Is anyone in hell?


Does the Church teach that there are souls in hell, but we just don’t know who they are? Or is there a possibility even a slim one that hell is empty?



The Church teaches the entirety of the Gospel which says that anyone who refuses the grace of God and the offer of salvation will end up in Hell. Jesus himself said the way was narrow to heaven and the path wide to Hell. What do we make of that? Well the Church has never declared anyone in Hell, but it has never said Hell is empty. God’s mercy is unlimited, and with God all things are possible… yet, the Gospel is not ours to wrest as we want… we must follow what Christ gave us and in that tradition we have those books which indicate Hell is going to have people in it.

“The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, ‘eternal fire.’ The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs” (CCC 1035).

There is a hell. There are people there. How many? We don’t know. Who exactly? We don’t know that either. Only God does.


Noone knows.
The Church preaches the Gospel. Speculating on the damned is pointless, at best.


Hell is not empty. At the very least, Satan and the other fallen angels are there. As for humans, it’s impossible to know how many are in Hell. The hope is always that Hell is empty, that every person at death’s door was repentant. The reality, of course, is probably far different - and it’s definitely possible (maybe even probable) that the majority of people who have died are in Hell. But we will never know while we are in the temporal and physical realm how many people actually are there. And this is why we pray for everyone who has died, no matter how heinous their sins - for the slightest hope that (a) they were able to repent before they died (remember, our prayers can affect the past) and (b) that if they are in Purgatory, their purification will be quickened so that they can end up in Heaven faster.


It is the teaching of the Church that there are people in Hell, we just don’t know who. Here is an article from Tim Staples concerning Bishop Robert Barron’s claim that there is a reasonable hope that all men are saved. In this article, Staples makes reference to the Fourth Lateran Council which said that men from every generation would descend into Hell. In St. Matthew xv. 41 it says, “Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand: Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.” I’m sure Our Lord won’t be talking to Himself when He says this. So no, there is no chance that Hell is nor will be empty.


Of course, the scariest part of that passage is that the people being sentenced to Hell aren’t being sentenced for what they did, but for what they neglected to do - the corporal acts of mercy (and of course, the spiritual acts of mercy are implied). In other words, they’re sentenced not for sins of commission, but for sins of omission. It is not good enough simply to avoid evil - we must do good, as well. That passage is a true wake-up call. Am I doing enough to help my fellow persons, who have been created in God’s image? Are you?


Plenty there. Just unnamed. With the exception of Lucifer.

Or is there a possibility even a slim one that hell is empty?


Why would you think hell is empty? Don’t the words of God mean anything anymore?


The children at Fatima were shown a disturbing vision of hell. And our lady told them “more people end up in hell for sins of the flesh than anything else”. So, while we can not say a specific person is there, we know there are some there.


Our Lady of Fatima said that “souls were falling into he’ll faster than snowflakes during a storm.”

It saddens me to see so much Protestantism infiltrating our church. If he’ll was empty, then the “once saved, always saved” belief would be correct…and I think we all know that’s not true. If we all end up in heaven anyway, then why follow the 10 Commandments? Why follow the spiritual and corporal works of mercy?


So if hell is empty, than anything goes. We can just sin all we want. This seems to be the fear that those who hold out hope for an empty hell evoke, but none of those theologians who responsibly made this suggestion ever said we could therefore sin with impunity, certainly not von Balthasar, who most clearly expressed this hope in our time. With God, all things are possible. Is it therefore possible that the vision of Fatima and the references to hell in the Gospels are actually warnings meant to save us from a long, difficult stay in Purgatory, rather than a certain prediction of countless souls in hell? Since we can hope that all people will be saved, it is indeed possible that all people will be saved. But prudence requires we never assume that it will be so, and so we must always strive to enter by the narrow gate.


No one knows. But if hell is empty, where is the reward for having tried one’s best to life a moral life?

Still, the Church teaches that no one knows if anyone has been sent to hell. No one knows what a person’s dying thoughts are. Maybe they truly repented.


So Mary and all the other saints who had visions of hell are lying? These visionaries differenciate between purgatory and hell. And Mary said that souls were falling into HELL like snowflakes.

If nobody goes to hell, then why can’t I sin unceasingly?

Also, why would Satan be working so hard if he knew God would never send a soul there?


The thing is these visions are private revelation and are not required for Catholics to believe. No one is calling anyone a liar and we are getting quite a distance away from the purview of Tradition when we start to add them in.


Where do you see in Tradition that even hints that hell is empty?

Why would the sacrament of Reconcilliation be necessary if, regardless of what sins I commit, I’ll go to heaven? It’s completely illogical. That’s like if my math teacher said, “Go ahead and study for the test…but you’ll pass regardless.”


You’re missing the point. No one claimed hell is for sure empty.

The Gospel is about what we do know, and what we hope for.
The Gospel points us to our beatitude, not to the avoidance of punishment. We go to reconciliation because we desire to see God “eye to eye” (cilia).
Heaven is perfect union with God.

Speculating about who and how many are in hell seems pointless. The visions are not those who went seeking visions of hell. They were given to them.


Yes many. They are almost all ( or perhaps excusivley) people who had sex of some sort or another


Well, it would also not be a good thing for any secular society to have people thinking there is nothing wrong with sinning left and right with no consequences, so a rational fear of being punished for eternity for such things would help make even the most secular society a better place to live and rule over, so…


You don’t. But I 've noticed that this “hell is empty” mantra seems to come from the more “progressive” thinking Catholics. You never see “traditionalist” or “conservative” Catholics ever entertain the notion that hell is empty. Some progressives even question whether there’s even a hell…period! As can be read in this article on the very liberal National Catholic? Reporter. This article debunks the former nicely. Also, consider that many Doctors of the Church including Aquinas, Anselm, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Pope St. Gregory the Great to name just a few believed that more souls were condemned than were saved. I realize that this is a very unpopular and unsettling thought to some, and many will simply dismiss this outright as; “just their opinions.” But take a long look at some of those names. These are the greatest minds in the history of the Catholic Church. Who the heck am I to doubt or dismiss them as many here are so quick to do.

Peace, Mark


I fundamentally disagree. Fear of God is what saves. Sinning is wrong not because hell is a possibility but because God is good, and he is worthy, deserving, and desirous of our salvation. Fear of hell is minimalist motivation and only contributes to salvation as it serves God’s purpose for us. There are too many living in fear, and stuck there. That is Satan at work.


I’ve never once in any of my posts indicated that Tradition says Hell is empty.

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