Heresy: To declare that someone is in hell?

So almost every single atheist that I’ve had a discussion with (outside of the CAFs) has asserted something like this: “Well, you folks keep telling me that I am condemned to hell.”

My understanding as a Catholic is that it is a heresy to declare that anyone is in hell.

That’s outside of our paygrade, so to speak.

It’s something even the magisterium hasn’t spoken on–it has never declared a single soul to be in hell.

However, when I did some research to see** if it was an actual heresy** to say, “Person A is in hell or Person B is condemned to hell” I couldn’t find anything.

Anyone have any comments on this?

Only God knows for sure if anyone is in hell. He is the only one who can judge us.

I’m not sure. If I recall correctly, Dante said certain people were in hell, to the best of my knowledge, he was never condemned for heresy. That said, we have no idea what people know and what they are responsible for. Those in hell, it is my understanding, would have to willingly turn away from the truth of God. Remember though, I am not theologian

By this definition, I am not sure if it measures up to heresy.

Heresy is advocating a belief contrary to Christian doctrine. Saying that an atheist is likely bound for hell is not heresy, but it may be unwise and imprudent.

But what about declaring that* anyone* (not necessarily an atheist) is in hell? Is that a heresy?

If you are talking about his work, The Inferno, it was an allegory.

As such, I doubt that anyone in the magisterium would object to the story of someone being in hell…

The Gospel is clear that there will be, souls in Hell:

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1034
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.612 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"613 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"614

Matt. 25:41 and 46:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

Pope Saint John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano, August 4, 1999 (after official revision):
“Eternal damnation remains a real possibility, but we are not granted, without special divine revelation, the knowledge of which human beings are effectively involved in it.”

Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 A.D.:

Indeed, having suffered and died on the wood of the cross for the salvation of the human race, he descended to the underworld, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. He descended in the soul, rose in the flesh, and ascended in both. He will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, to render to every person according to his works, both to the reprobate and to the elect. All of them will rise with their own bodies, which they now wear, so as to receive according to their deserts, whether these be good or bad; for the latter perpetual punishment with the devil, for the former eternal glory with Christ.

Yes.

But the question is: can we as Catholics declare that a particular person is condemned to go there?

No. That would be to judge the state of someone’s soul — a prerogative that belongs to God alone.

We can say that someone who dies and is not in the state of grace will not go to heaven. But, we are totally incapable of knowing who is or is not in the state of grace.

This is not an issue of heresy. Some who declares a soul to be in Hell is not a heretic. They are simply sharing an opinion, however convinced they may be.

There exists a mechanism to determine if some is in heaven: history of a holy life and two verified miracles.

It would be grossly immoral to petition a soul in Hell for some “anti-miracle”. Thus there is no means to declare someone definitively in Hell.

Is there a document to which you can refer me to that says this specifically? That is, we are not to tell someone that they are going to hell?

Human beings have no authority to declare who is in hell. The Church has authority to declare who is in heaven, the canonized saints; all else will be revealed at the end of time.

Is there a document you can refer me to that says this?

it is the condition of their soul at the moment of death that determines where they will spend eternity.
(CCC 1021-1022 vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2L.HTM )

Besides our inability to know the state of another’s soul, we wouldn’t even know when that final second of life was occurring or what might have taken place in it.

So if we know persons who are committing such grave sins, we can inform them of the seriousness of those deeds and warn them that they may be endangering their immortal soul. But, we are unable to judge the state of their soul even when they commit such acts. We just cannot see into the heart, mind, etc. of another person.

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. … The Father has given “all judgment to the Son.” …

it is the condition of their soul
[/quote]

at the moment of death that determines where they will spend eternity.
(CCC 1021-1022 vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P2L.HTM )

Besides our inability to know the state of another’s soul, we wouldn’t even know when that final second of life was occurring or what might have taken place in it.

So if we know persons who are committing such grave sins, we can inform them of the seriousness of those deeds and warn them that they may be endangering their immortal soul. But, we are unable to judge the state of their soul even when they commit such acts. We just cannot see into the heart, mind, etc. of another person.

CCC 679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. … The Father has given “all judgment to the Son.” …

:thumbsup:

There is no such thing as an antithesis to canonization (i.e. an infallible declaration of damnation) except that it is Tradition and Magisterial teaching that Satan and his angels are damned. So a person could state with complete certitude that Satan - as an individual - is in hell. Human beings also go to hell but we don’t know who.

“Heresy” seems like a misuse of the term since that is a departure from doctrine, and people going to hell is in complete conformity with Catholic teaching, but to declare a specific individual in hell would be to speak without any authority. Even for various mystics that have visions of Purgatory or hell, this is private revelation for them, according to God’s purposes. And although a Catholic has no reason to dare consider these heroic canonized mystics to be liars, these revelations don’t take on the form of a canonization. We have canonized saints in order to help build up the Church militant (aka those of us on earth). It serves a purpose for our sanctification as individuals.

We do not have the teaching authority of the Church to make such a declaration. Scripture has identified individuals.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Of Judas Christ says: “it were better for him, if that man had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). But this would not have been true if Judas was ever to be released from hell and admitted to eternal happiness.

Hontheim, J. (1910). Hell. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. newadvent.org/cathen/07207a.htm
Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

The scribes and pharisees (in general) were condemned because Jesus said that to “enter into the kingdom of heaven” requires “justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees”.

Matthew 5:17-20
Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 23:13, 27
But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter. …
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you are like to whited sepulchres, which outwardly appear to men beautiful, but within are full of dead men’s bones, and of all filthiness.

Thought of a Scripture verse:

James 4:11-12 Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. He that speaks evil against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you that you judge your neighbor?

Yep.

So, (NOT DIRECTED TO ANYONE WHO HAS RESPONDED TO THIS THREAD):

Please KNOCK IT OFF, folks, when you are talking to atheists (or anyone else) and telling them that they are going to hell.

It just makes our jobs so much harder trying to dialogue with them.

All they do is remember that some Christian told them that they are going to hell and it makes them bristle.

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