Is it possible for a good person to be condemned to hell?

Growing up I always believed that Heaven is for good people and Hell is for bad people.

But reading into what the church considers to be grave matters is worrying me.

Is it possible for a good person to end up condemned to hell?

I suppose it depends on what you consider a good person to be. Anyone, no matter who they are or how they have lived their life, can be condemned to Hell if they die in the state of mortal sin.

yup. Stay in a state of grace and be at peace.

Yeah, depends upon how you’re defining “good person.” The church doesn’t teach that you earn your way to heaven by doing enough good deeds, whereas bad people go to hell because they committed too many bad deeds. That’s a heresy called pelagianism. It’s also discussed in the council of trent session 6 canons 1-3.

All of us, by nature and apart from God’s grace, would merit hell. It’s only by God’s grace that we can attain heaven.

So the question is whether or not a person has accepted or rejected gods grace, and if they died in a state of grace or a state of unrepentant mortal sin.

Or stated another way, the question isn’t whether or not you’ve piled up enough good works vs bad works; but is a question of whether or not you die in a state of grace.

So if you commit a mortal sin, simply make an act of perfect contriton to god (which will immediately forgive your mortal sin) and then get to confession to fully restore your communion with Christ’s church.

Read the Diary of St. Faustina. Divine Mercy is infinite. Not unconditional, but infinite. The condition for His forgiveness is repentance.

A merciful God will not hold you to sins you were unaware were wrong.

What’s more likely is that your conscience is being formed by things you are reading or hearing, maybe developing a little scruple.

You really need to have this discussion with a priest, preferably in confession and preferably the same priest for a while. Until you do this, remember that Divine Mercy is infinite for the repentant.

If a person is truly good, by the church’s definition of it, then they wouldn’t be in a state of mortal sin. Mortal sin is a willfull turning away from God-and persistence in it. CCC1037

Of course good people go to Heaven and bad people go to hell. You’re not the one that gets to define what “good” and “bad” are though; those are metaphysical truths that exist from eternity and are revealed to us by God, through Christ, through the Church, which is the work of the Holy Spirit. What you call good could in fact be evil, and what you call evil could in fact be good. Someone might regard a person as morally evil for not allowing two people of the same sex to marry and adopt children. Someone else might regard a person as morally upright for committing infanticide on a child with a physical handicap. The list goes on endlessly.

A good person in hell is a contradiction. Death (spiritual death) specifically and exclusively exists as a result of the obstinate use of the will towards evil.

Missing mass, I believe, is a “grave matter” and mortal sin, yes?

If so…do you think that a person can be loving and good and generous and helpful to others their entire life, but if they miss mass…and then die…they can be condemned to hell?


We can’t know another person’s heart, and so scripture tells us that man judges by appearances while God judges by the heart. And God desires no one to perish so we know that no one merits hell on a mere technicality. If missing mass constitued for someone a willfull turning away from God, and persistence in it, then they’d probably be hellbound as far as we can know…

Everything that is good about a person comes from God, and can be found in God eternally. The whole idea of sin is perversion or lessening of good.
Yes, when a person commits a mortal sin, what’s being lost–the person–is essentially a good thing.

Morality has meaning only through actions. You are collectively what God has done and what you do. As Batman said, “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.

Or, Jesus put it this way:
By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

Yes, because skipping Mass is a mortal sin so if they were to die in that state, they would go to Hell.

The question I have for you is- Is it your job to fulfill the law or someone else?

Thank you! This brings me some measure of peace.

I will admit, I am a little disturbed by how many other replies to this question have been “Yes, good people suffer for eternity on technicalities”, as such thinking is not only horrifying but also goes against that forgiveness stuff Jesus said in The Bible (Matthew 25: 31-46 seems to mention our treatment of our fellow man as being the primary factor).

Good to know God judges us by who/what we are, rather than by going down a check-list and sending someone to the fires for one slip up (“Dosen’t matter if you were a loving father, a heroic and honest police officer, and a kind philanthropist: you didn’t feel like going to church one Sunday in 1993 so depart from me and enjoy gnashing teeth with the war criminals.”).

One mortal sin sends you to Hell regardless of the life you have lived.

From the Roman Catechism

For whoever offends God, even by one mortal sin, instantly forfeits whatever merits he may have previously acquired through the sufferings and death of Christ, and is entirely shut out from the gate of heaven which, when already closed, was thrown open to all by the Redeemer’s Passion.

Our Lord only forgives those who are penitent, not those who die in mortal sin without repentance.

Let me weigh in and say that I agree with post no. 4, KEP1983.

Also, I have to say that a couple of posters I usually agree with have said some scary things. Like, for example, I could be following Jesus all my life and because I miss a couple of Masses I’m going straight to hell.

The CCC is great for explaining mortal sin; but I’m glad Jesus didn’t write the CCC!

That’s all I’ll say. Jesus wants your heart…


To speak in general terms, the bottom line is that God is infinitely fair, just, merciful, patient and kind-loving man beyond our ability to even comprehend. He’ll do nothing that, in the end, all won’t know and agree was the right and good thing to do.

Thank you.

Aren’t you glad some people posting are not God?


I don’t want to get this too far sidetracked, but your referencing penal substitution theory, which was a 16th century man-made tradition of the Protestants.

It seems people are being upset over whether or not god sends people to hell over “technicalities” such as missing mass. People identify it as a grave sin, but then see it as ridiculous for god to send you to hell over that.

It sounds to me that we’re not distinguishing “grave matter” from “mortal sin.”

Grave matter simply means that the sin is serious in nature. But that doesn’t automatically mean it is a mortal sin. Mortal sin has to meet 3 requirements, from the catechism:

"1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent.”

So missing mass is grave matter, but are you doing it with full knowledge and deliberate consent? If you love God and want to go to mass, there’s probably not deliberate consent there. If you’re missing mass because you had to work, something came up at the last minute, you or a family member are sick, etc, there probably isn’t deliberate consent there. And if you are missing mass with deliberate consent there’s probably a larger issue lying under there anyways.

The same thing is true of any other grave matter.

So like I said earlier, if you commited a sin, just repent to God* out of love of God* (“perfect contrition”) and your sin will immediately be forgiven. Then get to confession and restore your communion with Christ’s church.

I read the link and tried a couple of further links but they were not helpful.

Being a former protestant you understand the substitution theory.

**How do you understand the catholic position to be?
I’ve been speaking to a couple of people (from church) lately that tell me we’re all saved.

I found problems with the article. Re transferring sin from person to person. Jesus was not a normal person so I can’t agree with that idea.

God can’t sin. Jesus never sinned. He took on our sins at the cross. That’s very different. Do you not agree that this could be one of the reasons He said: My God, My God, why have You forsaken me? There are other possibilites.

It would be interesting to hear your version of the catholic teaching. I say, you’re version, because I’ve been hearing some odd stuff lately.


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