t talk about God capriciously sending people to hell. We should think of Hell this way…If anyone’s in it, and by the way, the Church isn’t obliging that anyone to believe that any human being is in Hell”. @ 6:38 of the video in the link.

From CCC on Hell
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren. To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost. Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,” and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”

Judgment? Yes. Speculation? No. There is not ban on philosophy.

[quote=Convert2013]Seems contradictory to me.

From Fr. Barron…
We shouldn’t talk about God capriciously sending people to hell. We should think of Hell this way…If anyone’s in it, and by the way, the Church isn’t obliging that anyone to believe that any human being is in Hell”. @ 6:38 of the video in the link.


I really think some of you are twisting Father Barron’s meaning beyond his intent. I heard the same words from his tape, but I understood it this way: “Yes, there is a hell, and people who are there have chosen with their free will to reject God. The Church does not oblige us to believe John, Dick, or Harry are there. Judgment belongs to God alone.”

Scroll back to 4:00 and you will not find him dismissing the teaching on hell. He upholds it.

Just as many take Pope Francis’s words and run with wild interpretations, some enjoy taking a single statement of a priest and nailing him to the cross with their misinterpretation. Please do me a favor and write to him for clarification if there is any doubt remaining after listening to his comments at 4:00 minutes.

AMEN, God Bless, Memaw

I don’t think it is silly. It seems to me to be a good idea to just leave that to the Lord, and concentrate on our own sanctification. Imagine all the conversations and speculations that could go on about who we might think is in hell. That might blot out hope for many who can have last minute graces!

We do know that hell exists, and while we are alive we need to concentrate on our own sanctification…for the love of the Lord, and the Glory of God! The Church is wise.

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